Monday, December 8, 2008

Cowboy, where art thou?

After reading Rory's recent "where the effing hell has Rory been" post, I realized that I've disappeared in much the same way, although my reasons weren't nearly as interesting.  Then my company decided to send me to New York at 6:30 in the effin' morning.  They should know better.  Having missed a flight for the first time in my life (I tried, I really tried), I find myself sitting at the airport wondering what to do as I wait for my now 9:30 flight.  So I pull up a few blogs.  Then I find Rory's post, then I realize, the masses want to know where the hell Cowboy is and what's been going on.  This forced me to think about why I haven't been posting.  So here goes:

  • Left Minnesota, went back to my old job in effin' Kansas.  Woohoo!  Honestly, the job isn't all that bad, but it's a little like trying to wear that shirt you had when you were a freshman in high school, it doesn't quite fit anymore.  Close, but not quite.  You've grown, the shirt didn't.  I'll endure the awkwardness of wearing a shirt that doesn't fit for a while, but I'm gonna have to go shopping eventually.  Anyway, moving across three states tends to take a bit of your time.
  • Obama was elected.  While this may not directly affect me, I realized that recently the vast majority of my posts has revolved around Evilbush and his personal war that has cost us thousands of American lives needlessly (and far more Iraqi lives).  My main beef with McCain was his support of said needless war.  Obama wants to withdraw (albeit not soon enough), so I don't have as much to bitch about now.  I'm just counting down to Bush's last day.  The electoral college still bugs me, but since Obama won despite the skewed electoral college results, I'll leave it alone.  Give me about another four years and I'll be all over it again. 
  • Wife and kids are a bit demanding on one's time.  This hasn't been as much of an issue recently, since I've been living the bachelor life in Minnesota.  On a side note, the bachelor life is overrated.  I missed my kids terribly, and they missed me as well. We've spent a lot of time together.  It's good.  My wife is there too.  She demands a lot of time, because apparently not having a job consumes a lot of her time.  She needs me to do a lot of the housework she doesn't have time for in her daily regimen of Oprah, Doctor Phil, QVC, The Food Network, and teaching the kids how all science is wrong. 

Anyway, that's it in a nutshell.  Last time I was in New York I decided to make some changes in my life.  I'm still getting around to it, but the effect the town has on me is interesting.  We'll see how it goes this time. 

Oh, and one last thing.  I ran across a blog that claimed mentioning a certain name seriously boosted the hit count.  In the interest of seeing if that's true, I'm going to try it myself.  Here goes:

Sydney Brooke Simpson

Let the hits roll!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Are people really still falling for this?

My GMail account gets a LOT of spam.  I'm not sure how I ended up on so many spam lists, but I suspect GMail themselves are partly to blame.  There's also the issue that there are about four other people in the country, and one in Australia apparently, who think my e-mail address is theirs.  These people are apparently not very bright when it comes to where and when it's appropriate to give out your (or rather my) e-mail address.  They also appear to like to sign up for e-mail distribution lists on sites that apparently do not verify your e-mail address.  There's not much I can do to stop it, but I do appreciate GMail's rather thorough spam filter. 

Today I took a look at the spam folder.  I do this occasionally just to make sure there isn't something there that shouldn't be.  I generally get tired after the first two or three pages and just delete it all anyway.  Today I had 828 Spam messages.  That's something like 36 times the number of real e-mails sitting in my inbox.  In fairness, I had just deleted several real messages from real distribution lists I'm really subscribed to, just because I know I'll never get time to read them.  Sorry CodeProject.  But still, 36 spam e-mails for every 1 real e-mail I receive.  That is beyond ludicrous. 

As I'm looking through, I scroll past the messages letting me know important things like "Free pass for Enticing teens" and "Don't Delay get Money Today" and "Vaigra cailis" (whatever the hell that is), offers for free Anti-Depressents, growing my organ to a big hulk (I prefer the piano, myself), Make myself 10 years younger, Branded watches, several in Chinese I can't read due to a lack of speaking Chinese , Generic Meds, getting bang for my buck, Free Prescriptions, 90% prices, free Blackberry (that I can believe.  They would have to force one on me), larger rods (but will it fit in my car's engine?), "Zohan's secret to success", the bailout package I need, an imperative to "stop being a disappointment in bed", blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.  And that was just today's spam.

If it weren't for spam filters, I would have sworn off e-mail by now.  That is absolutely ridiculous.  And why is it so damn hard to spell ridiculous?

Then one caught my eye.  It was so obviously a phishing scam it might very well have had blinking lights and a marching band playing "All your monies are belong to us, L00zR".  I had a brief flash of those commercials where the old lady is giving a diatribe on identity theft in an inner city young boy's voice. 

This one was a warning that my Chemical Bank account information needed verification.  Out of curiosity I opened it.  GMail dutifully put this disclaimer at the top:

image I know that's hard to read.  It says (in a very danger sense arousing red color) "Warning: This message may not be from whom it claims to be.  Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information."  Ya think?  I don't have a Chemical Bank account.  I've never even heard of them.  I had to Google them just to find out they actually do exist.  I thought it was a made up name.  That would have to be the worst phishing scam in history.

Here's the content:

image

I have to admit, that's pretty good.  It looks real enough, and the styling looks just like the branding on the real bank's website, but there's just a hint of Engrish there.  Just enough to tip their hand.  No place I've ever worked for would allow that kind of grammar to go out in an official e-mail.  The link was disabled (Thanks again, GMail), but you can be sure if I had enabled it, it wouldn't go to to that URL. 

This kind of scam has been around for years.  This e-mail is completely classic.  It's better crafted than most.  For most of us, the first indicator that something isn't right is the "I don't have an account with that bank" issue.  The purpose, of course, it to hit the handful of people who actually do. 

Not long ago my wife asked me about a very similar message that managed to make it past three spam filters to her inbox.  I said simply "We don't bank there, delete it".  I then had to continue on to fully explain the scam that was occurring before she would believe me.  She finally deleted it, "If you're sure".  Yes, I am.

How is it, in this day and age, that there are still people who fall for this?  There must be, or they wouldn't still be sending this kind of crap out.  I think I can safely assume that anybody who reads this blog is smart enough to see this for what it really is, even if it hadn't landed in the spam box.  Have we, the technically elite, failed our not so technical counterparts here?  Have we somehow failed to let everybody know about the basics of e-mail security?  We must have, if there are still people out there running one of the oldest scams in the book.  They don't need to make up new scams, the old ones are still working. 

If you haven't told your wife, husband, mom, dad, sister, brother, half second cousin in law about what we consider to be common sense in handing e-mail, now would be the time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I, Human

Who knows you?
Who understands you?
Who accepts you for who you are without reservation?

We're all together, but each of us alone.
Huddled together in our cities, like rabbits.
We're closer together then ever,
A fellow human nearly always in sight
but never within reach.

We tweet, we blog, we facebook
We say, "Hello world.  Please, somebody, care."
And they look away, afraid you'll see them.
Avoid eye contact at all costs.

We obsess with Things
computers, cell phones, our XBox
The machine doesn't judge, it just is
We like that.  We crave that.

Nobody knows what it's like to be me.  Or you.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The best presidential choice yet

I've been thinking, and that's a dangerous thing.  I still like Henry Rollins for president, but perhaps there's somebody I trust to do the right thing even more than Henry.  Who could it be?

Then the answer hit me like a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster:

ME!

Of course, why didn't I think of it before?  I'm the one person on the planet I trust to do the right thing in office.  Cowboy: President of the United States.  Nice ring to it...

I hereby announce my candidacy for POTUS!

Here's a summary of my qualifications:

  • I've never been convicted of a felony (convicted, mind you...)
  • I've never had a DUI (that one-ups Dubya)
  • I've never been involved in a sex and/or financial scandal as a perpetrator, but occasionally as a victim. (One ups Clinton)
  • I'm smarter than George Bush FWIW.
  • I have less experience than Barack Obama (remember, that's a good thing).
  • I'm a white guy, but I'm not as white as John McCain.
  • I'm not a creationist like Sarah Palin.  Neither would my teenage daughter's baby daddy stand up on stage with me, as he wouldn't have any working legs in order to do so.
  • I believe that freedom of religion means freedom to follow ANY religion, not just Christianity. 
  • I'm aware that there are more than two points of view when it comes to evolution.  Science should be taught in schools.  Creation theories should be taught in relevant religious temples.  Debate solved. 

