Thou shalt not avenge , nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. — Leviticus 19:18 (KJV)
Grudges are always more destructive to the person holding them than the person who's a target of them. Which is why it's not terribly smart to hold grudges, and you'll be a lot healthier and happier if you heed Holy Scripture and just let things go. Bygones, and all that.
But "letting go" of those you feel have wronged you is not always an easy thing to do. Thus a grudge by inaction becomes revenge in action.
Humans are hard-wired for revenge, and modern humans have elevated it to an art-form. When we're not seeking revenge, we're enjoying it as entertainment. This is not something we're proud of. Our aspirations are so much higher. But you can't fight human nature.
And by "you" I mean "me."
I expect so much better of you.
And so I received notice that I have to call in for jury duty... AGAIN.
I swear, I get called for jury duty more than anybody I know. Hell, just since starting this blog I've been summoned September 2003, February 2006, May 2008, and December 2009... and at least three times before then. That's seven times when most people I know are lucky to be called once. I guess I should feel lucky that it's been four years since my last one. I think that's the longest I've ever gone between notices, as I am usually summoned at least every two years.
I don't know how jury duty works for everybody else, but here you are given a time to call in to see if there's a trial needing your service. If there's not, you keep calling in over a two week period to see if you're needed. So, basically, I have to completely rearrange my life for TWO WEEKS when I'm lucky to be able to schedule that much vacation time after planning months in advance.
How in the hell is this considered acceptable?
Surely the court has a FUCKING CALENDAR where they can ACTUALLY SCHEDULE THE FUCKING TRIALS so they can FUCKING CALL A JURY IN without DICKING PEOPLE AROUND with this stupid "Call us!" bullshit. I mean, seriously, TWO FUCKING WEEKS?!?
My disgust for our legal system is so intense that I always worry that I'm going to be slapped with a contempt charge whenever I have to show up in court.
But how is that my fault when our courts are so contemptible?
It's all I can do to contain myself while being subjected to the outrageous crap you have to endure for "justice." I put "justice" in quotes because the last trial I served at had a prosecutor who expected the jury to find some guy guilty of drunk driving... WHEN THE OFFICER LET HIM DRIVE HOME AFTER HE WAS STOPPED! Yeah, that wasn't a waste of my fucking time and our tax dollars.
And yet... I'm not expected to be in contempt of the court system.
Jeez what a horribly mundane day.
The only thing that's keeping me going is that I have a bag of Budget $aver Banana Popsicles waiting for me at home.
I may even have a tub of Snack-Pack Chocolate Pudding left.
Wouldn't that just be the best thing ever?
"What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." —Groucho Marx
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it." —Leo Tolstoy from A Confession
"It is very unnerving to be proven wrong, particularly when you are really right and the person who is really wrong is proving you wrong and proving himself, wrongly, right." —Lemony Snicket from The Blank Book
"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." —Thomas Sowell
If somebody could just take me off this planet, that would be great.
And so it did occur that snow hath fallen in the amount of six inches upon the glorious plains of Redneckistan.
As somebody who exists with uncovered parking I was not pleased.
As somebody who appreciates having oh... I dunno... WATER, come summertime, I was elated. Though this is most probably too little too late. Even if we were to suddenly get a windfall of snowfall in record-setting amounts, it's going to be a dry summer. Which means drought and wildfires. Again. This was made abundantly clear when I flew back from San Francisco last week. The surrounding mountains, which should have been completely covered in the white stuff... errr... weren't...
This morning I ended up getting stuck in my driveway.
But by noon the sun was shining and the roads were bare.
Then around 4:00 it started snowing again, but lightly.
The forecast for the rest of the week is sunny. For those keeping track... that's one "real" snow for our entire winter. I'm beginning to doubt there will be another one.
On the bright side, I don't have to scrape my car windows in the morning.
It's the Year of the Horse!
Or, to be more accurate, it's the year of the WOOD HORSE. Apparently, this is supposed to be a good year for me since I was born in the year of the FIRE HORSE and there's some kind of compatibility thing there. I'm not one to place a lot of faith in astrology, numerology, and all that stuff... but I admit that the Chinese zodiac has shown some eerie coincidences over the years...
While mostly associated with being outgoing and successful, Fire Horses are also considered to be harbingers of rebellion and destruction. This is apparently a good thing for a men but a horrific prospect for women and, historically, baby girls were at risk for infanticide because of the doom and gloom they would bring upon a family (including an early death for her father). Fortunately for everybody, Halle Berry and Janet Jackson were allowed to live anyway.
Luckily, girls born in the year of the Wood Horse fare much better... being known for their dedication, creativity, and patience.
Still... probably not a good year for Trojans though.
I spent most of today being angry.
Angry that I had to work all weekend even though I've been putting in crazy hours all week.
Angry that Adobe has made stupid little changes to their apps that have destroyed my productivity... and still hasn't fixed mind-bogglingly obvious bugs that have been around for years.
Angry that the quality of Mac OS X seems to be plummeting with each new release, and even simple details (like arranging icons on your desktop) is now a battle you have to fight.
Angry that so many money-grubbing hypocritical douchebag politicians continue to get support from people either too deluded or too stupid to care that their representatives are money-grubbing hypocritical douchebags.
Angry that the people most under-represented by society are being further marginalized with each passing day.
Angry that more people give a shit about a talentless hack like Justin Bieber getting arrested than they do about people whose water supply in West Virginia has been destroyed by people who were not arrested.
Angry that the mega-corps continue to get away with destroying the planet, destroying society, and destroying lives without consequence but with full government endorsement.
Angry that I live in a country built upon a government of the people, by the people, for the people, that is not controlled by all the people... but a select few rich and powerful people who care nothing for anybody's welfare except their own.
Angry that I live in a country built upon the concept of religious freedom whose laws are increasingly being dictated by religion.
Angry that more people aren't angry about stuff that matters.
Like the fact that I just found my cable company doesn't broadcast The Puppy Bowl in HD tomorrow.
Like the mysterious Scottish village of Brigadoon which appears for a single day every one hundred years, some events are destined to happen but once in a lifetime. Twice if you don't smoke, eat your Wheaties, and get very lucky.
I've had my share of "once-in-a-lifetime-opportunities." Some passed me by. Some changed my life for the better. Some ended up being huge mistakes. Some didn't turn out to be quite as important events as they had first seemed.
Today I had a choice to make on a "once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity."
The consequences... good or bad... of my decision won't be known for months. Maybe years.
In the meanwhile I'm trying not to think about it. Life goes by too quickly to waste time obsessing over the road not taken. It's hard enough to concentrate on the road you're walking.
Especially when your shoelaces are untied and raw sewage is gushing over the pavement.
Today sucked. Bad. And just when I thought it couldn't possibly suck any more, it did.
I knew it was going to be a bad day when I woke up to snow dropping from the sky like a plague of locusts. Locusts I then had to scrape off of my car.
Everything was uphill from there.
It just turned 10:00pm and I haven't reached the peak yet.
I'm beginning to think it doesn't exist.
Today was a much better day than yesterday.
Which, technically, isn't saying much. The only way it could have been worse would be if somebody shot me. In the spleen. And then poured salt in the wound. Salt that had been urinated on. By Justin Bieber.
But instead I pulled something in my leg.
Now I walk funnier than usual and I'm on pain-killers.
See, I told you it was better than yesterday!
This morning I got dragged into the ol' "Kill Hitler Debate" where people were discussing whether or not they'd kill Baby Hitler if they had the power to go back in time. It was the whole "Is evil predestined so Baby Hitler deserves to die... or is Baby Hitler innocent because he hasn't done anything evil yet?" situation.
At first I remained silent, believing that the influences and circumstances that made Baby Hitler become Hitler would have ultimately ended up encouraging somebody else to fill the void left by Hitler's absence.
But eventually I chimed in with "I'd go back in time and kill myself before I decided to purchase a 1999 Saturn SC-2." It was a joke, but there are days that I actually think that way. To call my Saturn a pile of shit implies that it can serve a useful purpose... like fertilizing the lawn. As it is, a pile of shit is probably more valuable.
Which is my way of saying that even more crap is breaking off the my car. This time it was the emergency brake release button... which, coincidentally enough, also keeps the brake applied. Which means I have no emergency brake right now. Hope I don't have to stop on a hill until I get a replacement piece.
You would think something in your car with the word "emergency" in the name would be made of anything except cheap plastic.
But I suppose something has to fill the void left by Hitler.
What a completely messed-up day.
I am *THIS* close to that psychotic break I've always dreamed of.
Here's hoping they have internet at the asylum for the criminally insane.
My plans for yesterday were simple.
Work. Lunch. Shop. Memorial. Work. Fun.
Alas, everything came to a screeching halt after "Lunch" because my trip to Olive Garden resulted in gastrointestinal distress so bad that I would have been relieved if an alien were to burst out of my intestines...
Not an actual representation of my afternoon... but darn close.
Then things got a little depressing for me, because nobody wants their plans foiled by a plate of Fettuccine Alfredo.
Especially when the Fettuccine Alfredo isn't even real Fettuccine Alfredo, and is made with a cream base.
