When reality becomes unreal

One of my Facebook groups just addressed an issue that will make me think for a long while. I have already thought about this stuff for a long while. When I started gaming eleven years ago it was hard for me to distance myself from the character I played and I couldn’t “steal” stuff from containers in peoples’ houses even when my game designer husband explained that stuff was placed there for the gamer to use. It was a peasant’s life savings for chrissake! It took time to adapt and get rid of that internal safety catch I had. It was the same with killing enemies. It was hard unless I was attacked. Playing an evil character like an assassin or a blackguard was out of the question. It took years to get used to it.

But I got used to it – to a certain extent.

Nowadays I happily snipe bandits in Fallout 3 or Borderlands without feeling any remorse at all. Boom, headshot! I know they are only bits of data and I’m having a good time. The safety catch is off, for these games at least. There are games that are still too realistic. Take S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for instance. It is not a new game. My husband played it until his eyes bled, we watched the films (Stalker and Solaris) and awed over pictures from Pripyat. I got the game, started playing and shooting people and stopped. There was a scene near a train yard and there were lots of enemies around. I maimed one and he started to moan. It was very realistic. I could feel his pain, his fear, his longing for life. I rushed to his side and offered health kits that I had in my pack, but the script of the game didn’t allow me to heal him. He was simply not expected to live. He just lied there, moaning and pleading. At that very moment my safety catch, the one that keeps me from killing people IRL, hit. I couldn’t kill him and I couldn’t continue the game. It was simply too close to home, too realistic, too easy to empathize with.

But Borderlands and Fallout are not and this is the scary part. Drone operating is like playing Borderlands. If it was me, I could probably kill those people and it scares me shitless

Why I love temping

With a new fresh year in front of me and time on my hands as I’m between assignments right now, I have pondered upon a few things. These are the main reasons why I love working as a temp:

Learning
I learn a lot. In an ordinary employment I would learn maybe two business systems and that’s about it, but as a temp I learn something new with every customer company I meet. After six years with Manpower I can work in SAP, Oracle, Lawson, Contempus, TEM, Unistar, Visma, Agresso and others. I have also learned to make it snappy.

Speed
When I start a new assignment I usually find a stressed and frustrated customer with tons of work that has piled up for some reason or other and they want it dealt with on the double. There is seldom time for fancy introduction programs. It’s like when a 5-year old drops a caterpillar into an ant heap to see if it will do something interesting. Things can get far too interesting for my taste sometimes, but have I learned to be in the air after a minimum of runway.

Writing
I get to compile a lot of documentation, which is okay because I love to write. When I arrive at a new place it happens more often than not that work descriptions and instruction manuals are missing or out of date. The systems I’m supposed to work with are often “self-explanatory” i.e. training cost money and therefore people have to learn stuff using the classic method Trial & Terror. Usually there is one person who knows the systems well and the first thing I do is to compile a quick reference guide for myself. I do this on the explain-as-if-I-were-six-year-old level. Before the end of my mission I rewrite and illustrate the guide and hand it over to the customer who is usually very grateful for the job as they now have a training manual fit for new recruits. How I love to see the smile of a happy customer. That’s what we all live for, right?

Timing
Temping is good at various stages of one’s career. I always meet younger colleagues who got their first job as temps and then got hired by the customer company. This is win-win. The youngster gets work experience and the company gets to test a possible new recruit. Older professionals like me get a chance to wind down the career and even to continue working part-time after retirement. The tasks may not be as challenging as before, but personally I feel it’s nice to be able to forget the job as soon as I step out of the office. Before, I was always on the job in my mind and worked 60-hour weeks. This is not what I want to do in my sixties. On the other hand I know what I know so the customer gets a management consultant for the price of an accounting assistant. They rarely complain about this.

