A Series of Random Thoughts

What Will It Be?

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What is the one thing you hope you leave behind when you’re gone? What do you want people to remember you for? I’m not talking about the world, but you friends, family and even coworkers. When they remember your life, what is the first thing you hope they mention?

Podcasters Are People To

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A week or so ago, one of my favorite podcasts came to an end. They’d mentioned it jokingly a time or two, then it was never talked about again. Then, just as episode 200 loomed into view, talk resumed on ending the show on the grand 200th episode. And so, The 40Cast came to an end with it’s release into the wild on July 5th, 2014. Vic, Matt, Denny, Eric and Keith shared one last round of memories on how they came to the show, what they remembered and appreciated most, and then bid us, the listeners, a fond farewell.

I won’t lie. Aside from my family, a few friends and co-workers, I don’t have time for much socializing. We get together with family and go out to eat, or we’ll see a movie with friends or celebrate a birthday or holiday. But mainly, I’m at home with my wife and sons or at work earning a dollar. So, to me, these podcasters that open up to us weekly/bi-weekly, and share their moments with us – with me – are just as much a part of my everyday life as anyone or anything else. I look forward to hearing them in my headphones each week, listening to their takes on movies, shows or games. Sharing a laugh at something funny that they experienced or read about. They’re my digital friends, as sad as some people might find that. And to elevate it one more step higher, they’re the modern day celebrities of our digital culture.

Maybe that’s putting it a little too deep, but they go out there, put themselves on the air for our entertainment and/or education. People, like myself, come to trust their opinions, accept their views and socialize with them thanks to sites like Twitter or Facebook or blogging sites. It may not be skin-on-skin, face-to-face contact, but it’s the digital 21st century equivalent of rubbing elbows with famous folks. Folks that hundred, if not thousands, of people listen to. To elevate them to that level is … well … it may be our own faults, and our own undoings.

We, as listeners, may forget that these guys and gals are just regular folks like ourselves. They’re doing something they love, something they enjoy, and it’s a hobby for most. The majority aren’t getting paid for recording these shows, unless they’re trying to make a career out of it like the folks over at Major Spoilers, who last year turned their company into an LLC. Or Scott Johnson and his My Extra Life / Frogpants Network of shows and talent. The other guys, The 40Cast’s, the Everyday Gamers, Gamer Husbands, etc – they’re us. They’re doing this to have fun and share their love of the medium. They may not even consider the fact that folks will truly be upset when they decide to end a show or move on to other things. All they can think about – as they have every right to – is what’s best for them and what their lives require at that given moment.

Me? I’d love to podcast one day. Not the little 30 minute shorts I put out on rare occasions when I have the time, but an actual show with co-hosts, guests, actual topics of conversation and broadcast on multiple platforms/sites for distribution. Not to make money or become famous, but because I’d love to give back to the community. I’d love to interact on a broader level with folks who would be willing to tune in weekly and hear my thoughts and be willing to share theirs with me. We’re a unique generation. We’re the pioneers of this medium. It’s on the shoulders of those out there right now to pave the way for the future generations of podcasters or vlogs, or blogs, or whatever. We were there at ground zero and have set standards and goals for others to learn, reach for and surpass.

Podcasts are my form of release, a way to relax and catch up with old friends that I may never meet. But they’re also our way of preserving the moments we live in for those further down the line to listen to and look back on. We’re pioneers, we’re celebrities, we’re all a close-knit community of strangers who are also good friends. We’re are listeners and podcasters. But most of all, we’re all people just trying to get by and make ends meet and live life as best we can.

To the fellows of The 40Cast, I bid you a good night. Thanks for 200 awesome episodes and I wish you all the best. And as for the efforts of Eric, Matt and Keith on putting together another podcast, I have nothing but faith in you, fellows. I’ll be watching for it and ready to join in and listen once again. But for now, take a break, guys. You all deserve it!

A Series of Random Thoughts: Conspiracy Theories, Facts, Depressing Thoughts

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* I’m in a mood to ramble about some real life current events – something I don’t normally like to do because I lack the skill to properly express myself in a rational and intelligent way. But, here it is, take it for what it’s worth. My early Christmas Eve thoughts after reading the news headlines this morning. *

Too many shootings around the U.S. Or, rather, too many suddenly being brought to the front page of the news sites due to the Sandy Hook Elem. drama. This morning it was reported that firefighters, responding to a blaze, were opened fire upon – 4 wounded, 2 dead – before finally getting to the fire, which by that time had consumed three houses in New York.

