Saving America While Playing Video Games

It’s hard to save the world. So let’s start with saving America. It’s hard to save, too, of course, but I have a plan. Now, if you’re a regular patron of Buffet o’ Blog, you might think this will be silly randomness, but there is an actual actionable plan here layered amongst the randomness. That may seem to not go together, but part of the reason most people don’t save the world is because it is so difficult and it’s hard to think of something you can do that will make a difference. It may seem like there’s not any easy solutions, because most of the “low hanging fruit” of ideas have already been thought of. That’s where thinking outside the box (AKA randomness) helps. But that’s enough intro — let’s get to the meat and potatoes (and gravy — don’t forget the gravy!).

The United States of America is slowly running out of potable water. (Here, potable means safe to drink.) Here’s a link to read about how serious that is and what it all means: Why is America running out of water? Long story short (or TL;DR in modern parlance), it means if we don’t start conserving clean water, we will have major shortages of drinking water. The current filtering process at sewage treatment plants is slow and costly and ineffective. The last part is critical, because current “real-time” filtering methods cannot remove many chemicals like caffeine and medications. We can’t have random medications and drugs in our drinking water — that would get bad quick. You may be wondering about the natural way of filtering water — nature. Of course it is great, but it takes time, and the problem is that America is using water faster than it’s being replenished by nature (and droughts out west hurt this, too). If we the people don’t find a solution on our own, the government will have to force people to conserve water. (We’re already seeing this in Nevada, where lawns in some places are being banned. And the government just announced a deal to get Arizona, California, and Nevada to conserve large amounts of water in exchange for $1.2 billion.)

That’s a lot of seriousness above, probably more than is allowed in a post here, but I want you to know this is a serious problem affecting our country that is on a path to get much worse. So how can we do anything about that by playing video games? The answer has to do with America’s #1 crop. Can you guess the plan yet? It’s not about farming. The number one crop in America is lawns. Millions of people grow lawns. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But it is a luxury — that is, it’s nonessential. Now, I’m not suggesting we get rid of our lawns. I enjoy playing in my yard with my kids. But here’s the angle on it — how green does it need to be? And to tie this with the problem above (don’t forget about the upcoming water shortage), how often do you need to water your yard?

Here’s an article explaining the cost of keeping your yard really green using water and fertilizer. Summary: “grass lawns consume nearly 3 trillion gallons of water a year, 200 million gallons of gas (for all that mowing), and 70 million pounds of pesticides.” Those are some big numbers! You may be tempted to think, “What difference does it make if one person changes their lifestyle?” Well, those big numbers are the total of adding up what each individual person does. We have to start somewhere, and if each person in America conserved merely one gallon per day, it would add up to over 121 billion gallons of water in a year. That would make a huge difference! But if we choose to think it’s not our problem, then the next generation — our children — will have a serious problem to deal with.

I’m not suggesting we let our yards die, but they don’t need to be watered every day or every other day or while it’s raining (which I’ve seen). By watering less often (or not at all), we save billions of gallons of clean water each summer. (On a related note, there is now a push even among lawn designers to leave more weeds because they have an environmental purpose.)

Now what do video games have to do with this? Well, if we water less (or not at all), our yard will grow slower. That’s basic science there. Last year I followed my own advice, and I didn’t even turn on the automatic sprinklers. My front yard didn’t stay as green as my neighbors’ yards during the hot parts of the summer when we don’t get much rain. It certainly didn’t look like a golf course, all well-manicured and dark green. And that’s okay. I didn’t have to mow as often, which was nice. And I was conserving water (and gasoline, too).

Wait, I still didn’t get to the video games! I won’t forget! By mowing less often, that frees up several evenings during the summer. So what will you do with that new free time? Playing video games sounds like fun! Of course, you could use that free time to do other chores, but here’s the problem with that mindset. 1) American adults are typically overworked and stressed already, and video games help with that. 2) If I suggested you could help save America by doing other household chores, you might not be interested in that. Do you really want to save America by cleaning your baseboards more often? Probably not for most people. The key is to make it fun, something people want to do! Would you play more video games if it helped save our great country? You don’t have to be a super zealous patriot to realize that’s a good deal.

So who is with me on this?

Fox News apology mashup

Here’s a funny (to me) video about current political events. If you want to skip this post, I understand. Also, there’s a serious intro to give it context (since a certain news site is ignoring it).

