Category Archives: Rant

Rants, self explanatory

A Year of Becoming An Socially Ascetic Hermit – A Retrospective

I am not the most socially apt man… I confess that I am actually more introverted than I seem, because I have to actively force myself to talk to people that I do not know. It may not seem like it to some folks who know me, but I actually struggle on the inside to just try to make an introduction.

For many who do know me… You know that I have always felt that my home city has been the home where my heart feels I belong. Last year due to family reasons, I had to move to a city nearly an hour away. From that, it brought a lot of changes like having to learn a new city and become more familiar with it. Unlike original my home city, my heart doesn’t feel an affinity with my new city… While I have memorized most of the roads and shop locations where I go to buy supplies, I don’t feel like I am home. The new city even after one year of residence feels “alien” for lack of a better word.

Adding to that… I made a transition to working more from home, because doing a 1 hour commute (during non-rush hour times) one-way to work can be brutal and in worse cases… being stuck in rush hour can mean a 3+ hour commute home. As a result, I don’t get much social interactions in-person with my co-workers at my base office. Additionally, my beloved has needed me to become a caretaker for her which also has me staying at home more often because she has been going through her own struggles.

The ultimate culmination is that my new home has become a bit of a personal sanctuary and hermitage. I end up reading, studying, playing video games, and trying to improve on myself at home. As a result… I have become a hermit that has become comfortably numb within my own home. Going out to the market feels like a mentally agonizing chore, but if it’s a situation where my home is out of sundry goods or food… I sack up and just head out. Interestingly enough, becoming a socially recluse hermit has been like a spiritual quest in social asceticism. It has brought about many thoughts…

Adult life can epitomize the Buddhist “life of strife and suffering” mantra to a sense, because adult responsibilities end up being mentally taxing. Not all suffering is physical and sometimes adults write off mental suffering because it doesn’t cause visible harm sometimes. As children, we don’t have to worry about the electricity bill being $350, the credit card for pet medications being a bit high, or being consumed with uncertainty in the future that it causes insomnia. As children, we take our nativity to the world for granted and it is much like the story of the young prince (before he became the Buddha) being in the walled palace who is ignorant to the suffering of the world outside of the palace. It’s something that has come to my attention when I take time for meditations.

Adult life and friendships can take odd turns… I remember my life in Dallas that nearly every weekend, I had some sort of grand plan with my friends there. A board game night every weekend. Going to a Korean taco shop for dinner and drinks. Having a family style dinner at my apartment… Once all of us started growing into our 30’s and our professional lives started coming into being, things changed be they in or out of our control. Some of my friends ended up working odd evening or graveyard overnight hours. Other friends may have ended up dating romantic partners who may have had a child from a previous marriage. Some friends went from being 2 minutes from my Dallas home to nearly 30 minutes away. Some may have had to become caretakers to their spouses. This would end up cutting into those sublime moments where the weekend were the time we had in common to come together, celebrate life’s joys, and commiserate in life’s challenges. Little did I know that my move would exacerbate things…

As a result of my move, I am now up to 1.5 hours away from some friends which can make for a brutal drive in busy weekender traffic on the roads. I generally don’t have the luxury of staying over at the homes of friends as most of my friends either live in small apartments, can’t take overnight guests, or have constraints that don’t make an overnight stay ideal. I haven’t seen some friends ranging from a few months to nearly 2 years. Some of my good friends may not have the time or luxury to see me with respect to a commute that could be 1+ hour long which I understand as well. I have one good friend who has definitely made a serious effort to come out, but he is blessed with a wife who’s generally lenient and provides him a lot of freedom to pursue his social interactions. Being “deprived” of seeing my friends in person has also made moments like being able to see them in person being so much more meaningful… but that’s not without its dark side.

Being socially isolated by my home situation in addition with my adult responsibilities has come with some downsides.

I have had moments where I go weeks without in-person social interactions and end up in a state that I feel almost socially starved for interaction. In those moments, I feel like I have had a thirst for water that has gone on for too long. It makes me savor the moments I get to spend with my friends who come to visit me, but when they have to go home… I get a bit sad like a feral cat who may not know when they may find their next meal. Equally, if I am able to make a day of seeing a friend at their home, it feels like making a grand pilgrimage to satiate my appetite for social interactions after fasting for many days.

