Saying Goodbye to a Best Friend, Reconnecting with an Old One, and Doing the Right Thing

Saying Goodbye

I said goodbye to a friend this week. He was one of the greatest beings I have had the privilege to know—canine or human. Most people love their dogs, so these feelings are not unique, but that in no way diminishes what he meant to me.

He was the first to make my friends feel welcome, and the first to make those that may threaten my family feel quite unwelcome. He slept outside my kids’ bedroom door at night and by their beds when they were sick. He had endless patience with them as they have grown. They have never known life without him.

The first few years of his life were not good ones. He came into my life starving and abandoned on the side of a dirt road. I was told he would not recover from the condition he was left in; that I should not become attached, because he would not live more than another week. Instead he lived almost ten more years, and good ones. Almost all of my adult life up to this point.

I found out last Monday that he had a giant tumor in his abdomen, well hidden by his deep chest (he was half grey hound). The tumor was pressing against his internal organs, halting digestion, and causing kidney and liver failure. His quality of life was already rapidly declining, and there was little to be done.

Oliver-mans-best-friend

Oliver the Great

So, the tough decision had to be made to put him down. It was tough not because it was difficult to decide—I did not want him to suffer—but because of how much it hurt knowing he would be gone. That night we ate roast beef, shared a brew, and went outside as often and for as long as he wanted. I stayed by his side after his many years of faithfully staying by mine.

Returning to the veterinarian’s office in the morning was the longest short drive of my life, yet still seemed to pass too quickly. Thankfully the process didn’t take long, and he did not seem to experience any discomfort.

His body has been donated to the veterinary medicine program at the university, which seems appropriate. Oliver’s last act of service.

Sometimes Doing the Right Thing Goes Wrong

My sister recently broke up with her boyfriend and due to some shitty circumstances has been without wheels, making the whole process quite a bit more difficult. Wanting to help, my dad finds a cheap vehicle that will suit her needs, fixes a couple of little issues it had, and has it in mind to bring it to her.

The only problem? She lives down in the Anchorage area— roughly 360 miles south of the town where he and I currently reside. My assistance is requested, and we make plans to caravan down and carpool back. No big deal; just 12-14 hours of driving to and from.

My dad and I met up at a predetermined location, fueled up, grabbed the necessary sundries, and set out into the night.

And directly into a torrent of freezing rain.

Initially we pressed forward, but every turn on that dark road brought worse conditions. Visibility and traction were diminishing by the minute.

Finally I hear, “I’m losing control back here,” over the radio, and I know our noble quest has been cut short.

“Alright, let’s turn it around,” I reply.

Attempting to come to a full stop revealed just how dangerous the road had become as we were failing to find a safe location to begin our retreat. Eventually we find a straight stretch of road long enough to see traffic coming from either direction, turn around, and slowly make our way back.

Doing the right thing did not go as planned, but over-confidence or under-awareness might have exacted a high price.

Not wanting to let the night be a total waste, we head over to a bar to shoot some pool. The lively atmosphere was cathartic, and we parted ways in agreement that we made the right call. Earlier in the week I made the decision to end a life, and tonight our decision possibly saved one.

An Uncanny Coincidence

A couple hours after making it home I realize that I left my card at the bar.

Rookie mistake.

After briefly weighing the risk of additional drive time in the rain, I decide to return to the bar for my card. The roads are bad, but there would be fewer vehicles to contend with than in the daytime.

In those couple hours the world had transformed into an enormous ice skating rink. Driving was a little dicey, but walking was flat-out treacherous.

As I carefully shuffle toward the bar entrance I notice a couple ladies standing outside the door, and I make an offhand joke about the danger of my predicament. I did not take a good look at them due to the task at hand of not busting my ass on the ice, but when I made my way past them the one nearest to me asks, “Hey, what’s your name?”

I reply and finally look over at this point to see it is an old friend from my days in long-term care!

Yeah, yeah, small world, small town and all, but I have not seen her in years. More than that I recently learned she had been diagnosed with cancer, so this friend from an old life has been in my thoughts.

She wastes no time in telling me that she’s going under the knife soon, and will be cancer free post surgery. What fantastic news I would not yet know of if anything had happened differently tonight.

And so I am thankful. Thankful for the opportunity to do the right thing, thankful that it went wrong, and thankful that I made a rookie mistake.

In the grand scheme of things, getting the good news a little earlier does not change much, but I cannot shake the feeling of significance. It causes me to ponder the nature of coincidence. I know some people say there are no coincidences, and others say chaos reigns. Most probably think little of it at all.

