2.27.2014

A Leg To Stand On

I'm wondering at what point a daydream, waking dream, or even nocturnal dream becomes a premonition?

I only ask because I had a waking dream on the way over to a friend's house for dinner. It was the dream in which, through some quirk beyond my control, I lose my legs. The method always seems to differ, but the result is the same. I'm left unable to use my legs.

In this one the loss was due to an elective surgery to try to correct the arthritis in my neck  (in the C5, C6, and C7 area of my spine). Something gets nicked, leaving me paralyzed from the waist down.

I don't know if it could happen or not. It's as likely as getting them crushed in a parking lot traffic accident I suppose (this was the frequent cause in dreams past).

One thing was different this time. This time it was more like a thought, or a memory. And in the memories, I handled it quite well. I looked rather well-adjusted.

It gets me thinking...I'm past thinking these are dreams. The one today actually felt like a memory. That's how my mind played it out. Which has me thinking that the Todds in the parallel universes have gone through this already. Does that mean that that one particular aspect of this lifetime is common to the Todds in all the universes (and know that when I say that, I don't mean every Todd. I mean every manifestation of me in as many universes as there are, living along parallel timelines).

Definitely something to think about. I'll have to remember to dig out this post to fall back on if that particular circumstance is in my backpack for this lifetime in this universe.

Time will tell.

-A.T.


2.25.2014

Omm

I came across an old journal entry today. It was in my journal that I used to think was my rustic looking leather travel journal. The entry was set apart in the middle of the page. It said simply

Fucking Get Over Yourself.
Seriously.

And it strikes me as funny in a not so ironic sort of way how something that I had written nearly 3 years ago can ring so true today. I don’t know what I expected that journal to be.

Thats not entirely true. I wanted it to be my Dr. Jones (Indiana’s Dad) journal of the secrets of the universe that I had stumbled upon.

I think it can still be that. Or at the very least that I can still have a journal like that. I’m not sure if it’s that particular one or not, but I know that I can still have something like that for the simple reason that I know that those secrets are inside me.

Hell...they’re inside most of us. But very few people can face down those dark voices in the middle of the night and realize that it is their self from another universe speaking to them.

Well, mostly. Sometimes it’s another lifeform or spirit. But mostly it’s another version of them in the multi-verse.

This entry is quite a bit more free form and rambling than my entries have been in a long time.

I have long felt that the key to good writing is to have an app that really lets you just type without distraction. WriteMonkey or MonkeyWrite or whatever the hell it was called for PC allowed me to do that. I’m using OmmWriter on the MacBook. And so far it feels pretty much like it will do the trick very minimal background/program ‘noise’ and very mellow tunes that play as I’m typing. It’s like PureMoods word processor. I have to figure out how to keep the shit from popping up when I hit the touchpad though as I seem to do that a lot when I type.

Other than that, it’s a pretty decent app. It makes a pseudo typewriter noise as I type, which is in its own way soothing.  I can see me hammering out quite a bit of shit on this app.

The only downside is that I would then need to copy and paste it in to blogger.

A small price to pay, though, for something that may elicit a more purified form of witten thought.

We shall see.

Peace for now.

-A.T.

As an aside, I'm thinking that a new, fun band name might be "PEZ Farm"

Stop Modifying Love

This thought hit me as I got out of the shower this morning and I just had to write it down:
If you can't read it, it says:

"Take the adjectives away. Gay love. Straight love. Take the modifier out of the sentence and you are left with love.

For fuck's sake let's start acting like that means something."

That whole thing came to me when I learned of Arizona state legislature introducing the ability for anyone to refuse to serve or conduct business with someone that was gay because it went against their strong religious beliefs.

So...in other words, we have not only struck down the wall between separation of church and state but we have in some way legislated a perceived morality.

This won't end well. 

Let me see if I understand this...You can't call someone a 'faggot' on the street but you can refuse to do business with them. In other words, hate crimes are illegal, but segregation is OK. Because that's really what we're dealing with here, isn't it?  Is it any different than saying 'I won't serve you because you're black. Or Hispanic?' No. I'm sure some religion doctrine somewhere can be pulled up to support this. 