In the same right… It has also shown me who my true friends are. Those who truly care about me and my beloved versus who just see our friendship as a convenience. Not only for just local friends… but also with friends online. Social asceticism has also given me more time to think about my own personal values and re-evaluate some friends who in recent years I have began to question my friendships with. Some folks I have just cut out of my life completely due to just simply seeing that their values no longer respect my own values to the point that civility or peaceable political discourse is simply not possible (“You’re an idiot to think that way and if you refuse to change… you’re nothing short of human trash!”). The depressing thing is that some of these people were people I used to respect or hold in high esteem… It’s been a bit of a social wake-up call to me for a sense.

It’s been interesting just seeing the fractures in the facade because that has lead into another event that has come to be most recently: Social media has become poison and I want nothing to do with it.

As a younger man, I thought social media was a great blessing as a communications tool. Being able to share information with “friends” or pitch questions to a crowd if you couldn’t trust the wild west that was (and in some cases still is) the Internet as a whole. Since the last US election, that has opened my eyes to the fact that social media has become a poisoned well mated to an echo chamber. Social media has made it easier to spread lies as fact and if those comforting lies coincidentally fall in line with a social groups beliefs and values… No one on social media seems to question it.

It’s almost like a regression to the day of the early internet where email forwards had questionable things like “Satan is coming and this email with the love of Christ can save the world… Forward this to 12 of your friends and God will protect you from the End of Times” but yet were debunked easily because those emails would make ridiculous claims such as “There’s no attachment on this email because God’s love can track who has or hasn’t completed his wish of having this email sent to 12 friends”.

News media companies who have only recently embraced the internet since the last US election have seem to lost their moral fiber and ethics of reporting the facts to instead resorting to yellow journalism, tabloid reporting, and sensationalizing events to an editorial bent in hopes of advertiser dollars. This is a frightening trend, because a lot of older folks rely on the news via TV and radio for their view of the world… but at the same right, a lot of folks in the 20’s and 30’s have come to rely on the news being posted to social media to shape and form their views. The result of sensationalized news being reported with yellow, tabloid-style reporting is that news organizations can spread misinformation (whether deliberately or not, depends on their political leanings) and rely on viral style distribution. In some cases, misinformation may be quietly corrected… but by the time a correction has been issued, the news company makes a quiet push with no fanfare. This potentially means some people may not realize their world view may potentially be compromised by erroneous information or worse yet… because the information may call their values and beliefs into question, they suppress the correction because their social circle on social media may burn them at the stake for going against their status quo.

I personally have learned this first hand… Some folks would get mad at me trying to correct information by accusing me of over-explaining a topic even if it may be a subject I have expertise in all because maybe the information politely asks “Are you considering every angle of the argument and trying to be humane to your friend who is trying to provide an equal view to a topic to open up your preconceived opinion?” I have found that sometimes challenging a person’s world view may end up with them resorting to name calling or ad hominem attacks on my character when I have not done the same to them. It’s been quite hard keeping a cool head in those situations, but at the same time… I feel like I am wearing my patience thin which saddens me a great deal.

As the days pass and the number of “friends” I know grows fewer… I feel the specter of loneliness creep closer. Some days I have fear that my social asceticism and self-isolation may eventually rob me of any companions in this lifetime. I have found myself diving more and more into gaming and intellectual pursuits that have been more enjoyable than intellectual fighting because I feel like the divisiveness of the world has burned out my soul. It makes me wonder if I can even find a voice for myself because the passing days make me feel like my voice is quickly disappearing.

Gaming Agnosticism Looms Nigh

Gaming these days can be a touchy topic with some folks… There are those on the camp of “You game on the right machine (PC) or you get the #%*$ out!” and “Consoles are made to game, so less potential for stress and headaches!” I admit that in my younger days, console was the way to go. Buy the machine, buy software and (if needed) extra peripherals… Bam, finisimo! Sadly, my family feared the very idea of me building my own computer. Fact is, I built my first one when I was 17! All because they feared I was inept as a kid and failed to let me explore the vector! I digress… When I did build my first computer… It was a beauty by 2000’s standards. AMD Athlon XP Thunderbird, 1GB of RAM, and a 32mb DDR RAM ATi Radeon VE. The fun part was I got to see the schism in quality of a game from a PC version versus a console. Continue reading Gaming Agnosticism Looms Nigh

