When I started work at the Pew Charitable Trusts back in September, I was instantly concerned that I was entering a world of Serious People™ that do Serious Work™. It’s true that everyone there does Serious Work™ and they’re quite serious about it, but I think I was afraid of entering this glass chapel of high thought and being relegated to becoming a severe person. By the end of the first day, any such misapprehension had dissipated entirely, and by the third day I had made good acquaintance of a guy there called Zhalgas. He prefers Zee for a lot of reasons, so we’ll call him that for our purposes. Zee is another programmer and all around cool guy. His interests are wide-ranging and eclectic, but we share many, including, in all its forms sundry and less so, games.
Chewie… We’re home.
That’s right, friends, compatriots, and scoundrels, I am back in the business of making a blog. It’s real, it will be short-lived as ever, and it is happening literally right now. We’re going back on Fat Nerd to Chic Geek because I truly fucking found all that weight I lost and a few more scraps that someone else lost at some point. I’m doing a thing I’m calling Pop-Dev, which is a not-entirely cute programming joke where I’m going to talk about cultural things and entertainment, specifically my express wish to create something therabouts. And I hope to have guest thoughts from smart people in my life, because I have an astonishingly absurd profundity of smart people in my life these days.
Something I think we don’t do enough of when thinking about entertainment is point out examples of the world getting it right. There are endless examples of getting it wrong – a handful of recent examples include the absolutely vile harassment experienced by Anita Sarkeesian for suggesting – just suggesting! – that maybe video games have been getting it wrong when it comes to women. And it’s ludicrous that she’s even suggesting that it might not be true, because it’s been true for twenty years or more. There are four or five places in geek culture where women can’t seem to catch a break – even when they’re brainy, cultured masterminds, they’re still sex kittens. They’re still showing off their asses and being hypersexualized. The one place that consistently seems to nail it?
Western animation. Continue reading
I missed all kinds of deadlines this week – we didn’t hike last week and I won’t be going tomorrow, but I have a fun-ish story to tell about my trip to Pittsburgh, so I’ll supplant that entry tomorrow with that. I was pretty busy running around like a crazy person trying to get crap together for my graduation in Florida next week (getting my MFA and speaking at commencement because I won an award). Add work and trying to have a social life in pursuit of a meaningful connection with a woman on top of that and things get a little crazy. So that’s deadline explanation.
This was a weird week. I lost a pound but ate somewhat poorly, so I’m not too pleased with it. My workout schedule was also constantly abused by the reality of the rest of the world. And it’s completely impossible to guess at the nutritional values of well-prepared foods and nice restaraunts. I had something like a tune steak and two slices of white pizza as well as a glass of red wine, and I can only guess at how terrible the whole thing was. It was also fairly decadent, which is not something I typically go for, but I was pretty impressed and, you know, when you’re shooting for trying to be good company, it doesn’t hurt to step outside your comfort zones.
What was really cool about this week was the ability to review some footage of myself from a few months back. Specifically, eight. Becky and Zach had never actually showed me photos of their wedding (almost a year ago, which is like, what?), but now having seen them, I was accosted immediately with two distinct thoughts:
1. Holy crap I was fat.
2. You are still fat, dude.
That second one sounds like I’m disparaging myself, but it’s a reality that, while I like the way I feel and the new ethic or continuing to be aware of what I’m consuming and how much physical activity I require of myself, I still need to inflate the musical volume levels vertically, inflate ’em vertically, as it were. I worked out the math and I’m a good pant size smaller than I was then. I’ve also been learning how to make an intelligent adult person decision when it comes to the acquisition of suits and their constituent pieces, so I no longer appear to be swimming in them as I was in those photos. I have very little shame of those photos. There was an obligatory “jump” shot where the whole bridal/groom party thing had to jump so the photographer could snag an image of it. While almost all of them feature me in some shameful bout of exuberance facially, on at least one, I achieved an unrivaled vertical clearance, and the positioning of my arms makes it looks like it is my intent to deliver a flying Muay Thai -style knee-smash to the head of the bridesmaid adjacent to me. Which is terrible, because she was, by any recollection of the moment, a lovely person, lovely enough that I have no memory of wanting to stove in her skull with a flying knee to the cranium.
So in a lot of ways, I’m a little regretful that I’m not one who is more for photos. Seeing a former ultra-tubbo version of oneself proves to be vastly inspiring toward becoming even less so. Life has a fascinating and cruel way of making that, it must be said, quite difficult.
