life lessons from the sims

I’ve played The Sims since TS1 came out in 2003.  I mostly play TS2, but I’ve dabbled in TS3, and may try TS4, just to see if it’s any good.  In my 12 years of playing this addicting game, I’ve learned a few things about real life:

1.  It’s way more expensive to rent than to buy.

In The Sims 2: Apartment Life, apartments were introduced to The Sims, and while they seemed cool at first, it’s very soon apparent that renting costs a friggin’ fortune.  For example, I have an apartment building that rents one bedroom, one bath apartments with garages and sparse furnishings for $2,382 – $3,270 a week.  A week!  You can get a small house in the game for less than $20,000 (the amount your sims start off with).  That means that in less than ten weeks, your sims will have spent the equivalent of a small home they could have bought if they had just spent the cash up front.

Yeah, this POS apartment is expensive AF. Not worth it.

I went through the same thing when I got my first apartment in the Navy, it was a two bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse that we rented for about $1,800 a month.  We lived there for three years, and spent nearly $65,000 in rent!  Conversely, when my husband and I bought our first house, we put $80,000 down, and we still have that $80,000, because we’ll get it back (and then some) when we sell.

 

2.  Doing well in school tends to lead to an easier life.

In The Sims 2: University, sims can go to college for various degrees, and build skills that come in handy when they graduate and get jobs.  Additionally, young adult sims in college can get up to $1,200 per semester if they get straight As.  I’ve found this one to be true in life, as well.  Doing well in school means that a) you actually know the subject of your major, and b) grants, scholarships, and even financial aid are more readily available.  I’m on the GI Bill, I have to get good grades, or they won’t pay me!  Maybe it’s just my ego talking, but it was pretty sweet to receive an Academic Achievement Award when I graduated with my Bachelor’s for having a perfect 4.0.  It’s also way easier to justify not working when I’m totally earning my right to be a full-time student by kicking butt in school.

School’s not all cheerleaders and jocks, you slacker!

After college, sims have all these skills they’ve built that allow them the opportunity to take higher paying jobs, because they have the base skills needed to work them.  Climbing the career ladder is a lot faster when you start out ahead of the game!  I haven’t gone back to work yet (still working on my MBA), but I’m hoping that this is also true in real life and that I won’t end up answering phones or flipping burgers with my knowledge of business, human resources management, and project/program management.

 

3.  Kids grow up fast.

In The Sims 2, sims get pregnant, and 75 hours later, a baby appears.  After three days, the baby will grow into a toddler, who, after four days, grows into a child.  Eight days later, they become a teenager, and teens have 15 days to decide whether or not they want to go to college as a young adult, and spend 24 days doing that, or waiting until the 15 days are up and growing into an adult.  For 29 days, adult sims do adult sim things (like working in their jobs and making sim babies), until they retire as an elder.  Elders who had crappy lives can live as little as nine days, but if they had a very happy, fulfilling life, they can live up to 31 days!

This one I know is totally true.  I don’t have kids yet, but I’m going to be 30 this year, so a ton of my friends do.  Even just watching them grow up on Facebook is insane!  A friend of mine in Virginia has a three-year-old boy, and I swear, he was an infant like a week ago!  Kids I used to babysit are now graduating high school and college, and some of them even have kids!  A friend of mine who’s a Chief in the Navy has grandkids!  She’s not even old!  Granted, she has these adorable braces and long hair that make her look 12, but still!

You’ll miss this when he’s trying to cook and burning the kitchen down.

On the other side of it, planning for retirement is freaking impossible.  Most people don’t die in their 40s and 50s anymore, so I kind of understand why organizations are taking away 20-year pensions.  When my husband retires at 38, he’s got at least 30 or 40 years before he kicks it.  That being said, he’s obviously going to go back to work, but how long are we going to work?  If we work until we’re 60, and die at 80, we have to save for 20 years of living!  What if we die at 90?  What if we live to be 100??  How the hell is anyone supposed to plan for that??  Right now, we each have a TSP, and he has a pension coming.  It’s not enough.  We need Roth IRAs and 401Ks and 403Bs and all this other crap that I don’t even really understand what it is, but I’ll be damned if we’re old as hell and can’t take care of ourselves!  I don’t let my elder sims hang around their kids’ houses when they’re old, those cranky bastards go to a retirement home!  (No, really, it’s brilliant.  I made a cheap apartment complex for them that is a lot like a retirement home, so I don’t have to deal with their shit…)

Why can’t ACTUAL elders look this good??

