Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thoughts on... Gun control

I would like to preface this by saying that I believe the only guns we should have should be in video games.

My dear readers, this blog is usually full of fluff and nonsense. It's meant to be a vehicle for me to write out the thoughts that run across my brain and not to be a bastion of hard hitting journalism or soul changing philosophy. However, after the events that occurred in Newtown, CT there has been a lot of arguing about why these shootings keep happening. And this has sparked up, once again, the gun control debate in this country. And to be honest, there are valid points on both sides of that particular debate.

But if you really look at the cause of the issue (either the Newtown incident or gun violence in general), the problem isn't the guns, that's just a symptom. The problem is PEOPLE. In one of his comedy specials, Chris Rock proposed a unique idea to resolving the issue of gun violence in this country:
Gun control? We need bullet control! I think every bullet should cost $5,000 dollars. Because if a bullet cost five thousand dollars, we wouldn't have any innocent bystanders.
This statement, while meant to be a joke, has two pieces of remarkable insight. 1) That there are more ways to deal with gun violence than banning guns. After all, the GUN is protected by the U.S. Constitution, not the BULLETS the gun fires. 2) To really get to the source of gun violence you have to manipulate the PEOPLE. Charging $5K a bullet changes the entire framework of how people relate to guns. It's not just a few hundred dollars and a 15 day waiting period, now it's a MAJOR expense. You could buy a car for $5K, put a down payment on a house, go on a cruise, etc... So, is it really worth it to go shoot someone at that price? It gets you thinking and changing your behavior. This is called manipulation.

Governments have clued into this a long, long time ago. This is WHY they delve so deeply into controlling the information we receive. Controlling information controls what conclusions you make based on that information, those conclusions build your worldview, which controls how you think and react to the events around you. This is mind control. REAL mind control. Just on a very subtle scale. But at the end of the day, when you strip all the fancy terminology, it's just manipulation. However, the issue right now is how to reduce gun violence in schools.

And to be completely honest, I think Chris Rock's idea is a good one. so, up the price on all ammunition!! And then funnel all the proceeds of the inflated pricing into a pool of money for each state with IRONCLAD laws(meaning no legal wiggle room) that explicitly states the money will fund the following:

1) An expansion of school budget to hire a small squad of unemployed veterans to protect the school.

This lowers our unemployment rate (helps the economy), gives our veterans a sense of purpose (they are protecting our country's greatest resource our children), so suicide rate amongst them will drop, gives the school expert personnel to run school shooting drills, teach gun safety to the children (which will cut down on accidental shootings), help with PE (which can reduce the country's obesity problem), give self defense training to girls (reducing their chances of getting raped in the future), and increases the available staff for things like study halls and detention (freeing up time for teachers to get other work done).

2) The creation and maintenance of state run mental health programs so that the people of this country have access to way to ease the stresses of their lives and prevent them from going "postal" and shooting up schools.

Let's be honest. If the shooter was in therapy, he wouldn't have been shooting up the school. And with the awareness of the programs, people will become more mindful of the warning signs, in themselves and in their loved ones. Everyone goes through tough times, and invariably what gets us through it intact is the other people around us.

In the end, the idea is solve the problem from BOTH sides of the issue and not to argue over whether just getting rid of guns is the answer. Let's get real here, if guns weren't freely available, the Anarchist Cookbook (go and download it, it's freely available) shows many other amazing ways of killing people, including several delightful types of bombs. And people can freely murder each other with knives, belts, shoes, pillows, sticks, rocks, plastic bags, and the ever present hands and feet. Hell, in a TV show I watch when they ran out of bullets, they switched to swords. There has never, is never, will never be any shortage of available weaponry with which to be violent.

No, the real answer is work with people. Give them opportunities to express themselves; to vent their frustrations and anger in safe, non-lethal ways. Eventually, we can get to the point where we don't want to shoot each other. However, this is a long, involved process taking a great deal of time. In a country as attention deficient as the US, I'm not sure we can ever get there. But I hope that we can take the time and make the smart policy changes to get us there.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Into Darkness

I found out that Paramount has released a teaser trailer before the release of the real trailer on Dec.17th. I have just watched it and it looks AMAZING!!! I can't wait until next summer!!! Here's the video:

I saw that trailer, and I was like WOW! And this is the "announcement" trailer for another trailer (which, yes, I think is completely dumb, but there's nothing I can do about that), can you IMAGINE what that's going to be like? Oh, and the actor doing the voice over, Benedict Cumberbatch, is a personal favorite of mine, most recently seen in the BBC series, Sherlock, playing none other than Sherlock Holmes himself.

If you wish to see him without going to the UK, check out The Hobbit. He'll be playing the part of a Necromancer, joining his Sherlock co-star Martin Freeman (young Bilbo Baggins). I remember being worried about the first installment in the Star Trek reboot, but when I watched it, all worries were taken away. It hit all the right character notes, had a great cast, and had a great, engaging storyline. It looks like Bad Robot Productions is keeping things going with the sequel. This makes me wish there were a Star Trek show on TV, though. *sigh*

Until next time, my dear readers, live long and prosper.

Funny Thing Happened This Morning...

Here's a bit of humor to start your day, my dear readers.

I found out this morning, that my apt holds grudges. I don't know why it's pissed off at me, but I must have done something. Here's what happened. As I was leaving the apt this morning, I saw one of my roommates getting ready to go to work. I offer a ride and they agree. I open the apt door, then open the screen door(which has a loose lower panel), say, "Okay, I'll go warm up the car", and step outside.

In retrospect, I realize that was my mistake. Stepping outside.

The battle started with the doormat. The little fucker slid just as my foot landed so my leg just went out from under me. The screen door then screeched at me and smacked me while I was falling to alter my trajectory and I ended up falling to my right. I was wearing my backpack, which cleverly blocked the porch floor's attack. But, that pissed off the side wall who proceeded to crack me in the back of the head while angrily shouting, "Muthafucker!!"

As my head rebounds off the wall, the lower panel of the screen door puts King Leonidas to shame yelling, "SPARTA" and detaching itself from the rest of the door and flying directly at my face just in time to add the energy from my rebounding head to its strike.

Their anger sated, for the moment, they disengaged from me and allowed my roommate to help me regain my feet. When they asked what happened, I realize that the blitz attack happened so fast, no one else but me saw the real events of the attack.

I would like to say that I held up a lot better in this fight. I really do, but I can't. They caught me by surprise and it was 5 to 1 (doormat, screen door, wall, floor, and lower panel) odds. Plus, I'm a lover not a fighter, so I was doomed from the start. If this happens again, I hope I'll be ready and handle myself better.  

But, I swear to you, my dear readers, that is EXACTLY what happened. So, beware of your apt, it might just be pissed at you, too!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Because He's The White Dude? Really??

Okay, I have really had it with some of the presidential campaign ads that I've been seeing recently. I'm sure you've seen them too. The Pro-Obama ads that imply (or sometimes just flat out state) that anything short of messianic love of Obama means you're a racist douche-bag with a swastika tattooed on your left nut who just loves hanging with your KKK pals and jerking off to pics of Hitler ass-raping the minorities before kicking them into a gas chamber. Stuff like an ad asking why someone would like Romney. They list a bunch of his stances in politics (fair game) and then end it with:

"Or is it because he's the white dude and you really HATE Obama?"

