No Regrets, Kid.

Today would have been my Dad’s 54th birthday.

Sometimes I think birthdays are the hardest days. This day is supposed to be all about him.

In my house, we never celebrated birthdays, as they were ‘just another day,’ and ‘overly marketed by corporations to sell things you don’t really need.’

Since he died, all I want to do is celebrate his birthday.

Go back in time, and give him some great birthday parties to remember.

Go buy him a really awesome laser scope or rain meter or something weird that only he could enjoy. Something to make him feel like he was remembered and special and show him how much he meant to me.

But we never had one of those birthdays for him, and we never will.

I think that’s the saddest part of all.

Even studying grief and death…it doesn’t make it any easier. It just gives you tools to better cope. I still find myself having the instinct and thought to give him a call sometimes and tell him something ridiculous–and then when I remember I can’t…

I lay in bed at night sometimes and all I can see is him laying lifeless and cold in a wooden box.

And the boots on his feet.

The boots he built his dream home with.

He had more plans for those boots.

When I look at my son I sometimes think how proud my Dad would be of him. How much he would absolutely love to get a warm little hug or see him walk and talk and experience new things.

Sometimes I manage to forget for a while, and then it all comes back even more vividly than before. You think you’re okay and that you’ve ‘moved on,’ but you haven’t and you never really will.

When someone you love dies, everything changes. Literally every single aspect of your life and mentality has changed forever. You will never be the same person again.

It’s like when the loved one leaves this world, they leave these little pieces of themselves behind for everyone that loved them. They stick to us and envelop us and help us along our own paths.

Sometimes it’s easy to celebrate life, make him proud, and be the most amazing person I can be.

Sometimes I get weak and sad and angry and don’t see the meaning of it at all.

But then I remember something he said to me when he was dying.

“No regrets, kid. No regrets.”

It’s hard not to live in the past and it’s even harder on days like today to keep your head up and simply move forward.

But that’s what he did. All the time.

I cry sometimes. I get angry sometimes.

I feel guilty for NOT feeling sad or angry enough sometimes.

It will be this way for a long time, this I know.

All I can do is follow the path his death has sent me on and try to be the best person I can be in the time I have here on this Earth. All I can do is try and live with no regrets.

So this year for your birthday, Dad, my present to you is a promise to live with no regrets–NOT reckless abandon, but an honest, good-hearted, kind and compassionate, learning, intelligent, regret-less life.

Instead of regrets, I will have lessons and learning experiences. I promise to take those experiences to heart, and not to waste any time on meaningless emotions and actions.

I promise to appreciate those around me, tell them I love them, earn and give respect.

I promise to make you proud and give the memories I was able to share with you to my son.

I promise to LIVE.

That’s what my Dad taught me.

I understand now, Dad. I understand so much more.

Happy birthday.

"Sundays too my father got up early 
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, 
then with cracked hands that ached 
from labor in the weekday weather made 
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. 
When the rooms were warm, he'd call, 
and slowly I would rise and dress, 
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

Speaking indifferently to him, 
who had driven out the cold 
and polished my good shoes as well. 
What did I know, what did I know 
of love's austere and lonely offices?"  -- Those Winter Sundays
                                           Robert Hayden

Short Black Ops II Multiplayer Rewiew

Well, since I can’t connect to the Black Ops II servers at this time, I suppose I can write a little something about my overall experience with the game to  this point.

While only able to get to level 24 in online multiplayer so far, I feel, as a long-time Call of Duty player, that I’m able to give my opinion on the online multiplayer of Black Ops II. Aside from some connectivity issues I’ve been experiencing for about 20 hours at this point, it seems like the makers have a done a decent job in changing many different aspects of the game to give it a new,  different feel than the original Black Ops.

The game has added and implemented many new procedures which offer responses to many complaints that people have had over the years. For example, Domination is now a two-round mode in which teams switch sides halfway through–a-la Search and Destroy– in efforts to stop spawn-trapping and camping. With the new perks and “pick ten” system, it feels as if you have more freedom of choice with your weapons and attachments.