I am not sure which direction I lean toward, but my mind is open.

Leadership Scarcity: A Modern Epidemic

I read an article today about why good employees quit their jobs. It was a shitty hack job of something originally posted on LinkedIn, but it did spark a thought about leadership. Well, that and the following bit of vitriol from a Facebook comment:

“Side note: ALL bosses are assholes/bitches/dumbasses in any shape or form. Only difference is if they like you or not”

Hardly true. Then this:

“Well we live in a world where the intelligent and common sense thinking individuals are outmatch by the dumb and thick headed fence post and those post fence become bosses and they make other post fence become boss”

More true.

Now I don’t know the guy, so this is hardly a personal indictment, but that’s directly from the script read by righteously terrible and entitled employees. Maybe he has a legitimate ax to grind, I don’t know, but it did get my wheels turning. So in response I posted this:

“I would never paint an entire group of people with the same brush, but there is an epidemic of bad management. Some of that stems from the individual; everyone is accountable for themselves and their actions.

However it is too widespread to simply base it on that.

Leadership attributes are not what is most valued when choosing leaders. The cold hard fact of the matter is there are a disproportionate number of leaders needed and people capable of leading. Some have innate leadership traits and we call them natural leaders, but even then those traits are not nurtured, because they are not as valued as they should be. Some amount of skill can be developed in most people, but once again, this is not a priority.

The biggest problem is society’s collective mindset. Just look at the language. We don’t need managers, we need leaders.”

Naturally I did not stop pondering the issue just because I tossed my initial thoughts into the Facebook ether. Specifically I keep coming back to the concept of managers versus leaders, because language matters. Subtle differences in how someone is described can create a profound difference in how that person is perceived—to include how that person perceives himself.

A man who describes himself as a manager and a man who describes himself as a leader are two very different men.

A manager sounds like someone who simply keeps people doing their job just well enough to meet the lowest acceptable standard. Only just managing to keep everyone from fucking up too badly. Best case scenario: the employees and managers get along well enough to function. More commonly there is an antagonistic relationship between the two, and worst of all this has become an accepted and expected part of the workplace.

“A boss creates fear, a leader confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting. A boss is interested in himself or herself, a leader is interested in the group.”

– Russell H. Ewing

The thoughts and mental images associated with the word ‘leader’ are very different. A leader is someone who is taking you somewhere. Someone who isn’t managing a group of quarreling individuals, but leading a team that is committed to a goal and to each other.

General George S. Patton, leadership embodied.

“We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.”

Unfortunately society currently values subservience over initiative. Obedience over audacity. Conformity over leadership.

Parents do not lead their children; they incubate them.

Teachers do not lead young minds to knowledge and critical thought. Less teaching than indoctrination.

This issue goes deeper than workplace satisfaction. Everyone is concerned with managing their lives rather than leading them. What happens when the average person has to be told what to do, how and when to do it—but never asks why it’s being done? When this person needs to be directed and supervised like a child? It is okay to be a follower; the world needs good followers, but no one should follow blindly.

So what am I going to do?

I am going to lead. Regardless of who is above, below, behind, or in front of me.

American Sniper: A Flawed Character Study

Not an honest study of a flawed character.

My expectations were really high for American Sniper given the star, the director, and the outstanding trailer. Bradley Cooper nails it to be sure, but I just found it lacking over all; especially the first half.

Seth Rogen is of course taking a lot of flack from the hive mind over his take on the film, and Michael Moore is an idiot, but the first half was so clichéd that I felt like it was recruitment marketing aimed at rednecks. This was before reading any reviews or comments about the movie, mind you.

Now, if that’s the story, then that’s the story. It is supposed to be based on a real one, and the movie becomes more compelling as we start to see the stress and the job take its toll on the protagonist and his family.

American Sniper, Chris Kyle, Bradley Cooper

Bearded Instrument of War

When evaluating the movie and not the controversial subject matter, there are some big problems structurally. Poorly edited, poorly paced at times, and most surprisingly for an Eastwood film, some scenes were poorly shot. If not for Bradley Cooper’s performance, American Sniper would likely have flopped.

Then you look at Chris Kyle himself. It sounds like he may have been a hero, certainly to the men he was deployed with in the very least.

He was also a narcissist with delusions of grandeur.

Taking only second-hand sources into account, he was very accomplished with skill and bravery to be revered, but given some of the outrageous lies he told about his deeds he must not have felt like it was enough. This actually makes him a much more interesting character, with a lot more depth to explore.