Really, people? I have lived in this country my whole life and I've lived through many presidential campaigns, but this is a new low. Despite the admitted problems this country has, the thing that makes me LOVE living here is the core philosophy and ideals which we strive to live up to every day. One of the most famous of those ideals is the first amendment. Amongst other things, the first amendment of the US Constitution gives us freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Add those two freedoms together and you give the citizens of the US the freedom to believe anything we want to believe.

Now, I'm someone who supports Obama. I firmly believe he's the right candidate for the job. But, I do understand that a coherent and cogent case can be made for Mitt Romney's candidacy. There is an intelligent argument for him to be president. I may not agree with that argument, but it's THERE. If the strongest pro-Obama argument out there is that you're racist if you don't vote for him, then Obama shouldn't win. Why because that argument is blatantly moronic. And, yes, I mean it. Seriously, to accuse people of being racist just because they don't believe that Obama did a good job these past four years is freaking idiotic! Here's how idiotic this is:

The definition of racism (according to Merriam Webster's dictionary) is the following:

Racism (noun):
A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Note that there aren't any racial distinctions there. Anyone, of any color, can be racist towards anyone else of any color. Going by the definition above, the people who created these ad campaigns calling people racist are themselves being racist by assuming that race is the primary determinant of how people will vote in this election!! Get that?

Racist people are accusing others of being racist for not liking their candidate based on his race. 

And the worst part is, because of the politically correct undercurrents in this culture, there are people out there who will change their vote out of fear of being accused of racism (which is getting the same social stigma as being accused of rape). So, we're resorting to fear based ad campaigns in this country?? Really?

It's one thing to accuse the Congress members who dedicated themselves to making sure Obama was a single term president before he stepped foot into the office of being racist. They had nothing but the color of his skin to base their opinions on. And as elected officials, they are to be held to a higher standard while in office and making policy for this country. But now? After four years of Obama being in office? He wouldn't be doing his job right if he didn't piss people off. And those pissed off people have the right to vote for someone else. That's what being in a FREE COUNTRY is about, people!!

Now, do I admit that there are racists out there who want President Blackenstein out of office? Yes, I do. They are out there. And they have every right to be out there. This is a land of the free and we are free to believe whatever we choose, even if its racist. But don't go throwing the baby out with bathwater here, people. The actual racists out there don't account for the ENTIRE republican voting population. They don't even account for most of it. Thankfully, none of the candidates have approved any of the ads that I've seen. I don't want to know what kind of political crap storm would occur if that happened.

Now, this is a land of the free, so I can't stop them from spewing this excrement. I usually just change the channel or skip the ad, but the sheer amount of this stuff that I have to avoid is getting REALLY annoying. And I'm sick of it.

To all you Romney supporters out there, stand strong! This Obama supporter believes that you are good people who are making the choice you believe is right, and not choosing out of any racist tendencies. I have no quarrel with you, and I hope the best man for the job (whomever that may be) wins the election this year. Good luck to you, and God bless!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Get In The Zone...

The first I had ever heard of the Zone Of The Enders (ZOE) was when I was reading an article about the PS2. It seems that, at the time, Sony had come to the conclusion that developers weren't using the system to it's full potential and so they decided to create a game that really showcased what the PS2 could do. They turned to Hideo Kojima (most famously known for developing the Metal Gear Solid series). Taking inspiration from Japanese Robot/Mech anime, he gave them Zone Of The Enders.

I bought ZOE on the sake of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised. The graphics were amazing, including the real time updating "warning" ring", the responsiveness was almost instantaneous and the action was very fluid. I always have issues with flight mechanics, but after a short stint in the training arena I was flying my Orbital Frame (more on that term later) with no problems. The storyline was interesting, but the main character (being a 10 year old kid) was a bit annoying.  Still, like so many others, I quickly fell in love with the game.

About the story, ZOE takes place in the late 22nd century. Humanity has expanded out to colonize Mars and even has some colonies in orbit around Jupiter. This was done with LEVs (Laborious Extra-orbital Vehicles) and a new metal ore called Metatron. Tensions between Earth & Mars escalate (Anyone born outside of Earth were nicknamed "Enders", hence the title of the game.) and give birth to rebel factions on Mars, most notably BAHRAM, who developed a new type of LEV called Orbital Frames making extensive use of Metatron based tech. The game follows this 10 year old homeless kid named Leo who accidentally discovers the Orbital Frame, Jehuty and bonds with it. There's nothing like a story about a kid and his robot. (Don't believe me? Check out Real Steel!)

Anyway, it turns out that the rebel group BAHRAM had built Jehuty and it's opposite, Anubis (the main villain of the game) as keys to an unstoppable weapon that would destroy the evil Earth minions, free Mars from Earthling tyranny, spread candy bars and twinkies across the galaxy and make everyone have a nice day. As events play out in the game, you find out the real deal about BAHRAM's plans. And then there was the sequel, Zone of The Enders: The 2nd Runner.

When I found out that a sequel was going to be released, I was ecstatic! Not so the gaming critics. It turns out that for the game critic community (and a disturbingly large number of gamers) ZOE was "the free game that came with the $50 demo of Metal Gear Solid 2". (It was a marketing thing, Konami wanted to boost the sales of ZOE. It didn't quite work.) To this day, that line pisses me off. GRRR!!!

Anyway, ZOE2 follows a new pilot, Dingo Egret (I know, the name is dumb. Get over it.) who after an accident finds himself physically BONDED to the orbital frame, Jehuty. You can imagine the fun THAT'S going to be for him! Especially when Leo comes back piloting the Vic Viper, (Yes, it's a Gradius reference. That battle was simply awesome! You never realize how powerful that little 8-bit ship is until you have to fight it yourself!) gunning to get Jehuty back. Since ZOE2 takes place only 2 years after ZOE, Leo is still annoying, but slightly less so. The major note for ZOE2 was that the game made a giant leap forward in tech with the seamless blending of actual anime footage into the gameplay. (Paving the way for games like Catherine.)

At the same time, the producers also released an OVA (original video animation) that would serve as a prequel for the video game series AND a new 26 episode anime series ZOE: Dolories, i. ZOE2 was well received by fans and critics but it was overshadowed by other major titles and didn't really do as well as it could have done.So, after all of that, why am I writing about this? That's simple, my dear readers! In about two weeks, they are going to release the Zone of Enders HD collection!!!

They've updated all the interfaces to HD standards, created brand new opening animations, as well as recreated the original opening animations for HD. This release is for the PS3, Vita and for the first time ever, the Xbox 360! And paving the way for critics to downplay this release, Konami, in it's infinite wisdom, decided to include a demo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengance with this collection. If I hear someone call this "the free HD game that accompanied the $40 Revengance demo" I will rip their heart out and sacrifice it to the Mayan god of corn!!

But I can forgive Konami for this slip up. I can. No really, I can. Why? Because the creator himself, Mr. Hideo Kojima himself said that planning has begun for ANOTHER game in the Zone of The Enders series!!! Granted it's seriously early planning, but it's better than nothing!! Now, I will leave you with a clip of the new opening animation for the HD collection.

So, after watching that, anyone interested in the game?? You better be, Anubis is watching you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Fall TV...