There are a lot more attachment options–from different grips and stocks that offer different advantages– to several new scopes and sights for your weapons. My favorite new addition in the sights category would have to be the “target finder” scope. It’s essentially a scope that shows your enemies in a red squares and locks onto them. Imagine the marksman perk from MW3 revamped into an attachment. Amazing.

I also enjoy the new scorestreak system. Instead of being rewarded for getting kills without dying, the player is rewarded for the amount of points he or she gets in one life. So for example, with the old method, if you got a double-kill against an enemy, you would simply get two points toward your killstreak. With the new scoring system, you are rewarded for the points you received for those kills. So, if you got that double kill and one was a headshot, you’ll get those extra 50 points counting toward your scorestreak. Also counted are assist points, capture points, etc., which really helps your streak along nicely.

The new scorestreak rewards are very nice. Some are new altogether, and some are revamped.  The RC-XD is back, just the same as before, and the Death Machine is back as well, except this time, you get the Death Machine until all the ammo runs out, regardless of how many lives that takes. The new scorestreaks include the Warthog—which calls in an A-10 Thunderbolt that provides air support by doing several strafe runs on the map—the Hunter Killer drone, which Deploys a flying drone that seeks out and tries to destroy the nearest enemy player or vehicle, and a few other new welcome additions.

All-in-all, I think the game is a pretty refreshing take on the Call of Duty series. It has a very sci-fi, futuristic feel. The graphics are not as good as Modern Warfare’s, but they are much better than the first installment of Black Ops. The guns feel a little ‘nerfy’ compared to the weaponry in Modern Warfare, but the fresh-and-newness of them, the new attachments and perk options, and rewards in the game makes up for that. If you were a fan of the original Black Ops, I think it’s safe to say you will absolutely love Black Ops II. On the other hand, if you are a previous CoD-hater, I’d still say to give it a try. There are enough new policies and implementations to where it’s really worth giving it a second look-over.

At the moment the only complaints I have myself and am hearing from others in the community are the connectivity issues. The constant dropping of games and different errors people are receiving that’s preventing them from playing online. Here we are, two days after the initial release of one of the most anticipated games of all-time, and a lot of people are unable to play, including myself. That being said, it will not stop me from liking the game. The temporary server issues are just a bump in the road, and Activision states they are “working tirelessly” to resolve them. I’ll be waiting.

The True Spirit of Video Games

This story was submitted to me by a community member named Brandon. I couldn’t even bring myself to proofread it, and thought I would publish to my blog as-is. I did not want to take away from his story in any way, so I left it just the way it was sent to me. Truly the most amazing story of how video games can affect people’s lives for the better.

Anyone who calls themselves a gamer should be required to read this story.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂

“This is the reason why I end every statement with the words: Brandon and babie3 slimmy (aka: PlayStation 3 Slim) and co

Why do I call the PlayStation 3 Slim the babie3 slimmy (aka: PlayStation 3 Slim) and co
Difficult question to answer, so I’ll try my best! I don’t know if I’ll ever meet the right person, settle down, have children, grow old and die a happy person! I know that may never happen with what I have – my disability has certain barriers that I may never over come and if I do it won’t happen in this lifetime, due to peoples perceptions on what a disability is and how they think it affects the person that has had a life changing experience of being disabled. Whilst some think they know – they actual don’t KNOW and may never know until it affects them!

If given the chance and if you see how PlayStation affects myself, the history of the PlayStation I have experienced! What it has taught me about myself! The experience I have been apart of that I have seen how positive the brand of the PlayStation has brought into my life and the uplift that was witnessed because of the PlayStation! Why do I end the messages with what you see? It’s a true story but a long story of what happened when I was studying at College!

