Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thanksgiving = Hate?

I would have never imagined that a holiday such as Thanksgiving, a holiday focused on being thankful, could be turned into a day of pain, hurt, sadness, and uncaring. This year, thanks to the assclown that I have for an uncle, our Thanksgiving evening was turned into a nightmare after it started out as a wonderful, peaceful time for my family to spend with one another.

Before we started eating a spectacular meal of macaroni & cheese, crescent rolls, pickles, and strawberry pretzel desert, my uncle Dave on my mom's side thought he should call us. Before he called, my brothers, my parents, and myself were all having a great time snacking, talking, and simply enjoying each other's company and the calm of the holiday. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it gets hard to find time to simply just sit and be in someone's company for an extended amount of time, and because of this we were all treasuring the moment.

As we were enjoying the evening, my uncle Dave on my mom's side thought he should call. No, wait, actually he informed us he was told to call my mother by my grandmother. When my grandma actually arrived at our place we found out that, no, actually my grandma had requested that they come down to visit with my family sometime because there have been some extended family troubles as of late. Instead of doing that, he twisted her words into a freshly formed lie and claimed that my grandma told him to call.

Now I don't really know much about what was said between my mother and my uncle on the phone, but I had to deal with the aftermath--a mother in tears wondering how her brother could be such a hateful, uncaring person. It took all of my self-restraint not to get on the phone and tell my uncle what a rotten piece of shit he was for doing something so spiteful and malicious on a holiday supposedly based upon caring and giving thanks. Apparently to him thanksgiving translates into "I'll Make My Relatives Day Really Shitty"-giving.

From what my mother and father told me, my uncle also singled me out as being a terrible person who has done nothing but cause strife for our family. By causing strife, I'm assuming he means "pointing out the truth about his character, which he doesn't like so he'll throw a hissy fit about it". I know there's a lot of details being left out here, but the main thing is, I was completely appalled at what my uncle did. If he really had the urge to be a complete jerkface to my mother, couldn't he have at least maybe waited until the holiday was over? No, of course not, because that might actually be considerate.

What also gets me is that he feels the need to slam me and put me down to other members of my family, but he lacks the cahones to actually speak to me. Am I really that intimidating? Possibly, but I doubt it. What I think it is, is that he just wants someone to talk smack about without actually having to talk to him.

To complicate matters, my uncle is my Godparent... well, at least he used to be. I've stopped thinking of him in that light. You don't talk shit about your Godson and tell your relatives that you never want to see him again. No, my uncle in no longer a Godparent to me. He's simply a judgmental ass who makes his judgments based only on assumptions, half-truths, and his own biases without taking into account how it affects anyone outside of himself.

I really hate knowing that I'm related to someone who is like this, and who is setting a horrible example for his own children, but it's one of the cards I've been dealt. Seeing how this card really has no place in my hand, I choose to discard it. Maybe I'll pick up something better the next time it's my turn to draw.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Xbox Games that Suck

As I've been going through the vast quantities of junk that I have in order to weed out what I don't need so I can sell it, I found a few Xbox games that I'll be tossing up on ebay because they pretty much sucked.

Gunmetal: This is a really crappy wannabe mech style game. The graphics are pretty subpar for the Xbox and the missions that I played were all quite boring. Many of them simply consisted of "Go to point A, kill something, go to point B, kill something, you win." The missions weren't that fun either, partly because all the enemies were pretty similar (and dumb) and the mech you controlled wasn't all that cool. You only had a few different weapons at your disposal and a couple were only useful against certain targets so it mostly came down to using your default weapons to shoot at things. Boring.

Spawn: I'm a Spawn fan so I was hoping the game would be at least passably fun, but I didn't have my hopes set too high since most licensed games tend to suck a lot, with this being one of those games. The fighting is very repetitive and there isn't too much in the way of different enemies to fight. There's also a good chunk of jumping puzzles which I absolutely hate. Any game that has jumping puzzles in it is bound to get a thumbs down from me. The graphics were only ok and the sound was pretty average as well.

Genma Onimusha: From all of the good reviews that this game got, I was expecting it to be a lot better than it was. First of all, the controls for this game are atrocious! I was consistently frustrated by them and it took me right out of the game. As for the gameplay itself, it's basically Resident Evil except with swords and demons instead of guns and zombies. The save system is also terrible because the length between save points is large and at times you confront a boss right before a save point so if you die you have to start way back before the boss. It would make more sense to have the save point right before the boss so that way you can just restart at the boss instead of way back before it.