But then I saw a video of French goats playing on a "flexible steel ribbon," and everything was fine again...
This morning I made the heinous error of starting work at 4:00am.
So I was pretty much done by noon. Except I couldn't be done by noon, and so I pushed through for another six hours.
I have nothing left for this blog. So I offer this...
Have a nice evening.
There's some irony that my copy of the Kickstarter-backed book project I wonder what it's like to be dyslexic shows up the day after John Travolta transformed "Idina Menzel" into "Adele Dazeem" while introducing the singer at the Oscars.
I, for one, don't know whether or not John Travolta has dyslexia. It doesn't show up in his Wikipedia profile, and a cursory Google search doesn't reveal an interview where he discusses it. When people talk about John Travolta having dyslexia, I think they are confusing him with fellow Scientologist Tom Cruise, who has stated that Scientology helped him to overcome his dyslexia. Honest mistake, I guess.
However... as somebody who lives with a mild form of dyslexia, I can say that mangling "Idina Menzel" into "Adele Dazeem" certainly feels like something which can be attributed to dyslexia. But not everybody with dyslexia experiences it the same way, so the only person who can say for sure whether it was a factor is... John Travolta.
All I can do is speculate based on my experience, which would go something like this...
For the most part, seeing words as being made up of letters is not how I read. The Roman alphabet upon which English writing is based has letterforms that easily transform or flipped around when viewed individually. Thus my mind can play havoc with "p" and "q" and "d" and "b"... all of which can be mistaken for each other. And that's just the beginning. English has numerous complexities that make understanding words from letters no easy chore.
Nope. How I seem to read is to recognize words by their shape... as most people do, to a certain extent. But since I ignore the letters, which can be confusing, the shape alone is critical to comprehension. Which is why there are many factors that lead to how easily and how quickly I can absorb something. The contrast between letter color and the background color... the size of the text... how far apart the letters are... how wide the letters are... how tired I am... etc. etc. etc. But the biggest factor by far? The typeface (or font) used. If things get too fancy or deviate too far from the standard letterforms I read 96% of the time, my reading speed takes a dive and things get a bit difficult...
As illustrated above, cursive fonts are the worst. Unlike "standard" serif and sans-serif fonts which maintain a distinct shape... cursive writing just degenerate into a mess of lines to me. There's no "form" for me to pull out of the words, so I have to struggle through the actual letters to try and figure out what I'm reading. As you can imagine, things like wedding invitations, fancy poetry journals, and the like can be a real bitch.
Which brings us to Adele Dazeem.
Reading by shape pretty much requires that most of the words you're reading are words you're familiar with and can recognize.
"Idina" and "Menzel" are not such words. Beautiful as it is, John Smith it ain't. Enter the dyslexic swapity-do, where syllables get shuffled in your head as you strugle to make sense of the letters and what they're spelling to you...
Now, I'm not making excuses here. I don't even know for sure if Travolta is dyslexic. If he is though... the pressure of presenting an unfamiliar and difficult name live in front of a bazillion Oscar viewers is going to be rough-going no matter how much you've prepared. Even if he memorized the intro, it's not a guarantee of success when words are a struggle for you. All I can say for sure is this: If John Travolta is dyslexic, I very much admire the guts it takes to put yourself in a high-pressure situation (like live television) where words are involved.
And while I think it's a bit harsh to make fun of someone who is challenged with something as fundamental as reading... having a sense of humor over stuff like this is kinda essential.
Thus I, Dawid Shunter, give you... The Adele Dazeem Name Generator!
Here's hoping your Monday was better than John Travolta's.
Unless you ARE John Travolta, in which case... I LOVED YOU IN PULP FICTION!
Two weeks until I blow this popsicle stand for twelve whole days...
Guess I should really start making plans and stuff.
Today was a piece of crap smothered by a pile of shit kind of day.
As if that weren't bad enough, everybody in North America living where Stupid Fucking Daylight Saving Time is observed has to "Spring Forward" with their clocks tonight. Which means there's one less hour of sleep tomorrow morning. Which means that everybody's internal clock is going to be fucked up for a couple weeks. Which means everybody's cranky and unproductive. Which means everybody is angry and nothing gets done...
Stupid Fucking Daylight Saving Time. I MEAN, COME ON! PICK A TIME SCHEME AND STICK WITH IT! SERIOUSLY, EITHER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE OR JUST FUCKING PICK ONE. I DON'T EVEN GIVE A SHIT WHICH ONE... STANDARD TIME... DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME... AMERICAN SAMOA TIME... WHATEVER TIME YOU WANT. JUST STOP DICKING AROUND WITH THE DAMN CLOCKS!
Okay then. I'm good for six months now.
Ever since the time change, I've been sleeping worse than ever. I never thought I'd look back on insomnia with longing, but at least then I was getting 4-5 hours rest a night. Now? I don't sleep at all. Even sleeping pills fail completely. I nap for maybe 20-30 minutes, two or three times a night. That's it. To be honest, I don't know how I'm conscious... let alone how I'm managing to type coherent sentences.
At least I'm guessing they are coherent.
I'd check, but there's a chocolate alligator blocking my keyboard and I won't be able to get rid of him until this bag of potato chips lands in my toothbrush. Or the taco bar beams me up again. Which would be great, because I'm really craving carpet tape. The kind with extra 2400 baud modem... not the kind that swims with toilet paper.
The cornerstone of my life-philosophy is to "Live In The Now."
But that's proving extremely difficult given that the long-awaited Veronica Mars movie is finally being released tomorrow. As if that weren't enough distraction, in a mere seven days I'm off to Europe. So I don't want to live in the now. I want to live in the future...
...but after I finish my chocolate pudding.
You often hear "Youth is wasted on the young."
Less often you may hear "Wealth is wasted on the rich."
Something you don't hear very often is "Intelligence is wasted on the smart." And that's probably because smart people are smart enough to put their intelligence to good use.
But not always.
I've seen a lot of stupid people do a lot of stupid shit.
Most times it's relatively harmless... like when somebody gets drunk, decides they can fly, then jumps off the roof and breaks their leg. So they end up in a cast for a while and learn a valuable lesson. Which they will immediately forget the next time they get drunk. Because they're stupid.
Sometimes it's tragic... like when somebody gets drunk, decides they can fly, then hijacks a plane and crashes it into a football stadium during playoffs. So they end up dead for a while and learn a valuable lesson. Which, unfortunately, took their life and the lives of thousands of other people to learn. Because they're stupid.
But whatever. There's no sense getting too worked up over it because it's stupidity and that's what stupid does.
No, it's when I see smart people doing stupid shit that I fly into a rage. They should know better. They're smarter than that. They have the ability make better choices.
Today I had to deal with the consequences of somebody who is incredibly smart doing something mind-bogglingly stupid. They made a horrible decision which is not only going to destroy their own life, but is going to affect a lot of people in a bad way for a long time. And the more the situation sinks in the angrier I get and the more I want to know why. Why did you do it? What could you have possibly been thinking? How could you let this happen? Why? WHY? WHY? WHY?
And so, against my better judgement, I asked them.
"I don't know."
You don't know?!? Really? BZZZZZZT! WRONG ANSWER! That's the answer a stupid person gives. That's the answer that comes from somebody who never bothers to think about what they're doing or what the consequences might be. That's the answer from a person who just doesn't give a fuck and has resolved to live their life free of responsibility. That's the answer you get from idiots who "don't know" because they never know anything. They don't know and they don't care that they don't know, so they never make the effort to know, and THAT'S what makes them stupid.
You often hear "Even smart people make stupid decisions".
I know first-hand that this is true.
But if you're a smart person making a stupid decision that's going to ruin lives, you'd better damn well come up with a better answer than "I don't know."
The people who cared for you and trusted you deserve better than your playing the stupid card.
Most of my day was spent thinking "One more day. Just one more day. One. More. Day."
One more day until Winter is over. One more day until Spring is here.
One more day until I leave. One more day until I'm on vacation.
I can't fathom what tomorrow is going to be like. I can only guess I'll be skipping down the street while singing "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love yA, tomorrow. You're only a day awaaaayyyyyy!"
Which would be pretty odd considering how much I hate that song.
Well, unless it's being sung by little Quvenzhane Wallis. How adorable is she?
And now... packing.
"We have arrived!" announced the hotel shuttle driver to myself and another passenger as we pulled into the Nice Airport around 4:30am. And so I climb out and ask the driver to open the back of the van so I can get my bag. He says "This stop is not for you," and so I start to climb back on the van... only to have the driver slam the gas pedal to the floor as I am half-way in. The van lurches forward, causing the sliding door to smash into my side and send me flying 20 feet. My head crashes into the pavement and, as I lay there bleeding and trying to breathe, the driver stands over me and says "I said this stop was not for you!" — which is why I was climbing back on the van, of course, but let's not apply logic to the situation. You would think that A) The driver would make sure everybody is actually ON the van before hitting the gas, and B) He would start out slowly just in case the first passenger was still standing near... or the second passenger was in the process of boarding... or a pedestrian is crossing the street... or whatever. But, alas, no.
