Archive for August, 2009


Stop! Take a break! Facebook, texting, World of Warcraft, and the post-technology media are taking over our society. I came to a self-realization and admitted I was another statistic and victim of video game addiction. My family told me if they could send me to rehab for addicts like me, it would be the first thing they ever do.

 Agreed, Internet and gaming addiction is real and has become an ever-present stigma among a technology-saturated generation in America. People are too attached, dependent and need to instill some control and discipline; and for $14,500, people will now be able to break away from that addiction and go to rehab. It sounds absurd but it is a necessary resolution.

              On Aug. 27, 2009, an online/video game and Internet rehab center officially opened up in Fall City, WA and took in its first 19-year-old patient who was struggling to quit World of War Craft. The reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program helps overly-dependent gamers, texters and Internet users kick their technological habit to the curb with a 45-day recovery program. Similar to a 12-step program for alcoholics and smokers, the tech-junkies partake in activities such as psychotherapy, counseling, fitness programs, and “high adventure outings” around the facilities according to a news article from Game Spot.

“Anywhere from 6-10 percent of the online population is dependent on one or more aspects of cyber technology and the internet. Among gamers, those playing multi-user games (like World of Warcraft) appear to be addicted at much higher levels,” according to the facility’s website.

Such institutions first opened in Japan, China and several countries in Europe and are working on diagnosing gaming addiction as a health issue. Now that one exists here in the U.S., people who have such addictions can now get help. This is very important because cases from all over the world regarding these addictions are alarming, disturbing, and almost epidemic.

            In Oct. 2008, creator Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced that World of Warcraft had exceeded 11 million subscribed players worldwide according to a blog post from Nick Chester.

In addition to that, Xfire which is a freeware instant messaging service and game server browser for online gamers recorded that World of Warcraft had 88,926 users per day playing an average of 19,188,204 minutes per day. That is almost four hours a player spends a day playing according to George Walker’s blog aeropause.com. How can anybody afford that much time on their hands in a never-ending battle against sorcerers, trolls, and evil army lords?

            It also gets worse, “The cases most often cited include a South Korean man who collapsed in an Internet cafe after playing Starcraft for 50 hours; a man in China who died after playing online games for 15 days consecutively; a 13-year-old boy from Vietnam who strangled an elderly lady with a piece of rope because he wanted money to buy games; and a number of cases in the United States involving angry teenagers murdering family members over games and consoles.” Game Spot staff writer Laura Parker on an article about game addiction wrote.

Parker also listed more cases especially a disturbing one about U.S. teenager who shot his parents and killed his mother because they seized his copy of Halo 3 in October 2007.

That is really some upsetting stuff because I can relate to it. I remember vividly how I felt when my mother  seized my video games; I felt my nerves twitching agonizingly, my brain smashing itself against my head and suffocating from this unbearable boredom because I had not played video games for a week. I literally ransacked her room trying to find my prized XBOX 360; my “precioussssssss.”

In conclusion, I am really pleased that a rehab center for gaming addicts is now open. It is a sign that America has taken a stand in trying to improve social and mental health. It is a move in the right direction. People now have a chance to break away from the dependency on the Internet and gaming. I strongly urge people who have technology-related addictions to consider turning themselves in to rehab. I would turn myself in too. I just don’t have $14,500.

 

 The ReStart Internet Addiction Recovery Center

The ReStart Internet Addiction Recovery Center

It’s my third return to college and I optimistically see myself having a good academic year. These past couple of days before school starts have been fun and laced with social outings, activities and the reuniting of friends old and new. Despite all the fun. I feel tormented from this encumbering pressure I put on myself to get a girlfriend; knowing very well that getting one is an unrealistic goal. I feel a girlfriend is something that antagonizes the life goals I’ve set for myself to develop into a responsible adult.

But at the same time I constantly wish for the intimacy, trust and special friendship that I can share with that “special” girl. The girl that could stimulate warm, fuzzy and all the all-so-good feelings in the world that I would do whatever it takes, make a commitment to sustain those feelings. Go ahead call it love, but I wouldn’t know what that is.

