September 29, 2011

More Or Less Productive

Congratulations to me! I have a new iPhone 4 and have discovered the joy of being on the Internet any where I go. So, I thought I would try posting a blog entry from the phone. Three words: This is wack.

The problem is primarily this interface. Since it won't turn landscape like most apps, I am reduced to typing this whole thing on a tiny keyboard (which, by the way, doesn't have tactile feedback) with one finger.

It's cool to be able to blog my thoughts from wherever I happen to find that I have free time. But, for now at least, I don't think blogging this way is going to be a regular thing.

August 13, 2011

Facebook Sadness

Photos show my old school friends laughing and playing with their children.
The years have been kind, I think, and they have had children late in life.
Then I realize the adults are children of my old school friends.
I feel old.

April 23, 2011

The Children of Húrin

About a hundred years ago, I read a short little book about a short little person who had a very big adventure.  The book was entitled The Hobbit, and it was written by someone with more than the usual number of initials in his name.  So taken was I by this book, that I immediately acquired a much larger work by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and sliced out a sizable junk of my childhood following Frodo and Gandalf on an epic journey through Middle Earth.

Then, I grew up and promptly forgot about them.

Unfortunately, a fellow named Peter Jackson, along with a host of other people, brought the whole fantasy vividly back to life for me.  Once again, I was lost in a fantastical world not so different from our own as to be unbelievable yet not so like it as to be mundane.  My memories of the story were weak enough and the technology of the day was advanced enough that I felt transported to a realistic world that mirrored one I had known in my youth.  I bought the deluxe DVDs with all the extras.  Each film meant that I spent over $100 in movie going and follow-on merchandise. I was enthralled.  There was a time when there wasn't $100 worth of merchandise to buy!

Time has passed and the movies are gone. But, Chris Tolkien is still trying to milk his father's empire for all it is worth. Do I blame him? No. I would do the same if I were in his shoes. His efforts are the reason The Children of Húrin became known to me. Unfortunately, I wish it hadn't.

I don't remember JRR's style. Maybe it was different in The Lord of the Rings.  But I remember the story.  I remember how it gripped me; how I couldn't put the books down; how the tale dragged the boy willing through it.  I remember the rapture. None of that was evident in this work. The voice carried the overbearing tone of a storyteller. The names were difficult to pronounce and hard to remember, and it didn't help that the main character ended up having about 10 different ones. The story was hurky-jerky, and seemed initially to have no point.  In the end, that was borne out.

The children of Húrin are a doomed offspring. There is no real victory in the end. The story is a tragedy. I hate tragedies. I put the book down several times. In fact, at one point, I put it down for several months.  Only sheer determination to finish what I had started caused me to pick it up again.  The story's flow did eventually pick up, and eventually I got into it.  So, in that regard, I'm glad I finished it.  But, I don't recommend it.

If you are die-hard Tolkien fan, you might find some satisfaction in knowing that you have read more of his stuff.  Don't expect to find anything related to The Lord of the Rings.  If you're a casual fan, however, don't bother.

April 19, 2011

Rumors of My Demise...

...never started.

Life threw me a curveball a few weeks ago, and I disappeared from the web. Only a small circle of friends knew why I had disappeared. Maybe someday I will explain here but probably not. Those of you who are investigative types will probably figure it out. To the rest of you, I'm sorry to leave you in the dark. Thank you all so much for your e-mails of support and inquiry in my absence. Here are a few I would like to share:
“Hey, if you're dead or something, can you let us know?” ~4EvrLost
“Stoney, where the $@#$! are you?!?! The #$&#@ web feels so *@#$! empty without you!” ~Em
“Wow, its like you dropped off the face of the earth. I mean, not like earth has a face, but you know what I mean. The moon has a face, sorta, but you couldn't drop off of's moon. There are probably other moons with faces that don't have enough gravity to keep you on it, so you could drop off one of those. Well, it's not 'dropping off' per se, its more like floating away. But, you probably wouldn't be on one of those anyway. ... Would you!? Oh, man, that would be so cool though. Hurry back and let us know how it went.” ~0v3rQualiphil
Thanks all. Your heartfelt comments are encouraging. Unfortunately, I wasn't on a moon with a face but without enough gravity to hold me. The gravity of the situation was quite enough.
One weird piece of serendipity happened in my absence. All of the bloggers that I follow posted new blog entries after months of hiatus. I guess when I'm not around to distract you with my posts, you find better things to do.

Hard to imagine.

Here's what you have to look forward to in the next few weeks:
  • I just watched the movie Inception. I will write a review.
  • My thoughts on the book The Children of Húrin.
  • Some philisophical ponderings on watching movies performed by actors who's lifestyles you hate.

March 15, 2011

RuneScape Escape

If you don't know about MMORPGs, you've probably been busy with real life.  In a nutshell, they are digital worlds in which thousands (millions for some) of people play simultaneously and there is generally no specific objective. If it sounds boring, you're wrong.

One of these is called RuneScape. Because it has a rich free play environment, I started playing and got hooked for a very long time. I invested a great deal of time and no small amount of emotion into the character I created. Unfortunately, having my attention diverted to the game nearly destroyed my real-life world. So, I haven't played seriously for a long time.  Oh, I've gotten on and seen what changes the game has taken on.  I've done some of the usual tasks for nostalgia's sake. But, the hours I used to waste on it are done.

But my character lives.

