Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving: Everyone Deserves A Holiday

With Thanksgiving coming up around the corner, and tons of shops and stores already decked out in holiday trimmings, it is hard to actually take that time to look at what you are thankful for and for the things in your life that are special to you.  So instead of falling into the commercialization of shopping instead of having a family dinner, I'm choosing to not shop and to boycott shopping on Thanksgiving.  If you get the opportunity to spend time with your family for a Thanksgiving meal, shouldn't the workers ringing up the stuff you really don't need get that opportunity too?  A few weeks back I found that there is an image going around saying that you pledge not to shop on Thanksgiving, and if you want to share it on your wall, you can by either copying this image URL to Facebook or by sharing this post.

 Just as the button says, everyone deserves a holiday and I would bet those people that have to work on Thanksgiving wouldn't mind not having to deal with masses of people that will trample, harm, curse at, and harass people for that $4 toaster or that $20 game.
Please be thankful that you have what you do and instead of spending an hour standing in the long lines at the check-out counter, spend an hour compiling the things you are thankful for in your life.

For example, I am thankful for...
  • a family that I can count on to do anything for me 
  • a wonderful fiance who I can't wait to marry
  • having a job I enjoy
  • another healthy year
  • having friends that are just a text away from a conversation
  • being close with all my family -- I feel that this can easily be overlooked
Even though this is a small list, each item represents such a big portion of my life and really accounts for so much.  Does this list need a new toaster or more stuff?  Some would argue yes, but I think it's just fine the way it is.  I would encourage everyone to take a moment out of their hectic schedules and really think about who and what you're thankful for and take a look and see if more "stuff" regardless of the cost will affect your list of things you're thankful for.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Blog Starting!

While I haven't really posted much as of late, I've decided to start working on another blog completely dedicated to Dungeons and Dragons.  So rather than creating an odd combo of fun posts and DnD posts here, I'll be separating them out to a new blog. 

The blog is called The Laughable Wolf which is actually the name of a fake company I had to make during my Senior year Capstone class in college.  I just started it up over the last few days, so it's still developing a little and there is a decent chance that the layouts and styles could potentially change still.  The premise of the site will be my thoughts on how to be a better player, how to be a better dungeon master/game master, how to develop better stories, and provide resources that I've found to be useful, among many other things.

This doesn't mean that I will stop posting here, and hopefully, I will start posting more often again.  What this does mean is that much of the DnD content that would normally have been posted here will be on The Laughable Wolf instead.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

College Life: Looking Back

Currently, I am sitting outside the library at my old college during a prospective student day.  I remember when I came to the campus day and had a day full of campus tours, meeting people and in general gathering a ton of information.  I had no clue that this place would become such a key into who I'd become.

I entered college as a simple nerd that coasted though high school getting As because it wasn't a challenge.  To be honest, college wasn't much more difficult, but it did have a few classes that gave me a bunch of challenges and even changed the course of my career path.

Looking back, while I did learn an abundance of stuff that has put me in a great position in live, I think the personal/emotional growth that I went through was much greater.  Most people look a a school and rate the things that they value the most to decide where they want to go.  Some go just to follow a family legacy, and others still go with a career in mind.

Nevertheless the reason, one thing I found is true.  No matter where you decide to go, your college experience is what you make of it.  Every college provides events and activities, food (good or bad), a place to sleep and a place to learn.  Your experience will be rely solely on what you make of it.  If you want to go to classes, do homework, and watch Netflix all day you can do that.  If you want to be a 3-sport athlete you can do that.  If you want to not go to class and party all the time (which will probably shorten your time at college - I've known a few people that experienced this) you can do that.  If you find yourself dissatisfied with your college experience, it is probably no one's fault but your own.  You can get involved in tons of things, but it's up to you to allow yourself to be vulnerable to get involved.

I wanted more out of my college experience by my Junior year so I stepped it up big and got involved.  My college is a small 3000 student college that you could walk across in 10 minutes.  Even with a smaller college I was able to get involved in starting a fraternity (Pi Lambda Phi) on campus (acting as Secretary for 1.5 years), hosting a 2 hour radio show (once a week), being the radio station's Treasurer (1 year), and being Secretary of a poetry and literary magazine (1 year).  Getting involved made my last 2 years at college incredibly busy but incredibly beneficial to my own personal growth.

While I could continue to discuss my experiences, no experience will compare with it.  The general gist is college is what you make of it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life Hacks - Clever Solutions For Daily Life

Sometimes it is nice to just see something and think, "Hey, I could easily do that" and in doing so your life can improve in some way.  This is where Life Hacks come in.  Whether it's trying to improve your home, social life, or just looking for a creative solution, Life Hacks are there to make you think.  Below are a few of my favorites, but are by no means an all-inclusive.

There are so many more, but this is a small sample of things that you can do to improve your life!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Correlating Work and Pleasure

It has been far too long since I've sat down and written a blog post (nearly 4 months). Things are pretty calm today so I had some time to sit and read some articles.  Normally, I find myself reading BBC News, but nothing really stood out to me, so I took to Twitter. One of the newer tweets was from @JohnnFour a blogger for roleplayingtips.com which is a Dungeons and Dragons Game Master Tips and Role-Playing Advice blog.

I hadn't read many posts for a while, but one specific one caught my eye. It was a SlideShare presentation by Ian Lurie, Internet Marketer at Portent, Inc. describing how Dungeons and Dragons can be correlated to internet marketing and SEO. Internet marketing and SEO are two things that I really am passionate about because it feels like the trade secrets and the underground info behind websites that allow you to strategize about how to ensure that your target market is being reached and pulled in. Being able to take a look at how people are getting to your site and where they go on the site is great because you can see trends and then plot out how to best hook the audience to stay on your site and learn more.

Just like a good DnD campaign, the GM should know what will tug at the heartstrings of the players to make them have to make some decisions. The GM can look at the situation and assess what needs to be done in the storyline/quest/campaign to keep the players hooked and interacting. The last thing a GM wants is to have to force the story onto the players and them to not be connected to the story.

Below is the presentation from Ian Lurie titled Everything I Needed to Know About Marketing I Learned Playing Dungeons and Dragons

I take a lot of pride in my work as a Website Designer and after reading through this presentation, it really opened my eyes into how much I can use my relaxation/fun time of Dungeons and Dragons and correlate it to my work life. When I started working for the company I'm at now, they had us work through a process to determine what our unique ability is, this was something that should not be specifically work related and I was able to immediately take the resources that we collected during the process to create my unique ability (and no, it isn't entirely about creating run-on sentences).

My Unique Ability Statement is:
My unique ability is to Analyze and Design experiences to provide new perspective to elicit emotion. 

This statement is concise, but it sums up what I do all the time during work and free time. During work, my job is to design landing pages, banners, and imagery that entice people to want to book a vacation at a location or book a promotion with certain carrier. To do this I have to analyze the images and information to best design something that expresses the company as well as creating something that will make someone consider a destination based on an image. The same can be said for my free time playing Dungeons and Dragons. As a GM my job is to create environments, situations, and experiences for the players that will keep them coming back for more and keeping them hooked week-to-week. While it isn't directly the same, the skills remain the same. In both situations, I have to get inside the mind of the recipient and determine what they would want to see to keep them hooked or to try to influence them in some manner to make them act in a different way.

Yes this sounds a little manipulative, but it is how the world of marketing works. We want you to buy a product you didn't know you needed because something we said or showed struck a chord with you. The best way to hone this skill is to continue using it and I feel that using this skill in Dungeons and Dragons will keep my skills sharp.