Friday, October 21, 2011
In the words of Death, I'm turning out the lights, putting the chairs up on the tables, and locking the doors.
This will be my last post at this blog. I've mostly failed at keeping it current, I've mostly failed at saying the things I really wanted to say, and I'm mostly frustrated with the way it's turned out.
Despite all that, you--my dearest readers--have been much more supportive than I've deserved, much more attentive than I have been, and much more forgiving of my scheduling (or lack thereof) than most sane people with normal attention spans would ever have dreamt. I want to thank you, from the bottom of my cold black heart, for everything you have done to encourage me.
In fact, it's because of you that I have the courage to take the next step: I've started my very own website.
Though it's not finished yet, and I'm currently tinkering with options, and I'm learning my CMS with all of the grace and poise of a baby giraffe on roller-skates, I have staked my claim at www.mitchellwillie.com to my own little personal corner of the interwebs. I'll be using it as both my personal and professional homepage, a platform from which to launch official news about this writing thing I'm trying to make my life, and (most importantly) a place to connect with my readers and friends. I invite you all to join me there, where you'll find I'm hosting the full archive of this site, complete with all your comments and love.
As Semisonic said, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." I'm hoping that this beginning's end has birthed something wonderful for my future. I hope you'll join me there.
Closing time. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
I'm going to divulge my full, complete, unabridged financial situation online, to total strangers, on the Internet.
Why would I do such a thing? What could possess me to reveal such a personal thing to scads of people I've never met, opening myself to ridicule and derision on the World Wide Web?
Because apparently that's what it will take for some of you to understand why I support the Occupy Wall Street movement, and its offshoots and splinter protests.
I am a white, Republican male, and college ruined my life. I decided to go to a local University, knowing my grades in high school hadn't been the best (but that's a rant for another industry). I'd always had problems keeping a job because I do have a touch of an attitude problem--I like to be treated as a human being in the workplace, and employers don't like that so much. Again, rant for another industry.
So I get it in my head to go to college (I won't lie, there was a really cute blonde involved) and make something of myself. I had no credit. I come from a poor family (sorry for outing you financially, mom & dad!), and I wasn't working at the time. I didn't have the grades for scholarships, and as I'm not a minority and can't get pregnant, I only qualified for one grant.
I had to borrow money for the application fee, and if my high school drama teacher hadn't paid for my ACT test my junior year, I'd really have been up a creek, but I got things settled themselves. I got a job on campus, and a credit card to help build good credit (having no credit is worse than having bad credit), and a cell phone to keep in touch with the folks. They were paying most of it, for which I still owe them, but I footed most of the bill on student loans.I didn't own a car (couldn't afford one) and I could barely afford to do laundry, but I made it. And I was proud of myself.
Until my 8-5 classes (five days a week) and my midnight work schedule (12-8) started to clash with my homework (usually at least 2 hours per class each night) and the extracurricular activity I had, fencing, which was also my only non-walking-to-class exercise. Oh, and the cute blonde? She wanted a cut of my time, too. And my neighbors didn't understand that some of us slept from 5-10, and liked to blare loud music while they studied. And I got shoved in charge of a small campus newsletter protesting the campus-run journalism organization's tastelessness and unprofessionalism, a position I did not request.
It was just too much. I took a semester off, and though I filed all the proper paperwork, the University still claims that I owe them $1300 because the paperwork was misfiled somehow. This also caused my student loans to come out of deferrment immediately. Since I didn't go to school there, I also lost my on-campus job, causing the full weight of the cost of my "education" to be felt immediately.
In the years since, I have had a run of bad luck with bad employers. I've been asked to leave a job because they demanded that my sick days be covered by a doctor's excuse, though I got no health insurance and they refused to pay me enough to see a doctor. When my parents bought me a car for my birthday and it basically imploded, I was working as a delivery boy. They cut my hours because I couldn't drive, but that also meant I couldn't afford to fix my car. I've had jobs blatantly steal money from me, denying me paychecks I have worked 20-40 hours a week to earn for reasons they've made up, because I couldn't afford to take them to court over it.
When I was in college, I lost my bank account. There's this lovely thing called "ChexSystems" that banks join that's like a credit-reporting-agency stoolpigeon, only for your checking accounts. Since most banks belong to it, screw up at one bank (or in my case, lose the receipt that proves you paid that bank off in full), and they'll hold it against you for at least 5 years, and you won't be able to get a checking account anywhere else. Last time I looked, it would cost me $350 plus the opening minimum deposit to clear up this ChexSystems nonsense from before 2007.