My character has a combat level of 100. You can see the character's overall stats in the picture. For those of you who are familiar with the game, you will note that some of the member stats have been leveled. That's because I paid to play for a month. (That was a really bad idea for me.) My character has over five million in gold and, of course, wears full Rune armor. There is better armor to be had for free players now, but I won't be going after it. I'm not sure if five million in gold is a lot anymore. Jagex, the creator of RuneScape, tends to manage the economy of the game fairly tightly, so I suspect inflation has been kept low. All-in-all the character is fairly advanced and well situated.

It would be nice if there was some way to recoup even a fraction of time lost playing this game. I've often thought about selling the rights to the character. One would think that selling it would be my business and mine alone. Unfortunately, it is against the rules. My character can be banned if a sale is transacted and Jagex finds out. It can be banned if I advertise the account for sale. I think that's stupid. The rule is probably there to maintain balance. Nobody likes to play a game in which real life money trumps in-game effort. Selling characters allows for players to pay someone to level up the character and then jump in when the character gets good. Unfortunately, banning the sale of characters leaves obsessive guys like me with very few options.

I could give the character away I suppose, but then there is no recouping of loss. Also, it has been my experience that gifted resources are not treated with the respect they deserve. It takes a lot to earn what my character has. It should take a lot to acquire it from me. My character should have a good owner that will respect the time and effort that went into creating it.

So, in the end, I'm left with nothing to do but lament my stupidity and remember fondly some of the great achievements and experiences I had in the game. My character, on the other hand simply rests in limbo, reappearing from time-to-time when I feel like jumping in—a ghost haunting familiar grounds.

March 7, 2011

Imagine What I Could Do With My Blazing Turkey

Last Sunday, I cooked the second turkey I've ever cooked in my life.  It was also the biggest turkey I had ever cooked in my life.  I wish I had taken pictures before I cooked it.  It was enormous. It must have weighed 25 pounds.  But to me, it was just a challenge.  You see, I had done it before. It's a just a matter of scale.  How much different can it be to go from, oh, 12 pounds to 25?

Turns out, you need a bigger pan.

After thawing for a week in my refrigerator, I got the bad boy out, rinsed him off and prepped him for the pan.  It really amazes me how one of these things can sit in the fridge for so long and still have ice crystals down inside.    That clue, and the fact that the stuffing I made did not fill the cavity should have warned me that I was dealing with no ordinary turkey.  But, confident in my skills, I crammed giganti-bird into my 12x24x2 pan, set the oven to 350°F and went off to church.

Five hours later, we came home to smoke trickling out of the oven door.  My confidence waned.  A quick peek showed that, yes, something was burning, but it didn't appear to be the turkey.  In fact, the magic button had not even popped yet.  Upon closer examination, I discovered that the liquid in my pan was bubbling over onto the floor of the oven.  Aha! This is a problem I know how to manage! My confidence waxed.

While I grabbed cup and ladle, the oven insidiously conspired against me.  Having left the door open while retrieving the requisite equipment, the bottom burner decided the bird was getting a bit of a chill and needed to be warmed up.  It began to glow evilly.  Carefully, I ladled a scoop of the glorious bird's juices into my cup.  Excellent.  Then, I went for the second scoop.

What happened next is much like what happens in a Jerry Bruckheimer film at the height of the action sequences. Apparently turkeys are laced with heavy doses of napalm.  (Which would explain a lot of other things if you think about it.)  I jostled the ladle and spilled some of the juice onto the wicked burner.  My entire visual frame filled with a raging inferno.  This turkey's ancestors had reached up from the bowels of Hell and sought to drag me into the fiery depths to endure their torment with them.  I beat them back with the ladle.

When I wiped the sweat from my brow, I found that I had not come through unmolested.  My brittle eyebrows came away in my hands.  My hand had suffered two minor burns.  Short though they were, my forelocks had retreated so hastily that they curled back on themselves.  Sources say that the sight was laughable.  (Said source also did not hesitate to demonstrate laughter as proof of his claim.)

Bowl of Turkey Meat
Alas, the story is not grim.  Though the turkey's button never popped, we did eat the fowl creature.  I ripped its flesh from its bones and ground the bones into the sewer.  What remains is a bowl of meat large enough to feed an army for a week...or perhaps a father and son for a day or two.  See the picture of the bowl.  The fork is added for scale. The tiles upon which the bowl sits are 8 inch tiles.  The picture really doesn't do the magnitude justice.

Unfortunately, now there is a thick layer of volatile, jellied turkey napalm on the bottom of my oven.  Best not to use that self-cleaning feature just yet, I guess. Work to do. Ew.

March 1, 2011

Convict Muses

This past weekend, I had the great privilege of meeting and chatting with a man who spent 25 years of his life serving time for accessory to murder.  We talked mostly about his case and his re-acclimation to life when he got out.  He was incarcerated in the 70s and released comparatively recently. In one anecdote he related, he got into trouble for getting too near a car.  The owner had remotely locked the doors. That caused the car to honk. He thought someone in the car was honking at him, so he approached the car.

There is no training for these men when they are released. They are simply set free. For them, it is as if they had stepped through a time machine. Personal computers did not exist when he went in. There were no CDs, DVDs. In fact, these things were just waning. Giving out a cell number must have seemed like a prison reference. The space shuttle and the Concorde were new.  Rocky movies were just getting started.