The Value of a Gift

This year… My birthday has been both the worst and the best with all due respect. My theme this year was “spend time with the ones you love and cherish, gifts optional” because with good friends, you don’t need gifts. The ultimate gift is the company of your friends as well as the bond shared over years and years. I had chosen the site of The Cheesecake Factory for my event, because I figured it’d be a fun and with a a taste for everyone that may be picky. I didn’t feel it was something ostentatious like the Steve Field’s Steak and Lobster Lounge or something ratty like a greasy all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. To me, it was a modest middle ground with food from almost all cultures to pick and choose from. I also wanted to celebrate in a mature way and to be able to have a glass of beer or a martini with people I love being with. With that said… I had told my guests to just come as they are. I wasn’t expecting people to be in tuxedos and ball gowns for an outing that would cost thousands. I just wanted my friends to be there with me.

The gifts I have received so far are not ones that I demanded for… below I give you the register of items.
UHA Pucchu candy
Steam game: Dark Void Zero
Steam games: Commandos Collection (on sale)
Shiner Bock 6-pack
Steam game: Shatter
Tucano netbook bag
Steam game: Command and Conquer Red Alert 3
Steam game: Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City
Anthony Logistics for Men: Clean Start Kit
The Art of Shaving Fusion Power Chrome razor
Asus Eee PC 1001P Seashell netbook
Time spent with my friends

There is one more gift a friend made mention that is on order, so this will be known as the following:


The greatest gift on this list is my friends. Sure, the material things are nice… but I won’t disregard the matter that even the material things vanish, wither, or break. The most important value to be absorbed from a gift is that… the value from a monetary stand-point should not be viewed/mentioned. If you make it a point about the value of a gift… at that point, it is not a gift. I think Sol said it best with his quotation: “Dude, at that point… reciprocating the value of a gift voids out the meaning of a gift, it’s a loan at that point.” Another friend of mine named Seelen gave a great example: “If I won the lottery and decided to buy you a yacht… I am not gonna say that I expect a Bentley Supersports coupe!

To be honest… if my friends came to my birthday hangout and just gave me birthday cards… I’d have been happy as all hell for it. Friends last forever, material things will always be come-and-go.

Machines and Logic Bombs

Lately I have been debating over 2 cases to upgrade Byakko to… The Cooler Master HAF 932 or a Cooler Master Sniper Black. Cooling is my primary focus as heat dissipation is a primary focus for me as keeping a hot system cool is definitely important. I know I have a Phenom II x4 945 processor upgrade, a Corsair H50 cooling system, a Corsair HX power source, and a Radeon HD 5770 (XXX Edition from XFX) as pending upgrades. Definitely huge upgrades for sure. So keeping cool and functional is definitely vital… Plus I do want to push my gaming to the limits.

The logic bomb of the weekend is the matter of my sister. I have no clue why she thinks I care or am part of the loop with my family… but this weekend she suddenly tells me an aunt of mine died over the weekend and then vanishes. I mean, she’s basically cast me out because I am some sort of loser with no diploma and degree after my name… Which boggles me… Why would a person shoot me dead as an outcast yet then try to socialize to me about matters of a social system I have no shred of care for? It’d be like convicting a person with being a pedophile but a month later telling them to go to a Chuck-e-Cheese and babysit a party full of children. No offense to people who are logically incompetent, but… FOR GODSAKE DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO OSTRACIZE SOMEONE PROPERLY! I mean, I don’t think it’s hard. You don’t go “I never want to speak to you again, ever!” and then an hour later go “Hey, what up?” It defeats the purpose.

Black Dragoon in the Battlefield

I have been in many wars and seen much destruction in my days… Not like these past few months. To go from zealous warrior to a dragoon cast out from his unit for the battalion commander using questionable logic in a battle… It’s taken a toll and made me a jaded soldier on the academic war front. The fight no longer is about meaningless mortal concepts like “family honor”, “respect”, and “face”; it becomes a fight on the matter of personal dignity. The warmness of the soul dies… A casualty of war from fools who heedlessly had no perception of how morale can either produce quality units or make them useless. Break a soldier and he will mutiny the battalion or kill himself, even more if you keep trying to say the unit is only going to repeat his failures of the past. Encourage a unit and let them do battle and you may see the unit grow even stronger. Sadly my “commanding officers” don’t see it this way and only know “motivation” by breaking a person to a mindless slave that is useless when the master leaves or dies.