Everyone who knows me knows that my favorite time of year is the Fall. (In fact, I wrote about my affection for Autumn in an earlier post!) I usually wax poetic about the colors changing and the characteristic weather of the Fall, but there's one thing about this season that usually goes unmentioned: the new shows of the Fall TV season!!

Right around this time is where all the major broadcast TV networks debut new shows to the world! Brand new stories, that the networks hope will light new fires in the minds of their audiences, step out onto the stage and get their chance to shine! And this year there are several new shows out that I've latched on to. Now, because of how many shows are out there, the premieres are usually staggered  throughout the fall, so some shows still haven't started yet, but for the ones that have, here are my personal favorites:

The Last Resort - LR is a military drama about the crew of the US Navy submarine USS Colorado and what happens when they ask for confirmation of a nuclear fire order that they received via a questionable protocol. I know soldiers aren't supposed to question their orders, but DAMN!

I know, I know. I'm making it sound like dried dirt, but trust me this show is INTENSE!! The cast, led by Andre Braugher, has been nothing less than AMAZING so far. I was going through tough times this summer, so I wasn't as vigilant as I usually am about the upcoming TV schedule. I had NO CLUE about this show whatsoever!! Thankfully, my friends know me well enough to keep an eye out for quality tv programming or I would have missed this gem!

Arrow - This show is the CW's darker take on the comic book super-hero, The Green Arrow. Given that I hated Smallville, I had mixed feelings about this show. But the promotional footage was awesome, and I knew the work of one of the producers from another show he did, so I gave the show a shot, so to speak. And it was great!

I do have to admit, I have some issues with the creative choices they made, but the quality of the show did shine through and the story is compelling.

666 Park Avenue - 6PA is a show about a couple who move into a residential hotel, The Drake, located at 999 Park Ave and the supernatural events that occur there. When I first heard about this show, I knew instantly that it was going to be a slow burn. It sounded like one of the main themes of the show was the corrosive nature of the desire to have "the good life". Hollywood has proven time and time again that stories like that work best when the corruption has time to play itself out and from what I've seen of the show, I'm not too far off the mark.

The problem with the slow burn is that it takes awhile for the story to really gain traction with audiences. From the iffy response I've seen the show get from people, I'm not sure the show will last long enough to get to the really great parts of the story. But, given the potential for greatness, I really hope this show stays around for a long, long while.

Revolution - This show is about what might happen if all the electricity on the planet simply stopped working. The brainchild of Supernatural creator, Eric Kripke and produced by J.J. Abrams, Revolution is a very high-concept show and that made me very wary about it. These shows tend go to very bad, very quickly. (Anyone remember Terra Nova? Yeah, exactly.) But, the concept was interesting, and I loved Kripke's first show so, after a long waiting period, I gave the show a watch. And much to my surprise, it didn't suck!

The story was interesting, the progression of the world after all tech stopped working made sense, and the acting was excellent. Before I knew it the show had me very much engaged. I really can't wait to see what comes next for the Mathesons.

Vegas - Vegas is based on the true story of Sheriff Ralph Lamb who was Sheriff of Vegas in the 60s & 70s. From what I can tell, the show is going to be about the clash between Sheriff Lamb and the newly arrived mobster, Vincent Savino. Now, there are some actors who are just born to play a certain type of role. This show stars TWO of them. Dennis Quaid, who is born to play down-on-their-luck stubborn jackasses that you have to respect, and Micheal Chiklis, who was born to embody no nonsense, don't give me bull or I'll turn you into paste, serious mofos. Quaid plays Sheriff Lamb and Chiklis plays the mobster.

You can see why I'm watching this show.

Elementary - The show is a modern day take on Sherlock Holmes with the added kick of placing him in New York City. This show first caught my eye because of the legal battles the producers were having with another modern day Holmes show called "Sherlock" created by the BBC. I've watched "Sherlock" and I believe it to be an amazing show. So, coming into this show, I was wary of what I might see. Despite my worries, the show turned out to be really well done.

Jonny Lee Miller does a very wonderful performance, exhibiting a more true-to-life man in Holmes than the typical "larger than life" intensity that is shown in movies & shows. Another interesting twist is Lucy Liu's performance as Joan Watson. She bonds an atypical vulnerability with Watson's trademark strong will, and intense personality to make an exemplary foil to Holmes.

I have to say that in an era where most shows feature a male & female leads being romantically interested in each other and spend seasons on why they should get together, but delaying the inevitable, it is refreshing to see a show where that isn't happening. From the jump, it was made clear that there was no romantic interest on EITHER side. However, I would like to see an escalation in the complexity of the cases being brought to Holmes' attention. There's only so many times that you can play the "cops messed up because they are myopic and don't consider alternate theories" card before it gets tiresome. 

The Mob Doctor - TMD is about a doc, Grace Devlin, who agrees to work for the Mob to pay off her brother's debt to them and to keep him alive, by providing medical assistance to whomever they demand. I started to watch this show because of William Forsythe. He is an actor who is born to play Mobsters. I think the Mob was invented JUST to give Forsythe an endless series of roles. I like the actress playing Grace Devlin, Jordana Spiro. She is very believable as a surgeon and she portrays the fire of woman who would stand in front of the mob to protect her brother exceptionally well.

The storyline is intense. This is another show playing on the effects of corruption, but this is much less of a slow burn than 666 Park Avenue. The choices are much more blunt and visceral. There are some issues with the storyline, but those aside, TMD is an excellent ride. But out of this list of shows, I think this would probably be the first to be cancelled. I'm trying not to get too invested in it, until I hear the network has picked it up for a full season order.

Those are my new shows this season. If any of them sound interesting, please look them up and check your local listings for when they air. I guarantee you won't regret it.

What about you my dear readers? What new shows got YOUR motor running? Sound off in the comments below!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

You'll Never Stop The Terror...

There is something that I must admit to you, my dear readers. Despite what you may believe, I am NOT a fan of musicals. Either on the silver screen or on stage, musicals just grate against my nerves. They have a shoestring storyline (usually just filler until the next song) and what story they have is exceedingly simple. When I can predict what's going to happen the whole musical just by watching the first 10 min, there is a problem. And then there's the music!! At best, it's just not interesting to me and at worst, the songs make the frantic wailing of a rabid cat strangling on piano wire sound  like Mozart.

In fact, until 1986, the best any musical could EVER do is get me to like ONE song. That's it. In a two hour show, I would enjoy, at most, 5 minutes. So, what happened in 86? I came across a newly released musical called "Little Shop Of Horrors". The concept alone got my attention: a HORROR based musical?? Really?? I watched it and to my surprise, it was AWESOME!!! The story was still very much predictable, but I didn't mind because the movie never took itself seriously enough to make that matter. It had three of my favorite comedic actors at the time (Rick Moranis & Bill Murray from Ghostbusters, and Steve Martin from SNL) and the music was based on 50s and 60s classics that I had been listening to my whole life!!! (All ten years of it, at the time.) It was even sung by one of the ORIGINAL Four Tops, Levi Stubbs! Except for TWO songs, I loved all the music!! Little Shop was simply a revelation to me!

