Saturday, December 4, 2010

Universality of Games

Games have been with us, likely, since humans have been in existence.  Maybe further, depending on what we can take from the play that we perceive in animals and what that could tell us about the nature of proto-beings beyond our abilities to observe in this day and age.  


Games are generally known as a structured activity that we do for fun, and may be educational as well.  We try to distinguish games from work, claiming it not something we do for an exchange of goods, a salary, or any other form of compensation - and yet, we find value in games, and often do seek out a reward or enrichment of some sort for the participation in one.  Thus, there can be confusion with regards to making a distinction between games and work, and often find elements within them that intermingle, such as people in online RPs that employ themselves to fictional jobs, or employees at team meetings where games are employed as team builders, or to give a certain symbolism or metaphor to work with to gain an understanding on the 'real' work.


Games are a universal part of the human experience, and, even in this age where the evolution of a game has come to be a creative force in a 'metaverse', we still find ourselves defining them in on whether they are fun or lighthearted, of a separate time and place, whether the goals are certain or uncertain, even a view that games are non-productive, even while being governed by rules.  We claim that a game is to be fictitious in order to be a 'real' game.


Games can be more than that, can they not?  I'm not saying to throw away the definition we have of games already, but to consider.  Do games have value?  If so, then what makes them rewarding or enriching, and do we really have to distinguish this quality of reward and enrichment from 'real' rewards and enrichment of work?  Or, is this a matter of subjectivity that we put when we consider the element of 'fun' and what is 'not fun'?  And if so, what can we say about the possibility of game becoming 'not fun' and a work becoming 'fun'?  Does the work that employs our livelihood now become a game, and that when supposedly we employ to our entertainment now become a work?


Games, in reality are as much work as what we call 'work' or employment, and both games and work can have an element of fun, they can have reward to them, as well as the opposite effects of being 'not fun' and 'non-rewarding'.  So, something else has to distinguish them than this.


Games are also considered fictitious.  It is something that is different from the 'real world', and therefore does not have real world consequences, etc. and so forth.  But yet, games do have rules and regulations and, therefore, must have penalties, or some sort of consequence.  And, if they did not, then there wouldn't possibly be a way to lose, be disqualified, banned, disbarred, or whatnot.  Some may say it's different because you can't go to jail just for losing a game.  An easy quip would be that, in Monopoly, you can, but, no, in the long run, you likely aren't going to go to jail for losing in most games.  Yet, in work, if you screw up, you may get fired, fined, disbarred, lose your certificates for doing business, and other qualifying factors that mean you 'lose' your work, but you may not still have done something illegal, or illegal enough to be put in jail for.  However, there is work, and there are games that one can be put in jail just for participating in.  If you are a professional cat burglar, you know that your work is not something you can hold any security of a 401 K in, and retirement generally is from getting caught and put in prison.  Gamblers may be put in jail if caught in an illegal casino or other establishment that is not sanctioned by the law for such play.  And certainly, cheating at Poker can get you a black eye or two, to say the least, just as going door to door as a salesman could lead to some roughing up in certain not-so-friendly neighborhoods.  So, fiction or not there can be real life consequences to games, just as there are for work.


Games are not just one sort of thing.  There is variety in games, and our development and growing complexity of gaming and technology used to create them also bring about new developments in defining them.  To say something is 'just a game' anymore is to simply be ignorant. 


Games can now be a part of the changing in consequences perceived, as well of the development thereof in social aspects of our daily lives.  In a sense, they always have been.  The Royal Game of Ur had to have been more than just a matter of 'just a game' for the people that played it, and even still play its modern variation.  And that's among the oldest of games known in recorded history, dating back to 2600 BC.  And people are still playing it, or a modern variation of it, such as Backgammon is claimed to be.  Just think of how many societies and cultures may have come across this game or made its own variants of such a game to play, and maybe even traded and st up tournaments and other ways to gain rewards and the like, just to have an event to participate in.  Considering that, is it any question that humanity's patterns really haven't changed that much in regards to what they decide to do with their games?  Technology has changed, and variety has come with it, but, we still want places to play, events to participate in, and people to play with.  Likewise, we still want places to do business, events to promote businesses and have people participate in particular products and services.  Thus, naturally, where we have a place for games, we also have the 'agora', the shopping center, the place for the market.  And, certainly, we have the industries behind those games and businesses that help manufacture and construct these places for interaction, whether it be physical or virtual.  Moreso, there are places for people to live as well, or to give a place the life of the presence of those people in a virtual setting.


Games in the modern, virtual world, break many of the barriers that have been imposed on work, play, games, and what is 'real'.  Cultures and societies that have physical barriers can now intermingle in the virtual environment, and interact in ways that can bot unite and divide them.  Their ideas and desires are shared.  Collaboration in various teams, committees, groups, and associations become possible in a way that is liberating in comparison to what they may or may not be able to do in the physical world, whether by physical or other forces that would not allow it.  But, even so, are we truly free in a virtual world?


Wikipedia's entry on the concept of games in the online setting helps refine things a bit:


The values that are policed vary from game to game. Many of the values encoded into game cultures reflect offline cultural values, but games also offer a chance to emphasis alternative or subjugated values in the name of fantasy and play. The players of the game at the new century are now apparently expressing their profound self through the game. When they can play with their anonymous status, they are found to be more confident to express and to step out from the position they have never been out from. It offers new experiences and pleasures based in the interactive and immersible possibilities of computer technologies.


(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game)


Games, I would argue, have provided some of these aspects prior to the technologies now being used, and the innovations that come from them.  But, even so, it is undeniable that online brings to it a different quality and nature that we are still trying to understand.  After all, if things in the online environment can just be considered as 'just a game', then why do we get worked up over them?  Why do we care what happens in thise games we play? If we can flippantly throw them off as something trivial, then what is all the 'OOC drama' all about?  Why get pissed about the loss of something virtual?  If there isn't something the care about in the metaverse, then why do we?


Just some thoughts....

Friday, December 3, 2010

Conversation about RP with Sekhmet

This came about last night with an old friend of mine.  I've probably mentioned a few times this person.  But anyways, I had asked Sekhmet about the Catwalkers, and then on into RP in general.  It was a great discussion, and I asked if she would let me share it here on my blog, and she said yes.  So here goes the discussion as follows:


Question:  Did you ever ponder where you might have gone with things, with the CWs, if Sekhmet stayed?


Sekhmet: Nope lol.  I would have gotten bored.  There's no point to RP in SL.


Question: Why do you say that?


Sekhmet: Another way to look at it is, in SL, people RP or they combat in RP sims.  They don't RPG


Question: Like in the whole dice and all that?


Sekhmet: It's not the dice. The dice are just a means. In today's computer world, the dices are all rolled by the server. But it's not the dice that make RPG good. Most of the time I GMed, people got boared with the dice quick.  No, it's the challenge created by a plot.


Question: SL RP lacks decent plots?


