Happy Earth Day

Today marks Earth Day, the one day per year in which many people pretend to care about the home that we all share: our beautiful planet Earth. If you treat every day as if it were Earth Day then you would be moved to action, even if only in the smallest means. Said action isn’t solely posting some tired quote on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or everywhere else the selfish and the self-absorbed congregate.

I always maintain that being part of the solution is much better than being part of the problem. Little things like “reduce, reuse, recycle” are important to incorporate in daily life. Instead of always deciding between “paper or plastic” at the grocery store, why not bring your own, reusable shopping bags?

Bees are rapidly becoming endangered, and that means our food supply is threatened. Why not plant bee-friendly herbs, shrubs, and trees wherever possible? Spend a day at an apiary if you can, and learn as much as possible about those marvelous little critters upon whom so much depends.

When’s the last time you volunteered at a local outdoor cleanup activity which wasn’t driven by politics or making yourself look good amongst your office or personal circle? When did you do something good for our planet, simply because it needs to be done? This planet is our home. It’s the only one we have, for the far foreseeable future, so we are responsible for its health and well-being.

That’s my small, soapbox oration for today. Now that I’ve stepped off of it and put it away, please enjoy the five songs which, to me, always symbolize Earth Day.

Earth Day, MMORPGs, & 373 Days…

 

Today is Earth Day, 2015 – a day to celebrate this beautiful planet and all life upon it. It is our home…let’s care for it and keep it clean, eh?

I’ve been playing The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) for over a year now, so I figured I’d write another small review now that it has evolved – or devolved, depending on how one looks at it – and add some much-needed critique which, for some odd reason, never seems to make it onto the forums when I try to post there, or mysteriously vanish into the ether when I attempt to make an in-game report.

First off, the game is now ‘free-to-play’ (F2P), meaning that you aren’t required to subscribe anymore – ‘Tamriel Unlimited’ is the new version. You still have to purchase the CD-ROM to install the game and download the content, but once that’s done, you’re set – just sit down and play. I will continue my subscription because of the extra features and bonuses included, and I know that I’m not the only gamer doing so!

The console version (PS4 / Xbox) of the game is being released in June of this year, so the beta testing of same begins tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if the in-game population is noticeably different, as beta testing usually goes on for an entire weekend.

My characters are kicking arse and taking names – of my eight “toons,” five are now Veteran Rank (VR) and one is almost at the maximum level of VR14. The Veteran levels will be going away at some point, now that the Champion and Justice Systems have been implemented. Without going into too much eye-glazing “blerd-speak” and gamer lingo, I’ll simply say that the Champion System isn’t bad – it allows you to apply passive abilities that enhance your skills, and you earn Champion points by engaging in PvP and having fun with the Justice System. The Justice System essentially placed one of the best aspects of ESO games into the online version: the ability to pick pockets and steal things from shopkeepers. Be careful, though; if you get caught by the guards or murder an innocent bystander, then bad things can happen! People don’t take kindly to having their pockets sifted through by a sneak-thief, for some reason…

Now for the critique: I’ve been disappointed in the role-playing (RP) aspect of the game – since there are fewer people my age playing, there are few people who know how to RP the old-school way, the way we did playing D & D back in the age of dinosaurs. Some of the first computer games, like Zork, were text-only options so you had to remember a lot of information, and I still apply that to MMORPGs. Creating a character is more than just making them look good; you must build a personality to go along with the avatar, and a good back-story is part of that. From my in-game experience, people have a difficult time keeping their back-stories continuous, or they create a back-story that is contradictory to the lore of their character’s race and homeland. I haven’t lost hope yet, though; there are sites out there that are built around the RP community and I have registered with two of the larger ones, so there’s still a chance that I will be able to start a nice brawl in a tavern somewhere!

Another distraction consists of people who are juvenile fans of ‘Twilight’ and other vampire- or werewolf-related rape fantasies, who try to shove their pathetic attempts at erotic role-playing (ERP) down your throat if you pass by them in a town. Some of them engage in that activity in the PvP area, which is really annoying when you’re trying to siege a fortress and a bunch of scantily-clad avatars run past. Don’t get me wrong; I’m no prude, but when there is a cap on the population in the PvP area then those people are wasting space that could be used by people who actually want to fight. Go do your ERPing in Mournhold – there’s a brothel there, after all!

Finally, the downright nasty and ugly side of ESO involves – you guessed it, the blatant racism and sexism. It is prevalent in every corner of cyberspace, and games are no exception. Comments in ‘zone chat’ consist of people talking about the ‘master race’ and hurling hatred on the Redguards, who just happen to be the “dark-skinned, wiry-haired denizens of Alik’r.” Yeah – wonderful to be hated in a game, simply because I want my toons to represent me – dreadlocks, dark skin and all. Racist, sexist, and homophobic language are supposed to be against the Terms & Conditions of the game, yet people flagrantly defy those conditions and spout vile things. If one dares to speak out in ‘zone,’ they are jumped on and trashed as being ‘oversensitive’ and ‘unable to cope.’ This only happens with those who call out the racist comments, though – the LGBT community gets defended if someone says “That was gay,” and people are hammered more for using the term ‘retard’ than for using any variation of the ‘N’ word, or slurs against Muslims. Hmmmmm…sounds familiar, no? At any rate, I have tried to report some of the foulest people and have been met with *CRICKETS*…putting those people on your ‘ignore’ list does no good, especially because there is a limit on how many people you can ignore in the game. There is an option to report players who might be harassing you, but I doubt that it is any more effective than reporting racist character or guild names, of which I’ve seen many.