 

4.  If you come from a family with money, you’re set.

I’m not much of a liberal, I agree with the Affordable Care Act, and I support gay marriage and I’m not racist, but sometimes I think that people totally overplay the “you came from a well-to-do family, your life must be easy” card.  They don’t.  It’s totally true.  I have some sim families that are on their fourth or fifth generation and holy crap are their lives easy.  They have all this cash lying around, all this nice stuff they didn’t have to save for weeks to buy, and I have a custom checkbook object I can use to have my sims send money to people, like their kids when they go to college, so they don’t have to live in a crappy dorm, or their kids again when they’ve graduated and need more cash to buy and furnish a house, or their kids again when they retire to the home and don’t need hundreds of thousands of simoleans to sit there and play chess.  Because of that, my “legacy” sims don’t have to get jobs right away, can afford nice beds that recharge that energy bar quick, and kitchen appliances that make healthy food so they aren’t hungry right after eating.  They can take vacations when life gets too boring, and have more time to spend on their hobbies, for no other reason other than they like to tinker, or paint, or whatever.

Maybe it doesn’t translate directly, but it sure as hell makes sense to me that money begets money, and if you come from a family that’s got it, you have a way better chance of making it yourself.

Oh, you mean you’re not rich enough to wear a top hat while drinking champagne at a translucent desk covered in money in front of a saltwater aquarium??

 

5.  Some relationships are not meant to be.

In The Sims 2, you can make sims who are just perfect for each other.  At least you think they are until you try to rustle up some romanticism and one of them goes “eww, no” in simlish with a big thought bubble that says “I ain’t into that.”

I’m not digging your scene, man…

There is nothing more obnoxious than creating sims who just aren’t right for each other, or when you want two kids who have been BFFS4LYFE to take their relationship down make out road, and find that one or both of them won’t have it.

The absolute worst though, is when one sim is head-over-heels in love with another sim, and that sim feels no love.  I know it’s just a video game, but that makes me so sad.  I console my sims.  I tell them I’ve been there (I have) and that it will get better (it will), even if I have to call that annoying matchmaker to find them the perfect partner.

Ahhh, I see in my crystal ball that you think I’m obnoxious and should eat a bag of dicks…

Sometimes, you just have to let it go.  If you try to hold on too tight to someone, you end up scaring the crap out of them, and becoming someone you hate – whoever the hell .38 Special was singing about in that song.

 

What lessons have video games taught you?  Share your wisdom in the comments!

the catch-22 of finding a job

I finished my bachelor’s degree in February (Bachelor of Science in Business Technical Management with a concentration in Human Resources), and I’m now in my second semester of grad school, pursuing an MBA with an emphasis in Project Management.  I’m due to graduate at the end of October 2015, and I’ve got to say, I’m incredibly worried.

I’ve been perusing job listings, seeing what’s out there, what I could do with what I have, looking at the job descriptions for the jobs I want and seeing if I have the right prerequisites; but there’s always one thing listed as “required” that I just don’t have: experience.

So everyone out there wants to hire someone with experience, but no one is willing to hire people without it in order to give them experience.  Basically, you’re telling me that I need to go get a job that I am grossly overqualified for, so that I can get some experience in the field, but still not in that particular position.  Obviously you all want someone with experience!  That’s a pretty “duh” question to ask: “would you rather take a risk on someone that’s unproven in this particular position, or hire someone who’s done it for years?”  Really??

I get it.  The employment situation still isn’t great, and companies can afford to be picky, but they’re really limiting themselves by not wanting to hire the hard-charging recent graduates who are chomping at the bit to prove themselves and show a company what they can really do.