And how far does this go? A bank itself may be ok with taking a homosexual's money, but if it's strongly against a particular bank teller's religious belief, who wins? Does she ask the gay man to go to the next line?  Can she be reprimanded for not doing her job? 

This is not just a slippery slope. It's a motherfucking avalanche of legislated hate and discrimination. I think the governor of Arizona needs to veto this bill in a heartbeat.  

Of the people, by the people, for the people means ALL of the people.  Not just the ones who think and act the same way we do.

I can't wrap my head around this hatred of the LGBT community. Is it because you can't look at someone and instantly tell they're gay? Racism and bigotry were so much simpler when we could just base it on the color of someone's skin and shape of their eyes. Jeesh...you mean I have to get to know someone first, have them open up and share something that they've been shamed for their whole life and trust me with that secret before I arbitrarily hate and condone them for being different?? Jeesh. That's a fuck ton of work, man!!

Using the modifiers is so unnecessary, too. I mean I could  say that I have gay friends and gay relatives. But what does that possibly add to the story? Nothing. It in no way gives you any insight in to how amazing those people are and how blessed I am to have them in my life. Nothing about calling them gay gives you any indication as to how much my friends and family mean to me. 

Because, to me it doesn't fucking matter. It's not what I love about them. Don't get me wrong, I love their heart and courage and willingness to fight for rights in a society that should accept them because of who they are, not what their relational-orientation is. And it saddens me that there's even a 'fight' about this at all.

I can't wrap my head around a society that can turn on someone in the drop of a hat...forget years of friendship...over two words. I mean, for crapssakes. I feel sad for our race...the humans...when someone has to declare their orientation and in doing so brace themselves for the shit storm that will follow.  If I were gay, there is a strong chance I would never say anything. Why? Because 1) It's none of your business....2) It doesn't change who I am....and 3) It's none of your fucking business.

Do I have to defend my sexual orientation now? No. Does anyone? No. Why? Because there is nothing wrong with it.  Any doctrine that in anyway seeks to exclude a person or group of persons for simply being different from the authors can in no way be divinely inspired, in my humble opinion.

It goes back to love.

It really does.

Think about that. Just for a second. Love. 

It's really the key., isn't it?


Peace,
-A.T.



2.17.2014

"All I Wanted..."

"...was some fucking pretzel nibs."

Now before I get too deep in to this, I should mention something. There is an unwritten rule in the land of Cooking For One. And that is this. The closer to the beginning of the post I drop the first f-bomb, the more fire-up/incredulous/exited/generally emotional about something I am.

Or rather, until that last paragraph there was an unwritten rule.

Fuck. There goes that one.

I want to start by mentioning that as soon as I knew I was going to be staying at a Best Western, I signed up for rewards points. So...I'm some kind of blip on their screen that says they have to try to remember my name and give me free bottles of water or something.  Remember that, we'll circle back around to that shortly.

I'm here in Brooklyn with 2 of my co-workers.

The trip was rather uneventful as far as my New York trips have gone. We got here on time. And our luggage got here the same time we did. And I have to be honest--I'm a little cheesed off by that. But Todd, how can you be pissed that your luggage  wasn't  lost?!?

Good question. I'll tell you why. Because I was prepared this time. I actually packed a separate carry on with a change of clothes, toiletries, my CPAP machine (which I did NOT expect to have to dig back out for TSA, dudes, really?!?)--in other words, I was prepared  for there to be some fustercluck with the luggage.

Nothing. Zip. Nada.

We took a brief detour to the Queens store. It was very close to the air port, we needed some tools, the new guy hadn't seen it yet, and it saved me a 3 hour round trip tomorrow. I didn't expect to go back, but eh...whatareyagonnado?

After 2 hours there, we headed up the BQE to the hotel.  I may or may not have mentioned something about this trip being uneventful and woe is me whatthefuck am I going to blog about.

Mistake. Big mistake. Huge.

