• jenesee@greyareapodcast.com

Author Archive Jenesee Grey

Running is for losers

“Just do it.” -Nike. “Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelo. “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. – The Princess Bride.  These old (and some new) clichés teach us that our health is a treasure to guard and build up. And health IS important for a long and active life. There’s no changing that. However, there are many roads to health and I plan to travel them with a nice brisk walk.

Recently my kids have joined the track and cross country team. Lord knows why. When it comes to running as a sport of choice I’ve often said that unless someone is chasing me with a knife or sprinting ahead of me with a cookie, I won’t do it. Take that Nike! However, the conundrum is that now my kids need to train during the summer and I get to be their coach.

I have two teenagers which means that I own thousands of hairbands, more tampons than a CVS, and enough Peds (little socks that fit in a slip-on shoe) that my washer pump has died a horrific death twice and almost crushed my repair partner once by falling and leaving him trapped under it. These kids take advanced classes in school, do a bazillion extra-curricular activities and, just for funzies, decided that adding a sport to the mix just might make my head explode or cause my old Ford Focus to finally die after 200,000 miles. I admit I was excited about the sport, I’m a sporty gal. Would it be Soccer, or maybe even Rugby? How about some Basketball? Oh wait, we already did Basketball and then realized my little one might never make it over 5 feet tall. No. They decided that running was the way to go.

Keep in mind that the 16-year-old only participates in sports that a) have no physical contact whatsoever b) don’t involve throwing, catching, hitting, or kicking any objects and c) aren’t highly competitive. So, that leaves out most things on earth. She’s already been caught cheering for those who pass her on a trail at a cross country meet. The 13-year-old is another story. She once held a sharped stick braced into the ground behind her sister who was beginning her downward decent on a swing set. Enough said. Somehow though, these very different people have formed a mutual love of trudging up dusty trails and over sharp rocks while sweating in 90-degree humidity. It’s a mystery I might never solve called running.

Now I’m no slacker when it comes to taking on a fitness challenge. I have a second degree blackbelt in Mu Duk Kwan and am working on a brown belt in Tang Tsu Do. I just prefer my cardio to occur secondarily while I’m punching someone in the face. But when it comes to my kids, I’m willing to go outside of my comfort zone.

There’s a park near us that is only a short stroll down the train tracks. It’s a wildflower preserve which means that it grows Ragweed professionally. Guess who has seasonal allergies? However, there is a forest and the possibility of seeing some deer at dusk so it all evens out. The mileage is do-able and the scenery is picturesque as the last thing we might see before expiring from a jogging induced aneurysm.

Training season began and I came along for the “fun”. In the beginning I biked alongside of them, then my pedal fell off while on the trail so I pushed the bike. I tried a few more times to make the bike a viable means to keeping up and kept stripping the threading on the pedal screw. What can I say, I am strong like Bull. *insert Russian accent*. Then out of sheer laziness in avoidance of fixing the bike again, which incidentally I stole from my brother when he left home, I decided to jog along. It was a lot harder than I anticipated. Every two minutes I needed to stop and breathe. Let me tell you that you don’t properly appreciate oxygen until you are wheezing like an 80 -year-old while limping on the side of the road being passed by nubile teenagers who are circling back to taunt, re:encourage, you to keep going. As a teenager, myself, I had bad memories being forced to run the mile in gym class. My pulse beating so hard that I thought I might be the first person ever to spontaneously combust on school grounds. This experience was bringing it all back… and it was making me mad.

I was forcefully reminded that the last few years I had been neglecting any sort of self-care. I was commuting hundreds of miles a day, working all the hours, eating away from home, and generally assuming that my usual trick of getting back to exercise would quickly repair years of neglect. I’m not 20 anymore, surprise! It was certainly a surprise to me when I started training in martial arts again a few months before and realized that the 30lbs of wearable anxiety I had accumulated were not going to melt off quickly or easily. While my body was regaining strength and muscle, this new need for running was defeating me.