As president, here is my first term agenda (in order):

  • Withdraw all troops from Iraq immediately or even sooner.
  • Send a few Navy Seal teams into the mountains where Bin Laden is believed to be hiding, kill the fucker, mount his head on the hood of my brand new $400,000 Maserati, drive around America, withdraw from Afghanistan.
  • Hire T. Boone Pickens as Secretary of Energy.
  • Hire Henry Rollins as Secretary of Defense.
  • Hire Rory Blyth as Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Hire Celes as Secretary of State
  • Make Morgan Webb my Vice President.  I know she's smart enough to do the job, but mainly I just want her to be around a lot.  I'm pretty sure she won't shoot anybody in the ass either (video games notwithstanding).
  • Hire Bill Clinton as Secretary of How To Get Away With Having Hotties in the White House.
  • Banish George Bush to the Middle East.
  • Energy Crisis: Get an energy plan that will work via Pickens.  Kick the crap out of anybody that tries to put a rider on it, intimidate corrupt old politicians until they recant their evil ways and pass my bill.
  • Health Care: Model health care after Europe, where it actually works.  Change farm subsidies so that farmers are financially encouraged to grow fruits and vegetables.  Make McDonalds illegal.  Banish Hillary Clinton to Cuba.
  • Abortion: I'm personally against abortion, not for any religions reasons, but because I believe a life is taken when one is performed.  Instead, I plan to offer free Government Sponsored Surgical Sterilization to everybody with an I.Q. under 110 or from southern California.  Said procedure will be mandatory under 95. 

In the coming weeks, I will create a way that you can contribute to my campaign, as I know you already see the value in my Presidency.  In the meantime, spread the word to everybody you know, and tell them to vote Cowboy in November.  Good, yo!.

I'm the Cowboy and I approve this message

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Slippery Slope

I'm continually astounded at buzz around the current election.  I listen to people tell me why McCain is great and why Obama is great.  Once you cut through the bullshit it usually boils down to why McCain or Obama sucks.  Honestly, do you vote for candidates, or against them?  Honestly?

Since Nixon in the 70s we've had an increasingly cynical view of Washington.  This is exacerbated by constant sex or financial scandals, continually lying, broken campaign promises, Right/Left slanted media, movies, failing economies, and wars that don't make sense.  I think we can agree that nearly the whole of Washington is corrupt.  Why, then, is it that we keep electing the same people?  Isn't the definition of insanity when you keep doing the same thing and expect different results?  That's what we do, election after election.  We keep electing the same people and expecting them to behave differently.  We keep thinking "This time they'll keep their campaign promises."  We keep thinking "This candidate really is different because he says so."  That Is Insane.  Are we really that stupid?

Why are we as a country so afraid to consider a third party candidate?  Why have we not done away with the absurdly inaccurate and outdated electoral college system?  Are we really such a commercially jaded and malleable society that we can only consider the big party candidates with billions to spend on their campaigns?  Are we really so pathetic that we'll vote for McCain just because he's got a young woman for a running mate?  Are we really so obtuse that we'll vote for Obama only because we're angry at Bush and the Republicans?  Are we really all stupid enough to eat the biased crap the media vomits at us daily (both right and left, don't kid yourself)?  Are we really all so effectively programmed that we think there are only two choices? 

Remember Ron Paul? 

 http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/10/paul.endorsement/

"I've come to the conclusion, after having spent many years in politics, is that our presidential elections turn out to be more of a charade than anything else, and I think that is true today. It is a charade," he said.

Paul said a strong showing by the third-party candidates would express the public's frustration with the current system.

"If you ever get to the point where you believe the two parties are essentially the same, if the majority is outside of the establishment, it's not very democratic. The process is not working," Paul said.

Don't be a robot this November.  Stop obeying the programming they give you.  Don't vote Republican/Democrat because your family does, or you always have.  And for the love of sanity DON'T VOTE ALONG PARTY LINES!  THINK FOR YOURSELF!  Look up the Libertarian party, or the Green Party, or the Constitution Party, or independents like Ralph Nader.  Or for the love of whatever you hold dear, if you don't like any of them, FIND SOMEONE YOU DO AND WRITE THEM IN!  Don't just vote for "the other guy."  It's not a binary problem.

THAT is what the Henry Rollins for President thing is all about.  He won't win, I know that.  I'm not stupid.  But I can't in good conscience vote for the candidates from the two giant Good 'Ole Boys clubs that have been running our government for over a hundred years.  It's time for change.  Real change.

Elections are supposed to be the time when We The People can have a say in how we are governed.  That's been taken away from us by two bloated political parties and the media, and we need to take it back.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hey buddy, can you spare 400 Microsoft Points?

XBox appears to have noticed that they have a user base that consists of more than just teenagers.  As much as I hate, and have always hated, the term Gen-X, that's the easiest way to group together people around my age group who have a common experience base around early video games.  Not to say we're the only ones.  I've met at least two "Gen-Yers" (I apologize) who grew up with the very same games due to having "Gen-X" (last one, I promise) older siblings.  They got the hand-me-down Atari 2600 systems.  I still have one.  Most of the games still work.  Pitfall doesn't, which sucks because that was always my favorite, but I've got re-released versions for Win95 and Playstation.  (Damn it's hard to keep that stuff up to date). 

Now XBox has found the newest way to get me to spend my rather hard-to-come-by-lately money in the form of Microsoft points again.  They're releasing all of my old favorites on XBox Live Arcade.  Bastards!  What a cunning, evil plan!

It all started with DOOM.  Oh the countless hours spent in the early nineties banging arrow keys and spacebars killing simulated 3D bitmap based hellspawn. I honestly don't remember if the original DOOM supported multiplayer (I've still got it around here somewhere, I'll check later) but I remember that DOOM 2 did.  I had countless hours of fun sneaking up behind my best friend with a double-barreled shotgun and blowing him away (that's just fun to say), untill somebody picked up the phone and messed up the damn carrier signal on the modem.  Ah, modems: good times!

XBox released DOOM on XBox Live arcade a few months ago.  Something that primitive probably doesn't appeal to today's youth unless they've got a video game history fetish, but it's nostalgic to those of us that pissed away our youth on it when it was new. 

Next was PacMan.  Oooh, I was GOOD at PacMan when it was a popular new arcade game.  Again, today's youth would probably not look twice at it, wondering "where's the damn plot line?  How do you win?"  You didn't back then.  You proved your mastery over others and your right to rule as master of the tribe by showing how long you could survive the onslaught of digital ghosts on a single quarter.  PacMan was the very first "SuperGame".  The first game that caused a craze.  Today's market is so flooded with titles that there really aren't any crazes any more, other than for consoles themselves.  Back then we had PacMan lunch boxes, PacMan bedsheets, PacMan pajamas, PacMan records (yes, records.  Not CDs.  Those big round black things you put on turntables as part of rap music today used to be a music distribution medium.) PacMan cereal (fortified with Sugar Frosting and High Fructose Corn Syrup), and on and on. 

Now we have PacMan on XBox Live Arcade.  I love it.  My kids hate it.

Then Galaga.  'Nuff said.

Then Frogger.  'Nuff said.

Missile Command, Warlords, and on and on.  Some are the original arcade versions.  Some have the original versions plus an updated version (to help the kids out with it.  Their brains can't process 8-bit graphics). 