Since I can't get a checking account, there are a lot of places that will hire me, but refuse to pay me--most businesses refuse to issue paper payroll checks anymore, and rely solely on direct deposit. They won't FIRE you, they'll just not pay you. And somehow they can get away with that without being prosecuted into the ground.
I live in a rural area. The city limits of the town my Post Office says I live in is a two-hour walk away. It is the nearest source of employment. I don't have a car because I can't afford one, but I can't find a job without walking at least two hours in either the hot Kentucky sun, or the chilling Kentucky wind, and looking a wreck when I actually get to anywhere hiring.
And should I find anything in this little podunk town, I will most likely not get it. It's the kind of town where everyone knows everybody, so one irrational dislike will lead you to becoming a pariah quickly. I can't get a job in the service industry, either, because I can't afford dental care. Nobody will hire a waiter with a broken smile.
I can't look in other towns, with more possibilities, because I can't afford the gas money required to borrow a vehicle. $10 might as well be "I won the lottery!" to me, and spending it on an all-day job hunt in another town, which rarely turns up any possibilities, only becomes more complicated if I actually become employed in said town. How do I expect to borrow someone's car for enough paychecks to buy a clunker of my own?
I cannot get a credit card. My credit is shot because my student loans are in default--between my inability to find stable work, and outright lying by my lenders. I could get a secured credit card to raise my score (a whopping 502!), but that would require a deposit of cash. At a bank.
Banks are institutions, like credit companies, that only make money if you're poor. They charge you to use your own money, money you've earned, and they charge you more when you run out. They cannot remain viable unless you are in debt. This means I have to resort to cash, which I cannot use online (where most of my shopping is done, due to my lack of a vehicle), and most businesses frown nowadays if you aren't paying with credit or debit. I've actually been turned out of an establishment for attempting to pay in cash.
Furthermore, because of their consistency to charge excessive fees when they know (as they're handling your money) that you cannot afford them, banks and credit corporations are actually creating money out of thin air; charging you dollars that don't physically exist, because there's no caps on what they can charge. The U.S. Gov't does this as well, leading us to our current economic issue:
The more money "exists", the less each bit of it is worth.
By charging you cash that doesn't physically exist, cash that's already well beyond its ability to be backed by tangible assets, banks and credit unions are getting rich with invisible money WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY completely devaluing the American dollar.
So, let's review:
- I cannot get a job without a bank account.
- I cannot get a job without a car.
- I cannot get a car without a bank account.
- I cannot get a car without better credit.
- I cannot get a bank account without a job.
- I cannot get better credit without a job.
- I cannot get a car without a job.
- I cannot afford basic dental or healthcare without a job.
- I have been turned away from jobs for my dental problems.
- I have been turned away from jobs due to my credit rating.
If, after reading this, you still believe that the current economic system of deflating the dollar by backing it with government trust and no actual tangible value, leaving it to be created and destroyed at whim digitally by banks, credit companies, and the U. S. Government, actually works, please either
- Give me some of the billions in your bank account, or
- Go have your head examined.
Hope your health insurance covers that.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
All that being said, chris (can we call you "chris"?), you do not have the best PR stance.
I understand rappers are also average joes (one of my favorites told me just last night "WE IS ALL PEOPLE!"). I understand everybody gets down sometimes, and when people say things that hurt our feelings, we get a little bent about it. The difference is how we handle it.
I'm neither rich nor famous, so I can't say I know how you feel, but when people I don't know talk shit about me I handle it like an adult. I don't focus on it for days or weeks, making mad multiple posts on FB and Twitter about how I'm sick of the haters.
Fuck, I wish I HAD me some haters. That's how you know you made it. If I had bitches talking shit about me all the time, I'd know I was famous enough to flame. That's a big deal.
Yet, everytime someone talks trash about you, you let it get personal. You let it get inside you and fester and hurt your feelings and make it out to be more than it is. Some people are jealous. They will talk shit. That's a professional issue, not a personal one. It's got to do with your professional persona, and your music, and your fame.
Maybe they're jealous, maybe they genuinely don't like your music and they have nothing better to do with their lives but troll you because they can't get laid. Whatever the reason, LET. THEM. TALK. SHIT.
Every time you respond to your WHOLE FANBASE the way you have recently, two things happen:
- Kissasses come out of the woodwork to dick-ride you in hopes that you'll acknowledge their puny existence.
- You lose real fans.
That first group is gonna love you no matter what you do, because you're famous and they're not. They're not real fans, they're nut-huggers from the Alien porn parody, riding your dick because you're famous and they aren't. They're living vicariously through you, and may or may not actually give two half-price fucks about you or your music genuinely.
That second group, though? That second group is the group that comes to your shows because they like what you do. They buy your records because they fucking love your music. They go to your shows because they love hearing your rants. They're loyal, but they're not blind. They love you, but not enough to put up with abuse.
