Thursday, December 30, 2004

GamesGamesGames

Games are one of my major obsessions. I have a few.

I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I grew up with board games, card games, dice games, roleplaying games, playground games, puzzles, and eventually electronic and computer games. If I couldn't game I'm not sure what I would do.

So people like Jack Thompson* really get on my nerves.

He's not alone. There are a lot of people out there that dream of being able to place the blame for all of the worlds ills on something – anything – other than the people who are actually responsible for the things they choose to do.

Jack seems to have chosen to make suing the gaming industry his life's work. I'm reading through his website and wondering how such a person managed to get as far as he has. The only answer I can determine must involve ignorance and fear. People who aren't interested in gaming as a pastime for themselves, and don't know much about it except secondhand, hear Jack and others like him spout their fear buzzword filled nonsense and take it as fact.

So I'm going to dissect his site for the remainder of this post.


----- Let the fun begin! -----

"This site's purpose is to give you the means to contact Miami attorney Jack Thompson if you know of someone harmed as a result of violent entertainment, including violent video games."

--- How about darts? Billiards? Dwarf tossing? A vicious stripper? Pokemon? I would love to sue someone for the first Pokemon movie.

"One current horrific example is a video game made available by Sony and Take-Two Interactive called Manhunt. This game allows you to train yourself to kill people by placing plastic bags over their heads while you watch them struggle while suffocating."

--- Yeah, because putting a bag over someone's head and suffocating them takes training and finesse. I've played 'Manhunt' and I must say that I wasn't impressed overall. The controls and camera weren't that good. Yes, the killing animations were gruesome, but the gameplay got old long before the end. It was mainly a gimmick game. Oh yeah, and long before I played Manhunt I saw someone killed in the movie 'Snatch' by having a plastic bag taped around his head.

"You may be a parent whose child is addicted to video games."

--- Actually, I'm a parent of two of them. And the brother of one. And myself, natch.

"You may know someone harmed by someone addicted to violent entertainment who copycatted that violence."

--- Okay. Chicken and egg. Who can really say the violent act was learned originally from a video game? If someone causes a victim to burst into flames with their mind and then later claims to have learned it from 'Psi-Ops', then I might buy it. But humans have been killing one another for as long as recorded history and before I'm sure. I doubt there has been a way of killing someone that hadn't been thought of long before the advent of video games, Jack. I even think there may have been some mention of killing in the bible. If my son decides to slay someone by nailing them in the head with a rock, and then claims he got the idea from 'David & Goliath' would you be willing to sue the writers for me? That would certainly be spiffy.

"The victim, whoever it is, needs help."

--- ie: money.

"Jack Thompson will assist in getting that person help."

--- ie: money.

"Please fee free to use the below contact information."

--- That's right. "fee free". Good proofing there, buddy. Inspires shitloads of confidence in your abilities. Oh yeah, can I use your contact info to get you on some mailing lists Jack? You didn't actually say I could only use it to contact you.

"Miami attorney Jack Thompson has appeared on more than 50 national television programs and 170 college campuses over the past twelve years in a national effort to hold accountable the entertainment industry for the harm it does to our children."

--- Twelve years and he still hasn't been able to figure out that some people are just insane and/or violent. Yes, I agree that some people can be sent into violent rages by some form of external stimulus, HOWEVER I don't agree that only one form of stimulus is the cause of the violence, NOR that if the stimulus is eradicated that the person in question would go through the remainder of his/her life without snapping at some other point. I prefer to think that the type of person that loses their shit over a game is the exception and I don't think everyone should be punished by removing something they can peacefully enjoy to keep a few psychos calm for a bit longer. Work toward identifying the loons before they pop. That would be useful.

"Recent medical brain scan studies at Harvard, Indiana University, and elsewhere prove that adolescents' brain functions are damaged by a steady diet of violent images. The heads of six major health care organizations, including the American Medical, Pediatric, and Psychiatric Associations have all testified before Congress in June 2000 that violent entertainment contributes to teen violence."

--- 'Contributes', not 'causes'. Key difference. ANYTHING can contribute to violence. Someone acting rude can contribute to a person snapping, so do we outlaw rudeness?

"Video games are literally "murder simulators" teaching our kids how to kill."

--- Literally? Only if a person can go up to someone and push triangle-square-triangle and rip their head off. Otherwise there is a bit more effort involved.

"The incredibly violent Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,"

--- GTA-San Andreas is much better. I guess the site hasn't been updated recently.

"made by Take-Two Interactive of New York City,"

--- NEW YORK CITY!? (outrage noises)

"has caused multiple copycat killings across the country."

--- This is actually true. Until GTA:VC was released nobody in this country had been killed by being shot, stabbed, hit by a car, set on fire, beaten with a bat, etc. It was a utopia until that serpent GTA took a slither through our garden of bliss and shit.

"A recent Gallup Poll found that any American teen who has played this one game is twice as likely to be engaged in an act of violence than those who have not played this one game."

--- Oh my god! A poll! I'm beat. Wait, define "act of violence."

"In this game you have sex with a prostitute and then kill her grotesquely to get your money back and win the game faster."