Freedom
You never get stuck in one place. Some assignments may be nicer than others, but when I’m in a place where I’m not too happy I can still relax and do my very best because I know it will end and I will go somewhere else. Moreover, I’m never expected to get involved in the Machiavellian schemes that seem to exist in any workplace larger than three people. This is a very good thing. I can also avoid conferences, parties and outdoor events like softball on a muddy field in pouring rain as I’m not into those things anyway. After eight hours in a loud office landscape I need to rest my ears and charge my batteries. Being an introvert, I do this best in the quiet of my home.

Security
As a Manpower employee (in Sweden) I feel a lot safer than I would in any ordinary position. It happens now and then that my colleagues at the customer company get called to meetings where the management talks about efficiency. Everybody knows what that means. Layoffs. It hurts me to see the fear in their eyes because I know that those who eventually are told to leave will end up at the Swedish Public Employment Service. There, they will be placed in front of a crappy computer and expected to find a new position as best they can while the Service is constantly on their backs to check if they have broken any rule that can get them kicked from their meager unemployment benefits. When my mission ends Manpower goes into top gear to find me a new one. They know that I’m their money and they make every possible effort to find a good spot for me. Meanwhile, I can relax because I have a 150-hour guaranteed monthly salary even when between assignments. This is outright luxurious and I feel blessed. I can’t pick and choose of course, but my boss always confers with me before I go to a new place and I feel that my needs and ideas are listened to. Last fall I asked for part time assignments as I want more time for myself as the event horizon (death) comes closer. I’m employed on a full-time basis, but my boss still managed to get me on part time during my last assignment. It might not happen with the next one, but she knows my wishes and will fulfill them if possible. I couldn’t ask for a better job.

Why you’re not married – oh, really?

Facebook posted a link to “the most viewed Huffington Post blog of all time”. After having read it I went straight to the fridge for a glass of Grüner Veltliner to cool off. I can almost feel the steam hissing out of my ears due to all the stupid. The blog, written by Tracy McMillan, lists six reasons why you are not still married, as if marriage was every woman’s major goal in life. It might be for the author who has managed to wed three times since 19.
After cooling a bit I will try to address these six reasons one by one in my very own way.

1. You’re a bitch

Good. My BFF use to say: ”If they can’t handle me, they don’t deserve me”. That’s a darn good motto. If you can scare the guy away he’s not your match, obviously. Ms McMillan says that men just want to marry someone who is nice to them (as if women don’t want the same thing too) and mentions her 13-year-old son who only wants mac & cheese, video games and a smiling, wiggling, sexy Kim Kardashian. Dear Tracy, I hate to break it to you, but if your son’s only dream wife is some kind of fuckable mom it’s because you made him that way you stupid twat.

2. Your’e shallow

Oh thanks, I really loved this. Character (whatever that is) is essential in a husband so if you haven’t found him yet, it’s because you don’t really want him as men with character are “by definition” willing to commit. Therefore, you are like a teenage girl and men with character don’t marry teenage girls as they are constantly unhappy and suck at cooking. Here comes the fuckable mom again. Dear Tracy, please define what character is, why men with character by definition are willing to commit and what a non-shallow fiancée should be like – in addition to the fuckable mom part.

3. Your’e a slut

And he can never be, right. Here Ms McMillan goes all biological and claims that the evil oxytocin that is released during orgasms will turn you into the forever fuckbuddy as “nature can’t discriminate between marriage material and Charlie Sheen” (sorry, Charlie). I’d like to know how casual sex past a certain age can be like “recreational heroin”. Again, sources please.

I really hate it when women help the patriarchy by slutshaming other women. During life I have overheard many male conversations where women have been described as “sluts” and “whores” simply for doing exactly what the guys in question coerced and coaxed them to do. Men are of course never referred to as sluts or sleep-arounds. They are alpha males, strong and victorious. I once confronted a guy about this and he looked kindly at me as if I was totally stupid and said: “but it’s different. I have a penis and I can wash it carefully, but women have a hole”. I got the feeling that he somehow saw women as toilet bowls to empty himself in as he pleased, but if he ever were to hook up with someone for real, that specific one had to be shiny and new. Thanks, Tracy for helping these guys out.