The conspiracy side of my brain says this would be the perfect route for “terrorists” to take to disarm us. Ramp up the shootings across the nation to aide in the push to rid/control firearms, that way, when the average citizen is no longer packing the heat and able to defend themselves, they move in with larger forces and begin taking over.

The more disturbing theory cooked up by my brain says that there are just a bunch of idiots in the world. Specifically, there are those that think this type of gun violence is a means to an end – in other words, they don’t want to shoot anyone, but if people dying will push a bill through to take guns out of innocent folks hands, then so be it. They’ll risk themselves for the “greater good” of the world and take on the roll of a shooter just to get a point across. This may seem a bit more extreme than the idea of terrorists, but folks aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders these days, if you know what I mean.

In reality, I suppose I could consider the fact that, 1) our fine news outlets are going to bring us the most disturbing news that will depress and anger us. This is especially true if it pushes a bigger story or fuels the needs of their agenda. 2) There are disturbed, wicked individuals in our world that may come to the conclusion that this is what they are destined for. To take as many other people out before going out themselves.

Of course, there is a sicker possibility – the talk of folks wanting to “top” the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. I understand that this wasn’t exactly an elementary school that someone walked in to, but the story of firefighters responding to a fire – the fire spreading due to gunfire, firefighters being wounded and killed while the fire rages out of control – I can see this as being a scene of someone trying to create an even larger drama than what we witnessed a couple of Fridays ago. I mean, some sicko is sitting around thinking, “Yeah, 20 kids were shot multiple times, point blank … a couple teachers … but there was no real property damage. What could I do? Make it bigger … set a real fire under the media – yeah, fire! Firemen rushing in to hose down a fire, but unable to do so because a maniac is slinging bullets their way. The fire grows, the fireman are in a panic, people are running and screaming … I’ll be famous!”

No matter the rationale behind these idiots, one thing is certain in my mind. If things were ran my way, I’d do everything in my power to

Firemen at work

try and take these guys alive. I would want them alive so that they could be put on public display – televised free for the world to see, son. Are you with me? And, for example, the parents and families of the Sandy Hook children – or even the families of these two slain firefighters, would be allowed to exact their brand of justice on these folks. If you want to make an example of someone like this, if you want to give the next one something to think about, then put these slimebags on display and let everyone see them tortured for their actions. I know the whole “eye for an eye” thing gets blown out of proportion, but in our pansy-assed society of not wanting to make anyone uncomfortable or have them face any strict discipline, I think something like this – while barbaric and cruel – would certainly make some folks think twice. For the sick and twisted minds, all they really get to see is the sensational stories the media brings them. The crying families, the distraught neighbors. But you throw the perpetrator into the public spotlight, alive and kicking and screaming while he/she  is sentenced to suffer the same fates as their victims, I guarantee you’ll reform a person or two.

I suppose we could ban the guns, the automatic assault weapons, semi-automatic, regular firearms that everyday citizens keep in their homes for protection. But all that would do is take away that “average citizens” method of defending their family and home. The gun argument is a messy one because no one wants to look at the broader issues. Yes, the mental health aspect, but also the fact that you can not stop a crazy/evil/unstable person from doing what they want to do. If someone wants to shoot up a school, then they will do it no matter what kind of laws are in place. If someone wants to buy fertilizer to make bombs and blow up a federal building, they will do it, no matter the restriction put on the purchase of that product. If someone wants to take a car and start mowing down pedestrians on a busy sidewalk, no one will stop them until dozens of people have lost their lives. Taking the guns out of the law-abiding citizens hands will do nothing to curb the violent members of our society from committing crimes and killing innocents.

There is no right solution. But if we started on people when they were young, quit pampering them and treating them like they are special, unique creatures that deserve everything the world has to offer – maybe then they would grow up and have realistic expectations. The world is about feeling all warm and special, it isn’t about no one never losing because we are all winners. It’s about getting out there, working for what you have and competing to succeed. We’re raising a nation full of wusses and when something isn’t right in their pampered little mind, they retaliate. But that’s just my opinion on one of the reasons people come to this point of violence. They snap because they were never taught to handle their feelings if they moved beyond a breaking point. You can’t just snap at the least little thing in a world as harsh as ours.

Hate these words or agree with them, I don’t care. I’m one person, my words carry no weight or power. Not to retreat to a fantasy world, but by golly, if a world ever needed hero’s or a special brand of justice to stop these horrific crimes from happening, we need one now.

When Was the Last Time You Felt Really, Truly Lonely?

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This is an interesting blogging prompt. When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely? Well, it’s interesting for me, at any rate. You see, I have this good old friend that visits me every night. I like to call him Insomnia (hence, my screen name.) Insomnia and I sit and talk every night, but it isn’t the same as when I sit and have a conversation with someone else. Heck, even folks I’m really not that fond of are more entertaining and sometimes preferable to this guy.

