Category Archives: Personal

The Rem Awakens

Now look at this, all dusty and rusty…

*deletes spam comments*

*updates theme and layout*

*sweeps the place clean*

Better. So, is anyone still reading? Looks like I haven’t posted anything in … oh, just over 4 years. What I’ve been up to all this time, you ask? Well…

I’m still working at the job I started when I stopped blogging. It quickly became obvious that it’s pretty much my dream job. Likewise, my employer thinks highly of me as well and I got promoted fairly frequently. Now I’m on my way to “lead level”, which is a more complicated process than previous promotions.

Two and a half years ago I met a wonderful girl. She’s my best friend, the love of my life, the best conceivable partner for everything and my dearest darling. We married last year.

This summer, we moved from Berlin to Frankfurt to increase the probability of me getting project assignments near my home. And indeed, after four years of weekly flights and being recognized on sight at hotel receptions, I’m now actually sleeping at home most of the time and traveling to work by bus. Amazing!

I played (in many cases “tried”) a number of games over the years, which I might elaborate on in more detail in future posts. I know, you’re not holding your breath. Can’t blame you for being skeptical.

  • RIFT – unsubscribed pretty soon after writing I wouldn’t.
  • Skyrim – took all of 16 glorious hours for me to lose interest.
  • SWTOR – shortly after launch, stopped one level short of the (original) level cap.
  • EVE Online – loved its incredible depth, subscribed for 6 months, stopped playing after 3.
  • The Secret World – pretty much at launch; it was great, it was weird, it was different, it was awesome, and it sadly failed to grab me.
  • Guild Wars 2 – some good ideas, but not my cup of tea.
  • SWTOR – shortly before meeting my future wife, played a new character to level 45 over the Christmas holiday period.
  • Titan Quest – a first attempt to introduce my  (then not yet) wife to gaming. We both hated it and the introduction almost ended there.
  • Neverwinter Nights – a second attempt at playing together and first signs of fun. The game felt incredibly dated though and weirdly unwieldy.
  • LotRO – we played for a bit and she liked it! I felt incredibly annoyed by the spineless cash-grab the game had become. Didn’t get out of the starter area. However, she said she enjoyed having a nice story, so…
  • SWTOR – oh look. There we go again, this time together. We played a pair of characters all the way to level 35, then stopped because we had lots of stuff to take care of (getting married for example). Didn’t play anything for a year and a half. There was a good chance that that would have been it for good.
  • SWTOR – here we go again! Having settled in in our new home and our new life rhythm, we decided to give the hobby another go.

That’s where things stand. Let’s see where they go.

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Time

To probably absolutely no one’s surprise, I haven’t blogged a bit since starting on my previously mentioned new job. I’m still settling in and getting my mental and physical rhythms in order, thus after a day full of thinking, I currently quite enjoy an evening of not thinking and thus also not trying to write something intelligent. Things will shake out in time.

Speaking of time. Now that I’m working full time, I certainly don’t and will never again have time for gaming, right? Yeah … kind of wrong. Last night, having come back home, changed, unpacked and eaten, I contemplated going to my PC and suddenly realised that I actually have bugger all to do until Monday. That’s a not-so-secret perk of holding a real job: you’re out of that state when you kind of always have some sort of “stuff to do”, you can work long hours, but once you’re done – for the day or week – you’re done. I’m not claiming any “original revelation” here, but when just two hours after literally landing at home I start thinking about literally taking off back to work, there’s clearly something wrong with the notion of “no time for anything ever again”.

Naturally I’ll be more selective in the future than I used to be regarding what to play and how to play. I shall elaborate on both, and especially on the latter you may (or may not) find the conclusions I draw for myself surprising. So, this is really more of a bridge post. As usual, there is hope that the other end of the bridge touches down somewhere solid 😉

I am not, in fact, dead

Quite the opposite, the reasons for my sudden radio silence have been solely positive. I interviewed for a new job, got said new job and have since been busy being happy about finally being able to do the work I want to do, attending my new employer’s summer party, as well as preparing for the changes to come. I’m starting next week, and speaking of changes: as an IT consultant I’ll be on-site with clients for most (if not all) of the work week. That does, naturally, change a few things.