Many of these newly freed men, having developed no new social skills in prison, simply return to their old neighborhoods, find any former friends that might still be alive, pick up the same patterns and end up back in the same place.  This guy was different.  He set himself up in a small village and surrounded himself with a few older men who became his mentors.  He gradually worked himself back into society until now he has purchased his own house and has no trouble finding work. He has even written a book!

But, that's not all of it.  Our man experienced a bizarre case.

I'm careful not to say that he is not guilty.  He never said it.  He simply explained that he had a bizarre case and carried around the court briefing to show it.  Lorenzo was an insurance salesman.  He helped out his friend.  His friend was arrested for murder. His friend said that Lorenzo knew about the murder.  His friend later testified that he had lied about that. This so-called friend was incarcerated for two murders. Neither of those where the murder for which he was arrested. Lorenzo was sentenced to life.

That's right, there were three murder cases.  Two for which Lorenzo's friend was incarcerated. One for which Lorenzo was incarcerated.  But remember, Lorenzo was convicted of accessory after the fact.  So, the man who lied on Lorenzo was never convicted of the murder for which Lorenzo was incarcerated as an accessory.  We all know how that's possible.  But, it doesn't seem right to me.

I made this comment to him about being in prison for 25 years for something he didn't do: “That could make a man awfully bitter.”

His non sequitur response floored me. I felt it touch a nerve in me. I was shamed by it.

“There's a lot of people in prison,” he said, “They just aren't behind bars.”

NOTE: Lorenzo's book is not about his prison story. Also, it is self-published, so caveat emptor. He told me he is writing his prison story. When that becomes available, I will probably buy it and read it. Watch my blog for the announcements. I'll try to remember to post an update here.

February 22, 2011

Buckaroo Banzai

I don't remember when I first saw The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension , but I never forgot the movie.  Banzai was a larger-than-life hero who modeled the attitude of the eighties at a fairly deep level.  Even now, I can't really put my finger on it.  He was every man's James Bond. He was the captain of his soul. He was a caring leader. And, it didn't hurt that he was a modern Renaissance man.

The makers of the movie call it a docudrama.  I'm not sure what that means.  Pretty sure there is no real Banzai Institute and there never was a real Dr. B. Banzai, so where the docu part comes from is a mystery to me.

Thanks to Netflix, I got to see the movie again.  It had always surprised me when I mentioned the movie to friends and they had no clue what I was talking about. Having rewatched, I'm even more surprised.  I had forgotten that the movie features Peter Weller of RoboCop fame, John Lithgow, Jeff Goldbloom, and Christopher Lloyd who later got his own jet powered Delorian.

My young mind had somehow idolized the movie, and I remembered it for far more than it actually is. There is no deep suspense. There is no twist ending.  The plot is not shallow, but perhaps could be called standard.  Yet, the movie is anything but standard.  It almost defies classification.  It is a science fiction movie in the style of Flash Gordon or The Last Starfighter. To watch it, you would expect that it is a comic book movie.  But, I can't find any reference to a comic book that predates the movie.  The fourth wall is there, but the comedy causes it to seem very thin.  It is an action movie, but the action is not the centerpiece.  It has geeky, but very odd technology throughout.

In the end, I suppose it is the attitude of the hero that makes the movie for me. Dr. Banzai is a guy who has all the natural gifts that God has to offer and yet he still cares about people.  He respects authority, but doesn't worship it.  He walks with intent and has the capacity to answer distractions while staying focused on his objective.

The movie still appears to have a following. I can see why. I still like it, even after all these years.

February 21, 2011

Ice Storm 2011

Just another ice storm in the Midwest. There have been worse.  Not much to say about it, but here are a few pictures. Click on the picture to zoom.

Evergreen Weighed Down and Parted
Laden Pine
Encrusted Tramp
The Other Evergreen
Natural Ice Sculpture and a Branch That Could Not Hold Out
Beauty Up Close

February 17, 2011

The Book of Eli

Watched this post-apocalyptic film last night.  Wasn't exactly sure what to think of it.  Enjoyed the ride, but when it was over, I thought it felt kind of empty.  There were a few thrilling fight scenes, and the Belly of the Whale moment was good, but for whatever reason, I had no empathy for the hero.

Except for an interesting twist ending, the movie was largely predictable in the same sense that The Titanic was predictable.  There was, however, a nice surprise in the end that caused me to roll back and watch a few scenes again in order to appreciate them.  I'm continuously amazed at how many clues a writer or director can throw at me and still the twist goes over my head.  Unfortunately, it's not clear to me that the director was entirely honest with the twist.  That is, as I rolled back the reel, I could see something very clearly that I did not see clearly at the end of the movie.  (I have been handed a level of disagreement on this by an argumentative cohort.  But I'm not convinced I'm wrong.)  Watch the movie.  Then roll it back and see if you see in the middle what you see at the end.  I don't think it's there. If it isn't there, the twist isn't entirely honest.

The underlying plot of the movie is difficult to believe.  There is only one copy of the book left on the planet.  If you believe that Eli is just a crazy man, you can pass off his comment as simple delusion. It makes that part easier to buy, but it makes other parts of the movie less so.  If you believe what Eli says about himself, then his statement about the book carries the weight of God.  I don't care how much book burning goes on, it seems highly unlikely that there would ever be only one copy of The Book left.