Blood pouring down my face and hunched over in pain, I somehow make my way inside the airport (at the next stop, natch) so I can try to clean myself up in a bathroom. Much to my horror, my glasses are destroyed, so I have to fish for contact lenses in my suitcase. But I can only put a lens in one eye because blood is pouring over the other one. A package of antibiotic wipes and 20 minutes of direct pressure later, my second lens is in and it's time to head to the gate for my flight.
The wonderful KLM cabin crew gave me ice for my head on the flight back to Amsterdam. This made the swelling die down a bit, and also caused the pain to subside. As for my chest where I was hit? The pain became searing, so when I got off the plane I started pressing around and... SNAP... I think I had a fractured rib, because now that it's been set back in place I feel totally fine... just a little sore now.
In other news... I have never felt so fucking macho in all my life as to snap my own fractured rib back in place! I'd go to the doctor, but all they would do is wrap me up and give me pain meds, so I'm just going to put on a tight T-shirt and self-medicate. Same difference! A-fucking-right... this is one macho bitch right up in here.*
My plans to visit some work colleagues in Amsterdam had to be abandoned so I could recuperate back at Casa de DutchBitch for five hours until she got off work. At which time we decided to visit "Europe's Garden"... the Keukenhof. I was there back in 2012 and loved it, so I was looking forward to another visit on this beautiful day, even if I was loaded with pain-killers...
After a wonderful afternoon looking at flowers, it was time for dinner at one of my favorite places on earth, Restaurant De Kas. It's a beautiful eatery outside of Amsterdam that resides in a greenhouse where they grow their own food. It's pretty special.
But it's at night that this place becomes really special...
The menu is a surprise, built around what came from the garden that day, and they accommodated my vegetarian diet beautifully...
An absolutely wonderful evening. After an absolutely wonderful day. After a terrible morning.
And now? Having experienced first hand what it's like to get run into by a car, I'm going to take some heavy drugs and go to bed. So good night to you! And (hopefully) a good night to myself.
*Unless, of course, it wasn't a fractured rib at all... in which case I have no idea what snapped inside there. Maybe I'm the moron who just cracked his own rib? I dunno. Playing doctor is a lot harder than it looks on television. Still, I'm feeling 1000% better than I was, so you can't argue with the results.
I really hate having to leave the Netherlands.
Almost as much as I hate stupid "April Fools Day" pranks that get unleashed everywhere. And since there's always somebody who believes people's outrageous shit, the fools-pranking will never end.
At least Google puts some effort into their pranks each year...
The really cool thing about this year's gag is that this is something that will probably actually happen one day. It's only a matter of time before augmented reality games are this good.
The Virgin America & Nest prank was pretty funny too...
And since YouTube is where most of the pranks live, they decided to get in on the act themselves...
But my favorite? SelfieBot!
And now I guess it's time to climb in a metal tube for ten hours. Then drive in a car for two-and-a-half hours. Then go to the clinic for my smashed ribs for an hour.
Ha! April Fools! You can never get out of the walk-in clinic in under five hours!
See you across the pond.
"Tetanus is not a fun way to die."
My smashed ribs were really tender when I boarded the plane yesterday, so I bit the bullet and popped the Oxycodone I keep on-hand in case I have a kidney stone attack. This kept me (relatively) comfortable throughout the flight, for which I was grateful. By the time we landed in Seattle I was considering not going to the doctor at all, as I was feeling considerably better than when I left DutchyLand.
Until I reached up into the overhead bin to grab my bag.
Searing pain shot through my entire side, and I suddenly couldn't breathe. I'm guessing the drugs must have worn off after my ten hour adventure in the sky.
Not wanting to drive under the influence of Oxycodone, I retrieved my car for the (painful) two-and-a-half hour drive home. Where I did not pass Go. Did not collect $200. Did not even drop off my suitcase. Instead I drove directly to the walk-in clinic to see a doctor.
An hour-and-a-half plus three X-rays plus many hundreds of dollars in deductable later, I found out that nothing is broken. It would seem I merely have a hairline fracture in one of my ribs or something. It hurts like hell, but my lungs aren't punctured and I'm going to live.
At which point the doctor looks at the scrape on my head and asks when was the last time I had a tetanus shot. From what I could recall, it was in 1998 when my brother and I went to Bangkok. This caused the doctor to suck wind through his teeth and inform me that somebody who travels as much as I do should really stay current with my tetanus shots, which expire after ten years. Oops.
I was going to pass because I don't like injecting crap in my body that's not the sweet, sweet release of freshly-cooked black tar heroin, but then the doctor tells me that "tetanus is not a fun way to die." He looks really serious about it, so I get the damn shot.
Turns out the doctor is right. Wikipedia explains it thusly...
Tetanus often begins with mild spasms in the jaw muscles—also known as lockjaw or trismus (aka "lockjaw"). The spasms can also affect the chest, neck, back, abdominal muscles, and buttocks. Back muscle spasms often cause arching, called opisthotonos. Sometimes the spasms affect muscles that help with breathing, which can lead to breathing problems.
Prolonged muscular action causes sudden, powerful, and painful contractions of muscle groups, which is called "tetany." These episodes can cause fractures and muscle tears. Other symptoms include drooling, excessive sweating, fever, hand or foot spasms, irritability, swallowing difficulty, and uncontrolled urination or defecation. The episodes can also cause destruction of elements of the nervous system through viral cell exchange.
Mortality rates reported vary from 48% to 73%. In recent years, and approximately 11% of reported tetanus cases have been fatal. The highest mortality rates are in unvaccinated people, people over 60 years of age or newborns.
They even provide a nice painting of tetanus in action...
Doesn't that look like buckets of fun?
So... if you want to die a drooling, urinating, defecating, mess... as your muscles rip apart and cause bone fractures (i.e. in excruciating pain), by all means skip out on getting a Tdap shot.
As for myself? I'm hoping to keep the drooling and defecation to a minimum when I die.
Though I think we all know the odds of that are slim.
Pain is quite a motivator. Which is good, because that's the way it's supposed to work. Your body produces pain to let you know that there's something wrong and you need to do something about it.
But there should be a way to turn the pain off once you've addressed the problem. I've been to the doctor... I've learned my lesson not to get run over by a van... I've been incredibly careful not to cause further injury to my ribs. Everything I can do, I've taken care of.
So why am I still in pain? Now it just seems cruel.
And yet here we are.
Getting in and out of bed is absolute torture. Sitting down and getting up are almost as bad. Coughing is outright agony. Reaching for anything higher than 5-feet or lower than 2-feet with my right arm feels like I am being stabbed repeatedly in my chest with a machete. And, as it's been for nearly a week now, any pressure applied to my rib-cage results in a flash of searing pain. Even the act of opening my laptop and typing this blog entry results in an ouchie.
I know. I know. I know. I know!... but since I have a life, remaining 100% motionless in bed all day is not really an option.
I'd dope up on pain-killers, but work is hard enough already.
And so I suffer.
Sucks to be me.
It's hard to come up with something to blog about when the only thing going on in your life is excruciating pain.
And I have at least another week to go... probably two.
The bigger problem is that I am getting incredibly behind despite the fact that I am working all the time. I attribute this to not being able to multi-task. Usually I am working on a couple projects in my head while I'm physically working on a couple others. But now? If I try to focus on more than one thing at a time, the pain proves to be such a big distraction that I get nothing done at all. And so I put all my concentration into the task at hand so I can make some progress. No matter how small.
Still haven't heard back from the hotel whose airport shuttle nailed me. I filled out a survey they sent explaining everything, but apparently they don't bother to read the surveys. Typical. It's all "We value your opinion!" — Until you actually give it to them.
And speaking of pain... today I found out that the US Dollar was far weaker against the Euro than I had previously thought, meaning I blew right past my vacation budget. Badly. 20 Euros does not equate to $22 US dollars, it's $27.50 US dollars. Which means every time I was spending 20 Euros I was bleeding $5 more than I thought I was. That adds ups really quickly when everything in Europe is expensive to begin with.
Oh well. Credit card debt won't kill you... it just feels that way.
Much like a fractured rib.
If you're lucky, the wound will vanish without a trace. As will your memories of it.
The alternative being that you're stuck with a scar that will haunt you for the rest of your days, coupled with phantom pains that force you to re-live the nightmare over and over again.
That's a worst-case scenario, obviously, but does heartbreak ever end any other way?
I'm going to just come right out and say it... I love McDonalds.
And that's no hyperbole, it's the truth. Sure I wish that they would take the McVeggie Deluxe national so I had a burger I could eat there but, even without a veggie option, I still like the chain. I love their fries. I like their egg & cheese breakfast biscuits. I like their side salads. I like their shakes. I like their McFlurries. I like their hot caramel sundaes. I like their fruit-n-yogurt parfaits. I even like their apple pies (just not as much as when they were fried). They've got food I like that's served fast at decent prices. What's not to love?*
But heaven forbid I ever mention liking McDonalds. Even hinting at having eaten there brings out all the people who think it's their mission in life to tell people what they can and cannot like...
"McDONALD'S IS TOXIC GARBAGE! I WOULDN'T FEED THEIR 'FOOD' TO MY DOG!"
