Category: Miscellaneous

Step Goal

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


I really enjoy having a fitness watch. Last November, I bought a Garmin watch and with the exception of showers (despite being waterproof), I never take it off. It felt weird at first but now it helps me keep track and stay balanced. Best of all, it has helped me stop gaining weight though it hasn’t really helped me with losing.

As of writing, I am on a 70 day streak of 10,000+ steps and 5+ floors climbed. Not a lot by any stretch but I have been working on consistency. When I first got the watch, I was doing 20,000 steps on most days with big breaks on the weekends. This way I always have to move.

Last April, I won the right in a bet to drink Mountain Dew Kickstart energy drinks whenever I want. That has led to an unhealthy habit of having one a day, but I couple it with the health habit of walking to the grocery store to buy it. Everyday at lunch, I walk nearly 3 miles in the round trip. I have also gotten tanner!

I really wish I could find ways to motivate myself more for strength training and gym visits overall. I had made a decent push into losing weight when I first got it, but things have trailed off or become routine. I keep intending to look for some sort of fitness program or classes but I feel embarrassed just thinking about it. Plus, I tend to get stuck working overtime so my schedule is all over the place.

I’d love to find a boxing gym. Ever since watching the anime Hajime no Ippo, I’ve wanted to try boxing for fitness. The closest thing we have is a MMA gym which seems even more intimidating!

I am at least grateful for the step counting and activity tracker. When I box at home on my Playstation VR, I can keep track of calories burned. Though you don’t need fancy technology to tell when I am out of breath from trying to box with a gentleman octopus.

 

Commonplace Blog

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


I forget why I arrived at the Wikipedia entry for “Commonplace book”. I think it had something to do with a potential character name I was researching*. However it happened, I am glad I did because this is a new idea to me, despite having some very well-known authors listed. It also perfectly captures what this blog is slowly becoming throughout this year’s Blaugust event.

When I started blogging, my focus was on videogames and MMORPGs more specifically. Over time, I drifted away from that focus, but I still have this idea in my head that in order to capture a target audience I need to focus my content.

That’s probably true, but as I have said before, that’s not really why I am writing any of this.  And not that I needed the justification of a pre-established literary genre I had not heard of but I feel renewed and reinvigorated to share things with you in bits and pieces, as I go, and often as I think of them now that I know “this is a thing”.

Henceforth, this is now my “commonplace blog” with a little journaling mixed in as needed and reviews whenever I feel the need.

Let’s see how I write when I don’t limit myself to 800+ words at a time …


* I remembered at the very end of writing the above how I came to the idea of Commonplace books. I was researching French names for a Nightborne character in World of Warcraft and started reading about Montaigne, the Frenchman who popularized the essay.

Dumb Game Achievements

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


It is rare I chase achievements. If I do, it is only as a way to show off my love and dedication to playing a game I already love and am dedicated to playing. It is never for their own sake, at least not initially. Some of you may recall how much I loved playing Slay the Spire and that hasn’t changed (especially with some great updates), but I am really happy to finally be done with this stupid achievement:

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The Transient is a rare(ish) spawn in the latter stages of the game. He has a ton of HP (999), does a ton of damage unless you hit him a few times, and disappears after around five turns. In other words, he is a late stag DPS race that you cannot exactly plan for.

It was fun chasing beating him at first, but I quickly realized I was going to need to get lucky and get a series of cards/items that would allow me to burst him down rather quickly. There was no poison stacking or defense stacking. Burst or fail only.

That kind of idea mostly works for this kind of game, but it was always going to be a letdown achievement for me. It requires no thought or strategy. Building toward taking out The Transient is no different from “building a deck that will beat the last boss”. The only difference is the degree to how quickly it beats the last boss or, in this case, a five turn race.

Other than the achievement, there wasn’t even a reward. I had hoped there would be a unique item or card to go along with it but no. You unlock the achievement outside the game and then you move on to steamrolling the true final boss.

