What’s worth doing even if I fail?

Look! Another post inspired by Brene Brown, this time from Daring Greatly. “What’s worth doing even if I fail?” She whispered this phrase to herself as she was walking out on stage at her 2012 TED talk. I think I have to step back further from where she’s at though and just start with “what’s worth doing?” What is something that needs to be done, what is something that I feel I need to do? I want to do some sort of deep introspection and thinking here but honestly I am too internally blocked to go that far. That will eventually be my answer to “what’s worth doing even if I fail?” but I’m not quite there yet.

That leads to the question of what is worth doing in a more general sense. Superficially I want to create whether it is to create a difference, create an object, or create a thought.

Creating a difference is important to me because I have always desperately wanted to be needed. So much of my self-worth and identity is tied into being a helper, being available for people when they have little else. It’s probably the primary reason why I’ve been entrenched in mental health nursing since I became a nurse nearly a decade ago. (Side note-holy shit that was 10 years ago!) If there’s one group of people that don’t have much it’s the people described as severe and persistently mentally ill. All of the agencies I have worked at served a population of people that were homeless or only one flat tire away from it. I could be something for them: a smile, a greeting, a “how are you?” with the actual desire to know, a quiet presence to cry with, or a guide when the voices, self-contempt, or anxiety got to be too much. (This is where my tendency towards over functioning comes in but that’s a blog for another day)

You see, in working at places where my need to be needed was satisfied with little effort on my part I was able to continue to do without having to stretch out and be uncomfortable. Sure there are always the discomforts of learning new systems, new people, and figuring out my place in the system but I could always figure out a way to create a difference because there was always at least one person around that needed something.

Creating things has become a large focus for me in my knitting and crochet projects. I can make things that are useful and have an art to them. They aren’t perfect but often I’m the only one that knows how imperfect they are. Other people see the things I’ve made and appreciate them and all is good in the world. I’ve even slowly been pushing past my fears of different techniques and projects because this is a challenge I can do. If it doesn’t work out I can just rip back the yarn and watch my work shrink away until the mistakes disappear. (Note that more often than not this is an accidental thing and results in cursing at the tiny loops until I get everything back to where it’s supposed to be.) I can take chances and risks with little waste except my time and patience. This is a safe place to challenge myself and do something daring.

Lastly, creating a thought is actually the other two forms of creating mixed into one. A thought is an unformed object budding from someone who has been bit by the inspiration bug. I’m still working on how to do that with any consistency. There’s an unhealthy level of criticism and fear around creating a thought… oh. Right. I think that is probably what I need to focus more on. A something that is so important and worth doing despite the risk of failure would be an act of creation so long standing as to inspire thought, discussion, debate. Writing is one of those things for me.

Perhaps that is enough honesty and being vulnerable for the night. I know that my something worth doing despite the risk of failure is doing something that can inspire thoughtful discussion, ideas, and perhaps action. It’s still a rather broad concept at this point in my journey but I now have a direction to wander while I let this percolate a bit more. Hopefully the process of finding out what’s worth doing even if you fail isn’t so vague or hidden from yourself as what I’ve found my something to be.

Considering How I Phrase Things

There is a prescriber at work who has made an interesting impact on me and I’m not sure if she is even aware. I have become much, much more conscientious about now I say that I don’t actually know the answer to one of her questions. When I first started working at the ATU I received some feedback from a coworker basically saying that this prescriber was more or less pissed that I was okay with saying those three words “I don’t know.” It was unprofessional and unacceptable. Since then I have learned, especially when speaking with her, to make sure that I always answer with something else. this usually means things like, “you know, I’m uncertain about that but I think so and so may know. It has also forced me to pay a lot more attention to what people say about a clients behavior or what’s going on with them because I don’t want to be caught saying anything resembling I don’t know if it’s at all humanly possible.Her opinion of me and my capabilities have shifted over the last six months or so. I don’t believe she is hesitant to hear what I have to say about what’s going on with a client. She trusts that if she asks me to do something I’ll get it done or at least do my darnedest to make it happen. I’m surprised sometimes when I consider what her opinion of me was a year ago and what it has become and it makes me realize how much changing one small bit of speech can really do for you. methinks it’s a lesson that can be applied to multiple parts of my life. Now just to figure out what other key phrases I need to be way of.