So, we park and go inside to check in. The other guys check in first. We're all on the second floor. Groovy.

I mentioned that I was a Best Western rewards member. Suddenly he has to give me different room keys....and he gives me a bottle of water (But hands the other 2 guys a bottle, too. I think he just felt bad).

And then he lays this one..."Ok...Mr. N-- and Mr. St--, your rooms have a mini-fridge. Mr. Skaggs, yours does not. I hope that's not going to be a problem."  It was. I was a little pissy. But I shook it off and said, "I'll just keep my beer in their fridge." Ha ha..ok. Big chuckle. We head up to our rooms.

And I had something to blog about.

I would have been fine ending the post here. But it gets better.

By this time, it's nearly eleven PM and we're all knackered. The thought of waiting for food to be delivered is not sitting well.  That's ok though, because in this very fancy Hotel, there are

ICE Machines on Floors 2, 6, and 10.
Soda Machines on every odd floor.
Snack Machines on Floors 4 and 8.

Groovy.

I stopped to get ice first. The ice bucket was a standard size ice bucket. The bag for the ice is the size of a young child's swim cap. OK...so...not much ice, check.

I head up to 4 for some snacks and was greeted with this.


This is, apparently, the vending machine that time forgot. Do you know how long it's been since I've seen Cheez-Its in a vending machine for 60cents?!? A long damn time.  So, I put my $5 in. And it spits it back out. Try another, spits it back out. WTF?

So I climb in the elevator and head to the lobby to get some ones. This time, I decide to check out the vending machine on 8. I figure it might have some cooler snacks.

And it did.

Put my one in. Nothing. Wouldn't even pull the $1 in.  WTF?  Alright. No biggie. There's a soda machine on the 7th floor (that's a Pop Machine for some of you).  I thought that I could put a single in and hit the coin return to get quarters.

Noooooooooooope.

And it wouldn't give me my dollar back either. 

So, a ginger-ale later (the bottled water was sold out), I'm heading down to the front desk to get quarters.

I let them in on the twilight zone bullshit that's been going on. They seemed unamused. I hope they don't get billed for that elevator by the number of stops it makes. 

Anyway, back up to 8. Got the good stuff.  And finally made it back in to my room.

(and if you think the story ends there...noooooope).

I set the stuff on the desk, and kick off my shoes. I pull out the desk chair and go to sit down, and fall about  6 inches further than I expect to.  

I try to raise the chair. And it's broken.  Stuck on the lowest setting.

So, lessee....if we're adding it up, it goes

  • No mini-fridge
  • Room tinier than my bedroom at home
  • Big drapes that are decorative and won't close (the thin inner curtains are closed)
  • Broke-ass office chair
  • Psycho Vending Machines
  • Extraneous trips on the elevator
    • which to be fair...on one of the trips I saw 10 members of what I could only assume to be a clown family get off (seriously, if you had seen them-you would have assumed the elevator to be twice as big as it was--mind, blown).
    • and I'm pretty sure I saw a Russian hooker and her pimp
  • And OHMYFRIGGINCRAP can you please make this wind stop. Holy shit its like it's going to blow in the windows!!


Speaking of psycho vending machines. Not sure if you caught this or not...

Condoms. In the vending machine. Seriously? I told a friend about this, to which they said "THAT'S Safe--how many times have you gotten expired snacks from the vending machine?!"  Good point. It does, however, reinforce my suspicion that it was a Russian hooker in the elevator. 


That will teach me to bitch about not having things to blog about. And now I need to hook up my CPAP and get some sleep. I predict a busy day tomorrow.

Peace Out!!
-A.T.

2.14.2014

Enough IS Enough Already

So...long story short...the ex and I owe the IRS some dough. We're on a payment plan. The statements still come to the house I used to live in. Meaning at least once a month I have to drive over there or she mails the statements to me.

And there's the very concise-non-Dr-Phil-setup.

Apparently this seeps in to my subconscious....every fucking month.

This morning I awoke to an on-call call for work. Took care of what I needed to take care of and drifted back off to sleep (it's my day off, you're damn skippy I'm sleeping in).

