Monday, December 10, 2007

The End of the Semester

Well, my schoolwork is done for this semester and it is strange how little that makes me jump for joy. I clearly remember many times during my high school and undergrad years where the end of the semester (or quarter as the case may be) was met with screaming in the halls and general good times felt by all. It was a time when people turned off their brains for weeks at a time and tried to catch up on much that they had missed during their mandatory school days. Of course, it was never mandatory in college, just highly suggested.

Those times in my life were always grand and full of adventure, where anything could and did happen. Sleepless nights spent playing one video game after another with friends, such as the time Potts and I got through an entire baseball season in Ken Griffey Jr. with my knuckleball of doom always ready to strike out one batter after another. I seem to recall getting quite close to a perfect game once only to have a harmless squib just get past the outstretched pixel that was the player's glove in the game. Other times during these stretches, I would challenge myself to read as much as possible in as small an amount of time as possible. This was a big deal for a kid who spent the majority of his youth not allowed to drink anything with caffeine in it because I had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Those were the days when I could read huge opuses like 'The Stand' or 'It' in a single week. In contrast, I have been working on reading the Stand again and it has taken me almost three weeks to get two-thirds of the way through. Still impressive, if I may say so myself.

At the beginning of each semester (or quarter), I was always the most motivated and would get everything I needed for the upcoming semester. Every semester, i told myself with seeming confidence that this time would be different and I would keep up with all my readings and do all of my homework on time and generally be a model student. At the end of the semester, I would usually be scraping along trying to get everything done that I had procrastinated until the very last second. Either a testament to my own skills as a student, or the lack of a challenge in the material itself I have always been able to get everything done on time and with a good grade. This rush to get everything done at the end always engenders a need for a tremendous cooldown period designed primarily to think about anything but school.

So here I sit trying to do anything but work, but have found it quite difficult in this faster paced and more challenging world of graduate school to think about things other than next semester. It will be quite a big one for me, and for Jess as well, as I finish up my thesis and embark upon the adventure of a lifetime: job-hunting!!! During my break, I will be working every day on my thesis to make next semester run much smoother and get everything done on time to defend in May. I have no allusions that everything will run exactly the way I have it planned in my head. There will be snags, some big and some small, but if I keep up with things in a much more mature way than my high school and undergraduate semesters I am confident that I will be able to deal with absolutely anything that rears its ugly head on my path towards graduation and getting back to my life.

Thank you, all of you, who have helped me get through this in all its good times and its bad times. The end is indeed in site, and it is wreathed in a glorious light that makes me ache for the day when I can call Jess and tell her that I am done and can come home.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

...And That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles

I thought it might be a good idea to post something before the time period between posts reaches a month. There is something about it reaching a month that would just be absolutely unforgiveable in my mind. I mean, obviously as I get busier and busier with school it would be forgiveable for me to have these breaks in between posts. However, if it reaches a full month that would indicate that I am somehow less serious about writing and my strong desire to keep at it. If I want to become a published author at some point in my life, then perseverance is the name of the rather lengthy game.

I've been quite busy, some of it school and some of it video games (I'm being honest, at least!!). I have had alot of school work, and as much as I like to bemoan how much I procrastinate I obviously still manage to get it all done, and do it well in the process. I just took a test yesterday that I can say with about 99% certainty that I got over a 100 percent. The best thing about this is that it means I can get a 50% on my last project and still come away with an A! Of course, I would never actually put that little effort into what I am doing but it is a nice thing to know all the same.

The end of this semester is fast approaching, and I couldn't be happier that I get a long break back in Columbus with Jess. It won't be a completely restful break, however, as I will be putting finishing touches on the first half of my thesis while I am simultaneously building my database that will be used in my thesis. I would give more statistics now, but I can see the glassy-eyes increasing in number even as I think about it. I'll just say this, something that Jess once told a friend as I did my customary dance around what I was doing down here: He studies Mayan garbage! Thank you for that, Jess. That is a real life-saver.

I'm really looking forward to reconnecting with many people that I so rarely get a chance to see anymore these days. Inevitable with the whole growing up situation, I suppose. My best friend from Mentor, Potts, should be making a trip up to Columbus. I sure hope that he doesn't expect me to come to see him when we've spent good money on a plane ticket so I can at least make it make to the state.

I come back into town next Wednesday for what will be the last interim time period before I am back in Columbus for good, hopefully with a tremendously well-paying job!! (fingers-crossed) Knowing that I only have one rather long stretch of time left, all of next semester, makes me feel really happy. Peace out for now, but I do plan on writing more once again when I am settled in Columbus with Jess during all those cold days with lots of snow (I can only hope)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Strange Weekend

This has been a very strange weekend for me. Not strange in the fact that I got very little done, I mean who really wants to be doing anything on the weekends?!? No, it is strange in the fact that coming into this weekend I had absolutely every intention of getting work done. I know, I say that all the time and most of the time I don't really mean it but for the majority of the past week I really felt good about getting a lot done before coming back for the holiday. As I have stated in previous postings, I feel really good about everything going on down here especially as far as my thesis is concerned.

Actually, I really do still feel really good about things and I can visualize myself finishing on time and getting everything done on time so that I can come home this summer. I think I'll just have to chalk this weekend up to a much needed time for rest and relaxation. Hell, I even got to do karaoke on Saturday night when my friends and I all went out for Tobe's birthday (a physical anthropologist friend of mine). Hopefully, I've imprinted into your minds images of me karaoking (?) up there on stage and maybe it even reminds you a little of a famous celebrity. I'll leave who up to you!!

Anyway, the point is that I had a lot of fun with my friends down here. There was one person who I seriously missed however, and I think that person's absence is the main reason behind the strangeness of this weekend overall. There were more than a few moments this past weekend, not to mention throughout the entirety of my stay down here, where it almost physically hurt that Jess wasn't there for me when I needed comfort after a particularly stressful day. On the flipside, when we are talking on the phone, it is extremely difficult for me not to be able to put my arm around her when she has bad days as well.

Though this homesickness is nowhere near as bad as it was after the first couple of weeks last year (and thank you once again to all of my friends and family who helped me get through that awful period), it is still singularly painful in its effect on me at times. I know this is something that will never go away anytime I am forced to be away from my loved ones. I have accepted this, but unfortunately it doesn't in any way lessen the impact.

The thing that really helps me to get through these periods and resurface from the temporary shallow depression that I find myself in at times is the love and support from my ever-increasing circle of close friends and family. If there is a point to any of this rambling, it is that I am so happy that you are all there for me when I need a boost. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people in this world, and can only hope that in some small way I have a similarly profound impact on others as I travel through this treacherous highway called life.

In case anybody is getting the wrong impression from this post, I am trying to put forth the idea that I am extremely happy with my lot in life at the moment. Though there are, obviously, parts of my life that could go better from time to time the overall picture is beautiful and a work of art. I am but one person in a sea of stories, each one with its ups and downs, its beautiful moments and its ugly moments. I fervently hope that my role in other's stories can be to increase the ups and decrease the downs.

Thank you all for believing in me. It has meant a great deal to me, and I am made all the better for your love and kindness. I know this is all kinda heavy, but anyone who knows my writing style knows that I write what I am thinking when I am thinking it. I feel it makes for a much better indication of the truth in life.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I'm Alive!!!!

I knew this was going to happen, but I had hoped that somehow I would be able to keep up with this blog in the same way as I did when I started. However, fate has conspired against me and just keeps throwing me more and more to do. At times, I feel like a dog chasing a bone over these past few weeks. The tremendous upside to this is that I am doing quite well in my classes, as well as my thesis. Though I still have quite a bit of work to do, my trepidation from last year has been replaced by a sense of joy that my time down here is almost over.

Though I still have ALOT of work to do before I graduate, I at least have a reasonably clear idea of what all of that entails. Once I get past the research involved in the first 4 chapters of my thesis (the literature review), I will be doing the actual computer work involved with this thesis. I realize that data entry is tantamount to the 9th circle of hell for alot of people, but I truly enjoy doing this type of mindless work from time to time. Once I get into a good groove with everything, I'll be able to sit at my desk listening to itunes and plug away at the different aspects. I think it will be alot of fun actually for the times this winter when Jess is at work and I am sitting back at the apartment.

Well, I gotta get going. Have a luncheon to go to with one of my advisers archaeology friends. Definitely need to make an appearance as her student.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Late Night Encounter

The road was covered in leaves by the time Eric left his meeting and the sky had taken on a deep shade of purple. He knew that his wife would be furious at him for taking so long, but he was too exhausted to dwell upon her impending wrath. The deepening shade of the late evening night covered more and more of the sleepy forests on either side of the road, and Eric found himself having to pay more and more attention to the road ahead of him as the visibility dropped incrementally with each passing minute. He was on this road for half an hour before he realized with a sense of growing dread that he was no longer sure where he was.