Gaming-wise, it means that at least for the next few months I’ll be a weekend gamer at most. The timing is pretty good, because right now, to put it harshly, there is no game I’d really deeply want to play anyway. I am (purposefully) without a guild and without strong ties, therefore, while RIFT is a good game and quite fun, emotionally, to play it or not to play it are just a shrug apart right now. I’ll write about my more detailed opinion of RIFT soon (I’m not cancelling my subscription, by the way).

Blogging-wise, it might actually mean that I’ll be blogging more. Until now, blogging has basically competed for time resources with gaming. In the future, I’m quite likely to find myself with time to blog but not to play, and I still have lots of thoughts to express – might even get through my draft folder 😉

The new and improved Rem is ready to take on his new and improved life. Just wanted to let you, my faithful readers, know that all is well and more is to come!

And it all worked out pretty well

Dear reader. You may remember this justified angsty post from September last year. After that post it actually took me almost another month to start working, and yet another month to really pull myself together – or finally panic enough – and get into the writing frenzy which was needed at that point. I made it, I handed in my thesis in time (on 28.12.) and as of last Friday I am in possession of a certificate that boldly states that I’ve been awarded an academical degree. Wheeee!

Huge, huge, infinite thanks to Alqua and Colt for all the moral support and motivation they provided when it was most needed. And it was needed more than you can imagine. I can’t thank you enough. Also, without further elaboration on this point, really big thanks to my parents, for everything.

So, why have I not been blogging more recently? Again, I am not sorry. The limiting factor, once again, is time. I am currently shifting mine between the following things:

  • Work – the one I’m still in until the end of the month and still have more than a few tasks to finish for before I can walk off into the sunset.
  • Job search – my future, wonderful employment. It’s going to be wonderful, I’m sure! Anyway, finding it and getting into it does require some additional investment. Lots, in fact.
  • Pushing Enthusiasm forward – our little and ambitious guild has blossomed over the last couple of weeks. Growth and development, however, require lots of attention, and it’ll take a while before things settle into patterns and we can shift into “low maintenance mode”.
  • Actually playing WoW – quite a fun thing to do. Really.
  • Researching on WoW – I like to know stuff. About my own role, and about others’ roles as well. Especially since I’m kind of trying to grow into the position of a raid leader, it’s really useful to know what’s actually going on during those encounters. And crucial to have at least a basic understanding of all classes. Trying, trying.
  • Domestic tasks, social contacts – everything human beings tend to do in addition to the sleep/work/hobby trinity.
  • Blogging. Oh yes…

So, without any malice or disinterest on my part, blogging just ends up being the thing easiest pushed off the priority table. But I’ll try, I’ll do my best. As of now, I have a pretty specific topic on my mind I want to write about at length. Stay tuned!

Temporary semi-hiatus

The gentle reader might have noticed, that just as this blog was about to launch into full swing, it kind of .. stopped. This is no coincidence, and I’d like to explain the reason. Now, I am not a friend of “sorry I’ve not been updating lately” posts, since they are usually the surest symptom of a nearing exodus. Go ahead, search the blogosphere (*uses the word once again*) for abandoned (as opposed to properly closed) blogs. Usually the last few entries will be along the lines of “oh, I’m sorry I’ve not been writing anything for weeks, so here’s some topic I just artificially squeezed out of myself”. The “sorry” part is the key. If you’re sorry about not having been writing, then why haven’t you been writing? And if you had a good reason not to write, then why are you sorry? “Sorry for not updating” in fact really reads “I honestly can’t be bothered any more, but also can’t bring myself to put things to an official end”.

So, the good news is, I am not sorry, because I do have a reason. And it’s pretty simple. Writing a good blog post of the philosophical kind I like to write is, basically, source research and verification as well as thought distillation and phrasing. It just so happens, that this is pretty much the same activity which is involved in writing a diploma thesis. So, whenever I sit down, take time, and produce a wall of well researched and written text (be it here or in the comments on other blogs), I feel like an idiot, because I could have put that same effort into producing that same volume for my thesis. Finishing my thesis, on the other hand, is not a joke. Failure to do so soon (and I mean very soon) could realistically result in me being unable to pay for an internet connection (or anything else, for that matter). That would suck.