A few years later, I delved into the history of Little Shop and I found it started out as a 1960s cult classic film (non-musical) starring none other than Jack Nicholson! Some Broadway people converted the story into a play and added the music and then Hollywood made the movie. It even made the history books as the first movie to cast an original member of the play! Ellen Greene, who played Audrey I in the play reprises her role in the film!! That was the good stuff. The bad stuff, well that was something else. See I went to see a production of the play and at which point I found out that the play and movie had radically different endings!! The movie had initially went with an ending in a similar style to the play, but test audiences hated it so the ending was scrapped, and they went with a more upbeat ending.

For the sake of completeness, the producers of the movie included a black & white work-print version of the original ending with the original release of Little Shop on DVD, but that was pulled due to the wishes of David Geffen, the head honcho of company that made the film. I searched and searched but I could NEVER get my hands on that ending to watch it. All the files I found were corrupted or just fakes. But now, things have brightened considerably!! Little Shop of Horrors has been released on blu-ray!!! And not only is it released but it's the DIRECTOR'S CUT!!! That's right, they have fully restored the original 20 minute ending sequence (which supposedly cost $3M of the movie's $25M budget) and released it to the public!! My copy is already on it's way to me now!! I can't WAIT to see it as it was originally intended!!! It's going to be EPIC!

Even now, in the midst of my excitement for the new blu-ray release, I can still remember the first time I watched Little Shop. It's been a very long time. Since then, I've gotten a few people hooked on the movie, and gained the eternal hatred of those who hate the film. I've also added a few other musicals to my library: Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Rent, Sweeney Todd, 5 Guys Named Moe, Les Miserables, and Rock Of Ages. But, none of them can elicit the same amount of joy and glee that bubbles out of me when I watch Little Shop. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face! It's still my favorite musical of all time. what about you dear readers? What is YOUR favorite musical?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Best Rejection EVER....

In reading the title for this post, one might ask how can a rejection be rated "best"? After all, rejection is always bad, right? Well, not exactly. In my job search immediately after I graduated from college, I was introduced to the "good" rejection when I applied to work at data storage company. I didn't get the job, which sucked, but the REASON why I didn't get the job was awesome. The HR guy basically told me that I was too enthusiastic about computers to be happy in the position they were offering. I would very quickly find the job mind numbingly dull and he couldn't, in good conscience, place me in that position. While I left that interview without a job, I also left with an amazing feeling: I was TOO GOOD for someone.

As you're aware, my dear readers, I'm in the middle of another job search. And once again, I got an AMAZING rejection. I applied for a application development position at Company X. At the beginning of the interview, I was told to mull over the things that were about to go over and call them back tomorrow to see if I was really interested in the role. I went through the interview, and spent the rest of the day, and most of the next day thinking about it. I called Company X back and left a message saying that I liked the place and I was definitely still interested in a position there. I figured it would be another day or so before I heard back, so I wasn't really feeling stressed or anything. Corporate hiring takes FOREVER. The only thing slower is GOVERNMENT hiring times.

Much to my surprise, a few hours later the lady from Company X's HR dept called me back! We went over my reactions to the interview, and then she gave me the run down from their perspective. It turns out that I was the last candidate to apply for the position and after considering all of them, they were going to offer the position to someone else. Right then, I was thinking, "Damn, oh well, at least they let me know quickly and didn't drag this out". And I was about to tell her something to the same effect when she continues with this:

"However, because we liked your personality so much and respect what you're doing in trying to learn more about development, we went to the CFO and secured funds to create a temporary position till the end of the year at which point we might get the funds to make it permanent, if you're interested."

Yes, that's right, my dear readers!! They didn't give me the job, but because they liked me so much, they created another duplicate contract-to-perm position JUST to give me a job!! Readers, I'll be completely honest here, my jaw hit the floor when I heard her say that! I accepted the position and I start Monday, October 8th!

This will go down in my book as the BEST REJECTION EVER!!! And I can officially say that I'm once again, gainfully employed!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Upbeat Mix II

Since we're on the subject of music, I have a grievous error to correct. In a previous post, I told you about my re-starting a CD series of mine called Upbeat Mix. However, despite my promise in the debut post, I haven't posted the track lists for any of the other CDs in the series! I hope you understand, my dear readers, that there were reasons for this travesty. And I hope you can forgive me. I can assure you that the tracklists do exist. My cruelty in not releasing them to you ends now!!! Without further ado, I give you, in all its glory,  the full tracklist for Upbeat Mix 2nd Series Disc 2:

01) Chica - Viene Mi Gente
02) Jennifer Lopez - Let's Get Loud
03) Will Smith - Miami (Miami Mix)
04) MDO - Groove With Me Tonight (Pablo Flores Spanglish Remix)
05) Gloria Estefan - Oye
06) Robert Randolph & The Family Band - Ain't Nothing Wrong With That
07) Daniella Cotton - Rare Child
08) Nickelback - Something In Your Mouth
09) Rihanna - Shut Up & Drive
10) Kelly Rowland - Work (Steve Pitron & Max Sanna Radio Edit)
11) Lasgo - Gone
12) Cascada - Fever
13) Christina Aguilera - Ain't No Other Man (Ospina Sullivan Radio Mix)
14) Rihanna - S&M
15) David Guetta ft Kelly Rowland - It's The Way You Love Me
16) David Guetta ft Nicki Minaj - Turn Me On
17) Velvet - Chemistry (Radio Edit)
18) Bardot - A.S.A.P (KCB KlubbMix)
19) Girls Aloud - Jump
20) Milk Inc - Ouch Damn

If you don't get up and dance during THAT track list, then you should check your pulse, you might be dead!! (Which would be awesome! Having my blog read by the Dead, Undead or any other supernatural beings is pretty cool!) I have also completed disc 3 in the series (I'm currently working on disc 4) and will post that tracklist soon. Until then, enjoy!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Surprising Musical Find...

When it comes to music, there are some artists that I'm just never going to find interesting: Justin Bieber, N'Sync, Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj, etc. They aren't creating music for people like me, and that is fine. Until recently, I counted Taylor Swift firmly on that list. I would have never thought in a million years she would come up with a single song that I liked in any way, shape, or form. Well, it turns out, I was mistaken. Her latest song (which I first heard on one of the rare moments that I listen to broadcast radio) is not only interesting, but actually enjoyable!! You may have seen it, if not, here's the video for it.

Most of the people I know are women, as such, I've heard a lot more of Taylor Swift's music than I care to admit to. But this particular track is a major step forward for Swift. One good song doesn't make me a fan, or even a follower of hers. But there is hope for the future.What about you, dear readers? Do you have any surprising musical finds??

The Awesomeness of Autumn...

A couple years ago on this blog, I posted about my favorite season of the year: Fall. (And honestly, that post wasn't my best writing. Forget I mentioned it.) Well, it's that time of year again, and despite all the issues I'm currently having, I'm still taking the time to enjoy Autumn in New England. In my previous post, I spoke about the perfection of the weather during Fall (not too cold, not too hot, and not too rainy), but that's not the only reason I enjoy this season more than any other. There are many other reasons.

