Fall!

Aww. Isabelle is the best. It’s nice to see some cute and safe for work Isabelle fan art for once.

I’ve been playing a bit of Animal Crossing lately. Looking forward to the Switch version for sure. The seasons are changing in the game just as they are in real life too.

Luke has been super excited for Halloween. We carved our pumpkins today, I fear that by the actual holiday on Wednesday they’ll be looking a bit gnarly, but it’s always a fun tradition, made even more so by Luke’s anticipation of it all.

Also took the day on Saturday to head out and hit the trail. Might end up being the last nice weekend of the year, and boy was it beautiful.

I was just talking the week or two before about how both the ATVs have been running all year, but nobody wants to ride. Andrea and Karina went out last week and I went out this week, so I’m glad that’s happening again.

I spent a lot of time alone in this ride, just thinking about things. I guess I got it all sorted out. Either way, it was a beautiful day.

IMG_20181027_151810

Advertisements

Goofing Around

Not a long blog this time around.  Just a couple pictures of running around last night.  Andrea was stuck working, and Luke had put on his calendar over the weekend that today was the day to go to the park.  So we loaded up for a little cruise into town and decided to take the back roads.

Andrea had just washed a ton of mud off the Jeep from a muddy ride we took together on Saturday.  And we happened to hit a couple small puddles on our way into town.  Don’t worry, I cleaned up my mess, haha.

mud jeep.jpg

The park was PACKED.  Was a bit refreshing to see.  People say kids don’t play outside anymore, but there was no shortage of all ages this evening.  Little itty bity babies, litter than Emma.  All the way up to the jerk teenagers.  Saw one kid tackle a girl to steal her Takis.  A kid three or four years older than Luke took great pleasure in out running Lucas all over the playground playing “tag”.  I didn’t mind though.  Luke went out pretty early.

park

Kids can sure be jerks though.  And it’s a little tough to explain why to Lucas sometimes, because I really don’t know.  Heck usually the kids don’t know why they are mean.  One boy called Lucas a baby.  Luke was fairly concerned because he knew he wasn’t a baby, and it was important to him that this other kid knew that.  But the other boy was just trying to rile Luke up.  Instead of getting upset, Luke just followed this kid around the playground for about 10 minutes explaining how, objectively, he was not infact, a baby.  Haha.

The Current Things

I’m into a few things right now that I keep bouncing back and forth between.  Not enough time to enjoy all of them at once.  And I feel like chaining myself to one thing until completion makes the fun stuff feel like work.  So I do my best to remember where I left off, and dive back in when it feels right.

octopath

Octopath Traveler is my main game of the moment.  It’s a new “old school” style RPG.  It’s very much my flavor.  It’s turn based, so there’s no timer making you sweat it out.  You can take as much time as you want in between turns to really plan out your strategy… or make another run to the beer fridge.

The story isn’t amazing per se.  There’s some really good moments and some really hard hitting lines though.  Above all else, the game is beautiful, and the MUSIC.  Oh my god.  It’s possibly one of the best sound tracks I’ve ever heard.  I love getting to a new area just to hear a brand new song.

chrs

Cheers has been on my list for a long time.  I’ve probably been watching it on and off for a couple of years now.  There’s so many episodes.  Heck, that show was on for 10 years or more!  And I can see why.  It’s one of those legendary prime-time style TV shows that has a cast with real chemistry, and just some of the best writing in television, ever.  I’m working my way through it, and even though it’s taking forever, I’m ok with that because I’ll be sad for the day that it’s over.

green jeep.jpg

The Green Jeep.  I haven’t posted about it here yet I think.  So Andrea’s been wanting this bad boy for a long time.  Like years of talking about the somedays.  Well we’d always casually send classified posts back and forth, and one day this thing popped up and it was in our price range of about $5,000.

We went to look at it.  On the way there, I told her… if it has rust in the frame, or rust in the body mounts, I don’t want anything to do with it.  “Ok.  She said.”  We looked at it.  It had rust in the frame and the body mounts.  “It has rust in the frame and the body mounts I said.”

rust.jpg

“Yeah…” she said.  Well, I knew what this meant.  She still wanted it.  I mean, it looked like a Jeep!  Good enough, right!?  So I decided… okay, Matt.  If you’re going to deal with this rusty heap… what would you be willing to pay?  I offered $600 less than he was asking and he took it.  Probably thought I was a chump.  I probably am.  Haha.

Well either way, as most of these abused and neglected vehicles do in my life.  It’s grown on me.  We’ve got the stuff to fix the rust.. It’s going to be a pain in the ass, but Oh Well.  I’ll appreciate it more when it’s done.  Or something like that.

For now we’re just driving it and enjoying it for the purposes we bought it for anyway.  It can’t really get much worse in the short term.  And fixing the frame is the winter project.  I’ll learn something if nothing else.

In between it all, I’m of course working, dad-ing, and husband-ing.  I find some times for retro games still every now and then.  OH and I’ve been dedicating more attention to my Animal Crossing town.  The new game for Switch was announced a while back and it’s renewed my excitement for the game.

So right now I’ve got about 90 minutes before bedtime.  Not sure what’s on the plate.  Octopath?  GoldenEye?  Tough choice.

They’re not wrong. But it’s not for me.

I’ve spent a week without social media recently.  No twitter, no facebook, no online interaction at all.  I turned off everything.  No notifications on my phone.  It was weird at first you know.  I’d pull my phone out of my pocket at a somewhat regular interval, because it was “about time” there was something there for me to see.  Except this time there wasn’t.  And for the first couple days it was weird.  Kind of the same feeling you get when you pull off the interstate into a rest area, while the rest of the traffic screams past you on the highway at a little bit more than the fastest velocity allowed by law.  Some going left, some going right, but all pretty much following the one ahead of them in an orderly fashion, bound by rules they all acknowledge and accept.  While I meanwhile, had to stop.

You see you don’t stop at a rest area because you enjoy the amenities.  Rest stops are built out of a biological necessity.  Given the choice you’d choose a gas station where you could get a candy bar and a Mtn Dew Code Red for the miles ahead.  Or in a best case scenario, make it home, to the only bathroom on earth you can feel comfortable in naked.  But here you are, at exit 328, if nothing else for a quick pit stop to make the next leg of your journey somewhat bearable.

The rest stop analogy ends there for the most part.  I was growing weary of the amount of attention required to be given to my phone.  I once pulled my phone out of my pocket and was informed I had 22 notifications.  Twenty-Two.  At any given point along my existence up until now, I don’t think there’s any singular point where I’ve cared about 22 different things at once.  Messages, sports scores, news updates, recommendations, reviews.  There’s NO WAY I’m this important that twenty-two different people or organizations NEED input from ME.

And for the first time in my life that I can recall, it was starting to affect my real life relationships.  Not that I was spending too much time on my phone… but because I wasn’t spending ENOUGH.  At the right times.  With the right people.  Saying the right things.  Sharing the right stuff.  To the extent that it was starting to effect my REAL LIFE relationships.  And THIS really pissed me right the hell off.

You see, I exist in a pretty unique and remarkable moment in human history.  I remember when email was new.  I remember IRC, ICQ, MSN Messanger, AIM… and then later when text messaging was the thing.  Always as each new thing came out, and people used it to communicate more and more.  I still saw them as a substitute for actual interaction.  “This is the thing you can do when you can’t be together.”  It was the ‘instead’.  You used it to in the moments between the time you really wanted with a person.  Could you have meaningful conversation?  Sure.  But it was never the first choice.

I feel like I’m witnessing another remarkable moment in human history as I breath this air.  Digital interaction isn’t just as important as face to face interaction.  It’s maybe even more important.  We’ve wrapped so much of our identity and actual lives around the pixel portal we hold in our hands, that it literally is a relevant measure of who we are as a physical person.  And the fact that we have access to it at literally every living breathing millisecond of our lives makes it… completely reasonable.

Who is a person without their phone?  Does it matter if they always have a phone?

When I realized being bad a phones, meant I was being bad at relationships.  I suddenly did a full stop.  I never thought about it before, that having constant connection and constant contact, or at least the ability to do so, was a reality of my existence.  It was for better or worse, and by choice or not, a reality of how the world saw me.  I could be reached at any moment.  Therefore expected to respond at any moment.  By contrast, I could reach out at any moment.  Therefore expected to do so at any moment.  I have always said, “I’m not good at everything.  I just try to only do the things I’m good at.”  And I suck at this.

Besides.  It’s not what I want.  It’s not who I want to be.  I don’t want to be known for the sweetest links.  I don’t want to be a master of the emoji.  I don’t want to be the person who can craft the most heartwarming text.  It may be how people prefer to experience me rather than taking up their actual time and space, but to be honest, if that’s the case… I’m not sure it’s worth my actual time and space.

Goals

Man, when I was a kid, especially late high school, I remember how important “goals” were supposed to be.  We were encouraged to make goals for the day, goals for the week, goals for the year, 5 year goals… to write them all down and then come up with a plan, and check in on our progress.  To write down sub-goals that we needed to achieve to meet our goals.  And daily goals that would ensure we were always working on our big goals and where we wanted to be.

As a kid, you always are sort of thinking about what you want out of life.  Often influenced by what you consider successful in the lives you’re exposed to.  I never dreamt of having a big mansion on a coast somewhere, probably because I never knew anyone that had one.  But I’m sure for some folks… that’s their goal.

Truth be told, I despised all of that.  I wrote down the goals because I had to, and probably never ever looked at them again.  I sorta remember what I thought my life would end up like back then.  It’s pretty different than reality.  I figured I’d stick together with my friends, we’d move off to a place more interesting than Ingalls, and be close enough that we could all get together after work, and just hang out and be… well the same.

Something, that of course never happened.  We drifted away, pulled in different directions by people, opportunity, or just apathy.  One of my favorite things is listening to stories about how people got from where they were to where they are now.  It’s almost always for a reason or two or ten.  But I hardly ever hear anyone who arrived where they are know, because they had specific goals and a plan they executed to get there.  Maybe everyone hates goals.

Even to this day, you can ask Andrea.  I hate planning things.  I hate having days and weeks scheduled out in advance.  And I don’t always like to talk about the future and what we’re going to do, because a lot of it never happens.  I hear folks all the time talking about what they are going to do, what they’re going to buy, or what they want to create, only to never see it happen.  I’m not any different than them.  But I’d rather not set people’s expectations, you know.

Rather than focus on plans, goals, and destinations.  I prefer to just work on my character.  What is it that I like?  What is it that brings me joy?  What makes me the kind of person I want to be?  Every little decision we make, every left or right turn we choose, leads us to where we are now.  You can pick a destination in life, and try to work your way backwards to where you are now, stressing on figuring out what you need to be doing now to get yourself where you want to be THEN.  Am I making all the right choices?  OR… I like to think that if I try to take all the little things, and do what I think will make me happy, do the things I won’t regret, I’ll end up in a place that is perfect for me.  Whether I knew it existed before or not.

Aprendiendo Español

I don’t know if I’ve ever written about this here, or not.  But over the last year, I’ve been making an actual effort to learn Spanish.  I have no good reason to learn Spanish.  Of course it’s one of those things that everyone around here who doesn’t know Spanish says, “It would be really good to know”.  Inferring that it opens up opportunities and maybe will let you know if someone in the cereal aisle is being critical of your fashion choices.