I thought I had met that “special” girl that gave me those feelings. I dreamt and constantly manifested images of us in deep conversation, having a strong connection and relishing the physical attraction between us. But I would try and determine if  I was able to return the favor and stimulate those feelings in her but there was something that was always wrong with this romantic equation- Me.

I am a dark cloud of self-doubt. I’m an underachiever. I’m a not leader. I cower away in corners. I am selfish. I am hardened. I am spiritually misguided. I am lost. 

It was hard to admit and come to self-realization with these vices that chain me. But I least I now know what’s keeping me down. But that is not the complete resolution. Is it prayer? Becoming closer to God? I heard such resolutions are for the weak. Sometimes, I think that is true.

On August 15, 2009 was the beginning of the 2009/10 season in the English Premier League (EPL). Arsenal‘s season opener was against Everton and they were playing away. But before the season even started, The media and sports critics completely wrote Arsenal off. They were certain of their comments that Arsenal would struggle and they would lose their place in the “Big Four” especially after they lost world-class players like Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure.  Worst of all, Arsenal fans were divided amongst each other. Some were calling for Arsene Wenger’s head because he refused to hastily sign new players, some were fearful that Arsenal would suffer another trophy-less season and some people decided they were not even Arsenal fans anymore. There was no doubt that a dark cloud had come over Emirates Stadium.

So back to the game against Everton; the referee had blown the whistle and the kick-off was a reminder that Arsenal’s make-or-break season was well on its way. Both clubs looked strong in the opening minutes of the game. Suddenly, Arsenal was in the lead with a stunning 25-yard curler from Brazilian midfielder Denilson 26 minutes into the game. Then new signing Thomas Vermaelen scored his debutant goal by sneaking in an uncontested header from a freekick in the 37th minute. Arsenal would then be up by three with a goal from defender William Gallas in the similar pattern four minutes later. I thought that was enough to silence the critics and naysayers about Arsenal, but the trashing did not stop there.

In the second half, Arsenal were just cruising through with the fourth goal. An attack by Everton was cut short and led to a counter attack by Arsenal with a string of passes that found captain Cesc Fabregas breaking through the middle of Everton’s defence to slot it through goalkeeper Tim Howard’s legs. A typical Arsenal goal but I was ecstatic as I did the robot and shouted my head off with joy. Fabregas would later score again in the 70th minute as he casually dribbled the ball just outside Everton’s 18-yard box to blaze it into the back of the net. Five goals to nil. Then it later became six goals by Arsenal as Eduardo tapped in Arshavin‘s unlucky rebound off the goal post. Six goals! Six goals by the team that  supposedly did not have a chance of contending for the championship.

The game ended with an emphatic 6-1 win by Arsenal. The scoreline is nothing short of poetic justice and a big “Fuck You!” to all the critics and all the two-faced Arsenal supporters. The scoreline is an emphatic “Shut up!” to the doubters who opened their mouths with rubbish spewing all over the place before they assesed the what a team like Arsenal is capable of.  

Even though it’s only the first game of the season, it’s a massive confidence boost for the Arsenal squad. It shows that this young team has matured and the team chemistry is coming together. So to the media and the arrogant sports critics that seem to think senseless expenditure of money and big-name signings is the only way to become a championship team should think again. Arsenal is a team that’s being built from the ground up and it’s only a matter of time before we win a trophy or cup title. Which we will. Gunners for life!

Arsenal Demolish Everton

Arsenal Demolish Everton

This is a post I put up on blogger.com on October 25, 2008:

My friend Ivy and I went to a soccer game to watch our Liberty Flames play against North Carolina Tar Heels around 7:30 a.m. It was a chilly night but still perfect fall weather nontheless.

We were down by three goals. Ivy and I were passionately cheering our team on and taunting our opponents in hopes of throwing them off their game.