This week has featured the following truths: of a 20-minute cardio workout, I now run for 12 of those minutes. Each and every time, I wish to die. I am told this is entirely normal. I’m also told that I’m running wrong? I don’t know about that part. I have a bad habit of not stretching properly after I work out, which is murderous the following morning, but since I alternate my cardio days and my weight-lifting days now, it’s somewhat more survivable. I worked out six times over the past week and am set to do the same this week. The diet thing had gotten a lot easier because of the patently excellent application LiveScape that I snagged for my new Windows 7 Phone. Well, new to me. Yes, I’m that guy with a Windows 7 phone, and you know what? I like it, so back up off. No, I can’t do all the cool shit your jailbroken Android phone can do. No, I don’t have the rich, integrated user experience that your iPhone has. What I have is a good smartphone that’s not filled with endlessly distracted bullshit and a pretty smart sync system to my new car.
It’s also a great companion for working out, because the Netflix and Spotify apps for it are actually basically fantastic. But I was talking about Livescape, and plugging the shit out of it.
It turns out that this is a terrible idea.
Which I’m sure 99% of human persons can tell you without having to do it. A friend of mine had a party a few weeks back, and, like you do at parties, I consumed what I’m going to call an ordinate amount of refreshing adult beverages. Drinking games were played, fun was had, and I think I wound up calling it a night around 3? Maybe 2? I don’t remember. It’s not important. Well, it’s relevant, but the cogent data is that it was really god damn late or really god damn early, depending on how you choose to measure time along your axis of reality.
We go hiking at 7am.
Seven. Aye. Em.
So I was doing a series of Articles at the turn of the year titled “From Fat Nerd to Chic Geek” that was a chronicle of my efforts at being a happier, healthier human being. And, honestly, they were working. I weigh almost 50 pounds less than I did at the start of the year.
If you’re wondering, “why all the white space?” That was an applause break. You should fucking clap.
So, I’m gearing up to apply to a couple writer gigs in the game industry, because it’s one of those things you just have to try, and I find myself curious about the requirements of some of these positions. One that I looked at recently required a list of games played in the last 6 months (I limited it to video and computer games, because, yeesh, it’s already way too long) as well as a top-10 list of all time. I was not content to just do a top 10, because I wanted to really think about it.
So I did. And now, dear reader, you get to see my thoughts on it. I’m curious if anyone else who still plays games has sat down and thought about this, but now that I have, I found it really interesting and valuable. So take a minute and give it a shot. You might be terribly amused by what you find.
The morning of 6 May, 2012 (that’s old school for you) was not exactly a good day for a long walk, though it was vastly better rested. The first time around, we all gathered at Will’s place and tried to spend the night there to set out early the next morning and, save for Will, all slept on couches.
Well, I guess Zach and Chris slept on couches. I cramped up and sweat my face off for about four hours on a couch.
This time, we had a more auspicious start – we all woke up individually and made our way over to Will’s place where we packed up our water and snack supplies and set out for Peters Mountain and the associated trails. Realistically, the mountains around here aren’t very tall or complicated hikes, but Peters Mountain is apparently one of the best. Our morning involved a stop at a local grocer to get more water bottles and for me to get a doughnut. That turned out to be a stupid-ass decision later on.
I’m gonna get a little deep here, but what is adventure? We can do a quick definition and find out a relatively generalized version: Adventure is defined as an exciting or unusual experience. So if we adventured all the time, is it still adventure just because it’s dangerous? Because it’s risky? Actually, it’s not.
What we crave is structure. We’re social creatures. I can talk a lot about this, and I can point you at a bunch of great research that indicates this is incredibly true, and you will likely not believe me, but I don’t have to because Jane McGonigal did it and wrote a God Damn Book about it. Plus, she Talks about it (capital T indicating a TED affiliation – what you know about links, son? Best be clickin’ that) in a way that’s way more compelling than I can. Trust me when I say this: I’ve lived The Aimless Life before. It’s terrible. I sought and continue to seek out structure and form that empower and drives me. We’re lucky enough to live in a world that enables you to do those things with a little help, a lot of patience, and varying degrees of luck.
Since starting my new job, incidentally, my workouts have become more regular and I’m getting back into journalling my food consumption a little bit better. So Fat Nerd to Chic Geek is likely to make a comeback (Don’t call it a comeback/I’ve been here for years.) avec le vengeance. This concept of structure is something I champion to a lot of my nerd friends. It’s not adventure if it’s just random all the time. You have to break up the monotony of whatever your life is with other activities, even if your life is really enjoyable – but the dark secret is that if you break up structure with something structured, chances are you’re going to have an even better time.
Enter Hiking. Or as I call it – taking a long walk. Those with powerfully generous definitions of the term might call it hiking.