I've spent the bulk of my life in cities and other urban areas. This gives me a unique appreciation for nature, both its savagery and it's beauty, which forms the core of my admiration for the Fall. Just look at the trademark sign of the Fall: the turning of the leaves. It looks so beautiful, watching as the leaves transition from green to red to yellow, and then finally to brown. But, what's happening is the tree's leaves are all dying. What looks so beautiful to the human eye is the signal for the leaves internal systems shutting down and dying off as the trees that used to harbor and sustain these leaves cut them off and hunker down for the winter.

Kind of messed up, right?

Now, I know the cycle doesn't end there: the leaves fall to the earth below, and then add essential nutrients to the soil which keeps the tree alive for next year as well as spread seeds for more trees to grow. I know that. Currently, I'm living in a more rural area of New England, which gets me up close and personal with the cycles of Fall. So, I know that the cycle doesn't stop. But, right now, in this moment, people are commenting on the beauty of death and destruction. And I have to say, it is beautiful. It really is. Beautiful and savage. But that seems to be Mother Nature's gig. With the Fall, she just does it with more subtlety and finesse.

As a closing note, I just recently found another reason why I like the Fall. Due to the necessities of modern life, I find it essential to have certain items with me all the time: keys, wallet, mobile phone, etc. Given the intense heat of summer, it's extremely uncomfortable to accomodate those items the way I normally do: in the pockets of my jacket. But now, as the temperatures drop, I can wear my jacket again!! I have multiple POCKETS again!!! I can carry stuff easily again!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Dawn of Dilking

It's been a long time since I've posted on my blog. In fact, it's been over two months since I've even looked at this site. I just haven't had the right mindset to write anything. If you look closely at the overarching tone of the last few posts on the site, you could see that my life was slowly coming apart. In the past two months I've been dealing with that unraveling as well as trying to pull myself back together.

At the end of June, I lost my home. No, that's not right. I was put in the position of having to choose between having my own apartment or my own car. I chose the car. So, at the end of June, I left my home. No, I'm not homeless. Some friends allowed me to take over a spare bedroom. I discussed the pros/cons of that decision so I won't go over that mess again. I will say this: it's taken me a lot longer than I expected to get over the loss of my home. It seems that I take to being depressed like a fish to water. It's not that I enjoy being depressed, but that it's easy for me to live there.

I finished my training, and I'm back to looking for work. Unfortunately, my job search has to work with the corporate schedule, and budgets for new hires usually don't free up until the beginning of the financial quarter which is somewhere around the end of September. Between now & then, it's nothing but slim pickins. But I'm keeping myself entertained with the practice exams for my certifications. Once I get reliably good at passing it, I'll take my shot at passing it for real and getting my  Microsoft certs.

The long dark night in my mind is passing. The sun is crossing the horizon. The dawn has come.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thoughts On... Further Training

At the end of my training, and assuming I pass the exams, I will have two of the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications. Namely:

70-515 - MCTS: .NET 4 Web Application Development
70-516 - MCTS: .NET 4 Data Access

This will put me at 50% completion for the next level up in certification, the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD, no cop jokes, please!). Specifically the web programming cert, MCPD: Web Developer 4. The Web Developer 4 certification requires the following MCTS training to be completed:

70-513 - MCTS: .NET 4, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Development
70-515 - MCTS: .NET 4, Web Application Development
70-516 - MCTS: .NET 4, Data Access
70-519 - PRO:    .NET 4, Designing & Developing Web Apps using .NET 4

Now, there are TONS of .NET web developers out there. And it's entirely possible that I will be able to get a position as a Web Developer with no issue. But the success of any job search is in making yourself stand out from the pack as much as possible, which makes the other option a bit more attractive. The other option being, Windows Developer 4, which requires the following MCTS training to be completed:

70-511 - MCTS: .NET 4, Windows Application Development
70-513 - MCTS: .NET 4, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Development
70-516 - MCTS: .NET 4, Data Access
70-518 - PRO:    .NET 4, Designing & Developing Windows Apps using .NET 4

Logically, the next course I have to take is the 70-513 WCF Development. Assuming I can get the money to pay for the course. My state funding ends with the training I have now. Either way, I'm going to have to make due with what I'll have by the end of my training. But the question I have is what direction I should go in to get the MCPD certification? Either way I want to get the MCPD, but which one?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thoughts on... Romantic Insanity

A couple of years ago, a friend and I were talking about the side effects of love. You know, the crazy shit that you are suddenly capable of doing because you are attracted to someone. She told me this story of braving a major snowstorm to be with the one she loved. It was a harrowing journey, but she said being with her loved one made all the problems, fear, and nearly dying on the icy, snowy roads completely worth it. Listening to the story, at the time, was horrifying. I mean how in the hell would anyone with a sense of self-preservation even CONSIDER a trip that could potentially KILL them just to be in the presence of someone? Even if it's someone you care about! No matter what she told me, it just didn't seem real to me. It was just pure insanity! And then there was watching her tell the story. The far away look in her eyes as she told me about all the near misses she had with other cars and how she almost drove off the road into a ditch. I was in total shock. I simply was incapable of understanding why she would do that! That is until this past weekend. 

This past weekend, I came a little closer to understanding where she was coming from. See, recently, I found myself attracted to someone. And this past weekend, I had a possible opportunity to spend some time with her. There was just one problem. The place we were supposed to meet was a half hour drive from me and I didn't have enough gas in the car to make it there and back AND be able to drive to my classes the next week. For a moment, I bowed down to reality and decided not to go. I even went so far as to tell her that it wasn't going to happen. Then, something clicked in my head and I had this intense desire to just drive to see her. My head kept saying, "Just GO!!" After several hours of trying to be reasonable, I just did it. I let her know that I was going anyway and just drove down there. It was completely insane. I could have been stranded far away from home, and missed my job training. The safe play was to just stay home and re-schedule for another night. But, I was COMPELLED to go and see her.

And for the few minutes we were together, it was actually really fun! She looked amazing! And being in her presence was simply.... intoxicating. It wasn't for as long as I'd hoped because something came up and she had to leave, but it was awesome for as long as it was. And completely worth the risk of being stranded and/or missing my classes and being kicked out of the training.

Only now, at the end,  do I finally understand what my friend had been saying all those years ago. But I still think that driving into a NEW ENGLAND snow storm was completely insane, and even now I still wouldn't do it. But I can follow the motivation that drove her to taking that trip.

What about you, my dear readers, what have craziness have you done for the one to whom you are attracted?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Top 10... Sci-Fi "Yo Mama" Jokes

For those of my dear readers who are too young to remember, back in the day, we had a quirky phenomenon in comedy for those of lower income. We couldn't afford the stuff that the "rich kids" had, and we often lamented our sorrows to each other. Inevitably, somewhere this started a competition over who was worse off. Then during this battle, someone's mom called them in for dinner or something. And th kids were having such a good time, they started grumbling about the kid's mom who called him away. The kid hearing this of course wanting to defend his mom started firing back with his own insults. Then it became a battle of who can come up with the most insulting comment. Something SO BAD, it would just shut the other kid up. Battles would go on for hours!! And the one rule, you could NOT repeat a joke! This is what started the whole bunch of jokes along the lines of:

Yo' Mama is so STUPID, she jumped out a window and went UP!!

To which people responded with "oooooh" and then the person you were battling came up with their own retort.

Yo' Mama is so FAT, she irons her clothes in the DRIVEWAY!!