He should have passed the old MCinty farm by now, and the trees should have long since thinned down to low scrub-brush and the occasional tree that refused to believe that forests were soon to be extinct. Not sure what else he could feasibly do, he pulled the car over to the side of the road which was a tricky proposition as the trees were almost on top of the small two-lane country road. Eric sat in a ponderous trance for several minutes before he flipped on the overhead light and reached into his glove compartment for his trusty old map.

It took him several long moments to find the map, buried as it was under several old travel books from his traveling days as well as the odd assortment of candy wrappers and old receipts. I really should clean this shit up, he though distractedly as he pulled the map out and began to unfold it. It took him several more moments to locate on the map the exact street that he knew that he was on. Had anybody been unfortunate enough to be in the car with him at this exact moment, they would have been assaulted with the kind of profanity that only sailors and possibly college students are wont. With this out of his system, Eric quickly began to fold up the map and he stowed it once again amidst all the trash of the glove compartment.

He sat still for mere moments before he shoved the door open and stepped out into the leaf-strewn road. He had a strong rustic look to him, complemented by the outlandish facial hair that he had grown long ago to placate his wife. There was a slight bulge under his overcoat that might give the more wary person cause to be alarmed. How the hell could I have gone completely in the wrong direction? I’m not that damn tired. He looked around him then and realized one thing that was a cause for great concern: a large silver animal was watching him with hungry, beady eyes.

Not being a renowned wildlife expert, he could not categorize this strange beast. He knew only that it resembled a mix between a dog and, well, …. Bigfoot! The only thing he could thing with any coherence was to be still and stay quiet. Though he knew this was no T-Rex, Eric hoped with a growing sense of alarm, that this creature was somehow distantly related and could not see him unless he moved. Intellectually, he knew this to be a ridiculous assumption but he held fast to the thought and began to resemble one of those living statues.

The creature began to approach with quite, assured steps that did not seem to affect the thin coating of dead leaves. No rustling sound came from the direction of the animal. Indeed, no sound of any kind could be discerned from this behemoth. For reasons that Eric would never be able to uncover, this caused his terror level to jump to levels heretofore never experienced in his lifetime. There was something primal and otherworldly about this strange visitor that beckoned to him and stirred up old vestigial memories that he never knew he possessed.

Images of primal terror began to cycle through his frozen brain, and he started to hyperventilate with short, shallow breaths. The animal had stopped its forward progression, but Eric was no longer paying attention. His focus was strictly upon the images that he tried with desperate measures to decipher, but found that they were flying by too fast for him to understand them. All he was aware of was that darkness had suddenly entered into his personal worldview, and it was coming closer and closer to grasping his soul in its sharp talons. Deep in his unconscious self, Eric realized what was happening to him but found himself utterly incapable of doing anything about it. It would take some kind of glorious outside help for him to be able to get away from the terrible clutches of this voracious demon.

Unbeknownst to the ancient demon and its hapless victim, another kind of being was at that very moment staring through slitted eyes at the struggle that was taking place. It could feel the darkness as strongly as Eric, but the difference was that this being understood the creature and knew its motives. It had seen it far too many times before to mistake the signs for what they were. Light radiated from this new creature on the scene in small waves, and a feeling of peace and tranquility was its essence. Seeing that the possession was in its last stages, this creature pushed out the light and peaceful emotions in an envelope that enfolded the man and the strange demon that has attempted to absorb the humanity left in the man. In a very old dialect, this being began to talk very fast and glide towards the situation.

Eric was dimly aware of all of this as it was happening, and could feel the two forces at work as they were battling each other. The rapidity of the hellish images diminished noticeably and a pall was lifted from his eyes that he hadn’t even realized had been placed there. He was vaguely aware of something being ejected from his core being and he could almost see a kind of wispy black fog leaving his body and coalescing once again into the silver creature that had started this whole strange affair. His consciousness began to slowly but inexorably reengage with his other senses and he was able to jump away from the hold that had been so tight only moments before.

A strong guttural cry echoed in the corridor between the trees as the demon raised what looked like hackles and charged at the newcomer. The newcomer, however, was ready for this and acted with a practiced grace to raise its hands at the demon and push forth some kind of brilliant energy at the rapidly approaching monster. It appeared that the demon was no slouch, however, as it deftly sprung out of the way of the energy bolt. For an instant both creatures stared each other down with withering stares and then they launched anew at each other and the impact was cataclysmic and knocked Eric a good ten meters away, where he just narrowly avoided hitting a big rock on the side of the road. He didn’t have enough time to count his good blessings, as the fight continued unabated between the two spiritual beings. He could only assume that one was good and one was bad, but turned on his heels and sprinted away from the confrontation as fast as his body would take him. He never even attempted to look back until he must have run a couple of miles.

All he could see was a bright light on the horizon that could have been mistaken for sunrise, but a quick check of his watch ensured Eric that it had only been a matter of minutes since he had stopped his car. At this point, he didn’t care at all who won this biblical matchup and he turned around and ran all the way back into town where he eventually succumbed to his deep fatigue and collapsed just outside of town. His dreams were impossible to define, but he swore till his dying day that they contained fantastic images of demons and angels in a fight for the ages.

He would never be sure what had happened that night, but he woke up a changed person. He had come so close to the true face of evil that he could never forget the complicated emotions that had rifled through his being. Though he had been frozen by the sheer terror of the confrontation, he had also felt an intrinsic connection between himself and that terrible entity. Right there before the newcomer came and ostensibly saved his life, he had actually begun to like what he was seeing and look forward to its terrible embrace. He swore to himself that he would never let himself forget what had happened and how much he owed to the illuminous stranger.

Though he had by no means been an awful person prior to his encounter, he became a paragon of virtue and philanthropy for what remained of his life. He did as many little things, as well as some big things, to make his little corner of the world a better place to live in. Several years later, when he and his wife welcomed their first child he worked even harder to instill in his young son the lessons that he had learned. Though he yearned for it, he never again met that mysterious stranger. It would be up to his son, some 50 years after that initial encounter, to relay his thanks and gratitude before embarking on an adventure of his own right.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Burgeoning New Life

During this past week there have been two births in my family, and I cannot wait to see them and their proud parents. Andrew and Katie (my first cousin and cousin-in-law) greeted Avery into this world on Friday, Oct. 12th. Scarcely one day earlier Lauren and Cevin (same as above) greeted Kayla Nicole Macias into this world on Thursday, Oct. 11th. It goes without saying that I am incredibly proud of the four of them as they embark on the trials and tribulations of raising kids. And knowing both of them when they were younger, and I'm sure they would agree since they also knew me, raising kids is no small feat.

Unfortunately, with my current situation, I have had very little correspondence with either of them since moving down to New Mexico. Luckily I should be able to see them and their new bundles of joy either for Thanksgiving or sometime around Christmas. At this time, when there lives are continuing unabated with all the work that goes with raising a child included, I would like to wish them both the best of luck and also say that I am a little envious for them. Though I do not necessarily look forward to waking up in the middle of the night or the constant dirty diapers, I am certainly looking forward to the feelings that must inevitably come with raising a fellow human being. To be able to be the moral compass for a child is something that I think is extremely important for these small, innocent children. Knowing my cousins as well as I do, I know that their children will be nothing short of amazing individuals as they grow up in this increasingly tumultuous world that we live in.

In a society that thrives on individuality, two great new individuals have opened their eyes for the first time and are ready for the wonders to come.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Baseball Journey: The Inconsistent Reunion

The baseball was in the middle of a very intense conversation with an old black and white arachnid that had crawled its way onto the soft leather of the glove when it felt itself lifted up and once again tucked under the little one’s armpit. It only had a little bit of time to register its surprise before it was pounded into hard gray concrete, which promptly rebounded it right back into the long-fingered hand of the small one. They’re lucky that I don’t have any pain receptors, it thought sardonically, but of course it really had no idea what a pain receptor was or even what pain felt like.

It had been many months since the little one had been home and the baseball felt a momentary sense of comfort being back in the overly sweaty mitt that it had been friend to for many years. Its age was incalculable, but none of that mattered to the big one and the small one who were playing out a ritual that had become sacred to them. Before the baseball quite knew what was going on it went sailing into the aluminum siding of the little one’s house.

“Dude, watch it. We’re way too old to keep getting yelled at by your dad!” remarked the big one.

“It was an accident, its not my fault that you can’t catch it” yelled the small one as he picked up the baseball and made yet another miserable attempt at an old-school knuckleball such that the baseball ended up several yards to the left of the big one. It heard a sigh of exasperation escape from the big one which would have mirrored the baseball if it was even capable of any speech. Just once, I would like to end up in the mitt when he throws that damnable pitch!

