The Five Stages of Grief from a real person's perspective

It’s important to know that I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice. This is based on my own experiences and opinions. I have a degree in English and I repair computers for a living. My favorite way to pass the time is playing video games, and frankly, I even sucked at Dr. Mario. But Thursday’s are my day to write whatever I’m feeling, and today, it’s about grieving.

Update: A little personal perspective on this. I originally wrote this in February 2013. A friend of mine had a sister killed in an accident, and I can now clearly look back and realize that I wasn’t just responding to that, but also preparing myself for my mother’s passing, which would happen in August. Her cancer had returned, aggressively. I’ve attended more than a dozen funerals in my less-than-thirty-years on this planet, and missed a few more – I’ve lost many friends and relatives to everything from car accidents, accidents in the home, natural causes, cancers, suicides – you name it. None was as hard as my own mom’s. Writing can be a coping mechanism, don’t be afraid to journal, or talk with friends, or find a legitimate support group of strangers. If it helps you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of it. Back to the original article, below.

Therapists will talk about the five stages of acceptance, or the five stages of grief. A friend of mine… I suppose some would just say an acquaintance, but nevertheless – this person is going through a personal loss. I don’t care how close I’ve ever been to someone, when an event like this transpires, you need to grieve. And if I can help in some way, even if you need someone to scream at and punch in the face? Well then, hey, I’m glad I could help.

Known formally as the Kübler-Ross model, the five stages of grief are the emotional journey that people go through, typically, after a loss in their life. When I was only about twenty, I had several reasons to grieve as several events in my life took place. It was the end of my first long term relationship – sure I’m a guy, but I’m a softie. I had to work through it the same as most people, whether they admit it or not. Then a friend of mine had committed suicide. There was a great deal of anguish and even though we had a good support system of friends at the time, the questions of why? or what could I have done? never go away. Shortly after that my Grandfather died. Then an acquaintance I may not have been too close with, but had known for many, many years passed away. More recently an extremely close friend of mine lost his mother unexpectedly and I attended her funeral as well. There have been others. I’ve not reached the age of thirty, yet, and I feel like I know the inside of my hometown funeral home all too well.

It starts with Denial. First you feel like the news you’re hearing can’t be right. Maybe it’s a joke in poor taste. Maybe someone made a mistake, and they’re talking about someone different. It can’t be real, you were just talking to that person yesterday.

Anger starts to set in. You’re filled with rage that this person isn’t around anymore. You’re mad that the whole world hasn’t stopped to notice. You’re irate at the fact that this person had to do something so greedy as to go and leave you. Again, whether this is an emotional break up, or a truly having to stare mortality in the face, all you know is you’re pissed that they aren’t there.

Bargaining plays a role – for me, personally, this phase seems to have never lasted very long. But I have known others who couldn’t get out of this phase for years. You would give up anything to have them back. You say to yourself that it should’ve been you. In the case of death, you often have a list of reasons why your life means less than theirs, and how they had so much more promise, and how the world needs them more than it needs you. This is one of the darkest phases, and often leads directly in to the next stage of grief.

Depression. An absolutely normal and expected reaction. You need time to heal. You want to be left alone with your thoughts… the dark thoughts that you have while you bargain with unseen forces. Depressing realizations that this person is never going to walk through that door again. You won’t hear their voice. You won’t see their smile anywhere but in old photographs. But it’s through this depression that you have these realizations, and move on to the final stage of grief.

Acceptance. You don’t feel much better than when you began this rollercoaster. Coming out of a deep depression you may even feel worse. But you eventually come to terms with those things you realized in your depressing state. This is the new world you live in. Minus one. It hurts, and it damn well should. No part of this says it’s going to be easy, and everything will turn back to normal. This is the new normal for you. And you move forward, slowly, at first, but hopefully with the support of your friends, or family, you move on. Moving on, it’s important to remember, does not mean forgetting. It is acceptance of the new fact that is.

Again, I’m not a medical expert — I’m not qualified to be talking about this in the least… but it’s an important process to know and understand. It’s also important to not feel like you’re going to be a burden on your support group. Your friends are there to listen. Some will understand better than others, some have had to deal with loss in their lives, but almost all of them should be willing to listen. Some may have occasion to get angry with you, telling you that you’ve been grieving for too long. As I mentioned, everyone heals at their own pace, BUT, don’t be too quick to dismiss someone and say that they just don’t understand. You may be at a point where you should consult professional counseling. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. Don’t be. There are people out there going through exactly the same thing you are, you’re not the first person to have a hard time accepting a devastating loss, people out there can help you.