Today, I found a video of Sci-Fi based Yo Mama jokes!!! To view the video you can click here. The audio is kind of shabby so I wrote out the list below. Check 'em out!!

10) Yo Mama is SO fat, the Enterprise's 5 year mission was to get around her!
09) Yo Mama got so many reverse polarity muon fluxes, she needs a re-calibrated reverberating
hydrospanner just to avoid the particle acceleration side effects!!
08) Yo Mama is so dumb, she thinks S-Y-F-Y is the right way to spell Sci-Fi!
07) Yo Mama is so ugly, SkyNet sent a Terminator back in time to smack her PARENTS!
06) Yo Mama is so fat, they had to beam her down is separate pieces!
05) Yo Mama is so dumb, she likes Star Trek Nemesis!
04) Yo Mama is so old, Cthulu signed her yearbook!
03) Yo Mama is so fat, I ate the SPICE and I STILL can't see the end of her butt!
02) Yo Mama is so fat, Jabba said, "DAMN!!"
01) Yo Mama is so fat, it takes TWO rings to bind her!

My personal favorite is #7. I've also been working on a few of my own:
**) Yo Mama is so ugly, after busting out a guy's chest & seeing her, the baby Alien went BACK IN!
**) Yo Mama is so nasty, they named her fart the Death Star!
**) Yo Mama is so dumb, when she heard "Tardis" she got feathers to go with it!!
**) Yo Mama is so ugly, not even Captain KIRK would hit that!!
**) Yo Mama is so old, she makes the Emperor look like a teenager!
**) Yo Mama is so dumb, when she heard "lightsaber" she thought it had less calories!!

What about YOU, my dear readers? Give me some of your best Sci-Fi Yo Mama jokes!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Prometheus Has Landed... A Movie Review

When I first heard about Prometheus, I remember the director, Ridley Scott, vehemently stating that the movie was NOT a prequel of Alien series. He kept the story going for awhile, but then finally relented and admitted that it was a prequel. But, after watching the movie, I can understand his point of view. A prequel, in the most basic sense of the word, is just a story that hits the necessary bullet points to allow the starting situations of a previously published story. The best prequels are usually very engaging, but they still only bring about what's necessary. In that sense, Prometheus is not a prequel. The events in the movie do allow for the the rest of the films in the series to come into fruition, but they also build an entirely NEW storyline. The way the movie plays out, it is entirely possible to create Prometheus 2, have it connected strongly with Prometheus and have NOTHING ELSE to do with the Alien film franchise AT ALL.

And I know that's what Ridley Scott was going for because of the reactions I've read online to Prometheus. People walked in with a specific expectation of what was going to happen, and were given something else entirely. Without ruining the film, I can't go into specific issues, but in general the consensus on the complaints people have is that the movie leaves too many questions unanswered. And that is essentially the point. Ridley Scott created a brand new film that is strongly tied to the Alien franchise, but can AND DOES stand on its own. This is why there are so many unanswered questions. Prometheus is the start of Alien AND SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY that just happens to take place in the same conceptual universe.

Speaking of concepts, let's talk about the story of Prometheus. No, I'm not going to ruin it for you. But the broad strokes of the plot are simple to map out. After some bizarre discoveries on earth, a scientific research mission is dispatched to explore a planetary system that could be the home of the creators of humanity. And, of course, when they get there, bad things start happening. The interesting part of the story for me, is the return to the core concepts of Alien. Things like the issues with overly optimistic science, the problems with scientific research without morality, and the dangers of operating with no caution or respect for safety in an entirely foreign environment. Although, I really enjoyed the evolutionary themes presented in the film and the many touches upon the religious aspects of the events of the film. 

To bring this story to life, Ridley Scott assembled a masterful cast. The whole cast was top notch, but my personal favorite had to be Michael Fassbender as the artificial life form (aka android), David. Fassbender's most powerful gift in his acting is the subtle changes he can make in his face and posture which adds whole volumes to his performance. Little flickers of disappointment and disillusionment, minor points of fascination and wonder, turned what would have been a stoic, cold performance to something much more compelling to watch. (I also LOVED the viral videos!!)Knowing the Alien universe, I knew walking in certain things were going to happen regarding David, so the disturbing nature of his performance was to be expected. But having that knowledge just made me enjoy Fassbender's portrayal all that much more!

The real surprise for me, in terms of casting, was Noomi Rapace, who plays Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. I was unfamiliar with her before this film. I had heard that she was the original Lisbeth Salander in the original Swedish "Girl With Dragon Tattoo" series. (But I'm not Swedish, so I didn't see them.) She did have a part in the Sherlock Holmes sequel, A Game of Shadows, but she wasn't really showcased in that film, so I really had no idea of what she could do. After watching her in Prometheus, I can safely say that she is a truly amazing actress. In my opinion, she had the hardest role to portray in the film as her character had to journey from the traditional idealistic scientist to hardened survivalist scientist. Portraying someone who's world falls apart JUST as she seemingly is getting everything she wants is a very complex task and Noomi Rapace handles it effortlessly. It was truly epic to watch.

Rounding out the cast were Charlize Theron, who brought what's becoming her trademark intensity to her role as Meredith Vickers, corporate head honcho of the mission; and the always amazing Idris Elba who plays the captain of the Prometheus, Janek. While his part was a small one in the film, he did bring the "every day working stiff" mentality to the film which served to ground the story by showing that effect the search for truth has on the everyday workers.

In end, the thing that I enjoyed most was that Prometheus wasn't a horror film. Like his original foray in this universe, Ridley Scott made Prometheus a suspense thriller, and then added a mystery movie booster. Prometheus is a movie that truly plays with the expectations you walk in with, and holds you at the edge of your seat while making you think that you're going to get what you want, and instead offers you an entirely new product to enjoy.

If you're looking for an intense ride, even if you have NEVER seen any of the Alien films, I would definitely recommend Prometheus. It is an Oscar Calibur film!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top 5... Favorite Disney Songs

If you've been reading my last few blog posts, you know that I'm not in the greatest of moods, nor have I been for several months. Despite what my friends probably believe, I don't enjoy being depressed or living in frustration. As such, I keep trying to boost my morale with conversation, movies, TV, and music. A couple days ago, I decided to put together a top 5 list that I haven't done before. In fact, up until now, I hadn't even considered this list! You have no idea how much fun I had researching this list! I feel so much better right now it's amazing! Anyway, now I give you my top 5 favorite Disney songs.

Here are the criteria: First, it has to be from a straight up Disney movie with the castle graphic and everything. Second, it has to be a song that I genuinely like, meaning that I could listen to the song without the movie and still enjoy it. Also, that I could listen to the song at any time, anywhere and still enjoy it. Given my current mindset, these songs MORE than qualify for this list! So here we go:

5) Mary Poppins - Chim Chim Cheree
Most people like a certain other song from this movie which is really fast and very difficult to spell. But personally, this is the song that really got to me. This song was cheerful, mesmerizing, wondrous and atmospheric. It was simply awesome.

4) Tarzan - Strangers Like Me
I love education & learning.And one of the themes that I enjoyed the most about Tarzan was the exchange of information between Jane & Tarzan. As he learned about the human world, he taught about the jungle. But the fire of curiosity that was lit in his mind was perfectly characterized by this song. I can hear it over & over again and NEVER tire of it.

