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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Race for the Cure (names request)

As I’m sure by now you are aware, I try to support most things that help humankind.  My favorite event of the year is coming up his weekend: the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure! (to breast cancer).I’ve ran for the last 10 years. I started because my niece had asked me to run with her one year. While I was waiting to start the race, a man and his little boy walked past. The kid must’ve only been 5 or 6. Both had paper signs pinned to the back of their shirts. The man’s said he was running in memory of his wife, and gave her dates of birth and death. The kid’s was much simpler, but enough to wreck my world. His said:

“I run because I miss my mom.”

I ran that year, heartbroken and devastated for that kid. After the race, I caught up to him and his dad in the drink tent. I told the kid how sorry I was about his mom. No kid should ever have to lose their mom in such a horrible way. I also made him a promise: that I would run every year for the rest of my life because he misses his mom. This is my tenth year running, and I’d like to ask all of you that read this to give me the name of anyone you would like for me to run for also. I’m adding names to the shirt I plan to wear. This is my first year running solo, but you’re more than welcome to be part of “The Second Base All-Stars” with me. Just list as many names as you want of people affected by cancer that you know in the comments. I’ll make sure they get on the shirt.

Please reblog this, I want as many names as possible. Every woman matters…every single one.

What Inspired Me to be a Writer

I was asked this the other day by certain beautiful counterpart of mine. I didn’t answer her at that time because I really had to stop and think about it. It came to me last night at work. The honest answer? The Sims.

Yes, those Sims. The ones created by Maxis. For those of you who have known me the longest, and were around when I wrote “Taking the L” and “Krahne”, you’ll remember that my earlier writing had a certain brutal quality about it. I haven’t gotten fully away from that sort of writing as anyone who has read part one of “The Cinder Plant” will tell you. I have to attribute about 90% of my savagery to the Sims.

Let me explain. When The Sims was first released back in 1999, I was one of the first people that I knew to own it. I loved building their houses, furnishing them, and even creating my people the way I wanted them. Life was good for a while…until I realized that Maxis had created the possibility that your Sim could die. Suddenly, the game took on a more sinister role. The game allowed me to create scenarios that would most likely never happen in real life, and watch how things played out.  I began to plot against my characters. I wanted to see how they would handle what I would do to them. For example, your Sim might need to pee. He’d start waiving his hands and yelling “Tay yo mah!” Whatever the hell that means. Sometimes I would tell him to go. Sometimes, I would make him piss himself just to see what the game would have him do next. He would cry, and want to shower.  When I realized that you could have a hand in your Sim dying, shit got ugly. I killed everybody. It was like if Stephen King was death; people were killed in such paranormal ways, they would literally haunt the house. I would have the entire neighborhood over for a pool party. Once everyone was in the pool, I’d delete the ladder, and watch them turn into tombstones around the pool. If I was feeling particularly psychotic, I’d create an island in the middle just large enough for one person to stand, and put the ladder leading onto it. Then I’d see who made it out alive only to die on an island. I wouldn’t always kill them though. Sometimes, if I had an annoying neighbor that wouldn’t leave so I could go to bed for work, I’d put the game in build mode. Then I’d put the neighbor inside a glass room with no doors with the urns inside. Then I’d switch to play mode, and wait for 2 am for the ghost to haunt the neighbor. He’d get scared, and run away (magically through the window).  No matter what situation I came up with, the Sims had an answer. That answer always was based on what would keep them alive the longest. Now when I write, I create these horrific situations, I imagine my Sims, and see how my characters get out of them. Sometimes they get out unscathed, more often than not, they don’t. It’s just how it happens! I hope this answers your question. Thanks for asking!

Losing My Religion

This is a difficult post for me. I suspect that I’m going to be viewed and treated differently by many of you after you read this. 

I was in Maine once, getting a couple books autographed by Stephen King at a small meet and greet booksigning he arranged. I’d introduced myself, and asked what the secret was to winning over readers. Immediately he told me “Just tell the story how you mean for it to be. Don’t water it down.  If your characters swear, let them swear. Yeah, it’s going to piss some of the readers off, but if you try to bullshit people in your writing, they’re going to hate you for it. They’re on their time, reading your stuff. You owe it to all of them to write honestly.” He told me a lot more, but that’s the part that covers what I plan to tell you. It’s not about the characters though, it’s about me. And God.