Maximum Chase: The driving portions of this game are decently fun, but it's the rail shooter levels that are boring and lame. I actually had a good time on the driving levels, but every time I hit a rail shooter level I wanted to shut the game off or just go do the previous driving level over. The flow of the game is totally killed every time a rail mission comes up. The reason the rail shooter levels suck so much is that some are inordinately hard and some are just annoying because the field of view is constantly shifting making it a real chore to shoot at anything.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


I hope that you are all enjoying a wonderful thanksgiving. We had lunch with my extended family on the Gebhardt side and now for the rest of the day it's just my brothers and parents hanging out before my grandma from the Meyer side comes over to visit for supper. Thanksgiving for the last few years has just been my direct family staying at home and being together, but this year we decided to go to the Gebhardt thanksgiving lunch. I always look forward to just being with my family for an entire day, but whatever.

Thanksgiving is always an odd time. During this day I am constantly thinking about how much better I have it than so many other people. It puts a lot of the problems I have into perspective and helps me to realize some of my selfish habits that I would like to change. In the past many of my selfish habits revolved around my want for material things. With the day after thanksgiving being one of the largest shopping days of the year, if not the largest I'm often overcome with my consumeristic nature. For the last four or five years my brothers and I have went to Best Buy at like 4 in the morning on the day after thanksgiving to load up on good deals. This year, I really have no desire to do that. In fact, I have no real desires for material things at all this year. I find I feel almost anti-consumerism.

I've realized that material things don't mean as much as I used to think they did. Sure it was nice to be going out to buy new technological gadgets, video games, movies, and whatever else was appealing, but this year I just don't want any of that stuff. I have a good enough life. I have more than so many people. I have more than I need in most cases, so why do I need more stuff?

This anti-"stuff" sentiment has been ingrained into my heart for a few months now, probably since our basement was flooded. Knowing that we could have lost everything that we had in our basement made me rethink my views on all of the stuff I own. Frankly, I don't need all the junk I have to live a good life and since then I've actually gone through a lot of my crap and have been selling many of the things I don't use on ebay and getting together a pile of clothes and things to give to charity. Why should I hoarde so much for myself when there's so many people just scraping to get by? What makes me so special that I should have so many things that I don't even use and other people don't even have the things they need? Nothing. I'm no better than the next guy, so why not spread the wealth of what I have to those that need it?

Oddly enough, even though I feel I have overcome my consumeristic nature, I still feel a longing for something. I was hoping that once I overcame my longing for "things" that I wouldn't have that aching need anymore, but somehow it's still with me. What is it that I want now? If you know, please tell me because I'm having a hard time figuring out what it is myself.

Even though I am filled with a new sense of longing, I am still thankful for so many things. I have a job, a roof over my head, food on my plate, a great family to live with, and an extrordinary girlfriend. What more could anyone ask for? I have it so unbelievably good that I should have no right to complain about anything. I'm not scraping by just trying to find enough money to eat. I'm not without a home. I'm healthy and not fighting to stay alive. I have it good.

If I have it so good, though, then why do I feel like I want something more?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Artest, I Sympathize

No doubt anyone who follows the NBA (or news in general) has heard about or seen the fight that went down between Ron Artest & company and the Piston fans. If you haven't seen it, here's a torrent of the video for your downloading pleasure.

Of course what Artest, O'Neal, and Jackson did was wrong, dumb, childish, and unsportsmanlike, but I can't help not sympathizing with them at least a little bit. Today's sports fans are getting worse and worse in terms of civility towards the players on the court. Wait, I should clarify, when I say "today's sports fans" I mean the subset of fans that think it is their duty to harass, heckle, and annoy the players they came to watch.

It's amazing that a fan would do something so ridiculous. What made him think it was a good idea to throw a beer on a player from the opposing team? What was the rationale that he used to justify doing something like that? When you go to see a movie, you don't throw your drink on the screen if you don't like the movie. When you go to an art exibit, you don't toss your slurpee on the tapestries on display. When you go to a high school volleyball game, you don't toss a hotdog at the girl who's serving. Why should it be any different for watching a basketball game? They're all forms of entertainment that someone pays to watch.

What paying to watch a basketball game doesn't give you is the right to treat who you're watching like crap. They're out there performing their job (a highly overpaid job, yes, but a job nonetheless). Their job is to entertain you. Now how would that fan like it if someone who he was working for didn't like his work so they verbally berrated him or threw a drink on him? I'm betting he'd be thinking, "What the hell? Why did I just get crap thrown on me? That isn't right or acceptable." That same person, however, has no trouble going to a game and lobbing beer on someone they must have thought wasn't doing their job as best they could.

The more and more I think about it, I sympathize more with Artest & company than I do the crappy ass fans who think they can do whatever the hell they want to simply because they paid for a ticket. People don't verbally degrade you and throw shit at you when you're doing your job Mr. Beer Thrower, so grow up and show the same respect to athletes you came to watch for your entertainment. If you dislike them so much, then don't buy tickets to their games. Stupid ass fans.......

Bunnies are so Cute

On my way home from work yesterday I did something terrible, but I couldn't avoid it. I did something gross that I wish wouldn't have happened. I did everything in my power to try to make the best of the situation, but the fates were aligned against me. Last night as I was driving home I killed a bunny.