Whilst I was studying at college. I knew a friend of mine who was sobbing! I asked a member of staff at the cafeteria to bring over 2 cups of coffee. I sat beside him and asked him if I could be of any assistance? He went on to explain to me, his daughter whose name was Aimee, was terminally ill with Cancer and had a disability, she had appeared to close herself off from the world, not communicating with them because she knew she couldn’t do anything about changing her circumstances which was beyond her control and her parents couldn’t do anything to change that situation. Because of his state of mind I had accompanied him back to the house and notice a Harry Potter door of their daughter’s room at the top of the landing – what I saw I’ll never forget – when I opened the door, the whole room was of Harry Potter – I saw the little girl in the corner looking out the window. All of a sudden I had a flashback and quickly looked around the room and ran back downstairs to ask her father if he could take me back into town as quickly as possible before the stores had closed for the day!

When we got to GAME I had asked the store assistant for a babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2)? Her father had asked you already have a PlayStation 2 why would you want another one? Moments later the store assistant had asked, “Any Games with that?”

I said, “Please could you locate ALL the games that EA (Electronic Arts) had made and released related to “HARRY POTTER!” I had asked the store assistant to place each game individually and in a transparent bag as I had a plan that May or may not work, but I had to give it a try! Her father immediately smiled because he then knew why I had dragged him into town.

Upon arriving back to their house I had asked her mom if I could knock on their daughters room to set yup everything that was brought from the store – and once given permission by both parents I went about setting up the babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2)!

I had taken off my shoes knocked on the door and introduced myself and ask if I could borrow her TV. I went about setting up the console and placed the babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2) joy pad on my right side – at the corner of my eye I could see her mother and father watching as the door was slightly ajar, to what I was doing! I was sitting at the rear-end of her bed as my back wasn’t touching her Harry Potter bed, took out the transparent video games and held one of them up into the air and said “Should I play this, babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2)?, Nah wrong one!”. All of a sudden I felt the bed move, I wasn’t the one that was moving the bed! Got the first one out and said ” There you are, will play this yes babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2)!” The bed moved again! Placed the CD inside the console and started to look around for the joy pad, I couldn’t find it wasn’t where I left it! A scream was herd and again it wasn’t me! I looked at the console and thought where the joy pad is? Followed the cable from the console right to the handheld part of the joy pad itself! It was the young girl playing the console, playing Harry Potter! My job was done!

I cleared up the mess I had made and crawled out the room – where her father was shocked. His Wife was literally downside sobbing and I might add in shock by what they both witnessed!

I tapped her father on the shoulder and went downstairs. As I walked downstairs I could hear the young girl commenting on the spells that was used in the Movie! When her father came downstairs he had asked me why I had done what I did: I walked over to the door and pointed up to the direction of where we could hear screams of happiness and joy coming from they daughter’s bedroom and said:

“Do you hear that? That is the ‘True Spirit of Video Games!’, because that’s where dreams can come true!”

A few seconds later we heard a faint tapping at the door, I had opened the door and her mother had ran off again – I peered to see what see [her mother] had saw and it was the disabled girl with her arms stretch out as if to ask to be picked up? The daughters Father had picked his daughter up and you could tell by his body language he was SHAKING visibly shaking! His wife had come back into the kitchen and their daughter had jested to her father to be passed on to her mother, and her mother was shaking alot more!

What happened next I’ll never forget – she had jested to both her mother and father as if to say something to me! I had moved a chair so she could rest on it and went down on my one knee and said to her:
“If you were 30 years older, I would escort you home and ask for your parents hand in marriage!” She had smiled what I said, as if she knew where I was coming from! I said to her, “You are the most bravest lady I have ever met and will never ever be forgotten, not in my lifetime! Go back upstairs fellow gamer and let me know how the game ends!” We hugged and as we hugged it was as if I could feel her energy ebbing away. The one thing I’ll always remember was the hug which I’ll never forget! As that was the last time I saw her!

The following day I met her father at the gates of the college and he brought me a coffee and had said that for the first time in a long time they had their daughter back and it was a joy to know that a video game can do that! He thanked me and I said “No, no, no, not me was the babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2) and co that deserves all the credit! I had asked him when your daughter passes away in her sleep can you let me know so I can pay me respects? We exchanged numbers and went our separate ways !