So I can’t get a job until I gain experience, but I can’t get experience until someone will hire me.  Alrighty then…

There’s another problem, too.  I’ve applied to a handful of positions, and I haven’t heard back from HR on a single one.  At first, I just thought this was incredibly rude and I was angry, but for purely selfish reasons, and then I came across this piece by Dr. John Sullivan on TLNT.com: Why Aren’t Job Applicants Given Decent Feedback?  In the article, Dr. Sullivan poses a pretty good argument for why companies should be giving rejected applicants feedback, and it’s not just about manners.

Furthermore, I’m hearing more and more from old Navy friends that they can’t get jobs either.  What happened to hiring preference for veterans?  I thought we had all this great experience that everyone wanted!  There’s pretty decent tax breaks for hiring veterans as well, especially us disabled vets!  The White House has even released a Guide to Hiring Veterans, it answers all kinds of questions and goes over all of the incentives, so why are we also getting slammed with the “you need more experience” line?

Listen, Mr. Hiring Manager, we have experience.  We have experience coming out our ears.  We have experience doing things you’ve never even dreamed of.  We know how to get things done with limited resources and time.  We know how to treat our supervisors, especially those that are newly discharged.  My veteran friends are some of the most respectful people I know, so much so that it sometimes humbles the people they interact with.  We know how to work as a team, because that was drilled into us from day one in MEPS.  You succeed together, or you fail together (sometimes this can be a bad thing, check this out right here).  Veterans understand safety, following instructions, policy, procedure.  We learn fast because we have to, and many of us are incredibly smart.  Just because you don’t know what an SQR-19 is, or have any clue what it means that someone has worked on the CIWS, doesn’t mean that we don’t have experience doing some very relevant jobs to the position we’re applying for.

Stop looking for the perfect resume, it doesn’t meant the person who wrote it is the perfect candidate.

i DESPISE group work…

So I’m taking a humanities class this semester, LAS-432: Technology, Society, and Culture. I was looking forward to it until I saw the syllabus: 80% of our grades are based on a team project. Great.

Now, it’s not that I hate people (I only hate most of them), or that I don’t want to work with others; it’s that I have a perfect GPA, I just received my Dean’s List letter, and I am hell-bent on wearing that cord and graduating Summa Cum Laude. I’ve never been on the honor role more than a couple of semesters in high school, and I want to know what it feels like to actually do well in school.

My problem is that my grades now depend on four other people, who have varying degrees of motivation, ability, and intelligence. I am not okay with the idea that my GPA is now in their hands. I know at least one of my teammates is okay with B’s, one B on my record, and I can’t graduate with highest honors. I am absolutely terrified.

Am I a perfectionist? Yes. Am I holding these people to my ridiculously high standards? Yes. Is that okay? No, not really. As unfair as it is that these people affect my grade, and everything I’ve been busting my ass for, it is equally unfair that my obsession with A’s is now being forced upon them. Some people aspire to mediocrity, and if that’s what they want, that’s their business. Far be it from me to ask that they give their very best to ensure I preserve my grade. I’m sure it would be much more fair if I were to lower my expectations for my entire degree, rather than insist they submit their best work for one eight-week semester.

The problem is that in these types of situations, unless you group people according to performance level, someone is going to lose, especially now that American’s are of the belief that everyone should go to college, regardless of whether or not they are actually capable of doing the work. Do you know why jobs that require high school degrees pay so low? It’s because nearly everyone has one. Do you know what will happen if everyone went to college? It’s not that all of those people will be able to raise their station in life and get better jobs, it’s that those jobs will go to whomever is willing to take the lowest salary, because college degrees will flood the market.

So now we have people in college that, frankly, have no business being there. I’m not picking on them, before I had to get out of the Navy, I didn’t plan to go to college, because I’d already tried it once and it was entirely too difficult for me at the time. I wasn’t going to go to college and get C’s and D’s. To me, that’s a massive waste of time on everyone’s part, and money on mine. I didn’t realize my problem was motivation, not intelligence. But the problem is that when people deficient in both decide they need to get a degree, and then get placed into a class that requires team work, and then put on my team, I get pissed off. I don’t like the idea that my college career is now in the hands of other people. People that won’t even respond productively to my e-mails.

