01/23/2018: Cat’s In The Cradle (Part 1)

It was the beginning of November 1999. I had only been at this job for less than a month, when after returning from lunch, I noticed a note from my supervisor on my desk. The note said that I was log out of my workstation, grab my belongings, and come see him. Of course, my thoughts went to that I must have done something wrong and was being let go. A few people who I had started with had already been let go, so it was not a stretch to think that. Working in tech support was the greatest, but it was a step up from the short-order cook job that I had just left.

My supervisor was in his office when I got there. He told me that my mother had called and I needed to go home immediately. There was no further explanation. So, I left work.

The job I was at was about a mile away from where I lived, so I walked to and from work. It was also uphill, so getting to work was a lot harder than getting home. On my walk home, my brain was racing with trying to figure out what the emergency was. All I could think of was that something happened to my cat. There was a few times that my mom accidentally let him out of the house, and she could not get him to come back in. One time, when I was staying with my (then) girlfriend for a few days, he got out. No one had been able to catch him those few days. But, as soon as I stepped out of my car after those few days, he came running up to me. I was starting to get mad, hoping that it was not something as trivial as that.

When I got home, my mother was on the porch, smoking, as usual. She looked shaken, but I was not feeling sympathetic. The relationship between us had been strained at that point in time. The only reason we lived together is because she did could not afford to move and I was not cold-hearted enough to kick her out. He first words to me were to call my younger brother. Upon going into the living room, I noticed my cat, asleep next to the heater, which is where he liked to sleep when I was not in bed. I called my brother, and he told me, “dad committed suicide.”

For most of my childhood, my dad had not been around. There is a very long story, so I’ll try to summarize. He and my mother had a bad marriage, and divorced when I about three years old. The judge had awarded custody of my brothers and I to my mom with visitations to my dad. But, my mom ended up moving out-of-state, which made it difficult for him to visit. We still communicated via phone and letters, until around the time I was in 2nd Grade. That was when my mom’s boyfriend ripped the phone out of the wall and our mom would not let us talk to our dad. The next time we had seen him was when were teenagers. We had moved back in-state and mom applied for public assistance, which notified him. He ended up having to take her to court to make her honor the visitation agreement again.

Like I said, it is a long story, so I will just say that, through the court proceedings and after, we found out that our mom lied to us about a lot of things regarding our dad, in order to get back at him for divorcing her. The court withheld the original visitation decree from their divorce and told our mom that she had to allow us to visit again or would be found in contempt and jailed. This started us down the path to getting to know our dad again. And, within the next few years, we forged a very strong bond with him.

A little over a year prior, my younger brother and his family had moved to Seattle to be around my dad. And, I had made plans to also move within the next year. My dad and I had been talking via email, with the most recent being a few weeks prior to his death. There was no indication of his suicidal tendencies, but as I well know, the indicators are not always there. You see, in 1997, I had attempted suicide. If I had not received medical attention when I did, the attempt would have worked. To this day, we did not know the exact reason why our dad killed himself, but there are a few different reasons why we think he did.

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01/19/2018: Quiet in the echoplex

I’m trying something new.

About a month ago, I got frustrated. Rather, I’ve been frustrated for some time, but about a month ago, that frustration came to its peak. I had wanted to post something to Reddit. So, I typed it all out, formatted, spell checked, and then posted. A few seconds later, I got a message from one of the moderators that my post was removed. The message was that the post did not follow the one or more of the guidelines and had a list of all the guidelines. So, I read through all the guidelines and thought I found the one that I had not followed. I amended my post and tried again. A few seconds later, another message that my post was removed with the same automatic response that it did not follow one or more of the guidelines.

I could not figure out what the issue was this time. But, some of the guidelines were a bit vague, so I guessed that one of those may be the issue. I amended my post again and re-posted. And, a few seconds later, another message that the post was removed, due to not following one or more of the guidelines. I was getting frustrated, so I emailed the moderator who sent the message, asking for an exact violate, so I could fix it. The response was similar to the automated message that my post did not follow one or more of the guidelines. So, I rage-quit Reddit.

After calming down, I started to think about, why was I so mad that I could not make the post? It was not a life-or-death matter, just something small that others may or may not read. And, I realized it was not about how important it was for others to read, as it was about me wanting to add my opinion to an already ocean of opinions. The only thing that would benefit would be my ego.

With Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Digg, the various message boards, and comments sections, it is easy to post your thoughts about anything you want. The thing is, maybe we shouldn’t. While being able to weight in on something or share information is good, there is a lot of things said that don’t need to be said. It is fine to share a life experience that others can relate to, but our opinion about a celebrity’s outfit or our politics is entirely unnecessary. Yet we do it, because it feels good. And, to me, it felt a little too good.

