I recently had a friend ask me about electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes (known to their users as personal vaporizers). Actually, lots of people ask me about them. I switched from traditional (“analog”) cigarettes back in August, and basically haven’t smoked since.
Mainly people want to know if they’re cheaper. There’s really no question about whether they’re healthier. They’re not healthy, it’s just that they’re far, far less dangerous. Basically, a traditional cigarette contains thousands of chemicals, a couple dozen or so of which are known carcinogens. The fluid you vaporize in an e-cigarette generally contains just a few ingredients: nicotine (in varying strengths or it may even be absent), food flavoring, and either propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin.
They’re extremely cheaper than regular cigarettes – however, there is an initial buy-in, and you do have to continually purchase replacement parts. I’d say that since August, i’ve spent maybe $200 – $250 in total on supplies. That includes extra parts (batteries, atomizers), fluid (what you “vape”), and accessories (some which i highly recommend having due to the extra convenience, some which are completely unnecessary but make vaping more enjoyable).
On the other hand, i was smoking 1-2 packs a day. One carton of crappy cigarettes in KY costs around $35 right now. That’s well over $100 a month right there, and that’s on the extremely LOW end – in practice, i was actually spending more like $160 a month; in Ohio that would have been over $200 every month! Compare that to the $200 or so i’ve spent on all kinds of crazy vaporizin’ crap in the past FIVE months!
HOWEVER, most people only think they spend $4.50 on cigarettes over the course of their entire lives, because that’s what a single pack costs them right now. Try to convince someone just how much they ACTUALLY spend and they just won’t believe you. But tell them they could spend all that money on something COOL (that still exists after one use), and they might pay a little attention. So, the price to start vaping scares the crap out of most smokers, unless they actually take the time to think about it and compare it to what they actually really spend on cigarettes.
I did lots and lots of research and wound up having extremely positive experiences with each one, especially Cignot, who are extraordinarily fast and helpful.
A great starter kit would cost around $35 (that’s for an “unboxed” Joye 510 model from Cignot), and that includes 2 batteries, 2 atomizers, and 5 cartridges, plus a wall charger for the batteries.
Extra batteries for the 510 model are ~$10. Batteries last a couple of hours, so eventually i splurged on a couple of batteries for the Joye eGo model (aka the Riva), which fits onto the 510 atomizer. They cost around $20 each. I just got it today and i can’t seem to make the damn thing die. It’s been well over 12 hours now. Batteries are said to last through around 300 charges or so.
Extra atomizers cost about ~$10. It’s always good to have a few on hand, as this is what makes the whole thing work. Atomizers should last around a month or more if you know how to take care of them. Many people complain that this is a big weak point and they often last just a few weeks before needing replaced. I’ve got a couple that i’ve had since August. It’s kind of a hassle to care for them, but i’m a cheapskate and don’t want to pay more than i have to!
Cartridges don’t really need replacing that often, but you can generally get a 5-pack for around $5 or so. Cartridges contain the fluid, and they need to be constantly refilled, but it’s not much more bother than taking out a cigarette and lighting it, and they should generally last a bit longer than a few cigarettes’ worth of time.
Fluid: this can vary pretty greatly. Expect to pay around $10 for a 10ml bottle, up to around $20 for a 30ml bottle. You can get different strengths of nicotine, and just about any flavor you can imagine (and i’ve seen some really, really weird ones). For me personally, i get ~18-24mg strength nicotine, and a 30ml bottle lasts me maybe a month or so.
As for accessories, i can’t recommend having a Personal Charging Case enough. These suckers will let you leave the house and still be able to charge your spent batteries while you’re on the go. One case can fully charge a battery about 3 times or so. That second battery comes in handy, but i recommend having at least three, unless you go with a big battery like the eGo. Then there are USB chargers, car adapters, and USB “passthroughs” (allowing you to hook up your vaporizer to a USB port and save your battery power). Then there are all the really crazy things like weird parts and add-ons and mod kits and stuff. Anything you can think of, somebody sells one, or the parts to make it yourself.