--- No, see, you can CHOOSE to have sex with a prostitute. Only you don't see any of it. She gets in the car, you drive to a quiet spot. and the car starts rocking while your health goes up and money level goes down. Unless a kid KNOWS what the rocking car is about, they won't be able to tell it's "sex". How grotesquely you kill someone in the game is a matter of choice. I personally let them live. They work hard for the money. So hard for it, honey. Oh yeah, and bangin' hos isn't the point of the game and doesn't help you win it any faster than not bangin' hos.

"Police officers are set on fire, shotgunned in the face, and innocent pedestrians are run over with cars."

--- GTA is an open game. If you want to set people on fire or run them over you can. If you don't, you don't have to. There is a set goal you are working toward, but how you get there is your choice. Choices. That's the key.

"The Federal Trade Commission in September 2000 found that big entertainment companies aggressively market adult-rated violent movies, music and video games to American children. Presently, Disney-owned ESPN is running ads for the Grand Theft Auto games on programs watched by huge numbers of teens, all in violation of video game industry regulations passed by the industry after the Columbine massacre."

--- Okay, in all seriousness I do agree with this. I've seen some nasty ads for rated "M" games that shouldn't be where they are. But I find a LOT of advertising offensive, not just game advertising. What do I do about it? I don't buy the goods or services of those that offend me. Yeah, I'm looking at you Carl's Junior.

"In April 1999, eight days before Columbine, Jack Thompson appeared on national television to identify the role that shooter video games, specifically Doom, would play in future school shootings. A week later in Littleton, Colorado, Klebold and Harris, who obsessively trained on Doom, killed thirteen."

--- I doubt they "trained" on Doom. More likely they played Doom while all the other shit that was raining down on them built up to the breaking point. You can "train" just as well by playing 'Cowboys & Indians'.

ANOTHER THOMPSON PREDICTION CAME TRUE: Dateline NBC reported Friday, December 13, 2002, that the Beltway Sniper, John Lee Malvo, was compelled by John Muhammad to train on the sniper video game, Halo, switched to sniper-mode or God-mode, to suppress his inhibition to kill." Jack Thompson predicted, in an interview by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show three weeks before the Beltway Snipers were apprehended, that one of the snipers "might very well be a video gamer as young as 15 trained on a game switched to sniper-mode or God-mode."

--- Halo? A sniper-mode? A God-mode? Halo? Uh. No.

"In 1992, the American Civil Liberties Union named Jack Thompson one of its ten "Censors of the Year" for daring to suggest that Time Warner rapper Ice-T's "Cop Killer" should be pulled from store shelves worldwide. That award is a badge of honor Thompson wears proudly, not only because Time Warner did what he requested but because Thompson was ten years ahead of the national curve in predicting the entertainment-inspired copycat violence we are seeing from a generation raised on violence that Hollywood says is "cool.""

--- Or you could possibly argue that he has been feeding the flames of fear and ignorance for the past ten years, thus helping to fulfill his own prediction. Just a thought.

"I am trying to protect our freedoms. How so? When the next Columbine happens and the perpetrators are proven to be copycatters of adult-rated violent entertainment, then the government, driven by parental concern, really will contract freedom for all Americans. Safety will trump freedom."

--- First, he switches from the third person he has been using so far to first person. Idiot. Second, "Safety will trump freedom." Did you catch that? Fuck FREEDOM, as long as we're SAFE! "Driven by parental concern" implies, to me at least, manipulation through fear and ignorance. "Contract freedom"... you can be free as long as you do this, this, this, and don't do this or this. Welcome to the new freedom!

"When that happens, the entertainment industry will be to blame for our loss of freedom because of its failure now to accept even reasonable marketing standards."

--- Yeah, again, DON'T BLAME THE PEOPLE COMMITTING THE CRIMES. If we lose freedom it'll be due to fucking lawyers and politicians like you and the ignorant sheep you herd along at your sides.

"Jack Thompson has appeared recently on a number of national television program with victims of two teenage Tennessee snipers whom police concluded trained obsessively on Grand Theft Auto to prepare for their sniping spree. Numerous others have been murdered by teens trained on this one game."

--- More TV shows, ambulance chaser? Shooting with a real rifle is nothing like shooting in GTA. And if someone has the inclination to take up a rifle and go out to shoot other human beings, it's not a game that gave them the idea. But it's a lawyer like you that gave them their excuse.

And the rest is his contact information. It amuses me that he links to Rockstar Games though. And what is up with his choice of the red, white and blue checkerboard pattern? Ugly as sin.

--
* Jack's website at StopKill.com appears to have fallen out of registration over the last two years. Luckily, thanks to the Wayback Machine, I'm still able to link to a cached version of the site. Unfortunately, it seems to have lost the horrible checkerboard background that I remember, so it doesn't look so bad now. Apart from still being chock full of stupid.

I seem to be on Satan's spam list.



Seriously though, WONDERFUL choice of art to inspire confidence in your "business venture." I'm totally sold. And calling attention the the word "for"... Sheer GENIUS!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Very interesting

The #1 spot on Entertainment Weekly's "The Best of 2004: Music" category goes to...

(insert drum roll)

..."The Grey Album" by Danger Mouse. Yes indeed. A number one rated album that can't be purchased in any store and is considered illegal by the RIAA. I love it. Yes folks, that's an iceberg ahead, but isn't the band lovely?

If you don't have it and want it, you may have to do a little looking on the interwebthingie or ask around. Much like "the truth" it's out there.

