September 30, 2003

Credit Cards and Posting Angst

I've never been in debt. Okay, that's not entirely true. Yes, I've been in the kind of debt where I had to make car payments, and I'm currently in the kind of debt that says I have to make house payments.

I've never been in credit card debt, however. Truth be told, I've never even owned a credit card. I don't trust them. I've been conditioned not to trust them thanks to many years of living with college roommates.

Most of my college roommates had this weird outlook on credit cards. Basically, they thought credit cards were magical pieces of plastic that just magically paid for things and that they were somehow immune from the the ensuing debt that came about due to excessive credit card spending.

I'll admit it: I was sort of jealous of my roommates and their magical credit cards. After all, they always seemed to have money and, if they didn't, they just whipped out their credit cards. Books? Put them on the credit card. Food? Put it on the credit card. Night out at a strip club? credit card.

And yet there I was writing checks and budgeting like a fool. I remember thinking that I was doing everything all wrong. I mean, there I would sit, meticulously lording over my finances, while my roommates went waltzing all over town swiping their credit cards with the careless glee of a six-year-old with a loaded pistol.

Then, one year, I was a roommate with a guy named Chad. Chad was actually a former high school classmate of mine. He was, and is, a tech-head. He's one of those guys who was born to know technology. Way back in elementary school, he taught me how to write simple programs for the Apple IIc, and he always just seemed to know everything about computers.

But he didn't know shit about personal finances. He whipped out any one of his many credit cards with the swiftness and ease of a Old West gunslinger. By the time we became roommates, he had already accrued over $10,000 in credit card debt.

I remember thinking what an incredibly large amount of money that seemed to be, especially when I factored in the understanding that he also received financial aid, and that he also worked. Granted, he worked at the local Brach's candy factory on the Gummi Bear line, which paid about as well as you might imagine, but it was still money, so I came to the conclusion that old Chad was a pretty carefree spender.

Well, one day, I popped into Chad's outrageously messy room where I noticed, tucked between two huge bags of pilfered defective Gummi Bears, a credit card notice that was slugged "Urgent!" and another that was slugged "Immediate Payment Required" and still another that read "We Break Fingers And Toes."

Then the calls started coming in, usually two or three a day. "Is Mr. Haugen available? We really need to speak with him." No, he's not here. "Are you sure you're not really Mr. Haugen?" Yes, I'm sure. "Well, when he comes in, have him call Mike at Discover immediately." *sound of shotgun cocking* Will do.

Chad was masterful when it came to avoiding creditors. He always seemed to leave the apartment just two or three minutes before a creditor called. It was like he had some sort of sixth sense. Which was all fine and dandy, except that I ended up being the intermediary between Chad and the creditors, so I got to absorb all the impatient anger and suspicion of basically every credit card company on the planet.

It was the day a creditor appeared, in person, at our doorstep that I realized Chad's debt situation was probably more dire than Chad cared to admit. There was a knock at the door, I answered, and a gentleman in a suit that looked both impressive and threatening stood before me. He asked to see a Mr. Chad Haugen, at which point I heard a little scuffling emanating from Chad's room as Chad scurried out the back entrance which, conveniently, was located at the far end of his bedroom.

We chatted together, the ominous creditor and me, for about an hour, waiting for Chad to get home, even though, of course, there was no way in holy hell Chad was going to make an appearance while that guy was in our apartment. I even had to produce my ID, so the creditor was satisfied that I wasn't, in fact, Chad Haugen.

After that, I believe, Chad ended up getting a loan from his parents, or somebody, so he could pay off his credit card debt at least enough to keep the creditors at bay. He eventually got a job working at IBM, which was a long-assed commute from Winona to Rochester, but paid a whole lot more than the Gummi Bear line.

As for me, Chad's experience with credit cards pretty much scared me away from plastic for good.

Although it's my default mode to be in a pissy mood, I've been in a particularly pissy mood ever since I read that Layne will be censoring herself in the name of domestic tranquility. The thing is, I haven't been able to figure out WHY I'm extra pissy about it, and if there's one thing about being in a pissy mood, I like it to have FOCUS.

At first, I thought it was because Layne will apparently go from being Anne Frank (without the Nazis) to being Dear Abby, transitioning from her compelling self-analysis textbook transition from rape victim to lesbian, to something akin to a gossip columnist. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn't what was bothering me.

This morning, it hit me. I was pissy because Layne was silencing herself because other people told her to. That bothers the living piss out of me. Ultimately, it comes down to ideological differences between how Layne and I view ourselves as writers. In short, Layne doesn't view herself as a writer. I do. And, as a writer, it drives me absolutely batty if someone tells me not to write something. No one tells me what I can and can not write but me.

My parents stopped reading my blog over a year ago because my mother didn't like reading about my life in such expletive-ridden detail. Fine, I told her, then don't read it. So, she doesn't. Neither does my dad. I mention my girlfriend, Melissa, all the time, and she reads me frequently. My only rule about posting about her is that I don't mention her last name. That's MY rule, not hers. She gets mad sometimes when she reads about herself and she doesn't agree with my interpretation of events. Then I tell her, fine, don't read it.

Some girlfriends don't like to hear or read about a guy's past girlfriends or sexual exploits. Strangely, Melissa can't get enough of the stories of my romantic and sexual past, so that's really never been an issue. But, even if it were an issue, I'd still write about them if and when I wanted to.

It comes down to this: if you're afraid to write something out of fear of someone getting mad or disagreeing, eventually the only thing you'll end up writing about is the antics of the family pet.

And if you don't have a family pet, then you're really fucked.

Posted by Ryan at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2003

Taking A Leak From The White House

Um, okay, I'm just curious here, but:

"He wasn't involved," he said of Rove. "The president knows he wasn't involved. ... It's simply not true." -- White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

So, if the president knows he wasn't involved, doesn't it stand to reason to think that he must then know who was involved? I mean, look at the language here. How can the President know someone isn't involved in something unless he knows who is invovolved in something? Taken even further, if Bush knows something about the leak which, I take from the quote, he does, then he's guilty of at least standing knowingly idly by while a federal law was broken.

Something's rotten here.

UPDATE: Then again, maybe not.

Posted by Ryan at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)

I'm A Renaissance Man

There are moments in life where you just KNOW you're about to be taken for a financial ride. For me, one of those moments came Saturday when I went to the last weekend of Minnesota's Renaissance Festival and, despite an entry fee of $16.95, I paid it anyway.

TICKET LADY: Here's your ticket, sir. Now, if you will just bend over ever so deeply and clutch your own ankles, you may proceed to the entrance.

ME: Thank you.

Did you know that "Renaissance," loosely translated, means "gullible broken idiot?" Really, it's true.

I only attended one other Renaissance Festival, and I was just a child at the time. But, I remember thinking, even then, that it seemed to be a lot to do about nothing. Granted, some of the shows are entertaining, and I can never resist the allure of walking around with a massive grilled turkey leg grasped in my hand like Twisted Sister, but aside from that, the Renaissance Festival is more or less the State Fair all over again, except with people in costumes.

And what's with the costumes? As a child, I thought the folks in costume were hired to give the festival an authentic feel. Not so. All those maidens and gents milling around wearing tights and chain mail and dresses are wearing those ensembles BECAUSE THEY WANT TO. It's like a Dungeons & