Friday, May 30, 2008

Just an update on my life

My weekend is going to look something like this:

Already finished as of 12:24 A.M. Saturday morning: I've cleaned the apartment after Rob and Lacy's departure only to completely destroy the coffee table with paperwork and DVD's. I played some videogames, mostly Dead Rising, and actually made tons of progress. I started reading Nick Horby's "How to be Good," and like all Nick Horby's work I love it. I also just so happen to browse an article about British authors auctioning off one of a kind works for charity. Nick Hornby was one of them. However, I wasn't the most excited about his. J.K. Rowling wrote an 800 page Harry Potter prequel that I would love to get my hands on. Like everyone else I LOVE Harry Potter, and if I had the estimated 1.4 million pounds sitting in my bank account, I might actually bid on it. I guess I'll have to settle for the 7th books paperback edition that comes out this summer and the 6th books movie due out this winter for now.

I got to talk to a lot of people tonight that I haven't talked to in a while like Lindsay, Matt, Pershing, and Al. It was good. I almost for the briefest moment felt like I was home again. I really miss Columbia sometimes, but I'm making it alright out here. I've got friends that are almost too similar to friends I had in Missouri. It's almost eerie.

Currently I'm watching Lord of the Rings (I forgot how great that movie is), keeping Slider off my keyboard, searching for jobs (I did apply at the post office for that part time work) did a little bit of writing, and am waiting for Sallie to get off work so we can spend some relaxing time alone.

My back is killing me!

Tomorrow I plan on waking up somewhat early (only because I'm used to it) and depositing a check, switching my Sprint number to Sallie's name, trying to get a South Carolina license, and I've set a goal to apply to at least three jobs.

Tomorrow night I'm going to reload Sallie's computer and try to write a butt-ton. I'm feeling creative.

Sunday is too far ahead to really say what I'm going to do.

Rob and Lacy left early this morning. It was a great trip. So far, we haven't gotten sick of any of our guests, which is a great sign because I like to have a lot of alone time, and the fact that I'm not freaking out from not having it means that I'm having a ton of fun. Rob is heading back to England. I'm going to miss the Wanker, but he's coming back for out wedding and assuming I get a big kids job, Sallie and I are planning to head there for our honeymoon. He's already promised to take me into some catacombs under cathedrals and castles, on a ghost hunting tour, and to a football match. (Soccer for those Americans)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Email Addresses

Alright, so I've completed updating my computer and reinstalling everything. The only thing I still need is everyone's email address. So if you want to be one of the elite people in my address book, gimme those addresses. You can post a comment here or you can send them directly to

I've successfully recovered Sallie from her military operation a.k.a. wedding planning, seeing 500 people in the 10 minutes she wasn't driving or flying, and going through 10-12 hour airport days. She's in good shape, although going on her 11th hour of sleep.

Rob and Lacy made it here and were several drinks deep by the time we got back from the airport. Yes, they beat Sallie even though they drove. That'll show you how well airlines are flying nowadays. Stay away from Delta, that's all I can say.

Today is gorgeous. It might be a beach day. I wish Sallie didn't have to work all week (I wish I didn't either) so we could enjoy the company of our guests to the max, but hey we gotta eat.

I've also, from several sources, have been getting fed the going ons of what happened in Columbia this weekend and I wasn't happy. Apparently two of my friends, got drunk and were treating people, especially Pershings brother, like complete crap. Even though I'm not there anymore I get infuriated by this. I really had to hold back calling these two and asking what the hell is up. But I've calmed a little by now. I know some people don't handle being drunk very well. I realize that Tim can defend himself, and if it gets to the point where he can't take it, he can call on friends, or even me to knock some sense into them.

To finish this, I had a really weird dream last night. Sal, an un-named girl, and I were staying at a resort here called Myrtle Beach Waves. (there is a water park here of the same name, but my dream it was something different) It essentially was a huge indoor complex with waterfalls, lazy rivers, giant pools, etc. Well we were swimming alone and all of a sudden other guests come pouring in and removing their clothes. It seems we're in some sort of nudist colony. I kept seeing Pentecostal Church members, but the weird thing was they had their churches logo suspended in front of their bodies in mid air and they were always standing very stiff and looking at me as if wanting me to come to them. Any dream interpreters want to take a crack at that one. I don't think the message is I need to strip down and join the Pentecostal church.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My take on the new Indiana Jones, now without spoilers

Just finished seeing the new Indiana Jones and had a chance to discuss it in depth with my fellow viewers and feel I can talk about my official review here... I won't revel any major plot details, so no need to worry.

I started the day by showing all my kids the original films. Almost none of them had ever heard of Indiana Jones let alone see a movie. It's my theory that these kids turned to a life of crime because they didn't see Harrison Ford punch a Nazi early on in life. So by the time 10 oclock Eastern Standard time rolled around, I was more than ready to watch some more Indy.

We showed at the theater an hour before show time, thinking that this thing was going to be sold out and we would have to wait in an insanely long line. We were the only four idiots in the entire theater. In fact, we got there before the previous showing was finished. So we had to wait outside the theater for almost 45 minutes waiting for them to clean the place, only to waltz in there and have the pick of any seat in the theater.

Overall I give the film one thumb up and one thumb undecided. Harrison Ford still looks great in the fedora with the whip. However his age was showing a little. Some of the fist fights involving Ford and not a stunt double were obvious because he was a bit more slow. At one point he uses the whip against an enemy and even the whip skills seemed slowed by the cruel cold hands of old age.

In recent true George Lucas fashion, he gives some props to the older films, at least Raiders and Crusade. (I didn't notice any Temple of Doom nods) Those were kind of nice to see, much like the countless references to the original Star Wars trilogy. I guess I felt like an Indy elitist noticing the objects in the background. (Although they were fairly obvious)

Shia LeBeolf (I think thats how his name is spelled) was surprisingly not bad in the movie. I've heard he's a good actor, but I've only ever seen him in the Disney original series, Even Stevens. He starts out as a complete "Greaser" stereotype, but its soon dropped in favor of a more realistic character. He holds his own, even when next to Indy.

The only complaints I had were these. The witty dialog from the original movies is non-existant. This isn't saying the script is bad. Its fairly solid. I laughed out loud during several parts of the original triology, not so much in this one.

Second, CGI (Computer Generated Images) weren't used obsessively in this film like in Star Wars. However, the two parts that were CGI, completely took you out of the movie. They almost gave a Jar Jar Binks, child like feeling to what should be a bit more adult oriented.

I suggest you see this movie. It's entertaining enough to where I'm going to go see it a second time in theaters.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two posts within 12 hours... unheard of!

So I'm preparing to embark on yet another fun filled adventure in "FINDING A NEW JOB!" I hate this process. I think I've said it many times without giving specific details why. Well here they are:

The Objective: I printed off several copies of my resume to hand out to various potential employers and read over it, just to see what a desperate unemployed Dan created a couple months ago. I vomited mildly in my mouth when I read how awful my objective is. It's not awful because its a horribly written or bad objective, its just so corny. Why do we put ourselves through this? Who invented the objective in the first place? Most of the time we fine craft it to fit wherever we are applying at the time. For instance, you might apply to a computer job and a manager job. The first one might say something like: "To obtain a position in a technology driven environment where I can hone my troubleshooting skills." Then the second resume might say: "To obtain a position in a fast paced environment where my superior customer service skills can be of value." I know both of those are complete crap, the employer I would hope knows that they are complete crap, so why do we still do this dance? For now on I want everyone on their objective to write: "To make money." Plain and simple and straight to the point. (This is unless it is actually a job where you want to learn something, then put that in there. Sincerity equals bonus points in an interview.)

The dress code: I hate getting dressed up. I feel that if someone is interviewing you, they need to get a feel for who you really are, and what better way than for you to show up to the interview in what you would normally wear. If I'm a skater on the weekends, torn jeans and a t-shirt. If I'm a mafia Don on the weekends, a slick white suit. If I'm a space marine on the weekends, class four armor, oxygen tanks, and the automatic rifle with attached grenade launcher.

What do I hate more than getting dressed up? Shaving my facial hair off. I don't look as cool without a little five of clock shadow. Honestly, thats the only thing giving me any street cred nowadays. However, the business world still frowns upon humans sporting some sweet mutton-chops. I think people respect a man with a beard more. Once I start a job, I'm going to end up growing one anyway. Sure, maybe the first couple days I play it safe and keep it trimmed down, but then I slowly start growing longer and longer stubble, waiting to see if anyone will say anything. If someone does, I'll just say, oh I've been kinda lazy about shaving the past couple days, and I'll shave it that night. However if people keep their mouths shut (which I find they do more often than not) I let my main flow like a lion. (I gotta make up for the baldness on top) Embrace the beards!

I also don't like the repetition. Most places won't just accept your resume and list of references. They want you to fill out their application, which has you list all of your past jobs and references again. This is the obvious way for them to have everything they need in an order they're familiar with so they can essentially do an express lane hiring process. Lets just do away with resumes completely if you aren't going to use them. I didn't bother my wife to design and spell check mine for two whole weeks, just so it can end up either in the trash, my file if I'm hired, or in the special folder of applicants you keep for 90s days. (That folder by the way: Yes they keep it for 90 days, but they never look back in there unless absolutely desperate.) Not only are there repetitions in the same job application, but when searching, you might have to fill out that information for every job you apply to. Last search, I filled out 45 different applications, and about 38 times I had to fill out that information on each one. It really slows down how many I can apply for in a day.

Finally, the pay: Quit low-balling people. I know you want to know how much I made at previous jobs so you can think... oh I have this much for the budget, but if they were making only this much, we can give them less. Just gimme the money. (See how that objective I talked about works on several levels... its also a demand)

So in conclusion: Business world. Its time to move on. Your hiring practices were invented by some form loving, variety hating, bureaucrats decades ago. When I come to you in a Hawaiian shirt, telling you to give me my money, make the right decision. Hire the man with nothing to hide.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Is he talking about zombies again?

So Sallie left for Cape/St. Louis/Columbia today. I've already been asked if I miss her. Well yes and no. Its only been about 12 hours since we parted ways, and on any normal day I wouldn't see her for another 30 minutes. So technically we haven't spent any time apart that we normally wouldn't. Plus I keep finding little reminders of my dear wife such as the THREE half drank cups of water sitting on the nightstand, the pink towel hanging from the bedroom door even though we have two great towel racks in the bathroom, the helmet and keys laying on the floor in front of the door, and the dirty dishes in the sink. (Oh god will I hear about this one when she calls tomorrow) Now, don't get me wrong, I love my wife and me being domestic is balanced out by the nice things she does to me and the money she makes. Honestly, we've completely switched gender roles. I cook, clean, do laundry, and run errands more often than she does, and she makes the money and approves of things I can buy. I would be afraid people might think I'm gay... except for the little problem of me having a wife. I think I might leave some of the stuff there and pick up one item a day until she returns so I never really feel like she left.

My allergies are starting to improve a little bit. I took medicine, lots of medicine... actually probably enough to where I shouldn't have been driving heavy machinery. The issue I have now is I'm so dried out that I can't seem to get enough water. Like, seriously, I had probably 10 cups of water and some pomegranate juice tonight and I'm still thirsty. I need a more efficient way to take in water... like osmosis or maybe gills like fish do, cause my stomach is too full. Need proof? I went running, got about ten steps, fell to the ground writhing in pain trying to call out to a stray cat for help, only to roll over on the comfort of my own recently expanding belly.

Tonight I've played some videogames, but I found that I couldn't stand playing them tonight. (Yes, I already can feel the surprised future E-gasps, just post the proper emoticon to let me know how you feel) Yes, I wasn't feeling games tonight. I was thinking maybe its because for the next couple days I have a bachelor life (I've already ordered two pizzas and bread sticks to live off of for a day or two) and I felt I should spend it doing things I don't normally get to when Sallie is around. Why didn't I? Because all my bro-friends out here work for the paper and are currently fillings Sallie's empty seats. So, gun to my head, I forced my self to play videogames.

I started with a zombie apocalypse in a mall (a.k.a. Dawn of the Dead rip off for you movie buffs) game called "Dead Rising." Like "Resident Evil" for the Playstation and Gamecube, this game is the reason I picked the Xbox 360 over the Playstation 3 at the time. (I really need to find a better way of picking expensive game consols besides which one gets the zombie game first) The theme of this game... every store has several weapons or clothes you can change into to rage against the zombies. Some of my favorite weapons are chainsaw, shotgun, lead pipe, lawn mower, (the big industrial kind) and one of the great things of the night, a weapon I've never found before, the bloody machete. After the pizza came, I switched games up.

Call of Duty 4 is on the best multiplayer games I've ever played. According to my stats, I've played enough minutes to equal 4 days and 19 hours. Kind of a waste of life? But who else will stop the terrorists from winning?

After I shoveled some slices down I popped in the marathon 4 disk game "Lost Odyssey." The first disk of this game was enjoyable and intriguing. The second kept it up, but added some horrible voice acting. The third disk (that I unlocked Monday) has so far been 2 hours of movies and 3 hours of repetition. What do I mean by this? I went through a town, talked to the hundred or so residents, and finally figured out where to go. Then I watched an hour of mostly unnesseary towns getting blowed up by unspeakable evil movies. (If I want to watch a movie, I will pop one in... MICROSOFT!) I got bored toward the in, my ADD started up, I started browsing the web and the next thing I know the movie is over and I missed what I was supposed to do next. Next part of repetition: I go through the exact same town again, talk to all the residents AGAIN, but here's the catch, this time its frozen in a sheet of ice.

I'm now taking in my second movie of the night. Earlier I watched Basketball Diaries (suggested for those who like based on true stories, especially when it comes to drug addicts) and now I'm watching some indie film called Park on Netflix on demand. (Oh internet, I love you so much) Honestly though, I'm bored. I might try to fix my expensive DVD player I broke earlier this week before I go to bed, but other than that I have to get up somewhat early tomorrow, only so I can prepare for assaulting the DMV again, applying at a couple hotels for jobs, calling the post office and paying the $129 testing fee just so I can attempt to get an interview, and then come home.

What will I do when I come home tomorrow?

Probably play Dead Rising, heat up some pizza, play a little Call of Duty, finish it with 3 hours of Lost Odyssey, and fall asleep watching mediocre indie movies. Luckily for Friday I appear to have some Bruce Lee in the schedule with some friends from the paper. How did they all get off for Friday night... I actually haven't worked that out yet. Then Sallie, Rob, and Lacy on Saturday to finish off the three day weekend.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Fresh Start

Well, I finally, after weeks of begging my dad to get me a Windows XP disk, only to have two of them not work, reloaded my computer. A complete computer tech blunder/brainfart kept me from thinking of the obvious answer to my reload problem and why packaged with my laptop wasn't an XP disk, because Sony partitioned the factory default on the system restore. So last night I restored and my computer returned to its gorgeous, untouched state. I forgot how much crap I had to clean off there before such as free AOL offers, 32 different Sony Vaio software applications that are unneeded, and Sony's custom wallpapers and screen savers.

Tonight I had every intention of replying to some long winded emails, catch up on blogs I had ideas for, reply to my father and laws sermon, write a little on a couple stories I had ideas for, and just plain relax. Instead I've spent 3 hours reloading applications I needed, setting up my email client, subscribing to all my podcasts I had before, and changing the settings to suit my computer needs. Now I'm too tired to do any of that.

I didn't sleep much last night because on Saturday I ate some sushi that I was allergic to, and ever since my throat has hurt, my ears have been clogged and itching, and my eyes watering. I had no allergy problems out here, but something in that sushi has opened the floodgates of irritation.

On a non-complaining, everyday life side, I've been wanting some music lately. I haven't wanted much new music since Against Me!'s last record came out last year. I've been in a Sufjan Stevens (thanks to the Christian family band documentary "Danielson" and I suggest you check it out, its has a few interesting opinions about the Christian music industry) and Elliott Smith. However I don't have a budget for new music. Sallie has about a half dozen albums I know she would like too. So if anyone wants to send us money or itunes gift certificates, we'd gladly accept.

I still don't know what I'm going to do for work starting in two and a half weeks. I'm going to apply for the post office I think and maybe to some hotels around here. The post office pays well, but requires the civil service exam which requires me to have a South Carolina license. All attempts to get my license have failed. Yes, the DMV is just as bad and confusing out here. The only thing they do to help that Missouri doesn't is have a person sit in the front to make sure you have everything you need before you wait in line. Solves a ton of wasted time.

