Originally published on Crossing Zebras

As is tradition, a few weeks back the brother and I took the middle grandchild to the 2018 Utah International Auto Expo. He’s six now and more car preoccupied than ever. At the same time, the brother and I are fond of motorized vehicles meaning a sizable car show is well-nigh guaranteed enjoyment for all. This year the show included a “Kids Test Track” and we intentionally toured the expo in a manner that would take us by that track early on so the grandkid could work out his overexcitement yah yahs. The track consisted of a two lane carpet oval stocked with half a dozen battery powered Fisher Price Power Wheels:

The first time out the grandchild hopped in a Jeep (not pictured) and much like the other kids, spent the first couple of minutes figuring out how to operate the vehicle. For reasons I’m not aware of, nearly all the children failed to understand that steering requires constant adjustment. Accordingly, when they wanted to turn they’d simply twist the steering wheel all the way to left lock and abandon it there leaving themselves to spin confusedly in a tight counterclockwise circle only to eventually overcorrect by twisting the steering wheel all the way to right lock and then spin confusedly in a tight clockwise circle. Meanwhile parents and older siblings were barking encouragement, “Turn! Turn! No the other way! Stop! Don’t hit her! Watch out!” I didn’t bark. Mostly I just giggled.

Eventually the kids figured out steering and began orbiting the test track the most conscientious group of drivers you ever saw. When the ride was done our specific grandkid took great pride in not colliding with anyone which I found interesting because I’ve ridden in bumper cars with him in control and he’s a walloping maniac in those.

With the grandkid’s yah yahs worked out, we proceeded to tour the car show with the promise that when we got back to the Kid’s Test Track he’d get to drive again. In the meantime he was in six year old car obsessed heaven being allowed in and out of full size vehicle driver seats at will, having us crack open hoods upon request so he could examine engines pointing out various parts (“Battery!”, “Air cleaner!”, “Radiator!”) and climbing in to truck beds to get a good feel for their size. At one point he even requested we close him in a trunk to see if the emergency release functioned as advertised. I’m happy to report that not only did the emergency release function, it glowed in the dark which struck him damn spiffy.

Several hours later, when we got back to the Kid’s Test Track he had grown into a self-declared motorized vehicle expert and it showed. He didn’t choose a Jeep the second time, he chose a 5.0 Liter Mustang (stock picture above) because “muscle cars are faster” and this time out he wasn’t conscientious. This time out he was hell bent on getting out front and staying there. Though all Fisher Price Power Wheels top out at the same 5 miles/hr, our particular grandkid was approaching turns from the outside lane to flatten out the corner in hopes of hitting that ever elusive optimum apex line. He was also drafting the vehicles in front of him with hopes of setting up slingshot passes and kerb-hopping underneath them when that didn’t work. When things got really desperate he’d slip in beside a car and then drift wide forcing the other driver right off the track.

The track operators didn’t care for this behavior and convinced he was doing such things on purpose (which he most assuredly was), they scowled at him severely. Much like earlier when I didn’t bark, I didn’t scowl either. Mostly I was just puzzled about where he’d picked up such behavior. It certainly wasn’t from the car show (all those vehicles were parked) nor was it from bumper cars (his favorite activity being head-on collisions which he studiously avoided here). Then it occurred to me… Kindle Race Car Video Games.

“Praxis” is a fancy word for customary practice or conduct. While I’m confident that 10 years from now when the grandkid is testing for his real life driver’s license he’ll understand there’s substantial difference between Kindle Video Games and real life motorized vehicles, I couldn’t help but note that at 6 years old he was transferring Video Game Praxis to the Kids Test Track.

elevator trolling

The hands behind the Dire manage condominiums for a living and in high-rise buildings I’ve discovered the best place to post important notices is in the elevator since nearly everyone takes the elevator daily. Over the last few years I’ve begun to see a puzzling new set of behaviors. I’ll post a notice only to return the next day to see numerous notes scrawled on it: complaints, comments, requests, criticism and support all orderly listed out in different handwriting underneath the initial announcement. While I’m merely posting community wide notices, residents are treating those notices like Reddit posts and commenting up a storm because that’s what one does on Reddit. That’s Reddit praxis.

Sadly, you’ve seen Reddit:

rage, Rage, RAGE! Troll. Innocent takes the troll bait. rage, Rage, RAGE!