I grew up in the worst part of the U.S. for an intelligent kid to grow up in – southern West Virginia. For those of you that have never been there yourselves, it’s a nightmare of a place to be. The economic situation there is miserable, the education system is an atrocity, and dental care is damn near non-existent. In short, it was everything that I’m not. Two days after I turned 18, I moved out of state. This was not early enough, however. Before I could manage an escape, I had been forced to attend church for 13 years. Despite all of the other markets crumbling, it would seem that there were plenty of places around to sell you your own personal brand of religion.

Having had God force-fed to me for so long, it was difficult for me to ever consider anything else was even a possibility. God made the Earth, if you worshipped God like a good boy, you got into Heaven.  If not, you burned in Hell for eternity. End of story. Well…normally that would be the end.

After moving a couple hundred miles away, I began to realize that the world, and life in general were way bigger than any ill-informed kid like myself could understand. When I started college, I met people from every background imaginable. All of whom would impact my world view, and eventually send me on my way to my “awakening”. I made friends with a guy that helped me get a recurring summer job at a funeral home. Looking back, that job did more to open my eyes to life than anything I’d done up to that point.
It was while I was dealing with the dead people that a couple things became brilliantly clear to me: 1. Death is going to happen, and more often than not, unexpectedly. 2. People have a hell of a hard time letting go of their dead. 3. Religion is often the only thing that makes the entire situation bearable.  Sounds like common sense, right? It’s all it took to change my entire view of everything I’d been taught in church.
That death was going to happen was a no-brainer. It’s when you combine the other parts that it gets interesting. It’s generally unexpected, people can’t cope, and religion gives them something to hang onto to help them cope. That started sounding like one hell of a business model to me. If you take something that is incredibly difficult to deal with, and find a way to make it managable, people will buy. Offer them hope of seeing their dead loved ones again when they die, as long as they play by the rules, and the masses will come in droves. All you need to do then, is pass the collection plate.

Rewards are often not enough though, to convince people to do what you want. What do you do then? Simple. You create a consequence. Make it horrible. Make it the worst thing anyone of your time could possibly imagine. Make it being burned all over. Even worse, make it being burned all over for all of eternity. Who in their right mind would rather burn for all of eternity than get to see their dead loved ones, and live in Heaven forever? The kicker- no one can ever dispute that it happens this way, because you have to die in order to find out! It’s brilliant! (Pass the collection plate.)

This truly became my way of thinking. Once I added in that the events in the Bible were oral history for six or seven hundred years before even being written, my ability to go back to seeing religion (organized, anyway) as anything but a magic show was doomed. The more stuff you have to do to worship the way they tell you, the higher the production value and the more you feel like you are getting your money’s worth.

I still believe in something. I guess it’s God. I don’t really know what I believe any more. I know that I won’t be taking part in any organized religion anytime soon though. I know I’m sad that I feel like I won’t ever be able to believe as easily as I once did. I know I wish I could. Anyone have any recommendations, or have any insight that they can share that may help?

Summertime Girls

Once again, summer is almost here. It’s a beautiful day here in Pittsburgh, and the Summertime girls are out in full force. YES! and NO! I love Summertime girls.

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They wear their cute little summer clothes, they smell great, and always seem friendly. Those are all wonderful things! Unfortunately, there is a drawback to Summertime girls…the cavemen they’ve decided to get busy with in the off-season. They get dragged along with their hot counterparts to the parks, the malls, and the eateries of America. I think they serve mainly as a human leash to protect the rest of civilization from the rock-eating troglodyte offspring they’ve managed to sire. You’ve seen them out together; she could be a runner up for Miss Universe, and he is one of the Geico cavemen.

At some point or another, they decided that Sloth from “The Goonies” was cute enough to create a miniature of. They did, and now everyone has to wonder how the hottie in skin tight yoga pants, looking like an angel in the summer sun ended up with Ugg and Sloth. The only thing I can come up with is that without the constant light and warmth of the sun, their judgement as a female must wane considerably in the off-season. It’s the only possible thing I can think of. What do you think?

Mrs. Howe

Mrs. HoweShe passed away today. I’m so very, very sorry that she’s gone. She and Mr. Howe were wonderful people. The first day I ever met them, we were in a church. They were an older couple, she was in her 80’s and he was like 3 or 4 hundred I guess. We hit it off the very first day. She’d gone to the ladies room, and when came out, her dress was tucked into the back of her panty hose. My own grandmother had done that once, and I couldn’t help but smile as I told Walt to let her know what she’d done. I didn’t want her to be embarrassed. Walt said she wouldn’t, and that she’d been showing her ass in public as long as he could remember. I only hope he meant that figuratively.

