Category Archives: Philosification

My Philosophy on Collecting

Geeze, how many copies of Madden are in that picture?

I like watching videos on YouTube of other people’s video game collections.  There are so many different ways to collect games.  Some people go for every game ever released.  Some people collected sealed, never opened games.  Some collect only for a particular brand.  Some like to import.  Some people like collecting merchandise.  And some people go for the really rare and expensive stuff.  Every collector is probably a little bit of all those things.

I appreciate the most extreme collectors on a preservation level.  I respect the people that try to collect games and systems that are complete with all the boxes and materials that would have been included when new.  Without their eccentric obsession, knowing exactly what documentation came with the original Atari 2600, for example, would be impossible now.  99% of people will say, “Who cares?” but if you want to know what something was like “when it was new” as opposed to “when it was garage saled”, then keeping this stuff intact is the only way.  It’s the nuances of history, but it is history none-the-less.

I’m not sure when I began considering myself a “collector” of video game junk.  For the most part, my stuff is just amassed through purchases over the years and I’ve never gotten rid of it.  The only game I’ve ever gotten rid of purposely, was Yoshi’s Story for the N64.  But for the most part gaming has just been a past-time I have enjoyed and blown my disposable income on.  Over the years I have ended up with quite a bit of stuff.  To me it just shows that I’m old.

But I guess I crossed over the line to collector when I started hoarding all these brand new Nintendo 64 controllers.  Since I bought them they have done nothing but sit in their boxes on my shelf, never being played with.  Dissatisfied with third party N64 controllers, my original plan was to use them as my current wore out.  Most of them I acquired for around $30 which is about what they costed back when they were on the market anyway, so using them wouldn’t feel that bad.  But it’s like that nice bottle of wine.  The one that you’re saving for some really special occasion, and every special occasion that comes along, just doesn’t feel quite special enough… so that super special bottle never even gets drank.  That’s when I realized what I was.

So all of a sudden, my 25 years of video game purchases are now a “collection” so I’ve labeled it.  Now I feel like I have to establish some guide lines.  Mostly to set some limits for myself.  Because when you are a “collector” that just means the amount of money you can spend on old junk instantly loses all reason.  If you’ve got the cash to blow, you can buy a certified, sealed copy of “Pinball” for the NES for $19,999.99.  That’s only $19,999.00 more than I paid for my loose cartridge of the same game a year ago.

It's yours for $19,999.99!

It’s yours for $19,999.99!

It’s yours for only $00,000.99!

So what’s the difference between the two?  Well, there’s only one difference that matters.  You can ACTUALLY PLAY one of them.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the $20k version for what it is.  A pure un-altered time warp.  Maybe the only one left in the world.  Sealed behind a plastic enclosure that just as well be a temporal barrier that is impossible to traverse.  And if only two people decide they want it… then it has value.  But one thing is for sure.  If you want to play the game you definitely don’t want that one.  And when it gets right down to it, I’m all about playing my games.

So whatever it is that I happen across, whether its the Vectrex, NES Pinball, or the Wii U, I want to make sure it’s something that I feel like I or anyone that comes over, can pickup and play.  So it should work reasonably well, but not be so pristine that actually using it destroys what it is.  To me the nostalgia of this stuff comes from playing it, not looking at it.

I like to make sure things are as original as possible.  I never got into emulators, because there were always little differences that took away from the experience.  Don’t get me wrong, you could go to great lengths and get very close to the original experience.  But nothing replaces blowing in a cartridge, sliding it into an NES and hearing that springy click as you push the cart down into the system.  The feeling of the original controller in your hand and knowing you don’t have the ability to quick save at any moment.  For me it’s all about being able to shut everything else out, and fore that brief moment, you might be able to convince yourself that it is 1987 again.

That’s where the worth in my collection comes from if you ask me.  Not in its monetary value.  But it’s ability to transport you to another time.  To actually pass through that temporal wormhole and at least let a part of you exist in that world that used to be.  When you’re playing an old game, you remember how simple life used to be.

I really enjoyed growing up, and I have vowed as I get older, to not forget what it was like to be a kid.  Now that I have a little guy of my own it feels important to me that he is able to do the same thing.  I don’t expect him to care about the same things I care about.  I want him to make his own memories.  But I do hope he learns to value his experiences the same way I do.  You can easily get caught up in the desire for more “stuff”.  But in the end, it’s only the experiences that really matter.