I know, I know, I'm a totally horrible person and I was saddened the entire rest of the ride home, but that darn little rabbit came shooting out of nowhere. It's about six o'clock so it's dark out, and I'm driving home on my usual route when out of the corner of my eye I see a little, white animal darting out of the ditch. Trying to swere around to miss what I then noticed was a bunny rabbit, I almost avoided him but then I heard and felt the "thunk" from my rear passenger side tire. I had just mushed up a rabbit onto the road.

A lot of people I know would probably say "so what?" but for me I felt really bad for the little guy. Who knows what he was doing running out across the road. What if he was being chased by a fox, running for his life. The only thing on his mind at the time was how he was going to get away from the fox so that he didn't get eaten when all of the sudden BAM! his life is over. He was so busy avoiding that fox that in the process of trying to save his life, he lost it.

Or maybe he was actually dared by his little bunny friends to jump out in front of my car. "Hey, Brad, I bet you could totally run across the road in front of this car, dude. In fact, I'll bet you two carrots and half a head of cabbage that you can do it," said Brad the bunny's troublemaking friend. Not wanting to turn down a dare and look like a wimp, Brad runs out in front of my car only to be splattered on the pavement.

Or what if it was a mother out trying to find one of her lost children? Frightened, wondering where her little baby is she saw the car coming down the road and maybe glanced over to see her son in the opposite ditch. Knowing that he wouldn't know to not run across the road, she bounds over towards him, hoping to get there in time to keep him out of danger. Unfortunately, she doesn't make it and now her children are left to fend for themselves here at the beginning of a cold Minnesota winter.

I felt really, really bad for that hypothetical little baby bunny and his siblings. How would they survive without their mommy? They had depended upon her for guidance, protection, and food. With her gone, those little baby bunnies were more than likely condemned to a slow, cold death or a very hard and trying life over the winter.

Also imagine the trauma they must have faced as they found their mother in pieces at the side of the road, especially for the little bunny she was trying to save. He saw her body decimated by my car's tire. Seeing the cornerstone of your life so suddenly destroyed in front of you... I feel terrible just thinking about it.

For the last 20 minutes of my drive home, these thoughts haunted me. Now that I think about it, I must either really love animals or else I get really, really bored during my commuting. I think it's more than likely a healthy combination of the two.

That poor bunny............

Monday, November 22, 2004

Caught a Couple of Movies

Over the weekend I went up to visit Kristin and try to make her feel a little better since she's been fighting bronchitis. I think I succeeded, but you'd have to ask her to make sure :-) Anyhow, while I was up there we managed to catch a few movies. I really hadn't seen too many movies in a while so it was good to catch a couple.

We saw The Bourne Supremacy on Friday night at the cheap seats. I really liked Bourne Identity so I had high hopes for this one... which were kind of met. The story was a lot like the original, but with a couple of added twists. There was some super-spy action, some double-crossing, some mystery, and a big ass car chase at the end.

Then there was also the horrible camera work. Every fight, chunks of the car chase, and even some shots that weren't even action oriented seemed to be shot by some random guy who just figured out how to use his home video camera. It felt almost like they took the movie and ran it through a "Blair Witch" filter in order to make it so that the camera never stood still. Part of me wanted to get up during the middle of the movie and tell whoever was shaking the camera to knock it the heck off!

Sigh... beyond that frustrating aspect, I thought the movie was pretty good and it kept my attention for the full two hours it ran.

On Sunday we finally went to see the Incredibles. I'd been wanting to see this movie for a long time simply because the combination of superheroes, Pixar, and comedy seemed like it couldn't fail and it didn't... for the most part. The opening short was cute, so it started on a very positive note. The first half of the actual movie, however, was pretty slow and even a little boring. I thought for sure that I was in for a gigantic letdown, but fortunately the second half of the movie was much, MUCH better than the first. The best moments in the movie came when the Incredible family was working as a superhero team. Many of the family moments and Mr. Incredible's longing for superhero life moments and superheroes as everyday Joes moments and any other moments not involving the superhero team, I guess, just fell flat.

Lastly, we watched The Other Sister on TBS Saturday night. I was somewhat torn with this movie. It was obviously manipulating its viewers emotions by the way it was plotted and the interaction of the characters, yet I still enjoyed it despite knowing I was being manipulated. The Other Sister is a story of two mentally handicapped young adults falling in love with each other and the struggles that would be confronted in such a situation.

I was actually intrigued throughout the movie to see how the writers scripted the reactions of the two mentally handicapped characters to every day types of relationship problems that we face. It was interesting to see the difference (and similarity) of how situations were handled. Anyhow, I thought it was a pretty decent movie.