A Completely Unexpected Thing

I’ve been getting a lot of hits on my blog the last few months. It’s all completely related to the essay I had posted in the middle of spring semester 2013, . As of 2pm on 8 Oct 2013 it was 935, an average of 5 a day since it was posted in April. It’s been really weird, to the point that I decided to go through and edit it a bit to make sure that anyone who just c/p without reading the whole thing would get a few weird questions from their teachers and maybe realize that plagiarism isn’t cool.

Today it occurred to me that perhaps not all of the views were due to the fact that people were just looking for something to plagiarize with. Sometimes people really are just looking for ideas on what to do. I decided to do a wee bit (read 3 minutes worth) of research and discovered that for at least three search terms “video games essay”, “video games are good for you essay”, and “sample video games essay” my blog post is on the front page. It’s actually numbers six, three, and two respectively. Holy shit. What the hell, dudes?! That is one of the absolute last things I would have expected to find. I know that the google algorithms basically say that the more traffic you get the higher up on the list you go, but I never expected to find anything that I have written get so high up on the list.

It also makes me worry even more about whether or not people are being not so cool and copying my work. *sigh*. Oh well. I hope people at least enjoy reading. Some part of me hopes that my atheism essay starts to experience the same success because I feel like that one is just as worthy of thought. Anywho, I just had to share my what the hell sort of epiphany thing.

Maybe Not So Crazy – Writing Idea

Mostly still not really edited but some revision to go with what the character wanted anyway. Still don’t know if I like the way the end went.

It had always been assumed I was crazy. My parents, friends, distant relatives, even me, we all knew I was crazy. Not the sort of crazy you see on street corners with people holding signs and talking to themselves and smelling really bad. Not like the crazy that rages against people and assumes the government is out to get them and that everyone is poisoning them. I don’t think I’m God or Jesus or a rock star or anything like that. But I have heard voices for as long as I can remember. I stopped talking back to them around middle-school. They never responded to me and never seemed to be talking about anything that was going on around me. They just… were. That’s all. I hardly notice them anymore to be honest. I stopped listening to them in high school. Well, mostly. I would listen to them at night sometimes, those times when I couldn’t fall asleep. It was my version of counting sheep. I’d listen to them ramble and soon would drift off to dream land and that was it.

Well, I guess that wasn’t entirely it. There are all the crazy, weird-ass dreams, too. Those don’t bother me much either. I do use them as jump off points for short stories. I’m told that I do talk when I’m dreaming. Loudly. My parents shunted me to the basement as soon as they could so they wouldn’t have to listen to me yammer anymore. That’s what they called it around me, but I’ve overheard them whispering about how scary it really is. Apparently I talk about assassination and plots and some sort of war that I don’t understand. Kind of fantasy stuff that only old school fairy tales are willing to hint at – Rumpelstiltskin sort of evil creatures. They’re really night-terrors actually. I don’t think of them that way anymore, but when I was little I did.

Really though, I’m not as crazy as I sound. I was a straight-A student all the way through school and college. I’ve got my bachelors in creative writing and have published most of my short stories and am in the midst of a novel. I have never been fired even though I have always worked at least one job from the age of fifteen and two or three jobs since college. Strangers at the bookstore and coffee shops I work at don’t know I’m different. My editor doesn’t know where all my crazy ideas come from. Publishers don’t care as long as my stuff sells.

So, I guess, in the long run it doesn’t really matter that I hear voices. According to psychiatrists that I’ve seen I’m not really diagnosable as anything because I lead a perfectly normal life. They’ve tried meds just to see if the voices will react but all that happened was that I slept. A lot. And felt really fuzzy in my head. My own internal voice was all jumbled and mumbling and couldn’t track at all (especially on Haldol, that stuff messes with you) but none of them fazed the voices. That was the part that really freaked out the psychiatrists. Nothing worked on the voices and I responded to the drugs the same way that a “normal” person would.

Thinking about that makes me feel even more crazy. A weird sort of crazy. The sort that even people who deal with crazies can’t figure out. That’s about when I stopped thinking about them at all. I wrote down my dreams when I woke up, went to the coffee shop, stocked books and answered the ridiculous questions customers came up with, went home to my cat and wrote then went to bed. The routine blurred the days and those blurred days dulled the voices.