I’m a very stubborn person and despite my illnesses I want to be a positive one. Once I decided to turn my life around because I was better than any video game avatar out there. (Story to come later). So, these wildflower fields were not going to get the best of me. ARE not going to get the best of me. It’s been a week now and I’ve noticed that I hate running slightly less. I secretly love when my little one circles back around (far far back around) to tell me to keep going. I like walking down the railroad tracks and wondering if this is the day we leap to the side and wait for the train to go by. I stop less and I go faster. I smile when I pass the line the oldest drew in the dirt when she finished sprinting. While I can’t say, I will ever want to run, I’m interested to see where this leads. Will I get in shape the way I want to again? Will I be the type of loser I want to be in the weight game? Are you a runner or do you hate it as much as I do?

 

 

Are you the creator in a procedurally generated world?

Have you ever felt like a video game explorer, first in the world to claim your territory and name your parcel of the unknown? You might just be on the money. Let’s explore the idea that in a procedurally generated world, you are part of the creation process and it all exists for, and because of, you. Who doesn’t love that?

This article could have been titled, “procedural generation in video games, quantum mechanics and how they relate to a cat that just wants to be left alone in his box”, but that would have been too long so let’s make it about you instead. Are you one of the cool kids lately who have been playing games like No Man’s Sky or even Camelot Unchained? While playing, and pushing the boundaries of the environment with your character, you are witnessing procedural generation. After all, you didn’t fall off the edge of the flat world, despite what NBA star Kyrie Irving would have you believe.

Procedural generation is a fancy word for something…well, something complex. Simply put procedural generation is a method of creating data algorithmically as opposed to manually when you need large amounts of content, have programmers with actual lives and players that need smaller file sizes to make their computers go. It also has the unconsidered advantage of making the player a part of the process of world creation in a unique way.  If you want to get more into the science of it, check out the nerds over at Gamasutra. NERDS!

Anyway, one of the cool things about this is the idea that the world literally does not exist until you see it for the first time. As the player, you are the impetus that causes the edge of the world, the universe, the planet, or just the field, to push out a little further. The causality is that the universe expands to give you more things to do.  If you were not in that forest the and a tree fell…. well it wouldn’t have even fallen if you didn’t incite the program to make it. Feel important yet?

Maybe not as important as you think. Here’s where Schrödinger’s cat comes in and sheds all over the damn place.  In this well-known paradox, a cat may be simultaneously both alive and dead as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur because particles are indecisive teenagers who get themselves into various states, more on that later *. Incidentally this is called quantum superposition, use it to impress your friends.  It applies here because the worlds/fields/universes have a bit of a head-start before they are generated. Some very much more so like Eve and Planetside who are procedural, but pre-generated worlds. Meaning that the entire world was already generated once and stored in a database.

No Man’s Sky and Camelot Unchained are still an algorithm but generated as needed. For NMS, the creatures that exist are formed from randomly assembled parts (within parameters) drawn from descriptor pools containing various models and textures tagged for their appropriate assembly area. These pools and assets obviously exist long before they are called for on the server but the combinations are triggered by the proximity of the player. Minecraft also uses this for terrain creation which is random, but guided by Perlin noise calculations that are consistent with the environment you are in.

So, people, in these games things aren’t real until you get to the point where your character is ready to see them. If you never saw them, would they still exist? No and …yes. While it’s tempting to imagine that video games allow us to play God on this micro level, it’s still up for debate where you draw the line at “exist”. Personally, I’m intrigued by the idea that my entrepreneurial spirit makes the world expand to fit my imagination, so I’m going with that. What do you think?

-Jenesee

*Bonus: Now to really throw you for a loop, some scientists believe that photons can choose their preferred state ( a wave or a particle) in the NOW based on their experiences in the FUTURE. The future caused the past. Hello Games, this is all the proof you need that I was meant to have that red striped Diplodocus because my future self-demands it 😉 Ok, maybe that’s too big a loop.

Coming soon.

Fez Industries is powering up. Stay tunes for more information shortly.

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