[UPDATE: I forgot that we also watched Matilda while we were cooking on Saturday (Kristin made some awesome homemade spaghetti). For being a little kids movie, I found it very charming and quite enjoyable. The main reason it was so fun was that the characters were all interesting. Matilda herself was a little cutie and you couldn't help but like her. The evil headmistress of the school was so over-the-top evil that it was a perfect mirror for Matilda's sweet character. Danny de Vito played a hilarious crook come father of Matilda and many of the scenes involving him were my favorites of the movie. Basically if it wasn't for the extremely interesting characters, this movie would have been pretty lackluster.]

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Stick Me Back in a Tractor

Oddly enough as I've been driving to and from work I've been longing to be back out in the fields doing some of the farm work I've done in the past. From the driver's seat of my car I see so many of my neighbors (I live in a farming community) out in the fields harvesting, plowing, ripping, applying fertilizer, or whatever needs to be done in a particular field. I used to dread doing farm work, but now that I'm no longer forced to do it, I feel a little bit of longing in the back of my heart for the job of my father.

I'm not going to complain too much about my job. It provides me with a steady paycheck, good benefits, nice co-workers, and a job I can handle. Still, though, I sometimes wish it were possible to just take a month or so off and go work as a farmer again.

Now I never really had the chance to do many of the interesting jobs during harvest, and I don't know if I'd really enjoy them a ton more than the tasks I did have, but I miss them. Before I'd be bored out of my mind spending 8 hours chopping stalks or plowing a field, but now there are times during the day that I would kill to have that amount of time to just sit and think.

There's also a special feeling I get while working in the fields. Instead of working with a cold, impersonal computer, I get the chance to be surrounded by plants, animals, and life. The connection you get with nature by being in the middle of it, even if it is only a gigantic field of corn, is something that cannot be matched inside of an office.

Maybe someday I can retire and live the farming life again. I've always thought about it and it's always seemed like an interesting path to take. I have a while before I reach that point in my life, so there's no real reason to attempt to figure out my retirement plans now, but it still seems like it might be fun.

Sometimes You Just Need a Little Help

Being brought up as a male in a very traditional nuclear family, I was never encouraged to show my emotions. I was never encouraged to hide them either, but for most of high school and a good portion of college that's what I did. I filled the masculine stereotype of the typical male--never show your emotions unless it is anger or happiness. Sadness, fear, longing, insecurity, and even strong feelings of love were to always be kept inside. I would tell myself, "Rick, you're a man and you can deal with these weak human emotions. You don't need to express them." Sadly, I had myself convinced for so long that this was the way I was supposed to handle them.

In my senior year of college, however, I met a very special girl (you know who you are!) and as I got to know her and grew closer and closer to her, I began to open up. Slowly but surely the barriers I had constructed around my heart and around all of those "un-masculine" emotions started to wear away. I had finally learned that it was ok to feel, and express, the full range of human emotion. For me, it was such an odd, yet liberating, feeling to be able to express what I had kept hidden for so long and not be judged or viewed as "not being a man".

Even more recently I began to experience many of these feelings all at once--fear, sadness, joy, love, longing, hope, doubt, and many others. Never before had I been awash in so many different feelings that I thought it would tear me apart. Constantly I was torn between so many conflicting emotions that I had no clue what I was supposed to do. How was I to reconcile everything that was brewing inside of me?

Thankfully, that special girl was still there for me as she always has been. I was able to pour out everything I was feeling to her. I felt at ease laying my heart out on the table in front of her. I allowed myself to cry like I never had before. One of my biggest fears in life was appearing weak, and I always saw crying as a form of weakness, so keeping the tears locked up was something I saw as essential. Because of this preconceived notion about crying, I would never let myself do it--never would I let my guard down. I couldn't because then I would be weak.

It took a very special woman, and almost two years of being close to me, for me to finally realize that by crying, by opening up myself, by showing what's behind all of my barriers, that I wasn't weak, I was simply human. As much as I wanted to be the strongest and most secure person I could be, I still had weaknesses. One of the greatest feelings in the world is finally making the realization that even though you have weaknesses, it is still possible to be loved.

It's taken me over 23 years to be comfortable enough to open up to my parents, the people who gave me life, and tell them how I actually feel, it's taken me 20 to be able to relate emotionally with my brother, and it's taken me almost 2 to be completely open and at ease with my emotions around that special girl that started this whole process.