4. You’re a liar

If you fall in love with some guy who is not ready to commit yet, but still wants to hang around him and be with him your potential unhappiness is your own fault because you have lied to him. If you have not told him up front that you are ready for marriage you are a liar and basically at ease with just having sex for fun while waiting for him to change his mind (which hardly ever happens).

In a way I can agree with Tracy Mc Millan here. Accepting the fuckbuddy role hoping that the guy might change his mind, and change it in your favour, can be a big waste of time. If you can scare him away, he is not the one for you. This is hard to do when you are in love. I know that and nobody, not even Tracy McMillan, has the right to blame you for it.

5. You’re selfish
Oh boy! You’re not married because you are self-centered. If you look after yourself (your physique, your future, your career or whatever) you are not wife material. Instead, you should get a baby to learn how to focus on somebody else but you. Then, all good husbands-to-be (she mentions Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford) will suddenly line up as “motherhood has a way of weeding out lotharios”.

WHAT?!

How on earth does this match with the “slut” rule above? You should not have casual sex, but please have a baby with any Tom, Dick or Harry that turns up. Seriously, I need another glass of wine. BRB.

6. You’re not good enough

This is outright cruel. How dare you say to an unmarried woman, any woman, that she is not good enough? Now, Trace immediately cops out by stating that “you are enough right this minute”, but she also says that you should not look for anyone who is “better than you are” because “you can fake it for a while, but ultimately you won’t love your spouse any better than you love yourself”. Smart men know this according to Tracy.

What is Tracy saying here? Is marriage about love or is it about social status? I know that there are loads of male and female gold diggers out there, but I believe that most people want to marry someone they really love. Someone they feel at home with, belong with, can talk to and build a future together with.

Finally, Tracy concludes that marriage is not about getting, it’s about giving and it is you, the woman, who is responsible for the giving. We should “practice loving someone even when they don’t deserve it. Because most of the time, your messy, farting, macaroni-and-cheese eating man will not be doing what you want him to do”. Here comes the fuckable mom again. As long as we give love, without expecting anything in return, to overgrown spoiled little fucktards that never develop mentally beyond the age of five, we might possibly, if we are good and self-sacrificing enough, receive love. Fuck that!

Wanna see my new rack?

I have the best husband in the whole world. My rig had a few years on the neck and some games lagged a bit, so my darling promptly ordered a lot of good stuff from Komplett.se and set to work. I paid for the parts of course, but as I have no clue whatsoever on how to build a computer I am grateful to be able to sit comfortably on the couch with glass a of wine and watch my favorite geek do his magic. This is the new configuration:

Intel Core i7 Quad Processor i7-860 Quad Core, 2.80Ghz, Socket 1156, 8MB, 95W.
Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD5, P55, Socket-1156 SLI&CrossFireX, DDR3, ATX, GbLAN, USB3.0, SATA 6Gb.
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 CPU Kylare Socket 775/1156/1366, AM2/AM2+/AM3, 1300 RPM, 92,3 m³/h, 19,8 dBA, 120mm Fan
Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600MHz 4GB CL9 Kit w/2x 2GB XMS3 modules, CL9-9-9-24,
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium EN OEM, 64bit.
For my video cards he used two Nvidia 8800GTS in SLI, which should do the job for the time being.

Parts
The old table in the living room is great to work on. It didn’t take him long to eviscerate the old comp, clean it and start mounting the new parts.

Computer parts
Parts unpacked.

Mounted parts
Almost done and ready to be fitted into the4 case.

The new rig works perfectly and I’m glad that I skipped Vista and went directly to Windows 7 from XP, which I never liked in the first place. Startup time is now significantly shorter and my games don’t lag. Not even on the road between Skingrad and Anvil. I look forward to riding that beautiful road again soon, but I’m not done with Fallout 3 yet.