"McDONALD'S IS DESTROYING THE PLANET! WHEN YOU EAT THERE, YOU'RE HELPING THEM!"
"ARE YOU STUPID? WHY NOT JUST EAT RAT POISON IF YOU'RE INTENT ON BEING SO UNHEALTHY?"
"WHAT KIND OF IDIOT RUINS THEIR BODY WITH FAT, SUGAR, AND CHEMICALS BY EATING AT McDONALDS?"
"McDONALD'S TARGETS CHILDREN FOR UNHEALTHY EATING HABITS WITH TOYS!"
"SO GROSS! THEIR CRAP ISN'T EVEN REAL FOOD!"
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Well, whatever. I honestly don't give a fuck. You don't like it? DON'T EAT THERE! You think it's unhealthy? DON'T EAT THERE! You have a problem with the food? DON'T EAT THERE! As for me? There's nothing wrong with an occasional bag of fries and a chocolate shake at McDonalds... AND I enjoy it, so just leave me the hell alone. I mean, thanks, but I am fully aware of the nutritional content (or lack thereof) of what I'm eating.
And then today a McDonalds post pops up in my Facebook feed.
The number of hateful comments shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.
For reasons completely unknown, there are people who hate McDonald's so much that they spend their valuable time ripping McDonald's to shit IN FACEBOOK COMMENTS! Which probably ranks right up there with "screaming into a pillow" when it comes to effectiveness, but whatever. At least when people feel the need to rip into me personally for my food choices, they think they're helping me out (or something) so they can feel good about doing me a solid. What possible benefit is there to leaving nasty comments for McDonalds on Facebook? Could there be a bigger waste of time?
Like blogging about it, I suppose.
* Well, okay, I DON'T love McDonald's clown figurehead, Ronald McDonald, who is terrifying...
Last night I decided to stop taking the pain-killers I've been on since getting run down in France. I don't like the way drugs mess with my head, and this time it was more debilitating than usual for some reason. I wasn't just having trouble concentrating at work... I was having trouble concentrating while watching television, and that just isn't done.
The pain in my ribs is breathtaking, as expected.
But it's the pain in the arm where I got my tetanus shot that really took me by surprise. My arm aches. Every movement feels like somebody just punched me. Hard. I Googled my pain only to discover that, yeah, this is totally normal. Tetanus shots are brutal. So now I am questioning this foolish decision to live life drug-free, as I am a real weenie when it comes to pain.
I'm also questioning getting a tetanus shot, but that ship has sailed.
And then there's this...
Have a good night!
I had been doing so well.
Then today I twisted wrong, and searing pain ripped through my ribcage so intensely that I thought I was going to pass out. It died out after a couple hours, but now I'm more than a little worried that I've done something to set back the healing process.
Guess there's just no easy recovery from getting hit by a car.
And on that note...
Ever since getting a tetanus shot, I've been a little on edge.
Sometimes when I'm chewing it will feel like my jaw is tightening up, and I start to wonder if the vaccine didn't work and I've contracted lockjaw. Then that's about all I can think about for hours.
But the bigger issue is the vaccine itself. From Wikipedia...
Tetanus vaccine is a vaccine composed of deactivated tetanus toxins. This vaccine is immunogenic but not pathogenic and is used to prevent an individual from contracting tetanus.
And that's not all...
The type of vaccination for this disease is called artificial active immunity. This type of immunity is generated when a dead or weakened version of the disease enters the body causing an immune response which includes the production of antibodies. This is beneficial to the body because this means that if the disease is ever introduced into the body, the immune system will recognize the antigen and produce antibodies more rapidly.
What if they accidentally shot me up with LIVE tetanus toxins instead of deactivated ones? That wouldn't be a good thing, now would it? This would certainly explain why my jaw keeps feeling like it's tightening up!
If you don't hear from me again, I'm probably dead.
After writhing in agony for hours.
Well, today didn't go as planned.
Not that this is in any way surprising.
In other news?
Tuesday is the toughest day of the week for me. If anything is going to go wrong, today is the day.
In this case, it was having a pile of work left over from Monday while I'm having to reschedule three flights. Which wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the heinous change-fees that airlines like to charge now. I had to pay anywhere from $125 to $200... plus the change in airfare. Which always seems to increase, by the way. Kind of crazy how having your plans change can be so absurdly costly.
Just one more reason I frickin' loathe to fly any more. Even if you manage to get a decent fare, you still end up screwed if something comes up. And when you fly dozens of times a year, stuff is gonna come up.
It's not like I need to pay rent. Or eat. Or buy toilet paper.
Good thing I gave up taking a shit for Lent.
My drive to work is only five minutes long.
Coming and going each day I see more ridiculous crap on the road than should be possible in such a short commute... and yet, every day I am reminded that nothing is "impossible." People wandering all over the road because they're busy talking on mobile phones. People driving off the road because they're texting. People driving at insane speeds for a residential area. People driving half the speed limit and not giving a shit that they're backing up traffic. It never ends.
And today I saw a woman KNITTING WHILE DRIVING.
I shit you not.
She was all "knit one, pearl two" with her hands and somehow steering using her forearms pressed against the wheel.
I need to get a mountable video camera and start a YouTube channel.
I'm not 100% sure where or what... but at least I know when.
1/3 of a year.
So close. Yet so very, very far away.
Fun trip to the eye doctor today.
Apparently my astigmatism, which has been growing progressively worse over the past six years, has done gone missing. Evaporated. Disappeared. Since I totally blamed my worsening eyesight on society's indoctrination by The Gay Agenda™, I figured I'd be completely blind by now since Washington State (and a bunch of other states) passed marriage equality and Michael Sam got drafted into the NFL as its first openly gay player.
But instead... my eyesight actually improved after Washington State (and a bunch of other states) passed marriage equality and Michael Sam got drafted into the NFL as its first openly gay player. So I guess I had it all backwards. Once marriage equality goes nation-wide and an NFL player's sexuality isn't considered news... I fully expect to get Superman's X-ray vision. Or his heat his vision. Or his microscopic vision. Or his telescopic vision. One of those visions. Maybe all of those visions.
Wow, Superman sure has a shit-ton of super-visions!
I guess that's why he's Superman.
But putting aside the fucking insane people who belief that The Gays are responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world... many happy congratulations to Michael Sam!
And his boyfriend, surely...
For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why two guys kissing caused a chunk of Americana to lose their fucking minds. Turn the channel and you've got people murdering each other... people abusing drugs... people having drunken sex... The Kardashians... and yet it's two guys kissing that makes people want to shoot their television and boycott ESPN?
"BUT, ZOMFG! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!"
Kids only think that something is a big deal if adults make it into a big deal for them. If your children are freaking out, it's because you're making it happen. Don't go all homophobic crazy, and Michael Sam's kiss is just another kiss in a parade of thousands of kisses that happen on television every day.
Maybe people will finally be able to see that with their super-vision once we finally get an openly gay president.
The TWO HOURS of sleep I managed to get last night made for an agonizing day. By the time I got home I was so exhausted that I decided to have a cheese sandwich and take a short nap.
I woke up four hours later at 10:00.
Since I don't sleep but four or five hours a night, this has completely screwed up my sleep cycle. I'm still exhausted, but my body thinks that it has already slept for the day, so now I am going to be awake the rest of the night.
I am tempted to go buy a fifth of Jägermeister and drink until I pass out to get me back on track. But something tells me that trying to work with a hangover would be slightly worse than trying to work while sleep deprived, so I think I'll take a pass.
Instead I'll just look for a very big hammer.
I came back from Tampa too soon.
Or not soon enough.
Despite driving 2-1/2 hours directly from the airport to work and then putting in six hours at the office before going home yesterday, I was still swamped today. I was so buried that I ended up working from 4:30am to 1:00am.
Needless to say, writing in my blog is the last thing I want to do after 20-1/2 hours of work.
Well, maybe not the last thing.
But close to it.
It's Throwback Thursday!
Ah to be young and carefree again.
Today I had the great joy of calling a customer service line for assistance with a product I purchased.
Of course I'm lying... because having to endure "customer service" today is far from a joy. With rare exception, I hardly ever have a satisfactory experience. Most every time I call or write, it's as if they don't listen to a word I'm saying. Maybe they're overworked. Maybe they just don't care. But whatever the reason, I might as well be talking to a brick wall...
It's days like today that I wonder why companies even bother with customer service in the first place.
I haven't been to a Mariners game in six years.
Would have been great if the Mariners had won.
Today I was hungry enough to take a late lunch and decided to walk over to the local barbecue restaurant. Not the best option for a vegetarian, but I really like their tater salad and ribbon fries. As I was crossing the street to get there, I noticed a heavy-duty pickup truck from a local tire company was approaching and not stopping. After having been run down by inattentive drivers on more than one occasion I’m overly-cautious playing pedestrian, and stopped half-way across the street. At the last second, the driver saw me and slammed on the brakes. Hard. This caused all the equipment… and a couple of tires... in the truck bed to go flying forward, smashing into the cab. The sound was horrific. A lot of metal-on-metal action. I'm thinking some stuff had to end up broken... possibly including the rear window of the cab.