I'm in this second group. I fucking LOVE your music. Your tunes are the seed for my most-listened-to Pandora playlist, I blare your shit in the car, I listen to it while I code and game and read comics and shit. I'm forever telling people to check your music out, give you a chance, quoting your song lyrics as evidence of genius.
But I won't be spoken to that way.
I respect your art, and your struggles, but I respect myself, too. And if you don't respect me, as a fan, then maybe you don't deserve fans. I'll just file you away in the box marked "Makes Great Music, But Is A Total Douchebag" with Kanye "What-A-Twat" West.
I'm sorry you've had it rough lately, mc, but don't take it out on your fans. Don't. It's bullshit, and we don't fucking deserve it.
In closing, let me try my hand at this "rap shit":
that you're the most stylish,
But Donald Glover picked the wrong name:
bitch, you bein' childish.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Pro-tolerance shouters want every religion to be "right." They want every religion to be seen as the right path "for you." They're religious individualists, believing that whatever you choose to believe is accurate and correct, that all religions share the truth, and that everyone will go to their faith's afterlife when they die. This is not tolerance. This is pluralism.
Anti-tolerance loudmouths say that none but their religion (or no religion, as the case may be) is "right." They want every other religion to be seen as the wrong path, publicly, for everyone. They're religious fundamentalists (or atheists) that insist that all views but theirs are rooted in superstition and lies, and that everyone but them (or no one) will go to an afterlife at all when they die, and therefore, only their way should be taught. This is not tolerance. This is ignorance.
Both of these camps believe that "tolerance" means "acceptance of truth" when religion is involved; that to have "religious tolerance" is to agree that all religions are true in their own ways. Tolerance is not acceptance of truth.
Tolerance, according to Google, means "the ability or willingness to tolerate (Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference) something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with."
For those of you following along at home, that means "religious tolerance" doesn't mean "all religions are right", it just means "a right to all religions." You don't have to believe the words of Moses, Christ, or Mohammed to tolerate Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. You don't have to believe Ganesh exists to tolerate Hinduism. Your answer to the famous Lovin' Spoonful song does not make you a Wiccan by default. Believing God is nonexistent is not a prerequisite for tolerating atheism. And believing in creationism doesn't mean you don't "tolerate" science.
Whatever your worldviews, whatever your faith (or lack thereof) teaches, religious tolerance is not "everyone is right." It just means "your faith is not my faith, but you have a right to have it."
Religious tolerance of this sort, the true sort, the sort where you keep your own beliefs in the absolute nature of your own faith, while acknowledging that others exist, is the sort that will start to bring about real conversations between faiths.
You don't have to like what they believe. Just know they have a right to believe it, even if you think it's wrong.
Friday, September 16, 2011
That means I'm crazy. And spastic. And prone to bouts of depression, self-loathing, anger, and all manner of egotism. Whatever I feel, when I feel it, is the most real it's ever been.
Which means that my bad days are really, really bad. This was one of them.
But, as long as the Good Lord keeps making pussy and pork fat, I'll have something to live for.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I'd to take a moment, on his birthday, to thank one of these people. He has helped me learn to solve my problems without fear or violence, he has shown me that there are a near-infinite number of solutions to almost every problem, and he has encouraged me to think outside the box.
He has helped me to make the greatest friendships with the greatest people I have ever known. He has given me a safe place to explore my personality, from either side of the cardboard screen. He's given this nerd boy something to do all those Saturday nights I could never get a date, and a place to show just what kind of person I can be. He's helped me tell stories in grand ways, and taught me the value of random chance. The worlds he created have been my imagination's playground for years, and I can only hope that my children, and their children, will appreciate them the way that I do.
Ernest Gary Gygax, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, thank you. Thank you for giving me a place to ask all those questions that don't fit into a normal day. Thank you for letting me use dice to understand that life isn't always fair, and to use my INT and CHA scores to overcome that. Thank you for showing me that DEX is far more useful than brute STR, that Craft (anything) really is worthwhile, and for helping me improve my Perform checks. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet the greatest adventuring party a guy could have, and letting this guild of wayfarers spread the joy of the worlds you've created to others.
I don't think it's a coincidence that you share initials with the phrase "good game." I think there's some cosmic humor in that fact that underlines the importance you've had in the industry, and in our hearts. I don't think I'd be the same without that printed cardboard screen, or those plastic dice in my hands. I don't think I'd be the person I am without the influence of Dungeons & Dragons, and your sense of adventure and wonder.