And Finally, the Coup de grâce, Duke Nukem 3D.  Oh, they're killing me!  While money is still tight, I figure "Well, $5 for this game isn't a big deal", then another $5, then another, they sneak it in on you.  Then, an epiphany: I'm paying for games I already own!  How do they do that to me?  They're preying on some kind of nostalgia weakness.  I'd be fascinated to know what the psychology behind it is.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Twitter: Crack for the Attention Challenged

I finally broke down and got myself a Twitter account.  I thought "Well, everybody else has got one.  And I might miss some Rory Blyth wisdom that gets sent only to twitter, and not to Neopoleon.com."  In other words, I appeared to have been worried that something might happen on the Internet and I might not know about it. 

That kind of obsession reminds me of the time, back in the early days of the Internet, when I was on a Star Wars Newsgroup.  Remember those?  So being the Star Wars geek that I am, I posted a message that had some part of Empire Strikes Back quoted from memory.  That's dorky enough, but one member noticed that I had gotten one word wrong, and replied with a full two paragraphs of flame about it. 

I always think of that when I want to convince myself that I'm relatively normal.  I choose to not remember the return flame, which I'm pretty sure made use of the word "Waambulance".

Twitter is this bizarre stream of consciousness kind of thing.  After only one day on it, I've added a Twitter widget over to the right there, and set up my laptop near my chair so that I could periodically check if anybody had Twitted lately while watching TV.  It would be a shame if I were to miss one. 

The addiction, though, comes from the fact that posting on Twitter more closely resembles how my brain works than a blog does.  Maybe we're all like that, but since I'm still lacking the Psychology degree, I can only speak for myself.  I tend to think in small text snippets rather than large articles. I'm sitting around watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles instead of packing for my road trip tomorrow.  That seems like something the world needs to know!  Tweet!

I ran across a brilliant article that covers this phenomenon.  http://www.code-magazine.com/Article.aspx?quickid=0809021  Since there's APIs for both Twitter and Messenger, I'll be planning the architecture for my messenger plugin which will allow me to keep up with twitter all of the time, on my drive back.  Why?  Because A) Twitter says it supports IM but I can't find anything that backs that up, B) I'm geeky like that, and C) since my car can't drive itself, I can't actually do any coding on the drive back.  It's tempting to try, though. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Returning the posts

It won't be perfect, but I decided to return my posts to the blog. I've gotten about midway through last October so far. I'll return comments as well, because that's always the best part of a post, but again, they won't be perfect.

Links are bound to be broken. Categories are missing. There will be tears.

"Why, O Cowboy?" you ask.

"Because." I reply. "Sometimes, even the Cowboy does things in haste when in a bad mood, but withholding the wisdom that is The Cowboy from my faithful followers must surely be a sin."

Again, I'm a musician, and we're flaky. I can't promise I won't break down again someday and do the same boneheaded thing again, but at least next time I'll remember what a pain in the ass this was to undo, and maybe think twice before hitting the delete button. 

Update: The posts are back.  There's some weirdness between posts from last year and windows live writer.  I couldn't restore them, but I could recreate them.  Comments have been added to the bottom.  Henry Rollins for President was by far the most popular last year.  Gives me hope [sniff]. 

There were two from this year that I couldn't restore.  C'est la vie.  Comments are at the bottom there too.  Back to trying to make this place interesting....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I give up

I should've stuck with music.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Did anybody get the license plate of that metaphysical truck?

Cowboy's Link Of The Day: http://thewebsiteisdown.com/

Will LOTD become a regular feature here?  Probably not, but who knows?  I'm wishy washy that way.  Celes showed me this site last week, and it's up there with some of the funniest stuff I've found on the web.  I'm so gonna crack it first.  One word: Karateka

I was actually asked by a client the other day if I read Rory Blyth's blog.  I stuttered for a minute before answering, "Yeah, Neopoleon.com.  Um... I've heard of it..."  Ok, I was a bit more honest than that, but it didn't seem in my professional best interest to proclaim that I'm The Cowboy, the guy who continually posts comments to his blog but never has anything insightful to say. 

That said, I've been thinking about a lot of things.  Things Celes said to me, things my inner voice said to me (the one with the English accent), and things I've learned from the Tao.  I've been thinking about the whole arbitrary numbering system.  I'm not sure I agree with Celes on that one.  She's a frighteningly insightful person, but it's a subjective system.  It's in how you use it, I believe, and like anything can be used for good or evil.  Like my superpowers.  Someday I will learn to use them for good instead.  In other words, for now I believe it's good for me so I'm keeping it.  Cowboy 2.6.

Get out and do something.  Take that first step.  I passed this along to another friend who seemed to be suffering from the same malady.  I'm not sure if he did anything, but I hope so.  It probably had it's impact lessened as it came from a guy sitting in an airport terminal waiting for a delayed flight, but whatever.  It's one thing to sit in a darkened apartment coding all night.  I understand that, I'm a geek.  It's entirely another thing to sit in a darkened apartment/hotel room all night because you're bored.  Think of something, get off your ass and do it.  You don't have to find anybody else to do something with.  Things are always better with a friend, but if you can't find one, go anyway.  I went to the beach.  The effect on my mental state was staggering. 

I've noticed a dramatic decrease on the grouchometer lately.  I'm sure lots of things factor in to this, not the least of which is a metaphysical boot to the head from my New England friend.  A true friend will do that for you.  Dinner by the Atlantic is good for the soul too, and is also better with a friend.  Time with family is very good, especially if you've been separated.  What continues to confound me though, much like the Arabic version of Who wants to be a Millionaire? (yes, it really does exist) is this whole Tao thing. 

When I try to exert control over my destiny, things seem to fall apart.  When I try to hold on loosely and let this crazy thing called life take me where it wants to, good things tend to happen.  I like to think of it as the river from the Chang-tse parable, where the old man trapped in the river let it take him where it will, using the power of the river rather than fighting it, he was able to save his own life. 

But now the currents seem to be pushing from all sides, and I'm not really going anywhere.  Maybe it's just a temporary eddy.  Perhaps I should just be patient.  Or perhaps I've been deluding myself all this time and I need to just take control. 

Or maybe I never understood the parable at all.  Using the river's currents to your advantage is not the same as surrendering to them.  What I really need right now is a metaphysical parasail. 

All things are better when left in their natural state.  What is the Cowboy's natural state?  I don't know.  None of us really knows, because from day one we're bombarded with the influences of an artificially created civilization.  Things are the way they are because we made them that way.  We've all contributed to it, whether by action or by inaction. 

Imagine you're flying a kite in a field.  It's a windy, blustery day, and the wind is so strong that it blows the kite away.  Rather than let it go, or try to wrestle it to the ground, you simply hold on.  The kite lifts you and carries you away on a rather rough ride.  Nothing that will kill you, but certainly something that might leave you feeling slightly battered afterwards.  Finally the wind dies down, and you plop to the ground.  You get up, dust yourself off, and rather than worrying about how you're going to get home or back to where you started, you simply think "Where am I now?"  Nothing more.  All of the complex thought patterns that form your Ego are gone.  You simply are, and you simply are somewhere.  Perhaps you pick a direction and head off to see what's over there.  You have no motivation other than curiosity.  Somewhere down that path is an adventure, and it will be fun.  You don't know what it is, but you'll have a great time when you get there.  Everything will simply work out.  You don't know how, and you don't care how, but you know it will. 

Where did the kite take you?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

IM IN UR CODEZ, IGNORIN UR REQWIRMNTS

I'm at a bar in Rhode Island having a drink[s] and some snacks (which I called dinner) with a blogger friend of mine, and something that was said made me thing of an interview I had seen years ago with Grandpa Munster (or rather the actor who played him, whose name escapes me at the moment).  He was probably in his late 80s at the time, and aside from being infinitely more wrinkled than he used to be, he appeared to be the same person he was back in the 60s when he played Grandpa Munster. 

The quote was "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?"

That was worthy of Yoda, man.  That's right up there with the "what's the sound of one tree clapping in the forest" question.  I try to honestly answer that question when I ask it of myself (the first question, that is).  I think right now I would have to say 17.  Not because I feel young and energetic and nearing my sexual prime (however, if you happen to be Morgan Webb, all of the above is true, please call), but because I feel stupid, confused, and not sure what the hell I'm doing.  Unless you're Morgan Webb, in which case ignore that last sentence and go back to the one about being young and energetic.  Really, really energetic.  call me...