Sadly I have seen the “quality” unit churned out by the school of de-motivation and slavery. They have no sense of real world logic, rosy-sunglasses syndrome. On top of that they can’t handle the “devastation” of failure and own up to their mistakes! They HAVE to blame others who they feel are intellectually inferior to themselves! When a soldier cannot own up to accidentally killing a comrade, leading the enemy back to the command center, or ruining their own supply pack… They have to learn to go “I messed up but I can put myself to resolve things” instead of being a yellow bellied coward! This logic is essential to learning and evolving past old glories that have given false security to us slacking off. It is much like the mantra of war: “Evolve or DIE“. If you refuse to evolve, take chances, and get hurt… You will ultimately be killing yourself. If you fail, you can just pick up from the ramparts and retry again. If you succeed, you evolve! From failure and success, evolution is still possible.

I guess you could say that I am sadly exhausted of being the mindless slave unit. I am the drone who tasted freedom. To be told that the only way to become “superior” is to put a yoke on my mind and make it lazy, I desire not to have it. I’d rather fight under a banner of heroes who’ve decided to question logic than blindly obey.

Aborting Mission Mike-Whiskey-2, Considering Bravo-Foxtrot Bravo-Charlie 2 Mission

This week was the blockbuster release of Modern Warfare 2 for XBOX 360 and PS3 (Tuesday) then Thursday midnight for PC folks via Steam. The game has no doubt made headlines everywhere… From the number of copies sold to even things like the controversial undercover American agent working for the Russian Ultranationalist terrorist killing innocent American civilians in an airport… However, I will admit, the console release is rather good! It does the console features well, for consoles of course… However the PC folks (like me) got ripped off as did the PC player community…

There are threads like this one from the Call of Duty Boards titled: More IW Thievery (Link) If you don’t want to read or see the screens… Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: IW runs a map-making competition for e-cred for new maps… Apparently community members threw tons of maps, winner announced and e-cred given… Fast-forward to now, community member Zeroy gets MW2 and finds community maps were added and NO credit given to community developers.

Then you have this amazing breakdown I found on Amazon from a guy named Nathan Risto

Here is a break down of the differences between Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. Take notice that almost everything is a downgrade for a higher price.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Networking: Client/Server
Avg Ping: 25-40ms
Console Commands: Yes
Lean: Yes
Custom Maps: Yes
Number of Players: up to 64
Competitive Mods: Yes
Mod Tools: Yes
Ability to Record: Yes
Kick/Ban Hackers Immediately: Yes
Profiles Saved Online: No
Manually Select Server to Join: Yes
Control Bad Language: Yes
0 ping Advantage for Host: No
Lan Play: Yes
Free Demo: Yes
Price: $50

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Networking: Peer 2 Peer (downgrade)
Avg Ping: 100ms+ (downgrade)
Console Commands: No (downgrade)
Lean: No (downgrade)
Custom Maps: No (downgrade)
Number of Players: up to 18 (downgrade)
Competitive Mods: No (downgrade)
Mod Tools: No (downgrade)
Ability to Record: No (downgrade)
Kick/Ban Hackers Immediately: No (downgrade)
Profiles Saved Online: Yes
Manually Select Server to Join: No (downgrade)
Control Bad Language: No (downgrade)
0 ping Advantage for Host: Yes (downgrade)
Lan Play: Yes
Free Demo: No (downgrade)
Price: $60 (downgrade)

For me as a PC player and part time server admin… Running my own server is quite fun! I can make a private practice ground for my “n00b” friends to piss around and learn game mechanics… Then there’s stuff like being able to manually boot/ban griefers that some admins like to have, which is very important on family servers when you have clowns yelling stuff like “You %@#$!#$% noob! #$%#ing come back and fight me like the little gay bitch you are!!!” and not understanding some parents do not want their children exposed to coarse language like that on a server. The PC community developer tools are no longer available to users and we basically got a glorified console version port with only the options to play with a keyboard and mouse and resolution tweaks.