I didn't much care for the sepia toned cinematography.  It gave it a nice desolate feel, but for me, it kept pulling me out of the movie.

I recall three positive messages I took from the movie. One was said to Redridge and Carnegie.  There's always a choice. The other two were passed to Solaris by Eli. The first one, stated as a directive to her was to quit whining and change your situation if you don't like it. The second was an observation about his own journey and perhaps a resolution to change.  That is, observe to do what you believe and not just get caught up in reading it.  Wise words.

February 7, 2011

Isn't It Ironic?

It bugs me that the English dictionary is descriptive and not prescriptive. And yet, people still treat it as if it were.  The phrase, "look it up" seems to trump a great many arguments.  In fact, to my knowledge, there is no accepted authority for the definition of words.  English is an adaptive language.  If the populous misuses a word often enough, sooner or later, it will appear in the dictionary with the misused definition right there beside it.

I was discussing the definition of ironic with a fellow ponderer.  After a good deal of discussion, and because I was seen as an authority, we decided that the definition of the word indicated a sense of expecting a certain outcome from a certain action and achieving the totally opposite result.  For example: If you put up a sign that says don't look up, the intent is that you don't want people to look up.  But the irony is that the sign will actually cause people to look up.

It took a good deal of discussion to dissuade my compatriot of the notion that ironic meant coincidental.  He would say, "Isn't it ironic that when you were talking about bananas, a banana commercial came on TV?!?"  No, that isn't ironic.  That's a coincidence.  I can see how the term can become synonymous with coincidence because the two go hand-in-hand.  One incident is the one which is intended to cause the expected or perhaps predicted result.  The other incident is the actual occurance of the opposite result.  These incidents work in conjunction with each other and therefore coincide.

So today, I went to an Internet dictionary to see how exactly the definition of ironic should be phrased.  What did I find? Two references to irony and a reference to coincidence.  I didn't find the definition I expected until defnition #6 behind irony.  The word appears to be more strongly correlated with sarcasm but is still a notion of opposing expectations.

So, I looked up ironic and found that it was defined in a way I didn't expect.  That's ironic.  The fact that I was actually looking up the word ironic when it happened is...well...ironic (coincidental).  The fact that I just said ironic instead of coincidence is also ironic (sarcasm).

Blah. Language evolution is frustrating. I would use a dead language if using it wouldn't corrupt it by bringing it back to life.

Notice in the definition of irony that coincidence is not mentioned.  This implies that the use of ironic to mean coincidental truly a corruption of the meaning.  So, I'm still right even if the dictionary says I'm wrong.  So there.

Recently Watched: The Philidelphia Experiment, Dirty Jobs, Jim Henson's Storyteller, Jackie Chan Adventure Series

February 4, 2011


Netflix is on its way to becoming the vehicle that fulfills a prophecy I made many years ago.  Someday, I said, we will be able to download movies and watch what we want when we want to.  I'm sure I'm not sage. I said it when technology was ready.  Many probably saw the writing as well.

A side effect of buying a Wii console for my household is that I succumbed to the temptation to get Netflix.  I can watch all the movies I want for one very low monthly price.  Admittedly, not all movies are available for instant download but many are.  And, watch them I have been.  (Use your Yoda voice to say that last sentence.)

So, after countless episodes of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe and many more to come, after catching up on all the stupid movies I intended to watch but never did, after watching a few movies I wish I had not, I wonder if it is really worth it.  There's a whole lot of crap out there.  Most of it isn't worth reviewing.  I've watched Hudson Hawk and Clue, for example.  Hours of my life I will never get back.  So what's the point?  After all this waiting to get to this really cool science fiction age, was it worth it?  Most times, yes.  For Netflix? Probably not.

The sad thing is, though... I won't stop my subscription.  What else is a Stone Giant to do but sit and watch... and watch... and watch as the acid rain slowly and painfully erodes him away.

February 3, 2011

Expressing Grief Today

Grieving today. A very important person in my life is going to be away from me for six months.  I've never been apart from this individual for so long. Sunday begins the journey.  It's difficult to write about anything else because this is so big on my mind.  There are moments when I simply cannot contain the grief, and I break down crying.

I feel alone. I feel whelmed.

My hope is that this will be a growing experience that far outweighs the pain of separation.  It will be good for both of us.  Maybe I'll grow up and expressing myself through an unread blog–an open diary–won't be so important anymore.

Who knows?

January 31, 2011

My Hand At Poetry

I met a man the other day coming from the other way.
In a voice that wasn't nice, I tried to give him my advice.
"Good sir," said I to fix his plight, "the way you're going isn't right."
He smugly grinned and waved his hand and bid me turn and join his band.
The nerve of him to think me wrong, when thus far I'd journeyed long
Down this road of sweat and tears, failed hope and realized fears.
I shared with him my trail of woe and what would happen should he go
Back the path whence I had walked. Yet, how he argued, fought, and balked!
In the end though we fought long and I was right and he was wrong,
He thought I was out of line so he went his way. I went mine.
When within me cooled the righteous fire I had kindled in my ire,
I thought perhaps I'd been unkind to this poor man I'd left behind
For though he was a stupid clod, I was traveling ground he'd trod.

January 30, 2011

TRON: Legacy - Yet Again

My previous to posts covering the movie TRON: Legacy may have been a bit unfair.[1][2] Having not yet digested the backlash of disappointment, I was eager to condemn its every facet. Now, having absorbed that crushing blow of having waited 20+ years for a sequel only to be let down, I've decided to append to my observations of the movie's religious references.