HOT TIP: never, ever buy from a kiosk at the mall, or in a convenience store. Those things they sell are HORRIBLE. And never get a “disposable” anything, ever. You pretty much have to buy this stuff online for now. Which is a great reason to stock up, because anything you run out of, you have to wait to have shipped!
For lots more information, see http://www.e-cigarette-forum.com/
Hope this helps!
Recently, a friend asked me (me: the master of all things electronical) for some recommendations for downloading free music legally. Although i was hard pressed to name any legit source of free major label music, i have enough links to some really amazing sites that feature and host very good free music. Much of it is licensed under various Creative Commons licenses, and most is both free (as in beer) and free (as in free speech). As always, read the fine print for exact details for each site and every download. Additionally, check your local laws if you’re unsure about the license (personally, i have not found any gray areas here, since most of the music is either offered by the artists themselves as free, or is licensed freely, or is in some cases even public domain).
Since many of these are blogs, i highly recommend getting to know RSS feeds, and adding their feeds to your favorite feed reader. If you have no favorite feed reader, Google Reader is a great place to start.
So, without further ado, here are my top picks for really cool free, legal mp3 sites, in no particular order…
Here are some free albums and some cheap albums. A whole lot of really good free stuff. At the top right you can select “Price: low to high” to get all the free stuff listed first, but the default setting is “bestselling, so that one shows the most popular free stuff, mixed in with some good cheap deals too. You can also go to single songs, too, and browse the links on the right by price and genre, etc.
Archive.org’s free music and netlabels categories
I could spend days without sleep sifting through some of these really amazing collections. You can drill down by keyword and genre and popularity. Very little big-name artists, but some serious gems (also a lot of duds, too, but if you look at the download counters you can tell which ones are liked – or at least downloaded – the most).
This netlabel has tons of free samplers and whole albums by nobody you’ve heard before but every minute is really good, and they have an excellent mix of genres. I guess you could call them a metalabel, since their compilations frequently feature artists on other netlabels. One of the best free music sources around.
Note: these next two exemplary sites, despite my egregious lack of better-apt descriptions, are among my very favorite resources, not only for the wonderful personal touch you can find, but also for the incredible variety and sheer scope of their blogs and the insight gleaned from reading their notes on each feature, which are like meta-liner notes. These are both, as they say, earnest labors of love for their respective curators. As i’ve noted in a comment below, the best possible thing to do in lieu of giving you a lengthy and drooling description, is to implore you to go and dig deeply and feel the fresh cool sand between your fingers, and linger, and wonder at how new and interesting things can truly be when experienced with fullness and vigor. And maybe leave a note of thanks whenever you see something really cool that you enjoyed.
This site frequently features avant-jazz and minimalist techno, but you can also find some fantastic alternative, pop, rock, folk, et cetera. Another great resource.
Another great free music source. See Free Albums Galore above. Same thing applies here.
Bandcamp has tons of music from indie bands. Some free, some not. It’s fun to sift through, and you can find some real cool stuff here, sometimes even some up-and-coming bands that are just beginning to fly above the radar. Try this link for free stuff. I don’t use bandcamp that often, since i’m usually directed there by one of the other sites above.
I have not heard anything from this label that i didn’t fall in love with immediately. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE. And try The Box: I cannot tell you anything about this record, except that it is freaky and weird and quirky, and yes, you DO recognize that tune.
I would be not only remiss, but probably also shamed before my peers, and quite possibly also drawn and quartered, if i didn’t point you to
…who have awesome compilations and records, covering all kinds of genres, though a lot of it is maybe more techno and hip-hop and trip-hop oriented. Their massive year-end best-of mixes last year were pretty amazing.
Possibly the granddaddy of all free music sites, the FMA is a project of WFMU, “the most renowned freeform radio station in America”. They feature music of all kinds. This is one amazing resource that is just as much fun to sift through as it is to listen through.
Lastly, here’s one i just found out about:
Having no experience with this one, all i can say is that it comes highly recommended from Catching the Waves.
