Monday, August 12, 2019

Ah yes, partying... Let's talk about that.




Anyone who knows me well also knows damned well I love to party. Booze, kids, not ingesting piles of cocaine or other more exotic substances. I'm a beer drinker and have been for half my life. It's fun, it's cheap, and you really have to go overboard and party hard for decades for it to really be deadly in and of itself.

All sorts of partying types have all sorts of different reasons for their liking of the booze and the times. For some, it means testosterone-laden sports and male bonding. For others, it means relaxing after a hard day's work. For still others, I guess, it's an escape from the harshness of reality.

For me, it was always the unknown that kept me popping tops. On a good beer-filled party night, it was anyone's guess as to what craziness might happen, and I do mean that in its most literal sense. Some of the shit we did was fucking crazy and there's no other way to describe it. I have seen stuff that would make most average Americans go wide-eyed and turn color. I have done things that should have netted healthy incarceration sentences. I have consumed enough booze on some nights to kill a large animal, easy.

Once the beer started flowing, there was literally no predicting what the night ahead held for us. Might be a fun pool-playing evening in which we met a bunch of new friends (and hopefully a cute girl or two!), it might be a fistfight, it might be some completely nutty adventure into the sticks just because we could. It meant driving too fast in the desert, it meant good ass times with fun people, it meant endless wonders — and it separated us for the boring "normies" who opted for an early bedtime so they wouldn't suffer the next day. We never cared much about suffering the next day.

But now, in my mid-forties, that same unpredictability is downright fucking scary. It could very well mean all the things listed above, but instead of people writing off wacko actions as kids having a good time, it means jail sentences. It means possibly losing your house or job. It means disrupting the family situation, and usually not in a good way. It means hellish hangovers that take days instead of hours to get over. It means sacrificing something so you can have something else.

It just isn't the same.

Today when I wake up bruised and cut and confused, I'm far less proud than I would have been twenty years ago. What used to be badges of honor now turn into walks of shame. What used to be adventures can now represent horrific encounters with the police and, let's face it, two forty-somethings fighting in the parking lot of a bar is just sad. Being last man standing only means being first man hurting in the coming days. What used to be screaming into a mic at karaoke and receiving cheers anyhow is now just the morose picture of a man who never really learned how to do anything worthwhile, so he's still screaming into a mic at karaoke. The men who were my age then used to tell me they hoped I got on track because I'm too smart and have too much potential to squander my life away with a Bud in my hand. Now most people probably just figure I squandered my life away with a Bud in my hand.

And that may well be true. I have more college credits than you can shake a stick at, but no degree; I'm a fiction writer who still pens but has yet to "make it" in the word world. I'm a talented editor who has trouble finding work because I'm up against candidates with degrees. I'm overqualified for most entry-level jobs but I can't get into an upper-level job because, well, I chose to do different things in my youth than plan for actual adulthood.

My point? I don't know. I do know that had I stayed home and hit the books instead of getting hammered and chasing women I'd likely take home a decent paycheck today.  Do I care? I'm not sure. I've never had a decent paycheck so I don't yet know what I'm missing. And maybe that's a good thing.

The sheer amount of extreme party nights has dwindled, of course, but they still rear their heads now and again, reminding me that I'm not twenty-five anymore every single time. I'm finding that now, I appreciate unpredictable nights less and less. I'm finding I like knowing where I'm going to sleep. I like keeping to a reasonable schedule so I'm not a fucking wasteoid for days after a bender. I enjoy waking up in my comfy pajamas instead of in my clothes, Leatherman digging into my back and everything in my pockets squished and ruined, boots or shoes still on aching feet, glasses missing at best, but probably busted somewhere in a pile of dirt behind a random bush. But mostly, I like not having to "fix shit" I fucked up while on some beerfest crusade. People I've hurt, things I've broken, shit I've said that I have to apologize for profusely and hope people chalk it up to the booze talking.

Fuck all that.