Sekhmet: There's no GM so there can't be a plot. Making your own plot as you go cannot create a challenge other than one you already know about, and which of course invariably leads to drama and god modding eventually. I mean you can RP it. Which is basically theatrical improvisation. And can definitely be entertaining. But not my cup of tea. Not on a regular basis anyhow.


I prefer to be in a situation I try to overcome where I am not in control of the outcome. Correction, where nobody is in control of the outcome. lol. Therefore, a challenge needs to be put forth.


Comment: GMs become more of sim moderators, rather than putting out plots, but I would think freeform would somewhat make that possible, but, eventually, someone does step in and try to run the show


Sekhmet: True and not. Freeform is how you do it. RL is freeform. Nobody is telling you, "Sorry, can't do, your STR is only 12." Nobody is controlling what you say either, or how you say it. This last point is also better because overcoming the problematic is not dependent on the oratory skill of the player or how fast the player types.


Comment: Yeah, in RL, can't break into brackets to differentiate IC and OOC


Sekhmet:  Hell, you could even do it all OOC. I mean if the plot does not catch your emotions enough that you want to be IC in the first place, the plot prolly sucks. The plot failed to include you as a character.


Players WILL be in character you know when? When the get into a point in overcoming the plot and they go "OH SHIT!" Then you know.


It doesn't matter how much IC or OOC things they said. At that moment you just know (As a GM), that they are in. They are feeling real emotions for something that doesn't exist


Question: So you mean, when they care about something that's just fiction?


Sekhmet: I mean it doesn't exist because it's happening here in VR. And most importantly, in their minds.


For instance, they just lost 10000cr. But it's not real money, yet they are pissed off. And no matter that they are pissd off. They hurry back home the next day after work to quickly log in and experience more of it.  Just so they can feel. Make-believe. 


Comment:  Like reading a good book and wanting to know what happens to the characters, but, in the case of RP, you are the character.


Sekhmet:  Exactly. And you're not in control of the book.


How you do it is easy.  You take a bunch of people.  You give them an amount of tools to use to solve the problem.  You reward players with points or items.  That's on top of emotions. The whole principle is as old as the world. Every MMO uses it.  But SL is full of intelectual elitists who want to control the show so that it's all about them.


Question:  More quest-based then?


Sekhmet:  You can call it quests. It's just a word. Objectives. Goals. Score. Acheivments. Missions.


Comment: I had an argument with one former friend about the necessity of goals, and she said there shouldn't be any, essentially. And, ironically (or unfortunately?) this same person happens to be the previous Matron of the CWs. <.<


Sekhmet:  Right.  Well, the reason some people don't want that is because goals implies there's a way to "win." And if here's a way to "win," there's a way to "lose." And some people are afraid of losing. Alternatively, they want to con you into thinking they won. lol


Comment:  True.  And, I suppose that's what happened,as much as I counted leaving the CWs of Midian a loss.


Sekhmet:  There's a way around it.  Around the problem. You need a multi-plot. Basically saying, "The plot thickens." And it gets so complicated that nobody is in control. Nobody fully wins. Some wins are team wins too. You make it more global.


Now, I am not saying RP in itself can't be interesting.  I think the problematic is that people who RP want EVERYONE to RP.


Comment: But it's good to have variety.  Yet, lot of people make it more singular.  So would be interesting to see a more team style RP rather than just simply a leader leads and all must follow sort of deal.


Sekhmet:  Right. Well,.variety doesn't work so well with RPers. Their sense of immersion is very tied with everyone staying IC.  This is what gives them THEIR feeling.  They get a kick out of RPing in itself.  But I personnaly have a hard time pretending I'm an assassin if there's nobody to assassinate. lol
Or even simpler.  Pretending I'm a restaurant ownr if there's no cash in the register at the end of the night. I mean it's fun once, like playing a piece. But who wants to play the part of a restaurant owner day after day with no point whatsoever? What motivates you? Should you hire more personnel?  Fire someone?  Get a new menu?


Comment:  Well, that's where at with the Insurance company. Sure, can go out and gain clients, or recruit, and actually hired someone who quit >.<


Sekhmet:  Of course people quit.  Why should they stay?  What's for them to accomplish and is going to make a difference in their lives?
Now, put a leader board out. That shows who made the most sales this week. And you'll see people get busy. Some will even get to hate each other for it.  LOL!  Bingo! Emotions. And the emotions will be so strong people will even forget it was a game, i.e. SL.


Drama.  Isn't that what that really is?


Comment:  Well, I had hired someone in administration. Gave them free reign to build up the administration side of things, but, eh.


Sekhmet:  Did you give them clear objectives?  And a reward if they succeeded?


Comment:  Well, she basically was in charge of recruitment, and hiring the administration staff.  So, she would have her say in the development of the office work side of things.  But yeah, suppose needed more clear goals and objectives.


Sekhmet:  Ok here's the trick. Close the insurance company. lol
Open a publishing firm.  Then make one of those SL magazines. But all in RP.  About the world you RP in. Make a newspaper.


Comment:  They already have a newspaper in Perdition though.


Sekhmet: Hmmm.  Well, it's just an example.


Comment:  But, could incorporate publishing maybe.  Like for books or magazines.  Play into the publishing business itself


Sekhmet:  Maybe.  Hmmm. Gun shop.  And actually make guns.  But RP it.  Gas station.


Comment: Publishing is fairly similar to Insurance, actually.  Same concept about how to do business, but, instead of assess risk, assessing marketability of books.


Sekhmet: Well ok, but why would people wanna buy insurance?  Aside from pure RP reasons.


Comment: Well, Properties and Casualty - essentially homeowners and business properties, even  vehicles. Then life for estates, heath for personal and group.  Basically, providing a sort of realism to owning businesses and properties.


Sekhmet:  Those are pure RP reasons.  Nobody is actually in any danger of losing anything.


Comment:  Had one place I insured catch fire.


Sekhmet:   lol


Comment:  But yeah, need good Rpers that don't mind taking such losses.  Actually was both health and property on that, since she was in the building when it caught on fire.


Sekhmet:  Hehe.  Anyways. I think I was having fun as a Catwalker because as a player my challenge was to create and grow the group.  And then I was enjoying coming up with plots for the gang to tackle.  Like:


"Ok cats, we need more food... so 4 of you go sneak into the sushi shop and steal some fishies."


Of course I went to Baal and told him to put 3 cases of fish behind the counter. And Baal told the sushi owner guy that it was is supply for the week.  So, of course the guy was not too happy when he caught a 'walker running off with a crate of his and started running after us. And the police got in the melee. And the whores bitched. And the people at the counter went, "Hey, how about my sushi?" And the dogs rented protection service to the sushi bar. And we walked around for a week with fishes in our mouths. lol. Brag, brag, brag.


Comment:   Yeah, I see how it works.  I'd like to get something like that going.  The insurance can be a vehicle.  Like someone buying a life poicy on husband or wife, simply to off them after a while for the pay out. Then you get the cops involved and all that.


Sekhmet:  Go ahead and raise hell.  Insure a business. And then hire an arson to burn it. lol


Then claim it was criminal so you won't pay until the matter is resolved. That is, if the police can catch the perp or find out who it is.