I am not going to pretend that I know all there is to know about Chief Petty Officer Kyle, and I obviously cannot say that I knew him personally, but he made himself into a public figure before his death. Naturally by doing so he opened himself up to the public scrutiny that accompanies that. Under that scrutiny it was proven* that some of his wildest stories were only just stories.

They were lies.

Kyle did not gun down assailants in a gas station parking lot, just like he did not set up on top of the Superdome and hunt looters in New Orleans during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. These non-events didn’t make the big screen version of Kyle’s story because they did not fit the narrative, and likely because some support for the project would have been lost—namely that of Mrs. Kyle and image conscious republicans.

Perhaps the rights to his story came with restrictions, but what a missed opportunity to examine the different facets of an extraordinary, but deeply flawed man. Unfortunately most can only see Chris Kyle in black and white; either he was an infallible hero of great accomplishment and integrity, or he was a sociopath with a license to kill.

Neither interpretation represents the basis of a character study of this man. He stated in an interview that he is just a man, and he deserves to be evaluated as such.

The filmmakers have even come out and said American Sniper is not a movie about the war, but a movie about a man. A character study; but an important part of the character was left out to create a more palatable product.

*I understand that lacking any proof does not necessarily equate to being disproven, but some claims just do not hold up to logic without any evidence.

Tonight I’m Sleeping With Spider-Man

“All right kiddos, time to head upstairs.”

“And Daddy? I’ll brush my teeth?”

“Yes.”

“And get my pa-JAM-as on?”

“Yes.”

“And then I will go to bed!”

“Yeah!”

This night’s variation of the usual bedtime conversation plays out with my oldest, Ruthie, while my son begins gathering all the things he wants to bring with him upstairs to bed. He puts his toy laptop under his left arm, picks up his toy tool bag he has filled with blocks, hot wheels, a Ninja Turtle, and of course his complement of tools, (the necessities in other words), then squats down (with perfect form), and manages to wedge a big green ball between his free right arm and everything collected in his left.

Perfectly planned so he can still grab the balloon floating near the stairs.

I watch on with the small wonder that is exclusive to proud parents.

“Ready Daddy!” my son exclaims as he begins up the stairs.

“Daddy, I’m going to wake you up in the morning, okay?” asks Ruthie.

“Okay.”

“And we’re going to eat breakfast!”

“Yes, sweetie.”

We reach the top of the stairs and my daughter runs to the bathroom, excited to brush her teeth; my son’s priority is setting up his spread of toys just right. While helping them get into their pajamas I ask them about their day. I already know every minute of it, but I encourage their contemplation.

“Uncle Ethan came to visit us. He loves video games, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, he does.”

“Well…” Ruthie’s brow furrows in thought, “I love Uncle Ethan!” she finishes with all of her five year old zeal.

Our bedtime ritual continues with more discussion. Often It seems she saves up her biggest questions of the day until she is tucked into bed. We discuss the meaning of life, the universe, and everything before we say our “Goodnight’s” and “I love you’s” and I am almost out of the room when Ruthie asks one more question.

“Daddy? You want to sleep with my Spider-Man? He will help keep you safe, like… Like how you keep us safe.”

My bodyguard.

My bodyguard.

This isn’t the first time she has offered me a protector for my dreams, but I am never less amazed by her kindness every time. It is unabashed and pure, and desires nothing in return.

Sometimes I am the student, and she is the teacher.

Z Reviews: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

To preface my review I will begin by stating my expectations for this movie, to serve as a frame of reference for my impression of it.

I enjoy movies of all kinds and I can usually find something to appreciate in even very bad movies. I also enjoy being critical of movies, including the best ones; a fact that doesn’t preclude an overall enjoyment of a movie. For myself, it adds to the experience.

My expectations for the new Captain America are not the same as the ones I had for The Wolf on Wall Street, not just in content, but in quality. Which would seem to go without saying, but that does not mean my expectations for The Winter Soldier were low. To the contrary, my expectations were just different.

The Whedon Effect

If I were to base my expectations exclusively on the first Captain America, I would undoubtedly be expecting less. The First Avenger was not terrible, but “comic book movies” have come a long way in the three years since its release. The Avengers has been released within that time and with the masses exposed to a Joss Whedon script now even cheesiness is expected to have a certain level of polish and charm.

The Winter Soldier

The real ultimate frisbee.

