Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Stay In Bed For Christmas

So I've recorded a little Christmas tune for those who are over the hype. I hope you like it. Check it out, share it, buy it, I'd really appreciate it.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Do Something!

I'm a very opinionated person and I don't think that there is much I can do about that. Most of the time I try to not force my personal opinions on people, some of my friends and family might disagree, but I do honestly try. I like to think most people arrive at their opinions honestly and they represent a perspective, however different than mine, that is informed by things I might not be able to understand. I do know that my opinions on things have changed or maybe even evolved with time and I'd like to think we are all on a path headed towards our dreams. Maybe at different points on the path but still on a path. If I can help someone down the path with me, I try to do it. What I won't do is push someone to make ground on something by force.

In my own head I don't think I have a single personal philosophy that guides my life. Most of the time I feel like I'm drowning in my own self doubt. However, I do get put into the position of offering advice on peoples lives more than I'm comfortable with. Most of the time I just try my best to nudge people in a positive direction.

Lately however, I've been giving more and more thought to what I would call my personal brand of guiding wisdom. Now I obviously don't have the answer to eternal happiness, world peace or even how to not annoy the crap out of everyone by accident. The reality is, I'm pretty useless at making other peoples lives better most of the time, despite my grand ideas for changing the world.

What I do know is that when I'm at my most depressed or discouraged that I can always dig myself out. Even if it feels at the time like I never will. I don't have a magic silver bullet but I do know that every day I can chose to do at least one thing that makes my life or the life of those around me better and I think that mostly sums up my approach. As I've thought about it, I've boiled it down to something fairly concise.

"Do Something"

What I mean by that is you might not be able to control everything that happens to you and you also might not be able to control the way you feel about it. What you can do is move yourself down the path. Sometimes it's a moon surface leap and sometimes it's crawling through glass, but progress is progress. No, this won't guarantee your bills will get paid, you will save your marriage or heal a childhood pain. It might not even make you feel better. What it will do is put you a little closer, bit by bit.

If you are like me, most things feel overwhelming. I can be pretty hard on myself. I once told someone, "You can't say anything to me more hurtful than what I've said to myself." I think it might be one of the most honest things I've ever said. What I have found though that helps me more than anything, is doing something. Anything. As long as it's a positive step in the right direction. Even if it's just one small step with a million more to go, it's one step closer to my final destination.

No matter how small the gesture it can at least help you get into a better head space. It could be something for yourself, like getting chores you've been avoiding knocked out or something huge like finally telling someone how you care about them. You don't even have to do it for yourself. Sometimes when I'm at my lowest it helps to think about the things I wish others where doing for me at that moment and do it for someone else. One example is, for my own narcissistic reasons, I really like things I post to social media to get liked by my friends and family. Sometimes a post that I feel really strongly about or connected to will get almost completely ignored and it will send me into a tailspin of self doubt. In all likely hood there are multitudes of reasons people didn't take the time to click "like", and most are probably not related to me or my personal feelings. So, even in this silliest of first world problem situations, I try to reach out to others, click like on things my friends post or leave a positive comment. I would never do this disingenuously. I'm always clicking like or give a positive comment to something I actually like. I'm just trying to go a little more out of the way to make someone else feel good.

Now, does this achieve anything measurable. Most of the time no. Most of my friends are likely unaware I do this. Does it suddenly make all my neurotic obsession over whether people like me go away? not at all. What it does though is put me at least half a step closer to feeling better and more often than not it's enough to give me a clear head to see the next step I need to take. Sometimes that next step is one of those moon surface leaps that I can't believe I didn't take before.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hinge my day to day feelings on these silly little acts. Mostly I've learned about myself that I really like the feeling of creating something so I try to focus on those kinds of activities. I have loads of hobbies and things that I do that keep me moving forward. I think those count too. What I try not to do is sit around and think of all the things I should be doing and know for sure I won't do. I'd rather focus on the things I can do than the things I can't.

So now I think I can feel a tiny bit more comfortable in offering someone advice. Just "Do Something." As long as it's positive progress, it's worth it. No matter your situation, you can at least do something to make it better. No matter how insignificant it might seem at the time. I even keep a small daily journal where I try to write down the positive things I did that day. I also write some of the negatives but as long as there is at least one positive, it helps.