On of my friends is bi-lingual.  I grill her on the language a lot and she obliges.  If I were to look into the future (far future) of my Spanish speaking existence, I don’t  know that I see myself finding that one great reason that learning Spanish will finally pay off.  My impression is that she finds herself being the nearest available translator in random situations.  Never compensated, and more than anything burdened with a responsibility of “getting it right”.

I never really thought about a second language being a sort of weight to carry with you.  Think about it.  When people need a translator, they need a translator.  Because whatever it is, whatever they’re doing, language barrier or not, they need to get it done.  So if you step in to translate for these people… you need to get it right.  That’s kinda of a big liability to sign up for out of the goodness of your heart.

Learning the language has taught me a lot about people.  I see how language can be so divisive.    Over the years, I’ve encountered people who know little or no english at all.  As a person is struggling to get their point across, searching and grasping for the phrase that will trigger a mutual understanding…  In the moment it’s hard to see that person as intelligent.  As your equal.  It’s easy to think, “this person is dumb”.  But how can you really make that judgment then and there?  What if you’re actually talking to the smartest most compassionate person you’ll ever meet in your life.  But because you can’t understand them you write them off as another idiot too lazy to learn.

More than any other quality we possess, skin color, lifestyle, education, I feel like language is more intimately tied to our culture.  A black man and a white woman can sit down and discuss what makes them the same, what makes them different.  Whether they agree or disagree on any concept that exists.  An english speaker and a spanish speaker can’t.  And what I’ve learned in my own admittedly narrow world view, is that so far… people are a lot more alike than we are different.  Traditions, beliefs, cuisine, humor might all be wildly different.  But what is right and wrong.  How a person expects to be treated.  What is fair.  We’re all on the same page.  It’s really brightened my view on humanity.

This is hard.  Really hard.  I’ve been at this for 10 months now.  Practicing at least a little bit most days.  I can read so so at least knowing enough context to make sense of it.  I can barely write and speak.  I don’t really have the opportunity for conversation, but listening to podcasts and watching shows in Spanish leaves me about three or four words behind and then I’m lost.  I don’t think it’s HARDER than I expected.  Just that I couldn’t do it “my” way.  Which was basically just expose myself to as much of it as I could and one day it would all sink in.  There’s just more too it than that.  You can’t learn something you don’t know by osmosis.  You have to put in work and effort and just straight hard memorization.  Just this week, 10 months into it, I finally broke down and ordered some textbooks.

I’m excited to get more comfortable with the language.  I’m excited to be able to express myself in it.  I’m excited to be challenged by people.  And to be quite honest, I’m excited for it to get easier.

En este momento, estoy feliz para saber que se.  Estoy feliz de hacer esta oración.  Quiero continuar aprendiendo mas.  Gracias por leer y si decidas hacer algo, no tengas miedo.  Si es dura.  Entonces el regalo sera genial.

Is it Spring Yet?

So since the last post, we’ve finally found some time to work on the ATVs…. my parents took the kids for a weekend, and Andrea and I did what I’m sure all free parents do, spend some time working in the shop together!  Haha.  At times we even felt a little bit guilty enjoying our temporary “freedom”.

Out of the three ATVs we own, only one ran.  With it being really too cold to ride, winter is supposedly a good time to work on them.  But man is it so hard with young kids.  Luke is getting old enough that he could actually be helpful, but I struggle with getting him interested.  He’s on board for a hot minute, then he’s begging to go do something else.  I don’t want to force the kid.  I mean, heck it might just not be his thing.  But at six years old, do you even have a “thing” yet?  I just don’t want him to end up hating it I guess.

Emma for sure is less than interested unless she can hold it and stick it in her mouth.  That’s probably appropriate though when you’re nine months old.  However with Andrea being full time Mom all day, I like to come home and kinda take over as caretaker at least until the kids go to bed.  Give her a little bit of a breather and some sanity.  So I feel super guilty even when she encourages me to go work on… well anything outside of the house.