Everybody moves through these stages at their own pace, and sometimes they should seek counseling if they can’t seem to move past a phase… but never be in a hurry to heal. It will come. None of the phases can be a predictable length, each phase could take days, weeks, months, or years.

Live Radio from anywhere, on your phone

I’m not even going to say I’m late to this party, but I had to talk about one particular app this week. I’ve fallen further in love with iHeartRadio. In particular? I love it on my Windows Phone. With Windows Phone 7.8, I can shrink individual tiles. With iHeartRadio for Windows Phone, I can make individual radio stations their own tiles. I can have my favorite morning show from Harrisburg, PA just one tap away, even though I live in Rochester, NY. It’s not that iHeartRadio is anything new, but it’s so convenient to be able to listen from anywhere, and at a quick tap. Sports talk radio from Rochester, some local radio from back in Erie, PA, and “everything that rocks” out of Harrisburg, where I lived for only about a year.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, so just go get the app. It’s convenient, what are you waiting for? I resisted, for a while, because most radio stations have their own streams on their own websites. But partnering with iHeartRadio saves them the bandwidth costs, and you can listen to live radio, no matter where you go. Check out the site, at iHeart.com.

Several free programs for ripping and burning movies and CDs

As many of you know, I’ve Gone Legal with my digital content. But some things aren’t easily attainable. Say, for instance, you wanted the entire series of Space Above and Beyond – it’s just not out there digitally, not that I’ve found anyway. But you can rip your own! So today I’m just going to provide you a few names of programs that I’ve used in the past. You’ll have to figure out how to use them. But the good news is, most of them make it fairly simple, and in the coming weeks I may post a guide or two for some of them. But today? Just the need-to-know information.

Before we begin: KNOW YOUR TERMINOLOGY. To rip something is to make digital copy from the source media. i.e. making a DivX/Xvid AVI file from a DVD, or an MP3 from a CD. If you want to simply make a copy, or duplicate a DVD or a CD, you typically do not need to rip the contents first.

Decrypting a DVD / splitting up episodes of a TV series: DVD Shrink (I don’t know if the current program at DVDShrink.org is affiliated with this classic, so I still grab the freeware edition from Afterdawn).

Ripping a DVD Movie to an AVI file: Once the decrypted files are on your drive, point AutoGK to them, specify an output file size, and let AutoGK or Auto Gordian Knot do the rest. Geek info: from my days on the download scene, I can tell you that “the people on the internet” have worked around the limitations of their media and come up with, basically, standards, for ripping your content. Target file size of an average ~90 minute movie should be between 700MB and 1.5GB, depending on the desired quality. An average 30 minute episode of a TV show is around 175MB (4:3). This of course increases slightly for “widescreen” 16:9 TV shows. These are rules of thumb, not hard and fast rules – play around to find what quality works best for you.

One click DVD & BluRay ripping to MKV file: Handbrake gets a lot of talk around the web. I didn’t like it in the past, but I recently gave it another shot and like it more than I used to. It takes a lot of the work out of the combination of programs above, like using DVD Shrink then AutoGK. Rumors are Handbrake works with BluRay, though I haven’t tried it, yet, myself. I plan to give it a shot in the very near future.

Convert an AVI to a DVD ISO: If you have a movie you ripped, and you want to burn it as a playable DVD, you’ll need to start with AVI2DVD.

Burn any ISO to a DVD: once you have an ISO file, you’ll need to burn it to a disc. Whether it’s a CD, DVD, VCD, whatever, let IMGBurn take the guess work out and burn the DVD for you. Quick, simple, free. It’s one of the first applications I install on any new computer.

Rip MP3s from a CD: Yeah, iTunes made it popular, but CDex was there first… and it’s still a go-to, for me, because it has all of the features I need, and allows for much more customization.

Burn MP3s to a Music CD: InfraRecorder can do that for you. It can also burn an ISO, make a VCD, or just clone from disc-to-disc.

Decrypt a BluRay movie: The only paid-app on my list is one that has been working hard for years. While I do like their entire suite of software, you can get by using most of the freeware I’ve listed above. But the one tool you need is AnyDVD HD. I don’t know how they make their software, but there are frequent updates, and they keep it legal by keeping it out of the US. It’s a questionable product by some people’s standards of legality, but a must if you’re ripping your own content, and well worth the investment, as it does seem that SlySoft is going to be around for a while, still.