Do Something!

That's the best I've got.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Requiem for a Hero: Part II

A politician is a fickle thing, it changes allegiances as quickly as a wind blown $5 bill changes hands. Ownership means nothing to it. The crime bosses liked the systems of prohibition on certain common street drugs, it allowed their prices and profits to reach almost limitless heights. It fed the machinery that really ruled the world. The machinery, however, still has not found a solution to the problem it finds most troublesome. In spite of all it's efforts it still relies on the fickle voter to vote against their own best interest as they have done since they where given the gift of voting. Thankfully most the time the voter seems to have a deep-seated need to self sabotage, and only in very rare circumstances will they vote against the machinery that really runs the world. So it was a very rare case with the legalization of a certain common street drug. Enough voters had grown tired of the oppression and crime the drug's prohibition brought on the world and voted for the legalization. In response to the change in voter sentiment , and because a politician can change their allegiances in response to anything, the politicians all had very important meetings and collectively came to the conclusion it would be in everyone's best interest, mostly their own, to not fight the law. The result was a lot of temporarily unhappy criminals and a lot of tax revenue. The wind of popular opinion had blown the politicians into their own dark alley and on top of their own trash pile and they always did their best work in these types of situations.

The tax revenue from the now legal common street drug was, as decided by the voters, allotted to be used for the city's underfunded schools. This, of course, did not happen. The machinery that really ran the world hated schools. Schools teach people to vote in their own best interest. This is something that the machinery would never let happen. So the politicians found clever ways to divert the money to the recently upset criminals as a way to make up for having not prevented the voters from voting in their own best interest and so everyone, who mattered to the machinery, was happy.

Who wasn't happy where the future voters and current children at the local underfunded school. One of whom was the daughter of a recently deceased local hero that had been killed, unbeknownst to her, by a local crime boss. The daughter didn't even know her father was a hero. To her he was just another parent, preoccupied with the machinery that really ran the world and not very interested in the day to day dealings of his family's operation.

The daughter of the recently deceased local hero did well in her underfunded school. She always tried her hardest in everything she did. She was a good student, athlete, friend and daughter. She ate healthy, and in contrast to the other future voters and current children at the local underfunded school, she didn't drink sugary soda made from the chemically processed byproducts of inedible corn. She in every way lived up to the impeccable moral code of her recently deceased local hero father. She worried about the environment, and because of this she didn't  use disposable water bottles. She had written a report for a class at her underfunded school that the plastic from the disposable water bottles would pollute the local waterways of the city and that as an alternative everyone, like her, should carry a reusable water bottle with them. She took her ecologically friendly water bottle with her every where and filled it during the short period of time between classes at the water fountains in her underfunded school.

Unfortunately for the daughter of the recently deceased local hero, and the city, it was too late for the local waterways. They had all ready been polluted by the toxic and unfortunate side effect of a local business. The CEO of the company responsible for the dumping of the toxic and unfortunate side effect had recently been arrested and convicted of violating EPA regulations by illegally dumping substance and thus polluting city's local waterways. The representatives for the machinery that really ran the world asked him nicely to step down as CEO, pay a fine and spend 3 months in a local minimum security prison. The minimum security prison was much nicer than the other prison in the city that was mostly filled with the users of a formerly illegal common street drug. Most of whom suffered from formerly treatable chemical imbalances in their brain that had, at one time, been easily treated with prescription medication.

Little did the daughter of the recently deceased local hero know that her body didn't seem able to deal with the  toxic and unfortunate byproduct of a local business that had been dumped, illegally, into the local water ways and was now present in the drinking fountains of the underfunded school with which she filled the ecologically friendly water bottle she always had with her. Her young and athletic body was rapidly turning weak and frail like that of an old woman. She now possessed the kind of body that $5 worth of calories would make the difference between another week of living and escaping into the dark abyss of non-existence.

