Promptapalooza – How did you get your online nickname?

Today’s prompt is “How did you get the name that you regularly go by online, and what if anything does it mean?” presented by Magiwastaken of Indietale.

SDWeasel is a curious inside joke that I chose to embrace. First and foremost, SD are my initials. They were included because such a simple noun as Weasel would not be easy to grab as a consistent screen name. I don’t really recall what the first service I used it for was.

The Weasel portion is a work story. At the time, I worked with 6 or 7 other people. As tends to be the case in manufacturing, one of us had the task of releasing a part from a rack into the hands of whoever had it, who walked a couple meters and hung it on a different rack going somewhere else. We walked in a circle doing this all day. Needless to say, this gets old.

Our primary forms of entertainment were talking to each other and engaging in much frowned-upon horseplay. After perhaps one too many instances of this, I was offered a choice of nickname: Weasel or Stumble-ina.

I’ve never been super clear on what inspired it, though the last one is probably the more obvious. I am not the most sure-footed individual, though I tend to recover fairly well. As for weasel, I never really asked. Maybe I smelled funny, maybe I was too mischievous, maybe both. Regardless, I made what seemed like an obvious choice and decided I liked it enough to continue using it.

Outside of a few odd references, such as Weird Al’s song Weasel Stomping Day, it was rarely brought up. If referred to by nickname I was more typically called (the) Pagan. Certainly an accurate assessment at the time.

That’s all there really is to it. No epic backstory or anything, just a random short-lived joke that’s persisted in username only.

Y’all take care, or else.

Promptapalooza – Hobbies Outside of My Specific Niche

Today’s prompt is brought to us by Ace Asunder: Tell us about some of your hobbies outside of the realm of your specific niche.

I possess a similar problem to Ace, in that my niche is a bit vague at times. I do like to talk about games and MMOs, which I’ve done little of lately, and economics. I’ve spent a lot more time expressing personal thoughts outside that realm with all the prompts.

I shall start by saying that I find the idea that I have time for additional slightly amusing. Because of the shift in how I’m taking classes, there are days where I must pay a price for my hubris. A price typically paid in lack of sleep.

My schedule is a bit too complicated to present in an easy to follow format, but Tues-Thurs my sleep is broken into small blocks an hour or two at a time, with Wed being by far the worst. Yesterday I got about an hour nap on campus, a couple hours between class and picking the kids up, and another couple of hours after doing so at the expense of gaming time.

The result being that I find myself in a position where I have to ask myself if I should really be playing games or working on other things instead of being asleep. Do I really want to go to work on three hours of sleep and be miserable the entire time?

Of course, this is what I signed up for. It is more an observation and explanation than a complaint. Many things like these blogs posts, homework, and studying, actually happen on the slower days at work.

Still, I continue to dabble in a few other things I don’t talk about on the blog. I’ve been entertaining the idea of picking up a 3D resin printer. No real good reason, just figured it would be an interesting thing to play with and the smaller entry level units are reaching a price I might be willing to pay. I really like the quality of items I’ve seen with resin printers compared to the filament printers.

Now, considering what I wrote yesterday about not really sticking with most hobbies, I’d say that the chances are slim of it really going anywhere. Combined with a schedule that’s keeping me from even gaming many days, I’m not even sure there’s time to engage in such a thing and at this point the money may be better spent paying someone to mow my yard.

Either way, that’s where I find myself at the moment. Giving up time to do the hobbies already in my niche in order to advance my educational goals. A curious combination of scarcity and ration self-interest in action.

Y’all take care, and make sure you get enough sleep. I do not necessarily recommend the Nietzschian “that which does not kill me” approach.

Promptapalooza – Do you finish games/hobbies/projects?

I believe the full prompt, as introduced by Nogamara from Battle Stance, is: Do you “finish” games/hobbies/projects and move on or do you come back to the same things again and again?

Spoiler, no, I don’t tend to finish games or projects when left to my own devices.

The root problem is that I like to dabble and tinker, then inevitably bite off more than I can chew. I enjoy poking around the edges of things, learning new systems, looking under the hood, and maybe working out a solution to a few basic problems. As with any form of entertainment, I don’t typically enjoy it once it becomes work. In this case, work is often a form of time investment. Particularly if the time spent doesn’t feel like it has any forward momentum. Lack of money or equipment can cause this as well. If I am unable to acquire some critical piece of gear, I will wait for an opportunity to do so while doing research. The end result being either burnout or realization that it’s currently beyond my means.