“Seriously man, slow down and concentrate on the pitch. How long has it really been since we’ve done that?” About 342 days, 9 hours, and 12 minutes, thought the baseball before realizing how desperate it sounded that it knew this figure with such precision.

“We’ve both been working and going to school. You’re only in the state about three times a year, and the rest of the time you’re with Jess”. The small one, with appropriate discipline managed to throw the baseball close to the mitt of the big one. Thanks you Lord, thought the baseball before realizing that as an inanimate job it had neither the need for nor desire of any religious notions.

“True. It’s almost over though and I’ll be back in the state. Of course, then I’ll have to look for a job and plan a wedding so time will be kind of at a premium…” The baseball stopped listening to the familiar diatribe of the big one as he went sailing through the air and the warm air. It had listened to the big one speak so often that it knew his ability to string seemingly random thoughts together so effectively that the end result was usually just white noise to the baseball.

After another half hour of back and forth motion, which was about to make the baseball sick, the two once again decided that their time could better be spent pretending to be in the big leagues.

“You got any Code Red?” the big one asked. The baseball was once again relegated to the dusty storage bin along with the glove, its one constant companion. Either they will come out to play tomorrow or it will be another year! The baseball though again, for the thousandth time in its small existence, about life and its many wonderful things that it would likely never get a chance to see. Before hunkering down for the long haul in this muggy old garage, it suddenly realized that there were no other baseballs in the box along with it. For some inexplicable reason, this notion forced small thoughts of unaccustomed joy to worm their way into its rubber core.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Indians in ALCS

Last night I spent 4 and a half hours watching the Indians trouncing the New York Yankees. For the third year in a row, the Yankees have lost the first round in the baseball playoffs against a team that wasn't really given much chance by the majority of the baseball public. Now who is standing tall as the Indians have disrupted the most potent offense this entire year through great pitching and some of the best 2-out clutch hitting I think that I have ever seen. Our top two pitchers have each won 19 games this season, and we have a third who has won 15 games. This kind of amazing pitching will beat the best offense any day.

Next on the target for the Indians are the Boston Red Sox, who do have a great team but there is this feeling in the air. This is the time that the Indians will accomplish what they have been striving for since the 40s. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they were eliminated in the first round. This leaves Cleveland as the team with the longest stretch without winning the World Series, at least as far as the teams who have won a series (the Rockies have yet to win).

As someone who lived through almost the entirety of the glory days in Cleveland during the nineties, and someone who saw them lose two world series in '95 and '97, I have been rooting for them to do great. Also, there is something special about this team that bodes well for the rest of their playoffs. Besides, it is very rare for a team to have three pitchers which could be the ace of many other teams. C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, and Paul Byrd have been absolutely astounding this year but especially this post-season. They have dominated completely and I look forward to seeing these pitchers in the ALCS as we win and move onto the World Series.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Brief Respite

Yesterday, I spent virtually the entire day working on the second draft of my thesis. The good news is that I finished it, printed it, and put it in Rani's mailbox to tear apart! I'm hoping for at least four days before she tells me what I need to change about it. Even though it's a couple of weeks late, it really feels good to have it done for the time being. Now I can focus on my other classes and get some work done on them so I can continue to get that grades I have been getting so far, which thankfully have been quite good.

Today, I am enjoying the brief respite mentioned in the title and watching football and hanging out with friends. Brain's kinda fried a little, so I'll let this post go at that. Have a great day, everybody.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Red Carnation

The spoon was sitting exactly where he had left it, as was the plate, the knife, and the cup. But the flower. Ohhhh the flower. It was decidedly not where he had left it. In fact, he had not left it nor did he like flowers. They were too pretty, and reminded him of days that he would much rather let stay in the oblivion.

The smell of this particular flower was a mixture of scents, so complex that even someone with an incredibly refined sense of smell would have a very difficult time decoding the complex smell. He did not have such a sense of smell, so all he thought was that this particular scent was an affront to his senses. He sat looking at it, trying his hardest not to smell and breathing through his mouth like a fish out of water. It was a small red carnation, wilted and with a dainty air about it as if the person who had left it there had transferred some of their personality into it. That is certainly ridiculous, he thought, but he continued to think it.

A hard knock at the door brought him out of his revery. At least somewhat. He looked like an old school automaton as he walked towards the door, unable or unwilling to take his glance off of the mysterious flower. He fumbled for the door latch and opened the door, unaware that this life was soon to be a thing of the past.

The retort of the gun was the last thing that he heard before succumbing to his sixth death in as many days. Dammit, at last something out of the ordinary and I die. This thought was stretched out and multiplied thousandfold as he entered the realm of Kiloria and all of his infinite personas were released. This was always the worst, that first entrance into the shining metropolis out on the frontier of space itself. The leap out of the bodies was never a thing that happened lightly, and this time was certainly no different.

“Welcome back, Number 1, do you have anything new to report?” said an imperious voice. The tone was unmistakable, and Number 1 found it literally impossible not to answer his question.

“The flower was back, and for the life of me I cannot explain away its appearance. I was only in the bathroom for a minute, and the flower appeared during that time.” He finished.

His superior, looking over and writing in a small black journal, took a long time to continue with this familiar routine. Much longer, in fact, than normal which prompted Number 1 to think with a fierce kind of glee that his journey might now be finally entering the last stage. He had been coming close to an epiphany of sorts for several jumps now and he could not wait until the last phase was begun and his time spent in the ‘real’ world increased many times over.

"This latest development is very troubling," he said with an authoritative air. "It is time for Phase 2. Go to the library and read up on red carnations. He is trying to tell us something, and I want to know what."

"Yes, sir," he snapped off a smart salute. With this, he retreated with a kind of lithe grace out into the night and presumably off towards the library.

His commander stood in the soft lush light coming through the phase8 material high above him for several moments before a soft shimmering surrounded him. A small buzzsaw burrowing up through the soft loam popped up through the ground in the very place where the elderly man had recently been without any idea that he was in a highly bizarre incidence.

A Piece of Skyrock

The rock was falling through the sky in a trajectory that would take it straight into the living room of Mr. and Mrs. Weatherweight. Their life was normal, and as normal people they had many problems that were quietly going unaddressed. Their biggest problem was that a piece of skyrock was at that moment plummeting straight for their favorite TV. They did not know this, however, so they continued watching a rerun of “I Love Lucy” on their brand new plasma screen television. In mere moments, their quiet little suburban lives would be threatened and their lives would be forfeit. The rock, knowing this, changed its mind and hit their hydrangea instead.

The powerful explosion that would have happened, because who knew that the plasma in plasma televisions was such a highly volatile substance (!), was forever altered. Instead, they were covered in dirt.

To them, however, this was the ultimate affront and after shaking themselves off with quick rapid shakes they stood up with something akin to murder on their carefully sculpted faces. With quick bird-like twists of their heads, somewhat eerily in unison, they looked around to find someone to blame.

Their first thought, and a strange one it was, was that the killer robots had finally arrived and were going to deprogram them all and make them into plumbers (!). Knowing that these two were highly sophisticated robots implanted into this quiet suburban neighborhood would probably make things much clearer. The rock knew all of this and so much more, but for now it was determined to keep all of this information to itself and keep its secret.

Mr. and Mrs. Weatherweight, codenamed after the two who had previously inhabited this particular establishment, were not specifically programmed to make sense of what was happening. What happened next might seem exceedingly odd to an outsider, but was run of the mill to your average neighborhood robot. They stood close and swiveled their heads towards each other in a slow methodical turn. Their hair parted and appeared to melt into their scalps, which had taken on a hint of a metallic coloring. Their eyes sunk slowly into their heads and appeared to retreat upward towards their scalps before actually popping out again with a slight pop through recently formed holes on top of their heads. Finally, their eyes connected together like a plug into a socket and they just sat there.

And sat there.

The rock, which had a pretty good idea what they were doing, was starting to get impatient after three hours of this sitting there. It decided to act, not something that was specifically in its programming but it thought it could bend some useful algorithms just this once. Or was it the tenth time. For some reason it didn’t know, but it didn’t care enough to double check its records even though it would only have taken one-trillionth of a nano-second.

Little tiny legs protruded from this small piece of space debris that was definitely not acting as such. Looking like a small earth spider, it crept over to the two eye-locked Weatherweights and crawled up until it was sitting right in-between their connections.

And it sat there.

The explosion occurred precisely one-trillionth of a nano-second later when the small piece of space rock realized that it had bent one algorithm too many and the resulting logical paradox was too much for its logical circuits to handle. It had time for one more thought in this micro time period.

Was it the Weatherweights or the Featherweights?

Where have I been?