Other great sites, archives, and blogs to check out
The Silent Ballet
largehearted boy: daily downloads
WFMU’s Beware of the Blog:mp3s
Ektoplazm: free music portal
Jamendo (the King of free music sites)
Here’s a recent discussion i had, or am having, over on Facebook. The gentleman in question apparently lives in my hometown, and (according to his FB profile anyway) graduated from the same school in the same year as me. I don’t remember him, but that’s probably because he was clearly still learning to use the slime he oozes to get around on his own. I’m guessing he was actually home schooled, because even my shitty cow pie-encrusted school would have had a hard time letting this horrifying intellectual vacuum graduate.
Click on the image to get a full-size view. Hopefully this business continues and i’ll be able to add more!
Just curious. Answers are anonymous, so please be as honest as you can – that’s the entire point of this poll. Take your time; think about your answer. Above all, please know that you are not alone in your answer. In a world of several billion humans, there are probably enough people who honestly feel the same way as you do to fill a bustling metropolis, and probably much more than even that. If it will help you feel more comfortable in being open and honest, i’ll tell you what i answered: 80/20%, skewing straight. Remember: answers are anonymous (but see below).
Describe your sexuality (be honest; poll is anonymous)
- 20% gay, 80% straight (100%, 1 Votes)
- 100% gay - I have honestly never even considered someone of the opposite gender (0%, 0 Votes)
- It's more complicated than that. (0%, 0 Votes)
- 100% straight - I have honestly never even considered someone of the same sex (0%, 0 Votes)
- 10% gay, 90% straight (0%, 0 Votes)
- 30% gay, 70% straight (0%, 0 Votes)
- 40% gay, 60% straight (0%, 0 Votes)
- 50% gay, 50% straight (0%, 0 Votes)
- 60% gay, 40% straight (0%, 0 Votes)
- 70% gay, 30% straight (0%, 0 Votes)
- 80% gay, 20% straight (0%, 0 Votes)
- 90% gay, 10% straight (0%, 0 Votes)
- I do not choose to answer this. (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 1
(Full disclosure: i do log IP addresses, just in case of pollspam, though i highly doubt i’d ever figure out what to even do with them.)
On July 27, 2010, Hornbuckle Records is releasing Sometimes You’ve Gotta Fight to Get a Bit of Peace, the brand-new, highly anticipated album by Austin, TX one-man indie rock wrecking crew The Cocker Spaniels. Over three years in the making, this new CD, a masterpiece with a whopping 18 songs – each and every one a soon-to-be classic – could well be the one that blasts head Spaniel and master musician Sean Padilla into the stratosphere, alongside such not-dissimilar artists such as TV on the Radio and indie legends Guided By Voices.
A while back, i emailed Sean to ask how his record was coming. I knew he’d been working on it for a long time and was getting anxious to hear it, being a massive fan of his last CD, the brilliantly-titled Withstand the Whatnot. He sent me a slew of tracks to listen to. This was probably a year or more ago, and he’s been tweaking it ever since, including having it professionally mixed and mastered. I have to say, the album in the form that i heard was insanely good. Then several months ago he sent me a new version, which sounded even better. It is unimaginable to me that the final version could improve upon Sean’s already masterful-sounding recordings and great mixes, and yet all indications are that it will in fact be exactly that.
Now you must understand here that The Cocker Spaniels is not Steely Dan. Their albums are not pristine, cold, surgical affairs devoid of soul. Although the sound is always crisp and clear, with everything in its right place spatially and frequency-wise, the heart and soul of this band is decidedly lo-fi. Not lo-fi in the sense that they were recorded on crappy boomboxes, or even four-track cassette recorders. Rather, it’s the DIY spirit of the things that recall the absolute greatest Guided By Voices records such as Bee Thousand or Alien Lanes. When you hear this music, you don’t think of some guys in a basement with a couple of crappy Radio Shack dynamic mics going into a consumer-grade stereo tape deck. What you hear is this: a young man with more talent than you can ever possibly imagine anyone on Earth having, absolutely driven (i mean truly, awesomely hell-bent for leather here) to make some damn incredible, original music, almost entirely by himself, a la early Todd Rundgren, or Stevie Wonder. And that frenetic energy is captured perfectly. No, the sound itself is actually pretty spectacular, especially considering that he did it all on his own in various apartments and spaces, without any sort of budget or outside producers.
