3.28.2015

Karma V. Perspective

Today did not go how I planned. A fact that a vague-book post on my facebooking page alluded to. I assume since most of the traffic to this blog comes from my friends on Facebook, that you might have seen that post.

So. Let me break down how the weekend was supposed to go down.

Friday Night--Bowling. I was gonna have at least one Turkey and possibly my first clean game.

Saturday--My bi-weekly Dungeons&Dragons day with friends. Was planning to get up at 7 to start the crock pot beans and franks for game day.

Sunday--pretty wide open (likely spent puttering around the spare room in the iTapt and working on laundry and getting ready for the week ahead).

Here's how it has gone down so far:

Friday Night--Bowling. Didn't get my turkey or clean game, but made a good run at both. Had fun. DID get an on-call call from work before bowling. And one again at 10:30 PM.

Saturday--On-call call at 2AM. Things had gone a little sideways at work. But still OK.  On-call call at 4AM. Things had gone quite a bit more sideways. No longer OK. Was in my car heading in to the office by 4:15AM. Stayed at work until 3:30PM.  Got things sorted. Made sure my team was in a good place and that there were no pressing fires. Came home. Took a nap. Woke up about an hour ago.

Sunday-- ??  Unknown at this point.

That being said...yeah. The weekend definitely took a very sideways turn. Am I happy that I didn't take advantage of us finishing bowling early to go out and really tie one on? You bet your ass I am. And to be honest...the only thing that kept me from doing so was knowing that I had to get up this morning and start my crock pot beans and franks for gaming day.  Fortuitous indeed.

At first I was thinking that this would be a post about how you don't necessarily have to be a dick for Karma kick in.  And I don't think you do. It's funny to me that people see Karma as an avenger of wrongs. You fucked with me, that's OK, Karma will take care of it.   But I think that those people are actually missing the big picture. Karma is the tool, not the wielder of the tool.

I believe that the Universe seeks balance. I haven't quite reconciled this with the whole nature abhorring a vacuum thing, yet, but I'm working on it. That being said, I don't think Karma is the force behind the balancing. I think it's the tool.

And at first I was like...'Well..that's just Karma, isn't it? I talk about how great of a weekend I have planned and it goes tits up. That's what I get for thinking things are going so great.'

Boo fucking hoo. What a shitty outlook that would have been if I had actually believed it. For a second and only a second, I did.

And then I got to thinking that karma isn't necessarily a tool used for when people brag or boast. And then I got to thinking. I don't really know what the fuck karma is. I know what we think it is--a way that life gets even with people who have fucked us over so we don't have to. And a way that life rewards us when we do good for others. Or punishes us when we are the ones who fuck someone over.

(pause for Wikipedia search)

OK. That's some deep shit. At it's root, though, karma literally means "to do, make, perform, accomplish, cause, effect, prepare, undertake"

So...very rooted in the intentional/causal cycle. If that were the case, though, then me posting that I was excited about the weekend ahead should not have 'caused' it to go sideways.

Clearly then, the issue was not really one of karma per se but more of perspective.

Is it naive to look at a situation that may be shitty and spin it in such away that there is a massive positive outcome? No. Not naive. Vital. Vital for a happy life.

So. At a glance. Night operations went tits up. Communications with a third party vendor died last night. Got a team member covering a vacation for another member of my team and it's a shift he's not used to. His backup is unable to come in and help because they have transportation issues. A third rep who is to cover Saturday (a 12 hr shift) has been up most of Friday night helping due to how sideways things have gone.

I have what is in my mind a perfect Saturday on deck. It starts going tits-up about 2 AM and continues to do so.

I can bitch about it. I can be upset by it. By the fact that my plans are 'completely ruined.' But that's just silly when I look at it. Yeah. Plans got shifted. Things I had looked forward to were not going to happen.

But when I walked in the office at 4:45 this morning and saw the look of relief on my guy's face, I know that it was the right thing to do.

We got things settled. Back on track. There were some delays in processing, but nothing that was unrecoverable. The worst part of the day for me was being on a 6 hour conference call with a third-party vendor to get service restored for one of our applications.

Here's the perspective side of it.  My company employs nearly 3,000 people across the country. We have 25 stores. Each store has probably a hundred or more employees and runs at a pretty full roster on the weekends.

Certain things have to be done over night. Every night in order to make sure that our stores can open. That those people working in the stores can do their jobs. That we as a company can provide an exceptional customer experience.

I take that seriously. I take it to heart. I take the fact that everything I do, that my team does, ultimately translate to that shopper in one of our stores having the best experience in a retailer/computer-electronics store that they could possibly have.

And thanks to about 12 people (not just me) this weekend, who also had their nights and days fucked up because of the issues, we were able to make sure that happened.   Sure, things were a little bumpy at the stores at opening, but it should have been fairly transparent to the customer.

The point being...did karma fuck me over? Or was I exactly where I needed to be today? Making sure that shit didn't hit the fan for ALL of our stores?

As I said, I don't think it's necessarily naive or childish to look at what some would see as a really shitty situation and find a positive thread. To be honest, it's a vital habit for a content and happy life. This shit going on with my neck has dulled my skills in that arena. Finding the positive thread for me takes a little bit longer these days, but I can find it when I look.