Will I party still? Oh, you bet. It's too big a part of me to just leave alone. Moderation is key, and that's something I've never learned. I'm getting there. I'm seeing the light. Plus, I'm now fat and out of shape, something I never thought I'd be. That part is fixable, of course, but the point is it never had to occur in the first place.

Beer. It's the most fun and the most terrible. It's time I slowed down — way down. But hell, on this last Saturday night I consumed an embarrassing amount of beers, more than a few shots, and even some moonshine. I went undefeated in arm wrestling and exchanged stories and jokes with really good friends. And that, ladies and germs, is non-refundable and non-replaceable.

But now it's Monday and I'm still hurting. It's time for some life-party balance. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Complacency and Competition: The breaking of a hard and fast rule

Today's entry will deal with a chess quote, said by a very famous player, and how it relates to our real lives. Bobby Fischer, probably the most well known player even today, said a virtual shit ton of good things during his career, but today we'll concentrate on the following:

Image result for bobby fischer
Wiki

"My opponents make good moves too. Sometimes I don't take these things into consideration."


Haven't we all been there, chess players or not? In the office, in the family circle, in crowds, on the freeways, in any sort of competition. It is very, very easy to get wrapped up in our own ideology, our own plans, and our own heads. Thus, we become blinded to what others are doing/will do/have done and the like and so on and so forth.

The boxer spreads out to deliver one hell of a haymaker, but he forgets that his opponent isn’t a slouch and can take advantage of this huge, if temporary, softening of the guard and strike a devastating blow of his own. The arguer forgets that the other side has a dog in the fight, too, and so refuses to listen and therefore, never solves the issue or comes to an agreement. The employee is dishonest or fucks off all day or commits some other work infraction, completely forgetting and/or ignoring that their boss is likely the boss for a very good reason. The hare completely forgets that the tortoise won't quit and is trying to win, no matter how handicapped he is for the battle at hand.

Image result for boxer showing off
Wiki

Remember, as we go through life, other people, stupid as they may seem a lot of the time, actually live their own lives and feed themselves and have family issues and the occasional good and smart thought or idea. I think it's smart to keep this in mind because being caught by that haymaker is not only dangerous but wholly embarrassing. All the technique and training in the world can't stop a knock out if one isn't putting those techniques and training to use.

Complacency. It should be a swear word. Don't assume you're better than someone else and that by that merit alone you'll move forward. You must prove your worth, always fighting, always staying keen, and always keeping in mind that the other guy or gal wants to win as much as you do. I'm sure you've seen clips of the fighter who has his opponent dead to rights and takes a few seconds to peacock around the ring, eliciting roars from the crowd and making a good show of it. Problem is, the other guy sees that too and if the peacocking fighter isn't careful, wham! Down he goes.

Don't be that fighter. Be as disciplined as you can, don't blab your mouth to anyone who'll listen, be observant, collect data, and make good moves.  Because whether on the chess board or at the office or in a crowd, someone else wants to fucking get you and the only person who can stop that from happening is you.

Go out there and fuck some shit up. 

Image result for american indian chief
Max Pixel 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

So Oregon sucks, let's look at Arizona!


So a coworker and really good friend, Krystal, got me blogging again. I thank her for that, it's much appreciated. In fact, now that I know someone, anyone, is reading the goddamn thing, I want to blog more.

Today's blog will be about a dream I had, and its recent shattering into a million shards of shiny glass on the floor. I've been looking at Cottage Grove, Oregon, for over a decade now, as a place to move. The weather is absolutely perfect, the scenery is next to none, the area is laid back and encourages outdoor activity and new businesses, such as the hot dog cart. Wink, nudge.

But yesterday, an article which really pissed me off hit the instanets. Seems the leftie moron legislature there is trying to push that guns must have a maximum five round capacity. This means that just about every good and cool gun in the world becomes illegal and will be destroyed. Every six-shooter, every 1911, every and any gun that can hold six or more rounds. I mean, even the stupid Ruger .22 rifles are out. He/they also want each citizen limited to purchasing 20 rounds a month. I mean, with 20 rounds it's not worth a trip to the range, trust me.