When the chief of police had told the daughter of the recently deceased local hero that her father was missing and presumed dead the daughter cried her toxic laden tears, fainted and crumpled out of her chair onto the floor. It was all too much for her frail body to take. The chief didn't even have time to give his well rehearsed speech about how they didn't have any solid leads in the case but that he would personally see to solving the matter and bring peace and justice to her and her family. Instead an ambulance took the daughter to a local hospital where she was placed on life support in a room next to a homeless man being treated for a variety of afflictions related to his homelessness.

The homeless man had an imbalance of brain chemicals that he self medicated with a now legal common street drug. While it was now legal to buy and use the common street drug it was not legal to use it in the street where the homeless man lived. So he had been arrested by the local police. He was being cleaned up and treated for his medical conditions, except of course the brain chemical imbalance, and would soon be transferred to a holding cell while he awaited conviction and sentencing to a local prison. He had no chance of going to the prison where the former CEO was serving his 3 month sentence for the illegally dumping of a toxic and unfortunate side effect of his former company's business.

The imbalanced chemicals in the homeless man's brain told him he would never make it in prison and that he would be better off in the dark abyss of non-existence. So when the nurse turned out the light and left him alone in his room to sleep he used a cord from the lamp in his hospital room to make his transition. So too did the girl in the the next room who was the daughter of the now deceased local hero and who's  frail body could no longer stand the strains of the toxic and unfortunate substance it had running through it. She joined the homeless man and her hero father in the dark abyss of non-existence.

A journalist, in contrast to a politician, doesn't simply change allegiances. They simply try to make the best of a bad situation. They are the hapless victims of changing times and a dying industry. The machinery that really runs the world was working hard on solving another problem that had caused voters to vote in their own best interest, newspapers. The machinery had invent all sorts of new devices and systems to distract voters and keep them from voting in their own self interest or reading pesky newspapers. In spite of the machinery's efforts, journalists have become reasonably good at doing their job with the bad hand the machinery ensured they where dealt.

In this specific case and with this specific journalist, the best that could be made of the situation was printing the story that would make his career. It had been handed to him by a local hero who had disappeared without a trace or police lead. The journalist knew nothing of the hero. Just that a package that contained all the information he'd been trying to coax out of the machinery about a local crime boss and all the proof of the illegal activity.

The story the journalist produced with this information could not have been better written. The case against the local crime boss could not have been better presented. The story however was not the most important to the editor of the newspaper that day. The most important story was that of a beautiful and smart young girl who had died of an unknown condition right after hearing the news that her father was missing and presumed dead. The story of the crime boss was pushed further back into the newspaper where no one read it, except frail old women, heroes and villains.

After being released from minimum security prison the former CEO was hired as a consultant by a former crime boss who was in the process of turning his criminal operation into a legal enterprise specializing in the sale of a now legal and formerly common street drug. The former CEO helped the former crime boss turn the former criminal enterprise into a highly profitable and publicly traded company. A local stock broker made a prudent investment in the now legal company shortly after the company's initial public offering and made a sizeable fortune when he later sold the stock to other representatives of the machinery that really ran the world. The three men, all fine representatives of the machinery that really ran the world in their own right, met regularly at a local pub a few doors down from a successful local company, to discuss the now legal business of selling a formerly common street drug and to eat ham sandwiches. They really loved those ham sandwiches.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My first short story as an adult: An ode to Kurt Vonnegut

Requiem for a Hero Part I:

The satisfaction the hero felt in carrying out his personal brand of justice was scientifically comparable to the chemical reaction in the brain of an Olympic competitor winning a gold metal in their respective sport. He could, in many scientific circles, be described as an adrenaline junky. He was constantly chasing the natural rush of brain chemicals that came from delivering a quick and satisfying conclusion to the injustices of the world, no matter how minor.

He took great pride in himself and his impeccable morality. He did the right thing even if most people would think the ingression he was correcting was silly at best. One time he used his powers of deduction and reason to locate the owner of a $5 bill that he found windblown against a trash pile in an alley he happen to be in while surveilling an opportunity at getting those brain chemicals he so desperately needed. He had dreamed up a story while he searched for the owner of the cash. In his brain's narrative the person who lost the money was a little old lady on a fixed income who had out lived the rest of her family and the return of the cash would mean the difference between eating enough calories for her frail body to make another week and going hungry, risking escape into the dark abyss of non-existence. The hero imagined the old lady had been given the bill as change while filling a prescription at the local drug store and being too week to place it back into her billfold had opted to try and hold it feebly while still operating her walker and making her way slowly to the bus stop. He could see it clearly in his heroic minds eye that a burst of wind had torn the bill out of the old lady's age weakened hand and it landed neatly on the trash pile in the alley where he had found it.