All of a sudden, we got into a conversation about politics. Mostly about the upcoming elections and the presidential candidates. I remember Ivy saying how she was frustrated with how most black people support or are voting for Barack Obama just because he’s black.

I happened to agreed with what she said. There is no doubt that there are some black people who are voting for Obama because they identify with him solely on race. But I also added that the ignorance goes both ways. I told Ivy that there are some white people who won’t vote for Obama; not because he is for abortion or for same-sex marriage but just because he’s black

I’ve overheard white quadmates in my dorm say they can’t believe America has a “nigger” running for president. Sometimes I hear people call him a radical Muslim terrorist and other names that are completely off the wall.

The real problem is that it’s just unfortunate how most people in this country are just voting for all the wrong reasons and making premature decisions about each of the candidates. It just goes to show how America is still divided by race.

People who are undecided, nonchalant or just plain stupid need to take the time and educate themselves on the crucial issues that are facing this country and how those issues will affect them. This election is the most important one America will have in the longest time. People shouldn’t just vote based on blinding emotions or ignorant views they hold about a particular candidate. People need to find out what policies and what moral views each of the candidates support. That way they can make the best decisions for themselves.

What do you actually think of social networking? Is is just a crazy internet fad that our generation just blindly follows? another one of those things that the youth just waste their time doing? Or is it something that is actually bigger than that?

Personally, social networking is, has and will potentially become a big part of every-one’s life one way or another. That is because  social networking sites have become an essential part of communication. Communication as groundbreaking as the mobile phone, radio and Television. They pull us into a black hole of infinite information which is useful to all of its users. Businesses these days desperately try to advertise on social networking sites in order to expand their products and services to over one billion social networking users.

As a result, social networking sites are tools that we can use for various reasons. Catch up, keeping in touch or making new friends, blogging,  marketing and promoting a new product. But there seems to be an influx of these social networking tools and I don’t know how if I can keep up with all of them.

The first social networking site I joined was Hi5 where I was reunited with my old buddies from elementary school in 2004 but it became an unsucessful project for me in the end. I also experimented with other various sites like Black Planet, Tagged, and Friendster but I didn’t find much use for them. Then there was the ever-popular MySpacewhere I heard my friends talking about it in English class. This whole MySpace craze spread infectiously and I was inevitably compelled to get one. It was fun when it started because now I was in a circle of high school friends I could keep in touch with. In a way, social networking made it easier to communicate with people that you would not want to talk to on the phone or in person because it’d just be weird and awkward.

Suddenly, MySpace got out of hand with the constant spamming and random friend requests from swimsuit models and pornstars. its social aspect was also dwindling because I hardly communicated with my friends. Sometimes it was difficult to find any of your friends because of the random and stupid display names we all had like,  “I’m a gAngSTA”, “Big-Mack WOoD”,  “D@iSiee”  and all that non-sense. MySpace then became a popularity-contest. It was about who had the most random friends, most comments, and the coolest designed page. It just became filthy and extremely childish. Iwas sick of it and I immediately deleted my account telling myself I would never get into any more of these social networking cess pools.

After graduating from high school and recovering from a horrible stint with MySpace, I quickly found out that I was still addicted to the social networking sites. I was in dire need of one now that I was going to college. Not having one was not like having a cell phone. Then I found Facebook.

I heard a lot of good things about it; that it was good as MySpace and even had better features. Facebookwas another one of those social networking giants that recently came on the scene after MySpace. Insanely popular but what really impressed me is that it was nothing like Facebook. There was no HTML that you had to constantly fidget with, it was easy to connect with and find your friends because all you had to do was search for their names, not as much spam, most of the the applications were very useful and it had a very professional look to it. That is a plus given the fact that I’m a college student now and a potential employer might want to look me up post-grad.

Till this day Facebook is best social networking tool I have ever come across and constantly find many uses for it such as blogging, sharing and  keeping in touch with family and friends. So the long-lost search for the right social-networking site came to an end. Then came Twitter.

Twitter is just not another social networking site, it also serves as a mirco-blogging service. Users can read or put up  messages known as tweets for other users or affiliated networking groups. Tweets are text-based updates that are only up to 140 characters long. Users can decide to have tweets on their Twitter page to be made public or private. Unlike the other social networking sites you don’t make any friends, you gather followers. Followers are users that subscribe to your page in order to view your tweets.

Twitter was first created by Jack Dorsey in 2006 but didn’t really catch on until Febraury 2009  when it became the third most used social networking site according  to a poll from compete.com. Twitter has also become one of the fastest growing websites since March 2009 with 10 million users worldwide. Twitter also made history with the unfortunate passing away of Michael Jackson. The rumors and confirmation of Jackson’s death generated over 900 million tweets from all over the world, coming in at every millisecond. Twitter was overloaded with so many tweets that it temporarily crashed. Even the news came hours before news networks like CNN confirmed and gave coverage of the shocking event. But that’s not surprising. With Twitter on the internet, usually any news or event becomes a trending topic on Twitter way before it’s covered by the media

As a result, I became a user of Twitter. Not that I’m a follower or anything like that. I found it quite useful because it is another good source of communication, keeps me in touch with my friends and provides me a lot of good connections with the outside world. Besides I spend a lot more time on the computer than  I do watching  TV.  But I don’t think that I have seen the last of any these social networking websites because there will be more and they might even surpass  Facebook and Twitter and over load us with more information and connections. We will constantly have to sift through them and decide which ones work best for us for the rest of our lives.

Facebook

Facebook

Have you ever felt like there were some people you just can not get along with? That you just couldn’t connect with someone because you felt awkward around him or her? Like there was something holding you back from achieving a normal and comfortable friendship with that person? Well, it just came to me that I experience that all of the time. I just figured out that this is the rootal cause of phases of depression that I go through occasionally. So I’m trying to figure out what the problem is- Trust.

I was just reflecting on all the relationships I’ve had with people especially after my graduation from high school to my two years in college now. I never really had trouble making friends. I actually enjoyed meeting new people and getting to know them. I’m also thankful for some of the friends I have because they are good people and the fact they are able to see the good in me is a reassuring feeling.

But I always predetermined if I would be friends with anyone or not based on the impression I gave them, whether they had a positive vibe about them, if they made me feel good about myself and if I could really trust them. But I would also prepare myself for the day that person would disappoint, ignore and betray me. The day that person gives me any other reason to end that friendship with him or her.

I am also aware that  I can also offend, isolate or betray a friend’s trust (which I have done before). If they are willing to resolve things or cut me out of their lives is completely up to them. I could care less and just move on.

I think this sort of mentality came from the time I became friends with this girl.  Her friends introduced us to each other because we were both in need of dates for prom. Her name was Theresa Perkins. I think I naively fell for her that instant. I planned to tell her how I felt about her during prom and I had only known her for two weeks. But from those two weeks I liked her gentleness, her ambitions, her sense of humor and her whole appearance and visage was just heart-warming and sweet. After I told her I was into her, she let me down easy and told me it was best we stay friends. I was terribly crushed but I got over it. The next couple of days we were online IMing each other on AIM. I remember her telling me how sad it was we were graduating from high school and that nobody would keep in touch with each other. Then she made me promise her that I still keep in touch with her and talk to her. I remember she wrote me in my year book saying that I could call her whenever I wanted to talk because she thought of me as a good friend. I thought she was a great friend too because I felt like I was becoming a better person because of her

So every now and then I called Theresa; just to say hi ask her how her day went. We texted each other. We even bumped into each other at a recreational park and had a short but nice conversation. It was so good to  talk to her. I lit up everytime I saw her.  We were keeping in touch after high school and when we went to our respective colleges freshman year

But all of a sudden I could feel Theresa changing. She wouldn’t want to talk as much or reciprocate conversation and the friendly tone in her text messages were just cut down to cold and uninviting one-letter words like “oh,” “nothing,” “iono,”  and “nm.” There were times she didn’t even respond to my wall posts on Facebook. Never returned my calls. Maybe she was mad at me I thought but what did I do wrong? So I gave her space and waited two weeks before I asked her what was going on with our friendship and she nonchanlantly told me, “I’ve just been busy.”