Thank you, Gary Gygax. Happy birthday, and until we can meet in the other plane, gg GG.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
In a move highly reminiscent of that, my friend Dennis Sharpe is having a summer giveaway to show appreciation for his readers and fans. You can check out the details here. Be sure to enter as many ways as you can, and good luck to you all!
Friday, July 8, 2011
I remember when I was a child, I dreamt of becoming an author. I read so many articles in copies of Writer's Journal and Writer's Digest my father would buy me on trips to Paducah.Once, he bought me a massive great book with all kinds of tips for being published. He's always been big on my writing, Dad has. Mom has, too, but it's not the same for her. She doesn't enjoy reading like Dad and I do, and Dad's written a few things he should get published.
That's the thing that really surprises me. I mean, growing up, if you'd told me there'd be a day when I wouldn't have to beg a publisher, or defend my artistic vision to an agent, or compromise my story for the sake of what some bigwig thought, I'd have told you to stop getting my hopes up. It was just a pipe-dream that I could get my work out there in the same way that I wrote it, and a lottery to be published.
While that's still true for traditional publishing, technological advances and the oversaturation of the Internet in our lives has led to a kazillion ways for artists to share their work that they never, ever could have in the past, with audiences they never would've reached even five or ten years ago. It's utterly amazing to me.
That being said, it shifts the legwork of editing, publicity, and all that other jazz to the author, but I think that not only gives me more control, but makes me a more well-rounded businessman. I'm willing to do the work if it gets me what I want, as long as I can keep my head out of the Pessimist Pond it settles into sometimes.
My father has always been hard on me when it comes to employment. If I miss a day of work, even if I'm sick, it's a lecture. God help me if I quit a perfectly good job. My whole being was brought into amazement, then, when the last time I suggested getting a job all my father said was "I think you should write."
Maybe if this goes over well, he'll publish a few of his own works?
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
That may be, but when's the last time you saw Inigo Montoya have "Fencer's Block?"
Daedaleus at Silver Pen Scribe sent me a link to a humorous blog post today entitled "Six Signs It's High Time to Give Up Writing". Hilariously written as it is, reading through it, I started to really get down on myself. I mean, seriously, I'm at least four of those six things, why do I even bother with this writing nonsense? I spend more time complaining about Writer's Block than I do attempting to write, and this "author's" blog I'm posting in has maybe two works in it, and one of those is an ill-conceived nerd-rap. What am I doing?
It's easy to get discouraged, especially in this game. Quick! Name five authors you adore, whose works you will always buy, but who have never had a best-seller or a film/television adaptation of their work...ready...GO! See? Most of you can't. The writers' biz is like a more exaggerated version of life: the ones that do well do very well, and the rest we never hear from. In a further similarity, having talent is less likely to assure you success than any other factor; most of the famous authors have simply found a niche and churned out whatever that audience will buy in a rabid frenzy of fandom. Makes it hard for those of us that do it because we love it to get anywhere.
Let's step back a few paces. I come from a very creative family. My mother's side is very artistic, musically, and she herself is quite a whiz with a camera or a scrapbook layout. My father's family can build or craft anything you'd like, and he (like myself) has been known to be both a writer and an inventor at times. My brothers, though you may never see it until you talk to them, are some of the greatest storytellers I know, even if they occasionally have problems putting it into words. I was taught to read at a very early age, and I started writing because I love to read. I wanted to give something back. From this perspective, it seems what Daedaleus says about me is true, maybe I really am "inkblooded."
The extension of this is that I also have very creative friends. Like Daedaleus, most of them are writers. My second-favorite sparring partner is working on his own novel as he's helping me power through mine. A few of them are fellow poets, or scribblers of short stories. A few of them are bloggers. Many of them are also either musicians, or actors, or sculptors, or painters, or some unholy combination thereof. I am attracted to these kinds of people, because they always spur me to greater and greater forms of expression myself. I've always said that man is no closer to God than when he engages in the Master's favorite pastime, and creation is what abounds when I'm near this lot I've chosen.
Some of them frustrate me at times. One, in particular (who is probably reading this over his second pot of coffee for the day, saying "That sneaky motherfu--" between sips), has published at least 3 books of poetry (you should buy them) and a novel (you should buy it, too) since this time last year. He even conned me into a short film. He's constantly blogging about his work, tweeting about his work, screaming about his work, sharing his work over coffee (which I'm pretty sure replaced the blood in his circulatory system about twenty years ago), or otherwise pimping himself. It annoys the shit out of me.
