Feb 232010
 

So I’m running some Argent Crusade dailies in Zul’drak today before I meet with the trainer. I had hit exalted reputation with Ebon Blade the night before, so thought maybe I could hit exalted with A.C. before too long and get some new boots. At level 80 I’m still wearing Gorloc Muddy Footwraps.

Some guy named Đeath is out there too, and throws me an invite. I agree, thinking he’s doing the same quest I am, but he never says anything so I drop him. A little while later he messages me, “I need help stalling the monsters.” I finally agree to join him again, and as we get started he says, “Don’t kill them, just entangle them.” Thinking he has some weird quest requirement I agree, noticing that he’s throwing something at the mobs while they’re entangled.

After the second kill (when he orders me to heal him) I get suspicious and ask him, “What do you need them entangled for?”

“I’m leveling my Thrown.”

Welcome to my block list, asshole.

Feb 222010
 

I got an intensive 90-minute resistance/cardio workout, I didn’t have to wait to use any of the equipment, I had a parking spot right in front of the place, there were no kids and, best of all, it was FREE TO JOIN!

The hours are kind of sporadic, though.

Mother Nature's Fitness Center

Feb 192010
 

In lieu of an actual post of any substance, since I can’t seem to wake up this morning, here’s a drug commercial I stumbled across while trying to explain the My Little Cthulhu toy on my desk to a coworker.

Here’s hoping the coffee and Concerta will eventually jumpstart my exercise-depleted brain. Jump-squats, lunges, and treadmill sprints are evil, evil things. This morning I dreamed I was in the underground of some unknown city/country. All of the various neighborhoods/cities were connected, not by subways, but by high-speed moving sidewalks.

Treadmills. I was dreaming about treadmills. >:-|

Feb 172010
 

For awhile I was enjoying a location-based app called Gowalla on my iPhone. Similar to FourSquare, it allows you to collect virtual “stamps” for creating “spots” in real-world locations, assigning them to categories, and dropping or picking up items in a scavenger hunt-style. You can then broadcast to your Gowalla friends, Facebook, or your Twitter feed when you check in at any of these spots.

It was (and is) a fun, clever idea. I enjoyed similar activities in the MMORPGs City of Heroes and World of Warcraft, which was known affectionately in CoH as “badge-whoring”. During the initial giddy rush of having a new shiny with juicy, colorful graphics, I annoyed my Facebook friends and Twitstream by posting my spots at every opportunity. Rather quickly, however, I began to think that posting my current whereabouts publicly may not be such a good idea. I turned off the Gowalla feed to Twitter within a week and, about a month after that, the Facebook feed. Currently, the only people who can see my latest Gowalla update (rare though they’ve become) are specific friends who are also on Gowalla. Other Gowalla users can see your latest checkins, if they search on the Gowalla.com site specifically for your name or email address, or by picking an existing spot and seeing all the users who have checked in there. Not 100% secure, but slightly more reasonable.

The point is, though these things can be fun, not only are you telling everyone where you’re at, you’re also telling them where you are not:

Home.

As reported by an article on TechCrunch today, a group of guys went way past my own vague sense of unease and created a site to warn people of the dangers of screaming, “Here I am!” to the entire world: Please Rob Me.com.

If you’re a FourSquare user (currently the only location-based app being tracked), and broadcast your location on Twitter, take a look at the site and the constantly updating list of currently empty homes. Now plug in your Twitter name. See how easy that was?

Granted, a potential robber would have to know where your house is to take advantage of the information, but if it’s someone who already knows you and is looking for an opportunity to help him- or herself to your stuff, you may as well hand them your keys and a bag to carry it in (paper or plastic?).

Please. Think before you give everyone the 411.

Feb 162010
 

The Trainer (and I feel it’s important that this be capitalized) did not reduce me to blurred vision, gasping, and acid reflux as he did last Thursday. Not that it wasn’t intense, but this was an upper body workout which, unlike a legs/core routine, typically doesn’t transform one into this:

It consisted of two rounds of deadlift presses, lateral dumbell raises (where 1.5 reps actually equaled 1 rep), walking the treadmill with my hands while in a pushup position (both directions), doing a 1-minute plank with my elbows balanced on a Bosu, and walking across the room and back holding a 12 lb. medicine ball straight up in the air with one hand, dipping it down to my shoulder and back up at the halfway point. It looks easy.