She told me I looked very handsome that day. I told her she looked like a princess in her dress, and then I told Walt that one day I would steal her away from him. He told me not to bother, she wasn’t a very good kisser anyway.

A few years back, Walt died of pneumonia. Mrs. Howe managed to keep going. How she did, I’ll never know. Walt told me that on the day they met, he knew he would marry her.  He did. They loved each other until the day he died. She’s missed him terribly every day since, and so have I. Now today, she’s gone too, and I miss them both terribly.

I learned a lot from the Howes. I learned that there is such a thing as love at first sight. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. I learned that most things in life aren’t worth the hassle. You need to save your strength for the things that are worth fighting for. I learned that there’s no reason in the world why an arrogant young punk can’t have two funny old bats for good friends. Most importantly, I learned that good friends are very hard to come by, and impossible to replace.

I never even got that kiss. It’s okay though, my buddy said she wasn’t a very good kisser anyway.

Goodbye Mrs. Howe, you were a beautiful old bird. I really hate to let you go.

Thank You to Tony Stark…

"Self made...hmmmph!"For reminding me that I’m yet to turn my genius abilities into a huge financial empire! Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that your dad built a super cool weapons factory, and died to let you be in charge, mine didn’t. That’s true. However, I have far greater mental abilities than you. One brilliant shining example is that giant hole in the middle of your chest that houses the arc reactor (which I’ll be coming back to in a minute).  If it were me that had shrapnel threatening my heart, I would use the reactor to charge the retaining cup with positive ions, then use a negative ion pulse to charge the shrapnel, and pull it to the cup. It would only be a matter of time before the shapnel was completely out of your body. But hey, that’s just me.

Let’s talk about the arc reactor. Shall we? A true genius would’ve scrapped that dinosaur as soon as fusion reactors became an option. Fusion is safer, more durable, and doesn’t cause blood poisoning. True, it’s still volatile, but a man with your resources should be able to figure something out. Also, the gold-titanium alloy that the suit is built of should probably include a super hard ceramic plate base. Alumina is a good option for a hard ceramic base. Come by my work, and I’ll be glad to show it to you.

What I’m getting at here is that you need to step aside, and let me show you how to be Iron Man. Granted, I won’t be able to actually get back into the suit until I lose some more weight, but I could do the whole rich genius with a love interest with no problem. Until then, I’ll stay out of the Iron Man suit and get back into my workout suit. I wouldn’t want to look like this guy (?) that I found at http://www.break.com.826a86dd-c4cf-4bca-8897-f7349f4f2e37Because, as far as I know, Iron Man isn’t supposed to have a camel toe…

The Application of Music to Life

I believe that each of us creates a playlist, or a soundtrack to our lives that grows with each passing day. It isn’t intentional. It just kind of happens, like life. You hear a song and for whatever reason, it resonates with every fiber of your being for that particular moment. I don’t even know that I believe we have a say in the song selection. They just kind of stick.

Take for example, when my son Talon was born. The day we brought him home from being born, my boss called and told me congratulations. Then she told me she needed me to turn in my keys because some things that I said to the mayor (about his performance) of a town we were developing in didn’t sit very well with him. It didn’t cause the company to lose the deal, but she said it almost did. Having a second child should be a great time in your life, but finding myself newly unemployed was drastically impairing my ability to be happy. At some point over the next couple of weeks, I was in my car, and I heard Fleetwood Mac singing “Go Your Own Way”. I’d heard it a billion times, as everyone else has, but this time it was applied like a tourniquet to my hemorrhaging life. It became a game changer. Although the song is about an inappropriate relationship between band mates, the chorus really seemed to be what I needed most. I could go my own way. I did. I quit looking for jobs of the traditional type, and started up my own company. I created a not so run of the mill computer repair company. I only worked after 5pm, I would pick up and deliver computers, and I did everything the big guys did without up-charging for convenience. My wife was less than supportive. In fact, she kept making the statement that “You don’t have a company.” When I started, she said it. When I ordered business cards and invoices she said it. When I registered my business with the IRS, and state she said it, and when I hired my tax guy she said it. She didn’t acknowledge that I did in fact have a business until she realized that I was paying for the house, and car and all of my other bills without having another job for income. When I sold it to move to Pennsylvania, she was upset about it. I’m okay with that.

Now every time I hear “Go Your Own Way”, I can’t help but think back to all of those ups and downs, and smile. I could go my own way. I did it very well.

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