Tag Archives: Epic

Helping You Know What To Do

by Richard

Sometimes getting stuff set down on a to-do list isn’t enough to get them done. I know. Hard to believe, dudes, but it’s true.

The good news is that you and I aren’t the only ones who have this problem. In fact, so many people suffer in a similar way there’s an entire industrial enclave dedicated to helping us get our work done.

Gamification is a process whereby people import some of the things that make games fun (achievement levels, gaining points and experience points, winning games) and grafts them seamlessly onto chores and work. Gamification can actually make some work that used to be boring and tedious seem like fun.

No. Really.

For those of you with difficulty in meeting goals, there’s a great program called Epic Win. EpicWin is a cross between a digital organizer and a role-playing video game. You choose an avatar character that appeals to you, and then select a task that you want to accomplish. As tasks are completed, players pick up points, “treasures,” and loot.

There are task timers for those of us who get off task more easily than others. You can set up a task you’ve got to do, allot a specific amount of time in which it can be done and then start. These timers will show you how much time has passed and how much time you’ve got left to go. This sort of soft pressure is a great way to encourage yourself to complete those jobs.

If you’ve got a young dude who is having trouble doing routine chores, mostly because chores are boring and take too long and are too hard and are boring (sound familiar?), there’s something called iRewardChart. You input the task you want the young dudette to complete and it helps to track her behavior and her progress toward meeting her goal. This can give her a visual reminder of how well she’s doing and how far she’s got left to go. That sort of thing can be a real lifesaver when you’re fighting over chores.

As you can see, there’s a metric ton of stuff out there to help you get and stay organized, as well as give you the incentives you need to actually stay on task and get stuff done.

So go out there and get it, dudes. Well, maybe you ought to write a note to remind yourself to do it first. I mean, you never know.

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Dude Review: The Lost Hero

by Richard

The ancient gods of Western civilization have withdrawn from the world following the epic events detailed in the Camp Half-Blood books, starring Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon), by author Rick Riordan.

Of course, just because the gods say they’ve withdrawn from their interactions with mortals, well, that doesn’t make it true. Knowing those gods as we do, through myth, legend and a great series of books, we can be pretty sure there’s still some godly meddling going on.

And there is.

In The Lost Hero, the first book of a new series called The Heroes of Olympus, we’re introduced to a whole bunch of new main characters, most notably Jason, a half-blood demi-god with little to no memory of his past, a strange tattoo on his arm, and a metaphorical target plastered on his back.

For now, let’s all get down on our knees and thank those self-same gods that Rick Riordan is back with another book set in the same universe as the magnificently wonderful Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. This truly is a cause for celebration. To me, the Percy Jackson books are what Harry Potter would have liked to have been if he had any ambition at all. They’re full of fantastically complex characters, fast plotting, tight action scenes and genuine emotional heft. These are books that all young dudes would love to read or have read to them.

Both my oldest (Sarcasmo) and youngest (Hyper Lad) young dudes loved these books. Zippy the Monkey Boy, who’s of the opinion that a book without pictures is a waste of paper, preferred to read the graphic novel version and leave it at that. His loss.

Anyway. Back to the book.

Riordan takes a bit of a chance with this book, consigning as he does, Percy Jackson to, if not limbo, then at least the literary equivalent thereof. That is, Percy Jackson does NOT star in these books. He’s talked about and missed, but he’s not actually on stage. The main player here is Jason, who’s memory begins on the back of a school bus on his way to a class trip with two people who may or may not be his girlfriend and best friend.

The action here is fast and furious, starting early and pausing only to let the reader catch his breath before barreling headlong into another adventure.

Jason, you see, isn’t like the other children of the gods who inhabit Camp Half Blood. In fact, his appearance at the summer camp for the children of the gods causes quite a bit of consternation among the staff there, and not a little bit of fear. But what is it about Jason’s very existence and attendance at the camp that’s causing this level of panic?

That, dudes, is the question. And it’s got a great answer. (Of course I had it figured out, but, then again, this is written with the younger dudes in mind. The fact that I and most other older dudes can enjoy it is just a happy bit of synchronicity.)

The Lost Hero is a fantastic read. If you’ve got a young dude or dudette who is even the tiniest bit interested in Greek and Roman mythology, likes fantastic adventure and well-developed characters, then you must get this book. Without question, this rates five (5) dudes out of five.

Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it. Then suffer along with me until the next book in the series comes out.

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Freaky Friday: Online Ostracism

by Richard

Most of the time, being a bully means abusing someone (normally) smaller than you, either physically, emotionally or verbally. Still, there is another, much more subtle form of bullying. It’s called ostracism, which means ignoring someone, casting them out of the group, and it can have a decidedly detrimental effect on the self esteem of young dudes and dudettes.

A recent study based in England looked at how a group of children, a group of adolescents and a group of adults reacted to being ostracized during the playing of an online computer game.

The study was carried out by a team at the University’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes and was led by Professor Dominic Abrams. Professor Abrams explained that research into cyber-bullying usually focuses on direct abuse and insults.

“However, a more indirect and perhaps common form of bullying is ostracism — when people are purposefully ignored by others,” he said. Professor Abrams also explained that “online ostracism affects adults by threatening their basic needs for self-esteem, sense of belonging, sense of meaning and sense of control. We wanted to discover whether children and adolescents have similar reactions.”

And, yes, for those of you wondering, children and adolescents do have similar reactions. However, those reactions are more significant in the case of the children.

Ostracism affected the self-esteem of the eight and nine-year-old children more than the other groups. This suggests that the adolescents and adults have developed better buffers against threats to self-esteem.

What happened was that these folks were asked to play a game of online ‘cyberball’ in which three online players — depicted on screen by their names — passed a ball to one another. In games where the participant was included, they threw and received the ball four times within the trial. However, in a game when they were ostracized they received the ball only twice at the start, and then the other two players continued to play only passing the ball between themselves.

The good news is that the detrimental effects were basically cancelled out when the subjects were asked to play another game and then included, rather than excluded. This suggests that, if parents and or teachers are on the ball, it is possible to easily remediate any damage done intentionally or unintentionally by bullies.

I think it’s extremely important for us, as parents, to be on the watch for this. Now, I’m not advocating that we go nuts, hover over our little dudes and make sure everyone is included in everything. That would be nuts. Only that we listen to our kids, find out if they’re feeling excluded and find a way for them to participate in something where their input and presence is valued. Sounds like a pretty good way to make sure our kids keep feeling good about themselves, and for good reason.

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