The reality, as the hero soon found out, was that the owner of the bill was a stock broker who had given the bill to a homeless man holding a cardboard sign with a long and sad story about the various hardships that had befallen him written in black permanent marker. The stock broker hadn't read the sign, he'd simply dropped the bill on the top of the slouching man who had passed out from too much of his drug of choice, a common street drug sold to him by the low level employees of a local crime boss. The stock broker had given the money to the homeless man as a way of feeling slightly better about the large income he drew out of manipulating the worlds economy. He felt instantly better about himself and his place in the world and decided to treat himself to a beer and maybe a ham sandwich at a local pub as a reward for being so selfless. The stock broker had in fact played a small roll in the hardships listed on the homeless man's sign.

The homeless man had a minor mental disorder that was easily treated with prescription medication, but owing to a downsizing at his previous employer, he had been laid off, lost his health benefits and could not afford the medication his malfunctioning brain required. This event sent him into a spiral of self medicating with an addiction to a common street drug that worsened his brain's condition beyond the reach of modern medicine and led to his eventual homelessness. The cheap street drug released, temporarily, some chemicals in the homeless man's brain that made him forget that other brain chemicals where out of balance.The broker knew none of this because, as mentioned, he didn't read the sign the homeless man had propped against his unconscious body.

The downsizing at the homeless man's company had been triggered when the stock broker, seizing an opportunity at a large payday, had sold a very large portion of stock in the company based on a rumor he had heard from a colleague while peeing in an trough urinal at a baseball game. The colleague had told him that the companies earnings would be below market expectations. The large sell off of stock by the broker caused the machinery that actually operated the markets to view this trade as a trigger to sell more stock in the company and several other companies that did similar business. The drastic and sudden drop in the company's stock price triggered a panic in their upper management. The management thought they where doing a great job and in fact where in the process of preparing the annual earnings report that would inform the world that they had done such a great job at managing the company that it would, in spite of rumors to the contrary, be meeting market expectations. That didn't seem to matter to the stock market, and the CEO of the company in a very prudent and decisive move issued an order to downsize the corporate offices to ensure to the stock holders that management was making good use of their money and not wasting it on corporate excesses. None of the upper management where laid off, of course, and the company's stock quickly rebounded with the news of reduction in corporate overhead and solid earnings. They didn't rehire any of the employees that where laid off. They simply found a way to be just as profitable without them.

The bill the stock broker had dropped on the homeless man had simply blown away in one of the cities many and sporadic gusts caused by it's impossibly tall buildings. Neither of the last two owners of the bill had missed it's absence at all but the hero delivered it just the same, after all, it was the right thing to do.

The hero's next brain chemical fix, he hoped, would come from a taking down a local high level crime boss. This was the biggest and riskiest operation he'd ever taken on. It had taken him two years to gather the evidence and plan the villains take down. He could have finished the job six months earlier, but because of his impeccable morality he wanted to make absolute sure that the crime boss would end up, without a doubt, convicted by a jury of the his peers. His evidence was, at this moment, rock solid. There where indisputable pictures, audio recordings and video that was beyond the police's resources to acquire, but our hero, in his relentless determination and need for brain chemicals, had taken the time to prudently and legally amass an iron clad case the police would have in hand upon his single handed apprehension of the villain. He could see the accolades in his head now, the news stories, the adulation, maybe even a parade, and, of course, the sweet flood of endorphins and adrenaline he so desperately required.