Somewhere in this power-nap time, I had a quick albeit twisted dream. I was in a house. Not the house I'm in now-in fact no house I've ever lived in.  In the living room of this house were three people. Apparently I ran a home business and had employees. One of them was Duane...a childhood best friend. Another was a woman. And the third was named Mark. I walked up on them and they were watching concert footage of Pretty Lights. We talked about how awesome PL was. They got up. The woman and Mark were already wearing PL t-shirts. Bright yellow, the PL logo on the back and what appeared to be a light up camel on the front. Mark handed Duane his t-shirt which he proceeded to put on over his existing shirt and they all left...presumably to go to a Pretty Lights concert.

I remember thinking that I would have liked to have gone to that concert. I walked back in to my bedroom. Which is the exact same bedroom I'm in now and took a nap. For all intents, in the dream, that part felt like this morning when I went back to bed.

At some point I heard the door open. I had been thinking that it was this girl that I wanted to bang (yes, even in my dream I am apparently a horny pig). And who should walk by my door but my ex-wife. Now...mind you, I'm in my bed. She walks by the bedroom door on her way to the bathroom.

She walks in my room and heads to my closet, fiddling with her earring and saying something condescending about my employees (who had apparently come back from the PL concert whilst I was napping). She then proceeds to rummage through my closet, as if looking for something.

I was angry at this point, and slightly incredulous and said, "What the fuck bitch?!? What in the hell are you even doing here?!? There is nothing for you here anymore. You really need to get the fuck out."

And then I got a text message in the dream....ironically also in the waking world. And it was at that point I woke up.


That'll teach me to have a slice a pizza while bowling at midnight after 2 hours at adult-toy bingo. Jeeesh.

Happy Friday my friends!
-A.T.


2.12.2014

The Serenity of the Battlestar

So...I just finished with the new (to me) Battlestar Galactica series. I have to say...I was fairly impressed. It was thoroughly engaging. I was a little annoyed at first with a few of the characters but by the end found myself rooting for people I never thought I would.

I'm a sci-fi geek from way back. The progression of my TV Sci-Fi habits goes a little like this.

Star Trek
I watched re-runs of this with my dad from as early on as I can remember. The original episodes still hold a special place in my heart. For a while as I was growing up, Dad and I didn't really know how to talk to each other (the Skaggs males excel at non-communication it seems). TV was how we interacted.

Dr. Who
On PBS...Sundays, if I recall. Back then it was Tom Baker. And there was none of this nonsense about the 5th Doctor or 6th Doctor. It was just Mr. Jelly Babies with the Long-ass scarf.

Battle of the Planets (Animated)
This is still my all time favorite cartoon. It was one of America's earliest Anime imports. The show was a re-hash of the Japanese show Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. It was re-edited, and re-dubbed (to cut down on some of the violence). It's still one of my all time favorite cartoons. The only place I've found to date to get all of the episodes is from Amazon UK. I think I know what I'm getting for Christmas for myself this year :-)  It later became G-Force (if you remember that). Still a kick ass sci-fi show.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Three words...Colonel Wilma Deering.

Battlestar Galactica (original)
Seems weird to put 'original' after this. But I did watch the original in the 70's/80's. I loved the space battles and I always thought the Cylons were bad ass. I even had a Centurion action figure at one point.

Babylon 5
I got introduced to this series in the 90's by a service tech at MicroCenter Westerville who had been taping all of the episodes (in order) on to VHS tapes from CBS. This was no easy feat considering it was a 5 year story arc. Until very recently it remains in my mind one of the best crafted sci-fi shows to date. There are elements in the pilot that are referenced in the final episode. I became disappointed with the 4th and 5th seasons of the show. If you only count seasons 1-3, it is still in my mind the best sci-fi show written.

