feren: Feren is silly (Zhivagod_Feren-Silly)
Today I advanced my theory to [personal profile] lady_curmudgeon that college football could be made vastly more interesting if I could just get a thought shift to occur around mascot choices.

Imagine this: Instead of choosing something "noble" like the Wolf or the Husky or the Falcon, the coach and school go for something a bit more ... humble.

I submit for your consideration: the star-nosed mole.


Now, imagine that terrifying visage as a seven foot tall, terrycloth, nightmare-fuel mascot costume. Oh, the Moles are down 5 points in the final quarter? Trot this mascot out on the field for a quick pep rally. Watch the opposing team shriek and scatter in confusion and fear!

This is a game-changer, I'm telling you.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blahblahblah)
In no particular order...
  • I feel sorry for guys in the men's room who stand at the urinal and then proceed to undo their belt, button and zipper so they can drop trou to take a leak. I don't understand why it's necessary for you to have your waistband around your knees so I can see if you're a boxer or brief man. In either case it makes me feel sorry for you that you've never figured out the miracle of the zipper-by-itself.
  • Why does my Dell Latitude 5160 laptop have a warranty that's vastly superior in length to that of my Apple MacBook? The Dell came out of the box with a three year warranty and they've actually extended it to February 15th of 2008. My Apple came with a one year warranty and the option to purchase "AppleCare" to cover it for a longer period. I love my MacBook, I really do, but Apple has a lot of catching up to do as regards to wooing customers with warranties that don't suck.
  • The air conditioner for Z'ha'dum has learned a new trick: struggle 24x7 to maintain a temperature of 81 degrees in the house when the thermostat is set to 78 degrees. Since the A-coil isn't frozen and the condensing unit is running just fine (seemingly) I am of the opinion that I just need to add more R-22 ("Freon") to the system. Unfortunately for me, about 10 years ago it was determined by our good friends in the Legislature that consumers are simply too stupid to handle Freon, that Freon is detrimental to the environment and that only licensed individuals are qualified enough to hook a hose to a valve and recharge an air conditioning system. Even though it's been an absolutely lovely week since [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon and I got home (highs in the mid seventies -- I can leave the windows open and be more than comfortable), I guess I'll go for "peace of mind" and fork the money out to get an HVAC guy here to charge the system. $75 service charge just for them to show up? Sure, why not.
  • Transformers: The Movie is clearly in need of an answer from a competing franchise, so why not have Voltron: The Movie? Dammit, [livejournal.com profile] ottr, why do you make me sad?
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
Something [livejournal.com profile] varro said in a comment to the entry previous to this one sparked a thought in my head. He said (as regards [livejournal.com profile] interdictor): He just was a competent person in the right place in the right time who showed grace under pressure. I replied, That is my definition of hero.

The things that have been posted to that journal over the last 72 hours have swung wildly from something approximating factual reporting to pure hubris, then over to highly controversial. Regardless of what you find yourself thinking about the content of the entries there, they continue to show one thing -- a group of very dedicated individuals doing a lot of work in the face of substantial obstacles. While he seems well on his way to becoming an Internet Celebrity for a number of reasons, Varro is completely right about the founder and main poster of [livejournal.com profile] interdictor: the man is nothing more than a fellow who is doing his job and doing it well. It hardly seems like anything remarkable, right? Despite the unusual circumstances he has found himself thrust into, isn't his job just to keep the servers up and running and handle the logistics of maintaining the data center? It's not like he's in the street personally fighting off vandals and thieves.

Still, I think the man is a hero. I think that whole region is filled with heros at the moment, people who are there to help by doing their jobs well, especially under pressure and these dreadful circumstances. Those people are this nation's unsung heros. From this fellow to the patrolmen, from the firemen to the rescue workers to the hundreds of IBEW linemen who are pouring into the region right now to restore electrical power, they're all heros if they can do their job safely and capably. We should be thankful for all the heros we have right now. Let's hope they stay safe so they can continue to save others.
feren: I AM THE MAN (contemplative)
You know, as much as I complain about my day-to-day trials and tribulations I really have things pretty easy. I come from a family that has, for all intensive purposes, been able to remain traditional and "whole." My father, while middle-class, has been able to position himself through frugal behavior and smart investments in a very favorable position where he will not be wanting for finances when he retires (whenever that will be... he should have retired last year, and now it seems that he won't retire this year either). Even before retirement began to loom on the horizon of his life he had settled himself in a very nice fiscal position, with the house and land paid off ten years early, a second plot of land purchased and paid for as well. He's held a steady job and advanced through the ranks as time passed without any real trouble. Along with expanding the homestead he has all the equipment he needs to keep the farm running, and pretty much all the toys he could think of owning -- all of it free and clear of any outstanding debt.