Comment:  Hehe.  Well, it would have been interesting if I got framed for the fire of the business that had the fire, but that didn't happen. But anyways, I have to head out. This discussion gives me a few ideas to go on.  Maybe try them out in the upcoming weeks.


Sekhmet:  Be my guest.


Comment:: If you're interested, plenty of openings for an insurance agent. lol


Sekhmet:  lol Kinda busy right now.


Anyways, hope you all get something out of that.  Having come to know Sekhmet is one of the cool opportunities I did have back when CWs was halfway decent to be a part of.  I learned something about the history of the group that none of those cats in there now, and very few before then had such an opportunity to be enriched by.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

SL and Psychopathy

I suppose this was a subject to come up, but it seems an important one, even if an unpopular one. When we get down to the heart of it, it is probably something that's on the minds, and maybe has some effect on the soul or psyche of many of us who participate in SL.  In essence, this subject is a matter of conscience - what it means, and how we consider and reflect on it in this virtual world or metaverse, or however one sees it.


At one point or time in our experiences on SL, many of us have certainly had certain conflicts with other people, and even felt like there was a sense about people being uncaring, or just plain careless and unable to respond or react to something in human decency.  Is it just a matter of cultural differences, or the varying of expectations and personal views about what SL is that causes this clash, or is there more to it than that?  Well, certainly there is, and, joking or not, we've all considered this particular idea, that maybe there are just certain people that are plain and simply psychopaths.


There might be something right and accurate about the assessment of psychopathy.  The question that might be posed, though, especially in consideration to what is a common experience in SL, and even gaming itself, is how much of this is natural and how much is conditioned?  But, on that, I would consider reading this, and you can tell me what you think:


Some claim it might be an aspect of people merely acting like animals. But even so, animals can be trained and conditioned somewhat. They are not under a human standard, but they do have standards, or at least can learn from mistakes, or otherwise die.  For humans, we had that survival standard earlier in our world history, and, for those that live a more natural life, still operate on such.  But as civilizations grew out of cultures, these aspects migrated and reformed into different aspects of what it means to survive in the modern world.  So, basically, psychopaths thrive in social Darwinism, just like their predecessors survived, much like animals, on natural Darwinism.  

Theologically, I come from the view of human being part animal (flesh, material, nature) and part soul (spirit, 'psyche').  As you read, you may notice that the view does come out that psychopaths seem to lack a soul, and therefore become essentially a machine. Other  areas would say they are another form of human altogether. Either may be possible.  If it is a trait of humanity, then it is something natural and a part of the animal that makes up humans.  If that's true, it is also something that is ingrained in humanity and something that not only can come naturally, but also be conditioned, or at least refined.

How much does SL, or even gaming in general condition or refine would be the question.  For me, Ayami makes good example, because, no matter what criticism is given, there appears to be not one shred of guilt or other culturally conditioned mechanisms there that make up out morals and ethics of what makes for proper decency or human interaction. Is it a matter that shi is a psychopath, or is it the aggressive, competitive nature of being a gamer that has been conditioned into hir, that shi will take over the Catwalkers no matter how destructive hir actions are to gain it?

Yes, I know this often can get turned into religious debate, and I did note my theological view on the make up of humanity.  But I'm not going to argue on that.  You can either believe or not believe in the theological elements. Yet, it would seem that theological and psychological arguments coincide on the aspect of a psychopath lacking in 'soul' or the human psyche, even despite the arguments on just exactly what that soul/psyche might be, and the where and how it originated and developed.  There is something lacking in the psychopath when it comes to that element, and it is something that does do damage to people.  

And I can't help but feel this statement having an echoing theme for me with regard to this whole business about the Catwalkers, Midian, and even SL in general:

"The truth - when twisted by good liars, can always make an innocent person look bad - especially if the innocent person is honest and admits his mistakes."


That's been at least one element of SL that I have had experience and shared experience with.  Because, as much as we split SL out of reality, and let fantasies run wild in SL, we participate in the psychopath conditioning.  It already separates us from the physical, yet replaces the material with virtual greed and lust.  Many times, it feels like the spirit is being killed in order to fashion and reshape our virtual world into nothing more than mechanized, conditioned responses with no concept of shame, guilt, or conscience whatsoever.

In some ways, we've pre-shaped this condition and environment for the psychopath by postmodern relativism, and the like that has done the damage to natural (even spiritual) human culture.  But, on the other hand, maybe the deconstruction has been a necessity.  Like, trying to separate and segregate in order to see the underlying illness.  We kind of know what it is, but, like the psychopath, we'd like to forget what it is.  However, unlike the psychopath, we can't.  We may do bad things, but we can feel the guilt, but they can't. But yet, if the psychopaths of the world get their way, they will either try to root out conscience either by conditioning us to be like them, or, they might just weed out us, if opportunity comes and they see it more beneficial than conning us in a game of feigned civility.  

I don't know. To be honest, my feelings are mixed on this. Maybe I'm just wondering if there's some merit to the conditioning.  And if so, suppose that means a need to change what I've been doing on SL.  In some ways I have, but, I don't know.  It just seems like SL is too much of an environment made to be playing grounds for psychopaths.  So the question becomes how exactly can you do anything in SL that doesn't condition one to such a way of doing things?  How to keep fantasy and reality in check, and how to go about doing things, especially when it comes to RP and trying to make stories, and still be able to hold conscience and accountability.  Especially when the 'rules' seem to imply such things should not be considered.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Podcast from the Creative Penn

I have recently had a friend from an author's group I'm involved with in the real world send me a link to a podcast and website by Joanna Penn called The Creative Penn.  The podcast has an interview with J.C. Hutchins on his concepts of media interactions for his book Personal Effects: Dark Arts.  You can hear the podcast here.

It's an interesting concept.  Not new.  But it gives ideas on how build interactivity around a book.  Many of us as RPers already do this, but it's always interesting to hear about how there are real world applications to what many of us prefer to only look at in exclusively the walls of SL.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wasn't Quoted, But First Reference in Bibliography

Was doing a search for the hell of it on Midian City in Google.  Most of it is the same old, same old of blogs written about two to three years ago, back in Midian's 'golden age', I suppose you could call it.  Just before or a little after the Artifact RP had taken its course.  Now, other than some of the GMs and a few veteran players, I doubt there are many that know of the Artifact RP, and very few left that participated in it.  And even fewer that remember the RP's humble beginnings as a skybox back in the days of Midian 1.


Some might wonder why I am writing about Midian?  Well, I suppose it's out of old habit.  But, moreso, it's interesting to think how much I had helped shape Midian, and even influenced people that researched Midian.  It just seems odd now, to look back and see a person's writing as a PhD candidate referencing a Midian Forums posting I did mainly to start the conversation with Midian over players' rights and that annoying JSJR mantra that even Jade then supposedly cringed at hearing.  Yet, it became prevalent, even if it was, and probably still is, a misconception.  