If you don’t believe me, go and grab one of the mp3 versions he has up on his site for free. Right now, my personal favorite is a tossup between “The Overeducated Underclass” and “Cousin Ben.” As with almost all of his tunes, they are catchy; nearly overloaded with hooks that keep going for days (earworm alert!), featuring intimate-yet-intensely-fun lyrics straight out of real life and brimming with just the right kind and amount of crazy irony, laugh-out-loud stories, and all the joy, anger, and sadness to be found in the spectrum of the human condition, all performed with a passionate zeal and fluidly-jagged precision that will simply leave you reeling. Listen for some serious Frank Zappa chops in his playing, too. The guy can play circles around just about anyone, on virtually any instrument. (Prince who?) While you’re at it, grab some songs off his last record, since it’s out of print (for now), and a fantastic piece of work in its own right.
And yesterday, he started taking preorders, at a mere $12 a pop (that includes shipping anywhere in the U.S. – overseas orders are also available). Although he’s almost certainly sold enough already, the first
150 orders come with a special handmade “making of” zine which is sure to be a serious collector’s item when this guy hits the Big Leagues, which should happen at some point in the months following the aforementioned 27/07/10 official release date. (So get in on this one and hope for the best, because that one little limited-edition bonus is gonna be worth some serious cash on eBay someday, and you don’t wanna have to mope about how you had the chance to cash in on that but you didn’t take it.) Anyway, even if you aren’t one of the lucky 150 , you’re gonna get some seriously amazing independent music out of the deal.
(And for what it’s worth, i hear his cookies are freaking crazy-making.)
For those of you WordPress users wondering how to find your Custom Post Types in the Appearance >> Menus page (for your Custom Menus), look no further than your handy Screen Options dropdown panel, up at the top right of the page. No, your other right. Up further. Look – right there! See where my finger is pointing? Where it says “Howdy, [yourname] | Log Out”? Yeah, just below that. No, you’re looking at “Help.” I said it was Screen Options and i MEAN it was Screen Options, goddammit.
I looked and looked and had a hard time finding these options (ok, actually i found it not long after i started looking, but i figured there’s got to be a whole slew of people out there having a hard time figuring this one out). So now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
(Also note that until we get a decent UI, plugins such as Custom Post Type UI will have to do, unless you just want to code away your evening. Additionally, your theme must support Custom Menus in order to use them.)
Incidentally, if you have no idea what the hell i’m on about, and for some reason refuse to mind your own damn bidness, here’s the deal: In the recent WordPress 3.0 release, users now have the ability to create not only custom navigation menus (those things you click on to get to other areas of the site you’re on), but can also create something called a Custom Post Type. (Oh god i wish i could explain this really well.) Basically, instead of only being able to create blog posts (which are generally chronologically ordered) or generic Pages (which are the same thing, without the emphasis on time), WordPress administrators can also create types of content specifically geared toward a given theme… say, a real estate listing, a movie review, or a section of used musical instruments for sale. This also lets you enable or disable certain options. You know what? You don’t get it, do you? Mind your own beezwax if you’re gonna give me that look. Hey – hey! Why don’t ya try running a WordPress site yourself? Seriously. Give me a breeeeeaaaaaak!
Happy Deathday, Brother Theodore.
Brother Theodore was imprisoned by Nazis at Dachau. He played chess (a game he excelled at so profoundly that he once beat thirty fucking Stanford professors simultaneously – yes, read that again) with Albert Einstein, who helped him emigrate to the United States, where he would eventually become a cult hero with his uniquely surreal gallows humor and eccentric monologues, along with acting as Gollum in the classic Rankin/Bass animated feature The Hobbit, and in such movies as The Last Unicorn and the Tom Hanks vehicle The ‘Burbs. He was a staple of the late-night talk shows in the 1970s and 1980s. He died nine years ago today.
Popularity: unranked [?]