This had led to a somewhat cyclical pattern for some hobbies and games, and simply abandonment of others. Games tend to be cyclical, where physical hobbies are typically abandoned. It’s not all bad, I know how to knit and crochet, for example, and respect anyone with the patience to finish a large and/or complicated project. A few other things that are in various stages of “never got off the ground” are blacksmithing, metal casting, and archery. I have given the equipment for the first and last to others as time has gone on. I technically still have my torches, crucible, and all that, but it’s neither together nor easily locatable.

“Gaming” is perhaps the most consistent of my hobbies, and even that has gone through a few dry spells over the years. I don’t tend hold onto any one game over the long term, though. I rotate through playing whatever seems interesting at the moment. There’s a lot of solo or two-player experimentation with MMOs, a little tinkering with the odd and generally unfinished single-player RPG, and an increasing amount of co-op building/survival. Minecraft, Terraria, and Starbound, typically modded, feature regularly. Some other recent titles I’ve added are things like Satisfactory, a co-op logistics simulator?

For the most part, I would categorize myself as falling well into the “come back to the same things repeatedly” category. I have arguably finished the base game experience in some cases, but how exactly does one finish an MMO or the nearly infinite pool of mod-based content? I suppose it depends on how one defines finished, and that is a personal choice that cannot be made for us.

So I have decided that I’m finished with this post. I have some homework for my Calc II class I need to be doing anyway.

Y’all take care, and remember that when we walk away from a project, we are always at least temporarily finished with it.

Promptapalooza – What is your earliest memory related to one of your core fandoms?

This prompt was covered by Syp over at Bio Break. Since he’s the one that plugged Blaugust 2018 on the Massively OP Podcast, a case could be made that it’s his fault I’m here at all.

As a random topic, I shall choose the console RPG. It’s a genre that I still tangle with today, though in many ways the lines between genres has become much more gradient these days.

The first memory I can recall about the old-school console RPGs are small snippets of my slightly older cousins playing Final Fantasy 2 (JP4), specifically the intro sequence or cutscene and watching some combat. It’s interesting to note that I never actually played the game as a child. In fact, the first one of the series I would play is 3 (JP6), and it wasn’t exactly new at the time.

I’m not exactly clear why those games stood out, really. I wasn’t a very picky player. I spent as much if not more time playing adventure games with slightly RPG-like elements such as Zelda or Soul Blazer, or even platformers and Mario Kart, than I ever did on the strictly RPG games. I rarely finished any game, to be honest, but certainly not any of the RPGs. I think I may have finished Lufia at some point, and I adore it’s sequel to this day.

I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Chrono Trigger.

Still, there’s something in that gameplay loop that I seem to like. Maybe it’s just an ideal combination of story, strategy, and action. I don’t really feel any current need to understand it.

Something I do find strange is that this style of RPG is largely a thing of the past. Modern tastes seem to favor the more fluid gameplay of action combat instead of the older transition/random battle with a turn-based combat system of some sort. Even the Final Fantasy franchise has moved in that direction, leaving MMOs and XCOM-like strategy games the bastion of turn-oriented RPGs. After, what is the global cooldown if not your own personal ATB gauge?

Maybe I’m just overlooking some titles, I don’t know. I actually do feel like I need to think about that one just a bit. Is it really a change in the taste of the gamer, or simply the corporate tendency to keep copying the things that work? Maybe it’s just a general trend toward multiplayer-oriented gameplay where turns are… less useful.

Y’all take care. May your heals always go off before the boss’s turn.

Promptapalooza – How Neo-Paganism Made Me Athiest

Clickbait title is clickbait. This is part of the Blaugust Promptapalooza, and today’s prompt is “A Person or Thing That Has Greatly Influenced You.” Today’s host is Chestnut, of Gamer Girl Confessions. This one is… long. It is the story of how I discovered science and critical thinking. Nearly everything in the last decade of my life is somehow connected to this. Or am I just retconning my memory?

So many choices among influences past and present. I have spoken more than once about the my work-related escapades, this time I think I’ll reach a bit further back in history and poke a topic I rarely speak about, religion.

I do feel obligated to point out that this is a notoriously dangerous topic. It is not my intention to attack anyone’s beliefs. If you feel that I have done so, I apologize, and feel free to leave me nasty comments about it.

Literally a decade ago, I considered myself to be neo-pagan. I frequented a “pagan store” 40 minutes or so away from home and ultimately became involved in a group that would be generally identified as some brand of Wicca. I was certainly the sort of person who respected someone that could pull out an acoustic guitar and belt out Weird Al’s The Saga Begins relatively effortlessly.

