Almost 2 years

I think if I look back at the history of this blog, I would see a least 2 or 3 posts about how I am the worst blogger in the world, mostly because I post so infrequently. This is another one of those posts.

One of the purposes of this blog was to have a place for me to write short fiction, as a way to “practice” writing to get better at it and one day work on one of the novel ideas that I’ve had in my head for a long time. That worked for a while, but I have so many different things are vying for my attention, I decided to put writing on hold for a while.

I have been trying to focus all my spare cycles on working on a video game, and the finish line is now in sight. As part of making the video game, I set up a company and learned a lot about marketing and PR (which hasn’t been super effective yet, but I have high hopes).

I was pulled back to my blog today when some spammer made a comment on an old post and I got notified to moderate it. I figured I’d blow the dust off this thing, upgrade everything (WordPress and a bunch of plug-ins were out of date) and maybe make a post.

I think I may try to use this blog to do some articles about game development, maybe some tutorials or something. Like always, the reality will likely be I won’t be back for another two years.

Only time will tell…

You would think bullshit time is over…

Now, with the election behind us, you would think that all the wild, unsubstantiated bullshit you read everywhere would stop. Facebook, twitter, forums, comments, blogs and other forms of internet communication have been abuzz for months and month now.  Obama phones, Obama kills welfare, blah blah blah.  But then Obama wins, and whew, we can all get back to kittens and funny videos taking up our time on the internet.

Oh wait.  Now, people are going to move to Australia.  Or Canada.  Which I find hilarious, shows how much people actually know about those places and their politics.  Now, the stock market tanking is Obama’s fault.  And Obama phones still pops up.  And Obama’s secret tracking chips.  Jeebus.  Let it go people.  Seriously.

So, I’m doing my bit to help.  Here is a link to pictures of kittens.  There, I fixed the internet.

Nodaddy, or, How Jane Reminded Me Of What’s Important

So this weekend I finally moved my domains and hosting off of GoDaddy.  The reasons GoDaddy are bad have been well publicized, from their flip-flopping position on SOPA to their elephant-murdering owner, it’s clear that GoDaddy’s positions don’t jive with mine.  And as I’ve stated here before, I like to put my money where my mouth is, and vote with my dollars as my way of backing up my opinions with actions.

Turns out, moving your domains and hosting service isn’t exactly straightforward.  After spending many days trying to find new service providers, pouring over options presented on reddit, lifehacker and other sites, I was exhausted. The thought of actually going through the process of moving two wordpress blogs and five domains just seemed more trouble that it was worth.  I was ready to just give up and go with the status quo and stick with GoDaddy.  I justified this by telling myself: “Self, GoDaddy hasn’t been bad. Sure, their site is obnoxious and it’s impossible to find what you’re looking for. You’ve been with them since 2005 and haven’t had any trouble.  Well, except that time they screwed up and you lost boredom.com, which is now a porn site.”  Ok, so my self justifications were pretty pathetic.  It mostly boiled down to the perceived level of difficulty and my unwillingness to spend the time to figure it out.

I voiced this to Jane, and she every so kindly pointed out that I was being a hypocrite.  Ok, she didn’t use that word, but the gist was the same.  I shouldn’t really be shooting off my mouth about Chick-fil-a or gay marriage or not eating meat if I’m not prepared to actually spend my dollars based on things that are important to me.

So, this past Saturday, I took about 4 hours and transfered almost all of my domains and all of my hosting away from GoDaddy.  Based on advice from reddit and others, I separated my domain registrar and my hosting provider.  I chose Namecheap for my registar and A Small Orange as my hosting provider, based on their reputations and their stands on SOPA.

And I’m glad I did. Not that I feel self-righteous, but it does feel good to eat your own dog food, as it were.  So, thanks Jane, I appreciate the bump in the right direction.