So maybe I should finally open up the box on one of those N64 controllers and lay down some blistering Mario Kart 64 times.

I’ll think about it.

Too late to blog

Aye carrumba.  I think that’s how you type it.  It’s far too late to be up doing this.  1am in fact.  Tomorrow I’ll be staring at the computer screen at work, eyes glazed over and thinking about how my eternal goal of setting up some kind of Utopian sleep schedule may never be attained.  Though if it where attainable, it wouldn’t be Utopian then would it.  Oh should I have such clarity of mind tomorrow at 3:17pm.

Today was Andrea and I’s 3rd wedding anniversary.  It was astoundingly unremarkable.  We had plans of going out to eat in Hays and making a deal of it.  But after we got home following a few kinks in the plan… it just seemed so forced to me.  Whether Andrea felt the same, I’m not sure.  But we decided to postpone the festivities.  We had a really awesome “breakfast for supper” and spent some time together just talking.  The whole time I was thinking about how this wasn’t really an anniversary, it was just another day… but BEING on our anniversary I couldn’t help but think of how much I LOVED being with her… every day.

She drifted off to sleep early, busy growing a baby, you know.  And I had some things to do.  I was waiting on some video to encode for work and somehow stumbled upon this story.  I had forgotten I’d even written it, and forgotten most of the things I had written about.  As I read through what was an unusually coherent story for me, I really reflected on where I’ve been.  Where I am now.  And how much I have (and haven’t) grown up.

You know there aren’t any chapters in life.  It’s all such a slow process that you don’t even notice the time that’s passed until you lift your head up from the page you happen to currently be writing and look at everything you’ve already “written”.  And you have that “holy crabcakes” moment where you think “I’ve been so deeply consumed with what’s been right in front of me for so long I’ve lost track of all that I’ve done“.  It was amazing to read that old story and think that that really was me.  And to recall those decisions I made at that time having no f’ng clue what all would happen in the next seven years.

The sobering thought for me is that I had a plan then.  Probably a plan with even greater clairvoyance than the plan I have now for life.  Remarkably much of what was planted back then has blossomed now and continues to grow.  Andrea and I are married 3 years, and Luke could conceivably be here any day now.  I’m still in radio after quite a bit of adversity and some really scary job moves.  If you asked me if I am where I thought I would be by now… I probably couldn’t give you a straight answer.  I’m somewhat where I expected to be, but got here ENTIRELY unlike anything I ever dreamed of.  Certainly a path I couldn’t have planned for, yet somehow walking distance from the original course.

As I read that it brought back a lot of personal thoughts about myself of the sort you never really share with people.  Not the dark or embarrassing kind.  The kind you don’t share because when people ask “How you been” they’d really rather not know anyway.  “Doing well” is efficient and expected in these encounters.  Had they or I been up for it, I could have opened with the oft overused, “I HAVE been pretty shitty and confused, but right now I feel quite effervescent so please don’t feel awkward.  I can only hope you are better than you have been as well!

I feel like I’ve grown… A LOT in seven years.  More mature, confident and determined than the clueless kid with a positive attitude I was back then.  But you ask me where I’ll be seven years from NOW, and I feel just as apprehensive, courageous and positive as I did back then.  I’m still intimidated about how I’m going to provide a living, now not just for myself, but my family.  How to grow in my career as to be a more valuable team member, and how to expand my skills should god forbid something unforeseen head my way.  If history is any indication you can be assured it will.  As intimidating as it all is, knowing what challenges have already come and gone, and how even the monstrously tough decisions did little in the way of straying us from our original path, it’s hard to be scared.

What I love about today, is how exciting tomorrow sounds. Know I can’t wait for tomorrow, to see what happens. And to be there when it does!

Practice vs. Predisposition

I knew someone growing up that always insisted that they, I or anyone could be just as good as anyone else given the right amount of effort and practice.  I rather, postulated that some are naturally gifted with certian talents and that neither she, I or anyone else would EVER be as good as them given equal amounts of effort and practice.

I submit to the court exhibit A:  A 5 year old drummer

This kid has already surpassed my skills as a drummer.  I’m not terrible, I’m not good.  I’m probably smack dab in the middle of the bell curve.  Lil’ Johnah there has a bright future ahead of him, because with plenty of practice he could potentially be the most phenomenal percussionist the world has ever seen.  Me?  Well if I practice long and hard enough, I could surely be good enough to be a professional drummer.  But I don’t know anyone who in their right mind would consider me a phenom.