Although I honestly prefer The Kleptone's "A Night at the Hip-Hopera" , I congratulate Danger Mouse (Brian Burton – no relation that I know of) on receiving this honor and I wish him all the luck in the world in dealing with the RIAA goons.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I was thinking...

a weird thought earlier today, as I tend to do. It didn't start that way, of course. It started with a stray thought and then blossomed into stupidity and/or madness. Here's how it went:

I was once again thinking about vegetarians. Mainly about the whole, "I won't eat anything that has a face." credo that you might occasionally hear from a skinny pale person or see on a bumper sticker or a tshirt.

I don't know why, but there I was, alone with that thought. It tried to be inconspicuous and slip away after sharing its contents with me, but I was bored so I cornered it in one of the darker places in my mind and started to twist it around a bit. To see what would happen.

The first twist was what if "Science!" manages to bioengineer a faceless animal that tasted like ice cream or something equally yummy. Would it still be considered off limits? What if it was grown from the ground? Would the word come down from the Vegan high council that the "Faceless Ice Cream Bush Critter" was approved eating? It has no face so it cannot scream any louder than a carrot...

And that's where I twisted the idea around a bit more and it took on this shape:

What if "Science!" discovers that plants actually DO have faces, we just didn't notice them until now because they are quite unlike our faces, or even animal faces, yet they ARE there? What will vegetarians eat then? I know, plants don't have organs and jiggly bits so they are entirely not animals, but they are alive. What makes their lives any less sacred than a cow?

Twist:

Cows are sacred in India, right? I wonder if bean sprouts are sacred anywhere? Perhaps "Science!" will find a lost tribe somewhere... ummm... near bean sprouts... and the scientists will learn to their horror that the tribe believes that bean sprouts house the spirits of their ancestors. They learn this because Bill, the resident vegetarian botanist (he knows good eatin' when he sees it) is spotted by members of the tribe harvesting some of their ancestor patches for his lunch and they totally freak out. Bill's last thought as the rock that will kill him is hurtling toward his head is, "This will go quite nicely with some tofu."

Okay. That's quite enough of that. Seriously. Violent bean sprout revering lost tribesmen and vegetarian botanists named Bill. That's just silly. Go away mangled thought, I'm through with you.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Surprise! Another sign!

The last sign was chibi crossing, although I realized after posting it that I messed up a bit. And it was stupid, you don't have to tell me.

Here's the next one, although it's obvious. I just liked the way it turned out.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Random Observation (of FUN!)

Great Moments in Science - Lemmings Suicide Myth

All I know is that I enjoyed getting a group of about fifty in a pit and activating their little time bombs. In the game, of course. They would all put their hands to their individual faces, shake their bushy heads and exclaim, "Oh no!" as the counter ran down from "5". Then popPOPpoppity-pop! Fireworks, baby!

Now I have an overwhelming urge to play Lemmings.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

One more sign

The last sign was: "Jaywalkers will be set on fire"

Here's the new one:



Now back to work for me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Look at me cop out...

Between feeling sick, being busy at work and being busy getting ready for Christmas I really doubt that I will have anything of significance to post until next week.

If I do, I surely will. It's just that if I were a betting man...

That said, I hope that everyone who takes time out of their day to visit this odd little spot that's my home on the internet has a wonderful holiday of their choice.

(Using Derek's patented "no content post format") Look! Here is an elf for you to enjoy:

Friday, December 17, 2004

I got this at lunch:



click

I really shouldn't have, especially this close to Christmas, but what the heck. Nobody knew I wanted it, and all my gift shopping is done for this year.

I love the early Peanuts.

(Also I saw THIS at Borders and I REALLY want it for my birthday – $135 at Borders, $81 at Amazon. 20lbs. worth of Far Side cartoons. Must...have...)

What was I thinking?

The last sign was intended to represent "Don't get any bright ideas" which would make Derek's guess the closest. And that figures since he's known me the longest. Let's see if he gets this one:



Just remember, this isn't really a contest. Just because you don't think of what I thought of doesn't make you wrong (unless you are Derek). In fact I liked Heather's and Robyn's answers better than mine. So please, take a guess.

The long and winding post...

Tomorrow marks the six month anniversary of the first movie that Heather and I went to together. Actually, we saw two movies that night. And a third the following day.

The first movie was 'Dodgeball'. Not exactly a normal date movie, but it wasn't a normal date.

Heather is the sister of Derek, my friend and long time coworker. She and I had only been around each other a few times prior to that night, always in group settings (Derek's wedding, Andy's wedding, a couple of game nights at their parents' house, karaoke once). When we were around each other we didn't interact beyond the most basic of social niceties, due at least in my part to shyness.

What finally brought us to each other's attention was blogs. Seriously. In mid-February Derek had announced to me that he was setting up a blog, and if he was then I was too*. He's always been pretty good at talking me into doing something that I don't particularly want to to do, with the notable exception of playing hockey. So two days after his first post, I posted mine. A couple of weeks later he was talking about how amused his sister was with our sites and I said something along the lines of, "Didn't you say that Heather liked to write? You should talk her into starting her own blog." So he did, and she started "Matted Spam."

For the next few months the three of us were our most regular readers and comment providers. During this time I found myself looking forward to Heather's comments the most. She and I were also chatting in AIM and we were both finding that we had many things in common. One of those things was a love of movies**.