It wasn't necessarily complete sacrilege.


The first movie revealed the inner world of Encom's network and the programs that lived there. They were bound by the Master Control Program.  Flynn's arrival from the realm of the creators mirrored the story of Christ coming into our world.  He broke the power of Satan (MCP) and returned to Heaven. Great story.  A story most of us not only know and love but love to see played out in allegories like TRON.

Given that, TRON: Legacy could reflect our world after Christ's departure.  Flynn came back into the world and lived with the programs.  He had chosen special programs that he intended one day to take back with him.  The story centers around one remaining female variant of these marked programs.  Flynn has assigned himself as protector of her and has taught her about his world.  This could be taken as an allegorical reference the the Holy Spirit—that other comforter mentioned by Jesus upon His departure.

When Flynn's son came into the world, things changed.  A young version of Flynn (CLU) gathered his forces for a final battle.  How similar is this to end-times when a false Christ will rise and deceive many? Does it also mirror the prophesied battle of Armageddon? Who knows? But it does show that the setting of the movie is not the first coming of Christ, but the second.

In the second coming, the Bible tells us that Christ will come and take His Bride away. His Bride will be pure. His bride will be chosen—marked. After the catching away of His Bride the church, God will bring final and permanent judgment to the world. (How and when depends a lot on your understanding of what is written.)

In the movie, that is exactly what happened.

I love the word obverse. I have flipped the coin labeled TRON: Legacy and seen its obverse. I have seen the Christian perspective that can be found in it. In my first reviews of the religious aspects of the movie, I saw the reverse.

It makes me wonder now, does every story have the seeds of both?

January 29, 2011

Advice to Computer Users

My cousin's computer was recently infected by Koobface.  Her system is now down and unusable until we can find a trustworthy source for removing it.

Some time ago, a company with which I worked was hacked through a phishing scam.  This event cost them about $750K in actual banked money.  Beyond that, they lost about a week of productivity from their accounting, legal, and IT support staff.

Both of these events could have been avoided by following a two simple rules when surfing the Internet:
  1. Never click on links in unsolicited messages from anyone.
  2. Never click on pop-ups.
Following those two rules religiously will go a long way toward guaranteeing safe surfing.  But, as stated, they are at the same time too rigid and not cautionary enough.  I presented them that way for ease of memory.  If in doubt, follow them religiously.

Added Cautionary Warnings
Unsolicited messages are messages that you receive by e-mail, twitter, chat, or any other form of Internet communication.  Chat can be on Facebook, AOL, Microsoft Live, Skype, etc.  Messages can come through your social network sites as well. These messages can appear to be from friends, from your bank, from some service you use on the web; they can come from sources that appear trusted.  They might ask you to click a link to go verify your account. They might ask you to watch a video.  They might appear very professional or very personal.  Resist the urge to trust them.

So what if your friend really does want to send you a link to a video with you in it?  What if your back really does have  a problem with your account?  Following that above advice to the letter will cause you to miss it.  There are never exceptions. Follow the advice.  But, if you get a message from a professional organization, call them.  If they're not a brick & mortar organization, navigate to the website directly, using the links that you normally use and not the links in the e-mail.  You will most likely find that there is no problem.  If the message is from a friend, send a separate e-mail back.  (Don't reply to the message or send a copy of the link!) Ask if they sent you a link.  If they don't respond, or if they say they didn't, then delete the message.  If it came in chat, strike up a conversation, ask them to send it to you via e-mail.

Pop Ups
Use your judgement here.  Some pop ups are not only fine, but they are required.  (It annoys me when a professional website requires them, but it happens.)  Use careful judgment.  When in doubt, don't allow the Pop Up.  If you are ever told in a Pop Up that you might be infected with a virus, do not click anything on the window.  Look at the task bar. You should see an icon related to that window.  Right click on it and select close.

There is so much more I wish I could tell you.  Maybe I will over time. For now, just follow this advice and you will avoid most problems. Every blogger should have a post like this or a link to a post like this.

January 26, 2011

2, 4, 6, 8 Time for me to Provigilate

I think I found my soliloquy. It comes in a white pill dosed at 200mg twice daily. Its title is Provigil. Nine out of ten monkeys prefer it over cocaine.

A few months ago, I quit taking it because I didn't like the idea that I was becoming addicted to it.  I needed it. Even though the documentation says it isn't addictive, I was exhibiting behaviors similar to that of an addict when it came to using it.  Besides, my copay went up and I wanted to save a few bucks.  Those few bucks have ended up costing me hundreds and have potentially made significant scars on various relationships in my life.

Shortly after stopping, I became more lethargic than usual.  I became frustrated because I was unable to think clearly or maintain focus on my work.  But I suffered through, assuming that my body was adjusting.  It wasn't. I became frustrated and despondent. Finally, after about three months, someone important to me initiated a reverse intervention. She told me to get back on my drugs, because I was ruining my life.

Yesterday I spoke with my doctor. He indicated that while Provigil is not considered addicting, we may become dependent on it. Because it isn't addicting, the industry is attempting to refer to it as an alertness medication and not a stimulant. Apparently, drug dependence is not always a bad thing.  He pointed out that diabetics are dependent on insulin. Postthyroidectomy patients are dependent on Synthroid. Apparently, some of us just need Provigil.