I don’t want to short effort and ethic for achieving goals.  That’s not what this is about.  But just to lay to rest an old argument that we aren’t all created QUITE equal.  You have some God given abilities somewhere that others don’t.  Find ’em and use ’em!  Mine just happen to be in Mario Kart.  Haha!

Getting what you want. (aka Guaranteed Happiness)

One of the sites I get to enjoy regularly via my Google Reader is lifehacker.com.  They tend towards the techy side but they offer a lot of clever insights on handy little “Life Hacks” that may or may not be useful.  One that popped up today was “Negotiate Anything“.  Every once in a while I run across something or somebody that kinda re-enforces my beliefs and helps me understand a bit more about how things work, and how I can use my abilities to make them work more in my favor.  In this world you can’t have everything instantly, but with a little careful strategy you can tilt the table in your favor and have a few more things go your way than those that might not.

The Lifehacker article I linked to above talks about Herb Cohen.  Honestly I’d never heard of the guy.  But supposedly he’s the “defacto” negotiator.  I watched the video in the article and a lot of what he said really resonated with me (I guess it’s that Althouse blood, hehe).  He says the three variables in negotiation are power, time, and information.  I’d never really thought of it like that, but when I’m “negotiating” those three things are what I focus on, I just never really thought about it like that.  I kinda just went on “instinct” I guess (again, thanks Dad for those genes).

You might think about your “negotiation skills” and you think about buying a car or a house, or interviewing for a job.  But if you think about it, pretty much every decision in your life is a negotiation.  Will I do this or not? It all depends on whether you agree with the other person.  Even when you don’t think there’s another person there.  For instance say you’re hungry and a Big Mac would REALLY hit the spot.  If I asked you right now what a Big Mac cost you probably couldn’t tell me.  But you know if you rolled up to the drive through window and they said “Big Mac’s are $15 today.”  You’d say to hell with that no matter how reasonably hungry you were.  But I’m willing to guess most of the time when you go through the drive through, you look at the price, pull around, pay it and go on your way.  You and Mc Donald’s just negotiated a fair price for your meal that you both agree on.

But, Matt you’re 400 words into this and I still don’t know how to get what I want!  I feel cheated!

First off.  Nobody gets what they want.  Hate to break it to ya.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You knew it.  You knew I didn’t have any secret knowledge that unlocked the universe, and definitely not any knowledge that will just get people to hand over the goods.  Do you want to know the secret though?  Do you REALLY want to know?….  The secret is something you’ve long suspected.  That some people get what they want more often than others.  And lets be honest with each other.  When you get what you want.  You’re happy.  Me?  9 days out of 10 I’m a happy camper.  Hey, we all have a crummy day now and again.

Fine then.  How do I get what I want…. more often?

Glad you asked!

What DO you want?

What is it that you want? A pony?  They’re cool, but who’s gonna scoop all the poop?  A million bucks?  Well there’s those printing presses, but I hear they’re cracking down on who gets to use ’em.  And then there’s that working your whole life and earning it.  But that’s lame.

Honestly though, this is the hardest part.  Whether it’s deciding what you want to do for a living, or whether you look better in hot pants or bell bottoms.  A lot of times you know you want something but you don’t know that that is.  Best advice I can give you is don’t over think it.  By the time you’ve narrowed it down to a couple good choices just be bold, pick one and go with it.  Commit to it.  Live and breath it if you have to, even in the face of those that laugh and tell you you’re crazy.  Did it ever occur to you that you look GREAT in hot pants AND bell bottoms?

Be realistic.

Be realistic. Big things take a lot of time and resources.  Which either means you’re going to need a lot of help, a lot of time, or a ridiculous amount of luck.  Also consider all the draw backs.  For example. People like to look at celebrities and think how nice it would be not to have to worry about money and be known every where you go.  But along with that means you can’t even go buy toilet paper without getting stopped for autographs, and everybody hears about it when your wife chases you down the driveway until you hit a fire hydrant.

Some things are nice but require ongoing maintenance.  Swimming pools are awesome, but it’s a lot of work to keep them from becoming a lab experiment, and every year you have to winterize them and recondition them for summer.  A gym membership will let you swim whenever you want, someone else takes care of the pool, and it’s cheaper, but you have to leave your home  and swim with random strangers.

You can’t have it all for a little, so be realistic or you’re going to be disappointed.