That's the rub isn't it? You have to want to look for the positive. Very rarely do things get handed to us. Sometimes we have to dig deeper to see the beauty and treasure of what has been given to us.

Does Karma shape perspective or does perspective shape Karma?

Yes.


3.25.2015

Felt Like A Friday

I think a chapter in my memoirs (exposé?) will be titled "Felt Like A Friday." It's something that happens enough in my life that I think I need to give some credence to it in the story of me. Or something like that.

If you found that thing and still made your way back here today, bravo. And thank you.  I'm not really sure what that was. Oh..yeah..I mean other than a little piss and moan about being in pain. Which...still seems to be the norm. I never understood what a bitch chronic pain could actually be.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. Somewhere between a 1 and 2 on the pain scale, which is to say, after recent months felt like a 0 on the scale. By the time I was 3/4 of the way to work, though, it was back to the standard 3-4 that has been the norm.

But I can't describe what it was like to not feel that. Even for a couple of hours. If I was a betting man, I'd say it's a sign from the Universe that I need to somehow, someway move ahead with the surgery and hope for the best. I need to meet a couple more surgeons, though, because the one I've got is kind of a prick.

Friday. It fucking felt like Friday all day today. I mean I got a lot done today...it was busy. It was just weird. I wonder what in our brain triggers us to think of the 'feel' of a day. As though the actual day were somehow different in someway other than name.

This is going to be another short one. After cutting my finger nails somewhere between the first and second sentence in preparation for a whirl-wind writing session.

That is not to be. I'm tired. The hustle and bustle of the day having finally caught up and demanding of the ransom due them.

So, this will not be a long, thoughtful post. It will instead be another 'hidden' post. Find it without a link from FB and you too can feel smarter than all of your friends.

And with that, I'm dragging my tired ass to bed.

Peace out!
-AT

3.24.2015

Lucky You

You stumbled upon a 'hidden' post. Lucky you.
By hidden I mean that I've no intentions of posting a link about it on Facebook or any other social media site. I figure I'll do these from time to time. I suspect the posts will be slightly more self-indulgent. Again-lucky you.

Today I'm reminding of simple corporeal things that we often take for granted. I speak of course of the two most simple acts one can do with a neck: Tilting one's head back and tucking one's chin to their chest.

I can barely remember the day when I could do both of those without even thinking twice.  With no pain whatever.

Actually...that's a lie. I can't remember doing either of those things whilst not in pain. Because they are so fucking off the radar of things to be thankful for. Thankful I can do an exaggerated nod? Fuck that. I'm thankful I can breathe. Thankful I can make love to a woman.

Certain things you take for granted...things that aren't even on the radar...because they're not supposed to on the fucking radar. I'm not supposed to hear the crepitus when doing something so simple as moving my head and neck the same way I've moved it a million times before.

It's fucked up.

And it hurts. On the 1-10 chart that they post in the medical profession, I'd say that I'm a solid 3-4 all the time.

I don't know quite how a werewolf feels when he's going through the change. But...here's the thing...most of us have seen a werewolf movie at least once in our life. The newer ones show the transformation in graphic detail. You know when the spine arches and the skin tears away around the human turned canine bones? How you imagine that feeling kinda what I feel like all the time.

Yes. I know I need the surgery.

The surgeon is a prick.

He won't be cutting me.

Fuck it. I'm tired.

Off to bed.

More on this later. Maybe.

Lucky you.

-AT

3.23.2015

The Talk On a Cereal Box

I had a couple posts on Facebook recently that I thought might spark more discussion than they did. So...I figured I'd just throw some of them out here and let some of the random meanderings in my brain bucket take over.

Do not count the souls as lost who do not share your beliefs.
The lost souls are those who have no belief at all.

I'm certain I've heard some variation of the above quote before. In fact it's really a play on the whole concept of the Believer in Serenity sent to hunt River and Simon Tam.  We'll come back to that. I just put it there so I wouldn't forget about it.

Do you believe in God, Todd?

I have been asked this question many different ways in my life. My answer has remained basically the same.  At first it was 'Yes.' But to be honest, that never really sat well with me. I later changed it to 'Yes, but not in the same way you do.' And that one never really sat well with the people asking the question, if I'm being honest.  I found it easier for a time to answer the question with a non-committal 'Sorta.' A half-smile, head cocked to the side like an attentive dog always helped to sell this answer. Those that wanted to talk about it did. Those that just wanted some sort of positive sounding answer were pleased with themselves and usually walked away.

I'm approaching a point in my life where my answer is shifting yet again.

Do you believe in God, Todd? 
Yes. But not in the way in which you're asking me.

The God you're asking me about, the Judeo-Christian construct of the heavenly father is only a small encapsulation of what I believe.

In the simplest of terms, I believe in Creator and Creation.
And I believe that they are one in the same. I feel that all things that exist are the Creator experiencing its creation.

I believe we are all part of that creator/creation. All are connected. Matter and Void. One entity with many names. Much like our bodies.

We have but one body.  Yet there are 10 fingers. 10 toes. These are seen in a context of being both separate and connected to the body. Our entire bodies are this way. Down to the smallest molecule.