I took my first dose shortly after seeing the doctor.  If ever there was a way to convert Eeyore into Tigger, this is it.  The clouds parted, my mood lifted, the accelerator hit the floor and I was cranked! Score one for Provigil.

I don't feel bad about my choice anymore.  I've lost a lot as a result of my down time.  It is now time to get it back. (If you want to help the giant, click the advert links.  Charitable donations will also not be refused! If everyone who's on the Internet just sent me a little bit... Okay, never mind. I can dream, can't I?)  Part of the recovery process involves instituting personal changes in my habits, which I now have the energy to make.  Maybe someday, with the help of an increased focus on gratitude, a more robust prayer life, and the development of a pattern for living, I will get off the Provigil again.  For now though, Rock On!

January 23, 2011

Eeyore Or Tigger

Just finished reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  It's a good book containing good life lessions.  Read it if you get a chance. It will make you think, laugh, and cry.

One particular chapter talks about how you get to choose whether or not you go through life as Eeyore or as Tigger.  I don't think we get to choose.  I think for some of us, it is easier to be Eeyore and for others it is easier being Tigger.  Neither type tends to like the other.  But, it's always the Tiggers saying you get to choose. Something to think about.  Depending on which one you are, you'll spin it a different way when you think about it.

Not that it matters.

January 21, 2011

Depression Hurts Everyone

I may have destroyed a budding friendship yesterday. It's hard to know. I was depressed and frustrated by life events and ended up behaving in a way unbecoming of both a friend and a professional. My new found friend did not deserve the treatment I gave him.

You know those commercials that say depression hurts everyone?  They're true.  Depressed people hurt people. It's what we do. Trouble is, that knowledge only makes me more more depressed. I guess they have a product to sell.

I'm a jerk. I suck.

Sorry Ben. If I could fix it, I would.


January 20, 2011

My Soliloquy - Part II

So I really have been pondering this soliloquy thing a lot.  It has been brought to my attention indirectly that a good, self-motivating soliloquy would be one that expresses gratitude for what I have and perhaps some self-praise. It is amazing to me how difficult that really is.  My gratitude muscle really needs some development.

Emboldened by a recent, positive exercise in thankfulness, I'm making it a personal goal to actually come up with a thankfulness soliloquy.  I have some skill in writing haiku, rap lyrics, and other forms of useless poetry, so I may be able to hammer one out.  Shakespeare's soliloquies seem neither to rhyme nor have any metered rhythm.  What a hack.  But still, they are cool.  So I think I want to model mine after his.

Two famous ones are Tomorrow and Tomorrow from Macbeth and To Be or Not To Be from Hamlet.  While a soliloquy (also known as an aside) appears to be a subset of the monologue, I don't think I'm interested in monologues.  What good is a monologue if nobody is around to listen?

The TV mini-series Dune had several soliloquies in it.  I should explore that.  Lots of plays have these. I wonder if there are already some good ones on thankfulness?  Most seem centered around despair and death; worthy topics to be sure, but not likely to pull me onto the correct path.

While I was poking around, I found this.  Funny!

January 19, 2011

Magnetic Balls

I have just discovered magnetic balls! These things look fun! Definitely adding to my wish list. At $25 per cube, it could get expensive quickly. But it looks like there is plenty of fun to be had with just one.

I digress. Watch the video. Explore the terms neocube, bollies, nanodots, BuckyBalls, and desk dots. I promise you won't be disappointed. Can't wait to own!

Watch And Explore

Maybe somewhere there is a review of which magnetic balls are better than others...

January 18, 2011

Geocaching Revisited

For Christmas in 2005, a Garmin eTrex Legend GPS receiver.  Shortly after getting it, I registered with and got started looking for caches.  After finding a few, I never looked at the world the same again. It seemed that somewhere, lurking out there under every rock, in every tree, there was a cache waiting to be found.

So why am I bringing it up now?  On one of my early trips, I took my brother-in-law.  He is a pragmatic guy, but he's also an outdoorsman.  He was skeptical.  Why waste money to buy a device that helps you find dumb stuff? On our trip, we happened to find a cache stashed in the burned out remains of an old log home.  All that was left was the stone basement.  The idea that this tool could take you places you've never been before hooked him hard.  He became a regular fanatic!  Long after I had given up on the hobby, he still contacted me, telling me about his latest GPS purchase, all the cool maps he's downloaded, caches he has found, etc.

He came up to visit this weekend.  Naturally, we were compelled to go.  We tromped around in six inches of snow looking for small canisters containing baubles that nobody wants.  But we were in a graveyard that has got to be the coolest graveyard around!  I love graveyards.  Someday I hope to spend a lot of time in one.  But, alas, I can only dream.  Anyway, I'm hooked again.  I've fired up my obsolete unit and expect to go on hunts at every opportunity.

It really is fun.  Give it a try!  ... But who am I talking to?  LOL!  I might as well be talking to the dead.

January 14, 2011

Tooth Fairy

Yep, I missed a day yesterday.  Got caught up in being busy going to the doctor, writing in my physical pen & paper journal, watched a movie, and got a haircut (yes, all of them).  Actually never took the time to blog anything.  I'm surprised nobody noticed.  Bwahhahahaha!!!

Oh man.  That was funny.