I think I finally get Lisa of Lisa 4.8 (formerly Lisa 4.0) or rather the self versioning system.  We change as we go through this crazy life thing.  It's like the 12 Monkeys quote "The movie never changes but it seems different when we see it again because we're different." 

Why is it whenever I get up to Cowboy 3.0 (Tao Cowboy) the OS reboots and the update gets uninstalled? 

Today, I decided to jump back up to Cowboy 2.5.  I decided to go see the ocean instead of sitting in my hotel room, because a smart person told me that was a stupid thing to do, and she was right. 

I did see the ocean today, and that's a cool thing for somebody that normally lives as far from an ocean as one can get.  Unfortunately it was dark by the time I got there and getting there involved getting lost, parking in front of a strangers house, and driving the wrong way down a one way street in a rental car with no coverage, so all I really saw was this big black mass that I assumed was the ocean because it smelled and sounded like an ocean.  Cool stuff.  Then I hung out and did cool stuff in Massachusetts with one of those cool blogger type people.  That's so Cowboy 2.5.  This is going to sound stupid, but I've had this weird fascination with Massachusetts since I was a kid, and today I can finally say "I've been to Massachusetts". 

So I ask you: How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fast is good, Loud is good, Fast and Loud is better

News you might actually want to know!  I've decided I have to get an XM satellite receiver for my car.  The rental car I'm driving has XM installed (obviously in an attempt to entice customers like me into buying their own.. good job guys) and as I'm surfing through a few hundred channels of crap (oddly like cable TV) I stumbled across a gem.

Are you ready?

No, you're not.  Take a deep breath and prepare yourself.  I'll wait.

...

Now?  ok... let me know.

...

...

Ok?  good.  Here it is.

XM Radio has an all day 24 hour AC/DC station!

Uh huh... oh yeah... uh uh... oh yeah...

I've heard that it takes an outsider to truly appreciate the beauty of a location, and given that I can't find much to say for Kansas, I think that might be true.  Rhode Island, for all it's itty bitty size, is beautiful country. 

But you haven't lived until you've driven a little tiny compact car down a New England highway at 80mph weaving in and out of traffic playing AC/DC's "Big Balls" as loud as those tiny little speakers can go.  Those poor Rhode Island drivers were probably thinking "That bunghole drives like those morons in Kansas!  What the hell is he thinking?"  Maybe I should have gotten the insurance after all...

Oh, I can't wait to get the 'Stang back and put an XM receiver in it.  Good Times! 

Dude, where's my blog?

Sometimes you have a day when everything just seems to suck.

Then sometimes you have a day when everything really does suck.

Then sometimes you have a day when, try as you might, you can find no redeeming qualities for said day that justify the fact that you dragged your lazy ass out of bed that morning.

Then, every once in a while, you have a day where everything just seems so phenomenally abysmal that you just want to say "fuck it all" and you go and delete your blog.  You almost immediately regret something like that, but it's too late to take it back.  Many things in life are like that. 

Technically, I could put all the posts back, and I even could restore all of the comments.  That would be a lot of work, but I could do it.   Then another thought occurs to me: I've done this before.  This particular incarnation of my blog has been by far the most successful, and actually led to some relationships I value (not that kind, dumbass).  But every once in a while, it's nice to start over.  That's the opportunity I've given myself in a self-indulgent moment of anger. 

I won't be returning the deleted posts here, but I won't be closing up shop just yet.  The Adventures of the Cowboy aren't over yet, in fact something tells me that everything that's happened up to now is just the prologue. 

I apologize to everybody who actually took time to comment here, just to have some dumbass delete it.  As much as I want to I can't guarantee it won't happen again, but I can tell you it doesn't happen often.  I am a musician and we're an overly emotional bunch prone to bouts of depression.  But if you stick around, maybe things will get interesting again.  Please don't be afraid to comment in the future.  Try to remember that the Internet is a fluid thing, and nothing here is really all that permanent anyway. 

It should also be noted that unlike the current leader of the free world, I can admit when I was wrong.  There.  I said it. Take that, right wing politicians!

Special thanks to my friends (Internet and otherwise, that line is becoming a little blurred) who aren't afraid to call me out on shit.  I get it, even if sometimes it seems like I don't. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Later, all...

66 posts of shit: gone.  Today, I've made the Internet a better place.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Captain Ultra is, like, awesome ya know...

If you're a geek like me, then you should be able to appreciate The Defenders of Stan

http://defendersofstan.com/

A friend of mine sent me this link recently, it's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.  This is proof positive that what the TV networks see fit to throw obscene amounts of money at is not generally deserving of it.  The Internet just might put all the TV executives out of a job as well.  Interesting times....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

2008 Election Results

I don't care.  I'm still voting for Henry Rollins.  (I didn't expect him to win anyway).

Supersize ME!

The Top 5 things about being a non-smoker that suck

I've had a few ideas for posts that ran along the lines of top 10 lists, however, I couldn't come up with 10 for all of them, so we'll go with 5.

The Top 5 things about being a non-smoker that suck

Oh, that's right.  I may have forgotten to mention that to you guys, I used to smoke.  In fact, I smoked for a -very long time.  As I moved to Minnesota, decided that it seemed as good a time as any to quit.  That was fuckin' brilliant.  On the other hand, I've made it some 10 weeks now with only a few cheats.  Oh, and by the way

I WANT TO FUCKIN' KILL SOMEBODY!!!!I could really use a smoke

Perhaps I should start with Tobacco Executives.

It's not easy.  However, as my body goes through the rather painful detoxification process from some twenty odd years of injecting myself with some of the worst poisons known to man, I've noticed a what the surgeon general should be putting on cigarettesfew side effects that suck.

1. Everything stinks.  When I was smoking, I had a diminished sense of smell.  Before I started smoking I had a rather strong sense of smell.  Now that I've quit, the sense of smell is starting to return, and it sucks.  Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING stinks.  Especially my apartment building.  And it's not just one stink, oh no.   That would be too easy, I could get used to it.  No there's one -bad smell in the garage, another bad smell in the lobby (made worse by the fact that they're painting this week), yet another god awful smell in the elevator that smells a lot like people that don't bathe, and just for good measure, a horrid death-like stench in the hallway outside my apartment.  Probably from the guy hanging leaves over his fucking door. 

2. I'm hungry all the damn time.  And I'm gaining weight like crazy.    Last night I ate an entire box of Honey Nut Cheerios.  Not one of them ever saw milk.  Nicotine is an appetite suppressant.  Guess what happens when you go off your appetite suppressant you've been on for twenty years?

3. I'm sleepy all the damn time.  I suppose spending 20 years on a stimulant might tend to cause you to develop a certain tolerance to it.  During the day I can't stay awake, and at night I can't sleep (note the time this was posted). 

4. Stress.  Cigarettes are a coping mechanism, and Nicotine reduces stress.  Today is my first day off the patch, and I'm feeling some heightened stress.

5. I've got nothing to do after meals.  I have to say, that There are certain health risks...was my favorite cigarette, the one that came after meals.  When I've just eaten, that's when it's the hardest.

I don't know how tobacco companies managed to come up with such an insidious product.  Even more surprising is how they seem quite sincere when stating that it isn't addictive or dangerous.  I've heard cigarette addiction compared to heroin addiction.  I can't attest to how hard it is to quit heroin, but this is by far the hardest thing I've ever done.  Now I've got struggling with this for the rest of my life to deal with, because you never get over it.  I'm still waiting for that magic payoff when I magically feel better and enjoy the smell of everything around me.  Still waiting....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Army of Dude: Enemies With Benefits

The side of the story you didn't hear from the politicians or the media.  

Army of Dude: Enemies With Benefits

It's late, I'm bored, and this song rocks!

Yeah, that about sums it up.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Georgia on my mind

I'm separated from my family.  My health and sanity are failing.  I'm running out of money and I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to pay my bills.  The economy downturn is seriously kicking my ass (thanks, Dubya).  I need money. 