Since then I’ve never felt more betrayed and let down by anyone. Especially when I invested a lot of time to make a friendship this important to me  to work. I never called Theresa Perkins again, I deleted her number permanently from my phone. Removed her from Facebook so it’d be easier to forget about her. It seemed like the most logical thing to do. It was obvious she did not want me as a friend anymore. I just never really knew why.   

Since then, I always believed the key to making friends was to just being yourself, never forcing anything but to just let things go with the flow. I would never approach anyone and just introduce myself. Things had to happen by chance in order to create the opportunity to be friends with someone. I had a social force-field that was to establish my independence from others. It was very important that I did not get too attached to anybody or let anyone  get too close to me even if I established a close relationship with them. You might call it pride. If anything, pride was the best friend I ever had because pride hardened me and enlightened me since my falling out with Theresa Perkins. Pride told me, friends come and go all that time. Pride told me there were no such things as best friends; that it was just another thing society puts in your head. Pride shielded me from the potential disappointment that can arise from any friendship- good or bad. 

I also feel bad about all the friends andclassmates I lost or forgot about in elementary school. Friends I had  known for more than ten years; from kindergarten to ninth grade. There was this melanchonic pain and longing  I got from not seeing any of them for the longest time after graduation until we were “reunited” through Facebook. By then, I realized it was not the same and I couldn’t connect with them the way I did in the good old days of elementary school. We were just casual acquaintances.

But it doesn’t matter now because I have met new people and have become friends with them in college. but I’m not expecting some life-changing experience from any of these new-found relationships because they will all end up like my previous relationships. I’m not going to rely too heavily on it or put too much of myself into these relationships. Friendships are all part of the good things in this world that come to and end. It is something that I will always emotionally prepare my mind for.

When I was a little kid, I remember my big brother had his friends come over to our house to hang out. My brother’s friends also brought some kind of decoder-looking device with them. I was looking at the machine with such awe wondering what it was while they hooked it up to the TV.

It was a video game console and when they turned the power on. I saw the screen flash white with a voice shouting, “SEGA!” in the background. That’s right, the Sega Genesis was the first console I played when I was five-years-old. We all took turns playing Sonic the Hedgehog and the rest was history.

Since then, I became a video game freak. Playing all kinds of video game titles from Contra to Super Mario. I constantly begged my mom to get me the latest game consoles and when she got me my own Sega Genesis, it was like Christmas every day. The excitement that rushed through my body as I played Super Street Fighter II with my older brother for the first time was unforgettable.

As the years went by, video games had evolved from cartoonish 16-bit graphics to amazing 3D graphics with more realistic gameplay. I owned various game consoles like the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Not to forget the more advanced consoles like the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 and the XBOX. But it didn’t stop there, from 2005, gamers like me witnessed the introduction of next-generation consoles like the Wii, PlayStation 3 and the XBOX 360. These next-generation consoles totally revamped the gaming experience  becoming a $36 billion industry in the U.S. this year alone.

But from over the years of playing so many video games, I think I developed some kind of life-hindering addiction. I remember constantly thinking about playing FIFA  or how I would beat the new Grand Theft Auto while my professor was babbling about some random topic in class. There were times my friends and I would talk about nothing but video games 24/7. There were times I would not even want  hang out with my friends, go out to play or even talk to my girlfriend because I had to finish HALO or my world would come to an end. I would wake up at night and sneak to the living room and  play from midnight until daybreak every chance I got. 

Then my concerned mother had to seize all  my video games from me. It was a horrible experience whenever she seized my video games; I could feel my nerves twitching anagonizingly, my brain smashing itself against my head and suffocating from this unbearable boredom because I had not played video games for a week. If there was rehab for addicted gamers, I think my family would have an intervention and send me there. Seriously. 