I spent all of my lunch feeling bad about what happened, even though it wasn't my fault. Heck, had I not stopped, I could have very well been run down in the street (again). I don't know if the guy was talking on his mobile... texting... daydreaming... or what, but he clearly needed to be paying more attention. I was in the middle of the street for heaven's sake. And I am still trying to figure out how he didn't see me until the last second. Perhaps I have an unknown cloaking device like Predator, and that's why drivers don't see me. Scary.
Lunch was good though...
And I managed to get back to work without dying, so I'm calling today a win.
There comes a point when you just can't function any longer.
I worked last night until 1:00am... woke up at 4:30am to work some more... took a quick nap from 7:30-8:00am... got cleaned up and went to work at 9:00am... came back home to work at 5:30pm... now it's 9:30pm and I've hit a wall. My brain just won't work any more.
Which is unfortunate, because I'm not even half-way through all the things I really needed to get done.
I either need to clone myself or seek a medically-induced coma.
The good news is that I had grape Kool-Aid and a cheese sandwich for dinner. I had been dreaming about them all day long. And now... it's just five hours until 4:30am rolls around again. It would be nice if I could sleep for most of that but, well, you know...
Luckily, I don't require my brain to blog.
It's Throwback Thursday!
Ah to be young and demonic again.
Put on your Sunday's finest... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Home. I am fascinated by the trend of "micro-living"... otherwise known as really, really small houses. Over the past couple years I keep seeing more and more stories of people giving up on larger homes, simplifying their lives, and moving into tiny places that are perfectly livable thanks to amazing design choices. It's all very zen, and appeals to my desire for living a less complicated life. Now it looks like apartment living has gone micro too, and an article on "The Karl" shows that micro-apartment complexes have some terrific advantages over micro-houses... like communal rooms on the top floor with space that can be used for socializing... something that's tough to do in a micro-home. I have to say, I sure like the floor plan...
Small. Yes. But it's got everything you need, really. I mean, you're not going to raise a family in there, but for a single individual or a couple just starting out, it's perfectly livable. If you're in the city, most of your time will be spent at work and out with friends... all you really need is a place to sleep, poop, change clothes, and eat a meal every once in a while. I don't know that I would want to go quite this small... but the idea of it all intrigues me.
• Onziem. John Oliver has very quickly become an essential voice on world affairs, and it's shocking to see just how easily he is able to take a serious look at complicated issues while adding a comedic slant that in no way diminishes the gravity of the issue. Tonight Oliver had a fascinating take on the horrific level of hate that has been exported to Uganda by US assholes (USholes?)... PLUS an interview with the amazing Pepe Julian Onziema.
This is essential viewing material...
Be sure you watch Part 2 of the interview.
• Fraud. And speaking of John Oliver...
Turns out that "Dr. Oz" actually is the fraudulent piece of shit everybody thought he was all along...
Shocker. I still don't understand why people listen to raging douchebags like this asshole in the first place. Wasn't his motivation for crap like this totally obvious from the start?
• Amy. As if I didn't already have enough reasons to love Amy Adams... here's another one. I've been able to swap my seat a couple times when I've spotted a soldier flying alone, and it's about the best feeling you can have. The first time I gave up my seat it was to a young kid flying back for deployment after a visiting his wife and young daughter (which I leaned from overhearing a conversation he was having with a man next to him). After getting his name off his uniform, I went to the ticket desk and had the gate agent make the swap. I thought it was an anonymous deal, but he wanted to thank me so he waited in First Class after we landed where a flight attendant pointed me out. It was such a little thing for me... but it meant the world to a soldier who was headed back to a job nobody wants to do but, for whatever reason, risks his life to accomplish.
• Falafel. The grocery store here in my little corner of Redneckistan is now selling falafel mix... something I've attempted to purchase locally for years...
Given its Middle East origins, I am sure this will be taken as a sign that sharia law will be enacted any minute now. Oh well... I no longer have to buy falafel via mail order or when I'm in Seattle, so I'll take it.
• LEELOO DALLAS MULTIPASS! I love The Fifth Element. Seriously one of my favorite films of all time. And I loved Gary Oldman in the film, where he played the villainous Zorg brilliantly for all his oddities...
Which is why I was truly hurt when Gary Oldman decided to trash the film in a controversial interview he had in Playboy. Fuck you, Gary Oldman... The Fifth Element was one of the most interesting roles you've ever played!
Enjoy what's left of your weekend, everybody.
As if it hasn't been obvious, I've been having a really tough time staying positive lately.
After nearly two decades of successfully working to rid my life of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, it feels like I've taken a massive slide backwards. I find myself second-guessing every decision I make. I question every action I take. And this has awakened a fear I haven't felt in years. At times it completely overwhelms me, and I have no idea where it's coming from or why.
If I were a normal human being, I'd undoubtedly seek professional help.
But I just don't think therapy is a good fit for me.
What I really need to do is to move to Antarctica.
Instead I managed to get tickets to see David Sedaris when he's in Seattle this November. If that doesn't fix me up I don't know what will.
Until then, I'm trying to smile a lot.
For those who took time to "Ask Me Anything" this week, here are your answers.
As an FYI, I only had to delete one question (because it was about another person and not directed to me). This was unexpected, as I thought going 100% anonymous would have invited a lot of hateful crap. As it were, I only got a few questions by people who thought they were asking hateful crap. Thanks for surprising me in a good way, internet!
When you step outside into the 106° F (41° C) blast furnace that is my home, the heat is the least of your worries. The air is filled with smoke and ash from the wildfires in the area, which makes breathing a bit of a chore.
The skies sure are pretty though.
Beneath the smoke that's rolling across the horizon, there's a golden glow that kisses the landscape until the sun goes down...
Too hot to sleep.
Too smokey to sleep.
Too sweaty to sleep.
Too tired to sleep.
I could really use some sleep.
The wildfire situation here is quite dire. Again.
Around a hundred people lost their homes in the Pateros region of Washington State. Highways are closing down all over the place. Local businesses are losing loads of tourism dollars during their busiest time of year.
And with more lightning strikes in the forecast, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.
The flames aren't landing on my doorstep... yet... but the air is so full of smoke and ash that you don't want to leave the house without a mask on. Which seems like such a petty thing to complain about when houses are falling like dominoes... but it's miserable. There's only so long you can live in smoke before it drives you a little crazy.
I don't know how the firefighters manage it day after day.
But bless them for doing so.
Here's hoping some relief comes soon.
No. Just no.
Second verse, same as the first.
Third time's a charm.
26 hours straight on 3 hours sleep.
That's gotta be some kind of record... even for me.
In many ways, high school seems like a lot longer than 30 years ago.
Probably because the ordeal wasn't this amazing thrill-ride of awesomeness for me that it seems to be for so many people. Not because I didn't have friends, good times, or memorable experiences... I did... it's just that I didn't want to live there. Everything I wanted in life was nowhere to be found during "the best years of your life," and so I didn't just walk away after graduation... I ran.
I put high school behind me.
Then I started over.
And at no time did I have any kind of longing for going back.
But this weekend I did go back and it was okay.
A surprising number of people showed up. A surprising number of people didn't. Most people ended up exactly as I imagined they would. A few surprised me. But everybody was nice to everybody, which is what happens when your high school days are 30 years past.
And everybody had a story to tell... that story being the story of their life.
Which is what made the whole thing worthwhile, I suppose.
My brain feels mooshy.
Which would be a lot more fun if it was alcohol induced instead of exhaustion.
I was supposed to drive to Spokane tonight, but Fate intervened and moved my work a day forward.I don't know if I'm supposed to repay this kindness by sacrificing a goat or what, but I sure am grateful.
A night of sleeping-pill-induced slumber awaits.
Well this day definitely did not go as planned.
All I need now is to have my hard drive crash and my car explode and I think I'm pretty much done. Sometimes you have to know when to just give up.
The weekend's coming up. I guess that's something to look forward to.
Sure I have to go to the office... but at least I can play music as loud as I want.
If you've never suffered from severe depression... if you've never stood by helplessly as somebody you care about battles depression... if you've never made an effort to understand what depression is or what it does to you... then please, for the love of God, shut the fuck up about it. Your ignorant commentary adds nothing to the conversation and only serves to make things worse for people living with this drastically misunderstood mental disorder.
Because if I hear one more asshole like Shep Smith (who obviously knows jack-shit about depression) call Robin Williams "a coward" for killing himself, I'm going to lose it.
With depression you don't kill yourself because you're selfish or weak or a coward... you kill yourself because a non-stop feeling of utter desolation means you can't muster any self-worth and feel as if everybody you care about would be better off without you. That's the opposite of selfishness... the opposite of weakness... the opposite of cowardice. It's having the strength to choose ending your life in order to give those you love a better one.
Which is crap, of course, but that's the way your brain works when you have severe depression.
So comparing this disorder to "being sad" is ludicrous. It's not sad. Everybody gets sad from time to time because they're given a reason to feel sad. Depression is feeling sad to the point of despair for no reason and every reason with no end in sight. It's feeling completely lost without knowing why. It's feeling utterly alone when surrounded by people who care about you. It's the agonizing feeling of not being able to justify your very existence. And it is unrelenting. It simply does not stop. It overwhelms your every thought every minute of every damn day.