Does it not make sense then that the phrase 'created in God's image' bears this out? We think we are separate, but are actually cells...molecules...part of the larger body. Self aware in the same way said finger would be, had it sentience. without any sense but touch, would the finger know there was more to the body? Because of their proximity and similarity to other fingers, they might recognize they they were not alone. What then would discover? Parts of the body foreign to them.

The eyes are like lifeforms that have evolved and gained a sense of self-awareness. Jesus...Gandhi...the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They saw themselves for what they were. The eyes...the sight. The windows for information passing to the body.

But they were more. The visionaries....masters...teachers through the ages. They recognize their role as bringers of sight. But more than any other part of the body, they can see and recognize that there IS a body. Something larger than the sum of its parts.

They saw the great beauty in the metaphor. Such as most of the parts of our body would be unaware of anything but themselves or those immediately of their ilk. The masters realized that most people are unaware they are part of the larger body.

If you have any doubt of this, seek out the elements we paltry humans are made of. You will find the same elements in the stars we worship on a clear night sky.


There's more I have to say on this, but I left my notes over in my desk drawer in Dreamland.

As for the lost souls comment earlier....there is no such thing as a 'lost' soul..

Only a soul that has yet to open its eyes. Awakened to the truth.


-AT

Adrift

I'm approaching one of those 'this is a life changing moment' moments. I never used to be able to figure them out. When they've happened in the past, I usually figured it out by looking around with 'OH...so THAT'S what the hell happened...' kind of epiphany.  

Now I've learned to sense when they are coming. Not quite like the dog that starts to freak out before the storm. Skies perfectly calm.  No reason at all for the dog to be freaking. But the dog knows. 

The dog always knows.

That might be the best book title I've come up with yet, "The Dog Always Knows."  I'm gonna revel in it for a few days before I bring myself to look on Amazon and find out that it's probably some self-help book that's been around since the late 60's. 

It's the drift. That's how I know. I mean...I see things in my life that are the moorings, yet I feel adrift. It's as though I'm standing on the beach. If I turn away from the water, I see the solidity of the land. The familiar structures in my life. The impending waves don't exist. 

Until they do. The water slowly, calmly engulfing my sandy feet. Feels cool at first. A welcome change from the norm.

And then, I don't know...something makes me turn around. And that's when I get lost in the motion of the incoming waves. Off balance. Not quite faltering...just a feeling of being...adrift

I don't know if that makes any sense. I mean to you. Fuck it. It makes total sense to me. That's what it feels like. 

This neck surgery might be routine for the doctor. I'm sure he does dozens of them a month. And his life doesn't change. That's his beachfront property. That's not his wave. That's what he sees with his back to the water.

To me it's not routine. It's fucking scary.  Not just from the surgical aspect of it. I read online how the surgery is performed (BIG MISTAKE).  Anterior. That means front. Cervical. That means neck. Decompression. That one is self explanatory.

So...they cut in to my neck from the front and then decompress my spine. This is done by shaving parts of the stuff between my vertebrae. 

Sounds routine to me. 

Although, to be fair....the thought of editing a cronjob on a production server in the middle of the day on black Friday probably scares the shit out of this doc. But it's routine to me.

The surgery has me worried. The surgeon seems douchey to me too. And that's a big problem. Dude...if I'm paying you to slit my throat, can you at least not be a smarmy asshole about the whole matter?

So...surgery and surgeon aside. There's the recovery period. I didn't re-up my disability this year...because...well...I didn't think I'd need it. So...to have that time off somewhat covered, I'd have to wait until open enrollment in December and add it back in.  My vacation and sick pay doesn't even cover 1/2 of the 8 weeks that is commonly quoted as the recovery time for this kind of procedure.

But that fucking wave is coming. So...I'm not sure waiting is really an option at this point.

I thought about the fact that if I win the lottery. I mean, not even full on win--just a little win, I'd be set. This thought made me smile. Until a friend reminded me that I don't play the lottery. Damn details.

I know that things are going to work out the way they need to. That the path I'm on and the steps I'm taking are the ones that I signed up for before I took this body for this trip around on the ride call 'life.'  So...that doesn't worry me as much.  I mean, sure...the wave is approaching. But I can mostly swim...at least enough to not drown.

As long as I can get my head above water.

That seems to be the key.

-AT

3.22.2015

A Necessary Evil

It's no secret by now that I have no real love of the book of face.  I have killed a profile for almost a year and let other iterations of my profile go dark for months at a time.

Sorry about that. Had to go cut my finger nails. Where was I ?

Oh yes. Social Media. I firmly believe that there is no such thing as social media. Posting Refrigerator Magnets (quotes and what not on an image file), posting click-bait links, and a 'news' feed filled with commercials is ridiculous.

I can remember when Facebook first allowed ads. They were over on the side. You didn't have to click on them if you didn't want to.

And people posted actual links to things they found on the interwebs. Or actually re-typed in quotes that were meaningful to them. Not pre-fab images from FeelGoods-R-Us.

But that wasn't fast-paced enough. We needed Facebook on our phones. Companies got on board. They figured out that WWW.BUYMYSHIT.COM on their commercials wasn't good enough. We needed to know what their Facebook page was. So we could 'follow' them.

It always makes me laugh when people start posting the "OMG Facebook is going to start charging us..." posts. They won't. They make more money from ad-content being spoon fed to us than they ever would by charging us.