The conclusion that Ms. (or now Dr.?) Maria B├Ącke comes to seems very spot on to me:



I would argue that [the RPer] feels like this mainly because the current type of role-play fits her. If it evolved into something she would not be as happy with, she might decide that it is time to leave, just like some of the game-players have decided to do. This is one of the ways in which it is possible to see the link between the rules, the “laws,” of a digital space and that which happens in it — and the result it brings. These rules can be thought of as the boundaries of a magic circle, enabling and facilitating the roleplay as well as attempting to restrict OOC drama. But the magic circle is porous, the discussions about the essence of the medium, the rules and the code, and how to play in the “correct way” constantly continues.


(http://worlds.ruc.dk/public_uploads/2011/02/Maria.pdf)


This really is what we see, or did see in Midian at the time.  For many, who had a 'correct' way of RPing in Midian, they felt 'free' under JSJR.  But, for those in the past that got disenfranchised by the changes, because there was really no other recourse, they left.  Midian is not the only place that is like this.  It's the nature of the game.  Other places I have RPed at have had similar aspects.  And indeed it is a matter of being porous, and not 'free.'  There are certain liberties in a given RP sim or estate, but, they are only open in as much as the community and the sim owner are open to things.  While the sim owner has the final say on things, if said owner does things against the flow of what the community wants, and if that thing done by the sim owner or its administrators is such that it takes away perceived freedoms, then the sim/estates see a exodus of players leaving the sim.  However, what Jade, and many other sim/estate owners bank on is being able to rebuild with the new rules and lay claim to a newer community that suits the new rules.  Those that stay tend to be the ones that either supported or can at least live with the new rules.  They are also the ones that weren't banned, silenced, nor otherwise provoked to leave.  


But even so, it's nice to see that my views and discourse couldn't be completely stifled.  There will always be remnants that document my discourses and warnings of the tyranny of both dictatorship of sim owners and oligarchy of the masses.  The two go hand in hand.  And you don't need a PhD to see this.  But it's nice to know you can still be referenced by a potential candidate for one. =~.^=

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Conversing and Analysis

This posting is based off a conversation I recently had with a friend over technique used in a recent Flickr pic's story poem here.

It was asked what was the concept that this picture and its text was based on.  First, because I was banned from Midian, the picture itself was taken on top of the rooftop of the Crossroads church.  It has a similar structure to the Midian church, but not quite.  It can't be seen, but the basic concept of Ioh standing on the top of a building is there.  He is in his 'Dark Knight' outfit - a common theme from the Midian RP.  It was used in various rooftop pictures, from his perching atop the Den, looking down upon the Catwalkers as a sort of guardian of sorts.  Other times, he had been upon the church rooftop with the same basic guardian theme.  Other times, his presence on the rooftops in the Dark Knight outfit had to do with his presence there as a Catwalker soldier, patroling the rooftops and defending territory, and yet another portrayal of the guardian aspect of his role and persona. But, this is more of the reflective meaning behind the outfit and particular placement of Ioh on a rooftop. It is still, storywise, where the dreamwalkers left off.  It's a reflection, a meditation of sorts. Hence the repetitive and cyclical nature of the text.

As mentioned about the picture, the text itself references Midian. That is pretty much what comprises much of Ioh's life before being brought into the dream world. The text has a few cycled messages that build on top of each other, referencing different aspects of 'the game.' There's a play on reversal of words in one cycle as follows:

Original verse: Truth is, I didn't really know what all I was getting in to. Thought it was all part of the game. All part of the plan. Nothing to worry about. Was there?

First cycle: Truth is, I didn't really know what all I was getting in to. Thought it was all part of the game. All part of the plan. Nothing to worry about. There was.

Second cycle: Truth is, I didn't really know what all I was getting in to. Thought it was all part of the game. All part of the plan. Nothing to worry about. Was there? Not until I felt the flames of Hell, did I wonder where I might go.

Final cycle: Truth is, I didn't really know what all I was getting in to. Thought it was all part of the game. All part of the plan. Nothing to worry about. Saw her'eth. But they took my bird, the crow, and made it into a ravenous raven.

Original verse has a question, "Was there?" The first cycle of the verse has a response, "There was." The second cycling of the verse repeats the question, "Was there?" And the final cycling of the verse has a dual answer, "Saw her'eth,' - which, forward is 'saw her', and reverse is 'there was'

Beyond the technical aspects mentioned, I'll leave the meaning for interpretation.

And yes, there is a reason for use of Tupac, the song, and especially the album. At the core, it comes from a basic concept that art has meaning behind it. At least it should.  Otherwise, if you want art for art's sake, then might as well just put up generic wall paper and the alphabet. Or you can go for a two-fer and put up a picture of Cambell's Alphabet Soup.  would make for perfect product placement too.

My friend had noted the remarkable play on words and added that it was remarkable in the sense that no on he's ever RP'd with would ever do something like what I did with this picture and story poem. "You take this stuff seriously," he told me.

Suppose it's true that I do.  However, I think it's a matter of what one wants out of the RP.  If it's 'just a game', then it makes the RP no more or less than an RPG. Therefore, those that RP metered combat are playing the game as an action/adventure RPG, or maybe combat strategy, and their mindset is that of any 1st person shooter out there, or (groupwise) similar to capture the flag style combat strategies.  Or, as my friend noted, viewing it as writing an Action Comedy, like Die Hard or Rush Hour.

On the text side of things, it becomes more 3rd person, most often. That is, the stories unfold as dramas.  Players are set up as characters in a story and they play their part.  And yes, it can have a certain Action theme to it, but most of it is based on the drama and interaction of the characters in some sort of cinematic (or made for tv movie, sitcom, soap opera, hell, maybe even Jerry Springer for some). For me, I take the experience, good, bad, or indifferent and use it as inspiration for the art and stories.

My friend did not consider himself all that deep in his RP. He explains that he believes it's because, in real life he has somewhat of an emotional disconnect with the experience. For this reason, he considers this a reason for not having a very passionate approach to the action when encountered.  So thus, comedy, and cleverness - or a sort of cunningness is utilized in playing out the scene as those are his favorite aspects in art and fiction.

Continuing on it was noted how Gor, however strictly or loosely, is based off of a series of actual fantasy/science fiction books. How it's sort of to the level of fanboi fiction in RP/online simulation taken as serious as Star Trek and how they both have their 'lifestylers.'