If you haven’t heard, Fox News just settled with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million. That’s a lot of money! It’s because Fox News intentionally misled their viewers, claiming there was voting fraud in the 2020 election and that Dominion’s machines were corrupt. There’s no proof of fraud, but there’s plenty of proof from inside recordings that Fox News knew the election fraud story was fraudulent, yet they pushed it anyway*. Fox News didn’t want the court case to proceed, with their top TV entertainers** possibly having to testify, so they settled.

An unfortunate part of this settlement is that Fox News didn’t have to admit to its viewers that they misled them. So no official apology, and thus people that only watch Fox News may continue to be misled by propaganda. In response to this, Stephen Colbert made a compilation of Fox News TV personalities admitting to what they did. This is funny (FYI, this clip starts right before the mashup):

For the record, I’m not necessarily against Fox News — just against lying and propaganda. They’re doing much harm to the country by continuing to promote the big lie of voter fraud when there’s been no evidence. I realize Donald Trump still says there is “massive evidence”, but it’s way beyond time to put up or shut up. He had 60+ court cases where no actual evidence was presented. (Some of those were actually humorous, if you read the pre-trial discussions between the judges and lawyers. Should I write on those?)

* Apparently “Fair & Balanced” means “We’re all for Trump, and everything bad is Biden’s fault”.

** In a previous defamation lawsuit, Fox News said their TV news hosts are entertainers, not to be taken seriously. The actual wording, from Fox News lawyers about Tucker Carlson: “cannot be understood to have been stating facts, but instead that he was delivering an opinion using hyperbole for effect”, and the judge agreed, saying, “Given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statements he makes.” There’s a previous defamation lawsuit where the Fox News laywers claimed that the TV hosts are entertainers and thus not to be held to the standard of speaking truth. That’s a lame cop-out, and I’m surprised it worked, because “Fox News” is the name of the channel, and it’s displayed on the screen most of the time, so they are marketing themselves as news. Can they just adopt a new identity as it suits them, regardless of who they are? I figured they were against such things…

Sorry about all the seriousness here — I know some of you come here for randomness. I wasn’t going to write on the lawsuit, but found that video clip funny.

If I may close with a quick public service announcement: Get your news from multiple sources, and not all that are only conservative or liberal. Actual news is facts. Any news source that tells you who is to blame or who to be mad at is pushing an agenda.

Now I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled randomness…

a cluttered house is now cool

This post may be unusual for the type of content usually shared here, but that just makes it random, which kinda makes it fit. 🙂 Ultimately it’s about enjoying life more, which does fit.

Marie Kondo, of decluttering fame, now has 3 kids, and guess what — her house is now messy. Who could have predicted this? People with young kids understand! You can spend hours cleaning and decluttering, and kids can make it look like tornado came through in 30 minutes or less.

Before children, it’s not that hard to maintain a decluttered home. I mean, it still takes considerable work, but it’s possible. Once you have kids, the dynamic changes. And Marie Kondo learned some things:

1) Kids take up a LOT of your time (as they should).
2) Cleaning takes 10x more time. No, the math doesn’t add up, but some messes cause a disproportionate amount of cleanup, like spilled milk, or those “How did poop get here?” experiences. And just collecting the dirty laundry becomes a scavenger hunt. (The other day we found 7 socks with no match and spent way more time than you would expect looking for a single match.)
3) Keeping your house looking like those in a magazine or TV show becomes less important (as it should).

It’s funny when you have kids and you visit someone who doesn’t have kids, and they say, “Excuse the mess” when you arrive, but you don’t see a mess. 🙂

It’s easy to laugh about how Marie Kondo’s bestselling book was titled, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, and her motto on her Netflix series was “Tidy house, tidy mind”, and I’m joking about it now, but it shows how priorities change when you have children. One of her iconic phrases was about filling your home with items that “spark joy”, and it’s good to be organized. (I’m not putting that down — most of us could probably do better with that.) Now she has realized, “Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times. I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me. Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home. … My home is messy, but the way I am spending my time is the right way for me at this time at this stage of my life.” Good for her!

She now focuses on the Japanese concept of kurashi, which loosely translates as “way of life” or “the ideal way of spending our time”, which now is more about decluttering what’s filling up your time rather than what’s filling up your closet. On her website it says, “The true purpose of tidying is not to cut down on your possessions or declutter your space. The ultimate goal is to spark joy every day and lead a joyful life.” I can relate to that. Life tends to be “too busy” and cluttered, with not enough time to do what’s most important. I push back on the busyness and from trying to keep a perfectly-maintained house (which is near-impossible with kids unless you neglect the kids). Life is too short to get caught up in worrying about what someone else might think. If you see my home, it’ll look like busy people with young kids live there. To me, that’s authentic. (I’m not against picking up when company visits, of course, but is it authentic to present an unrealistic lifestyle?) If they judge me for my house not looking like a house in a magazine photo, that’s on them. I don’t have to lose my peace over their judgmental attitude.

