Virtually Being Yourself

For those of us with imaginations that become easily immersed in works of fiction, the notion of role playing games fits like a warm blanket. Whereas reading a long story, or even a long series of books, where the story lines follow the many developments of characters, their acquaintances, and their various adventures, can be a highly enjoyable way to “vacation” without actually physically travelling, role playing games can be a way to directly participate in the unfolding tales and adventures that you are not just living within, but creating as you go – through all your interactions with other characters, places, allies and enemies.

There are so many different types of role playing games online – many of which focus on just the high-powered, fast, first-person view of your world, where the object is merely to KILL KILL KILL as many enemies as you can, as quickly as you can, before you are killed. These games sometimes offer the ability to meet and team up with friends, watching each other’s backs as you go on your rampage. Or, more interestingly, go up against whole other groups of people who have allied themselves with one another, and who want nothing more than to kill you, and all your friends.

These are “worlds” where the meekest person can become an agressive killing machine, finding power and dominance over this virtual world he’s participating within. It is fast-paced, action-packed – live or die.

You learn and develop techniques to stay alive, and to kill. You toy with adversaries that are weaker, or less aware of their surroundings. You require perfection of your friends – that you all become single-minded in your approach to situations so the victory of the pack will be assured.

Some people will always take reckless and agressive tactics, gaining a reputation for themselves as fearless and strong. Others develop a silent and deadly stealth.

These are the role playing worlds for the most raw, survivalist, cruel and absolute parts of our psyche. A place where we can become victorious through mindless, yet cunning forces of dominance.

However, other types of RPGs (Role Playing Games) do exist. Ones that allow you to pay much more attention to who it is you want to be, and appear as – how smart you want to be, or how strong – how sturdy or wise – how charismatic. How evil or good, or lawful in your evil, or chaotic in your good – how, with the elf blood flowing in your veins, you are able to see much better than others in the dark places, and how, being a smaller, dexterous halfling, you are much better at hiding in the shadows, or stealing a needed key.

In these more subtle and rich worlds, you gain experience with each of your encounters. You learn to use a longsword, grow stronger, and are able to fight much better with it. Or you find new spells along your adventures, and with your growing knowledge, the spells you know become more powerful.

When adventuring with friends, you mix your strengths and weaknesses. The strong fighters move out front, taking the brunt of an onslaught, while a sorceress stays in the back, protected from attack so she can work her magics on the enemies, while the clerics fight when necessary, and call in the powers of the divine to aid in battle, or heal the wounded.

Online gaming has become extraordinarily diverse – and complex. It allows you to assume a character, “become” it, and interact with others in a completely fictitional world. It is very interesting to see how people react – what becomes important to them, how they feel about helping or hurting or taking or giving. In many ways, it allows people to explore a life that they will never lead, but somehow still, can live.

And I think that not all of what is experienced within these worlds remains just there. Real or not, these are experiences. And like all experiences, we learn and we grow from them.

In our “real” world where everything is so defined – our roles that become a solidification of the definitions we have for ourselves, or others lay upon us – how nice it can be to sometimes just utterly destroy or overcome an obstacle. Or even moreso, how wonderful it can be to have the capacity to offer a great act of pure kindness to another.

Even though it is not real.

Coca Cola – A National Security Threat

It seems like Coke’s latest marketing gimmick is a cause for concern in US national security circles. Coke has sent out cans that are wired with GPS locating devices and built-in cell phone that will call Coke’s headquarters if you’re lucky enough to get one of the cans…

It seems the security people feel it could be used as a listening device. Also, I’d think they might be a little concerned if the cans found their way into top secret installations – like modern Area 51’s or something – where the Coke Prize Wagons might show up one day.

Read a Seattle Times article

Ah, for the days of openness – no secrecy – no reason to hide…

As they say, you can win, but you can’t hide…

You can win, but you can't hide

Cassini-Huygens Probe Arrives at Saturn Tomorrow

Cassini-Huygens Probe - SaturnWell, it looks like the long seven year journey across the tiny sea of our local space is nearing its milestone end for the Cassini Probe tomorrow. At around 19:36 PST the probe will begin firing its braking thrusters for 96 minutes – and it will be about a hour and a half later before we’ll know if the maneuver was successful.

If all is successful, the probe will decelerate by 1,400 MPH to continue its 47 plannened orbits of Saturn over the next 4 years. The Huygens Probe is schedule to be released from Cassini on Christmas Eve of 2004 to begin its three week journey to Titan, where it will land. It’s already passed thorough Saturn’s unusual magnetic field, feeling and describing its shape to us.

Cassini Orbital Insertion

The probe, as it carries on through its insertion maneuver will pass behind (from the Earth’s perspective) various ring grouping of Saturn, each ring with its own composition and liklihood for radio interference. So I imagine it will be particularly stressful for the scientists responsible for the craft, not to mention the managers of the programs responsible for their own careers and funding.

This mission is particularly nifty because the US is working with the European Space Agency who have contributed the Huygens portion of the mission. Cassini will release the Huygens probe at a velocity of twelve inches per second, and spinning it at seven revolutions per minute. Five days later, Cassini will turn to watch the sleeping Huygens as he coasts toward Titan during the next few days.

Titan has an atmosphere that extends about 600 miles into space, and Huygens will awaken 10 minutes before encountering its outermost reaches. Huygens will only be alive for a maximum of three hours, spending two and a half of them learning all it can about Titan as it descends, snapping over 1,000 photos, ever-slowing, eventually with the help of parachutes, to land on Titan’s surface, where it is only expected to live another three minutes. Even if Huygens lives past another thirty minutes, Cassini will turn its attention away from Huygens and back to Earth, telling us what Huygens discovered.

Recently our President, Mr. Bush, announced a new focus upon space exploration, particularly returning people to the moon, and landing people on Mars. I’m not certain this new focus is not a political tactic to divert our attention from more pressing things at home or not – particularly some very inhumane and mean-sprited things his administration are engaged in. But regardless of political concerns, the scientific benefits that result will be wonderful.

Cassini Mission Diagram

A Dream of Spiritual Death

Cycle of Life and Death

Last night I dreamed I was on the bottom floor of a house, or maybe it was a department store.

I was walking up the stairs, or coming up the escalator, and it was bright, and I was happy.

I arrived on a floor, the third floor, and it was pure darkeness – and this floor was my kitchen. Pitch blackness. I could feel the railing behind me, my way of escape, but I was there, and I knew something was in that darkness.

It was distant, and I wondered, then realized it had no physical form.

It was moving toward me in pieces, in tendrils of maleficent being. I heard a very faint laugh, a woman’s laugh, a sweet giggle of pure madness.

I saw nothing – but felt the tentrils form into a blackened head, which moved swiftly toward my own. I remained, and did not run. There was no fear.

She touched her forehead against my own, and I saw a vision of a blackened third eye, and a bindi, like a clitoris, and darkened skull.

It came into me, pointedly, and I accepted it. It passed into a great expanse, like the arch of the blue and clouded sky, that surrounded, filled and encompassed my interior – a vast area, yet so much unexplored – yet familiar.

It became so small – a tiny bucket of poison thrown into a boundless ocean, deepening beneath a boundless sky.

I sang to her in welcome, feeling her Will, as she dissolved into the air.

various chosen random bits

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