As for performance, I don’t know anything about it, but hubby recommended the Windows Experience Index test. I couldn’t explaint it even at gunpoint, but here is…

Performance

Edit: I got CTD problems with both Fallout 3 and Borderlands so we replaced the two Nvidia 8800GTS cards by a XFX Radeon HD 5870, 1 GB GDDR5. The fan was noisy like Niagara Falls to begin with, but Per got a program to make it STFU until the temperature got too high. If the problem still persists I might need to upgrade the PSU.

Free Radical

My beloved knows that I’m a great fan of System Shock II. He also knows that I’m sometimes bored at work while waiting for the incoming snailmail. So he sent me the link to Free Radical by Shamus Young.

It’s a great story. I’ve always wondered what took place before the start of the SS2 game. I’m also touched by the author’s humbleness and generosity. The classic Internet. Free for all to share and enjoy. Share something today and you risk getting sued right into next week. I’m not even halfway through the online story, but I’m already itching to start SS2 all over again and play as a technical expert with a lot of PSI.

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Meme

1. Where’s your cellphone? Right beside me
2. Where’s your significant other? Right here.
3. Your hair? In a pony tail.
4. Your mom? Dead, since 2006.
5. Your dad? Dead, since 1972.
6. Your favorite thing? My husband, champagne and the blackbird’s song in spring.
7. Last night’s dream? I returned to my mother’s womb. Now, that’s perverse.
8. Your dream, and/or goal in life? Comfortable retirement.
9. The room you’re in? The (computer) hall.
10. Your hobby? Gaming.
11. Your fear? Ghosts (yeah, I know *blushes*).
12. Where are you 6 years from now? Right here.
13. Where were you last night? In my sweet husband’s arms.
14. What are you not? Sober.
15. A wish? That the new kitchen was ready and paid for.
16. Where did you grow up? Nyköping, Södermanland, Sverige, Europa.
17. The last thing you did? My last breath, but that won’t happen for a while.
18. Your clothes? Sweatpants and a black Turnover top.
19. Your TV? A Samsung 40″ flat screen.
20. Pets? None so far.
21. Your computer? A gaming PC that my husband has built.
22. Your mood? Tired, tipsy and content.
23. Miss somebody? Grandpa, as always. Bless his sweet soul.
24. Your car? Top Cab.
25. What are you not wearing? Hose.
26. Favorite shop? NK.
27. Your summer? Birthdays, cleaning after the kitchen rebuilding and working.
28. In love? Oh yes.
29. Favorite color? Black. Or blue, or red, or…?
30. When was the last time you laughed? This morning. At an ad for coffee.
31. When was the last time you cried? Day before yesterday, in front of the TV. Can’t even remember why.

Brigitte

Brigitte is my second Oblivion character. When I created her I wanted somebody totally different from Skade who is very down to earth. So I created a bombshell. She is Breton so she needed a French name. Brigitte Bardot came to mind and Brigitte it is.

Brigitte is all fun flirt and fashion. She loves attention and has no sense whatsoever when it comes to money. When levelling she favors skills that boost her personality and charm so those are maxed already. Now she plans to invest a bit more in illusion training to further her grasp over people in general and men in particular. She has no pet as she wants all attention for herself, but she might consider the adoring fan if she decides to do the arena quest. After all, she loves to be adored.

Brigitte likes to have fun and surround herself with beautiful things and garments. She flirts a lot and likes to have men fawn all over her. She joined the Thieve’s Guild, but doesn’t shoplift much. She likes the thrill of bartering too much and the feeling of buying something beautiful for herself.
Here she is charming the ears off poor Maro Rufus at Best Defense. Brigitte wears the snowfur outfit that she just bought from him using a Fortify Mercantile 100 pts spell on herself and a charm spell on him. Poor sod. :)
Brigitte uses her charm