The Winter Soldier begins with an action sequence and I quickly come up against one of my few complaints with the movie: shaky cam. A “technique” that is used to make actions shots seem more frenetic, or often to hide bad choreography; which makes its inclusion a little confounding. The shakiness to an extent masks how fast paced and well choreographed the early fight scenes actually are. Thankfully this was at its worst in the beginning and quickly improved to a tolerable level.

When it comes to Cap’s choreography there is a superb subtlety to his skill as a fighter. Captain America is strong, fast, and resilient—but he was not always so. His character did not spend a lifetime studying martial arts, nor did his means of acquiring superhuman abilities in any way bestow upon him superhuman fighting skills as well. He at first relied on his superior physical attributes and the skill came through trial-by-fire experience.

This is well reflected in Cap’s utilitarian, no-frills fighting, which cannot always be described as realistic, but manages to feel authentic within the context. More importantly it is satisfying—which correlates to what The Winter Soldier managed to do over and over again: satisfy. More than once I realized while watching that I, the viewer, was being given exactly what I wanted at that given point in the movie. Especially commendable considering the movie did not succumb too much to predictability.

captain-america-concerned

Shit gets real.

The Captain

Captain America, by name alone, paints a picture of the consummate über-patriot; loyal and ever the unquestioning good soldier.

Which is not very compelling.

By placing the word “no” in Cap’s vocabulary the team behind The Winter Soldier manages to add both depth and complexity to the character. A patriot without a doubt, but not a blind one, this current incarnation of Captain America is not a yes man, following the company line. He is more introspective, questioning himself and his allegiances when it becomes necessary to do so. A character so uniformly moral is usually flat and uninteresting, but here Cap comes across as dynamic and relate-able.

The titular antagonist similarly appears initially to simply be an archetype; cold (winter…), ruthless, unrelenting, cunning, and nearly unstoppable. Were this the case it would still be well done as the Winter Soldier seems sufficiently sinister as initially presented, but learning more about his sub-plot and where it may lead makes him a compelling character in his own right. The other villains are standard issue for the genre, and are fairly one-dimensional; though several do represent a strong nod to the source material.

Exceeding Expectations

For someone who professes to be a critical movie-goer, this review has been awful glowing, has it not?

To put it candidly: The Winter Soldier delivers exactly what is desired from it; epitomizing what a good theater movie should be. I didn’t analyze the delivery of every line, or stay vigilant for plot holes, in the same way that I don’t sit in eager anticipation of a Matrix-esque shootout during a Paul Thomas Anderson movie.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier did not have to do much to surpass the original, and with the slavering Marvel addicted masses, needed to do even less to be a box office success. No one would have been surprised to find this franchise on cruise control as Marvel rolls on toward The Avengers 2. Instead, we are treated to a well-written, tightly paced, action-thriller that, like Iron Man and The Dark Knight, can be held in judgement without the “comic book movie” moniker, and still be found worthy.

 

The Masks We Wear

People are often said to have a dual nature, which by itself means little, and the context varies widely. In a very basic way it is true, but duality is just the beginning. In reality our natures are multifaceted.

We act one way with our friends, another way at work, another way with our family, another way with our love interests, and a whole different way completely when alone. Some facets line up more congruously than others, but they all have their discrepancies.

So when we try define ourselves which “self” do we use? Which is the truest self? Or is it bits and pieces from each? I have read more than once that the quality humans find most attractive is symmetry. While that was referring to how we perceive beauty in people, is there a way we can attain more symmetry in our lives?

In truth, all of these parts can be a part of one whole, well grounded, “symmetrical” person whose core is solid and recognizable regardless of which facet is peered through. A lofty and difficult goal to achieve. One which straying from is all too easy when the course changes toward dangerous waters are incremental and sometimes imperceptible.

Continuing on this course, changing masks throughout life to be increasingly different people, wears on an individual. The bigger the differences, the more taxing it is. It comes from the little lies told to make all the pieces seem to fit nicely together; we want to feel like our personality, spanned across our entire lives, is completely congruous with itself. The greater the disparity, the greater the desperation to connect nonexistent dots.

James Ensor Self-Portrait with Masks (1899)

The masks serve purposes, but we can be haunted by them.

In fact, we are best at believing our own lies. Our need for that congruity is so great that despite having functioning memories, we will begin to believe those little lies as they multiply.

The range of these lies is immense. Their power immeasurable in our lives and the lives of those around us. They can make you believe something about someone else to keep your own version of yourself intact in your mind. Within your consciousness that idea or belief about another person becomes fact. How much influence do you have over that person? Maybe they begin to believe the revisionism as well.