It sure has been a long time since I posted anything, and that really is a shame. When I first started this blog I was really excited about being able to write again when I once had such a passion for it. I still do, there is just so much to be done with school right now that I am finding it very difficult to give myself the time to really sit down and express my thoughts in words. Let me tell you what is going on right now, both in my head and in my life.

First off, my head is incredibly full at the moment with the amount of things going on in my life. Now don't get me wrong, I am very fortunate indeed that I have this much going on at all. Upon some serious inner reflection, I think that this is the sign that I am living a very full and rewarding life. Sometimes, like right before bed, I wish that I could just poke a tiny hole in my brain to let all of this stuff out so that I can think only of my pillow as my head crashes onto it. Frontal lobotomy aside, there really is nothing that can be done. Oh well! I guess I'll have to live with it after all. Here I am ranting again. Please tell me when I am doing this so I can shut the hell up, will ya?

My schoolwork takes up a big proportion of my time, as I am sure anyone who has ever been in graduate school or even a full-time job for that matter would understand. Right now, I have the equivalent of three classes warring for every last inch of my time. Luckily, one of these is the actual writing of a big chunk of my thesis in time for the end of the semester so that I can work exclusively on the analytical portion of my work in time to graduate in May. (Fingers crossed everyone!!!) I feel really good about everything that has been going right with this research even though I am not the biggest fan of doing research. Still, there is something amazing about producing something (anything) and then having it published for all the world to see (or at least those who even know where it is --> in the library here!).

Perhaps later I will spend some time to introduce you to the wonderful world that is Maya refuse practices and geographic information systems, but I think this post is getting a bit long in any case. I plan on writing more often in the coming weeks, but don't be at all surprised if I begin to be a little lax. Be kind, I am gentle! (whimper)

I also hope to have some more short stories to post in the near future, and I am still interested in producing a serialized story. The baseball story that I posted almost over a month ago now does have more chapters, I just haven't written them yet. Stay tuned my loyal and faithful compatriats!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Robert Jordan, You will be Missed

It is with great sadness that I bring news of the death of a great author who I have been reading for years. Today, Robert Jordan succumbed after a long and heroic struggle with a rare blood disease is tantamount the struggles of the characters that he wrote about with such obvious care and compassion. His Wheel of Time series, spanning 11 books to date, was a New York Times bestseller for each volume and became an instant phenomena the world over. It is a sad day when a great talent is taken from us before his time. Unfortunately, it is always before the right time when great people are taken away.

I remember reading the first book of this series, The Eye of the World, quite a few years ago on vacation and instantly being hooked to the great characters and the intricate plotlines. It is true that it can get quite confusing, but I have been collecting each book in hardcover over the past few years with the intention of rereading the entire series one day when I have the free time. I find that perhaps the greatest tragedy here is that a man who invested so much of himself in this incredibly complex and personal story to him and we will be unable to fully understand how all of his plots play out in the master's definitive edition. I fear that the volume that inevitably comes out will be missing a great deal without his sure hand at play on every page.

With all of this in mind, he lived a long and fruitful life and I am just glad that I could share some of his stories. He is an inspiration to me and in my endeavors in life. The way in which he fought so valiantly in the end is something that all should approach every aspect of life with.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Horrific Injury in the NFL

I was watching the football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Denver Broncos and I witnessed something that I hope to never see again. A backup Tight End for the Bills, Kevin Everett, made a seemingly innocuous block of Domenik Hixon on a kick return to start the second half. At first I didn't know what had happened, but soon realized that Everett was not moving on the field. Its a very sobering realization when you are sitting on the couch enjoying one of your favorite sports and then you see somebody injured in such a fashion. I must confess that while he didn't move at all as they took him off the field in the ambulance, I was relieved to see him blink on the way into the ambulance.

Everett's prognosis is not encouraging, as the associated press has reported that he has a cervical spine injury and is currently in intensive care and on a respirator. Never mind the thought of when will he play again for the Bills, the questions have turned to whether or not he will walk again or even whether he will even have use of his arms or legs again. This is a very horrible thing to happen, but I was glad to see all the fans and players were clapping him off the field as a show of support to his health.

I fervently hope that I never see something as senseless as this happen for the rest of my life. All my prayers go out to Kevin Everett and his family during this painful time.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Football Fever

Football fever is upon us once again. Today is the first day of the NFL regular season and many, including myself, are psyched about its beginning. For me, it gives me a reason to keep Sunday to myself with little to no homework. Instead, I can relax on the couch or watch the games with friends and enjoy the day without worrying TOO much about all of my other obligations. The Lord did say that Sunday is a day for rest, and I intend to take that advice to heart during the football season and watch and see if my beloved Bengals can get off their asses and do what they have been capable of doing ever since the Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson era began.

Elsewhere in the NFL, all eyes are turned on Peyton Manning who finally got that elusive super bowl ring on his finger. Will he repeat and solidify his hall of fame potential? Maybe. One thing is for sure, however, unlike Michigan the Indianapolis Colts definitely have a chance to achieve football glory this year. Other teams will be out to dethrone the Colts, and tonight will be a matchup that many think has definite postseason potential. Tonight, the Colts and the New Orleans Saints will fight and I feel myself rooting for the Saints.

Last year was the first full year after Katrina, and the New Orleans Saints, who played to a 10-4 division championship, formed a rallying point for the denizens of New Orleans. Its always nice to see the positive effects that sports can have on the community as a whole, especially in this Michael Vick Dogfighting era. I definitely find myself hoping that the Saints can have a repeat season and continue the healing process in New Orleans.

Whatever happens this year, I am sure that it will be a fun year for football fans. And I will be loving every minute of it. I also sincerely hope that this Vick controversy dies down and we stop hearing about it every single year. Maybe if the Falcons do well without Vick this may happen.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Jess and I have been trying of late to get ourselves up earlier and earlier each morning, and we never realized just how difficult it really is to do. There is something so inviting and alluring about staying bundled up in covers in bed, even if my bed is horrific compared to hers, and watching through slitted eyelids your alarm clock tick (unlikely in this digital world, I know) ever closer to that dreadful alarm. It really seems that we would like nothing less than to just stay in bed for the entire day. It would certainly be better than a day spent dealing with clients or a day spent studying the refuse practices of a Maya city in the Yucatan peninsula! These thoughts and more just race through my head as I try to force myself out of bed and it just becomes so damn difficult. GRRRRRR!!

Excuse my language!

It is just so difficult to get motivated sometimes in this day and age where there are so MANY other things to do that are both more fun and sometimes even feel more worthwhile. Now, this may just be me. I really have no way of telling if others feel the same way as me about this, but I really don't think that I am alone. Even those around me who seem to be, quite literally, stuck with their heads in their books and also seem to have limitless motivation towards what they are doing have their moments where they can't seem to get anything done either. I really wish it was easy for me as well, but maybe that just isn't how life is to me. I like to think that it is a test in some way to make me into a better person and all of these difficulties will be met with rewards later on in life.

Looking back on my life as well as forward, I see so many great things that have happened in my life that the instances of hardship are easier to deal with in the overabundance of love and compassion I am fortunate enough to have. Why am I writing this? I'm not really sure myself. I just sat down and started putting my thoughts down. I think I'm in a time right now where I just feel so pressured to get things done because I CERTAINLY am not staying here any longer than I have to and, in writing this, I am putting down many of the fears I have about school and the future.

Reading through what I have written, however, I realize that I am in a very good place in my life (both professionally and personally) and I look forward to what life brings me in the present and in the future.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Just checking in

This post is meant for me to check in with all of my faithful readers out there, hopefully by now there are some. I knew this was going to happen when I started school up, but I will be posting whenever I get the time and the inclination to share my thoughts with the world. With my mind so preoccupied with school and my need to graduate at the end of the current school year, it has become very difficult for me to muster up the motivation to keep writing. I am keeping up with my schoolwork, but alas never quite enough. I still find myself slacking off from time to time, but I would be hard pressed to come up with any student who doesn't have this problem.

Nevertheless, I have a firm deadline for my second draft (Sep. 19th) from which I will embark upon the thesis itself. In addition to this, of course, I need to think ahead to what will happen after I graduate and work on my resume as well as look for different potential career paths. What I might do is still slightly up in the air, but I have at least come to the conclusion that I want to work in some computer-oriented career and I think that is a good place to start. Additionally, it is something that is needed in many places so I feel confident about it.

Well, until next time, everyone have a great late summer into fall. Hopefully, it isn't too long until I see some of you in person.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Happy Anniversary!!!

Six years ago today my life completely and irrevocably changed. I did not know this at the time, of course, but it is true. This was the day that Jessica and I started to date and, six years later, we are planning our wedding; ready to spend the rest of our lives together. Throughout these past six years, she has been my closest confidante and my best friend and I am truly gifted to be able to spend my life with her. Though we cannot be together on this momentous occasion, I know that our hearts are connected in a way that can span the distance that we are apart. As often as I think of her, I know that at least some of those times she is also thinking about me and I take great comfort in this knowledge.

On reflecting over the past six years, I am amazed at how long it seems and how short it seems at the same time. There are so many great memories that we have shared over these years, and it sometimes seems hardly possible that all of them could possibly be contained in only six years. Yet, I can remember our first date at Mentor Beach like it was yesterday. I know that's cliched a bit, but I honestly can remember it that well. I knew at that point that something special was beginning, I just didn't realize how special it was going to be.

Like any relationship, we have had our downs just as we have had our ups. We have always used our love for each other to work through these, and they have only served to strengthen our relationship even further. The result is that, six years after our initial date, we are so much stronger than we were then. This strength has made this forced separation so much easier to bear, knowing that we will be together again soon and then it will be for the rest of our lives.

Thank you, Jess, for always being there for me when I need your inspiration and love. I love you with all that I can muster, and I look forward to all of our years to come.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Reds win six in a row!!!

Some may say that it is too late for the Reds to make a run at anything this year. They may be right, but keep this in mind: since Pete Mackanin took over on July first the reds are 27-19, which is the best during that time span of anyone in the National League Central. So, can the Reds make a comeback of historic proportions? As a long-time reds fan, for as long as I can remember, I believe it is possible.

With the first place Cubs having a record of 66-63 and the Brewers fading fast, it might just take a miracle for anyone to win a decisive victory in the Central. Someone needs to start taking control of this division, because it has been absolutely horrible the last few years. The Cardinals, who won the division last year, only had 83 wins!! Pretty much every other division in baseball at least has a 90 game winner take first place. So, with that said, I would love the Reds to take this opportunity to become the type of team that can do that.

Of course, with them 10 games under .500 with 30-some games to go, they would literally have to win all of their remaining games in order to get to 90. But if the other teams in the central start playing even a little worse than they already are, it might just be possible for them to make it into the playoffs. But lets be serious, I think we all realize that this is a most unlikely goal. However, it would be really nice for them to make a strong showing under their interim manager Pete Mackanin, who many think should inherit the full-time job once the season is over.

Regardless of what happens, I am much encouraged by what I have seen of late. The pitching is finally showing signs of life and the offense has been incredible of late. If they can keep this up, make a few good signings in the offseason, they just might be ready to revitalize this central division and give me the chance to see an all Ohio World Series!!!! Please, dear god, at least once in my life.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In the Midst of Horrors

With all of the tragedies coming out of the middle East on a daily basis, I have recently come across a very human tragedy. CNN has reported that a 5-year-old was doused with flames and then lit on fire. Thankfully, he has survived. During a war where chaos is the norm and we become accustomed to people dying in the name of a cause, this still strikes a chord. Whether we believe in the cause is immaterial at this point. We are not, and I pray we never become so, accustomed to such brutality towards a child. They have no say in anything going on around them, and of all humans on the face of this earth they deserve to be kept out of world events that some have called the "End Times".

It is insane for me to think that anybody could do this, and even more insane that I would be less amazed if this had happened to an American child. I am sickened at myself slightly with what I have just written, but with the amount of negative attitudes in the world towards the United States I could at least come up with a reason. Not that there is any reason that this should ever happen, but this boy is a native youth and I cannot even in the depths of my soul find a reason why something like this would ever have been planned and executed.

With all of these insane things happening more and more often, I think it is important for us to all remember that we are all human. There are no layers of humanity, one is not better or worse than another. While morals and actions on an individual scale may cause conflicts, we are all inherently the same when looking at ourselves as a species. So I implore anyone who is reading this to make small efforts to make others lives better. I think the movie "Pay it Forward" had the right idea with its message of helping. You don't need to be awarded for your efforts, in fact that sometimes defeats the purpose. Just go out, all of you, and live your life to the fullest.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Review of "Perfume"

"Perfume: The Story of a Murderer", based off of a best-seller written by Patrick Suskind, was a very strange movie. I'm not sure that I could really say that it was bad as far as movies go. I could definitely tell the care that went into the acting and the cinematography, and there are a couple of well-known actors who are in this movie: Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman. However, there were many times where the aberrant behavior (as the ratings disclaimer claimed) was just a little too much for me.

Part psychotic killer, part soft-core pornography, and part strange. As such, "Perfume" is just too difficult to really nail down and put into one specific genre. The story, as far as it goes, revolves around a young man born into squalid surroundings in eighteenth century Paris who just so happens to have the best nose in the world (or at least in London). This is claimed by the protagonist himself at one point in the movie. The psychotic, and rather innocently naive, tendencies soon begin to manifest as he is determined to duplicate every single smell in the entire world and he begins to take scents of young women, which unfortunately for them resolves in their deaths. I can't give much more away without spoiling parts of the movie that might not be immediately obvious from the title or the description on the back of the dvd.

Suffice it to say, this movie is neither horrible or great. It is an experience in and of itself, and for that I cannot say that I regret watching the movie. Indeed, I do seem to keep going back to the movie trying to make sense of it. It is not traditional storytelling at all and as such may be difficult for most to stomach. Additionally, I can imagine that many people would become uncomfortable with the blatant sexuality in evidence throughout the movie. If you are looking for a deeper movie than most at your local video store, then I would recommend this. If anything, you should be talking about it with anyone you watch it with.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Michael Vick plea bargain

There can be little doubt in most people's minds now about Michael Vick's guilt. The charges, which have been pled down to felony conspiracy, deal with dogfighting rings that he paid for and took an active interest in. According to CNN, the defense in the case is reporting that he has taken a plea agreement for the aforementioned charge. This plea severely jeopardizes his career, and includes possible jail time. It seems obvious in my mind that Vick saw what was coming and did the only thing he could do. I doubt very much that his supposedly heartfelt statements claiming how sorry he was for what had occurred were in any way genuine. For someone to even be a part of this type of cruelty, they must have a morally bereft soul. Thankfully, with this ring largely put out of operation, dogs that might have been a part of this may live.

Unfortunately, just because this ring was put out of commission doesn't mean that the problem at large is any closer to going away. Here are some links that provide further information about the world of dogfighting and the Michael Vick case in General.

Michael Vick

Sunday, August 19, 2007

All moved in and ready to go (Almost)

Well, I am finally established back down into my apartment in Las Cruces. School starts on Wednesday, but I am going to be getting into a rhythm starting today so that this coming semester goes off without a hitch and I get a great deal of work done before coming back between semesters for Christmas. The first thing I decided to do was to get my room to a point that is, I like to think anyway, close to the level of cleanliness that I have enjoyed at Jess's apartment over the past seven weeks. She would be glad to know, I'm sure, that I came home last night and basically shuddered at the state of my room and the apartment as a whole.

I intend to slowly clean the rooms because I have found that the less anxious I am the better work I do. I suppose this is an obvious thing, but its true just the same. I hope that I can make sure to keep everything tidy throughout the school year and that it will look the same at the end of the semester as it does now!! Well, I'm off to continue cleaning (or playing games) and get myself mentally prepared for a semester that may prove to be the most trying yet.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Preview of what is to come

Today is my final day staying in Columbus for the summer. It has been a great time. I have done much over the past seven weeks, and I will be sad to see this time with Jess go. Hopefully, this next year will go by fast and I will be back with her and planning our wedding soon enough. Hopefully with a job that pays in the vicinity of 60k (heheh). I don't really have much to say in this post, but I want to say that I will most likely not post either as many times or with such duration as I have since the genesis of this blog.

That was a time spent trying to understand myself as a blogger in this new cyber age. I think that I have had decent postings, but I know it has been very random, though that is in keeping with the name of the blog itself. I will keep posting, but about what and how frequently will be up in the air. I will take anything you have to say with equal measure and attempt to tailor to what you want. Well, have a great work year or school year, and remember what your Uncle Billy says, "Don't buy drugs...... Get famous, and they give them to you for free!!" (Love Actually) Just a joke, drugs are bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Haunted Man

The man sitting in the plush armchair was haunted. This kind of haunting was not one of a ghostly incorporeal nature. Memories haunted this man and held him in a vise-grip from which he cannot break free. He sat quite still in his daughter’s room, looking with fondness and a bit of wry sadness at her beautiful hair and delicate features. So much like her, he thought. He is thinking of his ex-wife and ex-lover, a woman who stole his heart long ago and has never let go.

The haunting began years ago, when his wife began to show the first symptoms of her disease. They had told him that the disease was incurable and mental. They were the doctors, and he thought that they were full of shit. He had often had dreams about these doctors and the things he did to them were not for the likes of pleasant company. His incurable romanticism had as much of a grasp on him as his wife had on his heart. There was nothing that could ever tear them apart. Theirs love was eternity, and their eternity was love.

The trips to the hospital became more frequent as the years went by, and his desperation rose like mercury in an old thermometer as she would yell at him at the slightest provocation. His love for her reduced all of her hateful and spiteful ranting into willowy shades of what they really were, and it was all those dimly remembered fights that haunted him still. I should have known and I should have done something, he thought for the thousandth time. He was angry with himself, and something of this anger was evident in his grim visage as he watched the only remnants of his once dynamic relationship.

His daughter’s soft sigh broke his reverie. He looked at her as a new person each time he saw her. He found this to be a necessary exercise in mental discipline, and allowed him to separate his feelings for his daughter and his ex-wife. It was becoming harder as the years went on. Young Kayleigh began to resemble her mother more and more, her eight year old frame only starting to look like her mother. The man in the armchair was not sure whether this was reality or his mind conjuring up visions. Since the mind is king, he supposed it really didn’t matter.

A small noise drew his attention away from Kayleigh. The noise was so slight that he was sure he hadn’t heard it at all, but it was repeated with a hurried intensity a moment later.

The house was old, and it came with all of the usual problems associated with houses past a hundred years. He and his wife had bought it on a whim during their wonder years and had planned to put some good hard work into it and then sell it for a shitload more than they had paid. Those plans were upset by the untimely, yet not unwanted, birth of their son Frederick. Unlike the ancient house, Frederick didn’t last very long at all. The early death of their firstborn had only hastened his wife’s mental deterioration even further.

Something about this noise that he was now hearing made him pause before proceeding down the stairs to its source. He was afraid. His feelings were that simple and he was completely unsure as to its genesis. It was wrong and he could feel it in his bones. However, as any aficionado of creeper movies is aware, the things that go bump in the night are almost seductive in their very nature and impossible to avoid. Besides, this was his own house on a quiet street in a quiet neighborhood. Were anything to happen, he was assured that his very helpful neighbors would be out en masse to help.

The noise coming from downstairs began to sound like the ticking of an old style grandfather clock. His mind’s eye conjured up a menacing figure of a grandfather clock on the prowl and he began to have serious doubts about his own sanity. No more creeping, goddamnit. This is fucking ridiculous, he thought. He flipped on the switch and saw an empty hallway with bright yellow wallpaper. His wife would be furious at him if she knew how much he wanted to tear down that ridiculous wallpaper. He pounded his head in frustration, attempting to stop himself from thinking about her and the past. The pain brought him swiftly back to his senses.

After going halfway down the old stairs, he noticed that the noise had stopped its slow cadence. For some inestimable reason, this scared him more than the noise had in the first place and he almost lost his will and fled back to the relative safety of his daughter’s room.

“All right, this is ridiculous,” he said. “There is no one here and you know it. You are getting way too addled in your old age.” He said all of this out loud to himself, a habit he had picked up since his wife’s departure. He wasn’t loud enough to wake up his daughter, and there was something comforting in the small reverberations issuing forth from the empty house. He reached the bottom of the flight of stairs and turned into the living room. With a slight tremble in his hand, he flicked the lights on. He stopped dead in his tracks with a look of sheer horror on his face.

“Hello Gerald. It has been such a long time.”

The next few moments would never escape the narrowed confines of Gerald’s memories. She moved with a grace that he remembered so well from their many happy nights together. This time, however, she was not the same woman who had caressed his face with obvious love and attention. This creature was like something transformed. She briefly reminded him of the harpies that he had read about so many years before in High School.

He just barely managed to escape her talon-like clutches as she attempted to wrap her long fingers around his neck. In her heightened state of delusion she posed a threat to him. In normal times, her small frame and delicate features would not have stood a chance against his husky lumberjack frame. These times were far from ordinary, and he knew that he needed to think fast to avoid her attacks even as he was attempting to save her. He knew his first priority was his daughter and he was determined to keep her safe no matter the reason.

“I know you blame me for his death,” he said. He was casting for anything that might tap into the woman he remembered, and the event that had started her spiral was the best he could think of. Her hands were still reaching for his throat, but he believed that he felt a small diminution in her forward advances.

“I blame myself more than you could ever know. He was the world to me…. to us! What happened was unavoidable. You were a great mother to Frederick and you can be a great mother to Kayleigh.”

She had heard all of this before. Perhaps it was the proximity of her only daughter in the room upstairs or the man she had loved at arms length, but for once she seemed to take it to heart. He was not fooled. He had seen her relapse so often during her days at the treatment hospital that he had long ago stopped believing what she said. The love was still there, but that was all that remained. Most of that love was for the memories they had together.

“Gerald?”, she asked. “Is that really you, or is this another trick by the doctors?” He knew she was referring to the various techniques that her caretakers had employed to attempt to help her. Attempt being the optimum word. Nothing that they had every tried had achieved more than a modicum of success. Her mental break had seemed total and irreversible. She seemed to be having a small moment of clarity at this time, and he saw this and he hoped that it might be enough to talk her down and get her back to those who could help her.

“Honey,” he spoke, attempting to speak as if they were still married. In his confused mind, he believed that this would make it easier. “Do you know where you are?”

“This is our house, silly? Don’t you think I know where we live?” she spoke. Though her voice remained passive and even friendly, her physical reactions still bespoke the physical aggression that she had started this conversation with. He knew that the inevitable downswing may be only moments away.

“Of course I know that.” He was finding it difficult to keep his voice from wavering. “I was just joking with you. Now, why don’t you sit down over here and we can talk.”

She glanced towards the sofa briefly, but it was all the time that Gerald needed. He rushed forward and knocked her to the ground. The off-white hospital gown that she had been wearing when she had managed her escape rode up on her and exposed white panties. Something else was evident, however, and it made him pause. Soft bruises were evident around her waist. They looked purple in the bright light of the room, and he thought they looked self-inflicted. This latest revelation was too much for him, and he concentrated on subduing her. This proved difficult as she was now bucking up and down and Gerald had a fleeting image of himself on a mechanical bull. He saw no humor in this. Only sadness.

He did the only thing he could think and he hit her, hard, on the back of the head. He didn’t think this was the appropriate time for restraint. As a former boxer, he knew how to deliver a knockout and this time was no different. She stopped moving altogether, and he was able to turn her over and look at her face. He checked to make sure she was breathing, and then he tied her hands and feet with some rope that he had hanging up by the back door. It wasn’t the tightest knot he could make but it was sufficient to do the job.

He called the emergency hotline and then the police. He double checked his wife’s restraints. Then he rushed up to his daughter’s side to make sure she was alright and had not been too scared by the brief altercation. He reached her door and looked into her room. She was still there. His heart stopped beating as fast and he took a moment to compose himself before he went into the room and woke her up. He was always truthful with his daughter, and this time was no different.

“Hey honey, wake up,” he said.

“Daddy? Its dark still. Is school starting?”, she asked with innocent, wild eyes.

“No honey. It’s still the summer, but I need to tell you something. Your mother is here, but before I let you come and see her you need to know that we both love you very much. ... You know that your mother is not well, right?”

“Yeah.”, she managed. She had begun to sit up in bed and her eyes went curiously towards the stairwell. Quiet, gentle sobs were coming up from the first floor. They had an edge of hysteria to them but had failed to reach that far.

“Some people are coming to take her back so she can get help, but I’ll let you see her if you want. Only if you want to, its completely up to you." He left the question unanswered.

She didn’t answer for several moments, and Gerald could see that her eyes kept darting up to the ceiling then out towards the stairwell. This classic sign of memory made him think that she was trying to remember her mother. She had been five when the break had finally occurred, and he knew that those memories were dim at best. When she did answer, it came in the form of a gesture. She moved her head from side to side slowly as though the decision was difficult for her to make.

“I’m afraid.”

This simple answer from his beautiful daughter made the emotions that he had been feeling bubble up to the surface, and he began to weep. His daughter looked up with watery eyes of her own, though these may have been caused by her sleepiness, and she buried her head in his chest and wrapped her arms around his broad frame. They couldn’t quite reach, but at that moment they were all that was keeping him grounded.

The sound of approaching sirens brought him back to the present, and he gazed down at his daughter once again. Her eyelids were beginning to droop, in danger of closing completely, and he smiled. He knew then that whatever was to happen tonight with his wife and the police, everything would be surmountable as long as he had his daughter by his side.

“Go to bed then, my angel.” She giggled when he called her angel, then drifted back off to sleep.