And unless you've been through it... or had to watch somebody endure it... your mind just can't comprehend what it's like. So stop it. Stop acting like you have a fucking clue.
"How could Robin Williams be depressed when he had millions of dollars?" — Money can't buy your way out of depression when nothing you can buy will bring you happiness.
"How could Robin Williams be depressed when everybody loved him?" — All the love in the world can't make you feel loved if you don't feel deserving of it.
"How could Robin Williams commit suicide and make his family suffer like this?" — When you feel that your depression is a burden to ones you love, suicide seems like the greatest kindness you can offer them.
Again. This is a mental disorder... you can't apply logic or rational thinking to explain it away.
And if you don't want to sound like a complete and total bastard, you'll stop trying.
I loathe shopping.
I've never enjoyed it. If given the choice between going to the mall or getting water-boarded, I'd probably take the water-boarding. Especially during the holidays (at least the first time... as I've read that being water-boarded is seriously no fun at all). Now-a-days I rarely go to a mall or physical store to shop, I buy everything on the internet. And while I still loathe shopping, at least with online shopping I don't have to put pants on.
But that's not the only difference.
The biggest difference to me is that online shopping comes with customer reviews. When shopping at Amazon (my online store of choice) I have immediate access to the opinions of other people who have purchased the item I'm looking at. This can be a big plus. Except sometimes the reviews are paid or planted to make a product sound better than it is, in which case it's a huge detriment. They can also be sabotaged by people with nothing better to do than trash perfectly good products for petty reasons. But, overall, I trust reviews to even out and paint an accurate picture of what you'll be getting.
And, for the most part, this trust is not misplaced.
But what happens when it does?
I really like my current camera bag, a Tamrac Velocity 7x, but it's now too small to hold all my equipment and it screams "I'M A CAMERA BAG!!!" which probably acts like a beacon to thieves looking for an easy score. So I decided to buy something new. Which isn't an easy feat because no photographer I know has found the perfect bag. But this doesn't stop them from battling to the death in promoting the bag they prefer while brutally cutting up bags they don't. As you can imagine, this makes researching which bag to buy incredibly difficult. But I put in the time anyway and eventually landed on one which looked perfect for me.
Enter "The Brixton" by Ona Bags...
Photo from Ona Bags featuring photographer Colin Hughes
First of all, it's one of the best-looking camera bags I've ever seen. It looks like a high-end messenger bag and doesn't say "I'm a camera bag" at all. Sure, for the sake of the cows that died to make it, I wish it didn't have leather accents, but at least those poor animals can rest in peace knowing that their hide was used to make something so beautiful.
But, when it comes to baggage, I'll take functionality over beauty any day, so how well does it work as a camera bag?
Well, according to all the reviews I read, it was the most amazing thing since sliced bread. Honestly, I had a hard time finding anything bad that was said about it. Photographers loved the thing. So I did my best to ignore the TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-NINE DOLLAR PRICE TAG, and placed my order with B&H Photo.
I was so thrilled to have finally found the most perfect camera bag ever made that I was walking on air for days.
And then it arrived.
Yes, it is indeed beautiful... but holy shit is it a cluster-fuck of disasters...
That last bullet requires some explanation...
As you can see, instead of pointing down, the buckle prong faces upwards. This means the damn thing is pointing out ALL THE TIME! The first time I noticed this, it was because I squeezed by a $1000 wood filing cabinet only to see that The Brixton left an ugly gash in the finish. The next time I noticed it, I dropped my arm to my side where the bag was resting and got punctured (no blood, but it left a mark and hurt like a m#th@f#c%er).
This is a huge, major, massive design flaw.
BUT IT WAS NOT MENTIONED ONCE IN ANY REVIEW I READ! NOT ONCE! What the fuck?!?
Did I perhaps get a defective product or something? I jumped to Ona's own website to see if I could find out. Sure enough, right there in their own marketing photos, the little buckle prong is sticking out all over the place!
Did nobody at any point during product testing notice this problem? Nobody?! I'm the only one who has been poked and left gashes in furniture? Seriously?!
I just don't get it.
There's a lot of things to like about this bag, but it's so deeply flawed that I just can't comprehend the universal praise it's getting. In order to make it work for me, I'm going to have to...
My regret is not that I have to modify this bag so that I can use it effectively. That's bound to happen with something as varied and subjective as photography gear. It's that I paid TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-NINE DOLLARS for something that didn't have a lot of thought put into it. Or maybe it did, and the designers made bad choices. I dunno. It's just maddening that no reviewer mentioned any of the shortcomings that come with owning Ona's "The Brixton."
Oh well. Eventually, with modification, it should be a good bag for me. I sure like the way it looks. And it could have been worse.
I could have paid $430 for the all-leather version.
I hate shopping.
"Please calm down."
So there I was fueling up at the mini-mart when I see a woman drop a can of soda as she's fiddling with her keys. This causes the guy sitting in the car next to her to scream "YOU ALMOST HIT MY CAR YOU DUMB BITCH!"... and I'm left wondering two things...
This had me wondering two more things as I watched the woman drive away...
And this had me further wondering...
This didn't happen today. It happened years ago.
But I still think about it often. Mostly as I struggle to stay positive and be sure I have a kind word for everyone when things go wrong.
I also think about it when I see things like this...
The guy made a mistake. But he didn't drive off and abandon the other driver... he admitted his error and stopped to be sure the person that he ran off the road was okay. And even when faced with her anger, he didn't shy away... he tried to calm her down so she wouldn't be driving in such a crazy, rage-fueled state of mind.
What a decent human being he is.
Which has to be tough in the face of a racist piece of shit like this psychotic bigot. I mean, I know she's angry, but really?
If this gentleman can keep his cool and maintain kindness while enduring this kind of crap, there's no excuse for me... her... or anyone... to act that way. No matter how upsetting the situation may be. Nobody should have to endure that kind of abuse.
So try to hold on to kindness in a world that's anything but kind and maybe somebody will do the same for you.
Nothing quite like having something horrible replaced with something even more horrible. But isn't that the way it always goes?
About the only thing keeping me sane right now is the volumes of incredible wisdom that's been accumulated in our world's philosophies and religions. I always thought that studying "religion" over the years was just a hobby. Something to supplement my travels and better understand the people I meet on this earth. But after decades of reading, discussing, and debating the material, I've come to realize that it's all become a part of me. And my life is so mud richer because of it.
Dealing with hardship is nothing new.
People far smarter than I have been writing on how to deal with hardships for centuries, and all that knowledge is out there... free for the taking.
Sadly, most people will never take advantage of it. Maybe they don't have the time. Maybe they think it's all crap. Maybe they are told that any texts outside their own faith are evil. Maybe they feel that anything tied to a religion is stupid. Maybe they're not open-minded to foreign culture and philosophy. Whatever the case, it's a real shame.
There's just so much beautiful wisdom out there waiting to be shared.
For many people in the US, there is a three-day weekend coming up.
Not for me, of course, but for many people.
I really needed a dose of happy today.
Fortunately, happy is just a click away on the internets.
I could watch ducky videos all day long...
The time has ben dragging.
Dragging so bad.
Very soon now.
I don't get it.
I just don't get it.
Three years ago I was in the Australian Outback. On my first night there, I stared up into the stars because they were so bright I couldn't stop myself. Almost immediately I saw a bright object soaring across the night sky. "Was that a comet?" I asked myself. A few taps on an astronomy app on my iPhone later I found out it wasn't a comet... it was the International Space Station.
I wonder if there are people on there right now?
And at that moment, I came to full realization just how insignificant humanity is to The Universe.
It reminded me of a line from Alan Moore & Dave Gibbon's Watchmen where Laurie Jupiter is trying to convince the god-like Dr. Manhattan to save an earth that's on the brink of nuclear war...
Today I got that same feeling of humanity's utter insignificance... but it came from watching the news... not looking up at the heavens.
People are so horrifyingly terrible to each other on this planet that more and more I think the universe is better off without us. Certainly better rid of us before we are technologically advanced enough to head out and spread our poison beyond this solar system.
Star Trek this ain't, and I'm more than a little sad about that.
Thank heavens tomorrow I'm leaving for one of my favorite places on earth.
There are many ways I could spend my Saturday that would be considered "perfect."
99% of them involve being anywhere but here.
The remaining 1% definitely do not involve being at work.
And yet, here I am.
Hasn't been working so far...
Maybe I need to sacrifice Justin Bieber to a goat or something.
Every once in a while...
...everything comes up Milhouse.
Tired of playing the game.
Ain't it a cryin' shame.
I'm so tired.
No trick-or-treaters again this year.
I'd feel bad about it... but I only bought candy I like, so the big winner of the evening is obviously me...
I remember when I was in my final years of trick-or-treating. It was a war. Complete with a battle-plan that involved maximizing the area covered and minimizing the amount of time to cover it. We knew which houses to go to for the good stuff... and which houses were a waste of time and to be avoided. We alternated being "runners" who would run ahead to the next house and ring the bell so that the door would already be open when the rest of the group arrived. We had parents lined up to drive us to the "good candy neighborhoods" and timed everything so that the houses that tended to shut down early were hit first. And of course we had two sets of cloth candy bags that wouldn't rip like the crappy plastic bags most kids used.