* It turns out, one of my websites for a game I’ve worked on off and on for the last 10 years (wgta.ws) is registered with a “ws” domain. Supposed to be “website”, but it’s actually Western Samoa. Apparently, they have a rule to protect you from domain theft, which is: Once you register a domain with a registrar, you can never change it.  Oops.  So, that domain is stuck with GoDaddy. I figure I’m just going to let it expire. I registered goingtoantares.com for the game instead, so I still have a home for it once the ws domain expires.

Consumer Choice and the Outsourcing of Hate Speech

I’m a capitalist, let’s get that out of the way.  So I believe in the power of the marketplace.

It makes me sad that so many people don’t connect what they buy with what they believe. I’m not pretending to be an expert on all companies and their ethics, nor am I saying that I always make the best consumer choices, but over the last couple of years, I have really made an effort to make my purchase decisions based on what I believe.

Some quick examples — I think the way we produce meat in this country is reprehensible and unsustainable.  So I have decided to avoid meat, and when I do eat meat, I buy from places that practice sustainable husbandry techniques.  I think that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be discriminated against, and should be able to marry like anyone else.  So I have decided to avoid purchasing products from companies whose owners choose to spend money to support anti-gay hate groups.

Obviously this topic has been in the news lately, but I’m not a bandwagon jumper.  I’ve been trying to be a conscious consumer for a couple of years now.  My lovely wife Jane and some close friends have helped me see the importance of making decisions based on the things I believe in.

So many people just seem to hide behind the “free speech” mask.  They “don’t agree with Chick-fil-a, but I’ll still buy their sandwiches. They are just exercising their right to free-speech!”  Or “The owner of Chick-fil-a never said he hated anyone”.

These are things people tell themselves so they don’t have to feel bad about making these choices.  Because they are making choices, and those choices help hateful people continue to say hateful things.  Dan Cathy and his family don’t need to say they hate anyone — they have given millions of dollars to other people to do the hating for them. It’s the new thing — outsourcing hateful speech.  It’s all the rage.

I have more respect for people that say “I believe homosexuality is a sin and evil, and I’m going to continue to buy chicken sandwiches to support other people who feel the same way”.  At least they are making conscious decisions about how their money will be used, rather than living in denial, or worse, lying to themselves.

I, for one, am going to continue to speak with my dollars, because it really does matter.  If enough people did the same thing, we might see some real change.  But apathy reigns supreme, and people continue to lie to themselves in the name of cheap food and cheap consumer products.

Kiva, or how I helped a lady in Africa buy a sheep

I recently finished the most excellent Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders, by Jurgen Appelo, and started following his blog.  A few days ago, he posted about Kiva, a non-profit that connects people through micro-loans.  Since they started in 2005, they have made over $295 million in micro loans all over the world.  Jane and I have talked lately about wanting to give back in some way, and this is a great solution that I wish I had hear of sooner.  You’re not giving money to charity, you are making a loan, which most likely be re-paid, and in the process making a real difference in someone’s life.  And the cool thing is you can track their progress as they put your money to use.  It’s really an excellent idea.

Even better, you can join and make a loan with someone else’s money, just to get a feel for how it works. So it’s totally risk-free.

Jane and I decided to use our trial loan to help Adama, a married mother of nine who is looking for a loan to buy a sheep and other goods to re-sell. She’s trying to raise $1025 to help her with this, and we gave her $25 towards this goal.

If you’re interesting, I have a limited number of referrals available, so click away and give it a try!

 

From the ashes…

Well, my blog was hacked about a week ago, and was being used as a phishing site for an Arabic bank. Yikes.  So, I panicked and deleted everything. I should have been a bit more orderly in my shutdown. I still have an old backup of the database from the old site, so it looks like all of my short fiction is still there. I’m going to start recovering it and re-posting it here, so you’ll see it show up over the next few days.

Once again, I’m going to try to update this blog more often. I do this about once ever year, decide I’m going to actually do stuff here.  We’ll see. If I ever really want to be a writer, I need to write, so I’m going to have to make some time in my life to do just that.

A Very Bad Day

Disturbing Mass Suicide Worries Local Authorities

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A spokesperson for the LADP revealed details of an apparent mass suicide that occurred in the early hours of the morning today in a small warehouse along the docks in LA Harbor.