A few weeks later I got a text message saying she’d past way in her sleep – I went to the church service and walked to her coffin, draped in Harry Potter linen. There daughter was now at peace and I noticed alongside her was the game that she played and beside that there was a plaque which stated “All we have is our dreams for the True Spirit of Video Games!” I looked directly at the parents and was puzzled by what they had done!
At the wake I walked over to her father we hugged and I had to ask: At the church service I saw what I’ll never forget, why did you fo what you did? He pointed in a direction that I looked at and his wife had opened a door and pointed up towards the roof, I heard this coming from the daughters’ parent:

“Do you hear that? That is the True Spirit of Video Games!”

I looked back towards the daughters’ father and thanked him for what he had done we hugged and as we hugged I said to “I’ll never forget her – NEVER!” Her mother had approached us and I had thanked her also and hugged and said the same thing as I said to her husband! And left them to enjoy the rest of their memories that had of their daughter.

When I got back to my flat I looked at my babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2) I thought to myself that was an experience we (I and the PlayStation brand) will never forget and as a continuing tribute to all those that have a disability or face hardship as that young lady had faced – to honor them, to honor her, and many individuals who goes beyond the call of duty to aid others before themselves I will forever , and for the rest of my life always end with what you and others read – that is Brandon and babie3 slimmy (aka: PlayStation 3 Slim) and co

Now all that reads my posts knows why I sign off by saying what I say with this term Brandon and babie3 slmmy (aka: PlayStation 3 Slim) and co”

Inertia…Sometimes We All Need A Push

Laws of science always apply.

Lots of people ask me for advice. Well, okay, I’ll admit…they don’t ASK all the time. They just sit there, frowning, talking about all the things that are happening in their lives. All the things that are making them sad. All the things they wish they could change.

I admit, I’ve lost a few friends over this. I’m sorry, but if you have all these problems, and I’m a good enough friend to give you insight into what the problem is and how to fix it–and you agree– and you do nothing about it…I can’t associate with you. I can’t associate with weak people. I can look at them from a distance, but I can’t get too close. Weakness is like a disease…it spreads quickly like a wildfire and without bias. 

MOMENTS of weakness are a different story. Everyone has them. Everyone can relate to making a decision that goes against everything you believe in just because it feels right at the time. Everyone’s done it. If you haven’t, I suggest you do it at least once to get an insight into what it feels like to let everything go, and just do what you feel…

Tangent aside, I like to give advice. I can’t stop myself. Ever. It gets me into trouble sometimes. but I don’t care. Don’t come to a bereavement counselling student and discuss your problems and NOT expect advice.

Anyway,

I have these two friends…they are a couple. We’ll call them Sam and Sally. Sam and Sally are “repeat offenders”, as I call them–people who have broken up and gotten back together before. They recently broke up again. Sally is a good friend of mine. She was in my wedding. She came over and was very upset. They had broken up a few days before, and I’d seen her right after it happened, two days later, and then finally, the night before they got back together.

She was a mess. Let’s say the breakup was a mutual thing. Sam acted like an asshole, Sally called him on it, he apologized, but the level of asshole-ness was too extreme at the time, so she had a hard time forgiving him right away. She dwelled on it, which lead to him dwelling on things, which lead to a mutual ‘dwelling’ phase. Until she realized she missed him. A lot.

She was over here, at ‘The Clinic’ as I call it (my couch), and I could tell someone had to do something. So I interfered.

I threw myself right into the middle of their problem. I got myself involved because I saw a need for something to happen.

You know that moment when you see something happening, and you feel like you could help? Like if you were to see a lost little boy wandering around in the city…or an old woman hobbling across a busy street?

Is that wrong? Even though I helped the situation and they got back together with better ideals, and a more concrete idea of what they BOTH want out of their relationship, and a deeper understanding of each other, should I have gotten involved? I think the answer is yes.

Well, the answer is Inertia.

Inertia is  is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion. And object at rest stays at rest, until an external force acts upon it, giving it motion. And then once in motion, will not stop until another external force comes along and…well, you know the rest.

I am the external force. 

I think everyone needs an external force at one time or another in their lives. You need someone, an unbiased outsider, to give you the low-down, down-low on your situation. Someone that can see both sides, and see where the problem is, and give it just a little push in the right direction.

In Sam and Sally’s case, they are just a young couple with nothing holding them together. No kids, they don’t share an apartment, they have nothing keeping them together besides their genuine desire to be together. True beauty. in it’s simplest form.

Sam and Sally needed some inertia.

Sometimes, all someone needs is a little push in the right direction. Some people don’t like to be the external force, but I don’t mind. There’s something gratifying about noticing that someone needs help, and them offering them your assistance.

Whatever the case may be.

Sam and Sally aside, there have been many times in my life that I, myself , have been given an external force. And I appreciate it. Whether good or bad, external forces bring you to new understandings, and new perspectives on life.

Giving birth to a child without any pain medications was a huge ‘external force’ for myself. It really gives you a new perspective of what pain really is, what strength really is, and what really matters in life. I guarantee if you speak to a first-time mom who had an epidural, versus a first-time mom who went all-natural, you’d have a Venn diagram with almost NOTHING in the middle. Besides the baby.

Death would have to be the ultimate external force.

The unexpected death of a loved one has been one of the biggest changing factors in my life, to date. Although the death was extremely painful to watch and deal with at the time, it has brought be to higher levels of appreciation and understanding for the life I have been given. It gave me purpose and direction,  and a desire to excel. It gave me a better perspective on what to appreciate and what to hold dear to my heart.

We all need these external forces, regardless of how they come into our lives. Whether it’s a friend helping your situation (that’s what friends are for, right?), a huge life event, or the death of a loved one, we need all of these things to happen sometimes.

We all need something that rattles us to the core, something that wakes us up like a smelling salt. Something that reminds us that we are alive, and ever changing. Something that reminds us that while, yes, there are other people in the world, it is US, personally that need to take a stand in our own worlds, and make something happen for ourselves.

We all need something to live for, and sometimes we forget what those things are, until we receive our external forces.

Last Night I Had A Dream

You can learn a lot about things from your dreams. Some people think that’s not true, but I know otherwise.

I dream a lot. And I remember them a lot.

Sometimes I travel roads and highways–they are always familiar. I travel the same roads and highways in my dreams so often, that I could draw you a map, and maybe you could find them in your dreams, too.

I vacation, I hike, I travel, I meander, all in my dreams.

I panic, relax, find peace, and solve problems…all in my dreams.

I feel guilty, lighter than air, overwhelmed, and devastated…all in my dreams.

I’ve been held captive, and set free… all in my dreams.

I remember dreams I had years ago…still as vivid and awkward as they were when I first woke up from them.

They say people who were raised with black and white TV dream in black and white.

They say it’s impossible to read in a dream. It isn’t.

I don’t completely believe in lucid dreaming. I believe something happens when you go to sleep that allows you to have some control, but not all. There is no such thing as control.

Our eyes see in three dimensions.

Scientists have discovered that there are, in fact at least eleven dimensions.

I believe sleep and the things we see and experience while sleeping can be extremely helpful to waking life. Think about it–when you’re sleeping, you’re concentrating. On sleep. On yourself. On Calm. Without your eyes. All day long, our eyes interfere with what our brain is sending us. Because our eyes can only see in three dimensions. Our eyes cannot feel.

I believe our brains can sense and feel the other dimensions. Psychics, mediums, clairvoyance, being in the ‘right place at the right time’ or the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’–it’s all relevant. It’s all connected. Somehow. It has to be, right?

Out of all involuntary human behaviors and actions, sleep and dreaming has been the least-studied, least-explained phenomenon. Why?

Because it’s different for everyone. But the emotions are the same. Deciphering your dreams is not concentrating on the things in your dreams, but the feelings those things give you…

Enjoy your journey. And be aware. Take from it what you can.

You can learn a lot about things from your dreams. Some people think that’s not true, but I know otherwise.