2008 – Wristcutters – A Love Story

A few years ago, longer now than I had even realized, I saw a small indie film. Then one day, at a friend’s house, we were flipping through the guide on his cable box, looking for something to watch ‘on demand’ – and there it was: Wristcutters – A Love Story.

I told him to press play. By the end, I remembered why I loved that movie, and my friend had a new favorite that he was going to add to his collection as well. Wristcutters is a movie about the afterlife. An afterlife where you can’t smile, even if you want to, where everything is a constant dull, blue tint. A purgatory, of sorts, where you still have to find a job, pay rent, and if you think that you’re in the wrong place, you need to bring it up with the People In Charge. Unfortunately for all involved, the “PIC” is an endless bureaucracy. So you deal with life, as it is. Eternally. At least, you’re supposed to.

The protagonist of the movie hears a rumor that somebody he knew when he was alive may be a new arrival. On his journey, he meets someone who wants to take their case to the “People In Charge” and find a way out. A cast of interesting characters, events, and a beautifully entertaining story all unfold through a story told in a unique setting and perspective. Interesting discussions of what the afterlife might be like often evolve after viewing this movie in the right company. Enjoy Wristcutters – A Love Story.

Xbox Live's "Ultimate Game Sale" starts this week

This week’s Xbox Tip of the Week isn’t your average tip – it’s a limited time deal. Xbox Live’s Major Nelson announced that several Games on Demand (full versions of retail Xbox 360 games, available for download via Xbox Live) will be on sale. The down side? We don’t yet know what the prices are going to be like. Everyone is hoping for something jaw dropping, but some people are already expecting to be able to find better deals in the Sunday paper. So right now it’s a wait and see, but the list of games is so long, we’re bound to get a few good deals!

From Major Nelson’s blog (linked above), here are some of the titles you can expect to see on sale:

Assassins Creed
Assassins Creed 2
Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham city
Bioshock
Borderlands
Borderlands 2
Brotherhood (Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood)
Call of Juarez
Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Code Veronica
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements
Dead Island
Dirt 2
Dishonored
El Shaddai Ascension of the Metatron
Fable III
Fallout 3
Fallout 3 New Vegas
GRID
Halo 3
Halo 4
Halo Reach
Halo Wars
Kane & Lynch Dead Men
Left for Dead 2
Max Payne 3
Metal Gear Solid HD
Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker
Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat vs. DCU
Orange Box
Portal 2
Raccoon City
Rainbow Six Vegas
Rayman Raving Rabbids
Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 6
Red Dead Redemption
Revelations (Assassin’s Creed Revelations)
Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution
Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter X Tekken
Super Streetfighter IV Arcade Edition
TC’s H.A.W.X.
Tekken 6
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
The Darkness
The King of Fighters XIII
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
Tomb Raider Legend
Virtua Fighter 5
World at War (Call of Duty: World at War)

*Content availability and pricing may vary by region

Although I haven’t seen it confirmed, yet, I do believe the deals will be limited to current Xbox Live members with active Gold subscriptions. Hence the picture above, from 2008.

I'm already excited to hack a Playstation 4

I know, I know, I’m a Microsoft fanboy. Let’s get it out of the way, because you’re not going to like what i have to say about Sony’s PS4 announcement. Everything described in the press event are things either the PS3 or the Xbox 360 could potentially already do. Now, it’s true that some of those features might work better with the additional memory and processing power of the PlaySTation 4, but streaming a few games from a Gaikai service? Streaming games from the console to the handheld device? Okay… just release a new XMB, not a new console. The ability to share your video from your console? Thanks, I played Halo 3. I’m always excited for a new Killzone game, but the graphics didn’t knock my socks off (for the record, I’m not expecting much for first gen games on the Xbox 365, either). The scale of the world in the Killzone Shadow Fall world was quite impressive, but, again, not jaw dropping.

Capcom’s Deep Down was probably the best looking title, at least as far as gameplay was concerned, but I would expect nothing less from such a veteran of the industry. Of course, we saw Activision and Bungie give another glimpse of Destiny. They showed a few other good looking games, and brought up someone else to talk about emotion. He thinks that more polygons will lead to more believable characters. Evidently, somebody skipped Heavenly Sword, which already featured amazing character graphics made believable with motion capture and fantastic voice acting. But I still didn’t care for the characters as much as the developers hoped, I’m sure. It took a long time for me to care about a character.