Now, even the guy who suggested these changes admitted it won't pass fully, not right away, but that it'll get the ball going in that direction. And he's probably right. The stripping of our rights is scary to me. I don't blog a lot or really even talk a lot about politics, but don't fuck with my guns. Do I shoot every day, every week, even every month? Nope. I do not. But I have the right to, and that's the point.

Why would I move into a state, beautiful as it is, that's starting to shift in that direction? Give it ten years and it'll be on par with Commiefornia or even worse. Why everyone is so fucking scared of guns is beyond me but that's another blog post. Why lefties ignore facts is also beyond me and also for another post. Don't they see the numbers in Texas, in Arizona, where anyone can just carry in public? Murder rates plummeted. I know lefties don't like facts but Jesus H, the proof is right there in front of them. This isn't a mystery any longer. Armed citizens makes for a happy, calm life. Period.

Legally armed, I should clarify.

Anyhow, long story short, I started looking at Arizona. It's just to fuckin' hot for me, most the state, but I knew Flagstaff was okay so I started there. I found a nearby but lower town called Williams. Didn’t take much research to tell me this was a little slice of heaven. And the houses? Big, cheap, tons of land. Pine trees and red dirt. Nice combo. The town runs on summer tourism (Grand Canyon, Route 66 car shows, etc) and for the rest of the year it's a quiet little storybook place. I'm wondering if I couldn’t run my hot dog car there in the spring and summer and float the rest of the year. I'm just wondering that.

And I could do it with a sidearm on, if I wanted.

Also, if something went sideways here in SoCal or we just wanted to visit, it's a six-hour drive instead of what, 18 hours on the road or the securing of an expensive and bothersome plane ticket? Two of them? Yeesh.

I'll keep the one person still reading this posted. :D 

Usa, Route66, Williams, United States, Road Trip
Max Pixel

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Android to iPhone: I took the plunge.

So I moved from Android to iPhone recently. Why? I surely wasn't expecting to, I can guarantee that much. Here's the skinny: I have an old LG Stylo phone and it was running out of space, I couldn't update apps or any other shit. So I said hmmm, what don't I need? Aha! Facebook. I mean, fuck it, right? All that's on there anymore is whining or political bullshit. Oh, and holier-than-thou posts about how others should live or treat people. Well, fuck that, thank you very much. So I went to Settings > Apps > Facebook and oh, you have to be fucking kidding me.

I couldn't delete it. Facebook made itself (see: paid someone off to be) part of the OS. Unreal. I could disable it, but then four hours later there it was, in my notifications bar, asking me if I'd like to find friends.

No, motherfucker, I wouldn't. Jesus, how creepy is this?

A quick Google search revealed some startling information, at least for me. Data mining. Selling info. Spying. Forcing you to play along. Welp, this sounds too much like bullshit to me, thanks, I'm out. I'm the type who doesn't mind, necessarily, the data mining and et cetera. It is what it is, you pay to play, nothing's free, yadda yaddda. That's a choice I have knowingly made for a while, admittedly. Besides, there's nothing juicy to find out about me, anyhow. I'm a nobody.

What I do not like is being forced. Into anything. I'm already fucking forced to work and pay bills and play nicely in the grocery store and a million other things rules set forth by people I'll never meet. But when my own phone turns on me, I'm looking for the goddamn door. Stat.

So I searched for phones which did not force me to play along with social medial crap. Enter the iPhone. Okay, fine, Apple, let's give this a go. Since I wasn't sure I'd like the thing at all, I went with an iPhone 6, 32MB storage, running IOS 9, which I upgraded to 12 after a week or so. So far, my comparison list isn't big since I've only had the thing a little while and thanks to me having to fucking work to pay fucking bills, my screen time isn't quite what I wish it was, but here goes, anyhow.