Mind you, it's not that his work isn't good (it's amazing). And it's not that his work doesn't deserve to be pimped (it does). And it's not even that he shouldn't pimp his work (he should, because he's having to do all the marketing legwork himself). It's just that he's done all this, sold all these copies, been noticed by all these folks, gotten all these amazing reviews (a few of which I penned myself), and I can't even get out of the damn gate. I can't get a peer review, even in the draft stages, to save my life unless I beg people I've never physically met to read it through the vastness of the Great Aether. And I get SO. DAMN. SICK of feeling like a complete burden to all these people I get second opinions from. I mean, with as many creative people as I know, I should be able to find someone to read this crap I splatter across a page, right? I mean, without resorting to begging through blogs or forum-stalking, or something? Hell, even this blog was named for my tendency to do half the work, then sit back waiting for a pat on the head.
Part of it is that I've always had a problem with praise, and that's all I get from friends. Whether they genuinely like my work, or are kissing my beautiful, round, well-sculpted ass, I can never tell. I trust my friends to be honest, too, it's just that sometimes I think they're biased in subtle ways. So maybe this self-whoring to complete strangers is the best? Or maybe I should just give up on the thought that I could, should, would need external advice and just do what I got in this to do.
Tell fucking stories.
- Silver Pen Scribe, blog home of Matthew Gill
- StudioNashvegas, home of Mitch Canter, an old friend and "Nashville's best WordPress designer."
- d20 Dad, blog of friend and former roomie/MtG opponent/co-editor Justin Burgin
- Words of a Witless Lackey, blog of author Dennis Sharpe. Check out his Twitter feed and his books:
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
To understand the severity of this, you must first note that I grew up a "DOS baby." (For you young pups and non-techies, MS-DOS stands for "Microsoft's Disk Operating System", which was the precursor to Windows.) When my mother went to school for computer-aided drafting courses, she purchased a computer--our first as a family--with this curious program called Windows 3.1 on it. I was young, and knew from movies that Macintosh had GUI's, (graphical user interface) but all the cool stuff was done at a command prompt. Since Windows still had a DOS-dependency, we considered it a "sometimes" tool; just another shell instead of the full-fledged OS it has since become.
Instead, we mainly stayed in the comforting white-on-black screen of DOS, hacking in commands with a keyboard. No waiting for clicks to be registered, or the GUI to catch up; commands were executed as soon as the hardware allowed, as fast as you could type. My first programming experience was in BASIC, in a DOS-based text editor, before I was in the 4th grade. It did much to sow the seeds of geekdom into my life. Since then, my typing speed and knowledge of MS-DOS command prompts lets me use a Windows machine with a keyboard faster than most users can with a mouse.
So why switch? A few reasons. In an effort to cement their near-monopoly on the personal computing world, Microsoft has made sure each successive release of Windows is more "user-friendly." In actuality, what this means is that every other "stable" release (in my experience) is completely unusable:
- 3.1: Good
- 95: Terrible.
- 98: Functional
- ME: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA--*deep breath*--AHAHAHAHA
- XP: Stable, functional, amazing.
- Vista: see "ME"
- 7: Gorgeous, but crippled.
In addition to this, while the command prompt interface still exists, it is largely incapable of the type of versatility I have come to expect from a Command Line Interface (CLI), is horrifically slow, and typically has issues conversing with modern hardware in logical ways. Furthermore, Windows 7 completely destroyed the Search feature, making it nearly impossible to find anything you're looking for in a hurry. While each release of Windows tries harder to help new users pick up computers easily, anyone who knows what they're doing in any capacity quickly finds themselves frustrated with Microsoft's designs, and the software's HAL9000-esque tendency to do whatever it wants, regardless of user input.
I have long been a proponent of educational aid for the masses when it comes to learning new things, but (in almost every instance) the phrase "user-friendly" has come mean a dumbing-down of the product to such a point that it is no longer customizable, even in non-tech fields (see my rant about the Dungeons & Dragons equivalent.) Instead of preventing users from making mistakes by accidentally--oh, gods!--customizing the product to their needs, why don't we just educate users in the proper ways to do so? Don't prevent new users from searching, teach them how to find what they're looking for. The latter is much less frustrating in the long run, and serves to give them a peek under the hood of the most commonly used machine on the planet today.
Perhaps that's the trouble, though. Perhaps they don't want you to be an empowered user; maybe they like the awkwardness of Windows, because they know you're used to it. Change is bad, right? I mean, you'd lose all your files, and couldn't communicate with other machines, and, of course, since Windows is so "user-friendly" (read: "crippled"), surely any other operating system would be too hard for you to understand, right?
Linux is different, but not inherently harder. Linux has (free) programs that handle most daily tasks undertaken by Windows users (internet, email, instant messaging, word processing, file management, video/music players) in most of the formats currently in use by Windows users. Linux has (free) programs that handle other things Windows users like to keep up with (recipe books, geneaology software, flashcards) but have a hard time finding. Linux also has many (free) programs that handle a great deal of things the majority of current Windows users currently don't use (photo/image editing, sound editing, video editing, computer animation, CAD software) but could love to tinker with if the opportunity arose, and it didn't put them out-of-pocket.