I am in much the same situation. Yes, I have an incredible amount of outstanding debt now that I've taken on the purchase of the house, but I'm already working on eroding that debt as quickly as possible. I also have outstanding debts on my credit cards now, but I'm working on erasing those as well with equal ferocity -- in a few short years I'll have no revolving debt and will have paid down a large portion of my home loans. Through it all I own my truck free-and-clear, I have a steady job that does not run the risk of disappearing tomorrow, and I get a load of benefits such as free tuition and company-sponsored medical insurance plans. When I look at it all I realize that I am truly blessed... because some people don't have these some of these things, and yet others don't have any of these things.

Some folks I know have set all the comforts and securities aside. The things I take for granted on a daily basis are almost entirely foreign to these individuals. They've struck out on their own, and are determined to be self-sufficient by doing the things they love doing, usually for an unappreciative public and at a considerably lower grade of pay than what they really deserve. The people I'm speaking of don't get free tuition, they don't have comprehensive medical coverage, they sometimes aren't even sure where tomorrow's money for groceries will be coming from. They're living in a way that could be generously be described as "hand to mouth," and it's taking its toll on them, slowly but surely it wears upon them. Despite the crushing weight of these worries they somehow manage to continue on, unwavering in their desire to remain independent, driven to prevail despite the odds that loom before them. They're dedicated, hard-working individuals who -- while struggling -- are doing something I couldn't ever do: they're living without guarantees. They don't know if the next sale they make will pay the rent, they aren't able to rely upon receiving a set amount of cash inflow every other week. It was this fear of uncertainty that prevented me from striking out on my own and forming my own company, something that I think would have left me a generally happier and more productive person. Still, as appealing as it was and as happy as I felt it would make me I couldn't break free. Yes, it was and still is a rut that I live in... but it's a comfortable rut, because there are certainties that come with it. I'm certain that I'll have a job tomorrow, I'm certain that my paycheck will be the same amount as it was the week before last. I'm certain that if I have to go to the hospital to get my tonsils or apprendix removed I'll have insurance coverage to handle it. The certainties, the guarantees... they're the chains that bind me, and I can't summon the courage to break them. I think that a lot of the general public is in this same position. Like Tyler said, "The things you own, end up owning you." It is the same with benefits and security... you pay a price for them. That cost can be so incalcuably high -- it can be the difference between safety and the freedom to do what you want. What protects me hinders me.

These friends of mine haven't just slipped free of these shackles, they've shattered them. As I said, they live without these guarantees, and while they're having a very hard go of it at present... they're still succeeding. Despite the odds that stand against them, despite the risks they run... they are still succeeding in being independent and doing what they love. They're doing what I can only dream of doing.

Sure, it's easy for some people to say they want to make their living as a writer or an artist, or to claim that they're doing so right now. Saying it doesn't make it true, however. A number of these people have a comfortable part-time or full-time job to fall back upon, or they can tap the household income provided by their spouse or significant other. While their art or writing may be impressive, those people are not the folks I want to recognize here. These friends I am referring to -- they are their own providers, their sole income is derived from the works they produce and sell. If they don't make a $150 sale they can't say "Oh darn, well, I guess I'll put in an extra day of filing at the office." They don't have that option and don't want it. If they don't make that sale they have to find an alternative sale of the same value, or hope to clear a number of smaller sales for the same figure if they want to make rent this month.