I've been told however, that I'm a great teacher and the kids respect me. I've been asked to come back to Lighthouse in the fall, but the principle is reluctant to talk money right now. I enjoy my job, but I also need to live. So I still don't know what I'm going to do. I hate looking for jobs. I hate starting new jobs. I just wish I could fast forward 30 days into wherever I end up.

Sorry I'm not more engaging today, but I'm just too tired/ allergic.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Army of the Church

I was thinking about the history of the Catholic Church and some of the practices set up under the government known as Vatican City. I started thinking about exorcisms and how Catholics (as far as I know) are the only ones that have documents on how to perform an exorcism properly. This isn’t an ancient practice scribbled on a scroll from 2,000 years ago, its something that could still be performed today. In fact the last exorcism I can think of that was public was performed sometime in the 1950s if I’m not mistaken. Of course the most famous exorcism has been immortalized in the film “The Exorcist.” That of course has its basis off of an exorcism performed near St. Louis Missouri in 1949.

I started wondering if perhaps the Vatican had a special investigative team dispatched to investigate supposed demons, miracles, and antichrist sightings. I imagined a super group dressed in church garb (They wear robes and pope-like hats in formal situations, but the black with white collar priest-wear other times. I’ve always thought priests look cool in that dress.) with their demon hunting kit. It’s probably a pine box, lined with soft velvet innards containing wooden stakes, a crucifix, holy water, a bible, a book of demonology; medieval stuff like that. Maybe they are sent to investigate popular cults to make sure the anti-Christ hasn’t started a church.

Anyways my fantasy let me to think about what the Antichrist might look like or what form it would come in. Is it the mythological demon with the horns, red skin, goat-tee artists dreamt up hundreds of years ago? Is it a spirit that takes over a body like in an exorcism? Many generations have already dubbed tyrants as the anti-Christ in the past. You have Nero, Genghis Kahn, Vlad the Impaler, Napoleon, Hitler, Mao all great candidates for Satan, but no matter how evil these men were, they always turned out to be nothing more than horrible men.

Since we are creations of God, we obviously have a part of God in us. However, are the evil intentions, sins, thoughts in us a little piece of Satan. The anti-Christ wants to destroy the Earth, and humans are already doing a great job of that, maybe collectively we have enough evil in us to bring on the end of the world and anti-Christ.

If my thought has any bearing, then perhaps some of us suppress and personally battle this inner demon better than others through scripture, church, good actions, and proper use of our gifts. I guess it’s almost like a containment unit. No one will ever rid themselves of the little bit of evil, but it can be fought. Every crisis of faith allows a little more of this demon into our bloodstream, and only those willing to fight back can fight this virus back into benign tumor.

I then I started wondering if perhaps there is more to the message than what we get. Obviously the apostles received a little extra teaching from J.C. that wasn’t recorded or repeated. What kind of secrets do they know? Is there anyway we can get to them? Maybe if humans weren’t so fickle we would’ve gotten that message from the higher power, but the prophets directly speaking it would have to preach similar things over and over again. For instance, what if the original group of Jesus groupies followed him for say two years, then he said something they might not have liked and they moved on. A new group comes and J.C. has to start his preaching all over again to catch people up. This keeps repeating over and over so we never get the extra part of the message. However, the Apostles were there all along. They stayed with Jesus. Perhaps after hours he sat them down with a glass of wine and gave them some real juicy stuff. Things humans can only understand if they have the basis of what Jesus was trying to tell them, but they kept moving on or questioning what was said and never got it.

I wonder if perhaps some of this message is documented and kept in the Vatican archives. Or why isn’t anyone permitted in the catacombs running under Jerusalem? I find it hard that one of the most religiously significant spots on the planet has more unexplored, man made places, than most. Even the Mormon temples. I’ve had many conversations with Allyn about the Mormon faith and I get a great deal from him, but what are they hiding in there. I don’t know if its one of those “since I can’t have it I want to know about it” things, but what if Allyn, Becca, and their buddies are hiding some significant meaning and hidden scriptures within those gorgeous buildings. Even some of the catacombs under Cathedrals… there has to be something within. I just feel like we have such an insignificant piece of a greater puzzle… I mean obviously because none of us are experiencing the afterlife, but I’m talking about things that are tangible here on Earth.

Anyway, those are just a few things I daydreamed about while proctoring standardized tests today. These were probably brought on by a documentary Sal and I watched last night called “Jesus Camp” about a Pentecostal Church out of Lee Summit Missouri, and a camp they run in the summer, and also a book I’ve been reading called “The Story of B” about a Priest sent to investigate a man that is becoming extremely popular as some sort of philosophical prophet. Check them both out, and if you do, I’m willing to discuss.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My favorite 4 year process... Election Year!

Granted its not election year yet, but I can tell its getting close because more and more old people on television are acting like idiots and children. I don't know what it is about politicians around election time, but its like they let off some sort of pheromone like cats in heat, and all of them start going crazy. Let's break down some of the awesomeness that these primaries have brought us thus far.

First, Bush is doing a lousy job. In fact, he's been doing a lousy job for... oh about two months after he entered office. We went into a war with no exit strategy, he can't speak even though he has the best speech writers on the planet, (Ben Stein was a speech writer for God's sake) and the economy is in such turmoil right now that I've considered taking a job as an assistant manager at Radio Shack... when I have a freakin' college degree. These are all things that everyone knows and the general population that don't like Bush finally out number those that blindly follow the man. The great thing about election year... Republicans after seven years of grinning and saying they agree with everything Mr. President does and says are finally able to jump ship in the name of self preservation, and say no Mr. President, your idea to keep shipping the amount of fuel barrels you want to the emergency stock is an asinine idea. Any Republican (about 85% of them in Congress) that have taken this stance have gained 30% popularity among their local voters.