Until about a year ago that is. Then they got loud. Really loud. Like I couldn’t move because of migraines and was having seizures and ended up in the hospital for so many tests that I am still paying for them even with decent insurance sort of loud. Again, the neurologists and psychiatrists were just as stumped as the previous psychiatrists were. According to the CT scans and MRIs and EKGs and sleep studies and whatever other tests they did my brain and body were perfectly normal. Absolutely normal. Like the sort of normal that is used in presentations that doesn’t really exist sort of normal. Well, there were some weird spots that would light up when I was asleep, but they’ve seen that in other people who have vivid dreams, so again, not really all that weird. Actually, I think they said that activity was absolutely textbook standard for night-terror brain activity. I think they were split on whether to use me as a case study, destroy all the evidence because it was too weirdly-normal or conclude that I was making everything up and just wanted a break from my dull life. I gave those last two a nicely worded letter telling them to go fuck themselves. Hindsight says it wasn’t the best idea but they pissed me off. Anyway, I sort of agree with the second group of docs. I basically think of my brain as so normal that it’s no longer normal but just on the other side of the dividing line between normal and freaking weird. Not schizophrenic. Not bipolar. Not depressed. No growths. No abscesses. Not even any concussions. Just weird. Basically the story of my life.

So I was crazy and weird but normal all at once. It probably should have freaked me out and led to some sort of breakdown at least sometime in my life. But that’s just not how I roll. Probably because my brain is too weirdly normal to accommodate such a normal response to so many weird things. Which sucks by the way.

I got out of the hospital after about a week when everything stopped. Just stopped. Migraine gone. Seizures none-existent. Voices missing. I never thought I’d say it but I was suddenly very lonely.

That lasted for about three days.

Then they started up again. Only this time they were aware. That’s the only way I can describe it. They started talking about what I was seeing and hearing and even feeling. They were violently loud the first hour then it was like a volume knob was dialed back. Not on my side, but on theirs. I don’t know how to say why that’s how it was, but I just know that my brain wasn’t capable of dialing anything down at that point. I was back in the fetal position and wishing I could find my way into a nice medication induced coma again. After a day or so to recover from that hour of arguing and my name being yelled back and forth, oh yeah, I forgot to mention that they knew my name, didn’t I? Well, they knew my name and they were saying it for the first time since I can remember, and they seemed to be arguing over what to do about me. Like whether to kidnap me or kill me sort of what to do with me. Awesome. That’s not disturbing or anything.

After the volume got dialed back and I more or less recovered from the blast of argument I still heard voices, but it seemed like they were only saying things that they wanted me to hear. I wasn’t hearing just random crap anymore, but intentional stuff. There were even times when they seemed to be able to blur the words, sort of like if you’re at the beach trying to listen to someone talking twenty feet away but the waves and wind are too loud to hear more than that they are saying words in what is most likely a language you understand.

While there were fewer voices overall, I finally figured out that there were two groups, one wanted to kill me, the other kidnap me and both were trying to figure out how to do it without the other knowing. Or me.

I already knew I was crazy. That was never in question. But now… now I was edging toward the sort of paranoid crazy that the people on street corners shout about. People were after me. They wanted to hurt me. Only they were still all in my head. It’s really hard to ignore voices that talk about how you need to die. I tried, I really did, but there’s only so much I’m capable of, even with my supernaturally normal brain.

Then there came the voice that started talking to me. Well, there were two eventually. One guy, one lady. They seemed to think I should know them and they started talking about how they were sending some people out to rescue me and just to wait and I’ll be back home and some other bizarre stuff. I initially ignored them. Then I protested that I was home, that I didn’t need to be rescued. I tried asking them what in the world they were going on about. They told me. I think. But it was more conspiracy theory stuff only they claimed to be from some alternate reality. Yeah, I stopped listening at that point. Like I said, conspiracy theory crap. And we had already established that I am crazy. Was crazy. I was crazy. I’m pretty sure I still am. Maybe I’m in an asylum somewhere and just don’t realize it. Perhaps it’s better not to know for certain. I had always assumed the old saying was true, “Only crazy people don’t question their sanity” or however it goes.

One year. One whole year spent spiraling further and further into the real crazy realm. Fun times. I have a lot more sympathy for the dudes on street corners now.