3) The Lion King - Be Prepared
I've always been a fan of villains. And Scar was one of the greatest that Disney ever created. The pure callousness and evil that he spewed was nothing less than OUTSTANDING. This song was absolutely perfect as a showcase for that evil. I'll never get tired of hearing it!!

2) The Little Mermaid - Poor Unfortunate Souls
Another villain song. Ursula earned my respect as one of the most manipulative Disney villains ever. And the way she uses Ariel's love against her was truly spectacular to behold. All the subtle prodding (well, subtle for Disney, at any rate) in this song was simply DELICIOUS to watch.

And my NUMBER ONE favorite Disney song is.....

1) Aladdin - Friend Like Me
Aladdin is my favorite Disney animated movie. It was nothing short of entertaining, but my absolute favorite part of the movie is the Genie. His introduction and first song just simply blew me away! I can honestly say that I LOVE this song! And I will till my dying day! Here's that first intro scene with song and everything for your enjoyment: 


Wasn't that awesome?? Go ahead, play it again, I'll wait!

Okay, now I do have some honorable mentions that didn't quite make the list. Songs like Under The Sea, Be Our Guest, Arabian Nights, Kiss The Girl, and Prince Ali. All fantastic songs, but the five listed above are just the best. What about you, my dear readers, what are YOUR favorite Disney songs??

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tough Week... Aftershocks

You know what's worse than an earthquake? The aftershocks. It's like a killer combo from a heavyweight boxer. The first full force punch cracks your defenses, but it's the follow up punches that put you down. Today, I got an aftershock of my last week. The job offer I was hoping to get... I didn't get. I was called out of the blue and told that the offer was 90% in the bag, they had some paperwork to finish, but I was pretty much in. I had to wait a week for a final answer. The time came and they asked for another week. (Again, I should've taken it as a sign.) Then, the answer came down... No. You might wonder Why? Well, they had problems with my history. Despite me explaining it to them several times, in person & over the phone, they still said no.

Frankly, I'm not able to keep going as I am on my Unemployment check. Company X's rejection now necessitates some drastic measures on my part. At this point, something has to give, and that something is me. Among all the things I've lost, I'm now losing another: my home. I can't afford to maintain my bills, my cell phone, my car, AND my apartment. Since I need the car and the cell, the rest HAS to go.

Don't worry about me, my dear readers. It turns out that I have an unexpected ace to play here. Those of you who know me, know that I'm a decent person; a nice guy, as it were. You also know that I've lamented over that fact ever since I realized that girls always want the BAD guy and not me. Being the nice guy has gotten me abused and taken advantage of for most of my life. (Several of my friends can attest to that fact.) I've tried to turn myself around, but my basic history, training, and experience has proven... difficult to overcome. However, in this instance, being a nice guy gained me the ace I mentioned earlier. A long time ago, I gave shelter (and a home) to a friend who needed one in a hurry. Now, they offered me the same. I would use this as proof that being a nice guy has benefits, but I don't believe it myself.

Any way you look at it, moving is the smart play. There is only a small cost for the move, and the benefits are vast. I'd save somewhere around $400 a month, just in rent. I also will save money by not being tethered to maintaining utility bills, aside from my cell phone. I also save by not having to purchase groceries on my own. My friends save on rent because I'd be covering a portion of it, so they get more money, too. Win-Win!

Socially, I get to hang with my friends every day. Including some new ones that live in the area. To be honest, they're all ecstatic about having me live with them, but I can't share the sentiment. Intellectually, I understand the angles I see. But, I'm losing my home. The little piece of real estate that is mine. The place I use to rest from the demands from the rest of the world and keep my head as straight as I can get it. I'm also losing another thing: my autonomy. A quality that I cherish, and that I had only regained a couple of years ago. Having to choose to relinquish it just adds to my already present depression due to my lack of work and the resultant train of relentless personal life crises I've dealt with ever since.

And then to make it worse, I know that my lack of enthusiasm hurts my friends feelings, because it makes it seem that I don't want to move in with them because I don't like them. They understand my dilemma, but it's still hurtful to witness. And it's painful to be the cause. I hope my fortunes turn for the better soon.

I'm not sure what little sanity I possess will last for much longer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thoughts On... Computer Training

I wrote a post on my selection of a training program awhile back. So far, it's been going well. I'm currently at the tail end of my third class, Intro to Web Development with Visual Studio 2010. I have to admit I was a bit nervous about getting into training. It's been a long while since I was in school and it seemed like completely alien stuff that I had to learn. The "being in school" part was not a problem. I've always loved school and being back in training was like riding a bike. 

What surprised me was how much of my "old" software development training STILL applied. I can see how these classes could be exceedingly difficult for someone who is brand new to any type of programming, but for me it was like redecorating a room in a house I've lived in for years. The bulk was still the same, just a few new details have been added in. The development environment (Visual Studio 2010) is very intuitive and makes stuff that I remember taking FOREVER to code, much faster and much easier! Looking back on it now, I could have just picked up a book and pieced together this training on my own. But it wouldn't have the same effect.

Let's be honest here, I'm doing this because I want to get a job. And, anyone will tell you that getting a job is about WHO you know and not WHAT you know. Taking official training gets me a couple of things that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise:

1) Standardized training in a wide range of items that training on my own just wouldn't have gotten me. I would have focused on the parts that I found interesting and left the rest alone which makes for an ad-hoc training style.

2) Official recognition that I actually TOOK this training. Depending on how things work out with some other stuff, I might be going for official Microsoft certification, which is a badge of honor saying that MICROSOFT says I know my stuff. It's not just me babbling at you, a recognized leader in the software industry is saying that I know my stuff and I can be relied on to develop software. Right now, I have a world-renowned training facility backing me up. Who do I know? I know THEM. And they are vouching for my skills!

Now, I'm not really done yet. I still have a lot at home practice to do before I'm fully comfortable with the new stuff I'm learning. But I didn't have to learn as much as I thought I did, which means I'm much further along than I was expecting. Things are going to get really interesting from here! And who knows what my future holds?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The End Of A Tough Week...

Ever since I was laid off at the beginning of Feb my life has been nothing but one crisis after another. It's been almost 4 months (wow, right?) of this non-stop crisis fighting and I'm just drained. Dodging evictions, utility shut offs, family issues (medical & otherwise), engaging in a full time job search, and facing off against MULTIPLE government agencies for help (and failing with most) just isn't easy. It's been a huge battle, and it's nowhere near over. I've only survived this long because of the strength & support of friends and some of my family, coping mechanisms I've learned over the course of my life, and pure ornery contrariness. (That last bit I didn't even realize until my landlord pointed it out to me!)

This week was a particularly painful one, though. For the past couple of months or so, I've been angling to get into a software programming training program that was funded by the state of NH. (I talked about it in a previous post.) Needless to say, I got in, but this was the first full week of intensive training. It's been awhile since I've been in school (and the subject matter is hard) so it was difficult to get into the swing of things again. It was a hard week. Then there was the stuff that happened outside of the training.

Let's take a step back. The Friday before last, I got a call from a company I had applied to (and interviewed with) a long while ago. They told me that I was 90% of the way to a job offer. They only needed to get some final paperwork & some due diligence done to complete everything. Company X also told me that I'd have an answer on the official job offer by the end of this week (May 18th).