These are somewhat examples of the generic three groups or styles of RP found in SL.  They are not an exact match for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person perspective - at least not in the literature sense of things. Gaming/experience-wise, the shoot em ups can be considered mostly 1st person because it immerses the person into the action in real time (lag willing, anyways) Third person is the city sims, in the consideration above, as mentioned with the drama aspect.  Though they are not necessarily omniscient because that would mean metagaming, essentially.  Although, OOC information does make it quasi 3rd person omniscient. The main reason to consider Gor 2nd person is mainly because it's somewhat instructional. The Master/slave, Dom/sub, overall bondage experience is instructional.  This is completely taking out any moral preceptions for the moment and just going on the basis that the primary function of most Gor RP/lifestyling is based on teaching precepts and dogma of the particular fiction they are simulating. One can argue ad infinitas and ad nauseum about the morals of Gor as good or bad, as you could with any aspect of RP. But, on the basis of what it does, what it functions as, you could find the ritualism, symbolism, methods of teaching, modes (actions and rationale for doing a thing) in a variety of groups, societies, organizations, etc. that try to instill some sort of instruction on initiates or apprentices - whatever you want to name the noob to the experience. Hell, even vampires, whether bloodlines, or actual Masque style drama RP, have this aspect of the 2nd person RP in as much as those that are 'born' into becoming vampires go through an initiate process and 'live out' the experience of being a vampire - even if it is the sparkly Twilight version of it that's made its impact in pop culture.

My friend did note some of the flaw to the Gor 2nd person parallel was that, not only is 2nd person tough to RP, it only quasi fits the description of the RP. In hindsight, the reason I see behind this is that 2nd person is something that is not standalone when it comes to Gor, or any other RP that has 2nd person aspects.  This is because 2nd person is not generally a standalone aspect, and is often found within 3rd person drama RP, most particualarly in the forming and shaping the norms of the groups in a sim's city, and the city's community as a whole.  Second person has to do with teaching the norms and expectations. Maybe only in strictly bondage scenes can we say that it stands alone in any relevant basis.

My friend had noted his desire to want to play an RP where you play a community. I responded back that the city sims are supposed to be that, more or less. Unless one is looking for something more like the empire building simulation games where you have control of more than one pixel person, then the other aspect is that the vision is of group RP. It would seem to be his idea was group RP in that he would just like to control more than one character at a time. However, controlling a group is tricky in SL.  Mainly because, unless one makes a group completely of alts, and has the ability to use them all at once, a person can't so much control as much as attempt to persuade others toward a particular idea or vision

Granted, 'idea' and 'vision' mean essentially the same thing at the root. Both have to do with a 'picture.' But they have taken two different paths from each other in meaning over time. At least in connotation.

My friend reflected on how sometimes he would like a more collaborative storytelling experience, and less of a first person one. Collaboration is a vision, and a hard one to get people to see. Ideas are more '1st person'.  Individual concepts.  Random, maybe.  Or they may have some sort of connection to another. A vision is finding that connection - taking the one picture and making it into a bigger picture.  Putting together the puzzle, so to speak, and making it into a bigger picture by taking the smaller pictrues (ideas), and either molding them from the fragmented randomness into a bigger, more complex shape. Or, if the ideas indeed connect in some systematic way, to essentially put the puzzle pieces together and/or 'break the code.'

This, at least to me, is what we try to do in collaborations.  Take what pieces we have, and try to fit them together somehow, whether or not they are connections being made of random things that you don't normally think would go together, or grouping them together systematically as if to make a bigger picture that's always been there, but just needed the components to come together to see it fully for what it is.

Working on this level is hard.  And, as many times as I've tried to attain, and even think to maintain it, I've seen and been part of collaborations that have fallen to pieces.  I think my stories tell of that experience well enough.  And recently, I've had yet another relational split of sorts, as well as opportunity made for a new collaboration.

But it's still hard.  If we think of these splits and (re-)couplings in a mere bilogical nature at the cellular level, it's simple.  One whole split, and joined to form something new. Yet, we're not cells. We're humans with minds and emotions.  While some breaks are easier than others, there are those that have greater value of some type that is harder to break from, and may not be desirable to do so.  But yet a break does happen for some reason. And that gets carried over.  Could call it a 'residual DNA.' But, unlike the information at the cellular level, the 'baggage' or previous shared experience is not merely chemical. And yeah, I know, the metaphor is sounding way too much like a biology/science project, but the jist of it is, as humans, the mixing of ideas in collaborating to make the bigger picture is very complex due to feelings, emotions, and perceptions that people come into the collaboration with, or bring in from out of an previous shared experience.  You can try to leave that 'baggage at the door', but, on some levels, that is not terribly productive.  Especially if that previous shared experience needs to come to resolution before a fuller involvement and greater productivity in the collaboration can be made. Plus, with RP, because the collaboration is a matter of making a story together, well, stories need conflicts.  The question is, can the conflicts manifest without being harmful to the story, or is thinking that way harmful to the story, considering that, especially if it's freeform RP, there is no clear and concise vision of what the story is going to look like once it has run its course? But the other aspect, and probably more to the heart of the matter, is the conflict of a nature that it would be harmful for the persons involved in the collaboration.  It's one thing to try to push a story to the end of its course.  It's another thing to run a person through the mill, and personally ruin their part of the collaboration.  To force them out, or otherwise come to a place where collaboration becomes impossible because it's not just a collision of the ideas, but also personal feelings and emotions.

On this, my friend considered that the only way to really do it with all that in mind is to come up with an overall outline AND the final outcome prior to running the story. The concept here would be that if people can both agree on an an outline, and stick to it the rest would probably fall into place. However, one aspect is that people may not enjoy such an RP.

Yet, I told my friend that this to would depends on certain variables. Both aspects of having or not having an outline do have their ups and downs.  Too much planning, and you get labeled for trying to script too much, or directing when you should be RPing.  Too little planning and it doesn't look like you have any direction whatsoever, and people tend to not take such a person serious enough to develop much of a story - unless the idea is to evolve a story out of randomeness and bring it more and more into a complex shape

What seems to be key would be taking people out of biased precepts.  But that is also is the main difficulty either way.  In simpler terms, it's getting a group together to 'buy in' and 'find value' with regards to what you consider the vision to be.  However, there still has to be some flexibility to the vision for each person's interpretation.  There just needs to be a basic concept to stick with, and determination to go through with it all.

For instance, Sinefield is a sitcom that develops essentially out of randomness.  It's an example of how that vision of casual conversation and everyday life can form into a long running, and now still syndicated sitcom with a large general audience base.  It's an example of such a theme being a success.

On the other hand, and something of interest to me is the Bible Code.  The concept of it is that the first five books of the Bible contains messages that are unlocked and report on future events, as well as hints leading to the Master Code, of which is believed to be the Book of Seven Seals that is mentioned in the Book of Daniel and referenced in the book of Revelation.  This is still a cloudy vision, and many people scoff and deride the existence and possibility of this code and the book of Biblical legend.  Yet, it is like a real life version of a quest, like the Key of the Twilight in .Hack series. Because, if the book of the Seven Seals is found, it is believed to change the whole world as we know it.  And this would be an example of a story that develops out of mystery and has a certain compelling nature to it that people might find interesting to explore, if not on its original theme, but also on any other particular theme that revolves around the origin of some sort of mystery to solve.

So, this concludes the particular reflection on discussion had today.  I felt the themes might interest my readers in some way.  Maybe it might give some insight to ideas that are similar or shared in these issues.  If inclined, post below and let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quick Update

Last night's post requires an update.  The first and foremost one is that things seem to not be as bad as I felt they were.  Well, they were pretty bad at the time, but my friend and I are looking to work things out, so that's a positive. Secondly, I'm not going to drop the business, or out of SL.  The main change so far is that the administration role is taken off the table.