Ubuntu (and other Linux distros with GUIs) still use the "click this!" interfacing Windows users are so familiar with, but additionally support a powerful CLI terminal for advanced tasks. Ubuntu uses either (with Unity in the newest release) a top-mounted taskbar and gorgeous graphic side-bar, or (pre-Unity "classic" look) a top and bottom bar to help you manage your tasks. It uses four workstations (think your "desktop"), on which you can organize a variety of different tasks. Ubuntu has a "trash" icon similar to your "Recycle Bin", that works in the same way. Overall, it's just basically getting used to where stuff is.
No, scratch that. It's easier. Ubuntu has a program that browses, searches, downloads, and installs software from a great, large repository with one click--many programs you'll need are either already installed, or available here without the hassle of typical installations. Other installation methods do exist, but I'm not used to them enough to comment (hopefully I'll figure out this .tar.gz stuff soon), and I've only run into them on one occasion for an obscure program. Ubuntu comes standard with Mozilla's Firefox, one of the best overall browsers in existence, as well as an email client, social networking post-manager, and multi-protocol instant messaging client not only standard, but integrated into the taskbar at the top so you never even have to fiddle with them unless you feel like it. Ubuntu installs your programs where it needs to, while making them easy-to-locate in the OS menus, and the "My Documents" replacement (your "home" folder), is 15x better, easier to deal with, and less cluttered than what you're used to. Ubuntu can even run WINE, which lets you run many Windows applications on a virtual machine in other operating systems. It really just takes a little getting used to.
Did I mention that Ubuntu, and most of the software that runs in it, is completely free? I don't just mean "free as in speech", but also "free as in beer." Most users don't notice it, but the Windows OS costs them thousands of dollars over time. In addition to the costs of extra programming (which typically costs anywhere from $50 to $1500, depending on what you need), the Windows OS itself costs you between $100-$300 every time you buy a computer. You don't notice it because it's tacked onto the price of the computer itself, but if you've ever had to buy a new copy of Windows for your machine, or upgrade, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Ubuntu is free.
Let me say that again.
Ubuntu. Is. Free.
Get that? You won't pay a dime for it. Period. You can download it for free from the website listed below, or you can have them mail you a CD for the cost of postage only. It's free. And most of the software on it? It's free, too. Not only is it free, most Linux software is open-source, as well. If you aren't sure what that means, it means that the code that makes your programming run is open to the public--to public proofreading, public improvement, public suggestion, and public scrutiny. What this does is allow for improvements to be made by drawing from a larger pool of expertise than just your in-house programmers. This is a big deal in the area of quality control, as it means that basically the whole world's eyes are on your programming ability.
Still not sure if Linux is right for you? Try it out. Ubuntu has many different options to choose from; you can install it inside Windows (via the Wubi installer)to get a feel for it, or you can put in bootable USB device or CD, restart your computer, and "Try Ubuntu without installing it." I recommend the latter option (I haven't tried the former), as it will let you poke around in full Ubuntu mode without actually changing anything at all on your physical computer. If you like what you see, call a local geek to back up all your old files (so you can use them with these shiny new programs) and help you install it on your machine. If you don't, you're literally not out anything but time.
Give it a chance. It's not as hard as it looks, and it's quite rewarding. As your knowledge of Linux grows, so will your capailities to customize the system to your liking. If I can do it, you can, too.
- Get Ubuntu
- Ubuntu Wiki
- Ubuntu Forums
- "Ubuntu Linux vs. Windows Vista The Battle for your Desktop" at InformationWeek
- "Windows 7 vs. Ubuntu 9.10 - Strengths and Weaknesses", on ZDnet
- "Windows vs Ubuntu - Why Switch?", on TALLblog
- "Relationship Stress Test", a tale of teaching a significant other how to use Linux, on The Blog of Helios
In a bit of irony, I used Notepad on WINE to hold the seeds of this entry before I posted it to the Great Aether. I'm still new to this Linux thing, and I don't know where everything is, but I'm learning. And learning FAST
I have, through recent rainpocalyptic events, been staying with friends recently. I didn't make it home in time for Mother's Day, which upsets me, but I'm working on salvaging my mother's computer from the scrap heap. Perhaps that is gift enough to last me until my dear mother's birthday, when I will once again have to scramble like a madman on a newsie's salary to find something she'll enjoy.