He who had the best battle-plan got the most candy.
And Halloween back in my day was all about the candy.
Until I was too old for trick-or-treating. Then it was time for a new generation to take over.
Except Halloween was too good to last.
Big city problems invaded suburbia. Poisoned candy came along. Candy with razor blades appeared. Frickin' HEALTHY "candy" debuted. Trick-or-treating suddenly became dangerous. Even worse, "fun-size" candies kept getting smaller and smaller and smaller, so even if you could find actual candy, it wasn't worth your time. And don't get me started about the houses handing out toothbrushes or stickers or any of that crap.
So now Halloween is more about dressing up than getting maximum candy.
Which is sad for the child-me who once loved the holiday.
But reason to celebrate for the adult-me who is sitting here with a big bowl of U-NO bars all to myself.
Happy Halloween, everybody!
As of today, I have become a single-issue voter.
Since it doesn't seem to matter which political party gets into office, and Republicans and Democrats have been equally guilty of caving to lobbyists and fucking up this country... I just don't give a shit anymore. This tends to lead me to vote based on social issues rather than the Big Political Issues that are decided by People With Money instead of politicians.
Because if we're going to charge ahead into wars so the 1% can profit from the carnage... if we're going to continue to subsidize industries that destroy the environment... if we're always going to pass laws that stack the deck against the little guy so the big guys can keep their wealth and power... does it really fucking matter if it's a conservative or a liberal making the decision? Why should I care?
Newsflash... I don't.
I haven't for a long time.
And so I've made my election decisions based solely on the issues that politicians can actually change. Any time a candidate is fighting for personal liberties, equality, fairness, and keeping the government the fuck out of our bedrooms, vaginas, and private lives... they get my vote. Which is why Mitt Romney wasn't even on my radar during the last presidential election. President Obama was the least worst candidate on crap that presidents are actually a factor in changing. Sure he totally fucked us on "government transparency," but the People With Money were never going to let ordinary citizens see how the government really works anyway... so whatever. But Obama has pushed forward on issues like marriage equality, which is all he can truly change anyway, so there you have it.
And now we come to the one issue that makes me a single-issue voter from here on out.
Daylight Saving Time.
Any politician... ANY politician... who makes a campaign promise to eradicate Daylight Saving Time gets my vote. Republican... Democrat... Libertarian... Independent... Communist... whatever... that's how I'm casting my ballot.
I can't stand Hillary Clinton. But if Hillary Clinton runs with the promise of dropping Daylight Saving Time and her challenger does not... CLINTON 2016!
I can't stand Mitt Romney. But if Mitt Romney runs again with the promise of dropping Daylight Saving Time and his challenger does not... ROMNEY 2016!
Hell, if mental midget with an IQ of a butter dish Louie Gohmert decides to stop obsessing over gay men long enough to make a run for president in 2016 with a promise to abolish Daylight Saving Time... GOHMERT 2016!
Sure he's dumber than a box of rocks, but it's not like this would be the first time we've had a person so pervasively, astoundingly, unyieldingly ignorant in the White House. But we survived then and we can survive again... we'll just be doing it without having to dick with our clocks twice a year.
And speaking of pervasively, astoundingly, unyieldingly ignorant potential candidates... if he vows to get rid of Daylight Saving Time? TRUMP 2016!
Because the madness simply has to end.
Eliminate it... or split the difference... or even make Daylight Saving Time become Standard Time... I don't fucking give a shit... just stop this antiquated, nonsensical, idiotic crap once and for all...
RICK "PIECE OF SHIT" SANTORUM 2016???
Could be. Could be. All it takes is one campaign promise... you disgusting, unAmerican, homophobic, dumbfuck... and my vote is yours!
As I get older, I seem to be developing a resistance to cold, which is something I've never had before. I've always been a total weenie in the cold, which is why I've never been much for wintertime activities. Yet lately, despite falling temperatures, I've been leaving the jacket at home and wearing short-sleeve shirts every day and loving it.
It was good while it lasted.
Tonight when I left work at 6:30 I was assaulted by bitter cold that had me seriously regretting my wardrobe choice.
I either need to start wearing a jacket... or stop working late.
I just worked 17 hours.
If you will forgive me for not blogging today, that would be great because I'm incredibly tired.
Happy trails to you.
If I had to pick a single defining attribute of Buddhism, it would be patience.
As you might imagine, patience is a very rare commodity in a world where everything is moving at 100 miles per hour and the mantra for modern living seems to be "Keep up or get left behind." How do you practice patience in such an environment?
The easy answer is that you do not.
Instead you go balls-out like everybody else and try your best to retain enough perspective that you are able to stay sane.
The not-so-easy answer is that you be patient...
I do try. But often fail miserably. Probably because I cannot abide discourteous behavior and the world is filled with assholes. I don't have patience for assholes.
Which is totally my fault, of course.
I'll have to try not letting that keep me from trying again.
Because apparently I'm the one asshole I can find patience for.
I am not a fan of snow. Never have been, if the truth be known.
Which means that the first real snowfall of the season is always met with a sense of dread and despair that's akin to a case of scorching diarrhea. Or perhaps a punch in the face.
And today was the day.
Because my office is in a cave, I didn't know about it until a considerable amount of the white stuff had already fallen. The sky had been fairly clear and sunny when I left for work this morning, so I don't even know where it came from...
So now I'm booking flights to Seattle for my final two trips of the year, as the idea of driving over the mountain passes in this crap makes me want to stick my head in a microwave... which is undoubtedly less painful.
Guess I should find some gloves. I must own twenty pair, but they never seem to present themselves until winter is over. It's as if they don't like the snow either, and go into hiding.
Can't say that I blame them.
If I could, I'd be hiding right now myself.
A great deal of my day was spent rolling my eyes into the back of my head.
The rest of the day was pretty much this...
Good thing it's taco night.
Annnnnd... just bought all my clothes for 2015.
For the past four years I shop for clothing only on Black Friday online sales so I can purchase stuff I ordinarily could not afford (Lucky Brand, Banana Republic, etc.) or to get double the amount of stuff I would normally get (American Eagle, iTunes Cards, etc.). Amazing how putting aside $50 a month nets $600 that has buying power of $1000 to $1200 this one time of year.
Unlike the many, many people who profess to despise Black Friday as a blight on the holiday season and humanity in general... I am happy to publicly embrace this celebration of consumerism gone amuck. Not because I have some vendetta against the holidays (or whatever), but because I like to save piles of money.
Not that I would ever step foot in an actual store today.
I prefer the relative safety of my web browser to the madness of full-contact shopping...
Black Friday is also the time that I cash in all the pocket change I save up the rest of the year (so I have even more cash to spend on deals). It always adds up to a lot more than I'd expect...
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-TWO DOLLARS AND SIXTY-SEVEN CENTS?! How do I accumulate that much coinage?
Fair warning... CoinStar does not accept foreign monies (or penis salad buttons) as legal tender...
Annnnnd... now that I've spent all my money, I suppose it's time to get back to work.
So I can earn money for next year.
It's a viscious circle, yo.
I don't believe The United States of America was created as a "Christian Nation" and never have. Our founding fathers made sure religious freedoms were built into the DNA of this country and were careful not to single out any one religion as "official" in our founding documents. This alone is all the evidence you need, but there is a lot of historical context to back it up (including the Treaty of Tripoli which spells it out in no uncertain terms).
No... in the only sense I have ever considered this to be a "Christian Nation" is that 77% of the population identifies as Christian.
But now I'm starting to think that at least 28%... and probably many, many more... of those identifying as "Christian" are full of shit.
Because if we truly were a "Christian Nation" as a matter of demographic, city governments would not keep making it illegal to feed the homeless. They would not do such a thing because Christians would not stand for it. Christians live by the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, and feeding the hungry is the very definition of what Jesus was all about...Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." — John 6:35 (NIV)
Yes, Jesus is talking about spiritual hunger here, but look at the metaphor he's using! And he backs that shit up with one of his most famous miracles...
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. — Matthew 14:15-21(NIV)
And so, obviously, any true Christian considers feeding the hungry to be a major tenant of their faith. Because that's who Jesus is.
Currently 33 American cities make it illegal to feed the homeless.
And they aren't playing. Earlier this month a 90-year-old manin Ft. Lauderdale was again arrested for his efforts in feeding the homeless. Sure there's public outrage... but not 77% public outrage calling for the resignation of city government and their bullshit excuses for creating such fucked-up laws (to "prevent government-run anti-homelessness programs from being diluted" — bitch, please).
And I don't get it. Where are the Christians in this "Christian Nation" of ours?
By their inaction, they're supporting those politicians who make it illegal to feed the homeless, I guess. Perhaps they think Jesus was the kind of savior who was worried about diluting government-sponsored programs or something.
But, setting Jesus aside for a minute, SINCE WHEN DOES A PERSON HAVE TO BE CHRISTIAN TO SUPPORT FEEDING THE HUNGRY?!?
77% of the population? Fuck that. Where are 100% of the population when stupid shit like this happens?