So was Tooth Fairy!  I actually laughed out loud at that movie.  Rent it. Watch it, but please, disengage your brain. Let it idle quietly while your emotions have a hearty laugh. The movie is fun, and it is meant to be fun.  It provokes heart-felt thought but not deep thought.  The story is standard fare for this kind of movie.  It's funny to me that this movie exhibited some of the same story characteristics as TRON: Legacy, but I forgave them.  I guess there are different kinds of expectations.  I expected that Hollywood would screw up the TRON sequel and they didn't disappoint me.  But, I expected more from the TRON: Legacy story than a template script with light emitting vehicles.

In the words of the Dread Pirate Roberts, I guess I'd "better get used to disappointment."

January 12, 2011

My Soliloquy

I like the idea of having a soliloquy that sort of defines me.  When I get discouraged or misguided, I can go stare at a wall somewhere and quote the soliloquy as if looking off-stage.  It's a kind of cool concept that playwrights use, and I want to adopt it for my life.

Anyone know of a good one I could adopt?  I'm thinking Shakespeare has several from which I could choose.  Maybe I could pick one as a model and change it to fit me.

Any ideas?

Oh, I forgot. This blog is a soliloquy.

January 11, 2011

Parking Ticket Sends Man to Jail in Cadillac

Hard to believe isn't it? That's the story I got from a friend of mine.  He was riding in the car with his girlfriend in Cadillac, Michigan.  She was pulled over for speeding.  The police asked him for his ID.  (To me, this is a problem. He had committed no infraction. How many times do they ask the passenger for the their papers?)  When the police checked, they found that his home city had a warrant out for his arrest.  The reason? He had an unpaid parking ticket.

The good police of Cadillac decided to throw my friend in jail for the day. The plan was that an officer was going to drive from my friend's home town to Cadillac in order to extradite him.  That's a five hour round trip.  Fortunately, my friend was able to arrange to have the ticket paid by a friend while he waited behind bars in Cadillac.  He spent the day there instead of going boating as he had planned.

According to Neighborhood Scout, Cadillac has a crime index of 15.  A crime index of 100 is the safest.  My friend's home town also has a crime index of 15. The neighboring town has a crime index of eight.  Maybe the problem is because the priority is on unpaid parking tickets, especially when it's going to cost a five hour trip to make sure the guy arrives in order to pay the ticket.

Somebody needs to re-evaluate priorities.  But, hey, who cares?  I scream into the storm. My voice is lost in the howling madness.

January 10, 2011

TRON: Legacy (Part II) (Possible Spoilers)

Continuing my comparison of two TRONs...

Social Relevance
When TRON aired, video game arcades were still everywhere. I went to them and hung out. I dropped quarters in my fair share of them.  The movie brought the games to life; it gave personality to the machine AIs that played against us.  It shows us a weird reflection of present day life.  TRON: Legacy on the other hand seemed completely oblivious to the real world gaming environment today.  What are people doing today?  We play head-to-head on-line.  Console games are prominent.  MMORPGs are huge!  Six guys going at it on motorcycles just don't happen that much any more.  What we have are 8 players going head-to-head in Call of Duty or Medal of Honor.  We have thousands of players interacting in thousands of different ways in World of Warcraft, Runescape, and others.  TRON:Legacy never even touched on that.  There was  brief hat tip to wireless technology, but nothing significant.

Imagine how the cyberscape would have been different if the writers had considered the possibilities of world with digital dragons intermingled with WWII AIs. RPGs and magic.  Human controlled "programs" intermingled with AIs with gaming spanning continents, not confined to a 640x480 game grid.  Instead, they chose to leave it in Flynn's own private little world, isolated from the real world.  It showed.

Age and Sophistication
Let's face it, I'm 28 years older than I was when TRON first appeared.  In theory, I'm more sophisticated. I expect more from a film.  I'm wiser and perhaps understand the world a little better than I did in those days.  It may be just too tall of an order to fill to please my elder intellect the same way they pleased my younger.  I just wish they had tried.

Remember, in the first movie, the Master Control Program brought Flynn into the grid without Flynn firing the gun.  That means that the triggering mechanism for the laser can be controlled from within the system.  Flynn's personal little world would not have overlooked this.  He would have been able to turn on the laser at any point and get out.  The whole ticking clock in the movie was contrived...much like the rest of it.

I went into TRON: Legacy expecting to be disappointed.  The movie met my expectations.

January 9, 2011

TRON: Legacy (Possible Spoilers)

This might take a couple of posts, but I wanted to outline a few of the things that I liked and disliked about TRON: Legacy. It bugs me that I really liked the first one and thought the second one was not worth the toilet paper it was written on.

The first movie seemed to be all about Frisbee battles.  I had never seen that before. The light cycles were cool and all, but I fantasized about the Frisbees.  In fact, I came to love Frisbee because of that movie.  I always imagined myself with blue lines aglow, pitching the Frisbee so hard, so fast, so powerfully that I ripped old Sark's disk right down the middle.  True, they flew with a mind of their own, but that was part of the fun of it.  In the second movie, the Frisbee action was lame and failed to be integral to the movie.  It was all about the light cycle.