But now that I’m 21, I have managed to outgrow video games just a little bit. I’m doing more productive things and made better use of my time by reading, exercising, hanging out with my friends and even blogging every now and then.  I’m especially proud of myself now that I have more of a life and haven’t been on the couch playing video games all day like I did last summer. I still have my urges but it’s definitely under control. At least I hope so.

Yep, getting high off my 360.

Yep, getting high off my 360.

Last week I was browsing through Facebook. Hoping a new notification would pop up and alert me about something new. I was casually watching a boring soccer game between Rangers and Paris Saint-Germain on TV. After the game was done, I started watching some commercials. There was this one commercial about Miracle Whip that caught my eye but I was definitely not impressed.

I couldn’t help but shake my head when I saw this commercial. It looked like a bunch of teenagers having a  party/cookout, putting mayonnaise in their burgers  and not having a care in the world. They were like, look at us and how cool we are eating Miracle Whip. With the announcer going, “Don’t go unnoticed,  don’t blend in, don’t be ordinary, boring or bland blah blah blah we are the new Miracle Whip and we WON’T tone it down.” Yeah right.

So what is wrong with this commercial? A lot of things. It is a lame and desperate attempt by corporate media trying to target the younger crowd with a traditional, regular and even mediocre product like Miracle Whip. I’ve seen tons of commercials by Scion, iPod, Gatorade and American Eagle trying to pitch their products with a full onslaught at the younger generation but an ordinary product like Miracle Whip is  just too much.

Are they seriously trying to get young people into eating mayonnaise just because it is cool and rebellious? I know a lot of young people can identify with not following the same crowd and being individualistic but how can you stand out and be different by just eating mayonnaise? The rebranding of the product is way off and the whole message behind the commercial is ridiculous. Overall, I just could not take this commercial seriously. Miracle Whip trying to be cool is like your grandfather trying to rap a Lil Wayne song. Stop!

 But apart from Miracle Whip’s pathetic attempt at trying to be cool, it is not good for you either. One tablespoon of Miracle Whip is 37 calories alone and is one of the most unhealthy and fattening things you can eat. Doesn’t really help especially when obesity among young peeople is at a high rate of epidemic proportions.  That’s not cool at all.

Maybe, if the new Miracle Whip commercial was about a healthier eating choice or had less calories then maybe the commercial would have a valid point in its advertising. But no, none of that is relevant. The commercial would rather associate the product with this flashy and “I’m too cool for you” attitude. That’s not the best way to promote and sell such a product like Miracle Whip. If you ask me, they seriously need to tone it down. 

Miracle Whip

Miracle Whip

 Here’s a link to the Miracle Whip commercial.

Recently, There have been blazing rumors about former Arsenal captain and legend Patrick Viera returning to Arsenal. I’m skeptical about this new transfer rumor that has surfaced because it is overly sensational. But after reading about the story on reputable websites, it’s highly probable this transfer might happen. Even Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger is contemplating and has confirmed the possibility of re-signing the defensive midfielder.

“I think Patrick is a legend here and he would always like to come back to this Club. That would be his first choice but we are nowhere near to making a decision like that. But it is a possibility. We don’t rule it out and we don’t say we will do it. That’s my decision at the moment,” Wenger said.

I think it is great that Viera may come back. It will bolster our midfield with the depth of experience he has. Most Arsenal fans will will happily welcome him back because he’d be the first player that has ever come back to Arsenal. But there is one problem. At 33-years-old, Viera is way past his prime and I think he’s lost that edge and power he had during his nine years at Arsenal. Even Inter Milan coach Jose Murinho has no use for him as he is just surplus to his plans for the upcoming season. So it’s not much of a good thing but it’s definitely not bad either.

Nonetheless, it will be great to have him back as vital role player and he could teach Diaby and Song a thing or two. I can’t wait for this season to start because it is the season that can make or break Arsenal. Gunners for life!

patrick-viera