After bed times are finally over it’s about 9PM.  I look at the clock, think about some of the other things I want to do, play a game, watch a show, actually have an adult conversation with my wife… then I usually convince myself that there’s not even really enough time to get started on anything, and end up doing mostly nothing.  Then I feel pretty disgusted with myself all around.

So it was nice that Andrea and I both were able to be out there working together.  She was able to change the engine and transmission oil on her Honda.  I finally finished putting back together the engine on the Arctic Cat, and much to my surprise, it actually started and ran!  I think I have a few more adjustments to make on the clutch, but it drives!  We got more done in one day than we have so far all winter!

That’s not to say I don’t love my children, I most definitely do!  I was so happy to see them when they got back.  It’s just that everything takes a lot longer.  It’s hard to look at your list of things and not get discouraged with yourself, or feel “lazy” when in reality, you’ve HAVE been busy, doing OTHER important things.  I keep telling Andrea that there will be a day in the not incredibly distant future where we will wish they were coming to us more, wanting to jabber and jabber for ever, wanting to play with us, and trusting that we can fix all the problems in the world.  The challenge for now is to appreciate it.  And I think probably also later, to not pretend that it was all only beautiful and without its own challenge and sacrifice.

It’s hard, being a parent, finding a balance between your identity and “parent”.  But I think in the words of Jimmy Dugan, “The hard is what makes it great”.

How Did I Get Here?

I don’t know how it happened.  But it happened all rather suddenly.  We became an ATV family.  I’ve always felt the same way about powersports as I’ve felt about exercise.  If there’s not a destination, if you aren’t GOING somewhere, then what is it all for?  You go around and around, end up in the same place then, big whoop.  It’s not for everybody, but turns out it’s for us.

It began probably almost two years ago.  A friend of ours bought an ATV, she rides along the river with her family and kept sharing all these fun stories.  “You should get an ATV!  You can come ride!”  Yeah, yeah.  That’s a lot of money, and more work keeping things running just to go tear it all up.  It didn’t sound that fun.  But…  here in town, several people have ATVs and they putt around town on them.  Now THAT’s more my speed.  I don’t need anything super sporty.  I’d just like to have one I can roam around on and take off the road once in a while.  And then maybe someday go down to the river and pretend I know what I’m doing.

So we bought the Green Arctic Cat.  It’s 18 years old, but it was 4×4, and ready to roll.  Not too pricey, plus we already had the trailer… so…

It had been a long time since I’d drove an ATV, so I wasn’t too sure of myself.  But it didn’t take long to get used to driving it around the neighborhood.  It’s a “farmer’s ATV” I called it.  Not fast, not flashy, not cool.  That checks a lot of boxes for me!  Eventually I loaded it up on the trailer, and took it down to the river for a little fun with Lucas!

It was all going great, until Andrea was out riding.  It was her first time out and I probably should have given her some guidelines.  But she’d taken Luke with her to ride, so I figured, “She won’t get too crazy with Luke on there.”  Well they didn’t get dangerous, but she got into some deep water.  I think maybe she was thinking of those Youtube videos of crazy people taking their $10,000 ATVs through 4ft deep water.  Except that this was an almost 20 year old ATV that was maybe 1/10th the cost!

Long story short, the starter went out.  ATV out of service.  It wasn’t her fault, but she still felt bad that it happened while she was riding.

Even still.  With one broken ATV, Andrea was still hooked.  We figured we’d get this one fixed quickly (spoiler, it’s still not fixed) and she now wanted one of her own.  Still dumb to the world of power sports we went to look at another smaller ATV in our price range.  It was more of a sport quad than mine, which she liked.  Ended up buying a two stroke Yamaha Blaster that was even older than the Arctic Cat!

Never buy anything from a redneck.  You’d think my Blazer experience would have been enough to teach me “never again” but NO!  Only problem.  It smokes a little bit.  Okay… a lot a bit, and would sputter when the RPMs got high.  I know that two strokes smoke, at least old ones do.  But this one was too much.  But it was a great DEAL right!?