We had been chatting about movies that were coming out and one of us mentioned 'Dodgeball'. We both agreed that it looked like a very funny movie and I found myself asking her if she would like to see it with me that Friday night, with perhaps dinner beforehand. She said she would love to go to the movies and dinner. We worked out the details and then all that was left was the waiting.

Okay, while writing this I've been trying to avoid mentioning one very important detail. Longtime readers, family, or people who have dug through our archives already know this, but in case you didn't: Heather is married. Many years ago I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't get involved with a woman who was in any kind of relationship. Someone had done that to me and my long time girlfriend (and mother of my two children) and I fully intended to never be like that guy. I knew how painful it was, and how hard it was to get through. Yet...

I told myself, and anyone else who inquired, that this movie night was just two friends getting together and nothing more. I like movies; she likes movies. Sure, we flirted a bit back and forth on AIM and in comments, but I was certain it was harmless. At least on her part. I knew that deep down I was falling for her and that I shouldn't be. But I wasn't going to let her know, for several reasons.

The main reason was because I didn't want to lose the friendship that we had started. I tend to overanalyze things and run through as many possible scenarios as I can for a given situation and I then latch on to the worst possible one as most likely. Using that same process I figured that I was reading everything that had gone on between us totally wrong and that I was alone in my feelings. If I told her how I was feeling I would be totally rebuffed and that would also lead into my other fear. What would her family, and especially Derek (since I work with him) think after they heard about the feelings that I had for their married daughter/sister? I couldn't see it turning out good any way I looked at it.

So it was just going to be a dinner/movie date and that was it.

I picked Heather up at her parents' house, said "Hi" to her mom awkwardly (fortunately her dad was working), certain that my face was betraying how I felt, especially when I saw how lovely Heather looked. It's not that I drooled or anything that obvious. But all the same.

Our first stop was Gunther Toody's where we had dinner and chatted for awhile. Mostly about movies, blogs, and stuff like that. I can't recall everything because my mind was going in so many circles it's amazing that it didn't drill itself out my skull.

After dinner we made it to the movie, got popcorn and drinks, found our seats and watched the film. I was very conscious of how close she was, sitting next to me. She felt so comfortable that I didn't want the movie to end. But it did of course.

During the ride back to her parents' house we were talking about how much we liked the movie, and the conversation turned to "Starsky & Hutch" which also starred Ben Stiller and how I needed to see it. We both decided that we weren't ready for the evening to end and that we should see another movie.

When we got back to the house Heather told her mom our revised plans, and although "Starsky & Hutch" was playing at the dollar theater, it had already started so we were going to have to choose a different movie. After a bit of discussion we agreed upon "The Terminal" which was playing at the theater we had just left. So off we went again. Lord knows what her mom thought of it all.

While we were waiting for the movie to start we were chatting. You could have cut the tension with a knife, and I couldn't tell if it was all on my part. But I wasn't certain, and I wasn't about to say anything unless I was positive that she felt as I did. At some point during our conversation we started talking a bit about how we felt about one another and it turned out that we were both afraid of the same things. Heather confessed that she cared more for me than she probably should, considering she was married. She was afraid that I didn't feel the same way about her, and that I only saw her as Derek's sister. I quickly assured her that I cared far more for her than just as my friend's sister. All the while my mind had resumed its spin as I wondered what would happen next, now that the first step had been taken and was met with acceptance rather than rejection.

Then the movie started, and we held hands through the entire thing.

We both agreed afterward that we were going to take it slow and see where things went.

I won't go into any more detail other than to say that Derek figured out something was up between us first and he didn't kick my ass like I was expecting; Heather's husband left her within a couple weeks of our first date; and her family and I helped get the house they had been renting cleaned up and helped her move her stuff into her own apartment. There's a lot more to all of that, but I'm content to leave it in the past.

Things have finally calmed down and we are getting along quite well. I'm happier with Heather than I've been in years. I originally thought that if we could make it past three months that we would have a chance. Now that we are a day away from six months I'm hoping for a lifetime. I feel that she both compliments me and completes me in so many unexpected and necessary ways, and I intend to do everything I can to keep things fresh and interesting between us. It's not going to be easy (I didn't have the best "relationship" role models when growing up), but she's worth it.

I love her with all my heart.

---
* I had already been considering it for some time, I just hadn't committed to it. By that point I had already been a daily reader of several blogs, of which only Mark Maynard and boing boing have remained in my "must visit" list.

Quite a few months prior to his decision to start blogging I had sent Derek a link to JSP's '665' site, and something about it must have clicked with him. And here we are, ten months later.

** I have not finished my post that I started about my "obsessions" but movies are one of them. I have close to 700 DVDs and DVD sets. I'm not kidding. It's nuts and I don't know how it happened. One at a time I guess.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Last post of the day goes to:

"It's a Wonderful Life" in 30 seconds with bunnies.

An enjoyable story, although a tinch short.

Almost a week ago I stumbled across "The Kif Pit" while blog hopping. As it happened* I was only a couple of posts away from this post where Kif was venting about some criticism her mother had tossed sideways at her regarding a story that she had written and then submitted to a "gang of yahoos" on the internet to offer critiques. Her mom felt they had ruined the story and that Kif shouldn't have listened to them. Kif had thought she was talking about her story 'Pree', when she wasn't. Confusion and hurt feelings abounded. Anyway, all of the information about that incident is at that post.