It lies.

I’ve been given dietary instructions for the rest of the week, before we take all my baseline measurements on Saturday morning: no processed sugar, minimal sodium, and *shudder* NO ALCOHOL. On top of that, I can’t drink anything at all after 9pm on Friday night.

Well, I guess that makes me the designated driver for the Great Guinness Toast birthday party we’re attending Friday night. :-/

On the plus side, Paul The Trainer told me to make up for it on Saturday, just in time for our friend Andy’s Mardi Gras party. Rest assured, I will devour King Cake and Hurricanes like the People of Walmart turned loose at the Old Country Buffet.

Feb 142010
 

Yesterday, Jamie & Eric E. and I descended upon Eric H.’s house for some Cthulhu and cupcakes. After watching Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (which was pretty cool, by the way, and I’ve never been much of a DC fan), we busted out Arkham Horror and set about saving 1920s Massachusetts from Shub-Niggurath (the randomly drawn villain du jour) while stuffing our faces with Eric’s white chicken chili and the aforementioned cupcakes.

Eric H. had never played, I’d only played twice before, but Eric E. and Jamie had a handful of games under their belts so, after picking out and equipping our characters, and some frantic rule-reading (which was a frequent event over the course of the game), the quartet of Carolyn Fern, psychologist (Me), Dexter Drake, magician (Eric E.), Joe Diamond, P.I. (Eric H.), and Kate Winthrop, scientist (Jamie) set forth against the forces of cosmic evil while trying to avoid losing our sanity or being messily devoured.

There are already a couple of reviews of the game so I won’t try to do my own. The setup is fairly involved, and there are tons of cards and game pieces, but once you get rolling the gameplay is pretty smooth. Eric caught on very fast and, by the end of the game, had killed more monsters and closed more dimensional gates than the rest of us! We adopted one house rule to make the game run a little more quickly (characters with remaining movement points can continue moving after an encounter instead of ending their turn there), and made a few mistakes: advancing the doom track more often than necessary (bad!), and not increasing the toughness of the monsters due to Shub-Niggurath’s special ability (oops). Had we done that, the game would have been much more challenging.

As it was, we successfully closed all of the gates before the doom track was more than half-full, leaving Shubbie snoozing peacefully in her corner of the bleak and uncaring cosmos instead of stomping all over the Roaring 20s, presumably in search of bathtub gin. This was celebrated by more snacks, more Justice League and, eventually, a trip to the Detroit Eagle.

I ordered gin.

Feb 122010
 

The sudden advent of Google Buzz caught me off guard. Unlike Wave, I hadn’t heard any “buzz” (I’m so sorry, but how could I resist?) about this at all, and I usually keep up on the latest Next Great Thing.

After a bit of poking around at it I saw that it could very well be for individuals what Wave can be for groups. Rather than being excited, however, I found myself…weary. “Not another one!” I sighed.

I’m suffering from what I’ve just this very moment decided to call “Connection Fatigue”: having your attention divided by so many social network services (as opposed to actual social networks) that you exhaust yourself trying to keep up with all of them. Making a quick mental count of them, I’m up to about…um…ten accounts, including ones I barely use, or stopped using and just haven’t deleted them. That doesn’t include IM networks, either.

I can spend most of what might have been a productive day just bouncing from one to the other, writing posts, or reading and commenting on others’. When I’m not doing that, I’m surfing them to make sure I don’t miss anything. By the end of the day my already inherently-challenged attention is so fragmented that I can’t seem to focus on anything, and it feels like my mind has been reduced to colorful confetti and scattered across the world.

Confetti

In a typical week the computer is the second place I go to in the morning (after the bathroom, naturally) and the last place I’m at before bed. I’m in front of one nearly all day for work. I have all my social network services available on my iPhone in case I’m not at a computer. If I don’t check on things for awhile, I start getting antsy, and will find myself interrupting another activity to take a quick look. I am completely enmeshed.