So let’s tear it apart and see what the problem is.  It’s just parts, right!?

So what was the problem?  Ok, quick 2 stroke engine school.  There are two seals on either side of the crankshaft.  Those seals have to be air tight otherwise the piston will suck transmission oil into the crankcase and burn it.  No sweat, change the seals… good as new, right?  Nope.

See that.  SEE THAT!?  So, that is a gouge by a SCREWDRIVER into an aluminum engine case.  The engine case.  That of which the entire engine is built upon.  Not by me.  Not by my screwdriver.  Somebody else.  Maybe the guy who sold it to us.  Maybe somebody before him.  But some cheap bastard who didn’t want to spend FIFTEEN DOLLARS on a seal puller jacked this engine up real good.

So options, what are the options?  Sell the Blaster for parts.  Take the loss.  Put the new seal in and just let it smoke and keep a spare spark plug in your pocket at all times.  Or, try to fix it.

Welp.  It’s all I could do.  JB Weld, we’ll see if you bring another miracle.  I filled the crevasse, pressed in the seal, and put it all back together.  I didn’t even know if it would run.  I let it cure for a whole week.  Not because it needed it but more because at least then it was Schrodinger’s 4 wheeler.  Until you try to start it, it both runs, and doesn’t run at the same time.  Finally got up the nerve.  It took several kicks, but eventually, it came to life!

I took it for a test drive, and it scared the CRAP out of me.  For a little 200cc, I didn’t expect as much power as it had.  It literally scared me.  It still smoked a bit, but eventually, the oil that had gotten into the crank case burned off, and it now just smokes “a lil bit”.

Since then it’s been a really fun ATV for me to drive.  That’s right… me.  This was originally Andrea’s remember?  But she never did get comfortable with the high revs of a 2 stroke engine.  A bigger 4 stroke has more low end power and is more forgiving about what gear you’re in.  She didn’t like how once you got into the higher RPMs the Blaster wanted to take off like a puppy ready to chase a bunny.

The plan is to sell this one, but nobody here likes it, which kinda makes me like it.  I’ve put a lot of work into it and it’s taught me a lot… so… I’m kinda attached now.  Maybe, I’ll keep it?  No matter what, It’s brought a lot of joy to us and the people we’ve been able to share it with, so I think it’s worth what we paid already.

So let’s do a head count.  1 broken ATV, 1 fixed ATV that no one wants to ride except me.  So what happens next… Andrea gets what she REALLY wants.

So here’s the secret to what Andrea likes: anything cooler than yours.  Haha!  She ended up getting a Honda TRX 450er.  This is a big girl 4-wheeler for sure.  Big size, big engine, fancy pants electric start, and finally… a helmet.  She likes it!  And she likes to ride it!  And it’s officially the newest vehicle we own, including the ones we drive everyday.  Haha.  She’s content and I think we’re finally set on the fleet.

Wait?  Whut?  Oh… no.  What about Lucas!  Heaven FORBID he be subjected to just riding with us.  Andrea found a little used electric powered on on the local classifieds.  Just his size.  Just his speed (slow).  Now we have another.

But remember that trailer?…. Too small.  Big enough for one.  That’s it.  Good greif… what a freakin’ hobby.  One thing leads to another and now we have a trailer big enough to haul all of this old junk around on.  FINALLY, we’re done, right?  RIGHT?  Gawd I hope so.

So what is so fun about it all?  How did we get in so deep so fast?  I mean the riding is fun, don’t get me wrong.  Even though I’ve only been down the trails a good distance only a handful to times.  With Emma being just a baby, we have never been able to go out as a family.  But the best part by far has been sharing the experiences with people.  Friends and family coming over and taking off for a ride with me or Andrea.  Watching people learn how to drive them, killing them, giving them crap about it, then watching them putt away once they finally get it down.  And then the big smile on their face when the get back to home base.