I left a comment asking where I could find 'Pree' to give it a read myself, and Kif was nice enough to send me a "Review Copy" of the story to check out.

I just recently finished it and I enjoyed it a lot. Even though I wasn't able to read it straight through, uninterrupted, the 97 pages flew past. The pacing was good, the necessary details were present, the dialog didn't feel forced and I liked the main characters and their motivations. There could have been a bit more development for the secondary characters so that their fates would have had more of an impact on me. But overall a good story. In fact, I would REALLY like to read a continuation from where 'Pree' leaves off (hint, hint).

In return for the free copy of 'Pree' I've added a link to my sidebar that will take you to lulu.com (a site I intend to use if Heather and I can ever get a book put together) where Kif has 'Pree' for sale as both a hardcopy book ($7.72) and a download ($1.25). If you like sci-fi, and have a few bucks to pass along to a new author, you could do far worse than 'Pree.'


---
* Seriously. There was some major luck involved. Kif writes like a person possessed. I don't mean all crazy and such. I mean she writes A LOT. When I was digging up a link to the post it had almost been knocked into the archive by all of the newer posts.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Because I'm lazy.

Yesterday's post gave me an idea for a regular feature that I'll be adding to my site. It's possible that it will be weekly, every other day or whenever I can't think of something else to post. I'm hoping it will remain interesting and won't turn into a crutch. Time will tell. On to the feature!

I've always been intrigued by the ability of simple symbols to convey an idea across all kinds of language barriers. (1 picture = 1K words, etc.) Some work better than others. And some are just so odd that you wonder what their creator was thinking. I like the odd ones (surprise).

I'm going to post a sign once in awhile – at least one a week – and I ask you, my dearest readers, to name it. Simple enough. Be as clever as you want to be with the names. I'll let you know when I post the next one what I had in mind for the last one.

That said, here's the first one:

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

It's just one of those days.



I decided to modify it a bit. Click to see the original. Which do you like better?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Can I take the heat?

I'm considering putting together a writing sample to submit to this site. The only thing that keeps me from doing it is the fact that it hasn't been updated since mid September. Oh! I almost forgot! I'm also not a writer. Other than those two things I'm all over it.

I find it interesting to read what she has to say about the past submissions. The submissions themselves are also helpful to compare against my own style of writing. "Loose and wrong" is a style, isn't it? I better hope so.

If I were to shift mediums for a moment from writing to music, then I would place my skill somewhere at the level of an occasionally amusing, usually disturbing, crazy-eyed homeless guy at the subway entrance blowing into a harmonica with a hat at his feet and a sign around his neck that reads, "Anything helps. God bless! I do parties." Your opinion may vary depending on how close you are to me and if I am armed.

What do you random visitors think? Should I give it a shot? Or do you have other suggestions/observations/personal critiques to offer?

I eagerly await your responses.

Un-freaking-believable... Oh, and Happy Monday!

Okay. I was all set to send off the story of my Sears Odyssey via email to their Customer Support in the hopes of finding a way around needing the 3-digit code to set up my online account.

I had the whole thing written and when I looked for the customer service email address I was given this:



So, in essence, this means that in order to send this email about how I am unable to get a replacement card with the 3-digit code that I need in order to register my online account, I have to register my online account. Which needs my 3-digit code. That I can't get.

Sorry about this thefoxymama, but

YOU STUPID-ASS MOTHER FUCKERS! ARRRRGGGGHHHH! (spitting fire looking for shit to kill).

So. Any suggestions? I suppose I could print it out and send it to the address they give for "Billing disputes" but I doubt that would accomplish much other than having it sent back as "not our department".

Friday, December 10, 2004

Bugger this for a lark. I'm off!

One of Jenn's recent posts reminded me of a similar incident that happened with me when I was a child.

My mom had placed me in this thing called "Kindergarten" and after about two weeks or so I'd had enough.

I was spending my days at a baby sitter's house at the time* and it was a very short walk from there to my Elementary School, so once the sitter was sure I knew where I needed to go I was allowed to walk myself. Those were the days, eh?

Kindergarten had started to become a drag, what with the whole instructions on brushing your teeth, playing nice with others and such, so one day while walking to school I wondered if the cement block filled culvert that was nearby would be a more interesting place to spend my time. So I tried it out, and damned if it wasn't!

In the culvert there were all those big blocks to climb around on, sandbars to dig around in and all manner of things that had washed up against the blocks when it had rained. If I recall right there was even a shopping cart!

At school there were rules and teachers and annoying kids that always wanted what I was playing with. Where's the fun in that?

"That's it," I said to myself. "No more school for me."

And every morning for the next several days I would leave the sitter's house, walk toward school and then detour into the culvert where I would spend the day playing to my heart's content. Then, when I heard the bell go off that indicated school was done I would brush myself off, gather up my stuff, go back to the sitter and wait for my mom to come pick me up.

I think this lasted for about three days or so.

On the final day of my self liberation I happened to look up from playing on the blocks and saw my mom furiously bearing down on me with murder in her eyes. I screamed and ran! She ran after me yelling at me to "Stop right there mister! Don't make me chase you!"

I ducked and dodged my way around the cement blocks while thinking to myself, "Well that's just great! Now I'm going to have to run away, because I don't dare let her catch me after this!" But it was no use. She was pretty nimble for an adult and snagged me at one point where my zag should have been a zig.