Insomnia

So, really, when was the last time I felt lonely? For me, the answer that comes to mind is: every night as I sit in the dark alone, bathed in the glow of the computer monitor. It’s just me in my chair, typing on a keyboard, clicking a mouse button and listening to the sounds of a quiet, dark house on a quiet and dark street in a quiet and dark neighborhood. Me. Alone. Seriously.

It’s a feeling I get. It starts in the pit of my stomach and moves out in a radial pattern that slowly consumes my entire body. My head is the last to be covered, and I go kind of numb and the silence grows even quieter than normal. Pin drops would be cymbals crashing. A sickening feeling in my gut, an emptiness in my heart, a numb, tingling feeling in the rest of my body. Even though I’m not physically alone. I’m just the only one awake.

Every night that I sit alone at my table, or watching television, or laying in bed reading, or even just laying there in the dark staring at the ceiling, I feel utterly alone. And the odd thing is, it isn’t like I crave social interactions. There are times when all I want is to be alone. I can not stand groups larger than two or three. I do not like listening to others chatter on about things I have no interest in – and sometimes, even the things I am interested in.

But I’m not really answering the question for this post, am I? My brain wants to answer it, but instead my fingertips are skirting around the issue, jumping around it and avoiding the meat of the matter. I’m not sure if I can say exactly WHEN I feel lonely, considering there are time when, even in company of others, I feel lonely. Confusing? Doesn’t make sense? Yeah, I can see where it might sound a little wonky. We’ve come this far, though, I might as well see what else I’ve got to meander on down the road with. You can come if you want to.

There are two other people in the house with me, both asleep and lost in their own dreams. Worn out from their daily activities from mid-afternoon to the wee hours of the morning. They move about and exist while I am away at work, earning my keep. When I return, it’s in the A.M. My dog – I love my dog – greets me at the fence. I’ll pat his head and scratch his back, behind the ears, give him a few comforting words assuring that his master hadn’t abandoned him. My dog, the only soul awake and excited to see me as I pull into the drive, walk into the house and plop myself down for several hours and share a soda with that other guy I mentioned. Insomnia.

I do sleep. If I’m lucky, I’ll get at least 5 hours a night/morning/day. Usually asleep by 5 if I can manage it, no later than 6. As soon as 10AM rolls around, though, I’m back up and at ‘em. Life goes on, you know, and time waits for no man. Right now, as a matter of fact, my son is snoring softly from his bed. The Wife has drifted off on the couch while watching television. And I’m right here. We have to be up and off on a trip early this morning. I’ve already tried to lay down and get some rest, but it eludes me.

Maybe one day we will reach some kind of agreement. I can break off my relationship with You-Know-Who and all will be well with the world. Until then, I’m just an insomniac, alone in the dark and waiting for sleep to claim me for a few more hours of rest.

Good night.

Hurtful Comments & Lying Catching Up on a Friend

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As I’ve said before, our son is a 3rd grade home schooler. My wife has always been a little anxious about being his teacher because she was always afraid she wasn’t teaching him properly. By that I mean, was she spending enough time on certain subjects, was she using the right materials, etc, etc. Well, this year we signed up for the K12 program. This is the first year (I believe) it has been offered in Tennessee, and it is a home school program supported and ran by the public school system. As part of this program, students from grades 3 to 8 must complete assessments. This helps the education system customize the areas where the individual students need to concentrate more of their attention and also provides the parents (in our case especially – well, my wife’s), with a bit of a roadmap as to how they’ve been doing in educating the child.

This was all toward the beginning of the year and we had not heard anything back from the teacher assigned to us or anyone else with the program. Wanting to know more, my wife called our son’s teacher yesterday to get the results. It turns out that my dear wife has been doing a fantastic job! The teacher reported that our son’s scores exceeded the average testing scores, in some cases as much as 20 points above average. She said we should have noticed that his courses had been adjusted to match that because he was on a higher level because of his test results.

My wife – being the proud mama – posted this on her Facebook page. Folks were commenting their congratulations and “liking” the status for Wife and Son. Then, my wife’s best friend commented. Her comment was:

“You know I am very proud of **** and you, but as someone that works in the school system, 10 hours a day 5 days a week, the kids at my school work very hard in all the subjects. And there are plenty of kids with advanced status. With that being said, way to go ****.”