I’m writing a book about a civilization so advanced that they no longer have disputes. However, they’ve also realized the need for warfare and now get to it every dozen or so years, for no other reason than that it’s jolly good exercise and allows for technological progress.
In the end, they realize that all of their scientific passions were in pursuit of destruction & devastation and the eradication of life, just seconds before blowing up the entire universe.
It’s going to be called either Oblivion Operations Protocol System or Automotivated Warfare: Syndicated Hostility Initiative Tokenization, with the title written out so you see the hidden message that reveals humanity’s final observation.
I was raised as an ordinary kid in a family that didn’t really attend church every single Sun-day but still did so frequently. My friend Mark Carper took me to an anti-rock & roll preacher sideshow at his church, the Colonial Baptist Church in the hills to the East of Nuke City. It was through that incalculably bizarre experience that i came to accept Christ the Redeemer into my heart, lungs, knees, ears, nose, and throat. I even destroyed some of my favorite LPs.
Later i became more moderate.
My grandparents (she a lapsed Catholic, i’m not too sure what he was before they became Methodists), right-thinking they were, didn’t have me baptized, reasoning that i’d do it myself if that’s what i truly wanted. So at the age of 14 i cleansed my spirit like good old St. John (but with just a dab of water, not a whole damn river).
But the whole time i was a devout Christian, i kept asking questions of our Sunday School teachers: Why are there so many religions? How do we know that Buddhism isn’t the one true religion? If killing is wrong, why does god kill so many people all the time when he gets in his moods? &c.
I’d also heard about how the Beatles found enlightenment in the East, and wondered how it could be that those four English chaps could make records so vastly incomparably better than our own Pat Boone, he of such good moral standing and strong Christian faith.
By and by, i grew up, started smoking cigarettes and screwing girls and reading books of dubious moral value. I got turned on to pot and LSD and started realizing that there is so very much more to the universe than this nice, tidy little story we’re all told in Sunday School. I realized that there are simply cultures that are incompatible with the overall Christian blueprint, much revised over the centuries as it had become. It seemed to me that Christianity obviously couldn’t be the One True Religion it heralded itself to be.
Then my uncle Stephen found himself dying from AIDS. Why should god be so incredibly crappy to us humans? After he died, my grandmother noticed that his name was no longer printed in the church directory under our family’s listing. She was understandably incensed, having taken that as an indirect denial of his continued presence as part of the hallowed twinkling in the Lord’s eyes. She pretty much lost her shit over that.
That was the final straw for me as well. I figured out real quick that Christianity, at least in its current incarnation, is about the most phony fucking gig in town.
I explored elsewhere: first Wicca, then paganism and other namby-pamby New Age spiritualities, then North American Indian shamanism, then Taoism, then Buddhism, then Hinduism, then various forms of the occult, then Qabala Judaism (not the Hollywood crap), then more occultism (including Satanism). When i finally found Eris and read the Principia Discordia (i am now a full-ass Pope*), and dove into the Church of the SubGenius (where i am a reverend), i realized what i should have known all along: all religions are full of crap. As far as i can tell, they all DO point to the same thing: lies and self-heresy. I took from all this only two things: the concept of WILL (Crowley) aka INTENT (Castaneda), and the simple damn idea that you should be nice to your fellow organisms, whoever they are, avoiding stupid, fruitless endeavors like hitting them over their heads with rocks (wherever possible).
Having had an interest in science from a young age, i always valued truth over fiction, lies, fabrications, or embellishments. I still see truth as an unalterable thing: all things being measurable, one must have mass and either be at rest or in motion. Relativity does not mean that these values are subjective. Killing another human being cannot possibly be “wrong” for one person, but “right” for another. It is either right or it is wrong. The fact that individual humans can measure the same thing and come up with wildly varying answers only points out the flaws in each of our lenses. There must be a correct solution which is not invalidated by any other.
Therefore, i reject god in all its forms, because it makes no sense in the context of the rest of nature which we have studied for the same number of millenia and have a pretty good grasp of in contrast.
*actually, my title is CounterPope
So if you've commented on anything i've crossposted here from my blog, and i've updated that post and lost your comment(s), sorry.