That is all for now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wells & Foregoance job ad

Well, it's official, the Wells & Foregoance Company has now become licensed in Perdition as a POE (Player Organized Employment).  I still need to hire 4 people to be able to apply for PRO (Player Run Organization).  So, I just put in at Perdition's Yellow Pages an ad for which the link is here:

http://s1.zetaboards.com/City_of_Perdition/topic/3880965/1/

For those that can't see the link, the ad is as follows:

Just out of business school? Highly motivated? Career and goal oriented? If you can describe yourself as any of these three, then we have the job for you! Come by your local Wells & Foregoance branch office, or send a fax, email, or call to Luke Heartsdale to set up an interview today! 

The following jobs are available:

Sales:
Insurance Producer/Agent

Management:
Assistant District Sales Manager
Branch Sales Manager
Assistant Sales Manager

Contact: Luke Heartsdale
Telephone: 
Cell: (143) 555-1982
Office: (140) 555-1776
Fax: (140) 555-1777
Email: lheartsdale@w&fcompany.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Joke Not Well-Liked by RPers...

A one-liner, a para-RPer, and a metagamer all walked into a bar...

The one liner says to the bartender: Sup' how're you?

The para-RPer says: Mr. Bojangles pranced into the bar, and did a tappity-tap-tap with his fingers as he meant to get the bartender's immediate attention.  After humming his favorite song from Cats (the rum tum tugger, of course) he finally asks the bar tender, "Could you make me a strawberry daquery please?"

And the metagamer says: "Hey Bob the Bartender! Can you make a White Russian? Yes you can!"  And laughs.

And so the bartender replies: "Ok, a can of beer for the simpleton, a fruity cocktail for the fruity nutjob with the elaborate and rather gay entrance, and play of Russian roulette for the fucking mind reader."  To which he thinks to himself, but without taking out any bullets from the chamber when I shoot his ass.

Dream Job?

I don't know if I'd call it that.  Maybe a nightmare.  But yet, this is what my character's RP job calculated out to with wages that I gave:
***

Wells & Foregoance Company Job Application

From here on out, Wells & Foregoance Company will simply be known as 'Company', and applicant by the name of _______________ will be known as 'applicant'.

Job Description
It is hereby known by applicant that the Company is seeking to employ him or her as District Sales Manager, to which will be called 'DSM.' Job duties of a DSM include, but are not limited to:

- Operation of both office and administrative duties of the District office.
- Execution of official business and scheduling of daily plans.
- Acting as head of the official business of the District office.
- Taking appointments and phone calls directed to the office of the DSM.
- Visiting the branch offices of the Company in the District when necessary after ADSM reporting.
- Follow up on any queries made, or suspicious elements found at a branch office, and bringing such problems to the attention of the CEO.

Credentials
Applicant understands that as DSM, they are to keep their insurance license up to date and have applied for the training materials for this office. As an officer of the Company, applicant must be appointed by the office of the CEO, following a 10 day probation period by which the appointment will be reviewed and duly approved by the CEO as long as applicant credentials and certificates pass the examination of the CEO authorization policies.

((For now, unless Perdition rules change, and once the group is more fully established, it will be assumed that if you are applying for the job that you are licensed and have the credentials. Possibilities of forged licenses and slipping through unlicensed should be run by the DSM of this group before applying.))

Wages
The base pay of a DSM is $80.00 per hour plus commission and per diem. It is agreed by Applicant that, as a new DSM in training for the first week or two, said new DSM will be under the supervision of the CEO office. Under the 10 day probation period, a new DSM will NOT receive full benefits package and will get only half pay per hour until approval process has been completed. If applicant passes CEO inspection, applicant as fully certified DSM will be reimbursed for the other half of wages and regarded as being deferred pay.

(( Wages are RPed.  Therefore, consider salary to be based on a 40 hour weekly schedule.  So, payout would be $3,200 a week, and about $16,000 a month, for annual salary of $192,000 - all minus commission. So, for instance, you might wind up with $1,000 commissions once a month.  That's $12,000 plus the $192,000 base pay, making the total annual salary $204,000. Commissions are not guaranteed, of course.))

Agreement
Applicant agrees to terms made by Company here in this application. Agreement is duly noted by signature of Applicant and that of Company authorized Human Resources Agent.

Applicant's Signature: _____________________
Company HRA Signature: _____________________
***
So who wants my RP job? <.<

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Facebook and Privacy

I first heard it on the radio, from local DJs discussing the matter.  Looked at it in the local paper.  What is seen here is not Facebook intentionally, nor maliciously transmitting privacy, but the leaking of it through 3rd party apps.  This is done through what is about a 15 year old application within virtually all internet browsers available, and almost a core necessity to run a majority of applications and gadgets that you find throughout the web.  And this little application is called a cookie.  To brush up on what a cookie is, feel free to look at the Wiki here.

Privacy groups would like to blame Facebook and say in a rather unrealistic view that because Facebook has been assuring privacy for so long that they should be directly held accountable for the leaks through cookies.  The problem is, the leak comes from the opting in to third party apps, by which the leak springs from the use of cookies to use the apps.  This is really not conspiracy theory type stuff that the Privacy groups would hyperbole. What's really at the core of this is that web browsers and interface needs to start looking at ways to make application work that does not have to be done through the use of cookies.

Also, it would help for third parties to make it clear that, in opting in to their application that there is a possibility of being opted into certain ad networks.  As long as that is clear, then legally, the persons then held accountable for what happens to their privacy is the person who agrees to opt in.  In that case, even the privacy groups would have to admit that, in the end, the only one that can keep a person's identification from being passed around is in the hands of the person him/herself.

In the online world, because it is basically a public forum, people have to be proactive in protecting their information.  It doesn't matter what assurances a company like Facebook makes.  Those assurances generally only apply to that company, and primarily to their abilities to secure their own network that you opt into.  You opt into a third party app and you, the user of that app reduces that assurance.

In a way, it is almost like with a health insurance policy.  You initially start the policy in a safe job, and under reasonably good health.  The insurance company assesses your risk by those factors.  If you happen to switch to a much more hazardous job, or participate in a dangerous or extreme sport, like sky diving, there is the possibility that such risks will not be covered in the policy.  Likewise, with Facebook, if you choose to opt into a third party app that is found to have a virus or is involved in identity theft, then you, who opted into that third party app are responsible for the leak, and the assurance is something that Facebook could not possibly cover because Facebook is responsible for what Facebook itself says it can assure about privacy.  They are not responsible for the third parties unless they indeed do assure the quality of the third party in question.  And even there, if you yourself click on that third party and opt into the app, you have made yourself responsible by opting in.