Traveling to Aruba over Christmas revealed an interesting twist to this. Roaming wireless data service on the island cost about $10 per megabyte, and text messages were about $1.50 each. Once Aaron and I resumed breathing, after the sticker shock wore off, we quickly shut the phones down and put them in the safe. Most of the time we were out doing things, even if it was just lying on a beach, and only hooked up our laptops to (briefly) check on things in the evening. Otherwise, we were entirely off the grid, for the most part. The thing is, I didn’t miss it. Being disconnected because reaching the Internet was impossible, unfeasible, or just plain costly really didn’t bother me at all, and in most ways it was a relief to unplug. The only times I found myself reaching for the iPhone that wasn’t there was when I wanted to look up some fact that had been mentioned in a conversation. The problem arises when I have the Internet right at my fingertips, and refuse to access it constantly. I might miss something!

I’m not saying it’s all bad, of course. I’ve met a lot of great like-minded (and not so like-minded) people because of LiveJournal and, despite all the bitching many people do about it, Facebook has somehow become nearly indispensable for keeping up with folks and organizing activities. I resisted Facebook for a long time and only created an account in the first place so I could see some pictures that a friend had posted. When I wasn’t looking, it managed to creep in and put down solid roots, almost against my will.

Also, the fact that I have instant access to almost the entire sum of human knowledge, in my pocket no less, still fills me with a sense of awe when I stop to think about it. In fact, let me repeat that so it sinks in:

You have instant access to the entire sum of human knowledge and history. For anyone with a smartphone, you have that in your pocket. Does that not just blow you away when you consider it? In the thousands of years of civilization, such a thing simply did not exist until about  20 years ago.

Despite the good points, my original problem remains: I am overconnected and mentally suffering for it.

So here’s the plan: I am withdrawing all of my extraneous Internet presence, and pruning what remains. As I import old posts, I’m shutting down my blogs on Vox and Posterous. I’ll import LiveJournal, but I’m keeping the account open because I have good friends who still post there. I’m discarding everything I signed up for because it was new and shiny, but never found myself using: LinkedIn, rrripple, etc. The Facebook friends list will be stripped of folks I never communicate with, or are only on there because we went to the same school once (there goes the size of my Mafia Wars clan!). When I finish, I plan to be down to a few core services: Gmail, this blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr for pictures. Even Flickr may be on the chopping block, depending on how much work I feel like doing to move all my pictures to this server. As for Buzz, well, that will be hard to avoid, since it’s right there in my Gmail window. Hopefully, doing all this will help defragment my life a bit.

By the way, the irony of using a social network service on the Internet to bitch about social network services on the Internet is not lost on me.

Feb 102010
 

After dinking around with both iWeb and the demo of RapidWeaver, I decided to scrap the site I’d created with iWeb and install a WordPress blog on my site instead. I like RapidWeaver better than iWeb, and I could integrate WordPress into it, but the demo only allows three pages, one visible post on a blog page, and four pictures in a gallery. I’m not gonna shell out $80+ just to experiment with something I may not keep up with, however. Suckage.

The purpose of all this was to pull everything into one place instead of being scattered all over the Internet. I don’t really want all my writing in the hands of others, subject to corporate consolidation, policy changes, feature changes, and so on. Having a hosted website still involves a third-party, but all they do is provide blank space and keep my data backed up; the content and format is completely under my control.

Right now, however, I seem to be spending more time tinkering with the method than consolidating the content. I actually feel kind of guilty for tinkering instead of producing, but it was kind of fun to install the blog software on my server by hand and do some troubleshooting when I managed to screw it up afterwards by altering my site structure.

What’s really holding me back is the daunting prospect of importing all of my posts and pics from LiveJournal, Vox, Posterous, and Flickr, then getting it all sorted out: making sure private posts remain that way, setting up galleries, etc. Just the thought of it tempts me to leave it all the way it is and stick to Facebook but, again, I’d still be subject to the whims of another social network.

It also feels like I’m fighting against the current. Most people have moved away from personal hosted sites and onto social networks. They’re already set up for you, easy to configure (for the most part), gather everyone together in one place, make it easy to connect with others, and provide all kinds of bells and whistles. The work is done for you; all you have to do is create content, while I’m here trying to build a hut on my empty little island.

I have this image of standing in my tree fort like Calvin, shouting across the empty landscape, “This is my island! You can’t come here unless I let you!”

I’m probably reading too much into this. Who really cares what I write or where? I’ll still update Facebook and (occasionally) Twitter.

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