After all this thinking, I decided to severely reduce my posting on-line. I’ll still maintain this blog and will occasionally comment (about one or two a week) on posts on Facebook. Other than that, I’ve decided to remain silent.

So far, it has been difficult, but has got a little easier. One thing that I have noticed is that if I give it enough time, someone usually will make the same comment that I was going to make. Or, I spend a lot more time reading the comments, instead of trying to figure out how to respond. I’m going to keep this up for the next few months and maybe I’ll write a follow-up post. Or, I will get so accustom to not posting online that I’ll eventually abandon my blog. We’ll see.

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01/10/2018: I Don’t Fear, I Hate Them

When I in 4th grade, my brothers, my mother, and I moved into the YWCA in St. Joseph, Missouri. The house that we had been living in was infested with snakes. I do not know what kind that they were, only that they were venomous. I only know that, because they killed most of our cats. Actually, most of them were kittens. And, it was very painful to watch them die.

The first victim was my kitten, Mimi. She liked to meow a lot, so I called her, “Screamin’ Mimi”, which was the name of a popular toy at the time, just spelled differently. Mimi had become a victim when she attacked a snake that was under the table that my mother was sitting at. I don’t know if the snake would have bit my mother, because it never got the chance. Mimi killed the snake and survived. But, during the fight, something happened to Mimi’s eye.

Over the next few days, Mimi’s eye started to get larger. We were very poor and had little money as it was, but given the situation and her heroic act, we took her to the vet. The vet said that he had to remove her eye or she would die. So, we had them do it. Given what was about to happen to her litter-mates, it was a small price to pay.

About a week later, my older brother, Curtis, found Cory Kitten on the floor in the kitchen, crying and not able to move. He was orange and white, and was the one who ran around the most. We named him after this kid at school, who was a red-head and could not sit still. We did not know what happened, but thought it may be that he was just sick. So, Curtis swaddled him into a towel and had him sleep with him that night. By morning, Cory Kitten was dead.

Within a few days of Cory Kitten’s death, we found two more kittens, in the house, in the same shape as Cory Kitten, unable to move. Like Cory Kitten, they both died by the next morning. We knew something was wrong, but did not know what. Over the next few days, with the exception on Mimi, the remaining kittens either died or went missing. Finally, we found the kitten’s mother behind the couch, dead. The only cat alive was Mimi.

It was not normal for our mom to pick us up from school. So, when she showed up, we did not know what to think, especially since she had Mimi in the car with her. I don’t remember exactly how it happened or what she exactly said, but she let us know that our house was infested and that we could not go home. All we had was what was the clothes we wore to school that day.

Due to the circumstances, the YWCA let us keep Mimi. We missed about a week of school while we got settled in. Members of the Frazier Church helped get some of our clothes and belongings from the house. We had to wait outside while they would pick-up items with pitch forks, shake them out, then drop them outside, on the lawn.

I can’t remember how long we stayed at the YWCA, but I know that I was still in 5th grade when we left and ended up moving from Missouri. All of our belongings were packed into a U-Haul carrier on the top of the car. We never got the chance to ever step foot in that house again.

To this day, if I see a snake in the wild, I will kill it. Living in Washington state, we don’t get many snakes, so I have not had the opportunity. I’ve only been able to kill one of the three that I found. There’s not a lot of things in this world that I can say that I hate with a passion, but snakes are one of those things.

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12/22/2017 – Seven degrees

It has been some time since I wrote an entry. To help ease me back into writing, I am going to play a little association.

And that, is how Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Star Wars, DC Comics, and Marvel are connected.

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09/28/2017: (not) Movin’ Out

One of my first posts this year, Movin’ Out, was about how I was planning on moving to Canada. Almost eight months later, that plan has changed.

Prior to discussing with my wife, I started researching the information on what was required to move to Canada. The three biggest items were; getting passports, making an inventory of everything we own for Customs, and taking the ESL test. After discussing with my wife, we decided to at least start the requirements. So, we all got passports (I just renewed mine) and I started to inventory all of our belonging. Finding a time and place to take the ESL test was a roadblock, so we’ve still not done that.

The discussion with my wife was that it would be a huge undertaking to move outside the Seattle area, not alone to another country. Even if it had just been us two, it would be difficult, but we also had a toddler and a cat. Plus, since she was very young, she has never lived outside the Seattle area. And, her family was also in this area. So, the move would also be a huge change for her.

For now, we have decided to put the move on hold. Once our daughter is older or if things get worse, we’ll pick up from where we started. Or, we may stay in the U.S., for good or bad. The option is not off the table, it is just not the only option right now.

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09/26/2017: I don’t wanna grow up

I want to start this post by saying that I give away all rights to this idea that I am about to write about. If implemented, I am willing to sign any legal document stating that I will not seek any reimbursement, profit, or anything else for this idea. All I want is to help keep a business that I like from closing their doors.