If you don't want to be responsible for the security risk, then don't opt in and report suspicious ads and third party apps.  This is the very advice that Facebook itself gives in a blog shown here.  So be proactive in the security of your privacy.  Be informed, not merely by privacy groups who seem to have an agenda beyond just concern for your privacy, but also find an official voice from Facebook and the third party app you are interested in.  DO YOUR RESEARCH!  If you do that, regardless if it's an app, an ad, or any other sort of business, then you will have a greater assurance than even Facebook can give you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Job Query

This took me most the afternoon and early evening to write.  I'd hope it is effective enough to get in the door and find out more about the job, but at any rate, I figure to publish it here as port of FL 'Acta Diurna' - or 'Daily Acts' - , so as to keep all who are interested informed.

Explain the phrase “work ethic” and describe yours.

On the first, concerning 'work ethic', I'll take a part to whole aspect.  Work, at it's basic means the energy, or labor put into something.  In that sense, one is always doing work, in as much as a person is spending energy to do something, whether at play, in an occupation, or even in the physics of motion or with an object, material, or element acting on another. All that implies 'work' with respect to what energy it takes to employ it, or 'set things into motion'.  

Ethic, in modern usage, it has come to mean principalities and general guidelines of a thing - a body, or entity, to which implies mostly toward businesses, governments, and corporations.  It can, and still means to some extent an individual's autonomy, or ability to self govern.  From it's origins in the Greek of 'ethikos', it simply meant something that 'arises from habit', or a custom, and was considered an art, or an excellence. It referred to a human's ability to do a thing, and to do it well. That is the quality, or nature of 'art', the ethic was becoming accustomed to doing that art and essentially getting to a point to be able to do that art consistently and in good quality.

Thus, to me, a good work ethic means that one is not only spending energy doing something, but consistent in doing a thing, and does it in good quality and principality, while always striving to raise the bar in the excellence of doing that thing.  Or, more simply put - to be persistent, to work hard, and to strive always to do better than before.

Describe a difficult time you have had dealing with an employee, customer, or co-worker. Why was it difficult? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?

About the most difficult time I have had with the jobs I've had was in making cold calls.  A lot of them, in about 10 seconds of hearing a company's pitch to them are ready to say 'no', or 'not interested'.  And those are the one's kind enough to not hang up.  There's very little you can do, other than to acknowledge and move on.  If you can ask them 'I'm sorry, but what is it you're not interested in?'  And get a response other than the click on their end as they hang up, then there is the possibility to start a dialogue and see if they really aren't interested, or if it was the usual impulse to say no, which is ingrained in the majority of people that one would call on cold calls.  They are generally non-responders, possibly got something in the mail about the information, but hadn't gotten around to figuring out what it was in the first place, let alone if it is something of interest.  So, as the one calling, you have a short amount of time to jog their memory, or move on to see if you can interest them in at least talking about it, and hopefully setting up an appointment so you can sit down and continue the conversation, with maybe the end result being to sell them something, or at the very least potentially leave them better informed.

When I worked on acknowledging and moving on, and the better prepared I became in taking calls, the more often I was able to get a 'yes' on the other end, and the more I was able to have an opportunity to continue the conversation.  If I could do more, it would be to be able to have had more preparation and information to work with when making the cold calls.  Knowledge is power, most definitely, and the more informative you can be on the phones, the more responsive the person on the other end is to listen and take you seriously.

To you, which is more desirable: A business that is run in an efficient business-like manner OR a business that is run in a personal and friendly way?

Both have their merit.  That can't be denied.  Both can be efficient.  That can't be denied either.  Derided? Yes, but not denied.  Wall-Mart used to be derided for employing the corporate family model, and yet they are near the top in their industry.  The question instead seems more on the level of what should be the customs of a business - should it be professional or familial?

Personally, I could go with either one.  With substitute teaching, even when I was taking classes toward getting certified, I was told everything from 'don't smile on the first day' and 'don't try to be their best friend,' to 'you have to establish a relationship with the children' and 'you have to get down to their level and understand them first.'  Are these statements contrary to each other?  Yes and no.  Yes because the former are saying, essentially, 'be professional', and the latter are saying, basically, 'treat them like family.'  On the other hand, they are both trying to create a model for establishing a relationship with the client, who in teaching happens to directly be the children in the classroom. And, on one hand, some children do want to see their teacher as their friend, or like a father or mother figure.  On the other hand, some children want you to be a voice of authority, to push them and help them come to better themselves in their scholastics and overall shaping of their human character - to prepare them for the adult world as best you can and at the level allowed for that particular age and grade they are in. 

Adults, and those entering into their adulthood are not terribly dissimilar.  And no matter what age, there is still room for improvement.  There is still a necessity to try and press forward, to keep moving the energy, to move forward and find the next plateau, and continue to strive for that excellence of one's work.  Whether that improvement can be found in a more professional or familial environment is often personal choice.  And when groups of like-minded come together, that choice becomes company preference - the custom, or ethic whereby the principles have their origins and are set.

I like a professional environment.  I can work in a familial environment as well.  Both are possible, but if I had to choose, I like a professional environment to work in.    

What would you have liked to do more of in your last position? What held you back?

Well, I would have liked to have sold an insurance policy, or quite a few, since the work was straight commission.  And that the wages were based on straight commission was a prime factor in what held me back.  After finishing up my duties to the 2010 Census, I started a week long business class, which was about $120.  The testing, overall, cost me about as much. And, of course, licensing fees and other fees for getting appointed to the company I was looking to work for.  I can't complain too much about this, because I agreed to it.  Hindsight is always 20-20, and it took me about three weeks to realize that selling insurance wasn't my niche.  It was primarily the aspect of putting more money into trying to start it up and contrasting that to what money is being paid out.  When I resigned, they tried to call me back, but I declined because it just wasn't cost effective to continue to try and do business when I'm not even breaking even on the deal.  If I got an hourly wage for the time spent making cold calls and got mileage covered, like I did with work at the Census (about $0.50 per mile), I would have been more inclined to continue.  But, I took a gamble and found that it didn't pay out as I would have liked.  So, for now, having something that is a steady, hourly wage, where I know I'm getting paid for the work I put in day in and day out looks much more desirable.

Why have you applied for this position?

Not to sound arrogant, but the most basic response is because I can do it.  I wouldn't apply for a job if I didn't think I could.  Granted, some jobs don't show to be a right fit and don't work out, but that doesn't mean I didn't have the ability to do them.  With regards to requirements, I have a Liberal Arts Bachelor's of Arts degree in Humanities.  I have had experience in both sales/telemarketing, as well as retail.  But of my experiences, I consider the top three most valuable of them being from substitute teaching, service learning work as an AmeriCorps member, and the more current work I did, both in the clerical and courrier operations that the 2010 Census gave opportunity for me to do.  


Substitute teaching was the ground work, and laid the foundation for the beginnings of my work ethic.  Taking calls and managing my weeks with regard to what appointments I could keep for coming in to teach classes on a variety of subjects to a diverse population of students in two local school districts.  I had initially looked for it to be my preparation for going into full time teaching, and thus much of my income went into working towards a Masters in Teaching.  However, time restraints and the economics of putting most money into tuition was taking its toll both in finances and with family situation, as I was living with my parents then so I wouldn't have to put in the additional cost of rent and other needs of daily living into the mix of essentials.  However, that did take from personal autonomy, to which I credit AmeriCorps for the second phase in my personal development.