I for one am disappointed… I do confess, when I have my “realistic combat” thirst come up Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare hit the spot quick. However, I think the invitation that DICE/EA has offered in the form of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has enticed me. The prospect of a huge battlefield, epic battles not limited to 9 vs 9, and dedicated servers is enough to have me look at it and probably consider it. The pre-order is plenty enticing to boot: 6 load-out perks and and 3 guns! The PS3 beta is LIVE while the PC beta is due in December… The game won’t be out sadly until March 2nd, 2010, but the footage from the PS3 beta looks really good!

To fill the void… I have Dragon Age Origins and Left 4 Dead 2 for the time being…

[Editorial] Apple’s VP of Marketing is in a Spatial Field Barrier… Ugh…

So on reading through blogs and on [H]ardOCP I saw an article linked about Apple’s VP of Marketing is seeing Windows 7 as a chance to herd up frustrated Windows users (link here). The guy is pining for frustrated Windows users to just decided to hop on over to their grassy knolls to the cult of Mac rather than just buy a $100 copy of Windows 7. I would like quote the CNet News article:

“We think a lot of folks will look at that as the straw that broke the camels back,” Croll said. “People are tired of the headaches with Windows and this is another great excuse for people to check out the Mac.”

From “Apple sees Windows 7 as an Opportunity to Sell Macs” on CNet News by Jim Dalrymple

This logic is a bit flawed in my mind from an economic standpoint in my mind, because of the fact that Brian Croll assumes every computer owner that is frustrated with the notion of upgrading to Windows 7 will have to do MAJOR upgrades to use it. On top of that he keeps mentioning the idea of users frustrated with the Windows experience and hope they will consider the Mac experience.

Disclaimer: Before I go on, I will make the disclaimer that I hate all operating systems equally as much as I love their foibles. I do own a Linux laptop, a G4 Mac Mini, and Windows 7 Release Candidate desktop machine before anyone wants to make accusations of favoritism.

Point #1: Money is hard to find – A home upgrade is easier than buying a new Mac.
His point that people will get aggravated with the process of upgrading the OS. I do agree, the agony of Windows XP users migrating to Windows 7 will be one that will be a bit vexing, because it does require a full wipe. That can be seen in this chart posted by Walt Mossberg on his blog here. But at the same right the Apple guide just mentions in migrating from Windows to Mac mentions migrating files, not complete system settings… In layman’s terms: It’s like the aftermath of a FULL WIPE! Most folks have a means to archive of files like DVD burners, external hard drives, or (now) network storage devices… so this puts Mac migration right in the same ground of a Windows user doing a full wipe. That’s frustrating no matter how you see it. Most home users considering the Mac migration will probably be eyeing either a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or an iMac. That’s a starting price range of $1,000 – $1,300 before applicable taxes. On the Windows side of things MOST old 32-bit technologies are still supported in Windows 7. This sadly was not the same for G4 Mac users when Snow Leopard came out, so the high and mighty “Windows users will have to make major upgrades to get Windows 7” argument is not quite valid. The basic message that G4 users got was “Want the new OS update? BUY A NEW SYSTEM!” so that argument is back in fair game. The entry price for a Windows 7 32-bit Home upgrade is $100 and various online communities have reported the “Use the upgrade disc for a full install” trick still works. So in hard economic times, $100 and maybe using/borrowing an external hard drive versus shelling $1,000+ and still using/borrowing an external hard drive… I think being economical takes precedance to a foolish impulsive need of some ridiculous need to escape a “user experience“.

Point #2: Users tend to use what they use at work
This is a point that the Linux folks mention a lot of. This is also their rallying cry to push for Linux use in the home: get more Linux machines in the workplace then you will have more people considering it for home use. Apply this concept to Windows in the workplace or academic field… Lots of campuses get better volume discounts on Windows machine versus the Mac discounts. The proof of that is seen in the price of several Dell workstation versus an iMac suite. Also the myth of “Apple machines are just better at any art related tasks” is essentially null and moot because the software exists in the realms of both Windows and OS X versions. Then you also have fields where you don’t have Apple OS X equivalents. If the market share were a little more in favor of Apple, I could see the desire of a change of environment with an equally balanced ecosystem of software for both Windows and Mac. However when you have market research showing that close to 85% of people who own Macs also own Windows PC’s (as seen in this PC World article), the grip of Windows isn’t letting up. The rationale that people at home use what they use at work also is to the respect of compatibility. It’s always a pain to the typical end user to try to force compatibility but also it is much easier not to fight against what the work place endorses. Sure there are also things like Citrix or Virtual PC clients, but usually those require that the IT dept of a corporation to get linked up.