On the other hand, there's nobody dropping bombs on my home and my family.  

If you haven't heard about the conflict in Georgia yet, it's time to turn on the news.  Russia has invaded the sovereign country that was once a fellow member of the Soviet Union.  From what I've learned, this country has worked it's ass off over the years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union to go from one of the most corrupt countries to a bastion of Democracy.  And now they're being systematically conquered.  They're getting bombed right now.

Georgia is one of the few countries that have sent troops to Iraq to support us there.  They had to pull their troops out last week in order to attempt to defend their own country.  I think it's been obvious that I'm not a fan of the Iraq war, but it's worth mentioning that they sent their soldiers to die with ours as a demonstration of loyalty to our country in what is a distinctly American "war".

Yesterday Russia called a cease fire, then continued rolling tanks into the country and dropping bombs.   Today Condoleeza Rice is being sent to France and to Georgia.  She's intentionally not going to Russia, which seems like exactly where she needs to be going.  I'm not sure how she's going to convince Russia to withdraw their troops from Georgia... from Georgia. 

We can't help militarily.  Even if America was willing to we're so overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan that we would have difficulty defending our own borders at the moment.  Apparently all Bush is going to do is throw Rice at them (pun intended).

I wish her luck, but even though I'm broke I'm going to do what I can to help the people getting bombed, because I'm still luckier than they are right now.  I'm not sure if this is the charity I'm going to use, but it seems like a good choice based on an initial google search. 

Save the Children Assists Families in Russia-Georgia Conflict

Monday, August 11, 2008

Badminton is an Olympic Event?

I've never been a big follower of the Olympics in the past, but this time around I find myself watching it from time to time.  I think somewhere in the back of my head I knew Beach Volleyball was an Olympic event, but it surprised anyway.  I did find it entertaining to watch all the same.  I think I really like Beach Volleyball now.

When I think of the Olympics, there are just certain sporting events I don't tend to think of.  Other events that have surprised me so far:

  • Badminton
  • Table Tennis (as in Ping Pong?)
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Archery
  • Synchronized Swimming
  • Softball

I really don't mean to belittle any of these events, but I have to wonder at what point someone decides they want to be a Badminton Olympic Gold Medalist.

On the other hand, I can tell by watching them that any of them could seriously kick my ass without breaking a sweat.  I just didn't know anybody took the game that seriously.

Boy: And this is my father's Olympic Gold Medal (grins)

Girl: Wow, I didn't know your dad was a medalist too!  My father was a three time Triathlon Gold Medalist.  What was your father's medal for?

Boy: (slight pause)  Badminton.  So, do you like movies?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Start wearing purple

Gypsy rock.  That fuckin' rocks!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Numbers

Sometimes we see numbers, and don't really think about what they mean.  I'm not intending this post to be for or against John McCain or Barack Obama. 

I don't think there are many Americans who would deny that the attack on 9/11/2001 was horrific, or that the death toll was catastrophic, or that the scope of it all traumatized our nation and changed us in a profound way. 

I looked up these numbers on the Internet, therefore they may not be entirely accurate, but I believe they're close.

The number of American lives lost as a result of the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001:

2,740

The number of American lives lost in Iraq as a result of the American invasion:

4,124

Interestingly, I also found this number.  I have no idea of it's validity.

The number of Iraqi lives lost as a result of the American invasion:

1,245,538

I suspect this number might be inflated in order to serve the anti-war movement's point of view, however, according to an article I found on CNN, 5,800 Iraqis died in June 2006.  I'm sure many, if not most of these deaths were caused by insurgents, not by the American Military, but they happened because we were there. 

At this point, I feel the need to clarify that I am not disparaging the American Military.  Like any other cross section of society, the military will be made up of those who are good and those who are bad, if there really is any such thing.  I support the soldiers in Iraq.  They're Americans, and they're going through a kind of Hell I can't imagine.  And they're following orders.  I only question the orders, something they aren't allowed to do.  And over 4,000 of them are dead.

I got to wondering, this is a lot of death.  How many people did Hitler murder?  I looked it up.  Six million.  That number, by the way, does not include military deaths. 

What's hard to imagine, is exactly what these numbers mean.  We hear these numbers: 2900, 4000, 1.2 million, 6 million, and we think that's horrible, but do you really think about what that means?  Imagine you come home and find a dead body in your kitchen.  Imagine the horror of finding a body shot to death violently in your kitchen.  Hollywood has made us a little desensitized to this kind of violence, but try to imagine what it would be like in real life? 

Now imagine it's two bodies.  That adds a whole new dimension to the horror. 

Imagine ten.  This gets harder for a sane person to imagine.  Ten murdered bodies in your kitchen.  Given an average of 150 pounds per person, that 1500 pounds of dead human in your kitchen. 

We're only up to 10, folks.  If you can imagine 10, try to imagine that 10 more times.  It takes a few minutes to really digest the horror there, doesn't it.  That's only 100 people, and yet we can barely fathom it.  100 people would not fit in your kitchen, we'll have to move them to the back yard.  That's 15,000 pounds of dead human.  The mind really can barely grasp this kind of horror anymore, and we're only up to 100. 

Following our average of 150 pounds per person, the death toll in Iraq has resulted in 600,000 pounds of dead American bodies. 

At 600,000 pounds of dead American, I want a good explanation of why we're there. 

"We believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of Mass Destruction"

We've [the American public] since found out that the only evidence to that effect known before invading a sovereign country in another part of the world was a single report that was out of date by years.  The Soviet Union had weapons of Mass Destruction for decades, and the remnants of the Soviet Union, to the best of my knowledge, still has them.  We've never invaded the Soviet Union, and they really didn't like us.  Nor have we invaded North Korea, and I think we be pretty sure they have them too, and probably more likely to use them on us than Saddam ever was.

Saddam Hussein didn't like or trust Osama Bin Laden (or so I heard on CNN). 

We basically had no evidence whatsoever that Iraq was linked with Al Queda and the terrorists that attacked us seven years ago.  Afghanistan, on the other hand, admitted they had him and wouldn't give him up.

Saddam Hussein defied the U.N. weapons inspectors, but he had been doing that for over a decade since the original invasion of Kuwait.  Suddenly in 2003 it became a crisis that couldn't wait for diplomacy. 

We've lost over 4,000 American Soldiers in a war that, as far as I can tell, had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack which resulted in 2,900 American casualties. 

"We have to finish the job in Iraq."

What job?  What is it we have to finish there?  We declared hostilities ceased in 2005.  I watched it on the news.  Why are we still there?  What do we have to do in Iraq which is more important than finding the man who was responsible for killing 2,900 American Citizens?  Seriously, I want to know, this isn't rhetoric. 

Think about this when deciding who to vote for this November.  And think about this too.  Watch these, then watch anything from John McCain and/or Barack Obama, and ask yourself, who would you rather have running our country? 

Henry '08.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Netflix and XBox part II - It's true!

Back in Feburary I caught wind of a possibility that XBox might be partnering with Netflix to allow streaming movies to the XBox.  Here's an update: They are.  It was officially announced at E3 a couple of days ago, along with some other pretty cool XBox enhancements.  The official announcement to the world is on XBox.com

I'm seriously stoked about this.  I've complained before how expensive XBox movie rentals were, this totally alleviates it.  This would really be great if it were available now, instead of this fall, since I'm stuck in a studio apartment 500 miles from my family with nothing much to do.  As usual, the timing kindof sucks, but whatever.  Welcome to the future of movie rentals.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stranger in a Strange Land

The voting on my last post was a bit sparse, but the one vote I did get was to not delete this blog.  Alrighty then.  (Thanks, Celes). 

This post runs the risk of being one of those sad, depressed entries I so despise.  I'm in my second week in Minnesota, and I'm starting to wonder if this is all worth it.  It's true that earlier tonight I attended my first XNA user's group meeting ever (KC doesn't have one that I'm aware of), and sat next to one of the most well known people in the history of software development.  In fact, I was supposed to talk to him afterwards, but I bolted because I didn't want to miss the nightly phone call I have with my kids.  I haven't seen them in nearly two weeks. 