Firefly/Serenity
This, without a doubt, is my favorite sci-fi show....ever. And the reason for this is simple...it's a Western. With spaceships and what-not instead of horses and cattle rustling.  The diversity of characters is brilliant. Every episode is enjoyable and there is still an underlying arc. I often wonder if Joss Whedon had been able to keep the show going, how it would have turned out. We got a glimpse of that in the movie, "Serenity"--which was a brilliant teaser of what might have been.

That brings me to the last great sci-fi series I've seen.

Yes. I said great.

I just finished the final episode of a 4-season series, Battlestar Galactica.
I have to say...I was skeptical at first. But from the first 7 minutes of the mini-series that was the pre-cursor to the series, I was hooked. I loved how Galactica was the 'relic' in the fleet and how it wound up being the most sturdy of the lot, due in part to the crew and commander. It was a great series. I loved the nod to the original cylons from the original series in season 4 (although I was severely bummed that they were CGI). I loved the twists and updates to the series and even looked forward to the production company outro after each episode. I was bummed when Netflix unceremoniously informed me that I had reached the end of the series.

Now...here's where it gets fun. The comparisons. The most obvious camp (almost as famous as the Star Wars/Star Trek feuds) is the Firefly vs. (new) Battlestar fight.

To which I say...don't. Just don't.

Why would you do that? Why would you pick and make someone else pick? One series is not better than the other. You can't (in my humble opinion) even compare the two. They are both unique. And besides, if you're going to do that, only compare season 1 of Battlestar since Fox didn't see fit to let Firefly live past one season.

As a geek, I have to say,  I REALLY enjoyed both series. The thing that elevates Firefly for me is that I can put on any episode of Firefly and enjoy it for what it is. I don't know how re-watchable Battlestar is going to be without wanting to dive back in to the whole series, which will be odd considering part of what made it great for 3 1/2 seasons was not knowing who the final 4 models Cylon were.

Dunno. I guess what I'm asking for is a cease fire. Why should we have to declare loyalty and allegiance? Aren't we doing that too much these days anyway? Mac vs. PC vs. NIX?  Why pick? Use what you need to use. I use PCs at work to connect to ux systems. I have a MacBook for my personal creative side (but even that is a relatively new development--I've had PC's most of my life).

I think there's a little too much Us and Them these days. And ultimately what both of those great shows illustrated was the harder you try to divide, the more you actually realize you are more entwined than you could ever really know.

Peace
-A.T.


**Addendum** The astute observers amongst you might note that I have not included any Dr. Who episodes past the Tom Baker years. There's a reason for that. I haven't watched any of them. Not sure when or if I'll go down the rabbit hole of the 'New Doctors.' If I do, you'll be the first to know.

2.05.2014

How To Drive Awesomer--Winter Edition

You may recall some of my driving tips way back in the "How To Drive Awesome" post. And I'm pleased to see in my daily commutes that so many of you have taken my lessons to heart. You truly are teh awesomes.

Thing is, it's winter in Ohio. And you know what that means--it's time for some advanced lessons.  Most of these hit me this morning as I was coming in to work.

All of these assume at least some level of Snow Emergency has been declared on the roads. Otherwise you're just driving in cold rain. And lets face it, anyone  can do that.

CAUTION IS FOR PUSSIES
Let's just get this out of the way now (trust me, it will make all of the subsequent lessons go that much smoother).  Braking...turn signals...assured cleared distance? Poppycock. You don't need that shit. All you need is the over-arching desire to get where the hell you're going. And I mean get there FAST.  The more you focus on yourself and you alone, and throw caution to the wind (as well as concern for the other drivers), the better off you will be in your daily commute.


4WD=INVINCIBILITY; AWD=GOD-MODE
In a video game, God-Mode is generally a 'cheat' you can enable meaning nothing can hurt you. It's kind of the same thing driving. Ice? Fuggedaboutit. If you are one of those blessed souls with 4WD (four wheel drive for the rest of you peasants), then you are the KING on the road. I don't care about that "myth" about all 4 tires on ice...screw it. The crappier outside, the better if you have 4WD. If you don't go at least the posted speed limit in bad weather, you're missing out my friend.