This insidious path all begins with a person trying to keep their own record of themselves straight. It’s more common that you might think; it has played out in some way in nearly every relationship of any type.

I speak from what some may consider extreme personal experience—extreme, but not unique. The function or benefit this has served in my life is being made aware of it. We all have to wear different masks at different points in our life; that’s the nature of it. It should be noted that this is not all bad, and not everything need be made to meet up. The challenge in that regard is accepting that fact.

While I do not know if greater congruity in and of itself can create happiness, I know without a doubt that the lack of it can create unhappiness.

Biography of The Beard

Beginning its life as peach fuzz and stray inexplicably long whiskers growing from the face of the adolescent human known as Zachariah, The Beard was suppressed by bladed grooming implements for many years. Though secretly bitter about the Razor Oppression of the early 2000’s, The Beard’s public position is that time period was its incubation.

Eventually opportunity struck when Zach began work at a lumber yard in his 18th year. With the approach of winter The Razor began to lose power over the human, who began to feel the allure of the warmth provided by a more bewhiskered visage.

The Beard celebrated in untamed glory, believing itself finally freed from a shaven existence. Sadly salvation was not quite at hand—yet.

The Beard and the human grew close over the winter, making the impending massacre all the more difficult to bear. The coming of spring also signaled the coming of The Razor. The Beard was hurt and betrayed, pieces of itself severed and thrown away like refuse. But all was not lost.

The Beard was disfigured; so greatly diminished from the form that provided protection for the human against the harsh winter cold. Peering down into the trash The Beard mourned for its detached appendages. But The Beard lived on, a little further from glory than before the maiming, it survived as a goatee.

Surviving is not thriving, but The Beard did the best it could to make it through those dark times. The small growth it was allowed was more a cruelty than anything else, allowing only a glimpse of what potential dwelt within those hair follicles.

No beard can stay angry forever, and for the next few years The Beard settled into its pedestrian life as a goatee. It was not until the human experienced some strife of his own that The Beard finally found its time to shine. Beginning first as a five o’clock shadow, those rebellious bristles quickly seized the moment—this chance was not going to be taken for granted.

Springing forth glorious, red, and resplendent, The Beard had grown up.

A great partnership was formed.

A great partnership was formed.

It proceeded to make itself indispensable, uplifting the human; subsequently forming the most beneficial of symbiotic relationships. Together the duo was greater than either had imagined possible.

The beard grew and so did the power shared with the human.

Bearded Glory

Bearded glory.

Today The Beard has largely forgiven the human for his transgressions, and is working through its xyrophobia.

Rapturebating: Romantic Emotions toward Dystopian Notions

A stale silence only broken by a soft breeze carrying the repugnant sweet smell of decay.
Crumbling dwellings with boarded windows—each the site of one family’s personal horror story.
Derelict vehicles—once prized possessions—are abandoned neatly in rows; at least the ones that do not serve as metal and plastic tombs.
The pain deep in your stomach, so strong it radiates through your body in waves. Your last meal feels as if from a different life; the next one? You do not know if it exists.
Your exhausted, shuffling footsteps scrape across the broken pavement; the echo is deafening.
Trinity Nuclear Bomb

Rapturebation intensifies.

Horror?

Imagery like the examples above have become mainstays in modern media—indicative of a society collectively obsessed with an apocalyptic future. Oppressive governments necessitating a monumental revolution, an uncontrollable disease wiping out 80% of the population, massive weather change making Earth uninhabitable, alien occupation, a zombie apocalypse, the flavor does not matter; mass strife is all that is needed to capture imaginations.

Simply turn on the TV or walk into a bookstore and you will find the topic is pervasive. Think you can get away from it? Check your social media feeds, call a friend, open your eyes and there it is, unmistakable. Just a contemporary craze? A modern mania?

“Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common.” -circa 2800 BCE, Assyrian Tablet

Not quite the dawn of human civilization, but it would not be too far a stretch to suggest that since its inception men have been predicting the downfall of their respective societies.

Or Fantasy?

Not a new phenomenon, but undeniably the fervor is increasing. No longer strictly the realm of philosophers and priests, apocalyptic prognostication is firmly entrenched in pop culture. But why? Could such a scenario be truly near? Well, of course, it could be, but as it stands Homo Sapiens live in greater collective ease and comfort than ever before. Today’s average lower-middle class proletariat experiences a level of convenience beyond that of kings and emperors past. A true struggle to survive as our ancestors knew it is further away than ever in our history and yet we are enthralled with the proposition of being locked in protracted contest for our lives.