“We have no information at this time about the identities of the deceased, ” a grim-looking Detective Rob Richardson said during a press conference, “all we know is the scene is horrific and we don’t know why all of these people decided to end their lives.”

Sources tell Reuters that the scene is indeed grisly; the participants apparently inflicted severe injuries on themselves in the process of ending their lives.

According to Detective Richardson, there are at least three hundred bodies in the warehouse.

More Bodies Found in Los Angeles Area Warehouses

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – At least three other sites in the area of Los Angeles Harbor have been found with hundreds of apparent suicide victims.  This brings the total to six sites found so far, and upwards of over two thousand bodies.

“The LAPD, along with the Long Beach PD have begun a door-to-door search of all facilities in the entire harbor area,” said Detective Rob Richardson, who appeared visibly shaken by the day’s events, “Just pray for their families.  Pray for us all.”

GAAS:448:06   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gov. Schwarzenegger Orders National Guard to Assist Los Angeles Authorities

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today ordered the California National Guard (CNG) to assist the authorities in Los Angeles to help quell the violence and rioting that has erupted following events this morning.  The Governor has ordered the CNG to mobilize a total of thirty helicopters and two thousand Guardmembers as ground support.

“I urge the good people of Los Angeles to try to maintain a sense of dignity and calm in this difficult time. Our prayers are with any family that has lost someone in the tragedies uncovered this morning.” said Governor Schwarzenegger.

Posted on alt.conspiracy.black.helicopters

Vincent Thomas Bridge in LA Harbor taken out by AMERICAN FORCES

“Don’t believe what the news reports are telling you, I **SAW*** a fleet of F-22 Raptor aircraft FIRE on the bridge and take it out.  The GOVERNMENT is behind the events in Los Angeles, you better believe it.  I’m high tailing it out of this hell hole, along with everyone else.”

“Monster” Video Declared Fake

Filmmaker Don Coscarelli calls latest internet video “amateurish”

Variety.com, by Tiffany Jenkins

Don Coscarelli, best known for the cult-classic “Bubba Ho-Tep”, and director of many low-budget horror films, has declared that the video making the rounds on the internet is clearly a fake.

“The proportions of the monster are all wrong — even the guys that did Cloverfield knew you couldn’t make a monster that big, it just would look real” said Coscarelli, speaking from the set of his new film, “Bubba Nosferatu”, currently being filmed in Czech Republic.  “Look, I know all about cheap special effects, they’re my bread and butter. And this video is terribly done and clearly fake”.

The video in question was posted early this afternoon on Youtube.  The poster remains anonymous.

“I’m sure they’ll show up tomorrow trying to pitch this idea to the studios, you know, ‘I got a million hits on youtube or some shit, make my movie’ — this is just another dumb film student trying to create a bogus internet sensation.” Coscarelli said authoritatively.

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
Immediate Release, No. 286-10

Statement by Secretary Gates on the detonation of Nuclear Weapons in the City of Los Angeles:

The president will be addressing the nation within the hour, but I wanted to confirm three details. Yes, nuclear weapons have been detonated on US Soil. No, the detonation was not part of a test gone bad.  And no, this was not a terrorist attack. These weapons were detonated in accordance with Executive Order No. 12553, the details of which are currently classified.  The president will reveal all of the details in his address.

President Obama’s Speech Abruptly Interrupted

WASHINGTON, DC (BBC World Service) – In a stunning turn, President Obama abruptly cut his speech short and turned and left the White House briefing room after only a few words.

The broadcast signal from the press room was cut as well.  We here at the BBC have been trying to re-establish our satellite link with our Washington office and have been unsuccessful.

President Obama was set to explain the unexplainable, the detonation of a series of Nuclear weapons all along the west coast of the United States.  Early reports indicate that at least forty-three weapons have been detonated, with casualties in the tens of millions.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was quoted earlier in the day saying that these explosions were not the result of terrorist actions, nor were they acts of war by a foreign power.

We will update our listeners as events unfold.

McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica

“…message repeats…My name is Antoine Barnes, a US Marshall at McMurdo Station. I am the only person alive here, the rest have gone…insane…and have taken their own lives. We have lost all communications with the outside world. If you are receiving this signal, please reply on short wave 9204 kHZ…message repeats…”

Jason The Physicist Meets Jason The Physicist

Jason the Physicist wasn’t surprised at all when Jason the Physicist walked through the door to his bar. Since that time travel incident back in college, he’d actually been expecting something like this to happen someday.  What really surprised him though, was when a third Jason walked through the door.  The arrival of the third Jason seemed to unnerve Jason #2 as well.  For a moment they all stared at each other.  The Original Jason broke the tense silence.

“Shots,” he said, “are exactly what we need right now”.  He reached under the bar and pulled out a bottle of whiskey and poured three shots.  The Jasons quickly downed them, and smacked the empty shot glasses down on the bar in unison.  The Original Jason took a moment to examine his other selves.  Jason #2 seemed just a few years older than him, but Jason #3 was considerably older, his long hair almost fully gray.  He was wearing an extremely ratty Aqua Teen Hunger Force t-shirt, which The Original Jason thought he had lost, but apparently he had found at some point in the future.

“So, what kind of trouble is the world in this time?” said The Original Jason.  Jason #3 looked at Jason #2 “You first.” he said, with a sly grin.

“It’s not the world, it’s your kids, Jason, something has got to be done about your kids. ” Jason #2 said.  The Original Jason blinked momentarily, then started laughing. “Back to the Future”, he said, “good one!” and high fived Jason #2.

“Seriously though, in five years, those crazy scientist at CERN will accidentally create a tiny black hole, which starts orbiting the inner core of the earth.  Its orbit is irregular, and takes it through the core and mantle, slowly consuming matter.  If nothing is done, the black hole will grow and grow and consume the entire earth.” said Jason #2, with great gravitas.

“Wait, wait, wait,” said the Original Jason, “they did it again? I already bailed their asses out the last time they created a tiny black hole.  This is very irritating.”

Jason #3 finally spoke — “That’s why I came.  I knew you wouldn’t want to help again, and I have the most at risk here, since I come from seventeen years from now. I knew you wouldn’t want to help those bozos again, so I came to help.  Let’s have another shot, then Jason and I will go save the world, again”.

The Original Jason poured three more shots, which were quickly downed. Jason #2 and #3 got up and headed for the door.  “Hey,” said The Original Jason, “where did you find that shirt? I thought I’d lost it!”

Jason #3 turned and smiled that sly smile again “I can’t tell you, time travel is tricky enough without revealing too many secrets. It might change something important.”

“Bullshit!” The Original Jason said, “we’ve interfered with time a lot, and everything has worked out!”.

“I know, I’m just fucking with you.” said Jason #3, and turned and left the bar with Jason #2.

Jason The Physicist laughed quietly to himself and started cleaning off the bar.

Chris, Lost

When Chris woke up, he realized he was stuck in a maze.

He was in a small chamber, with four exits, and in the dim light, he could see that corridors stretched off and made abrupt turns off into the distance.

He tried to remember how he had gotten here, but his hazy memory gave no answer.  In fact, other than his name — Chris — he could remember little else.  There were giant, gaping holes where  his life should be.  It was obvious that he had a past, that he was someone, but the specific details escaped him.

His head throbbed dully and his muscles ached, but after a time, he was able to pull himself up off the floor and to his feet.  He walked unsteadily over to the nearby wall to get a closer look.

The wall was made of stone, with no joints or seams to betray its construction method.  It was completely smooth and featureless.  There was light coming from somewhere, but Chris could not locate any obvious source.

All of these words — wall, stone, light — came easily into Chris’ mind, but beyond that his memory was a complete void.

He decided to explore.  He picked a corridor and set off.  The hallway was fashioned out of the same featureless stone as the room he had woken up in, and he followed it a short distance before he was presented with a crossroads — another corridor intersected the one he was traveling down.  Peering to the right and left revealed more of the same — more halls and more intersections.  Chris decided to go for a while, always taking the right hand corridor.