(of the crowd) "Their appetite is a beast that must constantly be fed with ever-increasing delights..." Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

It's like that on Facebook. We are constantly looking for new things. All in the name of being social. Facebook has become so entrenched in our lives. It's disheartening really.

And yes. I full understand the irony.  Or rather hypocrisy.  I write. I post things on this blog. It's my escape. It's my palette cleanser. It's the thing that clears cobwebs for when I sit to do my other writing. And I have countless...ok...maybe like 9...posts where I'm bitching about Facebook and the cult of anti-social media.

Yet I led you hear via a link from my own Facebook feed.

It is, unfortunately, an inevitable hypocrisy.  Would you know the link to this blog if you did not see something on your newsfeed that I had posted an update? A half-dozen...perhaps even a dozen of you might. I posted a few things recently without posting a link on my FB page. And the number of views was 1/4th that what it is when I post the link.

So...like companies...I have found that traffic to my wares is increased by FB. And I guess I'm ok with that for now. When I actually get my shit together and get around to getting published, things may be different. Until then I will play the game with a wary and weary eye. I feel it welling inside of me again. The need to unplug from that 'social' beast for a while. The need to just stay away.

What's funny to me is, the last time I did it...only a handful of people actually reached out to me to see if I was OK. The rest assumed that I had 'un-friendend' them and were pissed with me. Not really caring that I was no longer around, nor wondering what prompted my exit, they were upset that the number of 'friends' had decreased by one and took offense that it was I who caused the decrement. It was quite a sad eye-opener to be honest.

We shall see what the future holds. I find that I have increasingly less time for the time-suck these days.

In other news...I went to the grocery yesterday. Well...OK..it was Wal-Mart. I didn't bother to change out of my flannel shorts, because I was just running right in for a few things. I had been in the midst of cleaning and ran out of trashbags.

I noticed that there was a laundry detergent there that was $10 (there were more expensive detergents). This was the same detergent that someone had left on my washer anonymously.

I don't know who did it (but I have a few guesses) or why (again a few guesses). But when I saw how much the detergent was, I was taken aback by the kindness. $10 may not seem like much. But in the context of buying laundry detergent anonymously for someone and intentionally buying a brand that is similar to what they already use is kinda huge.  Especially knowing that my neighbors are like me--not really a lot of extra money to spend on things.

Of course...part of me thinks it's still a mistake--that they meant to put it on someone else's washer. But ...ya never know.

Did I mention that this post was gonna be kind of random? I can't remember if I did or not. Because...you know..I should have to warn you, since I don't oft go off on weird tangents within these walls. LOL.

Oh-hey--In case you missed it on my 'news feed' (man...that still just tastes foul)....I bowled a 175 Friday night. It's my 2nd highest game so far in my bowling history. I'm pretty pumped. Having the right equipment definitely helps.

Alright. The neighbor's dogs are barking. Time to turn up the stereo to drown the little shits out.

Have an awesomesauce Sunday my friends!

-A.T.

3.17.2015

Bad Irish Pun Nothwithstanding

So..it's St. Paddy's Day today (trust me, I looked it up here, you Patty fans).

Being a good Irish boy, I'm wearing my green. And yeah...the way the day has gone, I'm ready for a nice stiff pint by the time I clock out this afternoon.

I was going to put something in the title of this post along the lines of 'Erin Go Bra-less' or something like that. But then I realized....I know a few too many Erins for that and the last thing I need is them thinking I'm some weird booby-obsessed dude in green. I mean, I might be...but they don't have to think that for heaven's sake.

Anyway. Yeah. So...I'm trying something. Facebook is getting stupidly saturated again.  The gnomes that control the News Feed are high I think. The feed is full of religion  (don't care)...politics (don't care)...cooking recipes (mostly don't care)...games (don't care)....and the worst. A combination of all three: sensationalist click-bait links (OMG--You will NOT BELIEVE what Obama had to say about the Teletubby Stew Recipe served up a Sunday School!!!)

It's no secret that artists and creative types seek constant external validation. Forget the fact that most of us would just as soon stop breathing as to be deprived of doing something creative/artistic as often as possible. Even if that's true- we still want you to tell us how much you enjoy it when we bleed out our raw thoughts and emotions in whatever medium feels right that day. What?!? It's not some big secret. Not like a magician revealing the trick. It's common sense. Ask us what the last thing we worked on was and you'll see I'm telling the truth. And of the attention-whore artists and creative-types, writers are the worst.  We need the validation. OK. That might just be me.

Here's the honest truth. I would write anyway. I do write anyway. When I have no expectation that anyone will read it or give two shits about something if they did read it, I still write. I still have to get that daily transfusion of thoughts and randomness out of my head and on to some kind of page...either electronically or on paper. This is probably best evidenced by my journals scattered around the apartment. Or even the number of blog posts that I've written that I've just written and pushed to the web without going to this social media or that and announcing that 'hey--look at me--I wrote something!!'

Which leads me to this post. Other than boobies...it's really more of an experiment of sorts. I want to see how many people still read this blog. As in, do you make time out of your day to see what kind of random bullshit comes out of my brainbucket?

Is it ego stroking? Maybe. It's also market research. If it's a similar number to when I post to FB, then I'll assume I can stop posting the links to the blog on FB and just write.

If it's a lower number, I might start getting a little more bold in my discourse. Things that my go deeper in to the Mind of Todd.