So what's the point of this outpouring of personal realization? Why did I feel the urge to sit and type about this? Simply put, my heart just wanted to say thank you to that special girl. She's helped me to blossom emotionally, and I can't imagine a more wonderful person to be able to express my emotions with. Thank you, Kristin.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Top 15 CD's of 2004

Yes, I do realize that it's not even December yet, but over at Decoy the staff have been asked to get their top discs of the year list together for our year end special. Usually I'd be a little pissed about not waiting out the rest of the year and jumping the gun, but after I looked at the release schedule for the genres of music that I listen to and listened to a lot of the pre-release demos available to me, I couldn't find anything coming out in the last month and a half of this year that would have a chance of making my top 15. If there is some magical cd that manages to capture my ear, I'll just include it in next year's list. So without further adieu, here are the top 15 CD's of the year (according to me) in no particular order:

  • Dead Poetic – New Medicines I’ve had a hard time keeping this cd out of my stereo. I can’t explain it, but somehow Dead Poetic have crafted the perfect blend of smooth emo and jagged, screaming rock that keeps me captivated every time I spin this disc.
  • 36 Crazyfists – A Snowcapped Romance A lot of people might have knocked this cd because 36CF seemingly played it safe by streamlining their sound, but in doing so they created one of the most accessible and listenable metal discs of the year. There is not a single song on this cd that drags, which is a great accomplishment in my book.
  • Isis – Panopticon This is easily the most epic cd I have heard in years, if not ever. The layers of each song, built upon each other, create such a wonderfully beautiful tapestry of new school doom metal that you won’t be able to turn this cd off until it’s over, at which point you’ll probably just listen to it again!
  • Emery – The Weak’s End This cd felt so genuine and so heartfelt that it captured my ears upon my first listen. Every song is filled with hope and a passion for love. Simply a beautiful, yet bittersweet album.
  • Machine Head – Through the Ashes of Empires Come on now, everyone was expecting this to suck at least as bad as Supercharger, but instead these guys blew me away with their return to their roots in crafting one heck of a brutal metal album.
  • Unearth – The Oncoming Storm Speaking of brutal albums, Unearth released what is, in my eyes, the heaviest album of the year with The Oncoming Storm. All the way through this is one unrelenting album that will pummel the crap out of you.
  • 4Lyn – Take It as a Compliment I’m pretty sure that there aren’t many of you out there who have had the chance to listen to these guys, which is unfortunate, because they’ve made a very unique cd where they were able to synthesize nu-metal, garage rock, and hardcore into a cohesive cd that will blow your mind if given the chance.
  • Further Seems Forever – Hide Nothing Upon first listen, I was unimpressed by this disc, but then I happened upon some rough times and during them this cd connected with me so perfectly that I turned to it almost exclusively for a while to soothe my mind, and it was during this time that I realized what a truly beautiful disc it actually was.
  • Alexisonfire – Watchout! Alexisonfire’s last cd didn’t impress me at all so it really blew me out of the water when I heard Watchout! Alexisonfire matured a ton between releases and this cd manages to mix plenty of melody into their already established emocore style to create a very enjoyable and slick disc.
  • Flaw – Endangered Species Go ahead and laugh at me all you want for choosing this cd, but I’ll stand behind it 100% as one catchy nu-metal album. This made it into my top 15 list simply on the merits that I listened to it a freaking ton! I’m still trying to pry it out of my car stereo, but so far no luck.
  • Codeseven – Dancing Echoes/Dead Sounds It seems like most music critics agree that this is simply a phenomenal piece of musical art. I can't agree with them more. This is space-rock done perfectly. Buy it now!
  • Demon Hunter – Summer of Darkness For being a quasi-side-project Demon Hunter blow away their modern metal peers. On this disc they manage to take each metal cliché, exploit it, and then play off of it to make a wonderful, yet familiar album.
  • Silent Drive – Love is Worth It Of all the cds I listened to this year, Silent Drive win the award for being the most dynamic. This cd was a joy to listen to because of all of the different rock styles that they managed to cram together on this disc. This is a great and truly diverse disc.
  • Strata – Strata For authentic, emotional hard rock look no further than Strata’s self-titled major label debut. The heartfelt lyrics and mature musicianship lend this cd to being one that will tug on your emotions while still remaining a firmly rocking affair.
  • The.Switch – Beautiful This band, hailing from the Czech Republic, are probably a new name to 99.9% of you reading this, but if you can grab their disc from CDBaby.com, you’ll be in for a treat. Imagine the Deftones mixed with Candiria and Tool and you’ll get a small inkling of how good this band is.
So there it is, my top 15 of 2004. Hopefully I've turned you on to a few bands that you might have missed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Must... Find... Brains...

Sausage pizza. You'd think it couldn't hurt you. You probably think it's just a harmless food. Well, you're totally wrong. Sausage pizza is a definite threat to the top of your palette if you eat it right after it comes out of the oven. As yummy as it might taste, the searing heat exuded by the tomato sauce will easily scald the skin on the top of your mouth causing you to run around the kitchen waving your hand in front of your mouth (like that's going to do any good) looking for something cool to drink to sooth your burning mouth. Of course, by the time you find anything to drink, the pizza sauce has already had plenty of time to burn all of the skin in your mouth leaving you scraping it off with your tongue for the next 20 minutes.