The crime boss was an old hat at organized crime. He was handed the business by his father who had built it up from a local street gang in the decades previous. The crime boss had grown up in the crime business and was taught well by his successful criminal father in the day to day workings of such a complex and diversified crime organization. Much like the CEO of the homeless man's former employer, he didn't spend much time dwelling in the mundane day to day dealings of the criminals he employed. His job was to look at trends in the markets of the various criminal enterprises the crime family was involved in. He was very good at his job. There was no one better at crime than him. He would spend endless hours reading newspapers, looking for opportunities for his business in the headlines. He knew people at every company in town, including the homeless man's former employer, that gave him keen insight into how the city actually functioned. He knew every shipping container that could be exploited. How much inventory he could take off of it without making too many problems for himself. The exact amount of drugs and stolen goods he could place on the same ship as it headed towards it's outbound destination.

The crime boss had enough of the politicians and police force on his payroll to make his dealings all but invisible to the outside world. He even knew, in contrast to the CEO of the homeless man's former employer, how to deal with the unfortunate side effects of his criminal business. There was not a man in the city who's lifeless body could not be disposed of with shocking efficiency by employees of the crime boss. The CEO of the homeless man's former employer did not know how to deal with the unfortunate side effects of his business, the massive amounts of industrial waste that his company produced, so he simply ordered it dumped into the local waterways of the city. The crime boss not only knew of the CEO, he had extorted money from him to keep his secrets. The hero knew of the crime bosses connection with politics and law enforcement. He did not know of the CEO's existence or his illegal dumping of hazardous waste into the waterways thanks to the hush money paid to the crime boss by the CEO.

The CEO was completely unaware that he would soon be brought down by the EPA for these violations. The crime boss knew of the EPA's case against the CEO because he informed the police himself in order to keep pressure off his own criminal business. The crime boss was mostly unaware of the hero's plans to bring him to justice. He had heard some rumblings from his underlings of someone snooping around so he had hidden a gun in a pop up compartment in his desk as a precaution. The crime boss did not know about the hero. The hero did not know about the gun.

The hero had rehearsed the speech he would triumphantly deliver to the crime boss upon his apprehension. He knew every word and the exact emphasis he would deliver on each syllable. It would be the culmination of all his life's purpose. He would finally be on the map as true hero of the people. He revelled in the anticipation of his moment in the sun. He craved the release of chemicals that this event would release into his brain.

The indisputable evidence that was the fruit of the hero's two years of near obsessive work was all ready in the police stations mailbox as well as the mailbox of a local investigative reporter who also was working on writing the story that would make his career. The story of a crime family that ran the city . The reporter just lacked the evidence, that was now sitting in his mailbox thanks to the hero, to pull everything together.

The hero made his way undetected through the building where the crime boss ran his enterprise. He knew every security measure in the building, except for the gun in the crime boss's desk. He burst through the door of the crime boss's office and, having trapped his quarry and entered so elegantly undetected, began his well rehearsed speech. "Your time as a cancer on the underbelly of this city...." his voice was stopped abruptly by a bullet that burst out of the back of the his skull. The hero's brain had been distracted by the anticipation of the chemicals it so desperately desired that it did not react at all to the crime boss triggering of the hidden compartments release mechanism with his foot, his surprising speed at grabbing and discharging the gun and the accuracy of the his shot. The organ that the hero had hoped would release the chemicals he so desperately desired into his brain where now spread across the back wall of the crime bosses office. The hero made his escape into the dark abyss of non-existence.

The crime boss called over an intercom to his secretary and asked for her to get the employees who dealt with this sort of thing to come up and do their job. The crime boss had an important meeting with the chief of police in two hours and felt it a minor inconvenience to have to explain the mess. He also asked her to order him a ham sandwich from the local pub that was two doors down from the office. The crime boss really loved those sandwiches.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's got a big mouth, just like me.

I am at least self aware enough to understand that a water bottle is a pretty strange thing to write a blog post about, but I'm nothing if not a man with strong feelings, sometimes about inane things like water bottles.

For years I was in love with Nalgene brand wide mouth, and even narrow mouth water bottles but then the BPA débâcle happened and I gave them up. I switched, much to my dismay, to stainless steel but I missed my Nalgene bottles more than is healthy for an adult male.

When they came out with the BPA free versions I switched back and I have to say, it's one of my favourite accessories. For those of you that know me, you also know that I'm very rarely without my Nalgene in tow.

So why do I love my Nalgene so much?