So with it being the middle of winter, and the holidays over, I have some work to do to get ready before spring.  Ranging from little things to big things.  The red one just needs the carb cleaned out and chain tightened.  The green one needs the engine put back together and new bushings all the way around, and the white one needs a new head gasket, exhaust flange, and a bunch of other stuff.

It’s been a lot of fun!  I hope that this summer we can spend more time riding, and a little less time shopping and fixing, haha!

Retreating

Old people are grumpy.  They are less patient.  They smell weird.  They talk about boring things and have crazy ideas about how the world should be.  This is how I always thought about old people.  But as I get older, I feel like… I get it.  I’m not tired or wore out like I always thought old folks were.  I don’t have an abundance of time to drink coffee and fix all the world’s problems by complaining about them as I assumed all the old folks did.  But still, I get it.

Seasoned citizens are the way they are… I think… because the world has eroded the relevance of the things they’ve always thought of as valuable, and it comes to appear (to them) as apathy, laziness, and a loss of formality and professionalism.  But those participating, creating and shaping culture today see new ideas as either a rejection of the status quo, or a step towards something better than we’ve ever had before.  And that has to be right.  It has to be.  Things have gotten better generation by generation pretty objectively.  Health, education, lifestyle.  Millions of people have it better now than even the richest of the rich had it 100 years ago in many ways.

So why do I feel myself ready to hop off the wagon train of progress?  Just content to put down my roots here with what I know, what I’m happy with, and let that be that.  I can attest that it’s literally frustrating trying to wrap my head around why what is new is better sometimes.  And I can’t quite understand why.

Last night Andrea was struggling trying to watch a movie.  We have a smart TV with Netflix built in.  Problem was, every 5 minutes, the Wi-Fi would disconnect.  I don’t know what time she finally got it fixed, but it was after I’d gone to bed and fell asleep.  All I could think about was how if this had just been on a disc or a tape, we would have just watched a movie, and not been troubleshooting some technological hiccups all night.

But sometimes we remember the past better than it ever really was.  Heck probably most times.  I can also remember wrapping tin foil around TV antennae and adjusting endlessly trying to get the clearest picture possible, only to have it messed up when somebody else walks into the room and blocks your signal, all that effort to watch the ONLY thing on TV.  As opposed to the thousands of choices available now on demand.

As I get older, it feels like people are willing to accept less and less quality, but in reality I suppose we’re really getting more than ever before.  At work the past few days I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to get a College Football Pick ‘Em contest put together on our website.  My company entered into an agreement with another company to provide a web platform to facilitate the contest.  Problem was, no matter what we did, it looked like crap.  Just plain awful.  I tried everything and finally called the provider when I admitted defeat and couldn’t get it to look good.  Their response was, “I don’t know.  It looks pretty great to me!”  I couldn’t help but in that moment think… they really find this acceptable?  They’re really OK with this?  Actual real humans look at this ugly off center, non-screen fitting disaster and think, well… nothing.  It’s just… normal.

What I’ve thought about between that moment and now, is that while it wasn’t pretty… it facilitated something that in the past would have been pretty impossible.  In days gone by, if you wanted to do the same contest, you would have had to print up entry forms.  Distribute those entry forms to people who wanted to play.  They’d have to go to a physical place to get them.  They’d have to physically return them to you.  Then it would be up to them to keep track of the contest on their own while they “play along from home”.  Then all the entries and results would have to be counted by hand, hours and hours of people time.  Where as now the contest is instantly distributed up to an infinite number of people, who can all play on devices that they already own, and get results in real time.  All automatically.  I guess if you put it that way, who cares what the magic carpet looks like?  It freakin’ flies!