That is all.
Here’s a list of some cool and useful stuff i’ve compiled for Holly’s brother. I thought i’d share it here.
You never have to worry about spyware, adware, viruses, trojans, worms, or other malware, because i’ve already used this stuff, plus i only use apps and sites that are already well-known to be pretty friggin’ excellent. Every one of these sites and apps come with a solid reputation.
All of this stuff is 100% free, except for a few that you can optionally pay for, like Reaper (audio recording). Naturally, i do not recommend downloading pirated software or media content.
Awesome free stuff you have to have, or at least need to know about:
System utilities and just plain excellent basics
- Formerly known as Crap Cleaner, this thing wipes out a great deal of the bad stuff that gets into your system
- AVG antivirus
- free antivirus, one of the best (much better than McAfee or Symantec or the paid ones)
- Avast antivirus
- also free, also one of the best (also much better than the paid AV apps)
- free, open source replacement for MS Office. Includes everything you need!
- Spybot S&D
- Wicked awesome anti-malware
- Firefox, Opera, Chrome
- Because Internet Exploder just plain sucks and is not secure, try one of these awesome browsers:
- My favorite, you can download every useful plugin imaginable for it. Would you like it to do something different, or look different? No problem.
- Visit http://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox for anything you could ever need it to do.
- My favorite, you can download every useful plugin imaginable for it. Would you like it to do something different, or look different? No problem.
Cool, useful stuff for your desktop
- Rocketdock (desktop dock)
- Clean your desktop by putting everything in a fancy-schmancy dock. Lots of cool goodies for it!
- Rainmeter (system monitor)
- Stickies (post-it notes)
- Like having Post-It notes for your desktop. Even comes with an alarm/timer. You can save, send, and share too.
Audio, video, media
- Audacity (audio)
- Great for recording audio, also has some cool plugins for editing/warping sound.
- Reaper (audio)
- Like having ProTools, only better. Trent Reznor uses it.
- foobar2000 (music)
- Great music player, and lightweight.
- VLC (media player)
- Great video player. Looks daunting, but all you have to do is play video or audio files. It’s one of the few that can open almost any file type. Can also convert, stream, save, etc.
- GIMP (images)
- Like Photoshop, but a little scarier-looking. A couple of hours playing with it and you’ll get the hang of it. Powerful.
- Irfanview (images)
- Great, fast image viewer. Can also edit, make icons, convert, batch process, etc., etc., etc.
- DVDFlick (DVD authoring)
- Put your legally questionable downloaded movies on DVD with menus and everything! Not the best, but really easy to use.
- uTorrent (downloading)
- Download anything you want with this.
- Best sites for searching are:
- Obviously, use at your own risk. Read comments, look at details, and install anti-malware apps first. BTjunkie even has icons for # of ‘good/bad’ reports per torrent, so make sure to check them out.
- You can use Peer Guardian to hide your IP address while you’re downloading legally questionable content. Not perfect, but better than nothing.
- Obviously, use at your own risk. Read comments, look at details, and install anti-malware apps first. BTjunkie even has icons for # of ‘good/bad’ reports per torrent, so make sure to check them out.
- TVersity (media center)
- Like Windows Media Center, but free and better. Download podcasts and videocasts and share your video across your home network.
- If you have an Xbox or some other device for your TV, you can even watch your hard-drive movies/music/photos on TV. Super awesome.
Web sites that you will presently become completely, slobber-mouth addicted to, because they are awesome and will make you WIN.
- Google Calendar
- You can even remind yourself of appointments via email or SMS to your mobile phone! You can also share calendar events and add other people’s events to yours.
- Learn how to make life easier, cooler, better, and awesomer. Comes in many flavors, from real-world DIY projects to digital shortcuts
- I really cannot say enough good about this site. Some of the best tips, tricks, and suggestions i’ve ever found for all areas of life, both digital and in meatspace.
- Seriously. Wicked awesome.
- Find old friends. Avoid others. Lots of dumb widgets, and you can “poke” people until their brains bleed. Annoying, but awesome too.
- Share photos, sync online with folders, etc.