 First, they are cheap and available pretty much anywhere for under $10 and it comes in many different colors. I very rarely lose my water bottle, but when I do I can replace it with a visit to just about any store anywhere.

It's virtually indestructible. I've dropped them thousands of times and they hold up to my years of abuse.

The wide mouth means I can load it up with ice easily and I like a lot of ice in my water.

Accessories, there are a surprising amount of accessories available for them, my two favourites are the GSI Outdoors H2OH! Percolator and the Outdoor Research Bottle Parka.

It's made of Lexan and that means it can handle temperatures up to the boiling point of water. I first heard about this on the hammockforums.net website where people where talking about using them as hot water bottles on chilly nights to squeeze a few more degrees of comfort out of their sleeping systems, since then I've used them quite regularly as a hot water bottle to help sooth my chronic shoulder pain. I even sewed my own cover filled with rice to insulate myself from the high temps and make the heat last longer. It's really amazing at putting the right amount of heat right where I need it. I also have a crazy story, that I won't share right, now about saving a couple friends life on the side of a mountain by making hot water bottles in cold temps.

I really do view my Nalgene bottle as one of the few things I really can't do without.

Monday, March 2, 2015

500yearfarm.com and New Blog

Just realizing that there are some of you that follow this blog that don't necessarily follow me in other places. So I thought I'd post a quick update to say, any farm related stuff has been moved off this blog and onto blog.500yearfarm.com and if you want to check out the new 500yearfarm.com website I'd love to hear some feedback on it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jury Duty

Here is an account of my recent trip to the county court house to fulfill my civic duty right up until I was selected and served on a jury. Enjoy!

First observation, great place to people watch. 

Only one of the the security lines running, very long line, I doubt other two x-ray machines are even plugged in, they are just there to torment me with the possibility. While in line I discover wood chips in my hoody pocket, hope I don't have to explain that in a pat down.

Only place on earth there are people grumpier than me. Lady on phone behind me would rather clean a dirty toilet than be here or so she says loudly to the person on the other end of the conversation. I'd rather not do either or here about it from her.
They miss pronounced my last name over intercom. It's a common English word, go judicial/educational system. 

We are all Given a name tag that just says "Juror", everyone obediently wearing them like sheep, I judge them. I'm just wearing mine to be ironic so it looks cool on me. I still don't really know what ironic means. That song really fucked me up. 

The sign on fancy automatic coffee maker, just above dispensing nozzle says, not a drain. Must be an interesting story there. Size options on machine are as follows, coffee bean, cup, coffee bean, I chose cup, but secretly wished I tried coffee bean. Later, tried coffee bean option, said "invalid option" on LCD screen, at least the machine is aware of the paradox even if it's incapable of changing it. Chairs designed to not let a cup sit flat, no where to set cup, another well thought out form of torture.

Selected in the first round to move on, I finally found what I'm lucky at. Yay.

Questionnaire asked my favorite t.v. show, author and type of music. I think the people who wrote the form got tired of where people work. They are people watchers too. I think I miss spelled Vonnegut, attempt to seem smart backfired on me again, go educational system.
More newspapers than tablets, more hardback books than tablets. Like they are all from a different universe. Old people still not using smart phones when bored, I don't know how to solve this problem but I imagine it involves hard candy in some way. 

Saw guy that looks like Kurt Vonnegut, not the best celebrity to look like. I didn't tell him he looked like him, I'm sure he gets told that a lot. 

They let us have a fifteen minute break, only options are smoking and eating junk food at a bad cafeteria, go society. I chose writing this on my tablet and looking smug. 

Got called to a court room in first round, go universe that is constantly against me.
Took stairs to fourth floor court room instead of elevator to feel superior to everyone else, instead I'm just breathing heavily like a creeper. More cardio could be in order. 

Everyone is sitting on one side of benches, when I ask "Is the other side is off limits?" everyone smiles politely and shrugs, they are sheep, I sit on the other side and everyone after me follows my lead, I'm a trailblazer. 

Felony vehicular eluding, sounds fun.

Just found out, Jehovah's witness don't serve on jury's, a tiny upside to religion. 

I can't seem to win at anything in life ever, except getting selected to be a juror. I don't know what message the universe is trying to send me but I suspect it's just drunk dialing