Hilary Clinton was New York's sweet heart. She was the only one that could possibly fill the shoes of the beloved Rudy. She made some stupid name calling mistakes toward Obama and started the campaigning as if she had won some pretty large states states already, and then lost them to her opponent, the terrorist lover. Now she's desperately scrambling because the woman vote she thought she had on lock-down are just finding Obama to be an attractive man they could take home to mom. I've been hearing more and more jokes about her being connected to the mafia or being as scary and as evil as a Sith Lord that is bored. But think about it. We already have Darth Vader as the Vice President. Dick Cheney, is in fact, one lightsaber duel away from being put in a robotic life support suit with a sleek black finish and cape. Hilary may seem evil, but if she is, at least she's not literally pulling the trigger on friends. (Although the Cheney shooting his friend joke has probably been overplayed by now, I feel it fits here.)

That brings me to Hilary's opponent Barack Obama, and as far as I hear, the favorite to take over the presidential throne next year. The initial remarks on Mr. Obama all had to do with his inexperience, but now people found something to really get him with, his minister. Yes opponents of Obama have used comments made by his personal religious leader against him. For those of you who haven't seen the slander just yet, Obama's minister essentially "damned" America and Israel. What does this have to do with the general election? Absolutely nothing. Like Hilary's imaginary ties to the mafia, people have created a Siamese twin of Obama and Minister Wright. Apparently, at least according to his enemies, what your religious leader says and thinks, you do by association. Its like this awesome high school click philosophy all over again... except with rich lawyers and politicians... which makes it sadder than your local high school. I mean come on, dig up something better on the man or just shut up. That would be like my best friend saying he prefers Xbox to Wii, therefore I hate Nintendo by association. Another awesome thing I was recently sent by a coworker was a chain letter email stressing not to vote for Obama because he is a terrorist. What was the red-neck reasoning behind this? Apparently Obama's middle name happens to be Hussein, his last name rhymes with Osama, and the terrorists said they are going to attack from the inside next time. Therefore Obama wants to win the presidency so he can attack America. Whoever came up with this conspiracy theory deserves some sort of medal because they are really going for a stretch here. IF (and I can't stress that enough) by some chance a terrorist was voted in as President, (Thus proving the electoral college is crap) they might be able to get one or two attacks off before they are ousted, executed, and buried upside down in a shallow grave. A terrorist would serve a much better purpose in some other office of government, not the most watched person on the planet. So I truly hope that no one believes this email. It really would do a lot to bring back my hope in humanity. But I guess there were some people that admitted to voting for Bush because his name sounded like the beer.

Then on our Republican side we have Mr. Neutral, John McCain. Although I have much respect for the Arizona native's passion to close the hatred between Democrats and Republicans on Senate Hill, I don't think he's a logical Presidential Candidate. For one, the Democrats can't go the route of he's a war profiteering, heartless conservative because the man just doesn't have anything scary about him. Two, he can't call the Democrats whiny, flip-flopping tree-huggers because he's friends with many of them and has tried to work with them so much. He's destroyed his credibility there. And three, the man is 74 now, which means if he won, he would leave the White House at 79. Let me just say that his Vice President would have the easiest presidential takeover ever. The potential of a man that age, with that much stress, and that many people gunning for him having a heart attack are astronomical. On top of that, he has to distance himself from our much hated current president as much as he can. I mean, normally I don't hate candidates on the basis of things like gas prices, but when I pull up to the pump and see $3.59 blinking on the pump, I curse the Bush family line. I know that it wasn't Bush's fault that prices sky rocketed (at least not totally, I'm sure Cheney force choked the wrong guy at some point) but when gas costs as much as a Sub and I have to debate on weather or not to drive or eat, I tend to get irrational.

Then we have Ron Paul. I'm not going to waste much time on this man. He has many great ideas, but the gold standard is not one of them. He's somewhat of a third party candidate that made a ton of money from college kids, and then that money caused some sort of aneurysm that made him go insane. The third party will never win in the United States, especially if that third party has a forth and fifth party living in his brain.

One last thing about our messed up system of government. California lawyer and super delegate Steven Ybarra is selling his democratic vote for $20 million to either Hilary or Obama, whoever wants to pay. (Don't believe me, go here
This proves that ultimately any politician is for sale for the right price, and money is what drives most people to make decisions.

So happy election year people, I'm strongly considering sitting this one out, only to say I didn't cause whatever is going to happen in the next four years. Be sure to watch the Vice Presidential debates, because they get buck nasty playground style, and kiss your butts goodbye with the choices facing the people. Thank you, and America Prevails! (Anyone that gets that last reference wins my affection and my super delegate vote)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV aka the best videogame ever... not!

So for all of you video game nerds, or anyone with a television, you probably have noticed that a certain game has come out and caused a bit of controversy called Grand Theft Auto IV. This will be my full on review. Those of you not interested in video games will see a lot of me talking about pop ups, lag, and mission problems. You probably won't care about any of them. However, I also promise to talk about the ladies of the night, executions of drug lords, and liberal use of curse words.

Things I liked:
1. The plot was the best out of any Grand Theft Auto game before. The plot being an eastern European coming to America with promises of mansions and women from his cousin. He shows up and finds his cousin drunk, living in a slum, and in debt to some very evil people. I wanted to find out more and more until I finally beat it exactly 24 hours into the game.

2. The game engine was much improved. In previous games I found myself surrounded by enemies and without a prayer because the auto-aim system was crap. You might lock onto one drug dealer while a gangster pops you from behind.