She hauled me up to the car by the ear (I think) while alternating between telling me how much she wanted to ring my neck and being relieved that I was safe ("First you wanna kill me, now you wanna kiss me. Blow."). She explained to me that what I was doing was "very dangerous and what would you do if you fell and got hurt? What then?" Of course my answer to that was, "That would NEVER happen mom! I'm an excellent climber!" The immortality of stupid youth.

I asked her how she knew I wasn't going to school. It never occurred to me that they would call her after I hadn't shown up for several days and they hadn't heard anything. I figured there were enough other kids there, they weren't likely to miss me. Apparently I was wrong.

I can't really recall everything that was said, or what happened after that point. Somehow she must have convinced me to return to school because I graduated 12 years later. But I never really did take to it.

---
* I don't remember much about this sitter. Other than the fact that she had a very creepy sad-clown painting in her bedroom, and she had a little wiener dog the bit my ear open one day. Also, it was there that I first taught myself how to tie my shoes. That's right. Taught myself. When I showed her I recall that she patted me on the head and said, "That's nice. Now go see if you can do it again."

Okay, this doesn't count as a post,

but I wanted to share this with any fans of Alice in Wonderland who may happen to be visiting my blog: Alice

Since you aren't doing anything this weekend*...

Why not check this out: textfiles.com

Personally, this brings back a lot of memories, both from the pre-internet, BBS days to as far back as my first Junior High School typing class (I got a 'D') when I would try to make ASCII artwork instead of practicing the home row keys (asdf jkl;).

I'm not going to say those were the golden days, but they were certainly different than these days.

There's a wealth of interesting files from days gone by here. Enjoy. I should have another post before the end of the day.

---

* You ARE doing something? Fine. Be like that. See if I care.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

No time for funny today...

So go here and be amused: "The First Annual TGSNT (The Greatest Story Never Told)"

Yeah. That's no good.

Looked at my header again with fresh eyes this morning and decided that it was just not good. So, back to the old. Although I may make an all new one by New Years Day.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A quickie. Enjoy.

Dark Side Switch Campaign

Re: A slight redesign of my header.

I had this idea yesterday of putting my floating head drawing from my header on the body of sullen little me age 3 or 4 from the sidebar and then tossing it back in the header.

Good, bad or indifferent?

Sears: The Odyssey

Let me start off by saying that I was not a good Sears cardholder in the past. I recognize that fact and freely admit it. I was horrible with paying my bill even close to on-time, and during my time of unemployment and low paying jobs it wasn't even close to the top of my list of people who needed my money.

Times have changed. I can afford to make the payments and seriously desire getting the damned thing paid off and out of my life. The problem is I'm still no better than I ever was with getting things mailed on time, and the two local Sears stores are both way out of my way in my general day-to-day travels.

However I found out that Sears offers its cardholders the ability to pay their bill online. That works fantastically with me and Visa. I'm never late with them, and can usually pay a bit extra from time to time. I thought, "that would work out perfectly and perhaps Sears would learn to forgive my past financial transgressions over time."

Here's the catch: You have to have a card that was issued within the last, I dunno, six years or so. Because it has to have a 3-Digit Verification Code for you to even SET UP YOUR ACCOUNT! God forbid some STRANGER logs in and pays my bill (I understand that other things can be done to your account, but seriously there should be some way to work around this).

My account was started in 1991, and the last time I ordered a replacement card was apparently in 1997. So, no 3-Digit code.

But there was a link to click if you did not have the code and it said: "If you have a Sears Card and do not have a 3-digit verification code, please call 1-800-917-7700. Follow the instructions to request a replacement card. After receiving the new card with the 3-digit code, please return to www.SearsCard.com to register and enroll your account at that time. Thank you."

Okay. I would report my card as damaged (which it is, it's all kinds of messed up:



dead magnetic strip and starting to crumble.) and I should get a replacement card that had the 3-Digit code. Easy.

So three weeks ago I did that, and at the end of all the freakin' button pushing that seems to be mandatory when dealing with any corporation these days I was transferred to Customer Service because there had been a processing error of some kind.

When I finished explaining everything to the actual human who answered the phone, she said they couldn't issue a new card for that account but she would transfer me to their computer people and they might be able to help me get my online account set up.

After explaining what I was trying to accomplish to their computer guy on duty he said, "I'm looking at this and it says your account is closed. Everything is being transferred to a new account number and you should receive a new card in about a week. Which is a good thing because I can't get you around needing that verification code. Bye."

Well, okay then! All should be good.

Cut to last Sunday night at 8 pm when I get a call from the company who handles Sears' deadbeat cardholders. The woman I spoke with was a horrible, collection services employee. You know the kind, they immediately assume that everything spilling forth from your mouth is a lie and that everyone would be better served if you were just shot in the head rather than listened to any longer.

Actually it didn't start off like that, but it certainly devolved to it.

She: "Hello, I'm calling on behalf of (whoever it is that handles this: I think it's Citigroup) regarding your Sears charge account. I need to make arrangements for you to pay $35 on your Sears account as soon as possible."

I explain how I don't know what my account number is because my account was closed and I am waiting on my new card at which point I will be logging right on, setting up the account and making a payment. That's when her tone took a turn for the nasty.

"I can go ahead and set up an automatic checking account deduction over the phone and get you current."