By the beginning of this week, I driving around on an empty gas tank, and my cell phone was not working cause I didn't have the money to pay the bill. I was basically praying that I could survive until the check on Wed to put gas in the tank and re-start my cell service. Tuesday night, I come home from training to find that the power had been cut off. With no gas in the tank, and no cell, all I could do was sit in my apartment. So I spent the next FIVE HOURS doing nothing but sitting in the dark obsessing about how I was going to get any money to the power company. It's truly amazing how sitting in the dark helps focus the mind. With no distractions, I was able to collapse all the mental tracks in my head down to just the one problem: how to get my power back on. Everything I do is on computers, including my job search, so I really need electricity. Ironically, that time was really refreshing, focusing on one problem gave me a break from all the rest. At the five hour mark, my sister came home and I used her phone to contact the power company. She then loaned me the money to get the power back on. So, now I have power back on, but now I have someone ELSE I have to pay back.

Wednesday morning I got my phone back on, put gas in my car, and paid my weekly rent. I had no messages from Company X. I didn't hear anything at all the rest of the week either, not until Friday. (I should have taken that as a sign.) On Friday, I get a call from the company. They tell me that there are some issues with my resume. They feel uncomfortable with the amount of jobs I've had in recent years. Despite my explaining this to them during my in-person interview, I walk them through my long history of lay-offs. After that, I'm told that I have to wait another week for an answer. I protested, and told them that my life is going to hell in a hand basket and I needed an answer ASAP, but they stuck to the "need another week" story.

After that, I get a call from my car loan company. (Mind you this is DURING my classes, so I have to step away from my job training to answer these calls.) They tell me that I need to pay $205 by 5pm next Wednesday or they'll take the car. The most I can come up with and still be able to pay the rent, thereby avoiding the standing eviction I have with my landlord (Don't ask.) is $160. I ask if that would be enough. They said NO. I owe too much on the car and the $205 is the minimum they can take to keep the car from being repo'd. So, now I need to come up with approximately $50 or I won't have a car to drive to my potential new job!

The frustration had me almost in tears for the last hour and a half of training. Now I'm trying to figure out how to overcome this next obstacle. If and when I survive this, I just know there'll just be something else. At this point, I don't know if I have in me to beat this. I don't even know if I want to. After all, what's the fucking point? I've always told everyone that I endure. No matter what comes at me, I endure. But now, I'm asking "Why?". Why am I enduring all of this? What is the point? What do I get out of all of this besides a permanent case of depression?

My friends, family, and people in general, tell me that things will get better. I used to believe them, but now my belief is gone. And I'm sick of answering their platitudes with the natural question, "When?". The whole "Things will get better" thing is just a lie we all tell ourselves to give ourselves the boost to survive the next hour, day, or week. Again, I ask, what's the point? Why bother with the lie? Life would be less heartbreaking if we just stop lying to ourselves and face facts. Life isn't going to get better. This is it. Whatever you're dealing with now, is what you got for the long haul. Get used to it.

And yet, even with everything I've just written, in the back of my mind, I'm still working on what I can sell to make up the money I need to keep my car. I just can't seem to stop myself. So now, I guess I'm going to see what happens next. It looks like I'm just a glutton for punishment.

P.S. You're not going to believe this, my dear readers, but I wrote the content of this post long hand while sitting in a bar during a karaoke night. While surrounded by cute (albeit a little underfed) women gyrating to whatever song was being sung, I was writing this post out. What does THAT tell you about the week I've had?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A New Look...

Well, my dear readers, I'm sure you've noticed that my blog looks a little different. For some time now, I've been getting reports that the previous template was difficult (and sometimes painful) to read. After getting over my compulsive resistance to change, I decided that it would be a good idea to update the look of my blog and I took the chance to make my posts a bit easier to read.

After all, the whole point is to get more of you to actually READ the crap... er, stuff... I put up here. So, I brought it to a point where I get the best of both worlds. The site is easier to read, and yet not all bright and fluffy which goes against my personality. So, here it is. Tell me what you think. Sound off in the comments below!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thoughts On... Person Of Interest

You are being watched. 
The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people, people like you. Crimes the government considered irrelevant. 

They wouldn't act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You'll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number's up...we'll find you.

-- Intro Voice Over of Person of Interest
What would your reaction be if you found out that the government had a machine that was spying on you (and everyone else)? The point of the surveillance is to detect and prevent acts of terror. And, what if you found out that the system actually worked and had stopped many act of terrorism? What would you think? Would you be scared? Angry? Confused? Intrigued? Would you keep it a secret? Would you want to tell the world?

That's a portion of the premise of the show, Person Of Interest. The show is being told from the point of view of the creator of the Machine, and follows the effort of the creator and an associate in tracking down people who have been flagged by the Machine as either a potential victim or possible perpetrator of a crime. (The acts of terror are handled by the government.) The show has been running for almost an entire season (there's one ep left), and while I had my doubts when I heard the premise, the show's execution has been for the most part, flawless. The reason I'm writing about it today is because of the latest episode of show and how it changed my perception of the events of Person Of Interest.

Looking back on the inaugural season of POI, what I see is the slow unfolding of a particularly well crafted conspiracy. The most intriguing part is that POI keeps you on the INSIDE of the conspiracy. We, as viewers, are clued in to the hidden events and back story of the people. And it's done piecemeal over the 22 episodes aired so far. It was so smooth in its delivery of that story, that you forget to ask questions. In the latest episode, the Machine flags someone who, it turns out, HAS been asking those questions. The "client" has no clue what he's getting into, but that drive he has to find out shatters the web that POI had spun for the past 21 episodes and turns things around, forcing you to imagine what this entire operation would look like to someone on the OUTSIDE. Small threads of information, events that look normal, but don't quite add up, and then people trying first to frame you, and then to KILL you. All for something that you don't even understand. You don't even have the information to make an ATTEMPT at understanding what is going on around you!

It was an impressive shock to the established pattern of the show, and one that started me asking questions about the underlying philosophy of POI. After all, it was deceptively easy to buy into the premise of two people with extraordinary resources and skills trying to help people and operating just outside the parameters of the law. Since the show is following them, we can see the choices they make, mistakes that happen and the problems they have with the morality of their means to an end. But the questions aren't only on THEIR side of events. As someone who is being watched (within the mechanics of the show), how would you feel about the existence of that Machine? (Please don't bring up any Sky-Net references. While interesting, that's not the point of this particular post.) Would you give up privacy FOREVER, to potentially save the lives of your fellow countrymen? Would you be happy with just the ILLUSION of privacy? Would it make you feel better knowing that it was a machine and not some government spook watching you, cataloging your life, and looking through your private files?

The most compelling part of all this is that these questions are no longer as far-fetched as they would appear. Humanity may not have the tech to build this machine yet, but we will and very soon. As I mentioned in a previous post, science can do it. The question is SHOULD science do it. In my mind, it really comes down to a matter of trust. Not necessarily in the faceless monolith of "The Government", but in the individuals that make up that monolith. The human beings that are just trying to do their jobs and do what they think is right given the information & power they have. So, my dear readers, I put the question to you:

Would you trust the government to use the Machine properly?