A nice short comment. But knowing this person – who I might add is a pathological liar (no, really, I wouldn’t trust her to tell me the weather if I was sitting by a window because it probably wouldn’t be true) – my wife was a bit upset. She took the comment as a jab from her best friend, trying to diminish the fact that our son, based on the same standards as those in public schools and her friend’s classes, was excelling in all his subjects. And never mind the fact that this woman isn’t even a teacher, she’s an assistant who helps grade papers and watches the class room in the teachers absence, but she felt the need to comment on her students when all my wife was trying to do was be a proud mama and do a little bragging – which all mothers are entitled to.

Maybe the comment was just taken the wrong way, but when mixed with the congratulatory messages from other friends and family, it was sort of the black sheep comment in the room. And the fact that it came from someone who has had a negative outlook on home schooling to start with, there shouldn’t have been any real surprise. My wife, while hurt, felt that she had done something wrong in bragging about our boy. She tried to explain that she meant no harm, was just proud of her child. I, of course, threw in my two-cents because, honestly, I became fed up with this person long before. This morning, she posts a follow up and deletes her original comment. Still, though, she makes sure to bring up her other students and how they are just as well off. A completely unnecessary moment. If this is your best friend, just share in their moment of happiness and joy and move on. Don’t start pointing out all the faults in what they might be saying or excited about. That just makes you an ass.

Her last comment was via a text she sent my wife this morning. “Hey, girl. I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings. I don’t mean to diminish what you do but I felt that you were diminishing what I do in our schools every day by commenting on how great **** was doing. And as far as what your husband or friends think, I don’t care about them, I just didn’t want you to be mad.” So, you tell your best friend that her husbands opinion is of no concern to you. The man your best friend married and had children with and you don’t concern yourself with his thoughts or opinions on situations involving his wife and son. @#$%^ you, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Really.

Myself – it didn’t really make me mad or upset me, but I did find it a little disturbing considering the woman’s behavior toward our son lately. It started around Christmas of last year when she came to see him and told him she had an “awesome” gift for him but she had forgot it. She would bring it the next time she came over. Well, that next time came but the gift never did. Again, she told him how great a gift she had gotten him and promised it the next time they got together. Nothing. This continued on ’til January, where she finally stopped mentioning it.

Then came our son’s birthday. She comes to the party, and after our son has opened up all his gifts, in front of everyone she proclaims, “Hey, buddy, I’ve got you something good! But it’s at home, I forgot to bring it. I’ll run it by her next week when I’m out, okay?” Our son isn’t all about the getting of gifts, he’s fine and happy if you just show up and everyone has a good time. There was absolutely no reason for her to even mention a gift. We make a point to tell everyone that they don’t even have to bring a gift, just show up and enjoy themselves.

So the birthday promise goes on for a good month. Our son, this time, is asking when she will bring his birthday gift over. Maybe he’s thinking about the Christmas gift that never came, I don’t know, but he’s curious this time. Finally, a month after she’s lead him on two or three times, she shows up to visit one afternoon. My son comes running out of his room, excited and asks, “Did you bring my birthday present?!” To which this grown woman who couldn’t even deliver on a Christmas present she had promised, replies: “**** I gave it to a kid at my school. He did good on a test and I gave it to him as a reward. Sorry, bud. But you got all kinds of stuff already, no biggie.”

Yeah … no biggie. Except now even an 8 year old child knows you to be a liar. We had to sit our son down that night because he was confused and a little upset, and explain that this woman has a condition. We went as far as to point out other times and events, toward him and my wife, that she hasn’t come through and simply made comments that weren’t true. We basically explained to an 8 year old that people lie to kids just like they lie to adults.

It goes on. Lie after lie after lie. Even about things that make no difference. This woman won concert tickets a year or two ago from a radio station. She bragged for two weeks about how these were front row seats and she was excited to go. Front row seats! FRONT ROW! Every day for 2 weeks that’s what we heard her talking about. Then at the last minute, she couldn’t go. I offered to buy them from her. She said $50 would cover it. Ok, no problem. I agreed. Oh, well, wait a minute, now maybe she was going to give them to her sister. Ok. No problem. Well, no if we still wanted them, $50 was good. Fine. Whatever. We go to pick up the tickets and she hesitates before handing them to my wife. “Well, I really thought these were front row tickets, but it turns out they’re balcony level seating.”

Why lie about concert tickets? They were still good seats, mind you, we had a blast, but why even bother with something like that?

Bah, I wash my hands of that foul woman. I can tolerate many things in this world, but the one thing I detest more than anything – ANYTHING – is a liar. I’d rather shake hands and share a meal with Charles Manson than sit at the same table and listen to a liar.

So, excuse my rant on this fine Friday, friends. I had to get that out of my system. Please, continue on your way and thanks for stopping in. I’ll see you around! :)