Oh, sorry — I started to rant there. One last thing from the article: Marie Kondo now makes it a point to drink tea three times a day and prioritize spending plenty of time with her kids. Sounds like a plan! Now please excuse me, I must go drink some sweet tea. 🙂

P.S. Apparently the idea of having your house somewhat cluttered has actually become popular and trendy, being called “cluttercore”. (I was unaware of this movement. However, this obviously means that I am trendy, perhaps even a trendsetter because I was living in a cluttered house before cluttered was cool.) 🙂

improving Trump’s NFT digital trading cards

Before the randomness, here’s the backstory in case you hadn’t heard about it (which is somewhat random on its own).

Recently former President Donald Trump teased a “MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT” coming up, so some people wondered if he was creating his own political party or announcing his Vice-President. Well, apparently “MAJOR” has different meanings for some people. His big news was that he’s selling digital trading cards (NFTs) of himself in Photoshopped images for $99 each.

What’s funny about it is how the video commercial was done, and how crazy the cards are (in that they don’t represent his actual life at all). See for yourself: Collect Trump Cards. He tries to make a couple of self-deprecating comments, but you know it’s not sincere because he immediately says he’s better than Lincoln and Washington. You can win a chance for dinner with him. It might be eating hamburgers at McDonald’s. 🙂 Watching the video, I wonder if Trump refused to do any reshoots of his presentation or if all the other takes were somehow worse. 🙂

He says in the video that these make “a great Christmas gift”. What follows is just my advice, so do whatever you want with it, but I’d recommend to NOT give one of these to anybody even if they’re a big Trump fan. They are NFTs, which mean they exist in the “cloud” (or, rather, blockchain). Basically, you’re getting a picture that is stored on someone else’s computer. And despite the hype around NFTs, I do not think they are a good investment. (Although standard disclaimers apply with any investing advice. I’m not a professional investing agent, but I will not be buying these. However, while I don’t recommend buying NFTs for investment, I wouldn’t be against selling them if someone wants to give me $99 for a picture I made on my computer. It’s a good deal for the person selling them, but not for most people buying them.) Instead of a Christmas gift, this is a Christmas grift. He’s just after your money.

Supposedly there were 45,000 copies generated, and they are now sold out. That’s sad, that that many people gave him money for not much in return. Also, regarding “value”, each time you sell one, “there will be a 10% royalty on the sale price that will be paid back to the creator”.

Okay, let’s get back on track here (meaning randomness). The reality is sad, and while it was supposed to be “MAJOR”, it was lame. So let’s take it up a notch! Someone needs to create some real trading cards (and not NFTs) that depict the more hilarious parts of Trump’s lifestyle. (Remember that these cards were supposed to be showing “really incredible artwork pertaining to my life and my career”, but, none of them do, except maybe the golf one.) So here’s some ideas:

  • Trump with the buffet of cheeseburgers at a White House dinner
  • Trump flushing documents down the toilet
  • Rudy Giuliani’s press conference at The Four Seasons Total Landscaping
  • Trump saluting a North Korean general
  • Covfefe
  • Trump redrawing a hurricane’s path with a Sharpie
  • Trump saying his tax returns are big and beautiful, and they will be released in two weeks
  • Trump saying he exchanged “beautiful letters” with North Korea’s leader and they “fell in love”
  • Trump saying he will release the “irrefutable evidence” of voter fraud in two days (which he never did)
  • Trump losing the 2020 election by over 7 million votes
  • Trump selling NFT cards

I glanced on eBay and there are a number of Trump parody cards for sale, including several Garbage Pail Kids variations. A search, if you want to see for yourself: Donald Trump parody cards.

Update: I wrote the above a while back, and now some guys have made “Honest Trump Cards”, showing him in front of a small piece of border wall that was built, and Trump mocking a disabled man, Trump pouting from losing the 2020 election, Trump behind jail bars, Trump with burgers and fries, etc. You can see them here: Honest Trump Cards NFTs. Some of them are silly, which fits with the theme, but my favorite is him in front of a partial border wall. He made such a big deal of building a wall (which is not a bad idea), how he was the businessman to get it done and make Mexico pay for it, yet it was an epic fail. It fits in with his career resume, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.