Last week, Toys “R” Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company announced that they were not planning on closing any stores. They said that the filing would allow them to reorganize their current business model and stores, so that they could make a profit again. Well, I have a suggestion for that reorganization.

Like all “brick-and-mortar” stores, Toys “R” Us is seeing a lack of people wanting to physically go to a store for items that they could easily get on-line. Yes, they have offered selling things on-line that they also sell in the store, but that still does not get people to actually visit their stores. My idea will get people back into the stores. And, that idea is for Toys “R” Us to get into the day-care business.

Here’s my idea; designate or build part of each Toys “R” Us store into a day-care. Offer full-day, half-day, and even hourly “drop-in” child care. Make certain that is properly staffed, as if it was its own business. Or, even partnership with a local day-care to have them move into the store. Offer longer hours than other day-cares in the area and prices that are either on-par or slightly lower than other day-cares. They should not severely under-cut other day-care businesses, because that will cause community back-lash. They just need to offer something slightly better, to entice parents.

Having a day-care in the store will get parents and kids to at least come to the store. They may not buy something every time, but the store will see an increase of in-store sales. To increase sales, occasionally have toys that are in the store put into the the day-care for kids to play with. This may lead to toy manufactures starting to seeking out and making deals Toys “R” Us when trying to distribute new toys. Which, will also cause more business for Toys “R” Us.

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09/25/2017: Yippie ki-yay!

Until the a few weeks ago, I had not watched any of the Die Hard movies. My wife is a fan, so she bought them all on blu-ray. And, while I was converting them to play via the Plex server at home, I took the opportunity to watch all five of them.

Warning: This post will contain spoilers.

The first three in the series, I liked. Those are Die Hard, Die Hard 2, and Die Hard With A Vengeance. The fourth one, Live Free or Die Hard, I did not like. The last one, A Good Day to Die Hard, well, I thought was better than the fourth movie, but not on par with the first three.

We start with Die Hard. It is basically about a New York police officer, John McClane, who accidentally gets caught it what appears to be a hostage situation perpetrated by terrorists. But, it is really some guys trying to pull a heist under that guise. When the movie first came out, I remember thinking, “the guy from Moonlighting is an action hero? I’m not certain that will work.” Of course, I was wrong and the movie did well. And, after watching it, I understood why. It was an unique story and not too over-the-top that it was unbelievable. I liked it, but it made me miss Alan Rickman.

When a movie does well, of course, there is a push for a sequel. Enter, Die Hard 2. I was not certain how a sequel could be done of the first Die Hard, so I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Again, same police office and terrorist take-over. This time, it is a take-over of air traffic control and all the planes scheduled to land at an airport. Again, things are not what they seem with the military officers, sent to stop the terrorists, secretly being on the side of the terrorists. There were a few plot holes, such as almost everyone being inept, except McClane. Or, why didn’t the airport resort to Morse code via a searchlight after radio communications were taken over? But, over-all, not a bad sequel.

In my opinion, the true sequel to Die Hard should have been the third movie, Die Hard With A Vengeance. The brother of the terrorist that McClane killed in the first movie has plotted out a heist, disguised as a terrorist attack, and had decided to drag McClane into it. Adding in Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Zeus, helped keep McClane grounded, as he was in the first movie. Part of Die Hard With A Vengeance, I had caught on television some time ago. It is the part when McClane is standing in Harlem with the sandwich board on. Of course, the message had to be digitally altered for television.

Live Free or Die Hard was a disappointment to me. I had to keep myself from getting distracted by the “Hollywood” treatment of hacking and computers. Yes, you can create a virus that will destroy a computer. No, it will not make the computer explode. Unfortunately, there was the over-the-top, almost comical, action sequences to distract me from the hacking. Then, there was the main villain’s (lack of) expressions. Maybe he was also puzzled to how McClane went from an “every man” police officer to a superhero.

The current last movie in the series, A Good Day To Die Hard does not stray too far from the previous movie when it come to the over-the-top action sequences. Nor did it stray with the large plot holes. How do you cause major accidents all over a city and not have the police and military looking for you? How did McClane’s son keep it from EVERYONE IN HIS FAMILY that he was working for the CIA, or at least with the U.S. government? Why is everyone else, but the McClanes wearing protective gear when they go to Chernobyl? If everyone knew where the “documents” were kept, then why didn’t they just destroy the building, or at least drill open the door? Why did the daughter fly the helicopter into the building instead of trying to find a gun inside the chopper to use? Better yet, why didn’t she just wait the McClanes out? And, once again, McClane is a superhero.

After the last two movies, I really hope they are not going to make any more Die Hard movies. They should have stopped with the third one.

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