- Photo sharing
- Best email app ever.
- Google Reader
- Keep up with news, blogs, or anything with an RSS feed with this. Addictive and awesome.
- Like a micro-sized blog. Send “tweets” from your cell phone or via web.
- Actual blogging. Best platform there is. Very customizable.
- Job search
- social networking, career-oriented.
- Pretty much everything. Ugly but made out of 100% pure WIN!
- “A directory of wonderful things” - weird, cool stuff, plus news you might not hear about elsewhere.
- Social news site. Most popular submitted stories rise to the top. Addictive, interesting, and easy.
- Social networking, music-style. Also download their desktop player. With that you can play music tagged with descriptive keywords. For fun, try typing in “unlistenable.”
If you’re ever looking for killer software (or a web site) that does ‘X, Y, and/or Z,’ just let me know and i’ll point you to something good, safe, fun, and useful.
My username is “transmothra” on most sites - if you run into me online be sure to say hello!
Tonight, after i’d picked up Holly from her car pool in Bellbrook, we went to the Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant there on Wilmington Pike to grab a bite to eat.
Wow, was it icy out! Unfortunately, the worst ice we’d have to deal with was in their parking lot.
Have you ever seen one of those science videos explaining black holes, or gravity, by showing you a marble spinning around a drain? That’s exactly what it was like.
Their parking lot is so uneven. Iced over, it is absolute hell on earth. Naturally, there was not one speck of rock salt to be witnessed anywhere. Wet glass, indeed.
When we first pulled in, we started sliding immediately. We slid to a stop after a good 30 feet, narrowly missing other parked cars and the concrete-lined edge of the lot, which could have done a real number on my wheels and undercarriage. Mind you, i had been doing less than10mph!
Spinning my wheels was the only way to get any traction at all. But no sooner than i would start moving, but the car would start descending down the hill, sideways. We very scarcely managed to avoid hitting curbs and suchlike, but i don’t know how.
This lasted for around twenty minutes.
Did the manager come out to offer to help? Nope. Did i feel like risking life and limb to walk uphill in that unholy, slick, uphill mess of solid, wet ice to ask for help, or tell them off for not salting their Mt. Fuji-like parking lot? Well, yes, but i knew that i’d absolutely certainly slip and hit my head and kill myself at the exact moment the next motorist suffered a similar fate and ran over my still-warm corpse.
Helpfully, the drivethrough window offered employees a hilarious view, which they took in turns, laughing and pointing.
So if you ever see me at a Big Boy restaurant, especially a Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant, please shoot me in the face for it, because i declare unequivocally, right here, that my money will never again come into contact with their filthy, greasy (and very likely cockroach-infested) registers.
I put together this YouTube playlist of Carl Sagan’s “You Are Here”/”Pale Blue Dot” speech. I highly recommend checking it out.
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ’superstar,’ every ’supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
“The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
“Ann Druyan suggest an experiment: Look back again at the pale blue dot of the preceding chapter. Take a good long look at it. Stare at the dot for any length of time and then try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn’t strike you as unlikely, pick another dot. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?”
- Carl Sagan
Holly adopted two new chihuahuas, named John and Zooey. They’re three years old. They were rescued from abuse, which is always the best way to get a dog. Never, ever get one from a puppy mill, or even a pet store (which are usually supplied by puppy mills). Always rescue, and always get them fixed.
Until i get my Flickr stream integrated here, you can click on over to see them.
So far, Speck has been pretty kind, and puts up no fuss when they share his food. John, on the other hand, guards the community food dish zealously. The big fatass.
omfg where do i start?
preface: we are so poor. that is all about that. we are poor, and it sucks balls. Holly works so hard, and for what? what the hell do i do to make the world any better? not a god damned thing. especially not her world.
on to the viewing…
my old friend is dead. younger than me, dead and gone. i remember yesterday when we were all young and crazy with life and the ecstasy of the world being at our fingertips.
i got there, alone. i killed time rolling a smoke and killing it. i rolled a couple more and walked up. almost immediately some cat comes up for a light. he’s a friend of Jason’s. there is some small talk, then he reveals that there are internal social problems & factioning, a division going on. he calls it childish; “bizarre,” i reply.