“Sweet dreams,” he whispered. He stayed for one more silent moment. Then, with heavy steps, he began to walk back down to his ex-wife and the questions that the policeman would have as well as the doctors. For now, however, he believed that her haunting of him had come to an end. He would be content to be there for her as she continued on in her treatments, but he knew now that his true place would be right there in that rickety old house with a daughter he loved and cherished. His last thought was one of joy and jubilation despite the mess that awaited him downstairs.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Michael Vick: the Public has Spoken

Michael Vick has, allegedly, been keeping dogs for the sole purpose of sicking them on each other. Shades of gladiators from the past, this offense is somehow worse in many people's minds than harm or death to fellow humans. Maybe it is because people regard animals as simple creatures with very little if any of the freewill that we take for granted. If Michael Vick were accused of murdering a fellow human being, I believe most people would just shake their heads in disgust and go about on their merry paths. For some reason, however, the fury from many people both in and out of the limelight is quiet a strange reaction overall.

Some people point to Mr. Vick's race and say that he is being treated unfairly simply because he is a black man, but I really do not see this as a viable reason as to why people are seeming to gang up on him. In fact, I would have assumed that his status as a black athlete at the top of his game would have given him several more advantages than others who are at his same societal position. With people often afraid of that race card being pulled, I expected that he would have been given leeway as a black celebrity. However, based on the severity of his alleged crime, people are just so disgusted that they want to see justice for all of those dogs who had been so severely mistreated.

From what I have previously written, I know my bias is abundantly clear. I would like to say, however, that I am writing this intentionally from what I have heard within the public realm. I have not pored over the evidence or been able to look over court transcripts because the trial has not yet started. Innocence or guilt is not what I am specifically interested in, and if he turns out to be innocent then I offer my apologies, but it is the public reactions that I am much more interested in. Unfortunately, regardless of the verdict issued forth with the upcoming trial, the public has spoken which speaks of a possible lifetime grudge against Michael Vick and all he does. We have seen this before with O.J. Simpson, who very few believe is actually innocent of the murder of his late wife. It really is an interesting subject, I think.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Nature of My Insomnia

To be unable to sleep is perhaps one of the most disquieting things that can happen to anyone. I lay in bed, just trying to keep my eyes closed for more than a millisecond just to suddenly realize that I am staring at the dark ceiling and that I have been now for several minutes. For me, it is the incessant chatter that is going on in my brain all the time, but most especially at that time when normality says we are supposed to be shutting down all but the autonomic functions and entering REM state and that wonderful phenomenon known as dreams. Now, I don't mean this in a psychologically distressing way (I do not suffer from Schizophrenia), but in the sense that I am contemplating one thing or another.

I remember when I was a kid this kind of night time seclusion was a safe haven for me and a place that I could go to escape many of the normal adolescent woes that have plagued humanity for time on end. Unlike my fiancee, I have never had the ability to go to sleep at the proverbial drop of a hat. Instead of drifting blissfully off to sleep, I think about one or more of thousands of different topics. I think you can get the idea of just how crowded it can get at times; sometimes I think in detail about books I've read and what may have happened after the last page, or I think about world problems and how I am impacted on a daily basis, or I think about a story that I am considering and how best to turn the storyline, or I quite simply think about the future that Jess and I have in store for us.

The point of all this rambling is that all of this is going on in my mind which makes it very difficult for me to get to that level of personal comfort necessary for my mind to enter the sweet oblivion of rejuvenating sleep. On a sidenote, the fact that I am continually sore these days from excessive use of the Wii (!) is definitely not helping. Additionally, the fact that I will soon be leaving Jess for New Mexico is weighing heavily on my soul and, even though we both know how necessary this degree is for my future, I find myself wishing that it was next year at this time so that we could, finally, start our life together and really start planning our wedding.

Unlike many people, I am sometimes more comfortable wallowing in my own personal reveries than spending too much time with other people in idle banter and conversation. The unfortunate downside to this is that my mind is constantly in overdrive. I pray that with school comes a kind of scheduling that will allow me to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time day in and day out. After a few weeks I should be getting to sleep with very little difficulty.

The Baseball Journey: A Friendly Game of Toss

The baseball traveled through the air in its familiar low arc, and it began to wonder about the meaning behind its rather small existence. These two had been throwing it back and forth for the last half hour, trying with little success to convince themselves that they belonged in the major leagues. The baseball chuckled at the thought as it went pounding into the small one's thick leather glove at a measly 68 miles per hour!! You call that a fastball?, it thought as the big one bellowed a yell of approval.

"How fast do you actually think that was, I mean really. It certainly wasn't 98, but I'm sure it had to at least be in the low 80s!!", said the big one with an air of smug contentness and a stolid belief in his personal abilities. This made the baseball cackle even more violently as the small one managed to miss an incredibly poor attempt at a knuckleball, despite the pressure of the small one's fingernails digging into its skin, and went skipping over the lush grass before coming to a rest under a line of small evergreens at the side of a small, rather squat ranch house.

It was still sitting there 3 minutes later after the big one forced the little one to run after it because he certainly wasn't going to run after it. The baseball could have cared less, really, for it was content to have a small respite from the cycle that these two insisted on having every time they managed to get together. Still, since it had been stowed away for the last several months in a dank old box with naught but the odd creature or two to keep it company it was quite glad that it had finally been allowed to enjoy nature in all of its strange complexities.

"Man, my arm is completely dead!", said the big one while throwing the ball back to the small one in a high descending arc which allowed the baseball to bask in the warmth of the sun as it went slightly above the canopy of the great oak tree. This really puts it all in perspective, it thought as it crashed down through several layers of leaves and branches into the outstretched glove of the small one. The baseball felt the glove curved around it and it resigned itself to the fact that it was about to be stowed away once again. The small one pulled the glove off of his hand and stuck it, baseball and all, underneath his armpit. Ewwwww.

The two walked slowly and with matching swagger as they both applauded their ineptitudes, or so the baseball believed. If you were good enough for the majors, maybe I'd at least get to travel to one of those great ballparks you two speak about all the time, it thought with a trace of a disgruntled tone. The baseball mitt was thrown into a large plastic bin, passing through a thin layer of webbing that had until very recently covered the majority of the baseball's home (!).

"Hey dude, you wanna go to the beach tomorrow?", the big one asked just prior to slamming the door shut on the suddenly lonely baseball. Well, I would certainly like it, thought the baseball as it sat in the glove unable to do much of anything but reflect on its own inadequacies.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Utah Mine Collapse: was it necessary?

I want to preface this post by A) commemorating it to all of the miners trapped in the coal-mine in Utah and B) acknowledging that I know virtually nothing about the logistics behind mining coal in this day and age. I would not like this to thought of as an attack on those who endanger their lives every day mining a substance that many, like myself, rarely even realize is still in every day use.

I witnessed a train passing bye with several beds full of black coal, and I innocently asked Jess if people really even used coal. I said this out of a belief that humanity had realized that this fossil fuel was a rapidly declining resource and had been able to all but dissolve its use. Thinking back, I realize just how naive it is to think this as I spend day in and out in buildings that have may very well be using coal in some capacity. My question is this: Why are we still reliant on a rapidly dwindling source of fuel, and if we still need it why are we endangering people's lives in its procurement?

The technology of today is so far advanced beyond that of a hundred years ago, where many of the horror stories about working in coal mines seem to come from, that I wonder how many of these same horror stories could possibly still exist. Is there no way to avoid the need to send men down into the mines, inhaling coal dust day in and out, and hacking at the cold stone for a wage that I am sure is not enough? It just seems to me that there should be technology out there that should make this unnecessary. It is my hope that the lives endangered in Utah and everywhere that coal mines exist could be made unnecessary if more effort were put into the development of safer methods to extract coal. Or, and this is a radical theory I know, effort could be expended to develop ulterior methods of energy!!!!

Art vs. Gameplay

Video games as an industry is really quite young in the grand scheme of things. We sometimes forget this as the next big thing in video games always seems just over the horizon. Indeed, visions of holodecks and holosuites is not just the fevered dream of Trekkies all over the world any longer. Now that may be many years off in the future, but the fact remains that video games today are getting so ultrarealistic that some people are developing headaches simply because their brain is trying to tell them that what they are seeing simply cannot be that realistic. With this realism, however, has seen in many a knockoff game after another a gradual decline in the amount of attention paid to the real reason people play video games: gameplay.

From my earliest memories of video games, I remember the puzzles being challenging enough and the gameplay being really fun to play around with. One shining example is the first Super Mario Bros. game where there was a general dearth of story, just a save the princess scenario, but that game is still played in earnest by many people all over the world because of its incredibly satisfying gameplay. With today's games I fear that much of this has been lost in favor of the more sensational high-powered graphics seen in the majority of today's games. A synthesis of the two is needed to really create the best possibly video game.

Retro Studios, the developers of the excellent Metroid Prime trilogy have managed as near as possible to combine both into three extraordinary games. Though I have not played the third game, its Wii-oriented control scheme is sure to delight many a fan. Many games rely almost solely on the storyline and cutscenes, with the gameplay seemingly thrown in at the last second; but only after every shaded nuance of the cut-scenes has been seen too. As one might expect, this leads to extremely jarring transitions between the cutscenes and the gameplay. With the Metroid series, I rarely find myself taken out of the moment.