Check the emotions.

Check the emotions. Sorry, drama llamas.  The word is out.  Nobody cares how much your life sucks.  I don’t say this to be mean, or infer that your friends and family don’t care about your burdens.  I say it because lamenting on why you are so downtrodden is never going to be a good tactic for getting what you want.  Never.  Ever.  Because the people that care are probably already helping you in every way they can.  That only stands to reason that everyone else doesn’t care.  You can hate the world and bitch about them being selfish insensitive pricks, or you can check the baggage and get in the game.

The biggest thing that Herb Cohen said in the video in that Lifehacker article is to think of negotiations like a game.  “Because in a game you care.  You REALLY care.  But… not that much.”  In a game you always want to win.  And it sucks when you lose, but shoot.  It’s just a game.

It seems counter intuitive, but checking the emotions is (in my opinion) the most important part of actually getting what you want.  Not only do you approach things with a more level head, but you can really FREAK PEOPLE OUT.  Grandpa Frank told me a story once about his first car.  It was a 1942 Chevy (I think, Grandma ask Grandpa and correct me on these details if I’m wrong).  Frank and his Dad went to look at this car.  Frank loved it.  The fella wanted $400 for the car.  His Dad said “No way.  I’ll give you $250 for it.”  Of course the guy scoffed at the offer.  Frank’s Dad just said “Fine,” and headed back to the car.  Frank couldn’t believe it.  It wasn’t the greatest car, but his dad couldn’t even cough up $400 bucks for his son’s first car?  I’m sure he’d already pictured himself shining it up, driving it to school showing it to all his friends.  But instead he was sitting in the PASSENGER seat of his father’s car as they drove AWAY from HIS car.  Lo and behold as they’re driving away, the seller chases them down half the block just to ask Frank’s Dad if he’ll still buy it for $250.

Getting what you want right now always comes with a price.  But always give the impression that whatever you’re after isn’t that important.  That you can afford to walk if you don’t get what you want.  My Dad always said, “Never underestimate how desperate someone is to get rid or something.”  And the converse it true as well.  Never underestimate how badly someone wants what you have to offer. This applies to everything.  Cars, jobs, heck even relationships!

Be prepared to compromise.

Be prepared to compromise. If you look at compromise as defeat, you’re NEVER going to get what you want.  Instead look at it as opportunity.  Because THIS is the crucial moment where you can really skew things in your favor.  This is where you have to opportunity to do what is in YOUR best interest.  Think WAY back to the beginning.  The three key variable of negotiation are power, time, and information.  By playing the cards you’re strongest in and minimizing your weaknesses, you will usually come out on the favorable end, even if only slightly.  But in the end, if you reach that agreement you’ve gotten what you want right?

For example, when I wanted to paint my car.  I realized I had a lot more time than money.  TIME>POWER.  I had read and seen results of people who’d painted their cars with a roller and rust-o-leum.  Armed with this INFORMATION my car got painted over the course of a few months.  Does it look as good as a show car?  No… but it’s a compromise.  One I’m pretty satisfied with.

Things usually are the way they are for a reason.

And finally, just remember.  Usually almost always all the time things are the way they are for a reason.  Don’t over think things.  Don’t force things.  But most of all, don’t convince yourself that you can’t do something that tons of other folks already do.  Figure out what you want.  Figure how to get it.  And GET IT!

Old and stubborn

Perhaps I’ve had one too many glasses of wine…or I feel guilty for not posting anything of great substance on the blog as of late.  Either way, I usually wouldn’t have posted this.  I often don’t carry discussions from the message boards over to the blog…and to be honest I’m not really sure why that is.

One of the members of OldsPower.com made a quite wordy post, which I won’t bore you with, about “change”.  An excerpt:

So what’s the point?(Summation). Forty is right around the corner and I find myself evolving into my father. When I first moved into my neighborhood I was the loudest person on the block, now I’m becoming that recluse old fart on the corner that doesn’t like anyone or anything: “get off my lawn, turn that crap/music down!”. I’m actually happy to see a Sheriff’s Patrol rolling down my street nowadays. Anyway, I get accustomed to how things are and don’t like new things that I know nothing about. But pretty soon the “new things” become the old ways and I reminisce about them too.