And now I am done or done enough. I am 20 hours shy of 500 total logged for the game. I am sure I will poke my head in from time to time to see what any new updates bring. Hopefully they bring more and better achievements. Something that requires strategy or cunning or a different kind of luck.

When it comes to game achievements, I just want them to be a bit more or at least fun in their own right. That’s rarely the case though. If they are too easy, then they are meaningless. If they are too hard, then they are usually too focused on luck or grinding. Beyond that, they are rarely worth looking at unless the game itself is truly special. That’s probably for the best since I hate collect-a-thons and I hate dumb achievements.

I have no patience to play lesser games to trivial ends.

 

Phone Envy

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


I enjoy having the latest and greatest technology. Despite that, I am only on my fourth smartphone ever. I started late with a Motorola Razr (the smartphone brand revival, though I also had the original flip phone). Later I moved onto an HTC phone and then a Nexus 6P and finally, my current phone, the Google Pixel XL.

It took a lot for me to hold off on upgrading the Pixel XL again after only one year. I love my phone but the urge is strong. That urge is even stronger now. The battery isn’t what it once was and it is starting to feel a little sluggish. Plus, its biggest selling point to me right now is that I love USB-C and everything else has that!

I was holding off for a Pixel 3. I love Google’s hardware, especially my Pixelbook Chromebook. And then the dreaded notch reared its ugly head.

I do not know where you come down on the “notch” debate in smartphones. Essentially, its a cutout at the top of the phone to hold necessary electronics, but since we want edge-to-edge displays, phones like the iPhone X are adopting notches that extend into the screen itself.

I was not firmly against at first. I don’t much mind the idea, especially since on Android I rarely use the very middle of the notification bar. The rumors that the Pixel 3 would have a notch did not deter my hype train, at least not until I saw it was so big that the notifications at the top of the phone actually have to be centered due to the added vertical space.

I could go with the smaller Pixel 3, but I value a larger display since I mostly use my phone for reading and I prefer the larger battery that often accompanies bigger phones.

Pixel 3 XL firmly out of the running, I am left with … not much else. I refuse to buy an iPhone and I am limited to Verizon, so something as romantic as a OnePlus isn’t in my reach. The Galaxy Note 9 looks very promising, but if I hold off until December like I should, I will only be a few months more away from the Galaxy 10 which should have some actual forward-thinking design.

I could also just not upgrade and get over my phone hype. That won’t happen, but I thought it prudent to admit that as an option. At this point, I am not sure what I will do! I hate phone envy and these incremental upgrades. I also hate that Google has squandered all of my interest in the Pixel line from day one when derivative design and no real intent to be anything beyond a marketing campaign.

I will probably buy a Note 9 as soon as I see a decent sell …

“Use This List”

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


The Ancient Gaming Noob has a post up today breaking down all things RSS. I agree with his opinions.

In particular, I agree with using something like Feedly. Ever since Feedly first hit the app store back before I was an Android fanboy and owned at least one Apple product, I have been obsessed with using it. Feedly is my daily driver for all things from my favorite sites.

I especially like Feedly (or some of the other options he outlines in his post) for keeping track of blogs. With so many great ones to read, it can be hard to keep track of when new content comes out. Sure, you can follow your favorite writers on Twitter (and you should), but Twitter never stops and unless you maintain your organization, you may miss some great content.

I recommend checking out The Ancient Gaming Noob’s post from today. It also points out his extensive lists of all the blogs our in our loose knit online community that are worth checking out!

AMA

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


I am a little at a loss for words today. It has been a stressful week and I have an interview tomorrow.

Instead of forcing a post I later regret, feel free to use this opportunity to ask me any questions. Do you have a follow-up thought to something I tweeted or wrote? Something else you have always wanted to ask?

I will do my best to reply as soon as possible!

My Love for the Veil of Ignorance

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


Picture a younger me in the earliest days of pursuing a degree in philosophy. I was hungrier then. Growing up in the Deep South, religion’s hold always slipped off my like a greased pig. When I finally “escaped” to the first university I attended, I thought I was going to find more like minded friends or that I would finally get out of my shell to show the world who I was on the inside. Instead, I found more of the same and with that realization my first exposure to honest depression. It was a chance elective that exposed me to philosophy when none of my education before had even tried. In that chance, I began to find my way out.