And if you have AWD (again for the unfortunates, that's ALL Wheel Drive), you are more than invincible, you are essentially in the real-world equivalent of a God-Mode level on a video game. If by some chance all of your wheels hit ice, accelerate, that will get you past the losers with 2WD and 4WD quicker. After all, everyone knows that all wheels driving are better than just 4 wheels driving.


SALT SPRAY IS A MUST
This technique assumes you are in a 4WD or AWD drive vehicle as it requires you to be going fast enough to develop that slush/road salt plume behind your vehicle as you drive. Bonus points to you if you can do a rapid, multi-lane change  (10X points for each car you splash, 25X points for each car you force to hit their brakes as you do so).


THE ROOF ICE LOVE TAP
This advanced technique requires some planning and is best pulled off by bigger SUVs (bigger is better for this one).  The key is to wait until some snow has actually frozen with a nice ice layer on the roof of your vehicle. You will then need to accelerate such that the frozen debris sails off of your vehicle directly in to vehicles riding your wake. Don't worry if you hit them. In all honestly, it's their fault for trying to be so close to your awesomeness.


THE REAR WINDOW PARADOX
This one requires nerves of steel, but you've got those. Otherwise you wouldn't be out driving in a Level 2 Snow Emergency. Fans of this technique should clear snow from their FRONT  windshield only (preferably using only your wipers) and leave your back window ENTIRELY  covered in snow.  By riding with the rear defroster on, the eventual hope is that you will lodge enough of the frozen crap loose by the time you get to where you're going. This essentially turns in to the Poor Man's Roof Ice Love Trap (because if you weren't poor, you'd have a garage...unless you're smart. In which case you would leave your car parked in front of your garage just so you could practice this maneuver. Damn. You ARE smart).

THE BEER EMERGENCY
So..in a Level 3, only emergency vehicles are technically allowed on the roads. But you're different. you're special. And watching New Girl without at least a 6 of Stella definitely constitutes an emergency. So have at it.


As with any of these advanced techniques, the key is to really be focused on yourself. The other drivers should recognize your awesomeness and adjust themselves accordingly. You really needn't worry about them. You should endeavor to drive as quickly as possible in inclement conditions so you can tweet for the rest of the day how much you hate your job.

Yeah...I know. No need to thank me. Just trying to spread some of teh awesomes to others.

-A.T.

2.04.2014

Well done, Coca-Cola

"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

--"Colussus" by Emma Lazarus

The above poem is on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty. Long regarded as one of our country's premiere symbols of hope an freedom.

Mother of Exiles.

America the Beautiful.

The land where people come to gain a better life.  A piece of the American Dream. The small hope that you can leave for your family a legacy more powerful than what your parents left for you.

But, apparently, that only applies if you dream in english. Coca-cola aired a beautiful commercial recently in which people of different cultural heritages were shown singing America The Beautiful in their native tongue.

Notice I didn't say people of different nationalities. Why? Because it doesn't fucking matter.

Americans didn't come to this country and settle it (or take it from Native Americans, depending on how you choose to look at it). 

Immigrants founded what we now know as the United States of America. Our Democracy is based on Greek and French forms of government.

This is a rant I could spend days on, but the fact of the matter is...stop being such fucking hypocrites.

You get on your computers (made in China), tweet on your cell phones (made in China), bitching about a commercial you saw on your 73in. plasma TV (also made in China). And you're bitching about the commercial because they didn't speak English. 

You might want to take a step back and look around at truly how many things in your life are actually 'American' versus things influenced by other cultures either directly or indirectly.  It's called the melting pot for a reason.

Instead of recognizing how much of a beacon of hope our fucked up little country still is to people, some people chose to embody the short sighted xenophobic  bigotry. 

I've already spent too much time on this. 

I didn't see anyone bitching at the Budweiser commercial when they had those Scottish horses on there instead of American horses.

Get past labels.

We're all human. THAT'S the race we should be focusing on.

-AT

The 10th Annual Typewriter Meetup

I'm tired. I'm not going to lie. My body is doing that thing where, after a short period (48-72hours) of intense emotions and pe...