What caught my interest is that this isn’t a unique story.  It seems to happen to everyone.  Old people are cranky, they drive slow, they are set in their ways.  But why and how?  We don’t just wake up one day, with weathered bodies and a narrow view on life.  It’s a gradual process.  And it’s happening to you as you read this.  And I postured, that it either has something to do with growing older (i.e. weaker), wiser or a little of both.

I’m a few years behind you (26 now), but I already feel myself gravitating towards the feelings you describe. I resisted getting a cell phone until I was out of college. Infact it was my future wife that insisted I have one. Little did I know it was but the first or many sacrifices I’d make. Even now, I’ll turn the phone off many times when I’m out of the house. I suppose I just long for the days when if you weren’t home, people had to wait until you got back.

I suppose it’s all about perspective. I remember being full of imagination and ambition back in my early college years. I was going to GO places…DO things. Make a name for myself, ya know. But as time went on, I started to realize that wasn’t my nature. Not that I’m not ambitious (I did paint my car with rustoleum ) but that I had re-aligned my priorities.
The world moves at a furious pace, like a fast current coming at you head on. It takes so much energy to keep up. To keep up with the trends…the technology…the politics… I think either as we get older, we wear out and grow tired of trying to keep up with it all. Or we wise up and embrace what we have, what we know and “go with the flow”.
But who knows!? Maybe it only makes sense to me. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had a couple of adult beverages myself…

And you thought we just talked about Oldsmobiles!

Taking another moment…

For some reason or another, I got back to thinking about the mechanics of life again today.  No, I don’t mean the guys that get your car going again after you’ve plowed a quarter mile through swampland.  I mean life, how we got where we are and how we get where we’re going.  Perhaps it will make no sense, or perhaps it only makes sense to me.  Could I be so enlightened?

Mostly I’ve been thinking about “existing”.  And what it means.  I haven’t dusted off Webster’s lately, but I’m operating under the assumption that it mean “to be”.  You think about life.  “To live.”  To react to your experiences.  To change and grow as time goes by.

We’ve gotten a good amount of rain here over the past few days, and I was looking out the window today at a plant that had gotten noticeably fuller and greener over the past week.  My first thought, as yours might be, “I bet that plant has enjoyed the rain.”  As a human, we all too often assign human qualities to inanimate objects.   While the plant has benefited, and grown over time, I doubt it “felt” any better.  Should it whither and die, we would feel sad.  Who was so mean to not water the plant, to let it LIVE!?

If that plant had half a brain, it would up root itself, shuffle over to the hydrant, wrap its leaves around the spigot and have itself a drink.  But it can’t.  It’s firmly planted where it’s at and it isn’t going anywhere unless someone like you or I intervene.  In fact it only EXISTS there, because it’s adapted to that specific environment.  In other words, it’s not a coincidence that a banana tree hasn’t sprung up in the vacant lot next to the radio station.

But if you stop and think…why is that?  Why CAN’T a banana tree grow there.  Read the rest of this entry

A few sayings…

Here’s a few little quotes I’ve heard thoughout my days. Not all from famous people, but some of them are. Most of them I don’t even know where I heard them. But I’ve held onto them all this time, because these simple little truths help me get thought the sticky situations.

Don’t worry about what you can’t change, and do something about the ones you can.

A smart man learns from his mistakes. A genius learns from the mistakes of others.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy problems.

Money isn’t everything, but I’d like to see you live without it.

Things usually are the way they are for a reason.

You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.

That’s all I can really recall off the top of my head. Feel free to add to the list!

Days like this, I could live without.

You know…when it’s definetly not summer, but it’s still not winter? I wouldn’t call it fall though. Fall is brisk mornings to get you out of bed and get your blood moving, and cool evenings to wear a jacket and go on a walk with a friend and enjoy the golden hues of the leaves as they fall from the branches that you didn’t know were there all summer.

No, today is not fall. It is indecision. One of those days when the world calls in sick, but you still have to go to work. A stiff north breeze cuts through your underdressed outfit, through your skin to your very core, and sun only does barely enough work to not let it be night. The worst of it all is there’s no escaping it. It envelops you from every direction, like a bad dream when you can’t wake up. The only relief is to retreat into your shell, full of artificial lights and stale old smells. You pull up a blanket, you grab a book, a warm cup of cocoa and try to put as much material between you and the day as you can.

Yes, I could do without days like today. I have enough indecision in my life as it is. But the best thing about indecision is that it can’t make up it’s own mind. Tomorrow will be sunny and 65. And I have a friend and a walk already in mind.