The rain finally let up slightly, which is a great relief; It means I can put away the canoe blueprints as a means of grocery shopping. It got relatively bad there for a bit, though. Paducah was seeing record highs, and the creek down the way from my friends' home was lapping over the tops of the bridge nearly daily. After a visit from a few of our friends, we had to make a midnight run to the other side of knee-deep water to help them move their car away from the rising fury. Obligatory joke that starts with "So Jesus, the Devil, and a Hippie try to move a car..."
I ran my first "real" adventure the other day. I've DM'd in the past, but never with a set module. I'm prone to improvisation behind the screen, and oftentimes it leaves my players with a wonderful story, but few records as to the mechanics of their accomplishments. It isn't uncommon at all for me to eschew dice rolls except to appease them, seeing if they can think and role-pay their way out of problems. I decided it was time to be a real DM, though, and make the dice count. I chose the Pathfinder system, and found a suitable adventure for my players, who had expressed an interest in a full, level 1+ campaign experience. They are, by and large, inexperienced--we all are. Sure, most of my gaming group (which is actually two gaming groups that occasionally intersect) know how to play well enough to get by, but we tend to have short, one-off adventures, and never get to really spend time with our characters. Because of that, we never get to see progressions as well as we'd like, and I sought to change that. According to word-of-mouth and my Twitter mentions, I'm doing a decent job so far. I can only hope they have as much fun playing under me as I have playing under the evil-DM-grin of Daedaleus.
Speaking of which, old friend, if you're reading this we were compared to the Inklings the other day. I was told that it sounds as though my friends "share [my] immense imagination, knack for storytelling, penchant for writing, and generally awesome worldview." They went on to talk about how it seemed we collaborate and correspond on our various literary adventures (along with other friends), and it seemed like the Jackson Purchase area was due for a few dozen of our amazingly-thought-out plots to hit shelves. I was flattered to the point of near speechless-ness (which, if any of you know me, that is a helluva feat), but managed to squeak out that perhaps we were more like The Lovecraft Circle, in that we're mostly all verbose and mad, but whichever works.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
A warrior, a real one, mourns his enemies as well as he would any friend. He insists on taking non-violent measures to solve problems as often as he can, knowing that his martial prowess gives him an unfair advantage, as well as the fact that all life has an inherent meaning and worth in the eyes of their Creator. While he may kill, he does so when it is to defend the safety of others, or when there is no other choice. He will pray for his enemies, and seek for them to find the error of their ways before they find the point of his sword. If they do not, he will mourn their passing, briefly, and the fact that they have strayed so far from the good path. A true warrior despises war, but undertakes it so that it may ultimately come to an end--that peace may win out, and he will find himself unnecessary in the future...A warrior is a man of peace who willingly sacrifices his ability to achieve it for himself, so that others may know of it. Much like a doctor or a craftsman, he must unfortunately sometimes break a thing in order to fix it
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
but when I’m walkin’ out,
I’m in the bush like Garen.
Bitches like the look of me
and my personality
they buy all my drinks
from my iced tea to Hennessy
They all want a piece of me,
this cake ain’t no lie
Class gets you ass
piled up to the sky,
I ain’t even gotta try,
just open up my parsel-mouth
‘cuz I’m a silver-tongued serpent,
of this there is no doubt.
But I never spit game that ain’t based in truth,
like Obi-Wan, it just depends on your point of view,
and from my view of you
I can tell we ain’t square,
You need more proof?
Just check out this hair--
and like King T,
all you know is I’m “mysturrious”
Women all love me,
I’m artistic and Suavé, like Rico
and on the karaoke mic
I croon ‘em like Dino.
I spit a lot of fire,
but it ain’t without cause,
got bambinas in my lap
like I was Santa Claus
grantin’ Christmas wishes
while I peel off their stockings
Body of Apollo,
with the brain of Stephen Hawking
And if that weren’t enough
to keep your ladies gawking,
My vocabulary is plain damn shocking,
It’s my mastery of language
that keeps the ladies flocking
My poetic skills keep chastity belts unlocking
and bedposts rocking--
I’m a cunning linguist
and they like the way I get down
oral oratorial master of the verb and noun
makin’ your nose red, ‘cuz you’sa fuckin’ clown,
single-handedly keepin’ your bed lookin’ like a ghost town,
while all your best ladies line up just to lie down.
Dr. House’s rule of grammar: Everybody lies.
and in the end, sad it seems, everyody dies.
It’s the time in-between
that’s this actor’s scene.