So yeah, I stopped wondering about conspiracy theories around the same time that two incredibly beautiful/handsome/oh my, can I bang you now, guys show up at my apartment and try to tell me that I need to leave with them right away before I get murdered. I don’t know why but I invited them in for tea instead of running off with them. Maybe I was hoping for some action, it had been a while after all. Instead they drank tea with me, tried to convince me I’m some sort of inhuman creature called Sidhe or Fae or whatever. I didn’t believe them, stopped listening and was trying to figure out the best way to kick the pranksters out on their asses when they killed a man.

To be fair he did sort of have it coming. A man jumping through a window with a lot of wicked looking knives probably doesn’t want to sit down for a cup of tea. Two of those knives would have impaled themselves in my chest had one of my actually invited in guests not knocked me out of my chair while his buddy wrestled the other dude into my kitchen. Which he spent the better part of three hours cleaning up afterward. Or so I’m told. I spent most of those three hours plus another twelve in my bathroom throwing up every meal I’ve ever had. While my tea guests/rescuers slept somewhere out front, I slept in my bathtub clutching my cat. I think I slept. I’m assuming they slept. I don’t actually know. The next morning they were still in my apartment and insisted I leave with them. I refused at first, but then they pointed out the daggers that were still embedded in the wall and said something about more killers on their way and that I was lucky and yadda yadda yadda. I didn’t argue much more. I’m sure they disagree with my point there. They didn’t want me to bring my cat, Snickers. I refused to leave without him. Made sense to me at the time. I didn’t want to come home to find him dead waiting in front of the door. They complained, something about cats being a massive nuisance and not welcome where we were going. They relented after I told them they could go fuck themselves if they thought I was leaving without my cat. Apparently that’s my fall back when I’m pissed. I need to come up with something else more creative to say.

Three days and a lot of miles later we ended up in BFE (that means butt-fuck Egypt, just in case you were wondering) nowhere Pennsylvania and hung out there for days. I didn’t know what we were waiting for. They kept saying we’re waiting for the right moon or something, but I didn’t really understand why and they said they can’t tell me why until I see it for myself.

On the plus side I haven’t heard much in the way of voices in my head since they showed up. Oh, the occasional thing from the lady and man that keep trying to tell me that they’re so glad I’m on my way “home”. On the bad side I recognized both these guys voices when they asked to come in to my home. I forgot to mention that, hadn’t I? That was probably why I invited them in for tea. Why shouldn’t I? My voices materialized in the form of some of the most handsome guys I’ve ever seen, may as well take advantage of the eye candy before I get hauled away to the funny farm. In this case they were the ones that did the hauling rather than the police like I had expected.

You know, I’m sure you’re as confused as I am, well was. Let’s go back a bit. A little more detail would probably be good. It’s not like I don’t have time. It seems like all I’ve got is time.

So, from the beginning. Maybe not the very beginning. That’d be too boring. Let’s start with the day that I met my two rescuers, captors, whatever. The day that I found out I’m a Changeling and the daughter of ambassadors for the Seelie Court to the Unseelie Court. The day I found out I’m either crazy as a loon or never was crazy. Man, do I wish I was still crazy. That’d be so much easier than the other. I really hope I’m locked away somewhere, else this is going to be the most unbelievable thing ever. So here goes, story time.

Not so long ago a crazy lady was startled from her manuscript by three loud knocks on her front door…

