Saturday, June 21, 2014

Enough with the “an historical” bit

I hate it when I hear things like “an historical moment” said in an American accent. I hate it more when people actually cite those instances as an exception to the “a-an” rule. The reason why you see “an” in front of words starting with “h” is that in British English that “h” is silent. That’s it. If you’re reading something out loud, you can say “an historical” or “an happy” or whatever. I guess. Otherwise, stop it! (And to be honest, I try to read those things with a British accent. “an ‘istorical”. “an ‘appy’'.)

There. I feel better now.

Understanding People

I've heard from various sources that men can't understand women. I've always had trouble believing this. In fact, I have a hard time believing any generalization about "men are like this" or "women are like that", even though I know that there are some actual differences. The thing is, there are more differences within a given gender than there are between genders. I suspect that the source of most of the perceived barriers of understanding come from the fact that people are more likely to care about relationship issues with the person they're in love with (or attracted to), and they just assume that the issues come from a gender difference. In reality, I think these issues come simply because they're two different people with different perspectives and values.
So in other words, women aren't hard to understand. People are hard to understand. Men just don't feel the need to understand other men as well.

As an example, my wife and I were recently talking about the stereotype about men always wanting to fix things. We both decided that both men and women can be prone to that, and that it’s a natural extension of caring about someone. You hear about a problem that someone has, and you want to fix it. I think the issue here is understanding what the problem is. If someone expresses a problem that they want a solution for, they’ll generally state it as an actual problem. But if they express it in terms of what they feel about it, there’s a good chance that they’re looking for validation of that emotion. They’re unhappy, and they don’t want to be alone in facing the challenge. They might already have a solution in mind, or they might be holding back details of the situation for simplicity – details that would be essential in coming up with an actual situation. Either way, someone looking for validation isn’t going to have any use for a quick solution tossed out there, whether you’re talking about a man or a woman.

So how do you come to understand someone else? I think it comes down to two things: love and communication. If you don't like someone on some level, (and if you don't respect them at least), you won't be invested enough to see the world from their perspective. And if you don't talk about how both of you feel and why, you're not going to understand each other. We send a lot of nonverbal communication, but it's very easy to misinterpret. You have to speak to really communicate. And of course, in order for communication to work, both people have to be introspective enough to understand themselves - what their rational and emotional reasons for doing things are. This does not come naturally to everyone, but it is very important. (Incidentally, it's one of my favorite things about my wife.)

So there you have it. I heretically declare that anyone can understand anyone if they both have a good understanding of themselves, and if they’re willing to communicate openly. (Granted, that’s a lot like saying that anyone can achieve space travel as long as they have a way to warp space-time and a way to power the thing. But not exactly like that.)

Saving Nayru & Din (again)

Since I wasn't prepared to buy a Nintendo 3DS just to get the new Zelda game, I decided to replay Oracle of Ages last Christmas, and later I played Oracle of Seasons as well. I just finished it, so it’s time to vent sentiment.

I've long said that Ages was my second favorite Zelda game after A Link to the Past, largely because of its clever items and very classic Zelda feel. I definitely enjoyed it the second time through, but I noticed that I enjoyed the dungeons (levels, whatever) a lot more than the overworld; I actually found myself sort of rushing through the overworld stuff to get to the next level.

And strangely, I may have actually enjoyed Seasons more this time through. Part of this is because it's even more classic than Ages is; Seasons has all the bosses from the original Legend of Zelda for instance, for instance. And while I remembered Ages for its clever items, Seasons has some pretty unique ones too. The other thing is the map: Ages has essentially double the regular map size, because you can travel between the present and the past. And one of the items expands on a huge part of the map even further, in both times. So I was a little disappointed to find that Subrosia, the “map extension” area in Seasons, is much smaller than the main map. The thing is, though, that the main map is larger in Seasons, and it’s more varied since it’s not just two copies of the same terrain. So there might actually be more to explore in that game.

My final sentiment is about the games’ rings. When I first played the linked game, I carried the Blue Ring (which cuts the damage you do in half) over from Ages, and I used it all throughout Seasons. This time through I completely ignored all of the item-transferring stuff between games. It went okay, too, until the last set of battles. I ended up having to go get the Red Ring (which doubles your attack power) in order to make those battles reasonable. What I’m saying is that the difficulty level spikes pretty drastically at the end.

Both games are very good, and I’m still psyched to play A Link Between Worlds eventually. Let’s hope I finish The Plasma Storm before then, though, because there’s such a thing as too much awesome, at least in terms of time management.