But I valued the presentation.  I valued qualities of the experience that were important to me.  And I left feeling frustrated wanting to retreat back to something that reinforced my values.  But going back isn’t an option.  For one, as mentioned before, the past as we remember it more often than not was not a place that ever actually existed anyway.  But also the energy required to keep those old ideas alive requires more and more energy the farther away you get from them.  Like trying to keep a Model T running in the year 2017.  But I also don’t feel the need to truly embrace the new values, or maybe I’m just taking them for granted.  Where I find myself is in a place of acceptance.  That the world now “is what it is” and there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it.

But where do you find joy in a lifestyle of reluctant acceptance?  I can see now how it’s easy to slip into the character of a person who’s frustrated, impatient, and apathetic.  That’s not who I want to be, old and grumpy… and smelling bad.  What I’m working towards is rather… tolerance I guess you could say.  It’s a resource that I think you need to recharge once in a while.  So I am working on a compromise.  To complain less.  To push forward more.  To be productive.  To be positive.  However, with the understanding that I’m going to need to retreat away from time to time to recharge.  To find those touchstones that reinforce my values and the things that I feel are what make me, me.  That I’m still the same person that I’ve always been, and that it’s still OK to be.

My E3 Complex

My E3 experiences go pretty far back.  I remember sitting at my desk in my room in Manhattan on my Toshiba laptop watching a postage stamp sized video window waiting for the Nintendo Press Conference to start.

I was a regular on the IGN message boards and there was always a ton of hype and speculation going into the show each year.  What games would be announced?  What new hardware was there going to be?  Everyone was always hoping for a “MEGATON” announcement, and in the end the show never really lived up to the hype, and sometimes even made people mad.  I’ll never forget the outright revolt over Wind Waker’s graphics.

I remember taking days off of work so that I could watch everything live and follow all the news, then share thoughts and discussion with my internet friends on the boards.  It was all pretty thrilling actually.  Fun to share so much passion with other people who were just as passionate as you were and you didn’t have to explain to anyone why you cared so much.  They “got it”.

Anymore, E3 sneaks up on me.  “Oh yeah, that’s this week!”  I don’t even think I realized it until I saw a tweet the night before from Nintendo.  My anticipation has waned over the years.  Partly because life is a lot more full of “things” now, and also because now there’s almost always some new news and announcements being made.  If anytime E3 today is as much or more about putting the spotlight on things that you already know about, rather than announcing new stuff.

When I was in my teenage years and super nuts about games, I remember telling myself that no matter how old I got, gaming was always going to be an important part of my life.  It really felt like it was the one thing that given the choice of anything I could be doing, I’d choose to play games.  You know those bumper stickers that you see that say, “I’d rather be ____ing.”?  That was my philosophy.  Today gaming is still an important thing for me.  It’s a nice release, but my life is gone from “can’t get enough games” to “what do I pass on so that I can properly enjoy the games I have time to play?”

So now E3 comes around, and my expectations are pretty tempered.  I honestly don’t want to see 5 new awesome games I never knew about.  I just want to know that there are two, maybe three good games between now and the end of the year.  There are so many games that I have unbeaten or even unplayed, that if there was a MEGATON announcement, I would almost be annoyed that I’d have to find time to play it.

Would I go back to that time?  The time when E3 was magical and exciting?  I don’t think so.  I’ve settled into being what is mostly likely labeled a “retro gamer”.  I have all the old systems hooked up, and somedays I just look forward to coming home and playing some PilotWings 64.  I can get just as excited about adding a Super Nintendo Zelda game to my collection as I can a brand new one.  I also feel like I can manage the pace of getting and playing these games better than trying to keep up with what is new and coming out.

My E3 complex will probably end up resolving itself sooner than later.  More and more often companies are using the internet and social media to make announcement and get info to their super-fans all year long, whenever they want.  There’s less and less need to put it all in one place and use the press to get your message out.  You can reach out and influence people directly.  So if E3 were to die this year, on a lot of levels, I’d be OK with that.