::sigh:: I myself never partake in elevator notification commenting. Elevators are not Reddit. Instead, I just pull the notices down and put up new, clean versions. Interestingly, I don’t think the participants (including the trolls) realize they are vandalizing a notice. They’re used to commenting below text. That’s customary practice these days. It’s modern praxis. Surely what’s true of Reddit is true of the rest of the world.

precious tears

A few years back I was an enthusiastic highsec suicide ganker. Though there’s ISK to be made in suicide ganking and I occasionally came out ISK positive, mostly I was just there to mine salt. If a target placed a bounty on me I giggled. If a target tried to sell their kill right against me I cackled. If a target sent me a huffy EVEmail I’d forward it to my space criminal buddies for their viewing pleasure. Spectacularly ragey communications would make their way to our blog. Interestingly, the biggest ragers tended to follow a predictable pattern: “Look, though the rules enable highsec suicide ganking, I retain the moral high ground and you and yours are little but deplorable real life sociopaths. You’re the reason I won’t attend Fanfest. If I saw you there I’m unsure I could contain myself. You’re lucky I’m a reasonable person.” Oh the precious tears.

In the condominium management business we have the three “Ps” – Pools, Parking and Pets. If a rancorous dispute is going to bust out it’s very probably going to orbit around one of those “Ps”. While I’ve never managed a set of condominiums with a pool, I recently had to officiate a demand that an Association terminate my management contract for insufficient parking enforcement. Interestingly, the complainer wasn’t even affected by the parking rules offender. Rather, he simply saw a fellow resident consistently abusing dedicated guest slots and went ballistic.

A few years back around the same time I was suicide ganking in EVE I was contracted by a small Association to manage their property and, hopefully, settle a long running pet dispute. Even though Association’s rules and regulations forbade pets, one of the residents obstinately kept a couple of cats. Interestingly, the owner of the unit lived out of state. It was her tenant that had the forbidden cats and for reasons I’m unaware of, the out of state owner decided to go to bat for her tenant and was threating to sue the Association about its no pets rule.

Once hired on I approached the Association’s Management Committee explaining that, “Over several years of condominium management I’ve never received a nuisance complaint about cats. Unlike dogs, cats are not noisy, barking poop machines. Just change your rules and regulations to allow cats, continue to forbid dogs, no complaints will develop and this whole fiasco disappears.”

Sadly, the Management Committee would have none of that. “It’s a matter of principle,” they proclaimed meaning I, being their property manager, was left to inform the out of state owner that following Management Committee review, cats would remain forbidden and if your tenant doesn’t remove his cats promptly, you, the owner of the unit, will be fined for your tenant’s rules violations.

“Fine,” the owner responded, “I’m suing you guys!”

“Fine,” the Management Committee replied, “You go right ahead!”

At this point the dispute was forwarded to the Association’s newly hired attorney who patiently listened to the raging owner then wrote her a letter explaining the Management Committee’s solid legal foundation. While neither the Attorney nor I thought the Management Committee was being sensible, and both of us pointed out they had the power to no fuss disentangle the situation, the Management Committee had the law on their side and could remain strident if they wished.

Seeing her bluff called, the raging owner finally backed down writing me a lengthy letter stating, “Look, I know the Association’s Covenants, Codes and Restrictions empower the Management Committee to implement Rules and Regulations and I’m aware that those long standing Rules forbid pets but you need to recognize my tenant and I retain the moral high ground regardless of what the CC&Rs enable while your beloved Management Committee are little but deplorable sociopaths. They’re the reason I won’t attend the annual meeting. If I saw either you or them there I’m unsure I could contain myself. You’re lucky I’m a reasonable person.”

I, of course, had read such language many times before. It’s the language of the bereaved suicide ganked target. Being the only person aware that the raging owner was backing down, it fell to me to inform the Management Committee that they had won so I sat down to compose an email to them but… emails being similar to EVEmails, I unthinkingly fell into my DireNecessity persona and began typing a document overflowing with smug.

About the time I typed “precious tears” (and I kid you not, I typed that), I realized that what I was writing was not Property Manager proper, “precious tears” was not appropriate professional language, and if *this* email got sent I’d very possibly (and appropriately) get my management contract terminated. Accordingly, I cautiously pressed the delete button, wrote a new entirely neutral just the facts email, sent *that* neutral email and called it a day. Still, late that night I awoke in a sweat to a nightmare that I’d screwed up and pressed the send button rather than the delete button.

This, dear reader, is how EVE gets dangerous. It’s not that highsec suicide ganking will turn you into a real life criminal lobbing grenades at Toyota Tacomas. We all know the difference between space pixels and real life. Rather, it’s that if you spend a lot of time writing like a smug, sociopathic suicide ganker that particular style of writing just may leak into inappropriate areas.

It’s not that raging on Reddit will turn you into a REEEEEEE-screaming, real-life, malcontent, but rather that if most of your writing is ragey, you’ll find it difficult to write non-ragey letters. It’s not that you’ll take to vandalizing street signs but rather that you’ll unthinkingly write trolling comments on elevator notices. It’s not that Kindle Video Games will tempt you into forcing other motorized vehicles off the real life road but rather that if you happen to hop onto the Kids Test Track you might turn into a hyper competitive belligerent because, well, that how games are played.

Praxis can be difficult to shake.

EVE can be a dangerous game.