Introduction to why I followed philosophy complete, let’s move on to one of my favorite philosophical ideas that I frequently reference when I make decisions: American philosopher John Rawl’s Veil of Ignorance.

Per the Wikipedia entry:

It is based upon the following thought experiment: people making political decisions imagine that they know nothing about the particular talents, abilities, tastes, social class, and positions they will have within a social order. When such parties are selecting the principles for distribution of rights, positions, and resources in the society in which they will live, this “veil of ignorance” prevents them from knowing who will receive a given distribution of rights, positions, and resources in that society. For example, for a proposed society in which 50% of the population is kept in slavery, it follows that on entering the new society there is a 50% likelihood that the participant would be a slave. The idea is that parties subject to the veil of ignorance will make choices based upon moral considerations, since they will not be able to make choices based on their own self- or class-interest.

We can argue practicality for society another day. I love this idea for its practical value in my every day decision-making as a leader and manager at my job. I often have to make policy and procedure decisions, either by crafting new ones, rewriting old ones, or enforcing what is in place. Too often the debates regarding changes become bogged down in catering to every individual in our employ on an individual needs basis and we lose sight of establishing a baseline.

The idea and language behind the veil of ignorance helps me better convey that we need to make decisions based on the most neutral of employees if we want to write rules or make team-wide decisions. As an example, just because two of our workers are always late does not mean we need to redefine what “being late” means.

This doesn’t mean that I am the hard-headed type who doesn’t allow for exceptions. Using the same example, maybe they are always late because of issues getting their children to school/babysitter/daycare, etc. I am more than happy to work out ways to accommodate these situations, whenever possible, as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of hours worked, coverage, or productivity. Also, as long as I cannot make the same accommodations for others.

The veil of ignorance thought experiment also helps inform me with equality/feminist concerns. Rather than use the tired “I also have a mother/daughter/sister/female relative” trope when it comes to relating to issues specific to women in our society, I do the far simpler and more human thing of imagining myself in the same situation.

Would I want less pay? Would I want to be sexually harassed? Would I want no time to recover my body or tend to a new child after giving birth? Obviously the answer to all of these questions is no.  Taking things a step further, if I were to attempt to answer the same questions from an original position behind a veil of ignorance where I have a 50/50 chance of being a female member of the society I am helping to design, then the answer is “HELL NO”. Fairness and equality are pretty simple, everyone.

Of course, where most thought experiments breakdown is when you apply them too broadly or to a society already too far out of balance. The /r/fantasy board has had a recent community-wide debate about inclusiveness and the author (whom I agreed with) unfortunately used bad statistics in an ignorant way to muddy his own points and their validity.

When it comes to my fantasy reading list, which is absolutely dominated by white male authors, if I were try to apply the more politically-oriented veil of ignorance thought experiment, I would likely read only those books of merit. However, since finding books of merit is always through the lens of “you will see books by white male authors first and foremost because they are most plentiful and popular”, then it falls on me to find ways to look beyond what I only see for its lowest common denominator popularity. That way I am not missing any really good books by authors who just don’t get the same traction because of difficulties marketing their name, face, or because their version of fantasy is not in the exact mold that publishers expect their audiences to purchase.

That doesn’t mean I think white male authors are inherently worse or that human beings are not capable of writing characters unlike themselves, it just means that I value originality and fresh perspectives and that both are hard to find in the nth book by someone who really, really, really loved Tolkien.

Don’t take this post as a: you should know/use the veil of ignorance. The great thing about humans is our diversity of thinking. You may also think philosophy is a crock of shit, to which I most humbly disagree. For me, this is exactly what I needed back in my early 20’s: a way to see the world fairly, humanely, and how I ought work toward it being. More broadly speaking, that’s what brought me to philosophy, why I still read about philosophy, and why I never shy away anymore from talking about it even as I see the other party’s eyes roll.

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