Bits and Pieces of Thoughts While I Think on my Next Bit o’Fiction

First things first, or at least things that excite me – My English teach really liked my video game essay. There are a few teensy things I need to clean up, mainly a few awkward word choices and left over “on”s and things from my massive number of edits. Once I’ve done that, she wants me to enter it into an essay contest that happens at the school every year. The winner gets $50 and entrants get to put their name out there for teachers to get to know. When it comes to more subjective classes like English, psych, etc. I feel it’s important to have your name associated with the idea that you are a good writer before you enter a teacher’s classroom. Perception means so much and teachers are more willing to gloss over errors if they already “know” you can write, as humans are wont to do. Even my current teacher did something like that for my 2nd essay when I had two really bad cut/copy/paste-based errors. She didn’t take off points for those like what I would have expected her to because she knew that they were editing fails, not writing fails, if that makes any sense.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m going to use as my topic for my next argument essay, but haven’t really had anything stick out to me. Well, I’ve got two things, but I can’t decide if I really can argue either of them effectively because I am just a wee bit passionate about them.
The first is equal marriage rights. I’d end arguing for a case that would include marriage licenses being granted to two or more people above the legal age of consent who are willingly entering into the civil contract regardless of gender, sex, procreation status etc. Most people have an issue once the “more” part is added in, and to be fair, with the way current laws are written that affect civil marriage law contracts it would get really convoluted and tricksy. Especially things like inheritance and social security benefits and whatnot. Especially if the primary bread winner/head of house passes or decides to divorce one or more of the other parties. What happens to the rest of the contracts? Are they will that primary person or binding amongst all parties? Oy, such a headache and the primary argument against such marriages.
The second is abstinence only versus full disclosure sex ed. I (luckily) grew up in county that taught full disclosure sex ed by default and started in fifth grade. Yes, parents always had to sign permission slips to say “sure, teach my kid about sex” or “find them something else to do cause I want to be the one to educate them about sex” or not educate them as the case would likely be. I think I only saw maybe three kids not have permission to be educated in sex ed from fifth through twelfth grade. That’s pretty awesome in my opinion, especially considering that it was a requirement for every year of school up to high school and then was taught in bio and two or three other classes that were required for graduation.
Anywho, the point is that I feel pretty strongly about these topics, but think I could maybe argue either one of them. My teacher did give me the okay to write my essays on more divisive topics should I choose to because I could “handle” them maturely. On the other hand, this next essay is going to be sent out to the rest of the English dept. and I’m not sure that I want to write about anything so politically charged, no matter how well written, and be known as the student that is too opinionated/liberal/socialist/controversial at the end of my first semester of school.

On a completely unrelated note, I’m excited about the weather here. We’re supposed to get a pretty decent amount of snow between tonight and tomorrow night and I have nowhere to go and no one to meet until Wednesday morning, which means I get to just enjoy the snowfall. Huzzah! Pretty weather will be nice.

Play Video Games, It’s Good For You – An Argument Essay

This is mostly for Ed, but also for any others who would be interested/curious. Many, many thanks go to Jeff for editing and helping me to make it much better and spiffier than its previous incarnations.

Play Video Games, It’s Good For You

Video games have been accused of contributing too many acts of violence or aggression for decades. What the media misses is that video games have many benefits we haven’t found in any other media. Society should stop being afraid of video games and instead start looking forward to how we can best use them to benefit ourselves and our children. Anyone who doesn’t understand why needs only take a quick look at our society. Surveys have shown that 90% of children in the United States play video games. 70% of heads of households play video games, too. That leads to the average age of video gamers to be 33 years old (Bavelier, “TED”). Society is changing and non-gamers are being left behind.

Millennials, those born between 1978 and 2000 (Madland 1), grew up playing video games. Home video game systems (known as platforms) such as Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Playstation, and don’t forget computers, were well established before they began primary school. These young adults have participated in the rapid development of video games from the most simple of games like Pong, released by Atari in 1973 (Winter), all the way to games like the super-realistic BioShock Infinite, released across multiple platforms in 2013 (Take-Two). To play Pong players manipulated a wheel on a controller to move a white line (the paddle) up and down one side of their television screen to prevent a white dot (the ball) from getting past their paddle. The graphics were incredibly simple. By contrast, games like BioShock Infinite are action-packed, fast-paced, and full of realistic scenery and characters. There are dozens of genres of video games, but most can be split into several broad categories, the most controversial of which are “first person shooters”, also known as FPS. These games use the perspective of the character being played; pulling the gamer from the more remote godlike view frequently described as third person perspective. FPS games also have a focus on violent game play where the main objective Leroy Jenkins is to shoot enemies. Today’s young adults play many of these genres, including FPS, and have gained skills from video games that were never anticipated. Depending upon the type of games they play, they may have a greater ability to: track visual information, process and make quick decisions, focus and complete complex tasks.