Almost worse than the racism (note I say ‘almost’) are the women who use the game to engage in “the world’s oldest profession,” getting men to pay for their internet and character accounts by cyber-sexing with them on Skype or the VoIPs that many games and gamers utilize: TeamSpeak (TS3), GameVox, and Mumble, to name a few. Again, direct violations of the game’s T&C, but we all know that the men who engage in it aren’t going to tattle! Those women make it impossible for true gamer chicks such as me to be taken seriously in-game, and it irks the shit out of me! No, this is not a myth – many women solicit people online, in every medium – from blogs, to dating sites, to news comment sections, to MMORPGs. On that note, the number of men who create a female avatar and then play ‘her’ as some sleazebag who runs around with no clothes on and propositions every ‘man’ ‘she’ sees, is creepy, to say the least. Even creepier are the men who are married and engage in that activity; when you ask them why they do it, they say, “well, I wanted a ‘hawt’ chick to look at when I play this game!” Um, so…your wife isn’t “hawt?” At any rate, because of the males engaging in those activities, the question, “Are you a GiRL (Guy in Real Life)?” is quite common! In closing this topic, I can say that I still enjoy this game and will continue to play it, but I’m disappointed in the way that the ugly real-life shit has to filter into something that could be very enjoyable and entertaining.

Finally, last but not least – the girls have been away from their families for 373 days…

DEVO: “Beautiful World

Happy 4/20 Friday!

I know, I know – for a lot of people, this day is a memory of a tragic school shooting perpetrated by a couple of extremist, cowardly, neo-nazi punk-ass cretins who couldn’t handle the pressures of school because their parents didn’t prepare them for real competition or corporally punish them when needed.  I mean, isn’t that why kids do shit like that; because they have shitty parents?  That’s always the excuse given when non-white kids commit crimes, so it seems that it should be true for white ones, too – kids are kids, after all!  Anyway, today is the birthdate of the hero of the Columbine murderers, who is (I will apologize to J.K Rowling) “he-who-will-go-unmentioned-by-me”.  That piece of filth caused untold horrors, pain, and misery to millions.  Only his followers and adherents are more psychotic than he was!  Seriously, anybody who follows (and takes to heart) the insane rantings of a syphilitic methamphetamine addict, has some serious issues…

Anyway, I digress…for me, today is about celebrating the gifts of Mother Earth, as Earth Day is this coming Sunday, 4/22.  My childhood in Alaska instilled a love of nature that still holds strong in my heart.  Being city-bound kills me sometimes; I’m fortunate to live in an area that has plenty of trees and greenspaces to enjoy, so there are always many types of birds about, as well as squirrels and the occasional raccoon wandering through.  But today…TODAY, specifically, is about one of the plants that Mother Earth gifted to all of her creatures – I speak, of course, about cannabis sativaganja…marijuana…the ‘sweet leaf’!  I have partaken of it from time to time, and have inhaled deeply, and often!  Why ‘Slick Willy’ Clinton made a deal about using it is beyond me – seriously, anybody who has attended any sort of college has engaged in drug use of one kind or another; if you haven’t, you’re either golden or lying – as ‘Chef’ on South Park said once, “There’s a time and place for everything, and it’s called college!”  This is true!  😎

Marijuana possession and use was semi-legal in Alaska until 1991, when it was fully criminalized.  Before 1991, a person could have up to an ounce of ganja on them and the police wouldn’t bat an eye.  You couldn’t get caught buying or selling it, and growing it was a no-no, but merely having that small amount wasn’t a crime!  I believe that even my own religious parents tried it once or twice when I was very young; I recall incense sticks burning in the plant boxes, and little incense cones on the windowsill of the apartment kitchen.  The plants sat on the living-room windowsill, and the living-room overlooked the part of the water where Wrangell Harbor met the Stikine River.  The lumber mill was nearby – I remember that mill-whistle blowing at 7:00 every morning for years; when we lived near it, I would hide my head under the covers when the whistle blew because I thought that demons from hell were released and were screaming as they made their escape to wreak havoc and chaos…my 5-year-old imagination would run wild!

No, I have no issues with pot-smoking – I will say that I don’t like lazy stoners who do nothing, though!  One of my many personal mottoes is “Everything in moderation…including moderation!”  So, be smart about it.  It’s really not that difficult.  Smoking weed isn’t a problem unless you let it take over your life, just like drinking alcohol.  I haven’t smoked for a while and won’t until I know that I can safely do so again.  This would entail getting a full-time job that doesn’t require UAs at work; or, preferably, writing a novel that sells well enough for me to live comfortably!  🙂  I feel that it is extremely silly to require an office administrator, who doesn’t have to deal with accounting, HR, or management issues, to take a UA for marijuana.  I feel this way because, generally, one isn’t using marijuana at work and/or on the jobsite – that’s something to be done at home, on a weekend.  On the other hand, some people at offices and other workplaces are taking heavy, mind-altering drugs such as Prozac, Xanax, lithium, and whatever other pharmaceutical cocktail they need to get through their day of back-stabbing two-facedness.  The side effects of those drugs are far more severe than the dry mouth, elevated appetite, and giggle-fits that pot perpetrate.  Not to mention, who would you rather be around:  A giggling stoner, or a raving bi-polar psycho-bitch who decided to go off her meds and drink because her boyfriend didn’t compliment her new shoes?  The answer is pretty damned easy for me…

In memory of Dick Clark, and in honor of the upcoming Earth Day, this D.J. is opening up the memory vaults to give you five delicious songs that simply kick ass!  Enjoy the ‘crunchy grooves’, my friends…  😎

Genesis: “Home By The Sea

The Bee Gees: “Jive Talkin’

Peter Wolf: “Lights Out (Dancin’ In The Dark)”

Reunion / Joey Levine: “Life Is a Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)”

Jim Stafford: “Wildwood Weed

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