3. Hundreds of Easter Eggs (for the non-gamers- extra things hidden in the game that have nothing to do with the game) like the real beating heart in the statue of liberty, the fake Apple adds calling out the computers on their pure ego, no hardware status, and the hundreds of web pages programed into the game for your character to read news stories, finding dates on a like site, or checking your email box filled with spam.

4. The hilarious musings of the residents of Liberty City. One resident told one of my friends that they killed an officer and bragged about it, sure enough a block down the street was a dead officer and a cop car speeding toward the killer. (The cops are abusive Rodney King beating guys, so don't feel sympathy.)

Things I liked to do:
1. Fly the helicopter as high as I could get it and jump out, curling into the fetal position, falling a mile, and landing on an innocent car driving down the highway.

2. Execute virtual people that realistically pissed me off, and then the ensuing cop chase afterwards.

3. Playing multiplayer sessions and taking on the police with two-four friends at a time.

4. Driving as fast as I can, running over people, and slamming into a ramp and crashing into the bay.

Now for the list that if anyone that loves the game reads this will hate me for. Things I hated.

1. Random pop ups. This refers to textures and props that don't load by the time you get to the screen they should be on. The most frustrating was when I was driving down the street and seemed to hit an invisible wall, throwing me through the windshield. As my body hit the ground a lamppost appears. I know that people have accidents with "invisible" lampposts all the time, but normally these people are drunk and belong in jail. Other pop-ups that annoyed me were weeds. A grassy knoll is in front of your car, but as you passed the field weeds pop up. People hate when real weeds pop up in their yards, why should I tolerate virtual weeds.

2. Lag with the online mode. Lag refers to a slowdown in game play when you play over the internet. This game has it bad. I'm driving down the street at 120 Mph in a really expensive car I just stole. The road is clear as far as I can see, then there is a 5 second freeze and when the game starts back up, my car has been stolen by one player and I'm being shot in the head by another player.
2b. I had the above problems when I could connect to a game and wasn't booted from a server.

3. Boring weapons. The weapons are supposedly things such as an AK-47 or Glock, but they have nothing special about them. You might as well call them machine gun and pistol.

4. They took out some vehicles. In previous installations you were allowed to fly a bi-plane, jet pack, and even ride a bike. They took them out of this game. They already had them programmed and models, why the heck not just leave them in.

5. The missions are still drive and gun for the most part. Granted they added some twists to the standard GTA missions, but I was still driving a lot and shooting a lot.

6. Which leads me to my next complaint. Liberty City is a model of New York and part of New Jersey and is made up of 5 islands. To get a mission, you might have to drive three islands from your apartment. A mob boss might jump in your car and tell you to take him somewhere... 4 islands away. Then after you finish killing his competition or collecting money from his ladies he wants you to drive him back home. Essentially I spent something like 14 of the 24 hours of game play driving places so I could play.

This game was given perfect scores from many respectable gaming sites and magazines, but I have to disagree. I feel that most these sites went in thinking the game was awesome (not to mention that they spent many months hyping it up) they gave it a biased review. At most, if I forget about the multiplayer issues, I would give this game a 9.5. Taking into account the multiplayer issues, I can only give it an 8.5, which is still high, but nowhere near the record breaking reviews the game got.

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's that one about ghosthunting... part 3

It was my first ghost hunt ever. We had the typical high-school science fair project due and I refused to grow a plant or study prisms. Nay! Dan Story was knee deep into season 5 of the X-files, and since it was highly unlikely I would find a great place to study U.F.O.s or Kennedy's assassin, I went for the ghost thing. The St. Louis area is filled with hundreds of haunted places. I could've tried the Lemp Mansion, or downtown St. Charles, (main street is built on a cemetery) or perhaps get military clearance for Jefferson Barracks. However, being close to Halloween, all those places were packed. A little river town not too far south of St. Louis started calling my name, Alton, Illinois.

McPike Mansion claims to be one of the most haunted places in the midwest, boasting near 100 separate entities. I packed up my cheap ghost hunting equipment and had my mom drive me to the mansion. (I was still younger than 16 in case you couldn't figure it out)

I arranged to go into the mansion before the other tourists so I could get EVPs. (The sound thing I told you about earlier) Let me set this up for you. The house had been abandoned for almost 50 years and was only recently (at the time) being rehabilitated. All the doors were gone except for the front door. Everything else in the house: bathtubs, marble fireplace, chandeliers were all gone. I sat on the steps to the second floor with record pressed on the recorder. I sat for maybe fifteen minutes in complete silence with nothing going on around me. Later when I played the recording back... well lets say I peed myself and didn't sleep for a bit. There were clear as day foor steps going up and down the stairs, and doors opening and shutting.

Second, the compass was going insane. There was a room on the third floor that was about twenty degrees cooler than the rest of the building. When the compass was brought into the room the needle started spinning like a helicopter trying to take off. A lady that claimed to be "psychic" started freaking out and saying whatever was in the room wanted us all to leave. The story behind the room was a retarded child was chained to the ceiling by his father so he wouldn't leave or get into trouble. The kid tried to escape through the window one day and hung himself. Creepy history.

The pictures I took were the most interesting. I had maybe twenty photos with orbs in them and immediately disguarded them. I had one picture that had a six foot tall solid black entity in the center of it. At first I thought perhaps this was an overexposure problem. However, when I searched the internet for more info on McPike Mansion I found two other pictures from two other ghost hunters with the exact same entity. Something is definitely there.