Some of the most controversial video games are also the ones with the greatest potential benefits. Fast-paced, FPS like BioShock Infinite, Halo, Doom, Half-Life, Borderlands and third-person equivalents like God of War: Ascension, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Force Unleashed have all been accused of being too violent, but the benefits gamers gain from playing them are astounding. Researchers like Daphne Bavelier and C. Shawn Green have pwned been able to demonstrate in multiple laboratory tests that playing these fast-paced games increases a person’s ability to track multiple pieces of visual information and decrease reaction time. They also have worked with another researcher, Alexandre Pouget, and showed that fast-action games also decrease decision making time. Basically, these games have so much going on all the time that for someone not used to following and tracking so much information it can be overwhelming. Gamers have no trouble keeping up with this information overload. This essay was found on a blog and was used without permission, therefore it was plagiarized. The players are able to assess, make decisions and react quickly because they had to learn how to do so in order to play and advance. Here is a list of all the things they must keep track of for themselves, their allies and their enemies: physical place within the world, their objective, ammunition, health status, where they need to go, what obstacles are in the way and what objects may help. If they are playing by themselves they may have to give orders to their computer allies. If they are playing with other humans then they have to be able to communicate effectively with them while tracking all the other data. Oh, and they’re getting shot at while doing all this.

The typical human’s brain is completely incapable of coping with processing all this information. However, the brains of gamers adapt so that they can keep track of all the information they need to. Bavelier and her team found that a video gamer’s brain physically changes so that the player can process all of this information, and, most importantly, use it. A video gamer is capable of making accurate, informed decisions faster than a non-gamer with the same percentage of right answers. Bavelier and Green demonstrated that this benefit from fast-action video games sticks around for at least six months after a test subject has played only 10 hours over the course of 2 weeks. This means that every person can gain this benefit without actually being a gamer, as long as he or she is willing to put in a few hours a week to train his or her brains. This is really exciting because many of these changes have immediate benefits off with her head outside our living rooms, the most obvious of which is driving. When driving, the increased awareness, ability to track the many things going on around us and to make correct, fast decisions about likely outcomes of movements is invaluable in the prevention of car accidents. Playing video games has a huge impact on an individual’s brain and as a result has a direct impact on how gamers interact with and navigate our world.

Many gamers are told over and over that they have trouble focusing, and that they must have ADD because they do so well in focusing when there is so much happening on their screens all the time. However, exciting new research, again from Daphne Bavelier and her team, is showing that gamers’ attention and focus is actually better than that of non-gamers. They are capable of resolving visual conflicts faster, which is frequently used in the lab to determine attention and focus capabilities. However, video game detractors point to information released by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) regarding increased Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis rates since 1997 with growth rates as high as 22% between 2003 and 2007. They argue that more and more children are being exposed to video games and more and more educators and parents are complaining that their children are unable to focus on things like classroom instruction the female orgasm and homework (Klass). What has been found, though, is that these child gamers’ brains, as well as the brains of their already adult counterparts, are very capable of focusing and they can maintain the same level of performance in stimuli-rich environments like what we find in many video games like World of Warcraft, much of the Final Fantasy series, and the previously mentioned first person shooters for hours. Detractors like Dr. Klass actually point to this seeming contradiction as part of the causal relationship between ADHD and video game play. However, Gabe Zicherman, a leader in the development and application of “gamification” or how to apply video game concepts to real life, disagrees with such views. He suggests that it is adults that need to catch up and keep up with kids, not slow down kids to their slower pace:

Is it that our children have ADD or is our world just too freakin’ slow for our children to appreciate? … The evidence is found in the games that they play. Consider the video game World of Warcraft. When I was growing up the maximum skill that I was expected to display in a video game was simple hand-eye coordination, a joystick and like a firing button. Today’s kids play games in which they’re expected to chat in text and voice, operate a character, follow long and short term objectives, and deal with their parents interrupting them all the time to talk to them. Kids have to have an extraordinary multi-tasking skill to be able to achieve things today. We never had to have that.

It should then not be a surprise to discover that children who have become excellent learners in high-stimulus virtual environments may have trouble settling down into a sedate classroom with other children who are also conditioned to learning through video games. Tom Chatfield has written multiple articles and a book on how video games are the perfect education and motivation tools. He points out that children are constantly learning in a virtual environment where there are consequences to not accomplishing a task, e.g. losing a life, a tool, or not meeting a time requirement. There are also clearly stated rewards to completing the task as well as possible unexpected rewards that are doled out at calculated increments. Video game designers have been fine tweaking the ratio of difficulty, rewards and consequences to being a dumbass so that they know exactly how much to throw at a gamer at what level in each game in order to keep that person engaged and coming back for more. Educators could learn a lot from what these designers already know; children who are engaged and rewarded in an interactive learning process can and do give their entire attention and focus.