The group had a very formal educational tone to it, especially during the first year. We had weekly classes, took notes, and maybe had assignments? Not sure about the last one, it seems like another lifetime now.

The beginning of the end for me was in fact in this first year. I cannot remember the exact details of the lesson. It was something about being a better person, or success, or something, and involved building a pyramid where the sides were… specific traits or something? See, this is why you take notes.

Anyway, I remember there being a discussion about using spells to assist in this process. One of my own thoughts was that this didn’t really make sense. If the effect of something is proportional to the energy put into it, and the energy I can put into something is necessarily limited, then those aspects that were assisted would end up weaker than the ones that were 100% personal effort.

As a result, I began to eschew the idea of magic or spells. I figured if they had the ability to assist me, then that ability was with me from the beginning and would be greater if I invested that time and effort into the ability rather than the magic.

After a year or so passed, I began to question the efficacy of the magic to begin with. We were taught that effort must be put into any real change, that the magic by itself was insufficient. Maybe, I reasoned, it was insufficient because it did nothing. Still, I had seen the results of ritual magic for myself and “seeing is believing,” apparently.

I couldn’t shake the idea, though. I began to ask myself if it was possible to answer this question. How does one determine what’s real and what isn’t. Is it testable? What does that test look like? Has somebody already done this?

Somehow I eventually came to the idea that this is what science does. It answers questions like this, to a point. I didn’t really know a lot about science, though, as school focused mostly on earth sciences and I lacked the high school or even college level science education to understand. Considering I had an associate’s degree, I find that mildly sad, but I digress.

That search would eventually lead me to the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast, which I still listen to now. While not the first podcast I ever listened to, it is the oldest and longest-running one in my rotation by a longshot. Think I discovered it when one of the hosts did a guest appearance on a different podcast.

As I listened I slowly learned about the process of scientific study. Where it works, where it doesn’t, and how it can go wrong. I learned why science reporting in the media is horrible. Spoiler, it’s usually reporting a single study, not an entire body of literature. On top of that, it usually overstates the effect or implies causation where only correlation exists.

I learned the difference between correlation and causation. How two variables can be related and yet not cause each other because there are other factors at work. I learned that seemingly real correlations can simply be due to chance. Sometimes it be like it is, sometimes it don’t.

I learned about critical thinking and the cognitive biases that skew my view of reality, and ultimately even manage to catch myself doing it from time to time. How anecdotes make great stories but poor evidence and how generally garbage human memory tends to be.

Early on, I resented these things. I felt that, as Green Day once sang, “my mind breaks the spirit of my soul.” The world suddenly seemed very… mundane. At this point, I could no longer identify myself as neo-pagan. I could not find a way to reconcile one set of beliefs with the other in a way that wouldn’t lead to conflict. Is it fair to an entire religious group for me to remain an active participant? Their own belief system would hold that might doubt would undermine what they were doing.

When other conflicts between myself and the leader began to appear, I chose to leave. While a decision I’m not necessarily proud of, I just ghosted the group. I experimented with other things for a few years after that, but I ultimately ended up labeling myself as agnostic. A word I learned from EverQuest, ironically. Atheist implies a disbelief in a God, god(s), and/or goddess(s), and I simply find that I don’t care that much and consider the answer largely irrelevant.

It is not possible to prove that a God does not exist. Science cannot do that. We do have evidence, however, that systematic divine intervention of any sort doesn’t seem to have a predictable or detectable effect. From this, I have drawn the conclusion that He, they, it, whatever, could possibly exist, but don’t seem interested in helping or hurting us in any predictable way. Therefore, it is up to us, the humans, to do the best for each other. A position that believe is generally considered humanism.

Anyway, that’s a rather long story about how neo-paganism made me an “atheist.” By no means is it meant to demean any religious group. I believe that there are valuable lessons and stories to be had in all religions, but just like your diet, any one thing taken to the extreme is rarely good.

Y’all take care, and be kind to each other.

Applied Economics – MMO Crafting, Pricing, and Opportunity Costs

I have long been a rather simple user of the match (or slightly undercut) the lowest market price method of pricing my goods for sale in MMOs. This doesn’t mean taking a loss, generally, as I typically gather all my own materials. My cost is in terms of time, and I try not to think too long or hard about how much my “gaming time” is worth in a monetary sense. That is not it’s purpose and would probably suck the life out of it.

Enter Star Wars Galaxies. My primary goal was to goof off with space and/or shipwright. While I have busied myself with a number of other things, I finally got around to building some ship blueprint for sale. It’s a very small market, as they do not need to be acquired or replaced often. At least in my experience, there are few competitors on the bazaar terminal or vendor searches to provide any guideline for how to price my goods.