The second most interesting (I think more interesting) was a picture I just shot of the surrounding wooded area. My intention was to show the area the house was in, but there was a bright dot in one of the corners. I couldn't make out what it was but I could tell it was something. When I brought out a magnifying glass, sure enough it was an entity. A Native American entity to be exact. I could see his hair pulled back in a ponytail with feathers, and a full face.

Thats all the energy I have for ghost hunting now. Funny how something I wanted to write about so much just kind of passed. Check out my coming blogs in coming days, I'll have my review of what is the best selling and best rated videogame ever. (Will I vote against it, oh no he might go there)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It's that one about ghosthunting... part 2

The Lincoln Theater in Decatur, Illinois

One of the final ghost hunting trips I went on was a 100+ year old theater in Decatur. This was the first trip I realized that Illinois had nothing except Chicago. Decatur is just a smidgen east of Springfield and is one of those towns that you see on post cards or in old movies, and you just know the town is ripe with hauntings. If you don't believe me check out Troy Taylor's book Haunted Decatur. Its 200 pages of the history and hauntings of this small town.

Speaking of Troy Taylor, I need to explain the man and myth that is the T squared. This man is largely the reason for the Midwest Ghost Hunting Society is an organization and is the reason these planned ghost hunts happen. He's written more books about the paranormal than I think anyone else, but they aren't the normal campfire stories. He is one type of ghost hunter, the type that I largely consider myself, the historian. Once something is said to be haunted and he decides to investigate it, he tries to figure out how, why, and where the hauntings take place. His books read more like a history textbook than anything else.

Back to the Lincoln Theater now. The building is largely invisible in the town. Every building in the downtown area of Decatur looks like it could be a haunted theater, and since the theater was under heavy restoration at the time, their sign wasn't up. It took about 40 minutes of driving around in the cold before I finally got out of the car, started walking in a random direction, and eventually asking two drunk guys where the theater was. After they smartly remarked that "The theater is closed, its 10 o'clock at night" they pointed directly behind me.

We entered the theater, sat in the rather comfortable (for theater chairs) seats. Troy Taylor, being the gracious host he is started on his rant about the history of this gorgeous place. Thousands of people performed on stage including Harry Houdini. Troy Taylor likes to spice up his rants with family friendly (kinda) jokes. My friend and I sat in the back of the theater away from everyone else so we could in turn, makes jokes at the expense of the fellow ghost hunters. (I'll tell you more about that later) Troy made a somewhat funny comment (I don't remember what it was) and my friend and I both turned to each other with a look of confusion. AT the time I didn't know what she looked at me for, but I had the likely feeling that like me, she heard light laughter right in her ear. I looked around and found no one behind us still and looked above me and saw no one in the balcony. After Troy was done speaking and we split into groups, we both confirmed that yes, we heard a voice that was right in our ears. Literally sounded like a person was in our ears and laughing.

I peed myself just a smidgen.

The night was mostly filled with a bunch of false evidence and people jumping the gun on explanations. Now to explain most the ghost hunters on this trip. There were four groups roaming the theater that night. Each group had one couple of normalish people, at least as normal as people that hunt ghosts can be. I designated myself that in my group, BTW. Then there was usually one person that had seen one too many shows, one person that just tagged along, a couple that had been on way too many "investigations" and spent most the time reliving their most terrifying moments, and then there were a half dozen wanting so bad to believe people that they spent god awful amounts of money on equipment they didn't know how to use and would write everything off as a haunting.

For instance, our group started in the basement where all the green rooms where and a trap door Mr. Houdini had built into the stage for a trick. Supposedly, as the story goes, one nightly performer from the 1930s died and haunted the green room. I found zero evidence downstairs, but at one point a woman started freaking out saying she heard music that wasn't on when we came downstairs. I heard this music too, but instead of feeling phantom chills and snapping hundreds of pictures, I tried to find the source. It took three minutes for me to find a small speaker system, suspended above where everyone was freaking out. IF this was a haunting, the ghost loved top 40 music. Although, in validation of these people, it was newer Cher, which is haunting in itself.

Only fifteen minutes after the top 40 incident we all heard a piano. Again everyone went into freak out mode, and I peaked my head up to the stage, and merely said, "hey dude, can you please stop playing that. You're throwing off our investigation." Surprisingly the mystery of the haunted piano ended there and no one besides me knew why. It was later that I briefly caught these people on break discussing how the ghost in the green rooms loves to play with music and to be on the look out for it.

The second place our group visited was the stage and catwalk area. The stage itself didn't interest me much because besides someone falling through Houdini's trap door and breaking some bones, not much violence had happened there. However, the catwalk had the very cliche story of some theater manager falling to his death, hanging himself on one of the sandbags, ect. The stairs to the catwalk and part of the catwalk is where this supposed haunting existed. Out of my entire group, I was the only one to have the balls to ascend the three stories of tightly wound, steep spiraling steps. Someone let me borrow their EMF detector and my long climb began. About twenty or so feet up my meter went from the normal two or three rating and hiked up to beyond ten, which was the highest rating on the meter. Everyone below me gasped and the flashing lit up the room. Swallowing my Adam's apple and yet again peeing myself I continued up the stairs to find that the meter didn't do it again. I continued taking readings on my descent I found that the same spot that the meter spiked the first time, it spiked again. This was a curious phenomena to me, but my fellow ghost hunters had already run off to tell everyone about it. Now either this was the laziest haunting in the world, or for some reason a 100 year old theater might have had old wiring that was releasing more than healthy radiation. I'm going to let you guess after a minute of investigating with a flashlight.