I love it when movies incorporate religious overtones in them.  The first movie had a really strong Jesus Christ savior sentiment.  Even the phrase "Oh My User", trite as it was, spoke to the idea that the users were gods.  As a young budding developer, that really stroked my ego.  However, 25 years later, we see the film painted with Zen Buddhism, the rampant influence of which has infected Hollywood so deeply.  Flynn in robes and beads? Come on.  (Of course, it has been some 1200 years local time for him.)  We see an anti-god mentality in that the programs have developed themselves and are now going to come out and show the gods a thing or two in the form of the Isos.  Bah, what absolute rubbish.

User Power
In the first movie, Flynn discovered his user power.  There always seemed a chance that he wouldn't be able to pull it off.  Would he make it before the evil MCP took him down?  The answer was a definite maybe.  With this movie, there was never a question about what was going to happen.  The heavy-handed "foreshadowing" (more like "forehand pitching of the final scene") by the Iso told us exactly what was going to happen, and there was never a doubt in my mind that Flynn could handle it.

Trivial Things
  • Where was Bit? I missed Bit.
  • I always liked CLU.  It was hard to be his opponent.  Remember this line, "Forget it, mister high-and-mighty Master Control! You aren't making me talk!"  Ah, that stuck with me.
  • I really do like the new graphics. The new Recognizers are cool!
  • The "Light Jets" are a fabulous new concept for video games.  I want to see that in some real-time PVP action. A three dimensional light cycle grid is a cool concept too.  (And sure, why not have a four wheeler?  Dumb for the movie, but great "upgrade" for VG play.)
Yeah, definitely going to be multiple posts.


January 8, 2011

Dr. Mr. Armstrong

From childhood I practically worshipped Neil Armstrong.  Yeah, I get that he was part of a team and couldn't have done what he did without the backing of thousands of other individuals and millions of dollars of tax payer money.  But I appreciated the event.  Neil Armstrong was synonymous with space travel.  The idea that a man placed his boots on the soil of  a celestial body other than that on which he was born thrills me.  Neil was the right man for the job. He was a near perfect specimen of mankind. He deserved to be first.

Later, however, as I came to realize that Mr. Armstrong is a recluse, despising the lime-light, I realized that it might have been better if Buzz Aldrin had been the first man to walk on the moon.  Neil is a celebrity. Neil's name is known.  More people recognize the name Neil Armstrong than recognize the name Buzz Aldrin.  (I applaud Toy Story for attempting to change that.)  They only do so because he made the first bootprint on lunar soil.  But Buzz has the passion for space.  If Buzz had been first, he could have run with the First Man image and maybe made the American mindset stick to the image that, yes, we can, should, and will walk on other worlds. Neil could have gone off and hid in his schoolhouse somewhere without any impact on society.

Mr. Armstrong, I'm disappointed in your failure to keep the dream of space travel alive.  You had to disappear. You had to become a teacher somewhere.  (Or so they tell me.)  You let us down.  You were privileged to walk in a place that only eleven other men have walked. You blazed a trail for a dozen special guys.  The rest of us are stuck here on this mud ball we call earth.  You ruined it for us.  Why didn't you continue to sell the dream, carry the torch, lead the charge, and make a way for the rest of us who are mere mortals?  You have done a selfish thing.

Thanks.  Thanks for nothing.

There. I said it. I said it in a nice safe place where nobody will ever read it, but at least I said it.

January 7, 2011

John Truby on Genre

Just finished reading an article in Script Magazine that talked about the importance of genre in writing a movie script1. Since I always thought genre was just a setting, it really opened my eyes about how it can help the writer build his story.  The article is by John Truby, a recognized screenwriting instructor in Hollywood.  Basically, the article points out that genre helps the writer:
  • Develop the main character by providing a desire line with which he must be aligned. (What is my motivation?)
  • Categorize the relationship between hero and villain, or even define who is the villain.
  • Develop the plot by providing standard story beats around which to build the story.
  • Provide a deep thematic question that the story attempts to answer or express.
Truby then goes on to say that once you've established the core genre, transcend it by making your hero unique and human and by twisting the story beats ever so slightly.
Since nobody really reads this blog, I thought it was a good place to record that I liked this article.  Someday when I'm scanning through all depressed, maybe I'll remember how cool the article was and read it again.
1Script Magazine, Volume 17/Number 1, January/February 2011; Genres: The Secret to Your Success pp 22,23; John Truby

January 6, 2011

That Old Writing Bug

Friend of mine asked me to hold him accountable to his new year's resolution of writing 1000 words per day, every day.  Can you believe I have a friend?  Anyway, it has me digging through all my old writing projects.  Some of them I really like.  Kind of itching to start again.

Like anyone would actually want to read something I wrote.  I'm my own biggest fan, and even then I don't always like it.  The Giant needs to keep his head in reality.

January 5, 2011


It's really good advice.  The derivation of the word seems to indicate that it means to feel sorrow or regret.  However, there are places in literature where the Greek word metanoeite has been translated to English as repent. However, metanoeite indicates a change in one's mind or purpose.

So, the advice is to change the way you think.  I suppose if you feel sorry or regretful about a particular mindset, it would indicate that you intend to change the way you think.  But, in general, the word repent doesn't carry that connotation.

Change your mindset. Think success, not failure. Think good, not bad.  Think positive, not negative.  Then let your actions follow your thoughts.

Look at me being all positive, talking like someone can hear me...and cares.

January 4, 2011

Ah Chooo

So sick of sneezing, running nose, itchy-watery eyes.

Like you care.

January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

Yeah, Whatever.  Like you have time to read my blog posts.

Hope this year is better for you than last year's was.