Even though with AmeriCorps, I did take quite a pay cut, as their stipend was about $875 a month then, the benefits were that I was living in an apartment, and I was doing more things to develop both in team work and personal autonomy and responsibility.  To say that giving a year to service leaning as an AmeriCorps member was a sacrifice of both time and money is not an overstatement.  Yet what I gained was day in and day out experience in working with children as a tutor and role model in the local elementary schools.  Not only did I aid them in-class, but also through running a library homework club.  I also helped the teachers and staff in general by providing assistance with after school activities, such as  supervising students during parent nights, helping with hands on activities during science fairs, and even in the operation of a literature contest that was annual and incorporated the majority of elementary schools in the district.  I also was in the committee for Advertising for the Winter Literacy Project, as well as in the Posters Committee that coincided with of the Spring Literacy Project. Both committees had me working on press releases that I had to send out to various media, and both Literacy Projects I was required to help produce and participate in as part of the volunteer requirements of Regional Service Corps. These were no small tasks and required much professionalism to do well. It was also an operation by which we worked in collaboration with the Richland and the branches of the Libraries. 
Census 2010 brought me further into a business ethic.  I started out there under administration.  It was mainly personnel and payroll, to which my main functions were with the checks and balances of auditing and data entry of personal and private information.  I even processed hiring, and did some payroll.  Other clerical duties were auditing and quality control on what came in from the field, to which later led to me taking a route by which I had the dual responsibility of taking things out to the field and bringing things in.  All of which is classified, and I am not allowed to speak on the sensitive materials due to the contract of my appointment with the 2010 Census.  That, to me, gave the work a certain amount of importance, and I will always look at that period of time as a great service to my country, which incidentally had a decent payout overall as a bonus.

What skill set do you think you would bring to this position?

I would say the organizational and adaptive skills that began with substitute teaching, and followed me into AmeriCorps, as well as into the Census work.  To be able to take calls, make and set appointments, and to be able to assess situations quickly and efficiently, so that things can run smoothly and be set into motion. While I can be cool and calm, I also want to be able to see and feel the energy, and promote the positive of that energy to inspire the confidence and assurance needed to make sure the job is done, and done well, with always looking for areas to improve.

Tell me about your present or last job. Why did you choose it? Why did you/do you want to leave?

I already went into that somewhat, save for why I chose it.  Initially, I looked at it as continuing on in trying to serve people and help them to see the benefits of life and health insurance, particularly with regards to long term care.  For many, long term care is considered like a death sentence, when really it is not.  Its basic importance is helping with the activities of daily living - things of which even heath insurance, whether straight private or the combination of Medicare and Medigap policies do not cover.  Their importance is in helping assist the policy holder in being able to pay for long term care, whether it be going to a nursing home, assisted living, or in-home care.  Many will reply that they will let their spouse of children cover that.  And, as noble as it might be, the realities can be that neither spouse nor child will be able to do so, whether financially, or by the facts of spouse having died or child moving away and having their own family and work to tend to.  Long term care would be a way to help cover for these things when the other options are not feasible, or simply are not there.  Thus, if I could help someone to be able to get into such policies, I would have felt I did them a good service by helping them plan for their future.

However, the business of doing so just wasn't feasible for me to pursue further without becoming a financial burden to me.  And it just doesn't make sense to try and assess others assets when my own need to be put into order.  Therefore, I am looking for employment that has a steady wage to which gains opportunity for both financial and personal growth.

What was your primary contribution/achievement? Biggest challenge?

Overall contribution or achievement, I would say would still be in the area of education.  AmeriCorps and substitute teaching have been more direct in this area, and I still feel the contributions anyone can make towards education are among the greatest anyone can make.  To teach, or at least pass down, not just knowledge, but show by example and experience is at the core of the foundation of the human experience and how we come to react and interact with one another as human beings.

But that too is the biggest challenge.  Modern media itself understands this as recent shifts in technology lead to changes in how media is produced and how it flows out into the world.  There's not just the world wide web and social networking, but metaverses in which people interact with each other.  But even so, even as the online world tries to make this world even smaller and remove geographical boundaries, there is still importance in staying in touch with one's local, physical community.  And one of the most prime resources for that is the local newspaper.  Where else can one get the most up to date information on the happenings in one's community than by opening up and reading a local newspaper?  You want to know what's going in in the cities?  The newspaper is still the local hub of the community. Sure, you can find websites for local groups and organizations, but where do you find out that these places exist if not by reading about them in the paper?  People of all ages can benefit from reading the local newspaper, and the value is immeasurable for local businesses and organizations to get the word out about their events and how to get in contact with them. Yet, with the rise of online media, the challenge comes in reminding people that the local paper still holds value to them in the physical world around them.

In what areas would you like to develop further? What are your plans to do that?

I want to continue to improve my people skills.  While this response back may show my writing abilities, being able to type is only one aspect to communication.  To hold a conversation 'in real time', as it is sometimes called, is vital and something I want to improve upon.  That's probably most important, is to be able to continue the conversation.

Initial plan is to, hopefully, meet face to face and discuss more on the finer details of what the duties of District Sales Manager will be beyond just filling a position.  To learn what is the geography of the assigned territories - who my client base would be, as well as the pool of potential employment that I would be working from for recruiting and contracting.  And certainly, what software I might be required to work with in regards to the bookkeeping and other business and organizational operations of the job.  I don't mind working mornings.  In fact, an early start in the day is preferable as I find it helps push a person to be more productive.

Describe for me a time when you have come across questionable business practices; how did you handle the situation?

Not to get into details, but I did find a few questionable business practices in my last job in insurance.  While I couldn't say whether they were anything illegal or anything, they didn't feel very professional, and professionalism was one of the draws for why I inquired upon joining the business in the first place.  Basically, it felt like corners were being cut, and certain training was being hastened, expediting relatively new employees in a manner that seemed detrimental to their apprenticeship in the business.  And, with three of us relatively newcomers all resigning over the same weekend, that should have been a wake up call that something is not working.  I can only hope that the branch manager comes to understand this and works on improving upon this area, as it undermines the service if you don't train your new employees properly.  Cutting those corners in the beginning is like chipping away at the foundation.  So thus, I resigned to look for a better job opportunity while still keeping a reasonable amount of my finances in order for this undertaking.

Tell me anything else you would like us to know about you that will aid us in making our decision.

Well, I wanted to keep this relatively brief, and I feel I have been thus far candid enough.  So, really, I'd like to know more about you, and continue this conversation face to face as soon at time allows. And I do thank you for your time in reading this not-so-brief response back to your query.  If anything, I hope my writing does not come off terribly arrogant, and provides greater confidence in my skills, abilities, and desires to provide the quality, and professionalism that is sought for and demanded of a District Sales Manager.