And if it's a higher number, I'll know y'all are just fucking with me.

Speaking of fucking with me...I've probably gone past my allotted lunch time. So, I'm off to my desk.

Have a great rest of your day.

And remember; if you're lucky enough to be Irish, you're lucky enough.

-A.T.

3.16.2015

Atypical Geek, Not a typical Geek

So...I'm not quite normal about a lot of things. And some things I'm ridiculously normal about (I mean, everyone puts pickles on pizza, right? You don't?!? Well...you should).

Thing is...I'm what some might call a geek. Not a nerd. They are similar (but I think that geeks tend to be a bit more social and not really all about computers...you can geek out about damn near anything).

But I digress.

So...as you may have gathered if you've gone far enough back on this blog (and..yes. I know. I'm sorry too)....but I tend to like (not necessarily in this order):

  • Gadgets that I may or may not actually need
  • Guitars
  • Bags (messenger/backpack)
  • Cases for gadgets (that I may or may not actually need)
  • Styluses (styli?) for tablets
  • pickles and hot sauce (but not necessarily together all the time)
  • Vinyl LP's (they're what MP3's used to come on before the cloud)
Sometimes this bites me in the ass. Not often enough to make sitting uncomfortable, but yanno. 

The Amazon Fire TV Stick was stuck an ass-biting.  I got all jazzed by the announcement of the AppleTV...and then I got to thinking about how I'd be tempted to buy movies and the what nots...and on a device tied to my iCloud account that would be too easy. And then I started reading about them. And comparing them to other devices. 

And then I stumbled upon the AFTVS. I didn't really stumble. Friends of mine have one...er...two of them. Hi Jamie...Hi Sean.   I looked at the specs and was swayed. The cost was 1/2 that of an Apple TV. It seemed like a no-brainer.

Set up was a snap. Up and running in 5 minutes. 

I was going through picking out shows...and seasons...adding them to my Watchlist. But who watches the Watchlist? Turns out--no one does. After a long day of bowling, I wanted to cue up some TrueBlood Season 4 (yeah...I'm a bit behind). Pulled up my Watchlist---$40 for Season 4. Or $4/episode.

Um...s'cuse me?  I went back through the other series I had queued up...95% of them were the same way. Sure. I could watch them on my FireTV Stick. If I bought them first. I've had it 5 days. And today I went online and put in to get a Return Authorization.

Things I really liked about the Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Quick/Easy Setup
  • Access to PBS programming
Things I didn't really care for:
  • Annoying GUI. WAY Too Busy.
  • Giving up my soundbar (my soundbar connected directly to my Western Digital Live TV)
  • Not knowing which content was pay or free before adding to watch list
  • paused playback (it IS wi-fi)
Thing is...there are some people that this is great for. Probably the same people that like to root their Android phones. I'm a geek. And I like tech. But most tech I like to use. I went to Apple (and Chromebook) as my laptops of choice because shit just works.  Even with updates, shit just works.  The Western Digital Live TV has a very clean and straightforward interface. Shit works. And my sound bar works. And external drives can be used to deliver media.

I'm not sure what I thought I would gain by getting the AFTVS. Maybe some geek-cred? Maybe the undying adoration of my non-geek friends. Maybe people would think I'm cool.

You know what's cool in my mind? Shit that works. So...yeah. 

I have no idea what this post was about...other than sometimes my joy of shiny things leads to buyer's remorse.  Not to mention a crap ton of extra laptop bags and iPad Mini cases.

Well...since I have to get up in 5 1/2 hours to do an install, I best close this post out.

Have a wonderful evening my friends and an even more kick ass tomorrow.  And if it's already day time, wait until evening and read that last sentence again.

-A.T.

3.15.2015

We Didn't Start The Fire

Combine tax return with my love of shiny things and throw a dash of Apple lowering AppleTV to $69, and you have a tasty little recipe for me re-evaluating my streaming media hub.

When I first moved in to the iTapt, I had cable TV. I had it for all of about a week before I cancelled it. I switched to Netflix and Hulu Plus.  And I never looked back.  Last Spring I got Amazon Prime. Along with it came a crapton of music and videos and what not. Along with the amazing shipping.  I pull from the service's audio repository more than their visual stores.

All of this led me to think that I needed to replace my Western Digital Live TV streaming content mega-hub.

So I did. In favor of the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

And it's bugging the shit out of me. If I wanted to go apples to apples on the replacement, I would have gone with the $99 FireTV (not the mini version which is the 'Stick').

I was geeked to have finally have a good delivery method for PrimeVideo on my TV. But the interface is horrible. It's too fucking busy. Not clean in the least. 5 minutes of browsing and I was already missing the WDLiveTV. Not to mention that I had to give up my sound bar.

All of that aside. I could have actually lived with those minor annoyances. But the constant misleading of what videos are free vs. which are paid is just annoying as fuck.  There is no distinction that I can find as you browse to let you know which shows are included in the Prime Membership--which I may or may not renew--or which you actually have to buy.

It clunky.

And there's a good chance I'll be sending it back to Amazon.

But first I have to find the damned remote.

3.12.2015

Take A Load Off Fanny

I realize if you happen to be reading this from the UK, that the title may be a bit vulgar. Suffice to say that the title refers to a name...in a lyric of a song. NOT to what "fanny" normally means in your vernacular.