By their inaction, apparently 23% of them think this is a problem for the Christians to deal with instead of considering it to be a problem for humanity.
As for me?
MY faith forbids me from giving money to the homeless because they may use that money to purchase something harmful to themselves or others. But I buy food for the homeless whenever I am able. I see somebody who says they're hungry and I buy them something from a nearby market. Or take them to a nearby restaurant and pay for their meal. Or buy enough food when I'm dining out so that I can set aside part of it for them. And I don't give a crap if the city I'm in has some kind of stupid, unjust law in effect that forbids me from doing so. I may not be a Christian but, like the example set by Jesus, I don't particularly care about consequences when answering to a higher calling.
Because? Strut the Rooster...
Seriously? Getting arrested for feeding the hungry?
What the bloody fuck has this country come to?
I don't care if you believe this nation was founded on Christian principles or not. Right now I'm more concerned with us having any principles at all.
God bless America?
If this is what we've come to, I sincerely doubt it.
...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. — Isaiah 58:10
Well that was a grueling 16-hours.
But any day you get back to your hotel from work before 3:00am is a good one, amiright?
At the tone the time will be 2:56am.
Yep. Good enough.
They're gonna get you.
They won't forget you.
Oh you know I know.
When I went to bed last night, I felt great.
But when I woke up this morning, I felt bloody awful
So now, instead of spending the day getting caught up at work, I'm trying to work from home while feeling nauseous. Needless to say, it's tough getting much done when you feel like you're going to throw up all day long... but can't.
And I don't even know what's wrong.
I don't think it's food poisoning.
It doesn't feel like the flu.
I hope it's not kidney stones.
Modern-day Doritos with their beautiful rounded corners are the equivalent of a sandwich filled with dreams that have the crusts cut off. I love them, and now when I have to eat "regular" tortilla chips with their pointy corners it makes me want to cry.
And speaking of crying...
The only thing that makes me want to cry more than pointy tortilla chips is eating Doritos with salsa while wearing my favorite shirt. Somehow... no matter how careful I am... I always spill salsa on myself when my favorite shirt is involved. If I'm wearing a shirt I hate, however, it's as if a magical force field protects if from stains.
And speaking of stains...
I was shopping for some props at an antique store last week when I ran across a small pile of three white children's briefs. Neatly pinned to the top of the pile was a note which read "Stains NOT Urine!" Putting aside my curiosity as to who might purchase stained, used underwear from an antique store, I said aloud to myself "If the stains aren't urine... then what?" A woman shopping behind me said "I'm guessing it's rust."
And speaking of rust...
My dash was illuminated by the "Check Oil" light on the way to work yesterday. After Googling "Does Motor Oil Expire?" and finding out that it does not, I pulled a decade-old bottle from the trunk and popped the hood so I could add some. Much to my horror, it looks as though there's a bunch of rust and grime built-up in there, and I immediately regretted my do-it-yourself gumption. Had I not looked, my engine would still be shiny and new as it was in my memories. Guess that's what I deserve after not having bothered to gander at my engine for ten years. Since I know pretty much nothing about cars, there seemed no point in it. I've got more important things to store in my brain.
And speaking of brains...
While lost in a Wikipedia spiral, I somehow ended up on the page for hemispherectomy. In case you've never heard of it before, a hemispherectomy is a rare surgical procedure for children where half of their brain is removed to help eliminate life-threatening seizures. Remarkably, the human brain (fascinating organ that it is) can "re-wire" itself to replace the functionality lost by the missing half, so patients can grow up to live a fairly normal life despite experiencing such massive trauma. This got me thinking about the many times I've used the phrase "If they had half a brain, this wouldn't have happened!" when hearing about somebody doing something stupid. Now that I know about hemispherectomies, I realize it isn't quite the damning condemnation I had previously made it out to be. Guess it's time to come up with a different insult for the criminally stupid.
And speaking of stupid...
As I was wandering around the Mid-West a couple weeks ago, I noticed that the radio in my rental car was playing the best station ever. They kept playing amazing song after amazing song, and there were no commercial interruptions. Some of the music was terrific esoteric stuff by bands I didn't think anybody but me remembered, and my mind was sufficiently blown. Dying to know the name of this fantastic radio station that was too good to be true, I reached past the USB cord charging my mobile and pressed the "DISPLAY" button to find out. The readout said "iPhone."
And speaking of iPhone...
Yesterday while I was busy working away, my iPhone rang. Usually I ignore calls at work... especially when I don't know the number (like this time)... but I decided to answer for some reason. The elderly woman on the other end was attempting to call her daughter and was pretty upset that she got me instead. After figuring out that she dialed a "6" where she should have dialed a "3," she started sobbing for having made such a careless mistake. I assured her that it was no problem, at which time she thanked me through her tears.
And speaking of tears...
Have I mentioned how sad it makes me to have to eat non-Doritos tortilla chips with their pointy corners?
Merry Christmas to me from AT&T!
When I signed up with them, there was no mention of restrictions on my "Unlimited Data" plan. Now, for the first time ever, I'm approaching 5GB of use, so they're going to throttle my data speed.
No credit for the years of months I've barely used any data at all, I guess...
Whatevs. I've pretty much come to expect treatment like this any more.
It's only surprising now-a-days when you don't get screwed.
For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As usual, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.
This year presented me with some harsh struggles, unwelcome challenges, and a lot of bad news. But there were some good moments in there that kept 2014 from being a complete disappointment, so here we go...
• Explained why I'm in favor of legalizing marijuana even though I don't use marijuana...
• Jester and I visited the Walt Disney Family Museum at long last, then saw the amazing Betty Who in concert...
• Made time to add another section to my forearm tattoo.
• Got angry.
• With much sadness, I had to say goodbye to a friend.
• How I read.
• Flew to the Netherlands for PATATJES MET!
• Visited Glasgow, Scotland for Hard Rock No. 153...
• Revisited Florence, Italy for Hard Rock visit No. 154...
• Then went onward to Nice, France for Hard Rock visit No. 155 and nearly got killed in the process...
• Visited Friesland, the land of my forefathers, with The Dutch Bitch... then continued to the resort island of Schiermonnikoog.
• Back to San Francisco for work and the same old routine, which means... MINI DONUTS!
• Can't go to San Francisco without another tattoo...
• Visited the new Palm Springs Hard Rock Hotel, which is No. 156 for me...
• Discovered the best damn veggie burger ever while in Chicago...
• And so... Apple is definitely broken.
• TILTED WITH HOT COFFEE GIRL... ZOMG!
• Finally saw Morrissey in concert on a trip to Tampa... AND HE DIDN'T CANCEL! WOO-HOO!
• Ate the world's best potato salad with Certifiable Princess then explored Ybor City where we found... THE BAD MONKEY BAR!!!
• Once again flew to the amazing city of Pittsburgh and got to spend time with HelloHaHaNarf Becky, one of my most favorite people on earth... LET'S GO BUCS!
That's right... bask in our adorableness!
• Becky and I drove to Ohio so I could visit the Northfield Park Hard Rock Casino (No. 157) and Hard Rock Cafe (No. 158)...
• Thanks to my sister, I got to watch a Mariners game with field-level seats!
• It's over.
• Fuck you, you fucking fucks.
• Managed to live through another fire seasons in Central Washington...
• Visited Pigeon Forge, Tennessee so I could check off Hard Rock No. 159...
• Visited some lighthouses in Maine and ate the best blueberry crumble I have ever had in my life...
• Saw my favorite movie of 2014... Guardians of the Galaxy.
• If you've never suffered from severe depression... if you've never stood by helplessly as somebody you care about battles depression... if you've never made an effort to understand what depression is or what it does to you... then please, for the love of God, shut the fuck up about it.
• Bought a new camera lens... my first telephoto glass in many years.
• Flew to Salt Lake City and got to meet one of my childhood fantasies... ERIN GRAY!
• Went to the Retro Futura Tour with Marty from Banal Leakage to see TOM BAILEY OF THE THOMPSON TWINS LIVE IN CONCERT!
• Added Hard Rock visit No. 160 to my list in Johannesburg, South Africa...
• Fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit Africa and go on safari with a trip to Mana Pools in Zimbabwe...
• Photographed lions while visiting Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe...
• Accidentally discovered a love for astral photography...
• Flew to Victoria Falls to see the largest falls by volume on the face of the earth...
• THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT A SAFARI VACATION IN AFRICA!
• Took a short vacation from my vacation with a trip to New Orleans... and tattoo No. 6...
• Had the extreme pleasure of attending a reading by my favorite living author, David Sedaris...
• God bless America? If this is what we've come to, I sincerely doubt it.
• Try showing a little class...
• Took some time to do some night photography while I was in Portland, Maine...
• Stopped by Minneapolis to meet up with some blogger friends and visit the Hard Rock Cafe Mall of America, which would be No. 161 for me...
• Flew to Sioux Falls so I could drive down to Sioux City and see my last Hard Rock of the year... a hotel and casino No. 162...
• Closed out my travel year with a stop at the World Famous Corn Palace.
And that was my adventures in 2014.
Here's wishing everybody a terrific 2015!