In short, this place is starting to wear on me. 

I've never been a consultant before.  It seemed like a brilliant idea at the time, but the lifestyle seems a bit lonely.  Especially when you come home to an empty apartment.  You get switched around to different projects alot.  So far I've been on two different projects in my two weeks there.  Tomorrow I go to interview for my third.  This is the part of consulting I didn't expect.  You have to actually go interview for each gig.  It's like constantly applying for a job.  And if you don't get it, you're not making your employers any money.  When you become overhead, you run the risk of unemployment.  E.g. you had probably better get that gig. 

I find interviewing depressing.  It's probably why I stayed at my last job for two years, and the one before that for five.  I made lots of friends at both places, and I miss all of them.  Most of all I miss my family, especially my kids, and yes, my wife too.  I'm feeling a little bit socially deprived.

I had cable and Internet hooked up two days ago.  So far only Internet works.  That wouldn't be such a big deal if I could figure out how to stream Dr. Who.  I need my Doctor Who.  BSG is on hiatus, and one can only watch The Matrix so many times.  Wow, yet again Neo is the "One".  Shocker.  I can watch streaming news, but my laptop is pathetically old, and the video is choppy and difficult to watch.  Forget about full screen viewing.  It just ain't happening. 

I do have my XBox.  That helps, but I've only got so many games, and they get old too.  I left my violin in Kansas City, because I thought I'd be traveling right off the bat. 

Add to all this the stress of realizing that I probably can't sell my house, and I'll have to give up on this whole endeavor and move back to KC, and I'm feeling just a little down at the moment. 

A thought occurred to me the other day.  Some of you may remember SaveToby.com.  I don't know who did this, but he was a freaking genius.  Basically he put up a web site where he threatened to kill a cute bunny unless people sent him money.  He made a killing.  Finally some company came in and bought him out to put a stop to it.  Who knows if he really would have killed the bunny.  It doesn't matter.  He made the money. 

I need money. 

I can make websites.

When you put those two facts together, it's almost like there's some kind of idea just out of reach that might save me from my impending financial ruin. 

Anyway, I wanted my legions of loyal fans to know that I hadn't forgotten about them, and I'll continue to blog here in the near future.  Expect some boring technical content as I try to establish myself as an expert in compooters along with the self aggrandizing political and general rants you've come to know and love me for.  Tootles.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Idiot with a blog!

Actually I'm a bit late.  My first entry in this incarnation of my blog was on May 6, 2007.  It's interesting how it turned out, as in, not what I intended at all.  Sometimes if you just let things happen they way they're meant to happen, you get a bit surprised by the result. 

I intended to do two things with this blog when I created it.  One was chronicle a spiritual journey as it happened.  The journey never really happened, or at least not the way I thought it would.  So there wasn't much to chronicle there.  Occasionally I needed to re-center myself.  All I ever really did was remind myself of what I already knew. 

Two was to create some technical content.  I think I did one of those, and all it really did was point to a code project article I wrote.  That leads me to what I'm really thinking about here.

I've been pretty much absent for about a month and a half now.  I apologize to the 4 or 5 regular readers I have, and the smattering of casual readers.  This has been due to a couple of things.  In my last post I hinted that something big was going to happen, but I couldn't talk about it yet.  I couldn't talk about it because I couldn't be sure that people at my job didn't read my blog and that the information wouldn't get to people who could make things hard for me.  Let me try that again.....

I was about to quit and I didn't want management to know. 

There, that was much simpler.

An opportunity came up, and (for me, at least) it was big.  I try to avoid mentioning my employer's names in my blog, mainly because I'd rather that the content here didn't embarrass them.  That's probably even more important now, because this is a consulting job, so public appearance is even more important that it was before.  So I'll suffice it to say, that it's a well known company, with a handful of Microsoft MVPs, some .NET rockstars, and, as of about 8:00 this morning, me.

Oh, and they're in Minnesota.  That's right, I moved for this job.  I moved a long frakin' way away for this job.  I got the hell out of Kansas.  Don't get me wrong, I actually kind of like Kansas, even if there isn't much to do there.  That's what the Internet is for, right?  So here I am in a little tiny studio apartment in Minneapolis trying to find a house to buy while my wife tries to sell the one back in Kansas.  We're getting along pretty well lately.  Who knew all I needed to do was get us out of Dodge?

So I'm at a bit of a crossroads.  The vast majority of content here if various rants, followed by a bit of spiritual dogma, with a little bit of attempted humor thrown in.  Not really what I was trying to do.  As I left my old job, I saved a couple of blog posts I had written on their tech blog, and realized that I'm not all that bad of a technical blogger, I've just never done it here.  I'd like to focus on technical content more, but I don't want to alienate the little bit of readership I've managed to acquire. So here are my options as I see them.

  1. Delete this blog.  I've put a bit of effort into the online presence known as The Cowboy, so that feels a little like shooting an old friend in the head.  I've never hidden my real identity from anybody who asked, but very few have.  In fact, if you look carefully you can actually figure out my name without even asking me.  I leave that one to the "Where's Waldo" fans out there.  If I delete this blog I'm free to create another filled with purely technical content, and become the next Robert Scoble.  Shuh, right.
  2. Create a new blog, while maintaining this one.  That feels a bit like having a split personality.  But it works.  So far this seems like the most likely prospect.  I might even link from this blog to the other occasionally, but I doubt I would link the other way.  This seems like the best way to maintain the anonymity needed to not embarrass my employer and/or get me fired while still providing you, my loyal readers, with the incredible entertainment value known as Another Idiot with a Blog.  Eh?
  3. Come out of the closet.  No, not like that, dumbass.  I mean just start posting technical content here and use my real name.  Damn the consequences.  It worked for Rory Blyth, didn't it?  He even ended up with the kickass job at Microsoft I'm so hot for.  I'm just not sure I'm that cool.  I've also given up a lot to get this job, it would really suck to blow it now.  I've also been wondering how I could use the words "suck" and "blow" in the same sentence without being crude.

Okay, loyal readers.  This is where you come in.  I need you to comment like you've never commented before.  If you want to save this blog, now is the time to speak up.  If you're a lurker, time to come out of the shadows.  Let me know how you guys feel.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Cowboy's Guide to Life

I've been thinking about this for about a month now.  When I was in Jr. High or so I had a list of rules, Cowboy's Rules.  I actually wrote them down.  They were based on (what seemed like but really wasn't) my vast life experience at the time.  All fourteen years of it.  Most of them were pretty good, well, for teenagers anyway.  They were a lot of things like "Don't date friend's ex-girlfriends" and things like that.  I had friends violate that one, and later on I violated it myself, and it never led to good things.  Not once.  Shocker.

For about the last month or so, I've been thinking of redoing it.  Sortof a Cowboy's Manifesto, if you will, just to see how it's changed at this stage of my life.  It's still a brainchild at this point, but then Rory Blyth posted Rory's Code of LIfe.  Aside from the initial "Hey, I was gonna do that" reaction, I thought it was fucking awesome. 

So there's a few problems now. 

  1. I haven't really thought out the new rules.
  2. I'm not really sure I want any.  It doesn't really fit with the whole epiphany thing that happened in New York.
  3. If I post it now, I look like I'm a lame ass who's trying to copy everything Rory does in order emulate his massive coolness. 

While that last one might be true anyway, It wasn't the case here.  Really.  But I think I'll share with you some of the reasons there is this mass of coolness that we refer to as The Cowboy.