No. I'm not keen on that. I don't tell her this but I NEVER set up an automatic deduction of any kind that I don't have any kind of paper trail for. I'm far too paranoid. Not gonna do that. So I say, "No thank you. I would rather pay online or in the store, but since I know the account number has changed I didn't think I could pay in the store without the new number or a new bill."

She: "I need you to set up a payment date today. When can you make a payment in the store?"

Me: "How can I make a payment in the store if I don't know the new account number?"

She (in mocking sing-song tone most people reserve for their inferiors): "DO you know your name? DO you know your social security number? DO you know your address? Then you can give them that information at the store and make a payment."

Me (in a cold tone I reserve for people who have pissed me off by talking down to me): "I think I would rather find out where my new card is and pay online."

She: "Fine. I will put down that you refuse to make a payment."

Me (Arrrrrrgh!): "I'm not saying that I won't make a payment, I just want to find out what has happened with my new card."

She: "And I need a date when you will have the payment in the store. You can call customer service to find out about your account. You DO still have their number DON'T YOU? Since you ALREADY called them before."

Me (totally pissed, wishing I could injure long distance with my mind): "Yes, I have their number. I'll make a payment on the 15th."

She: "Fine. I'll make note of it in your account."

Me: "Fine."

*click*

Today I called customer service, hoping there would be good news. There isn't. I was informed by a considerably nicer woman (but seriously, who wouldn't be nicer) that my old account was in fact closed, but I will not be issued a new card because purchase activity has been suspended on my account. Yeah, like 10 years ago.

"Okay," I said, mind already trying to think of a way around this, "How do I make a payment in the store if I won't be getting a new card?"

She: "You will have to give the person at the counter your name, your address and your zip code and they'll make sure it goes to the right account."

Me: "And I'm going to have to do this every time from now on?"

She: "Yes. Sorry."

...

So now, rather than finding a way to make it far easier to pay my Sears card off, regularly and on time, it's the same as it ever was and a bit worse. My Sears card would seem to be my own personal albatross. I don't think I'll ever be rid of it.

And to Sears: Your company is too large and too distanced from everyday people if there isn't a way to work around this for an account that can't even be used to purchase ANYTHING.

Perhaps I'll send this along to someone there and see what comes of it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Well. That was embarrassing.

Around 9-ish this morning (I arrived at work at 7:55 - early for once) I happened to glance down at my right sleeve and I noticed that something looked... odd. Somehow wrong. Then in a flash I realized what it was and started to get the squirming jitters.

I had put on my shirt inside out when I got dressed this morning.

Yes, that's right. Apparently I wasn't aware of how I had dressed myself until about two hours later. I checked my pants real quick, but they were good. Zipped and facing the right way. That must be the "silver lining" they speak of.

The shirt I am wearing is a button up crew neck so there isn't much of a collar to speak of. And the proper number of buttons were already buttoned so I never noticed they were now on the INSIDE of the shirt. However the tag on the back isn't one of those little, barely noticeable things. It's a large rectangle sown directly into the back. Like a big ol' idiot badge of honor. I noticed this because as soon as I had figured out that "things were wrong" I felt the back of my neck to assess the obviousness of my situation. It's a BIG tag.

I looked around the room at the other artists working at their desks and considered my options. My first instinct was to try and quickly flip it off right-side out and then put it back on but I discarded that thought as too difficult to play off, "I... um... had an itch that I had to take my shirt off to scratch."

Then I considered the exists to the two ground floor bathrooms. The closest was very close, but I would have to walk past Derek and Scott's desks. Casually. Not good.

The other bathroom is at the other end of the building, through the reception area and past the Account Executive's area. I had already gone out there at least once this morning, but then I was oblivious to the situation at hand. Not to mention that I would pass in front of Kellie, Ray and Kathy (although either option I took everyone would have a good shot at noticing.)

Then I thought once again about just scrunching down behind my monitor wall and doing a quick change and act like nothing happened, "What? I never did! You're crazy." Nononono. Just won't work.

Fine. At least if I went to the closer bathroom, fewer people might be exposed to my glaring inability to dress myself than if I cross the entire building. Again.

So I got up from my desk, walked around it and headed as casually as I could to the bathroom, which was luckily unoccupied. If it had been occupied I would have gone to plan #2: go outside and do a quick change in the parking lot (the side door is almost opposite the bathroom door) in front of God and Colorado.

I went in, closed the door behind me, flipped my shirt right-side out and checked the mirror to make sure my hair wasn't messed up (hah!). Then I thought about flushing the toilet, because that's what you generally do when you go into a bathroom for any reason other than Nature's call (done "reading" your dad's porn? Better flush. That'll fool them). But I decided, "Nah. I have nothing to hide now. Shirt's fixed!" and went back to my desk. Again, as casually as I could. Show's over. Nothing to see here.

So far I haven't heard anything about it, so I may have gone unexposed. Until I wrote this, of course. Now Derek will know, but he has no proof! This could all have been made up! Who knows? Hah!

For what it's worth, if it DID really happen (not saying it did or anything) it has been a nice jolt of nightmare like quality which makes any day more interesting. I can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for me.

A quick thwack to the back of the noggin.

(Warning: this post contains a bit of naughty language down around the end. Mom.)

That's what the lady in front of me at the drink dispenser at Schlotzky's yesterday needed. And badly.