No, I’m not all that excited for the PS4. But what I am excited for? Is hacking one. During last night’s announcement, Sony unveiled that the console is going to feature an x86 CPU. In my book, that means it won’t take long before two things happen: 1st: people figure out how to extract the system image and boot it on dis-similar hardware… for instance, even faster and stronger desktop computers. And second – once you have the first part accomplished, you could potentially virtualize the operating system. Imagine booting up your Mac or PC, then just loading up VMWare Player, and booting your Virtual PS4 on your computer. Now, I agree, if the Playstation 4 is going to have 8GB of GDDR5 memory, then your virtual machine would suffer because your desktop computer won’t have that level of memory – even if you have more than 8GB, your system RAM isn’t likely going to be quite as fast. But desktops are only going to get more powerful. And even though Sony had to cut the “10 year lifespan” of the PlayStation 3 short, the PS4 will be around for a while, and all that while, your average home computer will only increase in their specifications, meaning eventually there will be a PC that should be able to “hold the PS4 inside of it” – so to speak.

Speaking of the specs of the system: we still don’t know what the system looks like. It’s obvious they’re saving the final designs to be unveiled at E3. The last slide of the presentation, captured above, indicates that the console will be available “holiday 2013.” I’m excited for the potential of the hardware of the Playstation 4, and we all know it’s early so the games are going to look better and better as developers work with the console. Mostly, I’m excited for hackers to get their hands on these and do what they do best!

Webstats are a living, breathing thing


Like this, but in reverse

I’m certainly not to start a blog about “SEO” or Search Engine Optimization, but I did want to point out that I learned a lesson recently. My website has been growing and growing for over a year. Then, here in February, I let nearly two weeks pass without adding an update to the website. My page visits are plummeting.

Search engines Google and Bing will lower your rank if your website isn’t active. If you aren’t adding new content, if you aren’t actively building and adding to the website, it’s going to fall down the rankings. My site doesn’t draw enough comments to keep itself looking lively, so I know I have to constantly put out new content to my site higher in the search results – people linking to you, organic visits to your website, it all builds your reputation, but I had no idea just how fast you would DROP in the rankings just for taking some time off.

My most popular articles are in the Tech Tip Tuesday articles. But I don’t think I’ve answered everyone’s question in the world! So the only reason I can figure I have dropped off so steeply is because I didn’t write new daily posts for a while. But the drop off was steep. I won’t divulge my numbers, right now, but my daily page visits are now hovering around what I used to get in a day for my most popular articles! So I have some rebuilding to do, but don’t worry, I’m back, and I’m still blogging! 😉

MyScript Calc – great math app for students!

MyScript Calc is a wonderful tool available on both iOS and Android. The instant I saw it, I knew this was the kind of app that could immediately be used to help kids in school learn math. It I a calculator, that recognizes your normal hand written numbers on a tablet or smartphone. So you write the math problem out, and it spits out an answer. It’ much like using a calculator, but helps kids get in the habit of writing the problem out properly.

I’m terrible at math. Some things I can do extremely quickly, but only the basics (I was tallying my tax totals faster than my accountant this week, for example). I was terrible from algebra onward. A tool like this may have helped! Now, I haven’t had a chance to toy around with it much, yet, because I was so anxious to tell people about it, so I’m not sure how well it understands the Order of Operations and how you might write it out – but from what I have seen it is quite a smart application. It’s not going to give you the square root of negative one, but it can certainly crunch a lot of calculations quickly. So go ahead and check out MyScript Calc on iOS or Android!

How to accept a friend request in Skype for Windows 8

The other day someone asked me how to accept a new contact request in Skype for Windows 8. I remember struggling with this, and remembered the final answer was really stupid, but I was stumped. Ready for the answer? It was painfully obvious once I realized what my eyes were glossing over. Look above. In the 2nd column, on the first screen you see, you will see your recent activity. What’s there? Oh, look, a friend request. Wow, it really is that simple.

People still ask what if it does not show in your Recent Activity on the main page? Simple – right click! Or, if you’re using a touch screen, swipe down from the top. A menu will drop down from the top of the screen. There you can scroll side to side through your recent items until you find the friend request you’re looking to accept.

Good luck out there, everyone!