  1. Wu-Wei.  I've talked about this before.  It's a Taoist concept.  The closest Western equivalent is "Go with the Flow".  I always think of the Chang-tse parable where there's an old man struggling in the river, then instead of fighting the river, he gives into it.  He works within the power of the river, and it saves his life.  That's me.  I don't wait for somebody to hand things to me, but I don't fight the universe either.  It's too big, It'll win.  I'm awesome, but not that awesome.  Not even Rory is that awesome.  I threw a pebble in the lake last November and rode the waves it created.  It's landed me somewhere interesting, but I'll have to wait to expand on that.
  2. Be Cool.  For me, that's easy.  For the rest of you, maybe not so much.  I'm just that awesome.  Women adore me, Men want to be me, and I secretly suspect that my entire life is being filmed in a real life version of The Truman Show.  Seriously, I've been catching myself on this lately, especially with my kids.  Big Bad Parental Rules that The Man (me) used to lay down, don't seem quite so important now.  My son wants a second glass of milk at dinner, why the hell not?  Why am I saying no in the first place?  Giving him the second glass gets a scowl from my wife, but it gets a grin from my son.   Net score in the positive, if you ask me.  Small example, but that's how The Cowboy rolls now.  We'll see where he ends up....  Hm... Referring to myself in third person now, not so cool.  Kindof Bob Dole, actually...
  3. Do things that make you happy.  These are kind of in order of importance, but this one is pretty damn important.  I forgot it for a long time, and now, thanks to one of those damn Virgos, I'm aware of it again.  Of course, when 3 is in conflict with 2, 2 wins out.  For instance, if killing random people makes you happy, you need another hobby, because that's not cool.  For me, it's music.  For years now, I've limited my music to involvement with the local orchestra, Puccinifest (I'm in that picture BTW), and an occasional quartet gig.  There's so much more to me, and I've been denying myself that.  Why?  Because I thought I was supposed to.  Because somebody told me I was supposed to.  Fuck that.  What the hell kind of example is that to set for my kids?  Do what makes you happy.  Don't teach your kids to be miserable, because guess what?  From now on, I teach my kids how to be happy. 

I want to share where all of this is going, but I can't yet.  It's fascinating seeing Wu-Wei at work, and how everything is changing as a result.  Stay tuned....

Sunday, April 27, 2008

American Idiot

We're coming home again

Sometimes platonic love is easy to confuse with romantic love. I do it all the time. Sometimes being somewhere you don't live can unbalance you just enough to make the mistake. Alcohol adds confusion to the mix. Being really far away from home and hopelessly hammered is a recipe for fucking your head up. Guess what I did this last week.

Somebody get me out of here

I've been known to get contemplative after "one of those evenings" where I once again showed incredibly poor judgement, and was surrounded by great people who served as my enablers (e.g. kept buying me alcohol). Throw in a drunk Russian with a knife who wants to fight your Serbian friend, a New York police officer, approximately four Long Island Iced Teas, and the apparently suicidal impulse of wandering off on your own morbidly hammered in a town you don't know and which tends to be a bit crime ridden, and if you got nothing else you've got a great story for the ride home.

You taught me how to live

Then you think back on what happened before you crossed the threshold of good judgement: The part of the evening where you clearly remember what you said and what was said by others. The part where somebody who is absolutely amazing but doesn't know it tells you things you've heard before. Not things about your self-destructive tendencies, but things about how you let others hurt you.

The innocent can never last

You realize that you've given up something crucial about yourself that you never needed to. You're denying who you are because it's inconvenient for someone else. And finally the words strike home because you're hearing it from somebody who is living it. There's no ulterior motive, just someone who can't possibly imagine living the way you are.

The rage and love, the story of my life

Somewhere in this whole confusing mess you make a connection with someone who is a kindred spirit. Someone more like you than anyone else you know, but more than that. Someone who actually is the way you like to think you are, but you're not. This connection confuses you at first. You think you're having feelings you shouldn't be, but then you realize that you're wrong. Somebody just became your inspiration. Somebody who will never know of their importance to you just gave you a spiritual smack upside the head.

She's an extraordinary girl in an ordinary world

So many little things begin to fall into place. Your destination suddenly becomes clear, like you've been walking a road for years and just suddenly realized where you've been heading all this time. Now that you know where you're going, only one thing remains unclear: how to get there.

Wake me up when September ends

You had a source of pain, one nobody knows about but you and the source of your pain. That one dirty secret you've never told anybody. Suddenly it no longer matters. You think you might have even confessed it to your new guardian angel in a drunken stupor. It doesn't matter because she doesn't remember either (at least that's what she told you).

Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me, 'til then I'll walk alone

Sometimes, in order to be true to yourself you have to face fears that can be paralyzing. Fears that have shaped your life until now. Fears that have brought you to a place you never wanted to be. Now you're in a pit and need to find the exit. Maybe somebody out there will lend a helping hand, maybe you've got to go through this all by yourself. I'll have to tell you how it played out when it does.

Nobody likes you everyone left you they're all out without you having fun

Then you sit in an airport in New York with a few friends. You sit and trade drunk stories like high school kids. You've undergone something profound, and nobody here will understand it. You throw a bone their way and tell a drunk story or two, but slowly the realization dawns on you: You're on your own. You can't share what's happening in your head with people who don't have a common frame of reference, and you don't know anybody who does. Suddenly that line from Star Trek IV makes more sense. You feel a bit more alone than you did before.

I don't care if you don't care

I'm a different person than I was at the beginning of the week. It wasn't New York, it was this one amazing person who will never know what she did for me (or would it be to me?). A whole new adventure has opened up before me, I think I'm going to call it life.

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Restored Comments

314159 said:
Cowboy,
She is an extraordinary woman. She's helped me more than anyone (even her) will ever know as well. I wish logic didn't dictate that it would never work between her and I. Logic sucks. But, I think I will keep my delusion.

With the weight of the hell hole we work in, I didn't know something else was troubling you so badly. You do know that if anyone at that place we toil is a brother it is you. Think of me as a brother who isn't at family reunions to mock whatever is troubling you. If you ever need to talk, seriously talk, I am always available. But I will also understand if you choose to return your new guardian angel for advice.

The Cowboy said:

Dude, I appreciate that, but there's a reason I never confided this in anybody. On the other hand, toss a few Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters down my throat and I'll apparently spill my guts about fucking anything.

I remember my brain wandering off for a bit, probably running back off to the pub for a nightcap, when it got back, it found my mouth just running off about the whole fuckin' mess. "WHAT... THE... FUCKIN'... HELL... ARE... YOU... DOING?!?!" it said to my mouth. "Oh, hey there," said my mouth. "I was just talking about you know what. You don't mind, do you?" My brain attempted to beat the living shit out of my mouth at that point. It came out something like "daarrr... so where are we anyway?" My brain and my mouth are now mortal enemies. Quite frankly my mouth had it coming. He just kept drinking the alcohol despite the fact that it was causing so much damage to brain. I think they'll get over it.

The good news is that she apparently doesn't remember any of this. Things like this are exactly why alcohol is banned by so many major religions.

- Celes - said:
Hey Taoco,

Sorry to hear the life has become complicated, but you know... life... it happens. And even if this whole thing seemed like a big mistake, some beautiful things come out of it at least.

Great post.

Everyone needs to get hit in a head with a gold brick every now and again. But, I'm sorry that it hurt.

Know that more people know than you know. You can't find out until you reach out. It's horribly terrifying, painful, and yet wonderfully amazing.

But don't get me wrong. It's nice and cozy being safely aloof.

The Cowboy said:
Hey Celes, thanks.

Just to be clear on a couple of things, my little secret that I don't talk about has been officially rendered moot. It's no longer a source of pain. That's what she did for me (that's a good thing). I don't talk about it because, quite honestly, there's nothing about this story that makes me look good. We probably all have at least one story (or three) like that.

She's given me direction and a focus as well, and that's why the other crap no longer matters. I know this post came off kind of dark, but what's happened is really a good thing. It might get a bit uncomfortable along the way, but it'll all be good in the end. What happens from here on out is fair game, and will probably show up here as well. This blog just might get interesting....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How to make an ass of yourself without really trying

When I was 14, I met a girl. I know, you're already thinking "you were 14, that was just hormones", but I had several girlfriends back then. There was something different about her. It only lasted a couple of months, but when she broke up with me it messed me up for years. It's possible I never really completely got over that one. Even now, after a span of time measured in decades, I still think about her. Even now, when she's got children who are as old as we were when we met, I still think about her. She was a Virgo.