The fact that video games are a tool that can be used for education, and therefore do have an impact on the human brain, means we do need to be aware of what the potential negative impacts of those changes could be. What most every person has heard as an argument against video games is that they encourage violence and aggression in the people who play them. Multiple studies have been published on the topic, but when those studies have been reviewed and compared, it was found that they contradicted each other, and in many cases, used flawed methods to reach their conclusion regardless of the results (Mitrofan). Christopher J. Ferguson with Texas A&M University used meta-analysis to review 12 studies available to him at the time of his publishing (2008) and found that researchers often used flawed methodology, drew conclusions that were not supported by their evidence, or in general could find no link between video games and violence. Of all the research that I could find on the subject, the most conclusive causal link was that violent video game or media exposure does decrease a person’s response time to help someone after they suffered a violent event, if they noticed that something violent was going on at all (Anderson). If this were an effect that lasted for an extended period of time, this would be concerning to me. However, Holly Bowen and Julia Spaniol of the Dept. of Psychology with Ryerson University found that there is no indication that people who play violent video games have any long-term emotional desensitization to violence in their immediate surroundings. They do acknowledge that there may be a period immediately after playing these violent games that a gamer may be desensitized, but it is not an effect that could be attributed to an increase violence and aggressive behavior in those test subjects. Essentially, the evidence so far is showing that video games have a short-term impact on how people respond to violence and are likely desensitized to violence and possibly even reading for a short period after they play violent video games, but there is little evidence that there is a long-term impact. The heart of the argument against violent video games is based on the idea of a long-term, negative impact on gamers. Research just does not support that position.

Video games have become a part of our culture and a part of our lives in many ways. As a society we need to focus our energy and attention on is how to use them to make our lives better. We’ve already seen research that shows how video games can be used to help with several tasks with real world applications. We can use video games to increase our ability to track multiple objects and thus be able to monitor more of our surroundings while driving. They teach people how to be able to focus and maintain attention in situations where there is a lot of information to absorb in very short period of time. Video games can help us to better analyze what is going on around us and make quick decisions about the best action to take in a variety of situations. New research about the benefits of video games is coming out every year. It is time for us all to step forward and embrace the technology around us that has so many benefits and work together to mitigate the deficits that are present. Our society will not be ruined by this action, but will instead be enhanced further. There is one further thing we need to do. We need to sit down and pick up a controller. We leave ourselves at a disadvantage if we refuse to play out of false concerns regarding violence and aggression. Video games are here to stay.

All growed up. Or not

I still don’t really feel like a grown up. I’ve basically come to the conclusion that I probably won’t actually ever feel like an adult. Maybe if I ever have kids, but I get the feeling that I would just be going “holy crap! I’m an adult! When did this happen? How do I make this stop? Why in the world did anyone let me have a kid?!” and so on and so forth. It’s ironic given that I have a job that is serious and a “real grown up job” and have since I was 20. Even being married, divorced and married again hasn’t made me feel like a grown up. If that doesn’t make one feel grown up then I don’t know if anything will.

A random nighttime observation

Last night as I was attempting to fall asleep I had an epiphany of sorts. I figured out what it is that makes it difficult to fall asleep and why quiet rooms are really annoying to me. It’s really rather silly that it took me so long to have this epiphany. I guess it goes to show how much the mind can dismiss even the most annoying of things as normal.

You see, I have tinnitus, meaning a ringing in my ear(s). Most people have experienced this a few times in their lifetime, usually after exposure to really loud sounds or music. Some lucky few like myself experience it much more frequently or even continuously. I notice it when it’s quiet, but it’s pretty much always there. Noise that varies in pitch and tone, music or talking, gives me something else to focus on and it recedes to such a low volume that I don’t realize it’s there. More often than not something like reading, writing, or some other endeavor that requires my attention will also distract me from the sound though it isn’t guaranteed. It’s loudest at night when there’s little noise beyond the humming of the fan and maybe the heater or a/c if one is on. Even though I’m used to the sound, it’s still really annoying and does keep me from falling asleep easily. It also may be an explanation for why I have trouble focusing or hearing things in an environment where lots of people are talking. My brain is so used to disregarding noises that are constant, which the hum of talking easily turns into, and the ringing will get really loud in such an environment.