PROS
        

  • I really like the notification center. Clean, clear easy.        
  • I like the swipe up menu for flashlight and the calculator and the other bits. Nice.        
  • So far, every app seems to run faster, smoother, and has better features than on Android. I have yet to pay for one, so standby for that. Even the weather app is so far superior on the iPhone it isn't funny. So fucking easy to use and smooth as black ice.        
  • I like that it wakes up when I pick it up. This may not be important to you, but I find it nifty as shit.        
  • Scrolling is always smooth, everywhere. It just seems to generally "work" better than the clumpy feeling Androids I've had.        
  • The camera. This deserves its own blog post. Seriously. It's so good it's unreal, I had no idea what I was missing. The original photos now seem to look a bit better than any of the available filters when sharing on Instagram. This is a huge plus for me, as I'm a shutterbug.        
  • The size. My LG was really a small TV and, while that's cool for some things, it isn't so fun in the pocket. If I stick with the iPhone line, I'll surely get their bigger one but for now, this little 6 does me just right.        
  • It has options, man, it has options. I can easily set recurring alarms, turn on or off notifications (and it actually fucking works, clear them from the lock screen, et cetera. I know those of you who are Appleites already knew all of this and yes, you can do most of this on an Android, but it's just not as good, not as smooth. As I go I'm sure I'll find a ton more customizable options.        
  • The speed. While it technically *should* be comparable to my LG, it just isn't. It's an ass load faster. Probably the way it handles the OS. Granted, it's still a new phone, but the research I did before buying told me that they don't slow down. Apps open lighting fast, web surfing is hugely improved on Chrome, Google Photos just plain hauls ass.        
  • The app store. It seems logical, you can easily get to the ratings and reviews and they have great descriptions of what you're looking at while on the page. Oh, it's also fast as shit. And because it's Apple users reviewing the apps, the spelling is gooder than the Walmart shoppers using Android.        
  • The goddamn speaker actually has low tones. I was taken aback the first time I signed into Twitch to watch a feed I follow and the dude's voice sounded rich, low. The speaker is at the bottom of the phone but I can't really tell that while I'm using it; the sound seems to come from everywhere. Very, very superior to any Android I've ever owned or used at all. Miles away, not even close. A+ to Apple on this feature.


CONS
        
  • I don't like the way it handles photos. It sorts them so that your most recent shots are waaaay at the bottom. What gives? I realize that this is likely modifiable and I'm a greenhorn, but I gotta hand it to Android for photo handling. At least at this point in the game. Plus I haven't explored how to make folders and albums, but I'm sure all that is there.        
  • Good and true people of the world, those with morals and a backbone, skip this part if you want. I hate that I haven't as of yet found a way to surf 4Chan on the damned thing. Yes, I can find it on Chrome but it's not the same as the Mimi I used to use on Android. A want an actual app for the place. That being said, all the time I'm saving by not surfing 4Chan is absolutely remarkable. And without Farcebook there to fuck my day up, I simply open up my Kindle app and read once I've seen a few Instagram posts. I gotta say, this negative turned into a big positive but still, we should have the choice to see 4Chan if we want. I guess.          
  • No expandable storage. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, APPLE. This is Phone 101, bro. Give me the option to put in a 64GB micro SD card and go to town. Cloud storage is fine and dandy but c'mon, now. It's almost twenty fucking twenty. Get on that bus and do it soon. I found this to be a real bummer although, we'll see. Again, this iPhone keeps surprising me with neat shit. I'll probably update this on my second useless phone rant which no one will read. Fuck me runnin'.        
  • Getting custom ringtones is a pain. In. The. Ass. One has to download Zedge, get the shit they want, then connect to iTunes on a comp, upload, then redownload, sync it sounds easier to get into a girl's pants for the first time than to make Turn Down For What my goddamn phone ringer. That being said, it really isn't tooooo big a deal. Just highly annoying.        
  • I can't think of any more offhand. Really. So, as you can see, the cons list is well, yeah, this all pretty much speaks for itself.