This led me to opportunity cost as a pricing method. The opportunity cost is the next most useful, next most profitable in this case, thing that we can do with a given resource. When I consider the resource-heavy ship blueprints, then, it makes not sense to price the ship below the market rate of the materials used. Otherwise it would be more profitable to simply sell the materials and a call it a day.

So I created a quick spreadsheet that can calculate the material value of a ship based on the market price of each component.

Now, the scary thing is that this is significantly higher than the only other seller I came across, who was selling them for mostly 60-90k/ea with no real allowance made for increased material usage. I would say theirs are priced in the 1.5-2 credits/resource unit while mine, well, obvious are not. I was using fairly good resources to build mine.

Still, it does not matter how well thought out the price is if the market will not bear those prices. It may be that the demand is so low that selling the resources will always be a more profitable venture. Of course, the resources themselves cost me far less than that to collect, so it’s at least still profitable. Just not as profitable as selling the materials it is made from.

Still, somebody has to do it. Working at a restaurant may not be the most profitable way for someone to sell their time, but if we wish to eat there someone must provide that service. We also get into that wibbly-wobbly grey area that is the utility value of enjoying what you’re doing, or other non-monetary utility values that are harder to price.

I just thought it was an interesting exercise to try pricing goods using a method other than going market rate. It’s an interesting way of considering my options, at least.

Y’all take care, and remember that profit is only part of utility value, not the sole indicator.

Promptapalooza – What’s something you’ve lost along the way that you would love to have back?

Hey, it’s my turn today! Thanks to Krikket for doing this yesterday and Belghast for putting all this together. Today’s prompt is, as seen in the title: What’s something you’ve lost along the way that you would love to have back?

I spent quite a while considering what I might write about this. There are certainly many things in my life that I’d rather wish had not happened. Yet, in a strange Butterfly Effect kind of way, they all lead here and I do not regret where I have ended up all that much.

There is one elusive experience I would certainly like to get back though, and that’s the way MMOs felt in 1999. In particular, that vanilla EverQuest feeling, when I saw people offering SoW in chat and wondered how you get a pig and why you would want one. It’s an interesting combination of adventure, wanderlust, and learning that create a high that I’ve been chasing for the better part of two decades. In reality, it is neither specific to that time or that game, but the feeling of playing, experiencing, and learning a world for the first time.

I do feel that this is largely a product of the “honeymoon” phase of playing a game. As the unknown gives way to familiarity that feeling fades. I’ve often felt that nostalgia is an attempt to recapture that, which perhaps it can for a time, but is itself even more fleeting.

It’s not the only thing of value to be had either. As long as I am entertained, then it is time well spent. I have found enjoyment in the process of organizing information and tasks, as well as goal setting and attainment even in games with which I’m familiar.

Still, it is literally impossible to play EverQuest for the first time again, especially as it was in 1999. I wasn’t just learning a game, I was learning a genre that was relatively young. It is now more mature, and arguably improved in most ways, but lacks the sense of wonder that I had then.

Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, excelsior and all that.

I shall now pass the Promtapalooza torch to Jen from Book of Jen, where we’re going to learn about ourselves and each other. I must say, I like this format. It’s like a form of blogging relay race.

Y’all take care, and remember to check out Jen’s post tomorrow.

Other people using this prompt:

Tipa

Promptapalooza – Creative Space

Shoutout to Krikket at Nerdy Girl Thoughts for tackling the prompt “Tell us about your physical creative space” in spite of the emotional distress it created. Takes a lot of effort to confront our demons, especially when they’re accidentally thrust upon us.

I do not typically think of myself as having a physical creative space. My creative space is simply the time and environment where the opportunity is. For blogging it’s more of a mindset, a mental space. I sit down and record my thoughts at the moment. Sometimes this take a few minutes, sometimes it takes hours, just depends on how strong an opinion I have and how much I feel like beating the reader with it.

For example, this is the environment right this minute. The break area in the relatively quiet hours at the start of shift. Before machinery has had a chance to break or behave strangely.

It is not without its downsides, however. First and foremost is that work must still take priority. If a call comes in I must stop immediately, mid-sentence if necessary, and go deal with that. Many cases where I end a post not sure if I had a point or not is something to this effect. If I walk away mid-thought the whole post seems almost alien, as though someone else wrote it when I wasn’t looking. I often find this sort of discontinuity difficult to recover from.

I have also found that dark and empty computer labs at the school are also good substitutes, but those are difficult to find in the timeframe I’m on campus now.