Correlation? Or perhaps we have causation.

At first glance it would be easy to draw the conclusion that modern man’s obsession is just a manifestation of fear. Danger being the void which cannot be turned away from. Or fearing the prospect of losing all that has been attained, collected—brought low by the loss of all of the carefully acquired merchandise and comforts. Why not dread this when everyone has so much further to fall than before?

Yes, fear would make sense, except…

Fear is not the primary emotion present. Craving more than craven is my observation, though if being precise I would describe it as Sehnsucht; if only there was an English equivalent.

Perhaps doomsday prepper’s behaviors could be construed as fearful, but I contend that they are just the most vigorous rapturebators. Indeed, no other group of people is more invested in the occurrence of apocalyptic conditions. More than just validation, in a SHTF scenario many will have attained their ideal lifestyle.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

Ultimately these are not nightmares, but fantasies.

Reality.

Whenever enough share a dream there will in time exist a market to exploit and profit from it. Where the arts create expressions of the dream (generally not without the bottom line in mind of course), news organizations are the peddlers of a counterfeit brand; an illusion that can easily feel real when the population’s collective selection bias desires it so. This has been exacerbated by the advent of social media where each violent act sensationalized by the news causes an outbreak of furious rapturebation; subsequently the reaction is news to also be sensationalized causing a circle-jerking epidemic.

We humans may enjoy our lives of extreme luxury where worry has become a hobby and we can spend time speculating on the nature of the new and astounding conveniences advancing technology will provide, but we were not made to have it easy. We have been made to struggle, and it has ever been our constant companion. A true friend to our species, pushing us to achieve more, climb higher, build bigger, to challenge ourselves and each other.

Humanity yearns for strife even as more of the population becomes complacent, living vicariously through surrogate sources of mortal conflict. However, even absent an armageddon, we are not through struggling because there will always be those who cannot say that enough has been done.

Just remember that it is okay to rapturebate, but don’t let a real worthwhile struggle pass you by.

Bearded Beginning: the Obligatory First Post

One post must be the first.

The common practice when starting a blog is to create your First Post, in which the the blog is outlined; primarily why it is being written, and what to expect from it in the future. Mostly lies of course; though perhaps not all lies when first told as they are backed by good intentions— as so many of the best lies are!

So then if I do not intend to lie to you, what should I include when carrying out this compulsory tradition? Well, let’s just go down the list. Some bullet points if you will.

  • Many people when writing a blog make the proclamation that there will be no bullshit. I do not make this claim, for bullshit there will be.
  • A strict posting schedule is often promised, usually along the lines of three posts per week, maybe more for the foolishly “ambitious”. I feel no need to make myself accountable in such a way.
  • Commonly the subject matter that will be covered is outlined. I won’t be doing this either. Except to say that beards will be relevant, as will other things that I like.
  • Those that may eventually be offended: conservatives, atheists, democrats, republicans, men, women, liberals, 49er’s fans, christians, tea partiers, occupiers, communists, capitalists, catholics, “men” without beards, gays, straights, homophobes, xenophobes, xenophiles, and of course any pogonophobes.
  • If you do happen to find yourself offended, double check for humor; there may have been an attempt at it.
  • Still offended? Stop taking yourself so seriously.

Well there you have it: actual bullet points. That just came out of nowhere— surprised me even!

Most of the common tropes aside, the truly important part of the First Post is the “why”. Why sit down at a keyboard with the belief that my ideas and opinions are interesting enough to share with others in a format longer than a Facebook post? Well, first of all, Facebook is a time vortex and hardly worth the creative effort. Secondly, my words become Facebook’s, lost in a torrential re-posting of cat pictures and disingenuous relationship advice. Above all I am intrigued by the proposition of taking ownership of my words in a more permanent way.

It is all too easy to select a nom de plume and be a keyboard radical, though in general I believe I have represented myself digitally as I would otherwise. I have never felt the need to pretend to be somebody else behind a computer screen; most who know me also know that I am too fond of my bearded self for that. Indeed, rarely (perhaps only once) have I even taken a screen name other than some configuration of my real name. Regardless, it takes a small measure of courage to bind both personas together into a single entity, publicly exposing myself and my thoughts equally.

Getting a bit serious? I have been accused of having a flair for the dramatic— an accusation I have not denied.

Controversy is not my aim, but If I ruffle a few feathers along the way and spark a debate or two, well— all the better.

Plus I need to give a good home to all of my cat pictures.

Cat in a box in a box.

Cat in a box in a box.