All in all, I'm an iPhone fan. I like the damned thing more and more each time I pick it up. I also realize that I'm reviewing a phone that is almost five fucking years old. Bear with me because as I said, if I like this thing as much as I believe I will, I'll upgrade ASAP.

Stay tuned, fuckers.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Now it's time for change

It seems most of my life is spent waiting, for something or other. I'm good at it, in fact, but I'm tired. I'm tired of waiting. I've blown a few opportunities, it's true, but that can't be the end of it, can it?  

I'm waiting for a decent job. My requirements aren't all that out of control: I want a job that doesn't beat my ass into the ground and that pays $40k to $50k a year. I mean, in a day and age in which $220k per year is still upper Middle-Class, $40k isn't a whole lot to want, is it? But that type of job is like Bigfoot: I hear about them but I never see them myself. $40k a year would set me free. I'd be rich. I don't understand at all why I can't bag a job making that amount. Or better.

I'm waiting, again, for it to get cooler out. I hate heat, I don't operate well in it. I guess my Colorado beginnings set me up for California failure. And now, wouldn't you know it? I work outside exclusively. Hard, sweaty work. I miss editing, badly.

I'm waiting for a possible home loan to go through, to get approved, which will just put me into a different type of debt and allow my house to dangle in the uncomfortable winds of mortgage. But, I've had this fucker now for eight years and other than keeping me out of the elements and keeping living costs low, it hasn't done shit for me. Credit still sucks, don't qualify for shit, et cetera. At least this loan might happen. Then I can fix all the shit I've fucked up on it over the last eight years. Then the bulldogs can jack it all up again.

I'm waiting for my wife to learn how to save a few dollars. I've tried everything, from scare tactics to temper problems, and nothing works. She just doesn't understand how fun it is to sock dollars away and create a little savings. Maddening, is what it is, when I'm the only one trying at all.

I'm waiting for life to change for the better. I've been treading water too long and my arms are getting weak. I need a gentle nudge in another direction, a positive direction. If the shit storm hits now, I may as well just lie down in the street because I'm cooked. I need a little time, a few resources. The urge to just hop on the 10 East is growing stronger each day.  Just get on the freeway and drive. Keep gassing up, keep eating until the money runs out. I don't know what I'll do when I arrive at Empty Tankville, but it sure does sound exciting.  It sounds like something.  

God, I'm just waiting. I don't even feel in control. I'm the main actor in a Truman Show type setup, and the joke is very much on me. No matter what I try or what I learn, the same shit just keeps happening and I'm waiting for that to change.

Please? 

Friday, March 30, 2018

It's time for people to smile, laugh!

I'm getting tired of the complaining going on in the world. So I'm going to complain about it.

Small people with small opinions and angry dispositions need to go the fuck away. Trump is president, guns still exist, some cops are bad, my truck doesn’t get good fuel mileage, and public schools suck. That bout cover it? Can we move on?

I don't even care what your stance on any of that is, either, honestly; just stop talking about it, for the love of God. As if Facebook and everywhere else isn’t enough, I stopped by the "Opinion" section of the local paper today, expecting to see posts about the small town I live in. There were like three. The vast majority are about Trump and guns.

Really, folks? I mean, of the millions of things you could be doing at any moment, you are sitting around fretting about the state of the world at all times? What a sad thought; what a sad life.

The other day I shared a picture on Facebook of a bumper jack and called it an AR-15. Wasn’t long before some uninformed angry person bit and went off the rails. People complain when they don't even know what they are complaining about. I'm sure it's been this way since the dawn of time, but the internet wasn't available during the dawn of time, so nobody had to listen to these mouth pieces rant on and on about things they can't begin to change and clearly don't comprehend.

Instead of reading biased news sites, why not go for a walk? Why not break out the ole fishing rod and relax a few hours? Why not listen to a song that makes you smile? Oh, because people don't seem to want to smile anymore. They don't want to laugh, or be positive in any way whatsoever. They want to read terrible articles and share them and then become involved in arguments online which last for 147 comments. Meanwhile, changing nobody's mind about anything.