Time is also a strange part of my “creative space.” I have tended to select an approximate block of time to begin a post. If it does not at least get started during that time period, it tends not to happen at all. Probably the impact of me resorting to routine as a coping mechanism.

Speaking of which, tomorrow is my day to do the prompt, so I should probably go work on that now. Y’all take care.

Promptapalooza – The Organization Process

Today’s prompt, as introduced by Paeroka on Nerdy Bookahs, is “What’s your process when creating a blog post?

I’m going to deviate a bit from this, and instead focus more on my approach to any seemingly complicated task that I have difficulty holding all at once. From EVE-related planning, to college schedules, to research, there is but one multi-tool I resort to: the infamous spreadsheet. My actual process is best described as one step at a time. Trying to break things down into small manageable tasks.

As a quick aside, I never really understood spreadsheets when I was younger. Having grown up using exclusively document editors, I underestimated why you would want a “grid-based” document. It was only when I became familiar with them at work that I began to think “Oh, I could just put this all in a spreadsheet!”

Today’s project is crafting in Star Wars Galaxies Legends. I’ve been playing for a bit now, and reached a point where I’m juggling too many crafting professions to easily keep track of what I need and what I’m missing. In fact, I’m starting with a small spreadsheet I created a few weeks ago to sort out harvester math and decide what I wanted to use and what the resource pricing needed to be.

I also needed a block to remind me which resources I would need to build starship chassis and ballpark an absolute minimum price for “literally give me anything.”

So, the problem before us is that I have two other crafters of my own, plus my brother is running a couple, so I need to spread out and create a detailed quick-reference for myself. I need to do an inventory as well, but I’d have to be at home for that.

My first step is to divide my tasks and my space. In this case establishing an “area” for each crafter. That is, profession-specific tabs or sheets. This gives me a way to keep each section contained as I work on them. Otherwise I’ll feel like I’m constantly working around myself or scrolling from top to bottom. At this point I can probably copy my chassis block over and call shipwright done, for now.

Let’s be real, this change is happening because Armorsmith is…. intense. It’s a nightmare of tiers and subcomponents that have interchangeable subcomponents. So I’m going to start at the bottom, the sub-est of components, the armor layer.

I started by copying the stat block from the wiki page and started adding columns to the right by looking up each schematic. It took a while, and a couple of different tries to make it this compact. At some point in the future I’ll sit down and do the same thing for armor segments, which have their own materials plus some number of these layers (0-12) depending on what you’re making and what you’re after.

These segments are used, one or more factory identical units, to make the final armor core, which is used to craft the final armor. Sometimes also in identical multiples. One task at a time, though, I cannot even make armor layers, at the moment, as some of these resources aren’t currently available. Plexite crystal and chromite carbonate ore, for example.

So maybe that offers a little insight into my problem solving or organization process. The main thing is to remember the larger goal but not to focus on it too much. It’s more of a “does this small step somehow further goal X?” sort of approach.

Y’all take care. I’ve got to go clear my head for a bit after all that.

Promptapalooza – Your skill at Math has increased! (i )

Today’s prompt was introduced by Stingite over at The Friendly Necromancer: What skill do you want to improve the most?

My true answer is always “yes,” but if I had to pick just one at the moment, I would say research design and documentation would be a good one. This is less about research itself and more about the technical math and writing skills involved.

There are many subtle ways in which we misinterpret or perceive the truth poorly. I am no exception. However, I have long felt that the best way to get good at something is to simply do it. We attribute much to talent and overlook the many hidden time sinks that the talented have invested.

Well before I chose to start a blog, I made a bet with myself of sorts. I wished to demonstrate this belief to myself. To either confirm or deny it. So I acquired a book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, from the local library. I said to myself, if I am correct, then I should be able to demonstrate an improvement in my ability to draw. One of those tasks that I, like others, had largely considered the domain of the talented.

One of many incomplete sketches I have laying around as “evidence.”

I typically consider it having been a success. Of course, it was never my intention to be “good” at art or drawing, merely to prove to myself that it was to some extent a learn-able skill. That innate ability and learned skill were, to some degree, interchangeable.

In many ways, many things such as this blog and my degree-work are very similar experiments. If I could do that thing, through application of effort, then I should be able to do this new thing too, yes?

The purpose of starting the blog was to refine my ability to communicate the unspoken ideas and thoughts in my head. Taking classes is part escaping the manufacturing sector and part improving my math and research ability in a documented and marketable way.

Maybe I should consider spending some time working on my “having some kind of point” skill.

Y’all take care.