Thus this blog, being close to the bottom of my priority list, is going on a temporary semi-hiatus. What the hell does that mean? It means, that I intend to bring it back to full blooming life once my activity patterns shift and my life settles down a little (i.e. I finish my thesis and start working properly). It also means I’ll be occassionally posting short thoughts and snippets, like the one just below this entry. As a matter of fact, the raw update frequency might even pick up, since dropping thoughts diary-style is a less demanding task than piling bricks of text – don’t nail me down to it though.

Please keep coming back and commenting, if you’ve been doing it so far .. and please start coming here and commenting, if not! Although .. if you’re not .. how are you reading this? Aaaaaah, get out of my head! They’re coming! They’re coming!

*coughs*

Yeah. That’s all. For now.

Growing up

… is when you don’t turn your alarm clock on in case you need to get up early, but turn it off in case you don’t.

The cygnet asked me questions

Visit her and she might ask you 5!

1) What led to your interest in basket ball?
There are several perspectives to it. In either case, it’s important to point out, that I have become a rather calm sports follower. I embrace the positive. I acknowledge the negative. But I don’t go over the top with either. Used to cry about tennis and football results when I was younger .. much younger .. it’s just not worth it.

The historical:
In the mid-90s, I found myself in a school where my classmates were mostly basketball-interested. As usual, to be able to stay in the talk, I read up a little (without internet – ugh!) and picked a favourite team – the Miami Heat. No one else was particularly into them, they had a cool logo (burning ball through a ring), players with cool sounding names (Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway) and a hot city to originate from – what else can you ask for!
I played a little myself, but was never really gifted. Unsuited hands.

The qualitative/comparative:
The great quality of basketball, from my point of view, is how much and how directly success relies on individual and team effort. Both. At the same time. The greatest superstar won’t win anything without a team to support him. The greatest team won’t win anything without a superstar to build around. Neither will succeed if they are not determined enough.
In basketball, the team that mails it in, loses. Invariably. You can’t win on a lucky goal, because you will be 30 behind by the time it happens, if you don’t compete from the start. If you don’t give effort. All your talent won’t win you a thing, if you don’t put your heart into it.
The separation in roles isn’t as stark as in many team sports. Everyone needs to defend to some significant extent. Everyone needs to be able to make a shot when it matters. And, this is what’s wonderful, it matters all the time. You can watch a wonderfully exciting football game with many fantastic actions that lead to nothing, and it will be decided by an awkwardly shot free kick which caroms off three random people and somehow rolls over the line.
A basketball game consists mostly of plays that succeed, rather than of those that lead to nothing. That includes defensive plays, which can actually succeed, too, because gaining possession in basketball is great in itself. In football it means nothing, because opponent possession doesn’t mean anything either. Through basketball’s high probability of scoring, the act of successfully preventing the opponent from scoring becomes much more significant. Defence isn’t just a bulky obstacle in front of a theoretical chance, but an active component.
Plus, and this is highly subjective, I find basketball to be highly aesthetic. We’re talking NBA-basketball here, mind you. Which leads us to…

The informative:
I love statistics. And NBA-basketball offers lots of statistics, which, you know, actually say something. And that’s important, considering most of the games I never get to actually see due to time zones and network availabilities – a paid service I’d only get to use half a dozen of times would not be a good deal. So, it’s really good, that the NBA, ESPN and others (South Florida Sun-Sentinel for example) offer such deep and exhaustive coverage for things that were, things that are and some things, that have not yet come to pass. All the information, commentary and highlight blocks make it that much easier to follow things without actually being able to watch things.
As a side effect, reading all that also helped and helps a lot in improving my English.