I have now sent two e-mails this week (class started on Monday evening). One outlining our respective responsibilities, with a few suggestions for how to get the different parts done, and this last one about this week’s assignment, due before class next Monday. We each have to research separate areas of our topic and write a one-page paper with at least two references on our findings. So I sent the e-mail of the different areas, and asked who would like to do what.

Nothing.

Nothing but nothing, except for two responses about the first sentence of my e-mail, which was about how I couldn’t access the course shell online, but had saved copies of the syllabus on my hard drive. Guaranteed, my classmates think that they won’t have to do the assignment because a) they can’t access it, and b) we have to submit them in the shell, and if we don’t have access, we can’t do that either. What they don’t know is that I know better. This is a blended class, so we also meet on site. We can hand in paper copies, and there is absolutely no excuse not to get the work done. If we don’t, even if we don’t get points deducted, it only hurts us because our weekly assignments build off of each other!

So I will most likely be choosing my own topic, and writing my paper today, I’ll let them know which one I’m working on so that they don’t do double work (ha ha…) and I’ll e-mail a copy of my paper when it’s done. If I don’t hear from them by Saturday, I’ll be contacting the professor and expressing my concern.

Regardless, I will be writing the Dean of Studies and explaining, in painful detail, why classes like this only serve to cause unnecessary frustration to everyone involved. I understand the need to work together, but when you put my livelihood in someone else’s hands, they’d better deliver, or I’m coming for you…

too cool for school

So.

I start school at DeVry next week, and after going through the New Student Orientation, unfucking my online access to the various websites, downloading my textbooks, filling in my calendar with my class/study schedule, and readying my binders for class, it’s finally all tangible. I’m about to attend my fifth ( yes. Fifth.) and final college, and I will finally be getting my degree in Business Technical Management with a concentration in Human Resources. Whew! I can almost see the finish line! I can taste the victory as surely as if I had my diploma in hand! In a little over a year, I’ll be done, and hopefully it will mean I’ll actually get hired as a Training Specialist.

The Navy was tough, I wasn’t particularly suited to be a Sonar Tech, but I did it, and it was okay; but after I was placed on LIMDU and thrown into the fray of the Naval Base San Diego Emergency Operations Center, I found my calling.

I loved that job. Being a professional Training Petty Officer was awesome, I found out that I really enjoy teaching (and after my short stint as an after-school teacher following my discharge, I also learned that I only like teaching adults. Well, live and learn, right?) and I know that’s what I want to do for my next career; maybe not forever, since I’m only 26, but I really want to explore it more, and learning all this stuff about business and HR is really interesting to me.

That’s what you have to do. You have to find something that you’re really passionate about before you go to school, at least if you want to be successful. I was going to go to Roger Williams right out of high school for theatre and music, and while I had the passion, I lacked conviction, drive, and confidence, so I never even went. After that, I worked for a while and began taking classes for radiology, which seemed like a really cool major, but the classes I had to take in the beginning just made me want to die of boredom and crushing disinterest (don’t get me wrong, all majors require core coursework, and you have to do them to get the degree, but anatomy and physiology in integral to any degree in medicine, and I was totally turned off by it). Enter: The Navy. Little lost me enlists, still thinking that I wanted to go in the medical field ( I’m a slow learner) but was unable to join as a corpseman, and I tested high, so I got thrown into the technical rates to pick. After spending a year and a half in school, and almost five years at sea, I realized that perhaps this technical junk wasn’t for me either. Don’t get me wrong, I love computers and technology, I’m just not totally crazy about the manual labor involved in the hardware side. I like paperwork. I know, right? I actually like the soul-sucking, carpel-tunnel causing, boring-as-hell pencil-pusher work. I’ve always been weird, though.

My advice to anyone reading this is: try everything. Finding out what you don’t want to do is as important as figuring out what you do want to do. In fact, it’s a very important part of the process, and you just might find out a few things about yourself (like me with my total non-patience for tweens who’s parents enable them to be assholes to everyone). The journey to self-discovery is a long one, I don’t think I’ll ever reach the end, I’m pretty sure I’ll die before I figure it all out, but every new little nugget of information that I learn, I treasure, and it gets me just a little bit closer to figuring out what I really want, and what makes me happy (so far I’ve got: dogs, movies, music, reading, writing, craftables, cooking, and naps).