after chatting with another of his more recent friends, i mustered up just barely enough guts to go inside. what awaited was hell.
so i go inside and i don’t see anyone i know. except for Susan and Mike, who passed by on their way in. i couldn’t tell if they were ignoring me or if they didn’t recognize me. that was sort of a theme of the evening. they have every reason to ignore me. when i was younger and stupider, i did stupid things and said foolish things to Susan, who i loved then, about Mike, who was actually a terrific guy, really. so there’s that.
i’m in line for about a half an hour, behind a small group of people who obviously bothered to keep up with him in his last years. suddenly i realize that the older gentleman standing idly by is Jason’s dad.
omg. it’s his dad, i thought. omg. is it better that he does or doesn’t recognize me?
see, we used to be really crazy teenagers. really crazy, just completely off the chain and full of joy and insanity. we used to bounce off the walls with energy. we also used to do some questionable stuff. nothing terrible, just not real virtuous behavior. all in good fun, we figured at the time. and it was.
but we got suspended from school once, toward the very ass-end of my senior year, which would have been Jason’s sophomore year, for showing up drunk at a school dance, with liquor and beer in my car to boot. crap. i got him in trouble. i hope they don’t remember that.
he looks at me and we chat, and he doesn’t seem to really remember me well. that’s kind of a big relief.
then the question i was dreading.
no, i said, even though i only live a half hour away, i didn’t really bother to go and see him, as he’s dying, because i just didn’t. because i don’t fucking know, right? i didn’t say it like that, but i certainly meant it like that.
i tried several times to gather a posse together. too many years had passed. i needed a buffer to fill up the empty space of time that had grown like kudzu between us. he and i talked on the phone a few years ago, and the net result of the conversation was, i felt at the time, that he was grown up and doing his thing, and though we were greatly cordial, there was a fairly vast chasm that had come up there in the middle. we weren’t those kids anymore. he didn’t need me in his life. we of course said “we should get together sometime,” and “give me a call anytime,” and neither of us really meant it. though i would have secretly loved to. but you know how it goes. it’s happened to everyone. two old friends, grown apart after too much time.
i loved him, though, and i never stopped loving him. it had just become awkward. that’s why i wanted help, someone to go with me to see him.
so i answered that question. no, i didn’t go to see your dying son in his last couple of years in life. fuck! i wanted to. desperately. i was too scared of that god damned void that had opened up its gaping maw between us to suck our friendship in. i pussied out.
finally, i see him up close.
no mortician on earth really ever makes a dead body look natural. not to me anyway. it’s always a horrific shock to see something that resembles someone you used to know very well lying before you like some kind of expired doppelganger. it was just too unreal. i knew it was him, he just didn’t look… real. that always happens.
the shock, the numbness of it all was overwhelming.
i go outside, roll a couple more smokes, pretend like i’m talking on my phone. anything to keep the questions at bay. thankfully, Travis shows up with his mom. i keep quiet and let them do all the talking. conversations get better that way.
Fred texts me that he can’t show up because he supposedly doesn’t have enough gas. me and Jason were pretty tight back in the day, but Fred and Jason were like peanut butter and jelly. completely inseperable. i am disappointed.
Kevin Holsinger shows up in a little while. the other day i practically cried at the thought of seeing that kooky lil’ kid again. we were never all that close, but i always liked him. you couldn’t not. and we always had terrific laughs together. he doesn’t seem to know who i am, and since it doesn’t really matter anyway, i let the matter be as it is.
later on, Travis and his mom and Kevin and his whole family go out to eat. i didn’t go, it was just too awkward for me. i had a bad day. plus, i needed to pick Holly up from a business meeting. it turned out she got a ride, a fact i knew at right about the same instant as everyone was driving away. not that it would have made a difference.
there was not one single moment of the day that i had any business being a part of. but i owe like hell.
it’s hard when it really sinks in how much you never really mattered in the end, when someone you loved so much and had so much fun with is dead and gone so many years after you last saw them.