Have I mentioned that I feel really silly for not experiencing this “epiphany” earlier?

Most people who experience it will hear it in one ear or the other, though for people like me who hear it constantly it is more common to be stuck with it in stereo. The chronic version tends to be caused by a head injury, medication side effects or significant damage to the ear drums from frequent exposure to loud and pounding sounds for an extended time. I don’t recall when I started to hear it, so it’s possible to could have been caused either by medication, a frequent culprit being antibiotics, or in high-school from winter drumline, or my time in the army when we were firing weapons, frequently without hearing protection. I’ve had a concussion once or twice, but nothing truly serious (if you can consider a blow to the head “not serious”.)

I’m really not sure what I can do with any of this information. There aren’t many things that can be done for tinnitus. Ear plugs make it worse. White noise is almost as bad as ear plugs. If I fall asleep to music I have a more difficult time waking up to any typical alarm. That’s without considering the fact that it would drive my husband crazy. Ah well. At least I like music for its own sake rather than the added benefit of making this silly ringing a little less annoying.

New obsession: Star Wars!

I haven’t been updating much because of one thing really. I’ve found a new obsession and it’s called Star Wars.

I always liked the original trilogy. I was amused by the new trilogy. I enjoyed reading the Rogue Squadron series in high school. But I never really got into it. I was too busy with Wheel of Time and Lord of the Rings and whatever other fantasy series had captured my fancy. I sort of figured that I wouldn’t be interested in the rest of the extended universe. Leave it to my husband to disabuse me of that notion.

I read what’s commonly known as “the Thrawn trilogy” in a week. Six days actually. That comes out to approximately 1,125 pages. I also encouraged, forced really, my husband to watch episodes 4-6 with me. I was doing “research” so I could make sure I had the characters and events timeline correct in my head. I don’t know that he really believes that, but it’s true! I slowed it down this last week as I caught up in such silly things as sleep and homework, and I only read the first book of the Jedi Accademy trilogy. I’m about to go on to the second book, but figured I should at least pretend like I was paying attention to this.

Long story made short – I do this sort of thing. Find something which I focus on and don’t let it go until I’m bored with it then pick it back up later. While I’ve been reading these books other things have fallen to the wayside like video-games, watching some television shows with Nathan and I haven’t done any crochet projects in a while. All in all though, it’s something I long ago learned to live with and just deal with. I think Nathan’s learning how to as well. I hope. *crosses fingers*

Enjoy this awesome picture and score while I go back to reading.

Darth Vadar vs. The Doctor

A Bird in Hand is Worth Two in the Bush. Sometimes.

When I first read this prompt I couldn’t help but think, “man, I hate trying to remember this sort of stuff.” As it turns out, it took only a few extra moments of thought for me to realize that I was highly focused on those “two birds” more so than the “one bird” for months.

There was a time, not so long ago, a year ago actually, where I was desperately looking for something else. That something else was a job that could pay me enough that I wouldn’t feel that I needed to work two jobs in order to be more or less financial stable and not have to rely on my husband so much. I was stressed at my main job and really not all that interested or happy in my second job. I had little time to spend with family or friends and was pretty much just constantly tired. It got to the point that before I found that mystical different job I quit my second job. I still needed the change in employment. I really needed the higher pay.

So I continued to pretend that I was doing alright in my only job while daydreaming about something different, something inpatient or in a hospital or even in a completely different sort of outpatient clinic. I was thinking of all the things I could do with my magical new income. I was despairing that after 6 months of searching and turning in applications nothing was happening. No call-backs. No emails. No letters saying “sorry, too much inexperience, come back in a few years.” I was getting desperate. Work was harder to focus on, I was missing important things and my boss was unhappy with me.

The story actually has a happy ending. When I finally stopped constantly thinking about a change and jut tried to go with the flow, I got a call-back. I got an interview. A month later (a very long month later mind you) I got an offer. Huzzah! Sometimes, looking at those two in the bush can be very motivating and give you the extra drive needed to do change circumstances so you can let go of the one in your hand and “catch” the two in the bush. It’s not impossible. Yeah, it’s risky, but there are many things that are worth a risk and a leap of faith.