Since my mouth is completely burnt from that damn pizza, I couldn't really drink too much coffee this morning because it burns my mouth when I drink it and when it gets cool enough to not hurt my mouth it's too cold to taste good. So I'm pretty much screwed for my usual ingestion of caffeine for the morning. I did bring a diet cola in to attempt to offset the missing coffee caffeine, but I don't think it'll help.

Now compound my lack of caffeine with not really being able to sleep last night and you have a recipe for instant zombie. I don't know why I couldn't sleep last night, but for some reason when I closed my eyes I simply continued to lie there with my eyes closed instead of being whisked off to a magical land of midgets and dragons.

So being as tired and unenergized as I am, all I can think about is somehow getting caffeine into my system, and barring that, I can turn to my co-workers brains. There's got to be caffeine in the human brain, right? Mmm..... must eat brains......

CO-WORKER: So have you finished the help text yet?

ME: Help... text.... need.... brains....

CO-WORKER: Well, yes, it was a little rudimentary and could use some fleshing out.

ME: Fleshing.... out..... yummy..... flesh.... breakfast.....

CO-WORKER: Umm.... why are you reaching for my face? Is there some jelly from my donut still on me?

ME: Jelly..... donut..... brains....

CO-WORKER: Oh my God! Stop it, my face! That hurts! I think this breaks one of our company policies!


ME: *Crunch crunch* Yummy...... brains..... taste..... like..... meatloaf.....

Hmmm..... ok, maybe I'm not quite that zombie-ish this morning, but I sure do feel like I'm dragging and can't get energized. It sure doesn't help that it's overcast and dark out, either.

Monday, November 15, 2004

This World is Absurd

Really, there are so many times that I wonder how certain things in this world can happen. Why do good things happen to bad people and the converse of that are often on my mind. I worked hard in college. I was one of those few kids that would take a Friday night to go hang out in a study lounge to contemplate the readings of Camus and do my discrete math assignments instead of getting plowed beyond comprehension and trying to hook up with random chicks. Yeah, I was that guy--the nerd, the dork, the "studious one". I really, really tried in college and it paid off, I thought, in that I graduated with two BA's, one in computer science and one in philosophy, and had a cumulative GPA of 3.6 something. Personally, I was pretty proud of myself and what I learned at St. John's University.

After doing as well as I did at school, I had hoped it would translate over to success in the real world as well. As you know, I am getting close to finishing up my first year as a tech writer for Kingland Systems in Rochester, and I thought that I was doing pretty good. I was on par, salary wise, with some of the people I graduated with and was doing better than some others, but then I learned about one of my college classmates and the job he has.

First, let me tell you a little about this mysterious guy from college. He was that guy that spent more time in the weight room than in class and even more time partying and trying to find easy chicks. He was prone to doing really stupid stuff and getting horribly tanked for just about any reason. The list of some of the stupid stuff that he did is pretty darn long. One drunken night he and some friends took all of the furniture from our dorm lounge and tossed it to the street three stories below. On another drunken escapade he thought it was a genius idea to simply kick apart the doors to the stalls in our dorm bathroom. On another ocassion, he put some mice in his neighbors room.

This kid was simply amazing in the ways that he lived up to every stereotype of the big, dumb, partying college kid. Even on the night before our graduation he exercised his stupidity and made my coffee cup look smarter than him. It was our senior party and we were all out at the bar. Oddly enough, party dude wasn't all that drunk, but that didn't stop him from stealing the car of a pizza delivery man "just because". He wasn't allowed to walk at graduation and I'm not sure if the owner of the vehicle pressed charges or not, but any way you look at it, this was a stupid thing to do by a guy who was known for doing stupid stuff.

Now, it's about a year and a half after he's graduated and I fully expected to hear that he was working at Kmart or McDonalds, but instead I find out he's selling mortgages to people and raking in a six figure salary. How the hell does something like that happen? He's easily making double, if not maybe triple, what I am and he was a total screw up in college. All he did was party, act dumb, and made school out to be a joke. I worked my ass off, actually learned stuff, and I'm the one who came out on the short end of the stick.

Really, when I think about it, I wonder what the hell is actually up with this world. Sometimes I wonder if God has it out for me. Maybe I'm his pet joke that he can always turn to for a laugh. I can see it now, after a long hard day of watching over the atrocities of the middle east, God plants his gaze on the midwest and focuses on a lowly character... me. He sees the ironies of his life and the frustrations he is confronted with and chuckles. "What a funny, little human," He thinks to Himself, "but at least he's fun to smite when I'm bored!"

Friday, November 12, 2004

Just Had To Put My Mind To It

Apparently my rededication to working out is paying off a little. I'm almost down to 180 lbs. now. I've been hovering at about 182 the last couple days, but any way you look at it, I've made some good progress from about 2 weeks ago when I was pushing 195. I was so sick of feeling lazy, feeling fat, and feeling unattractive that I had to do something about it... so I did.