We took a 45 minute break where we could get something to eat or investigate on our own. I decided it was time to investigate without all these other chumps. Although the theater was creepy and beautiful in all its own right, I found no evidence that the place was haunted. There are hundreds of documented reports (even one supposedly on the Decatur evening news) saying that the place was/is haunted, I found nothing of the sort. Therefore being a natural skeptic, I have to conclude, based solely on my evidence, that the Lincoln Theater is not haunted. I still haven't been able to explain that sound which is mildly unsettling, but I can't 100% say that a place is haunted based on a sound I have no evidence or recording of.

The next investigation I'll discuss will be McPike Mansion in Alton Illinois.

As a side note, I just wanted to say that I will never sign up for Twitter or Tweet anyone an update.

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's that one about ghosthunting... part 1

So a conversation with an old friend who often accompanied me on my ghost hunting trips brought up one of our investigations the other day. I realized that I had forgotten many details of my trips, only because I haven't been active in a ghost hunting group for about two years now. If something was so interesting to me, why would I stop doing it? For one, money. Like everything in the economy, booking a ghost hunting trip became way more expensive. When I first started going with the Midwest Ghost Hunters Society, it was on average $25-$30 a person, depending on where we went. By the time I stopped going, it was $50 average, even $90 for a place or two. Some of you might wonder how I got into this and all I can say is the X-files had a lot to do with it. I've decided that although I've explained much about ghost hunting to some of you, I would tell you some of the basic theories, my thoughts, and even tell the stories of some of the investigations I went on in the next couple blogs, only because I think this subject is interesting to most, whether they believe in ghosts or not.

First some scientific theories and equipment (with the cheaper versions I used) on ghost hunting.

Types of ghosts and haunts:

Active haunt: A haunting where the entity seems to interact with people and the environments, seemingly has a personality.

Residual haunt: A haunting where the entity seems to have no idea that there is anything in its surroundings. This has been compared to a film loop, where the entity lives its life how it did when it was alive. A person can pass through this ghost and not disturb its routine. Popular places for a residual haunt include stairways (because you use them everyday to get from place to another) or forts. (Soldiers that had to do rounds can often leave energy behind that seemingly continue to do those rounds)

Poltergeist: Hollywood's favorite type of haunting, although the most rare by far. Poltergeist are not only an active haunting, but they disturb and sometimes harm people and animals around them. Some ghost hunters don't believe this type of haunting is truly a haunting because in something like 95% of the cases, a young woman starting puberty and dealing with a large amount of stress can be found on these sites. The theory is that some sort of chemical and psychic reaction can mess physically with things in the immediate environment.

Entity: Entities are ghostly figures that have the appearance of a body, shadow, or outline. Sometimes accompanied by fog.

Orb: Unimpressive balls of energy that can't be explained as insects or glares, but move in patterns that suggest they have some intelligence. Most ghost hunters disregard orbs because they don't impress non-believers and the goal of ghost hunting is to convince as many people as possible that ghosts do exist. The theory behind why they are just balls? Ghosts take in energy and are essentially just energy. This is why when ghost hunting many times all the batteries in the equipment will die quickly, or why ghosts seem to attach themselves to certain people. The ghosts are zapping the energy.

Some equipment, the cheap version, and the reason for them:
Camera: Sometimes when the light is just right or the ghost has enough energy you might see the entity with your naked eye, but most the time (in theory) entities exist on a different light wavelength than the human eye can pick up on (like ultraviolet or Xrays) but cameras can catch them. True hunters turn the flash off (unless environment is pitch black) so as not to create reflections that might destroy evidence, and use a fast film speed to catch what they need to. Digital vs film is still up in the air with ghost hunters. While digital cameras catch the same images, the credibility of the evidence comes into question because it is much easier to manipulate digital photography than it is film.

Sound recording: The thought is that ghosts speak on a different sound frequency than the human ear can hear, like a dog whistle. However, tape or digital recorders can pick up sounds and voices. These are called EVPS. (Electronic voice phenomena) The movie White Noise, although a real crapper of a movie, is true to what EVPs can be. Search the internet. You're bound to find hundreds of sights with posted MP3s of captured EVPs, and this is by far the most frightening/exciting part of ghost hunting.

Thermometer: The cold chills running up a persons spine when they encounter an entity isn't all nerves, ghosts usually register far below the environments temperature. (On rare occasions above) A good digital air thermometer is a great tool to help you find where to point the camera.

EMF detector or gauss meter: Both of these devices were built to measure radiation in the air, but soon ghost hunters discovered that there was some validity to their theories that ghosts where energy. These detectors will often (like the thermometer) point you in the direction of possible paranormal activity. For the cheap man, because these can be expensive, you can also use a compass. Since the ghosts are energy, they will affect the needles orientation.

Alright, enough of the science. I just wanted to give everyone a basis for the next couple posts so I don't have to explain the theories over and over again.

The TV shows that have recently come on have done some good and some bad things for ghost hunting. For instance, many more people are hunting, but they come wanting to find something. Thats not a great way to align your brain when trying to prove something exists. These are the type of people that will suggest every little sound and "orb" they find is the missing link. Some of the shows have also brought criticism to ghost hunting. For instance, a show that usually only happens a couple times a year called "Most Haunted Live" is obviously fake. Why do I say this when it appears that they find evidence all the time? Its that exactly. They do a live show only a few times a year and they always end up running into ghosts, books fly off shelves, sounds come from nowhere. There's no way you're going to find evidence on every outing. I went to the Lemp Mansion and brewery, supposedly one of the most haunted places in the midwest, played with a Ouija Board in the very spot one of the Lemps committed suicide, and secluded myself from the rest of the group trying to get something to happen. I spent 6 hours in the mansion, and collected no evidence.

So, starting in the next blog, I will reaccount one of my trips: The Lincoln Theater in Decatur Illinois.