Speaking of the weight.

It feels like it's somewhat lifted.  In regards to this whole neck/bulging disk/arthritis/bone spurs thing.   I made the call yesterday to the surgeon's office to find out what the next steps were. Basically acknowledging to myself that no, I cannot 'manage the pain.' It would seem that when you get to a certain point, 'managing' isn't really an option. And I was fooling myself to think I could.  But that's OK. I'm moving to the next step.

I'm not going to lie...I'm not thrilled about surgery. I don't have fond memories of any of the surgeries I've had. I'm scared. Maybe it's silly. Maybe to these guys it's as common as clipping their toenails. But it's my fucking spine.  And if it's in an area that prompted the doctor giving me the (non-effective) steroid shot to say, "If this doesn't work-we can't do another round. It's too risky," then what makes me think that actually having surgery in that same area is any less risky?

Yes. Logically I know it will probably be just fine and I'll be done in time for the regional Parcheesi qualifiers. But how many of your fears in your life have been based on logic? Sorry. I couldn't hear you over the rush of the tumbleweed and the crickets. Or that little "ka-loo, ka-loo, ka-loo yi yi yi" bird that you always hear in the distance in any movie that takes place in a jungle.

So...yeah. Little bit of fear and trepidation there.  And lest you think my train ride to crazy town was incomplete, maybe I should mention that starting in my 20's, I had dreams that something would happen to me and I would live at least part of my life without the use of my legs.  Dream analysts would probably reference the fact that it was around the time that a friend of mine was in an accident that left him paralyzed. OR that the fact that they became stronger after marriage might have something to do with the fact that I no-longer felt that I had the means or motivation to follow the path that was originally set for me when I took this body/this lifetime.

And both of those are probably somewhat accurate. Initially the dreams involved a car crash in which the engine basically wound up in my lap, crushing my legs, but leaving me alive. Lately, though, I've just had the dreams where I have seen my life with me in a wheelchair. Mobile...Arms working. Just not walking. I find myself looking around at the areas in my life and mentally making notes as to what will need to be adjusted when that happens. It's kind of fucked up, if I'm being honest. But that's the way my mind works.

Maybe I'm working this out for a character in my book (holy fuck...that's actually a good idea!)...or..maybe I'm getting cosmic interference from the universe in which Todd actually doesn't have the use of his legs. I am not so naive as to think that there aren't multiple planes of existence in which the choices in our lives play out with different consequences. In fact I'm sure there's one in which Jewel and Jennifer Love Hewitt are both pining for my affections (don't you judge me...they are BOTH on my celebrity freebie list).

In any event...it's one of those recurring dreams. It's not an every night thing. And when it does pop up, it usually catches me off guard. The really odd thing about it is the fact that I don't get surprised by it. It's something that part of me just accepts and understands that at some point in my life, that's a distinct possibility and that it's just the way this life is supposed to play out. I know...fucked up. So...that's the main underlying fear with the back surgery. Part of me thinks that some one on the OR is gonna shout 'yahtzee' at the wrong time and *bammo* no more use of my legs.

I have no reason to believe that will happen.  Of course, I had no reason to believe that 4 months after open-heart surgery, they'd have to go in and completely re-build my chest wall, either. But that happened. So...you'll forgive me if I don't consider myself the bastion of normalcy.

I mean, I tried to come in to this world sideways for fucks sake. SIDEWAYS!  I mean, I don't remember it. Sure-I was there, but I wasn't really paying attention. Apparently, as Mom tells it, I tried to come in to this world sideways. Not backwards. Sideways. Apparently they got me turned in time, so  there's that. But hearing that put a shit ton of things about me and my life in to crystal clear perspective.

And the funniest part of it all is the fact that my Mom tells it in such a casual way. It's like "I wonder if it will rain later. And oh by the way, did you know you tried to come in to this world sideways? Please pass the gravy."

OK. It didn't go down quite  like that. It was snow. And I'm pretty sure we were having chicken and waffles at the time.

It would appear my lunch is over.  So....yeah. I should get my ass back to my desk now.  Hoping you all have a wonderful rest of your day.

Peace Out,
-A.T.

"SIDEWAYS, bitches!"

3.11.2015

Huh. Headroom Afterall

So a few years back I got a Toyota Camry. 1996 USA Edition. It's a great car. Had a bunch of upgrades my current car didn't. Including lumbar adjustments in the driver seat.

There was one minor annoyance--the headroom is a little tight. I always assumed it was because of the sun/moon roof.  Today as I was heading to work, I decided to adjust the lumbar support...trying to get a little relief for the neck shit I'm going through.

And I found out something amazing.  The seat lowers.

The
Mother-Flippin'
Seat
Lowers

Only took 3 1/2 years to figure this out.

The ride in to work this morning was completely different. I felt like I was in a car I actually fit in to. It was amazing.

It's the little things sometimes.

I'm learning to appreciate to the little things.  I think that's the one thing this chronic back pain has taught me. Appreciate the moments. The little things.

I know I'm not laughing as much as I was before all of this. I know that the 'I was only joking, Todd' comments are increasing.  And it's not that I don't know that. It's not that I don't recognize the humor that I normally enjoy.