I understand "rude" and have probably committed acts in public that would be deemed "rude" but this lady has me topped. I think I would have to actually pee on someone's leg to make them as annoyed as she made me.

Perhaps I'm overreacting. You decide. Here's what she did:

She stood at the soda fountain, blocking it from anyone else that wanted to use it (me), put ice in her cup, then took out her cell phone and made a call (with a one handed balancing act to dial since she was holding her cup in her other hand). THEN she filled her cup with Diet Coke while I just stood there next to her staring at her in disbelief.

Should I have reached out and thwacked her? Or perhaps jostled her a bit so her phone fell in her cup? Alas I did nothing but wait it out like the good civilian I am.

I wish I'd had the nerve to at least say, loudly, "For the love of Saint Fuckerpants lady! You aren't the only person in the world you know! Hell, you're CALLING someone so you SHOULD know! If your call is SO important that you can't wait until you finished getting your drink then step the fuck out of line! Bitch!"

But I guess that's just not me.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I do believe

that there may come a day when I look back on this particular post and say to myself, "Well, you can't say you weren't warned..."

Wired News: Blogs May Be a Wealth Hazard

I love this...

It's one of those things that I see and think, "Why didn't I think of this?" Other than the fact that I've never actually taken an anatomy class, of course.

Michael Paulus :: Skeletal Systems :: A character study of 22 present and past cartoon characters.

Coinkydinky Day

On Saturday Heather and I were on our way back from doing a bit of Christmas shopping (were we ran across Derek and his wife Heather at their mom's store) when we noticed a few things that seemed interconnected and odd.

There was a white car in front and to the right of us that was missing it's front-passenger side quarter panel.

The truck right behind that car was missing the same quarter panel.

We thought they might be traveling together but when we came to a red light the car moved into the left turn lane and the truck stayed beside us.

The car that was now in front of the truck at the light started to pull into the intersection when the green arrow came on for the turning lane and nearly smashed into the opposing traffic. I examined the car of the fool for any indication of why he might be so stupid (as I like to do when it's not me being stupid) and noticed that he had the little handicapped symbol on his license plate (in the place of the hyphen between the numbers. That's how we do it here.) and thought, "ah. old guy. glad he's in front of us."

And then I noticed that the car directly in front of us ALSO had the handicapped hyphen on his plate (but he didn't pull into oncoming traffic)

When I pointed it out to Heather she agreed that it was weird and wondered what else might be going on. Since I wasn't the one driving I started looking around and saw that the car in front of us (unconfused handicapped driver) had a large yellow "Support the troops" ribbon magnet on his back end AND we saw that the truck with the missing quarter panel ALSO had a large "Troop" ribbon magnet on his truck when he got a bit ahead of us.

But Heather said that they weren't the same type of magnet, so it didn't count. The truck's was half yellow and half US flag pattern. BUT THEN the car in front of us turned off to the right and we caught up with "Death Wish on Wheels" and HE had two small, totally flag patterned "Troop" magnets on either side of his license plates.

I know that if you look hard enough you can find similar things almost anywhere, but still it was interesting (to us at least).

And there were a few other coincidences throughout the day that I can't really recall now since I didn't really think to keep track after the initial oddness. I wasn't even really planning on posting about it, but something was said in a conversation a bit ago about coincidence and it reminded me.

So there you go. Happy Monday all.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I'm SO honored.

This is a bumper sticker I saw the other morning on the way in to work:

"Every Student is an Honored Student at Rockrimmon Elementary"

And it started me wondering as I tend to do on my 30-40 minute drive in since I don't have a radio in my car.

Who would put that sticker on their car? Perhaps a parent who's child is "less" than exceptional and wants it known that their school still honors little Billy Dimbulb and considers him every bit as good as the brighter children. Or that it will fool the neighbors into thinking that Billy is an Honor student and a misunderstood genius instead of a thug larvae.

And is this something that the driver actually had to go into the school and pick up (or even worse; purchase) or was one stapled to each child some random Friday before they were sent home?

Assuming that time was invested by the parent, what does this tell Billy (if he's paying attention I mean)? "Let's face it son, you won't be bringing home one of those 'My Child is an Honor Student at..." stickers any time soon – Heck! Ever! – unless you beat up a smart kid and steal one and the bumper on the Dodge is just screaming out the need for some parental bragging verbiage, so I just decided to take matters into my own hands. Son. Son... Would you please stop licking the wall and tell me that you still love me."

And assuming that it was given out free with each child purchased what kind of person would actually affix it to the car? Not everything sticky that comes home from your kid's school needs to be stuck to your bumper. If you were worried about upsetting your marginal child's fragile ego there are ways of deflecting that. Say, "Instead of putting it on our car where we will almost never see it, let's stick it to the fridge with a magnet so we can see it any time we want, because really, how often do we see the back of the car?"

I'll tell you what that bumper sticker says to me. It says that the faculty at Rockrimmon Elementary has buckled under the pressure of the Parents of Idiotic Children coalition and announced to everyone that there are no longer bad children nor good children at their school. Only children, and who are we to judge? We love them all so much! Stop suing us! Here's a sticker.

Feh.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Busy

Our workboard has e'sploded with artwork orders the last two days. So, in the meantime here's something to amuse you: CDC - GHO - Kids' Page - Disease Cards 1

Be amused.
"Boring a hole in the patient’s head creates a door through which the demons can escape, and - viola! - out goes the crazy."