Monday, April 18, 2011

On Men, Toilets, and Collateral Damage

Or "Water, Water, Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink"

Tonight I'll finally justify adding that "adult content" warning to my blog. And this post is for the ladies. It's about peeing. I'm going to say words like "penis" and "orgasm" and at the end there will be a picture of a stick figure taking a leak.

On more than one occasion I've heard a girl say, after seeing a toilet wet with urine, "how hard could it be to aim? it's not like the toilet is that small." That seems like a fair question, at least from someone who has never used a penis to go number one. Having had over two decades of experience doing just that, I feel qualified to tell you it's not that simple.

On occasion, a small part of end of the urethra may stick together, causing the stream of urine to split, much like if you put your finger across the tip of a garden hose. This occurs more frequently following orgasm or when very aroused. In some cases, birth defects or some genital piercings can cause this to happen regularly.

To conclude, the next time you see the toilet all wet, your reaction shouldn't be "how the hell does this happen?", but "why the hell didn't the bastard wipe it up?"

Finally, a comic for my illiterate readers:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On Surnames and Marriage

Or, "Call You Mr. WHAT?"

One day I'm probably going to marry someone. What is going to become of our last names? There are a lot of options, and none of them are without flaws.

One takes the others' surname.
This is what is usually thought of as the default. The problem here is that it's unequal. Besides, how do you decide whose name to take?

Here we run into a slippery slope. Erik Thompson-Whiting doesn't sound so bad. But what happens when your daughter Lisa Franklin-Morrison marries my son? Even at the second generation we have Freddie Thompson-Whiting-Franklin-Morrison and I think we can agree that sounds ridiculous.

Combine your names in a silly way
Look, I didn't say these were all going to be good options. I'm talking Erik Thompson and Lisa Franklin becomes Erik and Lisa Thomplin. Here again we run into a problem in the next generation or two when you'll eventually be cutting syllables that were the only remainder of previous names, which defeats the purpose of maintaining both partners' last names.

Keep your own last names
While good up until the point at which you have kids, the problem arises once you have children: whose name do the kids take?

Make up a new last name
This seems to be the most "fair" while still unifying the family under one name and preventing any slippery slope situations a few generations down. The problem here is that it ends the family lineage. Part of what makes last names neat is that some of your ancestors shared them many years ago.

Are there other options I have overlooked?

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Grinding in Games and in Real Life

Or, "How Minecraft Got Me to Clean My Apartment"

I have long turned to video games for the fulfillment of a variety of emotions. This is not a bad thing, and is often a viable method. They expose me to stories, allow bonding with friends from any distance, and allow me to exercise my competitive nature at a moment's notice. Recently, I found myself turning to video games for a sense of accomplishment [yes it sounds silly when I write it out].

Many games are designed to provide this feeling. Achievements, quest rewards, scoreboards, and level-up systems all are built to provide the player with positive feedback when they succeed. This feels good. It's this cycle that forms the foundation for much of World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs.

I decided to hop on Minecraft and to work on creating something awesome, which would provide me a temporary diversion until my girlfriend would be available to hang out later in the day. I was feeling pretty excited because when I was done I could show my friends what a sweet thing I had built. I remembered some of the really awesome and epic things my friends have constructed and how I was impressed with their creativity and dedication. I started gathering up resources and planning out what I would make.

But my feeling of restlessness that led to a desire for productivity was not quenched.

It was at this point that I realized that much of what I needed to do to create something cool to impress people with was purely grinding: boring, repetitive work. I was digging up a metric buttload of sand to smelt into glass to make something neat and I realized I wasn't really having fun. Then it hit me.

If I was in a mood to do something that wasn't innately fun, but would produce an impressive and satisfying result, I should go do some chores. I decided to clean up my apartment. While my apartment wasn't dirty, it was certainly rather cluttered, and I immediately set to it. I could feel the rush as I began to work, knowing that soon I could stand back in front of a nice, tidy room and smile over a job well done. I thought about how my girlfriend would feel when she came over and saw that things were in much less disarray than before.

And when I finished, I was happy.

I'm starting to take stock of what kind of gaming I enjoy these days. I think I've started to lose my taste for "persistent" games; games where you constantly work on improving a thing (character, world, house, etc). As much as I still struggle to motivate myself to begin such activities, I find that I feel happier grinding out housework and exercise or pursuing creative endeavors than grinding out levels and gear.

Addendum and disclaimer:

By no means do I wish to malign Minecraft or MMOs or any other sort of grindy game. All (or at least most) have many other factors that I find tremendously enjoyable. I hate when people use this word to describe games, so fuck me for saying so, but I think Minecraft is one of the most important games of the past few years.

Nor do I wish to imply that I think less of anyone who enjoys the satisfaction of making something cool in a game, even if it takes a long time and a lot of work. Sometimes it's purely the scope of the effort required that makes something impressive. This is purely a story of how I came to find what grindy activity gives me the greatest satisfaction in the end. If you made an awesome Minecraft castle, please do show me. To see anything that someone has really dedicated a lot of time to is beautiful in its own right.