If all the world’s a stage, and people just players,
I’m goin’ out for the lead, and y’all can play the haters.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
For my friend at SilverPenScribe
The Lonely Goat was a quiet little tavern in a quiet little town. The bar was lit by lantern-light, and the fireplace granted the only other appreciably source of illumination on this dimly lit winter's night. Though the wind outside howled like a starving winterworg pack, the hearth kept the inn warm enough for conversation and relaxation, a boon so far away from “proper” civilization. And though the interior was dark, the decorations didn't suffer for it; one didn't need more than candlelight to see the beautiful barwenches' soft curves floating carelessly in dances of servitude to customers lusting after a warm bowl of porridge and a well-shaped backside. This tiny hamlet didn't have much in the way of industry or culture, but the farmers produced more than hardy crops.
In fact, this little tavern kept the town alive during the harsh winters. Huddled for warmth, most of the townsfolk spent most of their days socializing and drinking, only going home to sleep. The few travelers that passed through stopped here for the waitresses and mead, both reportedly the best for miles. Today, the handful of half-drunk patrons in the building were gazing like half-dead cattle at the bottom of their flagons, waiting for day's end. That is, until the door opened.
Most doors open with a creak, a whine, a groan. This one did not. Mind you, this was not the fault of Bulwyf the Carpenter, who crafted the door; nor was this soundless occasion the work of Hrothbrand the Smith, who fashioned the hinges. This soundless ingress was caused by the cloaked figure opening it. All sound around him dimmed; even his footfalls were scarce as angels' breaths. The grey figure glided effortlessly across the floor to a chair in the corner, followed closely by a black-and-white Elkhound. A white-gloved hand carefully lifted a broad-brimmed blue hat and tossed it to the table with a dextrous flip. Pulling the chair back, the man lowered his bag to the ground. The Elkhound lay at his feet under the table, wagging his tail in time to a beat no other ear could hear. The man tugged off his gloves and tucked them into his leather belt, and pushed his dark blonde braids behind his ear. Adjusting the black patch over his left eye, he reached slowly into the bag at his feet. He began to strum the lyre it produced, matching the rhythm of his hound.
Copper coins flew across the bar into the hat upon the table. Patrons pushed back their chairs, pulling waitresses into dances. Poetry and song filled the air, as the man sang of great deeds and heroes of ancient days. The tavern erupted in song and appreciation, cares melting away as the snows would in spring. The tempo changed, and the dancing subsided. The lyrics shifted to those of lost loves and broken hearts, and the skald's voice receded like the tide, leaving nothing but a whisper that spoke of experience and truth. The hound lowered his head to his paws, and his tail lowered.
The song was cut short by an abrupt slam—the sound the doors should have made earlier—as the heavy tromp of boots splashed mud upon the hardwood floor. A massive orc, clad in furs and armor, clearly out of breath, screamed a harsh greeting into the tavern. “Where is the song-thief? Give him to me, and you all will live.”
A honey-sweet voice came from the corner. “Gentle soul, come! Have a seat by me, and we'll discuss your grievances. I'll even pay for your ale.”
“Song-thief! You stole from my tribesmen! Those goods were worth three times the price you paid, and--”
“And your chieftain agreed to that price.” The blue-and-grey clad gentleman returned his lyre to its proper place, dropping his boots to the floor. “I'm not in the habit of breaking business transactions simply because someone raises their voice. I ask you again, please sit, and we shall rectify this situation.”
“You are a swine! And your dog shall roast on our spit tonight if you do not return what you have stolen!”
“You mean, dearest friend, what I rightfully purchased. I, Faraldir Brísi, am an honest man. I'll tell you what: my goods are stored with my horse, in the stables. We'll go and fetch them now, since you feel I've wronged you so. You can take what I bought from you, and you can even keep the money I paid, provided you leave these lovely people to the fun they were having only moments ago. Is that a fair deal, Warrior-born?”
“All of it! No tricks.”
Brísi ordered the orc a drink for his troubles, and the pair walked out, the bard's arm around the warrior's shoulders. Silence stood inside the hall as without; only the snow hitting the shutters sounded over the crackle of the fire. Within moments, Brísi returned, holding a fresh shank of meat. Tossing it under the table, he scratched his faithful companion's ears. “Magni, my boy, you'll eat good tonight.”
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Fear will always exist. No one is truly, completely fearless; to be fearless is to be foolish. What matters isn't to release fear, but to weigh it against what you seek to gain and hold to that goal, through the pain and the anguish and the wrenched bones and shattered teeth. Hold fear dear, for it is what gives your actions meaning--the greater the fear, the greater we must be to overcome it. Without fear, life has no challenges; there is nothing to overcome, no victories to be had. Cradle your fear, like you cradle your mortality--keep it close to you, enough to smell it, to know it's there, waiting for you to falter from your path. Keep it close enough to you that when you triumph, it can taste your victory, and it can feel its defeat.