In the end, Windows 7 will still be hot. Those who are willing to upgrade will. I think the correct market Brian Croll is targeting are those who have $1,000 to blow on a PC and want something new and shiny. The logic of the Windows XP users being targeted is fair, but he seems to have disregarded one important fact: the size of their wallets.

[Help/Technology] The Dark Side Beckons… With a Vengeance!

Alright… Most of you technologically wild folks know that the big tech shows are going on. Apple’s WWDC, E3, (I think) Computex etc… These are all industry breaking shows in which manufacturers and developers get to show off their works in progress or even finished products pending release. However… for me, things got interesting.

Almost 1 years ago, I had blogged about the iPhone 3G finally hitting all of the global carriers… yet that it was still flawed from not supporting things many basic features that even standard phones have supported for the last few years. Things like MMS (picture/video messaging), video recording, A2DP Bluetooth stereo streaming, encrypted e-mail were just some of the issues I had with the iPhone 3G being balked as the update the phone needed… Another thing later on when the iPod Touch revision came out was the support for the Nike+ system. Somehow… the iPhone missed out on that and it would basically hose any interest I had as I would love to track how much I run be it for classes or just working out. The final nail in the coffin would be that I had friends who noted iffy phone service on the iPhone via AT&T because I feel that BASIC functionality is very essential.

Yesterday and Monday’s updates on the gadget and tech blogs were quite an eye opener, however. Most of them had pointed to Apple’s new iPhone 3G [S] site and had noted that a lot of my grievances with the 3G version have been resolved. Phone calls seems to have gotten better with those who are using the leaked Developer version of the iPhone 3.0 software/firmware. The phone also has improved with things like faster processor, the addition of a compass with the GPS chips, and a few other features. The Nike+ system finally got added so it sweetens things a little bit more. Sure $200 – $300 for a phone is a bit steep… but at this moment… That’s basically the price point I am looking at for phones.

To thicken the plot… When I had left Commerce on dorm check-out on May 7th, my BlackBerry was showing I had weak T-Mobile service throughout all of Commerce. The few times I have been back in the past couple weeks, my signal has diminished to T-Mobile going to Roaming Mode on Cellular One’s backbone. This is rather crippling… The reasons for that being 1) When I am on roaming, I have asked my BlackBerry to kill my data functions to prevent roaming charges and 2) I get charged extra for taking calls while roaming. Point #1 is a killer because I have become really data centric with my BlackBerry especially when I am without my laptop. Point #2 is just murder for me as a college student, especially considering I got TONS of calls from classmates with AT&T during the day time hours with my already small minute pool.

AT&T seems to have a stranglehold for the area, as my friends have noticed. I have heard some hearsay of the Commerce area AT&T users mentioning that 3G service is unrolling soon or already present. On top of that, AT&T is killing the 2G towers in favor of the 3G revolution. Sadly, the only BlackBerry on AT&T that is 3G ready is the BlackBerry Bold and it’s not quite what I am looking for. T-Mobile’s signals are diminishing and sadly their BlackBerry devices are just rehashes of my Curve 8300 or the Pearl 8100 series. Call me odd but the fact that just about any smartphone supports Lexi-Comp, including the iPhone, is a huge impact to me as a pre-pharmacy student.

For now… I am in no rush really to convert or anything of that sort yet. I am roughly 2 weeks away from my current T-Mobile 1 year contract finally expiring and I also need to see where my own family stands as far as service goes. I know my own family is debating on if they may be switching carriers or staying and doing month-to-month with T-mobile. If they are switching, then it makes a little more of a big sell point for me to jump ship with them… If they stay, then I’ll really need to sit and talk with them.

Anyone who has insight on this… Post away and let me know!