I try very hard to dismiss all of this astrology crap, but I've noticed a pattern evolving in my life. For the record my astrological sign is Libra. It's hard sometimes not to see something to it, because most people I've met who are also Libras tend to be a bit like me. And all of the women who have seriously messed me up since age 14 were Virgos. All of them. No exceptions. Rebecca in college, devastated me my freshman year: Virgo. Anita, possibly the most beautiful girl I've ever dated, over it in a couple of days: not a Virgo. Kate: Virgo. Michelle: Virgo. And then there's last night. We'll come back to that. Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe there's something to it after all.

Let's be honest, It's absurdly illogical to think that the position of planets and stars in the sky has some kind of bearing on how my day will go today. Nearly as illogical as belief in this dude sitting somewhere "up there" watching over the day to day activities of each and every person on the planet. I'm not saying either are impossible, I've learned that nothing is impossible. However, it doesn't seem very likely, does it? However, it's less absurd to think that the season you were born in might have some effect on your personality. Still kind of silly, but slightly more plausible.

Superstition is everywhere. I'm in New York this week, and I just noticed not five minutes ago, the hotel I'm in has no 13th floor. I thought stories like that were a joke, but I'm quite serious. In the elevator there's a button for 12 and a button for 14. They're right next to each other. Coincidence? Maybe. So I asked the man at the counter "why is there no 13th floor?" His answer, after a slight grimace, was to say "the builders considered it unlucky. A lot of buildings here are like that." Uh huh.

So back to the title of the post. The short answer is drink an absurd amount of alcohol in front of people you work with, yell at the top of your lungs until you're hoarse, and do a lot of air guitar. It's happened before, and it very well will probably happen again. I have a self-destructive streak wide enough to be used as an overpass. If you put the gun in my hand, I'll probably pull the trigger. If you put a beer in front of me, I'll probably drink it, even if I've already had too much. And yes, that happened (the last part about the beer, that is).

I've gotten comments from many people today along the lines of "I heard you had a lot of fun last night". I did, I suppose, but that's not really the reputation I should be shooting for. Being a borderline alcoholic doesn't help one climb the corporate ladder. It's a little disturbing just how fast the news of my drunken escapades made the rounds at work, even here in New York where many of the fellow employees have no idea who the hell I am. Needless to say, productivity was down today.

Virgos. What the hell is it with Virgos? Virgos Virgos Virgos! Why am I drawn to a subset of people who inevitably destroy my soul? They don't mean to, I know that, but they do it all the same. I'm not going to go into any details about what happened for various reasons, but I will say that A) nothing (very) inappropriate happened and B) she managed to get herself stuck in my head. When a Virgo does that, it can take a long time for me to get them unstuck. That's the part that sucks, because even though I'm not doing anything wrong, it feels like I am. Guilt. My mother's gift to me.

One thing I can say in favor of my maturity, is that despite having the opportunity to get hammered again, I refrained and drank water tonight. Maybe it's not self-restraint as much as it is fear, since I seem to have done some rather serious damage to my digestive system yesterday. Hopefully it doesn't turn into on of those go-see-the-doctor-and-get-some-bad-news deals. Again, withholding the details, but this is mainly because they're kind of gross and I really think you would wish I hadn't told you if I actually did. I'm doing you a favor, you may begin thanking me ........ now.

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Restored Comments

314159 said:
First, no I'm not jealous. Yes, Virgos are alluring. Especially this one... Maybe I'm a little jealous.. Her spirit is intoxicating. It pulls you and wraps your very existence with it's caring and warmth. If she were a star, you would be blinded by her radiance. If you can't tell, I would fall for her in a heart beat if I haven't already. You lucky bastard.
Ok, I am seriously jealous!!!

Dude, Hope you relieved some stress in NY.

But, hands off Cowboy. I'll let you have Tricia Helfer and Grace Park if you do.

The Cowboy said:
Actually no. I've created more stress for myself. That's what I do.
Also, that's exactly why I withheld details. There's nothing to be jealous of. Don't jump to any conclusions here because they'll be wrong. Nothing like that happened, at least, I don't think it did, but the details of the evening are a but fuzzy...

With my luck Tricia Helfer and Grace Park would both be Virgos.

- Celes - said:
Virgos, huh? Well, for me it's been Geminis- with very little variation. Don't know why...

Astrological thing aside, it does make sense that one falls for the same types over and over. And we inadvertently make the same blunders over and over without the least bit of control.

I don't know that I can give you any advice for unsticking, but I can empathize, Taco. Hang in there.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Doctor Who is back!

And it's about bloody time

Martha Jones is gone.  That's too bad, I really liked her.  She made an appearance on Torchwood for a couple of episodes, but disappointingly didn't stay, even when they killed Owen.  One can hope that was a preview of of things to come.

So it looks like the new companion is Donna Noble, who rode around with The Doctor for a bit when her wedding got interrupted by, if I recall correctly, evil robots.  She had an awesome way of putting The Doctor in his place.  Something you don't see too much... Plus I've got a serious thing for redheads...Open-mouthed

This season should be awesome. I borrowed this from Lisa 4.0.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Um, we're gonna need more space marines...

Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee just reviewed the new Turok release.  It's one of the funniest thing's I've seen in a long time, and it's worth it just for the obscure Doom references that only old people like me get, because we wasted our youth on it.  Hey... I'm still playing it...

 

Saturday, March 22, 2008

... and the horse you rode in on!

I've taken a little flack lately for the fact that I was in a cult and tend to be frank about it.  It's amazing how many people consider themselves an expert on the topic, despite having never been in a cult or even so much as read a book on it.  I suppose they saw some documentary on Jim Jones or David Koresh, which was all the education on the topic they really needed.  A friend of mine jokingly told me once that this video was all he needed to know about being a Mormon.  The context made it quite funny, but I'm not going to go into that.  What's sad is that many people probably think that it's true. 

Joining a cult is not an indication that you're stupid or disturbed.  That's like saying being raped makes you a slut, it's idiotic.  A cult is something that happens to you, like a car accident, being mugged, or getting a disease.  Nobody joins a cult intentionally, nobody joining a cult knows they're joining a cult.  Most don't know they've joined a cult when they leave.

Maybe people think I'm honest about it because I think it's cool.  I don't.  Would you brag about being raped?  That's how stupid the idea is.

Maybe people think I'm honest about it for attention.  Would you want that kind of attention?  If you do, you're a moron.  Imagine how much fun it is to go back to all of the people you were an asshole to and say "I'm sorry I was an asshole to you for the past few years, I was brainwashed in a cult."  Woohoo, now that's some real fuckin' fun!

I'm honest about it because it happened to me.  It's part of who I am now, and that can't be changed.  Believe me, I would love it if I could erase that from ever having happened.  I was a different person before, and that person is gone now.  I miss him, because he was a great guy. 

Maybe you would like to have somebody fuck with your brain for years, then have to recover on your own.  No empathy, no resources, nobody you can talk to about it.  Jack shit.  You're on your own to figure out what happened to you and make sense of it, and try to rebuild some sense of self and self-esteem.  How's that sound for fun?  Wanna try it?  I hear the Scientologists are still recruiting.

And here's the best part, in all the years since, all the people I've told this experience to, not one person has EVER said to me "Gee, I'm sorry that happened to you." or anything even remotely empathetic.  Instead, I get jokes, off color comments, and strange looks.  I went through hell, and my reward is people looking at me like I've got a nose growing out of my eyeball.  What lovely people.  Let's be honest, I don't really expect anybody to give a crap, and I never have.  That's not why I'm honest about it either.  I'm honest about it because it's liberating.  If I can tell people what happened, the cult has no hold over me any more.  Believe me, my first instinct was to hide it and never tell anybody.  I'm glad I didn't go that route.  I will, however, never refer to them any other way than "the cult."

Next time somebody tells you they were in a cult, perhaps you should ask them about it, instead of mocking them for it.  You might learn something.  At the very least you'll look less like an asshole.

http://www.ex-cult.org/General/lifton-criteria