I hope these friends of mine know how much I look up to them, how greatly I admire their mettle and the dedication they show when they say I'm going to make this work. I couldn't be more proud of them and they deserve far more recognition than they receive not only for their creative efforts but simply for the bravery they have exhibited in striking out on their own. I hold them in the highest esteem and each day I aspire to be as self-sufficient and self-assured as they are.

I'm honored to call these distingiushed people my friends.

The spider won't forget
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
It's official as of 0730 this morning: Bogie (better known as That Damned Farting Coworker) has cancer of the esophagus. The doctors operate on him next Tuesday, and they figure it could go anywhere from four to eight hours in length. Nobody has an idea how long it will take him to recover from the surgery in the hospital or how long he'll be out of the office on disability. Of course, that's not the nastiest part, not by a long shot. The surgery is a painful and involved one: to ensure they're removing every last bit of the cancer they will have taken half his esophagus, and pulled his stomach up, removing about half of that as well, but it actually gets worse.

I dare you to guess what the real killer is, the single most vicious part of this little cosmic dance. Some of you might see this coming, but it certainly blindsided me: Once the operation is complete the doctor is still only giving him five years. Five years. Five years for the man who quit smoking and took up walking during lunch because he wanted to make himself a healthier person. Five years of life even after he's done being subjected to the pain and suffering of having the top half of his gastrointestinal tract removed. It's like some bizzare repeat of my cousin Priscilla's situation, only this time it's just some random cell that started growing out of control that's to blame instead of a doctor's ignorance. Five years. Five years of what? What kind of life is that, knowing that each day is numbered just like it was before... but that each number has suddenly become much, much more valuable because they've been taken from a limited supply to a piddling allocation? Wondering if you'll wake up in the morning, if you'll have any quality of life towards the end?

It's true that we're all dying. Now Bogie is just dying faster than the rest of us.

Five years, even with a successful "treatment."

And yet here I am.

It's hard to make that all fit, it's incredibly difficult to find the equation for it where both sides balance out. Survivor's Guilt is the popular term that shrinks like to sling around in cases like this, and I'm carrying a heavy case of it, especially given my family's medical history. It doesn't make any sense to me, how I went through eight months of treatment and got a clean bill of health. At the end of it I was waiting for some twist just like this, but it never came. It's as if some djinn emerged from a bottle and said "You have passed the trial, you may have your life back -- try to make the most of it." I got my life back after eight months of treatment, one type amongst many available to me... and Bogie is going through to endure the only treatment available for him, and he's still not going to come through the other side.

How in the blue fuck do you fit that into your world?

I cross the ocean for a heart of gold
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
A country singer named Aaron Tippin wrote a song, and in it he said, "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything." Sometimes it is hard to know where to make your stand, or when to make it. Sometimes the penalty for doing so seems to vastly outweigh anything you've ever risked.

If there is anything to be said, I guess I would say this: Never regret your decision to stand. The cost of your conviction may be high, but never regret your decision to stand.

A quote...

Feb. 16th, 2004 10:34 am
feren: I AM THE MAN (Leary)
My George Carlin calendar had an interesting observation for the weekend, which was particularly apropos given it was St. Valentine's Day on Saturday.

Griddle cakes, pancakes, hotcakes, flapjacks: why are there four names for grilled batter and only one word for love?


He makes a good case.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Jack)
Bill Left, a morning deejay on WNND (the 80s and 90s station I am always listening to) succinctly summed up what's wrong with American culture today when he said, "And once more this goes to prove that naked people [on tv] are bad, but killing people as violently as possible is perfectly okay."

owner of a lonely heart

*yawn*

Jan. 27th, 2004 10:09 am
feren: I AM THE MAN (chilly-smiling-feren)
Well, I spent my first night in the house last night. Here's what I've learned thus far, in no particular order:

  • It absolutely rocks to have a garage -- my truck had no snow upon it this morning. Actually, there was something sort of neat to see when I came out to the garage: little rivlets of water were snaking their way across the garage floor where some of the slush had melted out of the wheelwells.
  • The road noise from behind the back yard that I was concerned about isn't at all bad, and can almost be soothing when I'm trying to get to sleep and am jittery.
  • I need to replace the leaky bypass valve on the water softener. That has now been elevated to Chore Priority Alpha because I cannot stand the sound of water dripping into the bucket all night and day. I also don't like paying for water that's going to go to waste in such a fashion.
  • It is rather odd having a water softener again after 8 years of service with lake water that has been pre-conditioned by the city. I could feel the difference in the shower this morning.
  • 62 degrees F (about 16.5 degrees Celcius) is pretty much the ideal setting for my thermostat. I may tinker with it a little more to see if I can't coax it down to 61 or 60. 60 degrees would be ideal in my mind so long as I wear a fleece or something around the house. A few degrees saved is a few dollars I won't have to hand over to Nicor at the end of the month, and with all the labor I'm doing (unpacking, installing, repairing, etc) around the place I exert myself plenty enough to stay warm.
  • Shoveling the driveway and sidewalk takes me about 30 minutes.
  • Shoveling the driveway and the sidewalk is an excellent source of exercise in the morning
  • Nothing feels better than a shower after being outside in the snow and the cold to shovel a sidewalk and driveway.
  • I love the showerhead in my shower.
  • I love having the master bathroom off the master bedroom.
  • With a "snow emergency" like the one we're experiencing today I can make my 20 mile commute in 60 minutes,. That's not too bad, all considered.
  • People in Illinois have no concept of what a snowstorm really is. If they're freaking out over this trivial coating of powder (OOooOOoooh, a whole THREE INCHES) then they'd never survive a real storm in Minnesota. I'm sure Canadians laugh at all of us.

    More thoughts as they come.

    bound by wild desire
  • feren: I AM THE MAN (Jack)
    After more than a decade of service, my Sony "Dream Machine" clock-radio has finally ceased to function. I suppose everyone will think I'm a lunatic for saying this, but this makes me feel rather sad. Part of that is sentimental, as the alarm clock was a gift from my father a long time ago. That clock saw me through high-school, my first job and four separate moves. Part of it is a little less sentimental and a bit more anal-retentive: it's been a part of my morning routine ever since I received it. In any case it had been a fathful companion for over ten years, and now it's gone.

    This also leaves me in a lurch for how I'm going to get up tomorrow. Due to the weather I need to get up at 5:30 to make sure I have a lot of time for the drive in to work... but I have no way to wake myself up (My body's "internal alarm clock" got reset from 5:45 AM to 8:15 AM during vacation). I guess I'll pull down an application for my PC and use it along with my speakers to act as a makeshift alarm until I can buy a suitable replacement.
    feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
    I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every panda that wouldn't screw to save its species. I wanted to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all the French beaches I'd never see.
    -- Fight Club

    Where did you go, Psycho-Boy? )
    feren: I AM THE MAN (groat)
    Every time I think I see some redeeming feature to our society, some light at the end of the tunnel that might actually help guide our species to a state of being where we don't believe that rockets must be shaped like enormous, erect penises so we can fuck the other countries while simultaneously bombing them back into the stone age, just when I think we finally have something to be proud of... something else comes along and blows that image all to shit. I mean it just completely demolishes my hope for the future. What am I bitching about now? Read on and find out. Warning, this contains an overdose of testosterone, cynicism and probably some unresolved teenage angst. No gin or rum was harmed in the making of this entry. Yes, believe it or not I am stone cold sober as I write this. Jen, I suspect, will approve of this fact even if I do not.

    In rants past I've stated that I fully support, nay, demand that people take ahold of the huge steering wheel in front of them that is their future and bring their lives out of the horrendous flat spins that they already are in. I give suggestions just to prove I'm not being a totally unreasonable bastard: drive courteously, participate in the rearing of your children, try not to be so dense that you think your ten-dollar toaster will actually hesitate to burst into flame when you leave a gods-be-damned Pop-Tart jammed in the stupid thing with the elements on "crisp it darker than a Baywatch Bikini Line" for over twenty minutes. All of these things, one might assume, would be classified as "common sense," perhaps even the sort of thing that might become sheer instinct and be handed down from one generation to the next, the sort of thing one simply knows innately through some intervention by mother nature.

    But no.

    No, instead, we continue to thrive on making our fellow man miserable. SUVs sell in record numbers, and at the same time the auto industry continues to execute a bitchin' headlock upon the oil refineries so that gasoline remains plentiful and cheap enough to continue to power these Lexus-brand tanks. People burn down other people's homes. Stalking. Styrofoam peanuts. Abortion clinic bombings. Any number of atrocities are perpetuated in the name of any number of causes, but because it's "for a cause" that makes it OK. I mean, dammit all anyway, wouldn't it be so much more WORK stepping back and acting like the sentient monkeys we claim ourselves to be? Can't have that, mercy, no.

    Here's where Fer tells more than you want to know: I don't know, for various reasons involving my sordid medical history, if I can even bring a life into this world (Yes, I can just go give a sample and get an answer, but this is one of the things I Just Don't Want To Know at this juncture in my life). If it should ever prove itself possible, the next question is should I even do so, when/if the right conditions ever present themselves (house, marriage, savings at the right level, etc)? Am I really doing right by my offspring to bring them into this world? I'm one ranting person who really dislikes the environment around him. I, alone, cannot change the world around me -- and as much as I might like to think otherwise, it isn't very likely that the world at large will hear my relatively simple plea and decide to participate in the global overhaul of our species... if being alive for this long has taught me one thing, it is that I am about as insignificant to this planet as that ant you unknowingly stepped on last week on the way out of the Burger King was to you.

    I know that you are thinking "But you can pass down your morals to your child! You said it yourself, loser," right about now. Yes, those of you who have children already CAN make sure the world is a better place by instilling values into your children that YOU approve of, rather than letting the television, the school system, the babysitter and the X-box do it for you. This idea, if practiced by a number of people, could result in quite a movement within the next fifteen years -- and I for one would love to see it.

    But as I have said before, I'm a practicing pessimist: I don't think anybody is going to go out of their way on this to make things better. So, that leaves me with this thought: if I were to have a child, this would amount to me sending out MY child, one of the beings I care most about in the world, out into a world that I already don't approve of, just so he can battle for beliefs I myself have been fighting for all these years already. I don't know about you, but I don't think that's fair to my child, not in the least.

    Perhaps Kette will interject later in the comments -- I already have a sneaking feeling crawling up my back like a scorpion on a sleeping bag that most of the armchair psychologists will be jumping on this one with a few different theories about why I'm so adamant about everyone else altering the world and my lack of faith in my own child to do some of the work along with the rest. Maybe it has to do with my childhood -- I saw a lot of things I don't think I should have seen, and while I know I haven't had it as bad as some classes of people in far-off countries (Women in India, anybody?), I certainly did not have a lot of positive experiences in the public at large as I grew up (although I will take this moment to interject that my mother and my father, while tough-love types, were indeed quite loving and very devoted parents who did the best they could -- which, I like to think, was pretty goddamn good). I'm actually sort of interested in seeing this, because I've been staring into this mirror for a while now and the answers still aren't making themselves any more apparent to me now than when I first started. Whenever I start trying to figure out why I am the way I am, and I'm sufficiently agitated about the topic, or past a certain level of emotional involvement, the thing becomes more difficult than putting the proverbial square peg through the round hole. I mean, I might as well be trying to stuff a marshmallow into a friggin' piggy bank. It's fruitless and exceptionally frustrating.

    Oh dear. I'm rambling and appear to have lost the exact point I was striving after. Bloody hell, I suspect that means I should wrap it up...

    Is bringing a child into this world a fair thing for me to do, when I already disapprove of so many things that are occurring? Are the memories of my youth making me fear that perhaps my child would have to undergo some of the same traumas, ones which I don't think a child should have to go through, ones that can, in my opinion, rip away the thin veneer of wonder that's left in life for children in this day and age? Am I afraid of the commitment it represents to raise a child to believe in what I believe in, and believe in it enough to go out and fight for it? Am I out of my bloody mind to be staying up at night thinking about what it'd be like to find out I'd brought a life into this world, just before some incredible disaster occurs? Or am I just being paranoid about the whole damn thing?

    I dunno.

    It sucks to be introspective when you don't have the qualifications to even inspect a piece of wood.

    I got a crazy teacher
    He wears dark glasses

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    feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
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