Whether it is through spot-on sound, atmospheric environments, or intriguing and well-designed gameplay elements, Metroid's ventures are a treat to play through time and time again. If only Nintendo would realize what a treasure trove it has in this series and publicize it accordingly, then they would indeed have a great system-seller on their hands but I am afraid that this Metroid installment may fade before it is even allowed to shine simply because people don't have enough knowledge of its brilliance.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Preview of "Too Human"

I have been a fan of Silicon Knights ever since they put out one of the greatest games of all time: Eternal Darkness. As a warmup to talking about Too Human, I want to briefly discuss the merits of Eternal Darkness and what it says about the commitment of Silicon Knights to transcending the art of video games to a new level. Eternal Darkness may have had some small problems, but I was so attuned to the storyline and the visceral images being presented that I found myself not caring about any small clipping problems or frame-rate dips. The game was positively oozing with subtleties, especially with the incredibly innovative insanity effects. With as much care as was evidenced with that game, I have been positively drooling over the possibilities of Too Human.

Those possibilities have been displayed of late by all of the screen shots and videos that have been available on the various gaming sites as well as the homesite of Silicon Knights. Additionally, they have shown through their blog their desire to let their true fans and even those who are not initially fans in on their philosophies about game design as well as the latest news on Too Human. I truly admire this, because I have never known of a game designer to truly care as much about the opinions of their fans as Silicon Knights. They are truly a fans' company.

Too Human
is a game that takes a new take on Norse Mythology, an oft overlooked religion of our past ancestors. As an anthropologist, I am inherently intrigued by the care and attention that they have been evincing surrounding the intricacies of this ancient mythology. It is nice to see them branching out and attempting to educate many of their players about that long-ago culture instead of taking the easy route and taking a mythology that is "easy" and known by the majority of people: such as the ancient Egyptians. Now, I realize that their reimagining of the Norse mythology is adding several fictional components by making them, instead of gods, a highly technological society where it is the technology that makes they "like gods". However, simply by telling a story and allowing the background research to fill out the universe that they are recreating, players will be hard-pressed not to learn something. After all, in this particular medium it is not necessary for Silicon Knights to actively teach us about this universe because we will be experiencing it.

As a video game junkie, I am ecstatic about both the look and the feel of the game. The look is, quite simply, absolutely amazing, and I can imagine that while playing it I might just wander around aimlessly looking at the surroundings. Here we come to the hard part to define, because I have not personally had the chance to play any portion of the game. All I have are impressions of others, which have been very good so far. The actual gameplay seems to be an RPG hybrid of sorts, where it is very action-oriented but with very many branching possibilities on upgrading skills and talents. I'm not sure at this point whether anyone but Silicon Knights is truly aware of just how deep this system might go, but from several hints that I have read I get the impression that it is deeper than most games out there on the market today.

I have a plea to Silicon Knights: Please don't make us wait forever for the game though if it helps to make the game better than even I can imagine I can most certainly wait.

The nature of boredom

Ironically, I am writing this posting on a subject that has in some ways kept me from writing till now. I woke up this morning in one of those strange funks that effects even the most motivated individual from time to time. Whether in response to sleeping awkwardly or some other factor, I do in many ways feel like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. This is, of course, ridiculous, as there is no right or wrong side of the bed. However, this feeling of boredom is a very strange feeling indeed because it oftentimes keeps you from doing something that would help to alleviate this boredom in some way.

I believe I am correct in saying that these feelings are pretty common amongst people today. Perhaps it has something to do with the fast-paced lives that many of us live. I have had my thesis proposal looming over my head for the majority of the summer vacation, and the fact that I kept prolonging it also kept it at the forefront of my mind. Now, since I have officially finished the first draft, and put it in the hands of my adviser until school starts again, I find myself with no heading and nothing that needs to be done. Somehow, the fact that in this modern-day we have so many things that we can do, that are right at our fingertips, ultimately means that the very decision of what to do out of all these options is one of the hardest to make.

If I decide to do one thing, then something else that might be as much or more fun would be left out of the equations. I might regret doing one thing over another, and then where would I be? This all seems so trivial in a world where people are dying by the thousands, and wars are being fought in the hundreds, but there you are! However, none of that really enters your mind when you are slumped on the couch watching a rerun of one crappy courtroom show after another. It is only when you force yourself to do something that you find yourself slowly and inexorably crawling out of your previous feelings.

Only then will you finally see how ridiculous your feelings were, and realize that there is something worth doing, especially these days. Rewatch a favorite movie and rediscover why you loved it so much in the first place. Put down your feelings in a conveniently timed blog posting for the world to see!! Or, and this is a real hard one, go outside and take a walk and rediscover the beauty that nature has to offer. The point is, make yourself do something and you will slowly discover that you are feeling less and less bored and more and more connected to the rest of the world

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton

I would never state that I am very politically-minded, indeed I essentially vote strictly along party lines, that is, democratic party lines. However, in the spirit of miscellany, I will post political news from time to time. CNN has reported that a recent gallup poll has shown that Senator Clinton's lead over Barack Obama and John Edwards has increased by 8 points over both. This puts her at 22 points above Obama and 36 points above Edwards. I think it goes without saying that this was going to be far different than any presidential race in the past. For the first time in history, there is a legitimate shot for either a woman or a black man to attain the coveted seat of President of the United States of America!!

To be perfectly honest, I would be happy in many regards for either to gain this appointment. I wonder, however, how much of the general public is ready for either a woman or a black man to be president. I hope to God that I am wrong, but I wonder how many people might vote for the Republican candidate simply out of a desire to keep a white male in power in this country. My only concern is that someone who I can trust to lead this country in these post 9-11 days be sworn in as President, and I believe that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton has the ability and the drive. Barack Obama even seems to have the charisma that was so everpresent with Bill Clinton and is so dismally lacking in George W. Bush, but Hillary Clinton has all of the political ties that having Bill Clinton as the First Husband (!) would afford her. It really is a toss-up.

I'm not even going to pretend that I know much, if anything, about the Republican candidates because, as I have stated previously, I will vote straight up and down party lines. Perhaps not the most efficacious manner of achieving something, but there you have it.

Baseball has a new homerun king!!!

Barry Bonds has entered the record books amidst a swirl of media attention and criticism from every angle of the game: reporters, fans, and fellow players. Tuesday night, during a game with the nationals, it has been reported that he has hit his 756th career homerun off of Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik. For Mr. Bacsik, this is certainly an ignominious entrance into the history books for him, but since he is only one in a long list of pitchers to surrender a homerun to Barry he should certainly not feel ashamed.

I remarked on a previous posting that I was unsure about how the fans of the game will look towards this historic occasion for the game, given the entire steroids controversy. After seeing the replay of the homerun, I am a little less unsure. Although, since it was hit at San Francisco I would assume the fans would be happy, but I defy anyone who calls themselves baseball fans not to get just a little emotional while seeing the homerun that broke a 33-year-old record.

Reds playing (somewhat) better!

It took damn near the entire season for the Reds to show signs that they are a professional caliber baseball team. The starting pitching over the last week and a half has shown signs of resurgence, with Aaron Harang battling through his early season woes where he was giving up 5 or more runs in entirely too many games to perform at the level you would expect from a number 1 starter!! At one point, early in the season, I recall that his ERA was over 5 at least a month into the season, and now his stats read like this: a record of 10 - 3, an ERA of 3.54, and a WHIP of 1.19. As a small baseball primer, ERA stands for earned run average and WHIP stands for walks + hits per nine innings pitched.

Since the all-star break, the Reds are 16-12 which is much better than they had been playing all season. Now, all this may just be my way of finagling the stats to make me feel better about a team that is so grossly underplaying their potential that I adopted a defeatist viewpoint long ago. Lately, however, it does seem that the pitching has tightened up and the offense is no worse than any other team really and suffers the usual amount of bad games. The last game played is a case in point.

They played the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that is certainly far better off than the reds and in playoff contention, and Bronson Arroyo pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings! Perhaps the even greater feat is that the bullpen did not then immediately surrender the 4-0 lead the Reds had built up to that point. Though this has me high spirited about a team I know will not make the playoffs, something else has me scratching my head at the apparent defeatist attitude of the reds themselves.

A fellow blogger has reported that Jon Coutlangus (4-1, 3.93 ERA) has been optioned to the AAA farm team, while Todd Coffey (2-1, 6.04 ERA) has been allowed to remain on the team despite being sent down to Louisville earlier in the year. I confess that there may be more legitimate reasons behind this move than I am aware of, but all Cincinnati Reds fans should be scratching their collective heads about this.