2) So the servers are down for a good week…. and you enter a library full of every type of book you can imagine, fiction and non-fiction. What sort of book do you opt for – and in what language?!
“How To Fix The Servers”! Ahem .. no, seriously…
There’s so much I feel I missed/miss out on, a week would not be enough. Especially since I’m not a fast reader. Not because I can’t read fast, but because I tend to re-read passages I found well written.
I’d like to read all works by Tolkien, just because. All the (popular science) books by Stephen Hawking, because I find it fascinating and extremely interesting. A few writings by Asimov at least, because he’s supposed to be awesome, but I have not read anything from him. Orwell, same reason. A thing or two from Robert A. Heinlein, to see if “Starship Troopers” was a one-hit, or if he has other, equally pointed looks to offer, too. Would not turn down a book or 10 on programming languages, programming guidelines and the likes, either. And then re-read everything I liked!
The language is easily chosen. If the original work is in a language I know, that is, German, English or Russian, then, please original language. If it has to be translated anyway, then I’d rather have it in German (a mistake I made with “Simulation and Simulacra”, tackling it in English – struggling with dated metaphors and intricate ideas in a still-foreign language the original wasn’t even written in was a bit too much in the end).
Oh, and bringing the servers down won’t be enough. You’ll have to cut my line and every line I could get access to. Otherwise, I’d just program and read about basketball *grins*

3) The red pill or the blue pill? Why?
Huh. That’s a hard one. Of course, xkcd offered an answer recently. And of course, you are expected to jump up and yell “red, of course, I want to know the truth!”. But if a sentence contains two “of course” already, it’s obviously too easy a way out.
All Morpheus is “offering, is the truth, nothing more”. Do I want to know the truth? Do I want to know every truth? The whole “no one can explain what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself” deal is only a metaphor for the fact, that once you learn about something, you can’t just unlearn, when you find you don’t like it after all. So, do I take the risk?
Of course, in Neo’s case it’s rather trivial. He spent his entire life looking for this, searching for this. He’s been a semi-outlaw, he had a run-in with authorities, just yesterday, because of that. He’s been living for the sake of coming to this very point. Now, when Morpheus offers him “I’ll tell you what it’s all about, or I won’t – your choice”, it would have been rather comical, if he said “oh, never mind, bring on the blue”.
So, ultimately, I think it’s not the question what I seek, but where I come from. Will the truth give me anything, or will it just take away? Am I happy with what I am, where I am, how I feel, how things develop? If I feel I know enough, do I need to know more? Maybe it’s blue then …. but then again, how to know if what I know is enough? How to assume to know enough without descending into the ignorant hypocrisy we’re all quick to condemn in others?
What am I doing here in the first place? I wouldn’t have come to ask, if I didn’t think I need to hear the answer. Back to the above, I can’t unlearn. If I know there’s something to know, can I stop thinking about it, because I choose to? If Neo takes the blue pill, he will forget the evening, their meeting, but he won’t get rid of his continuous discomfort.
When I have that nagging feeling, that “splinter in your mind, driving you mad”, then, there is no other way than to run the gauntlet and face the truth of the red pill. Maybe it will make things better, maybe worse. But if I don’t, I’ll never know. And I’ll know, that I don’t know.
So, in the end, it’s red again. If I’m at the point of being asked, I’m there for a reason. And the reason can’t be any other than that I wanted to take the red pill from the very beginning. Just like Neo.

4) What would be your perfect meal and in what setting would you choose to consume it?
Ah, here I’m going to take the cheesy (and the easy) way out and say that it’s all about the company. The taste won’t make it. The view won’t make it. The ambience won’t make it. They might ruin it, but they can’t make it. What will make it, is the other person, or the other people, who sit at the same table.
That’s it. Some answers are short.

5) If you could change just one thing about yourself what would you opt for?
Discipline. That’s really the one thing I’d like myself to be better at – significantly better.
Make no mistake, there’s lots of areas I could wish myself to be better, or different in. But then I wouldn’t be me any more. I wouldn’t have had the life I lived so far. Hey, maybe it would be better. But I wouldn’t know. It would be another guy sitting here, reasoning about things now. Not me. I am the sum of all my traits, all my experiences, good or bad. And I don’t wanna miss a thing.
Except, discipline. Discipline makes everything easier. Everything. No matter what you dedicate yourself to. I know, being more disciplined would, of course, also have shaped me and my life in a different way. But that’s such a great gain, that I’d take the risk. Just this one risk. The red pill of self shaping.