Time went by.  It could have been a few minutes, it could have been a few days — the sameness of the corridors and the consistency of the light gave no hint of the passage of time.  Chris arrived in a small chamber.  It appeared to be the same one he had left, but he had no way to know for sure. For the first time, Chris glanced down at himself. He was wearing a loose fitting white shirt, and a pair of baggy pants.  Shirt.  Pants. That’s what these things are called, Chris thought to himself.  These are clothes, and I don’t know who or where I am.  He sighed audibly.

He reached into the pockets of his pants and found a small, wadded up piece of cloth, which gave him an idea.  He set the cloth in the center of the room, and set out once again, always taking the right-hand passageway.  After another interval of time, he came upon a small chamber. In the center of the chamber was the piece of cloth.

He began other patterns – always take the left-hand passage, left-right-left, left-left-right – and the result was always the same.  After some indeterminate period of time, he ended up back in the same chamber, with the same small piece of cloth sitting in the middle.  Tired and exasperated, he picked up the cloth and shoved it back into his pants pocket.  He lay back against the wall, his eyes heavy with sleep.

When Chris woke up, he realized he was stuck in a maze.

The Most Important Game

Jeff was playing the most important game.

It was a game of chess, and the stakes were very high — the highest, in fact.

He was playing for his life.  His opponent:  none other than the Grim Reaper himself.

It was Jeff’s move.  He fidgeted nervously, and patted down his pockets.  He found an almost empty pack of cigarrettes and fished one out and placed in between his dry lips.  He searched for a moment more and silently cursed his forgetfulness as he remembered leaving his lighter sitting on his bedside table.

“Got a light?” he said hopefully to the being sitting across the table.

Death answered with a silent stare, his hollow eye sockets betraying no hint that The Reaper had even heard Jeff.

Jeff spat out the cigarette and returned to the game.  Trying to decide between moving his rook and his bishop, his thoughts drifted back to earlier in the day, before all this happened.  Time seemed to move very slowly, like every second was a year.

Jeff was a typical twenty-something do-nothing slacker.  He had a job changing back-up tapes in a giant data center, and the rest of his time was split between parties, bars and sleep, not necessarily in that order.  Jeff had spent the night working, as usually, then slept most of the day. He was walking to meet his friends at his favorite pool hall, when he had been dragged into an alley, stabbed and his wallet stolen.  He lay bleeding in the dark, and had seen Death approach.  The Grim Reaper was seven feet tall and carried an honest-to-goodness scythe, honed to a sickening sharpness.  Jeff remembered seeing “The Seventh Seal” back in a film appreciation class and with his last breath, challenged Death to a game of chess.  The next thing Jeff knew, he was in a windowless room, sitting across a richly-appointed chessboard from the Grim Reaper.

Death made a gesture, which brought Jeff out of his reprieve and back to the moment.  His hand was hovering over his bishop, and apparently had been for some time.  The Grim Reaper was making that “get on with it” hand gesture, which in any other circumstances would have been hilarious to Jeff, but for some reason, with his life on the line, wasn’t.  Jeff finally committed to the bishop, and nervously moved it to take The Reaper’s knight.

Jeff thought he perceived something.  Something about the move seemed to have unnerved Death, if such a thing was possible.  If The Reaper had a beard hanging from its fleshless skull, Jeff could have imagined the being stroking it just then.  After a moment’s hesitation, which seemed to last forever, Death took Jeff’s bishop with his queen.

Examining the board, Jeff knew he had won, and looked up up at death with a giant grin.  Jeff could see The Reaper examining the board, and after a moment that seemed to last an eternity, Death reached out a bony finger and gently tipped his king over.  Jeff heard a rush of wind, and the room and The Grim Reaper faded away, leaving Jeff standing in a dusty ruin.  Jeff gaped and looked around, but he knew the truth, almost immediately.

The game had, in fact, taken an eternity, and he was utterly alone in the wasteland that was once his city.

Jeff sat down in the dust and began to cry.