So go out and figure out who you are, it’s not easy, it’s not fast, but it sure as hell is pretty entertaining and fulfilling (maybe not at the time, I was totally frustrated and pissed when I was an STG and professional babysitter, but looking back, it’s pretty funny how vehemently I detested those jobs!) and remember: you can’t go wrong. Don’t worry about making a wrong choice so much, because when it comes to stuff like this, you can’t go wrong (now, if you’re contemplating becoming a professional hitman, I’d urge you to maybe rethink a few things, but if not, message me, because I have a list I’d like to send you…)

no, i didn’t drop off the face of the earth…

Wow. I haven’t written anything in a long time. I used to be able to just write, but now, I’m finding that I’m not reading as much either, so I threw myself into a new book. I was looking up “Practical Magic” on IMDB because I watched it yesterday, and learned it was based on a book. How did I never know that?? I have always loved that movie! So I downloaded it. I’m going to do a pre-finished-the-book-review and say: it’s okay. The story is better than the writing, and I think it’s going to be one of those that I actually like the movie better than the book. (And don’t tell me it’s because I saw the movie first! I saw “The Hunger Games” before I read the books, and I think the books are loads better!)

I miss writing. I haven’t been working on my story either, mostly because I’ve kind of hit a plot wall, maybe I’ll work on some other areas, this is the first time I’ve actually written an outline, so I have most of the story laid out, and I suppose the order in which I write them doesn’t matter… I could also start What Would You Do If I Pooped In Your Shoe? or The Jew That Saved Christmas, I did get a new app called “Inspire” that lets you paint some cool stuff, I actually did a primitive little drawing the other night:

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I think I could illustrate a children’s book with it, it would probably be easier on the iPad though, the bigger screen helps.

Oh! Speaking of the iPad, the whole reason Dave bought it for me – school – is nearly upon me. One more week and I start class, so I’ve started getting everything settled, all my accounts, I’ve been trying to get my dang books, but they’re not available yet, hopefully on Monday. Monday! Yes, I have an appointment with the VA on Monday to finish my enrollment in their healthcare system! Thank God I got my 60%, I was calling around trying to find a health insurance company that would cover me. Nope! None of them would. TriCare takes pre-existing conditions as well though, so at least when Dave and I finally take the plunge, I’ll have that option too. A friend of mine said the VA told him he couldn’t be seen until September for something… I’m not entirely sure what in the world he was trying to get seen for, but it couldn’t have been anything routine or life-threatening. I don’t know, sometimes I think people just don’t understand the process, and that ignorance gets them in trouble in a lot of places. I still want to start my “Fight Ignorance” movement, but I would prefer to have a few other people on my side before we go public. I just want people to think, please! The things that come out of some people’s mouths (or Facebooks) these days are just ridiculous. Buying into the propaganda, the rumors, the outright lies! I don’t pretend to be some beacon of amazing intelligence and flawlessness, I make my mistakes and get stuff wrong all the time (like the Affordable Healthcare Act, I totally thought that was going to be a terrible idea because I’m so against ObamaCare, but after I did some research, I realized its a good thing! The only people that are going to have a problem with it are the lazy people who just want to be lazy. The people that work and can’t afford healthcare right now will be happy, because now they can!) but some people raise being wrong to an art, they revel in arguing things that are totally untrue and then get angry and venomous when you call them out on it. I hate those people. I really can’t stand them. I say, do your research, get it from several sources, recognize that there are two sides to every argument, two opinions for every fact, and that not every resource is going to be unbiased. I like to be Devil’s Advocate, I prefer to use logic to see how both sides of an argument can be right, and then use my personal ethics and the values I have to make my own decision, but I’m never really firmly planted on one side or the other… Well, maybe in cases of animal abuse, I can get a little venomous about my little babies, here’s a new picture, by the way:

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They’re ridiculous 🙂

Anyway, I think it’s time to go engage in some productivity, maybe… Maybe I’ll just have a bagel… And a glass of sangria… And watch “Practical Magic” again…