It's honestly this stupid neck shit.  It adds a thin layer of suck on to everything. Operating at a constant level of pain sucks. In a normal day...if someone felt pain that was on a scale of 2-3 out of 10, it wouldn't be that big of a deal per se. But when that is constant. When it hurts all the time, it makes it different.

I have a few friends that have chronic pain. I stopped comparing my levels of pain to others'. It doesn't matter what their pain is. Only that I now know what it feels like. I know what they feel when they say they always hurt.

So..yeah. It sucks. I'm living with it. I've lived with it for just over a year. I'm done dealing with it. I'm done making excuses for it. I'm done hurting.

I called my surgeon today to find out what it would take. What the next steps are. He's out of the office until Monday. So it would seem that it's on hold. At least until Monday. Then I'll have a game plan.

Then I'll have a way out.

A way through the pain.

That's the hope anyway.

At least until then, I'll be able to ride around with a little more headroom.

Little victories.

-A.T.

3.10.2015

Da'Fuq?

I'm sure I've used that title for a blog post before. Or at least one that conveys the same sentiment.
I would have started this about 5 minutes ago, but I couldn't type. That is to say, I can  type, but if my fingernails are any kind of length at all, playing guitar or typing annoys the shit out of me.

That's not why I haven't been writing (although, I might have to use it at some point). When I got some dental work done last year, the days of nail biting ended. It was too easy to pop off a veneer whilst trying to trim my nails via mastication. Problem is, I never really paid attention when I was biting my nails, so there was never really a good sense of 'if I don't chew my nails for a week, will I need to suddenly chow down because they're too long to do anything?' No. It was more along the lines of..my nails are always trimmed...by my teeth mostly, but trimmed nonetheless.

Yes. I know it's gross. And I know that I spent more time going over those couple of paragraphs than if I had just left that bit out and started writing (I'd probably have caught up to myself by now).

It's a mystery that we may never know the answer to.

Speaking of mysteries. I started my laundry last night (no, that's not the mystery). It had been easily 2 weeks since I had done laundry of any sort. No. That's not the mystery either. That is quite easy actually. Each pair of dress slacks can be worn twice if hung immediately upon coming home from work. Jeans can be worn for Casual Friday and throughout most of the weekend.  The key is having enough socks and underwear. The rest is pretty standard. 

But I digress (shocker!)...which, if you're new to the blog, I would like to say first off, welcome. And secondly I almost never digress and dive off in to tangents,..and arcs...and co-sines....OK. That's not true. Geometry aside...I think this blog can best be described as 'stream of (barely) consciousness.'  And that's OK.

Shit newbies...see what ya did there? Got me all distracted with my manners and what not.  Where was I? Oh yes. The mystery.

So...I go down do do laundry and there, on my dryer, next to my bottle of bleach and bottle of cheap ass EXTRA (NOW with OxiClean) is a new, unopened bottle of laundry detergent. It is the same blue color as mine. Also containing Oxi Clean. In fact, the new bottle IS the OxiClean brand. It's the same blue color as mine.

One might think that someone, out doing grocery shopping, would remember the blue bottle....and the oxi clean and jump to that conclusion.

I looked at my neighbors' laundry stations. Neither of them had the same detergent. No, it was clear this bottle belonged at my station.

Only problem is...I don't remember buying it. Nor do I have any friggin' idea where it came from.

I asked both neighbors. Both denied it.

My land lord lady lives in Lithopolis...so...when the snow was particularly shitty..I would shovel the walks. No big deal. Just something that needed done. I suspect that the detergent might be the same sort of anonymous gift.

Either that, or someone is using my washer and dryer. But I don't think that is the case. If so, I suspect that my utilities would show increased water usage and they don't. So...again. Weird.

It sounds like a mystery for those clever canine lovers at Mystery, Inc.  Or even Encyclopedia Brown.

Or perhaps not. After all I don't think it was Old Man Withers the Amusement Park caretaker.

At least not this time.

-A.T.

3.08.2015

Custodial Impasse

I've been sitting on this one for a while. It's been stewing in my brain bucket as it were for quite a while.

I decided it was time to finally shit or ....well...you'll see.


I suppose this won't really do anything to alleviate the whole potty mouth rep I may or may not have on this blog.

Before I get in to it, there's one thing I have to say. This is not a stock photo. This is a bathroom I use many times a week. And I have to say-there is no good way to take a photo in a bathroom and by that I mean...if someone walks in, there is no good way to play off the fact that you were taking a photo in a bathroom. It's sketchy at best. 

That being said, I'd like to call your attention to the mats under the urinals. I'm saving time by calling your attention to that before you get hung up on the fact that the urinals don't match. There are 5 separate toilets in this bathroom, not a single one of them matches another. I have no idea what that's all about. But I digress.

The mats. Under the urinals.  

The one on the right is in the configuration that I find nearly every day.  The mat on the left is how I turn them. Nearly every day.

The men's bathrooms are cleaned by a woman. That's fact. Not some bullshit segue in to a sexist commentary. There is a woman that cleans our restroom every evening. I'm quite sure that she's the one undoing my work. 

Clearly she has never stood at a urinal to relieve herself. If she had, she would not turn the mats. The purpose of the mats is so that your feet do not get in the piss that invariably collects under a urinal. The being said, my configuration allows for maximum area of feet not stepping on wayward piss. Hers does not. 