I've been trying to put in a few miles running at night as well as some lifting to build muscle while I burn off all that icky fat. I managed to get most of my strength back pretty quickly (I've been away from lifting on and off for a month or two since our basement flooded). I can bench 200+ lbs. again. Curling over 100 when I want to lift heavy. I've been getting in a couple hundred sit-ups when I can. Now I'm not saying this to brag or anything. I'm just starting to actually feel good about myself again. The key word is starting, though. I still think I can get in much better shape and I plan on trying to. It is nice to see more muscle definition, though, instead of simply knowing it's burried somewhere under a layer of padding.

Today I even braved the outdoors and went for a 2.5 mile outdoor run. Usually once the temp drops below 60 degrees I stick to running indoors, but today was just too nice of a day to waste away on a treadmill or stairclimber. I did get some sore lungs (they're not very good in the cold), but damn if it didn't feel refreshing to get outside and just be in the sun. It's been so dreary and bleak here in southern Minnesota for the last couple of weeks that the sun felt like it jump started my entire system. All of you that live where it stays warm all year round, consider yourselves lucky. As much as I love snow and cold and winter, I think I only need a month or two of it a year.

Expanding Outside of the Bubble

Well, I tried something new last night--fencing. I figured it was about time I tried something new. I felt like I might have been getting stuck in a rut and with the cold weather fast approaching, I wanted something to do other than sit at home, read, watch movies, and play video games. I know that would have been the dream life if you would have asked me what I wanted to do when I was 12, but now I just need some other things to do.

So how did it go? Well, considering I've never done any fencing before and only watched bits of it on the Olympics, I needed to learn the basics which was pretty much what was went over last night. I learned the rules, the different styles of fencing, the gear, the stance, the movement, how to hold a foil, and some basic foil movement.

After just this initial lesson, I can see that fencing is a lot more of a precision and finess sport than I thought. I've never been particularly good at extremely precise sports as I usually just take the brute force approach to most sports. It'll be different to focus on small things instead of just trying to be the strongest/fastest/most athletic person doing it.

All in all I think it is an interesting sport and I'll have to stick with it for a while to see if I can pick up the techniques that I'll need to actually be a functional fencer! Besides, I need something to fill that sports void that has formed in my life since college ended. Winter volleyball leagues in Rochester have already started, so that's out (unless anyone knows a team that could use an extra player or sub). Basketball leagues are started and I haven't played in a while so I'd probably be one of the bench star wonders. There isn't much for ultimate frisbee here in the winter, so that's out. Looks like it'll be fencing, weight lifting, and running for the winter for me!

Thursday, November 11, 2004


I've been really moody lately so things that usually wouldn't affect the jaded tough guy that I usually am have been making a profound effect upon me. Maybe it's because I'm pondering things a lot more now. Maybe I'm unsure of things in my life and because of that, I reflect more upon what is around me. Maybe I'm just in a phase. Who really knows?

Well, as I was checking some of the message boards I usually visit, I found a link to this video by A Perfect Circle. The song is their cover of "Imagine" by John Lennon, while the video is simply stock footage of the evils of this world. I often don't think about things outside of my little personal bubble, but when I do, I realize that this world is one heck of a scary place.

I cannot imagine being homeless. I cannot imagine being malnourished. I cannot imagine holding a gun and shooting another human being. I cannot imagine being shot. I cannot imagine being abused. I lead a very normal and very well off life in comparison to so many of the people in this world. I feel selfish for complaining about some of the things that I do when such atrocities are happening around the world this very minute.

I find myself very distraught over the state of this planet and the human race as a whole. I want to help, but I don't know where to start. I'm afraid to try to help on my own. I want to do something, but I think I need a helping hand to hold me through because I just don't feel strong enough on my own. Maybe I'm just making a big deal out of some odd inner turmoil I felt after watching a music video. That's probably it......

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

--John Lennon

A Minnesota Based Video Game

Yesterday I picked up Test Drive: Eve of Destruction for Xbox. It's a game that my brother Ryan and I have wanted for a while now. There's just something about demolition derbies that we love. Call us backwater hicks, but we love seeing cars ramming into each other until they up and quick working.

Ever since Demolition Racer came out for Dreamcast, we've anxiously awaited another demo derby racing game to come out. Finally, a couple of months ago Eve of Destruction came out. Since I can't ever justify spending $50 on a game, I've been waiting for it to drop. With a gift certificate to EB Games, I managed to get a used copy for $25, which I can justify, even if I'm running a little low in the cash department at the time (I'll just have to sell some of my older games on ebay).

As soon as I got home, I threw it in and Ryan & myself proceeded to beat the hell out of each other on the race tracks. The gameplay is awesome and I recommend this game to anyone who likes a healthy dose of destruction with their racing. There was one other thing that was very surprising, however, and that was the locales of the races.