You want change? Do something. Chuck cash at causes, go to marches, become a good cop and kill no unarmed people—I don't care, just do something besides share endless memes and slanted pieces on Facebook, saying how awful the world is today.

The internet is literally overflowing with information. You could watch a video on how a badger family lives. You could subscribe to a jokes page. You could teach yourself advanced mathematics. I'm serious, if you want it, it's out there.

It's pretty evident what people want. They want to be unhappy, which I find horribly somber. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

There are lots of writing scams out there



I need a job.

The place I had been working for two years closed its doors and I'm not getting paid. The trouble is, I'm older and I don't want just any ole job. I see there are pet groomer positions available, dishwashing, sales, front desk, maintenance, door-to-door solar peddling, and et cetera. But my love is English. Words. AP style. Specifically, fixing up strings of words to make them stronger.

And, if I do say so myself, I'm pretty good.

So of course I've been looking for editing positions. On craigslist, there are an amazing amount of ... well, I don't want to call them scams because I'm sure they will pay, but ... yeah, scams. There is one particular type of ad that's really getting under my skin:

Wanted: Staff writer / editor


Sounds good at first glance, until you read what's in the ad. They want one person, not two. This person is expected to write and edit their own work.

Well, no shit.

Look, that's a writer's job—at least, any writer who gives a hoot about how their stuff looks. By the time it hits the editor, which is supposed to be a second person with an entirely different skill set, the work is normally expected to be as polished as the writer can get it, whether he or she is writing articles, stories, opinion pieces, recipes, jokes, or instruction manuals.

The point is that these companies are getting away with paying one offensively low price for one person who is expected to do the job of two. And a good editor isn't cheap (nor is a good writer, for that matter, or they shouldn't be) so these people really have a racket going.

The biggest issue? Well, besides the fact that this poor writer is getting the shaft and that the company is completely ripping them off, the content won't be as strong as it could be. Likely, not even close.

There's a reason editors exist. It's because, although we as writers may make 10, 12, 20 passes at our own work, we are too close to it and therefore won't see a lot of issues we'd otherwise catch.

I guarantee you Stephen King, top New York Times columnists, recipe book writers and instruction manual writers all get edited before they go to final print.  OK, scratch the instruction manual writers; we've all seen how terrible most of those are.

But you get the point. The people placing these ads aren't looking for quality content. They aren't looking for stuff they can be proud of, and they aren't looking to pay a whole lot, trust me. They want a one-stop-shop where they can get wonderful research and great writing skills, and then they want to publish the piece directly because that writer also wears the editor's hat—and all for pennies on the word.

Oh, good grief no!

Don't do it. Don't even think about doing it. Please!

I know, I know, I can hear you saying that it'll look good on the resume, adds a notch to the ole writer's belt, gains you valuable experience.

No. It won't.

A future prospective employer is going to see all these content mills, these fly by night operations you've written for, and figure you just don't have the good sense to realize what the heck you are doing or what is going on.

Think of a mechanic who has a chest full of China tools from Harbor Freight and is willing to show them off to anyone and everyone. He'd say how shiny they are, how hard he'd worked to pick out just the right ones, and how he's all set to go.

But he isn't. He has what amounts to several hundred pounds of trash, and a good mechanic will know this and, furthermore, might even wonder what mental capacity issues the guy has.

It isn’t worth it.

We all have to start somewhere, I realize this. Did I ever write for content mills? Oh, you'd better believe I did. Am I proud of any of it? Not really.

And, by the way, my resume now says that I have had hundreds of articles in print online, mostly through now-defunct companies. I'm not trying to sticker my car windows with the fact I worked for Associated Content, Demand Studios, or Examiner. I'm just not.

If you are a writer, and you think you are a good one, skip these ads. Just move on and wait. You might need the money but honestly, is two or three cents per word worth your reputation?

Not even a little bit.

Write on!