I...
heh. I got nothing. Seriously. This was a post about piss mats.

Clearly there are some more cobwebs that need to be cleaned out up there.

Have a good evening my friends!
-A.T.

3.05.2015

Gloss Be Poppin'


I saw this today on my way to work. I had to stop and fill my tank. I looked down and saw the tube of lip gloss at the base of the pump.

It was late. I imagined at first that she had just got off work. But that seemed too easy. She had been home. Had been ready for bed. A call...or rather a text from her booty call...her lover had stirred her from the red wine and salad induced stupor.

She changed out of her comfy pants in to the jeans that were almost too tight. Not that her lover would notice. There is no fashion statement when clothes are thrown in a hurried heap at the foot of the bed.

Snow had not quite covered the wind shield. As she put the key in to the ignition, the dashboard sprang to life in a cacophony of nearly useless lights and indicators. Save one--the low fuel warning. She had seen it leaving work today but had settled on the fact that she would fill it on the way to work tomorrow.

As welcome as the midnight rendezvous is, it's equally as annoying to think of running out of gas on the way to such delicious pleasure.

She pulled in to the gas station quickly and pulled up to the pump. She had opened the panel to the gas cap before remembering that she needed her Giant Eagle card. Reaching to the front passenger seat she grabbed her clutch. It was stuffed in a manner similar to the not quite too small jeans.

Being dark, it probably happened when she pulled out her billfold. The Mentha Lip Shine gloss fell to the pavement. Silent and unnoticed in the dark.

Casually dismissed as having been left at home when she pulled in to her lover's drive, she opened the glove box for the spare tube.  After all, it's quite important that the gloss be poppin'.


-AT

11 Days of Safety

I would like to

well....I'm not sure what I would like to do, to be honest. In the time since I started this post (over an hour ago) I have

  • clipped my fingernails (because if they're too long, I can't type nor play guitar)
  • dialed in to work to finish something that I forgot I had to do 
  • got ready for bed and nearly went to bed (because I also have to be up in 5 hours to do another thing for work)
So...I'm not really even sure what the opening line of this post was even supposed to be. The title references something about 11 days (which is 12 by now based on the relative position of the earth to the sun) so I'm guessing it was some sort of witty or heartfelt apology for not having written anything in 11 days (which is 12 by now based on the relative position of the earth to the sun).

And so there's that.  In that time I have avoided various dog shit land mines left by my neighbor's dogs (a.k.a. yapping shitmonsters).  I have filed my taxes AND received the return. And I've spent about 1/2 of the return already.  Because...well...I need shiny things sometimes.

The shiny thing du jour is this Toshiba Chromebook 2 (CB35-B3330). It was about what I wanted to spend for a Chromebook (between $200-$300) and has really good reviews. And because it has speakers that have been 'tuned by SkullCandy,' it came with a cool Skullcandy skull sticker. Which is now on the lid. And to be fair...the speakers sound better than they have a right to on a $249 laptop.

I have a 'public' reason for getting this. I see myself doing a lot of patio writing this spring/summer (and or writing wherever I may park my posterior for a while and write/people watch). So...the press-release reason is that I want a device that I'm not quite as emotionally invested in. If something happened to the MacBook or iPad, I would pretty much be crushed. I'd survive, but I'd be unhappy.

Most everything on the Chromebook is sync'd to the cloud (YES, Virginia, they are viable machines if you use them offline)--so at most I would lose whatever I had written for that session (assuming I wasn't connected to a wi-fi hotspot).

Seriously, the speakers on this thing sound fucking amazing. It's like the whole keyboard is the actual speaker system. Crazy.

Oh..and the Winbook tablet would DEFINITELY be in the too cheap to care category, but the resolution on the screen is such that typing for long periods (even with the blue tooth keyboard) just isn't a viable option. So...it's really falling in to its role as a media player for sure.

So..that's the story I'm telling people. But the real reason is...I wanted it. Plain and simple. I wanted a Chromebook. I was pretty much set on the Samsung. But for $150 less...this Toshiba was kicking ass and taking names in all of the reviews.  So...here we are. I'm on it. I'm typing this post. And it feels like a very solid machine.  I have to say I'm pretty pumped.

I read something from a writer that I follow on the interwebs and he said that he starts all his first drafts on a Chromebook and then works through subsequent edits in Scrivener (which I have on the MacBook).  I definitely see that being a working model. Especially given the fact that previous 'books' I wrote were done on a old ass PowerBook using the equivalent of MS Word 5.0 for Dos (whatever the Mac equivalent at the time was).

OK. That was a lie. It's not really a writer I follow. It's an article I found when I was researching how viable the Chromebook was as a tool for writing, given the fact that I could be offline for a large portion of the time (like when I go down to the Farm).

Language is a funny thing sometimes.  "A writer I follow..." vs. "Something I read from someone I had never read up to that point." One of those statements is likely to add weight and credibility to the argument. And the other one is the truth.

Alright. First post on the Chromebook is in the books. I have more to say, but the need for sleep is winning.

I'll write more at lunch tomorrow.

Peace out my friends,

-A.T.

In The Bag

There are a few common threads throughout this blog if you read it long enough. One of these threads has to do with my obsession...er...ques...