Apparently the makers of Eve of Destruction think that demo derbies only happen in Minnesota because every one of the locations for the tracks is from Minnesota. What's also amazing is that the makers successfully recreated the major landmarks of the town. For Hastings, the oil refinery plant is the background. In Kenyon it's an elevator. In Mankato, it's the big silo complex that's in town. I was amazed that all of these towns I've been in were the locations for this game. I guess it made it seem a little more fun knowing that I was racing, virtually, in local towns like Anoka or Dundas.

I've never played a racing game that wasn't based on either ficticious courses or gigantic cities like New York, San Francisco, or Chicago. Ah, Minnesota, enjoy your time in the video game racing sun!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Do You See Yourself in the Clouds Too?

In an attempt to try something new and possibly help me to lead a calmer and less stress filled life, I have borrowed one of Kristin's meditation books and decided to start trying to meditate each day. Yesterday was my first foray into trying it out. In the past I've set aside time for me to think about things or to simply attempt to be at peace, but I've never tried to meditate.

In the past when I simply sat and contemplated life, the world, death, my actions, and people around me, I could never think about things that somehow didn't involve me in some way. With the meditation routines laid out in the book I'm reading one of the key things is simply forgetting everything around you and focusing on a specific image, concept, or action.

Last night's meditation was an attempt to get me to imagine myself in the light and heat of the sun before becoming completely enveloped by it's healing touch. This, I believe, is an especially hard meditation for those of us living in Minnesota, the state of freezing ass cold. Anyhow, I tried to clear my mind as much as possible and imagine myself in the sunlight.

There was a problem, however. I couldn't imagine myself in the sun while touching the ground. To truly feel the sun, I had to imagine myself up in the clouds with the sun. I didn't think too much of it at the time, but the end of the meditation has you being enveloped by an encircling light emanating from the ground. How was I going to be surrounded by this light if I was stuck in the clouds?

I contemplated this fact a lot on my way to work this morning. What exactly could it mean? I don't think I have any concrete answers to give, but one thing that came to mind is maybe I have a hard time dealing with down to earth subjects. Instead of wanting to be realistic about my life, the situations I experience in life, and my emotions I would rather think of them in an idealistic, perfectly realized way.

This brought me back to thinking about the play Of Mice and Men that I saw this last weekend. The main focus of the play is that of companionship, but playing almost as big of a role is the notion of lying to oneself in order to deal with one's place in this world. George was constantly telling Lenny about the place they were going to eventually have in order to make their current life hold value. They didn't have any money and were constantly hopping from job to job, yet this "head in the clouds" thought motivated them to keep trying, keep pushing.

I often wonder if that is how my life is. Am I only pushing on because I see a wonderful future ahead that may or may not happen, or am I truly happy right now? Questions like this could easily drive someone crazy, but I think this is an essential question to ask. I don't know exactly how to answer it, but I do know that planning for my future and imagining what my future will be like are definitely two motivational factors in my life. I keep hoping that it will get better than right now. I know in my mind that it'll get better, but sometimes my heart drags me down with foolish insecurities and fears (two other things I've learned about myself).

Now, if one meditation can spawn this much deep thinking, I can only imagine what it must be like when in a true, deep meditational trance. I don't know if my paltry human mind could take it and know what it all means.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I Bring You My Return

Well, I wasn't gone as long as I thought I would be and I don't know exactly how often I'll be writing here, but I felt like I needed to come back and write simply to get out many of the thoughts that are constantly swirling around in my head. I've been so deep in thought almost every moment of every day that I felt like my head might explode if I didn't get some of it out. I started a written journal but I couldn't get down all that I wanted quick enough. I'm still going to use that for my personal writings, however, so don't expect anything deeply personal to show up here. I'm still a little uneasy talking about things that are close to my heart right now.

Anyhow, you may have noticed the new look. I hope you like it. I decided to scrap the homemade and homebuilt site I had for the ease of updating through blogger's interface. I can now post from just about anywhere with a computer at just about any time, which is a concept I like since many of my more interesting thoughts hit me when I'm not always near the computer I used for editing my site.

So, you might be wondering what's new with me. Oddly enough, I don't have a lot to say. There's still a lot of things going on in my life which will definitely have a bearing on what I'm going to do with it, especially for the near future. I'm still swirling in emotions, many of them dominating my thoughts, but I'm working on getting them under control. I'm going to attempt to start meditating to help clear my ever-busy mind, hoping that it might clear up some of the doubts, worries, and fears I have about my life right now. I know I don't need to have my life figured out right now, but there are a couple of things I would like to know where they're going because I think they're integral parts of how I will choose to live my life (yeah, sorry for the ambiguoty, but that's all you're going to get). It's an odd time right now and I'm hoping that by writing again I can better understand the plan that God has laid out for me. He's not making it easy right now, I'll tell you that.

Now with all of that knowledge under your belt... I welcome you all to the first day of the rest of my life.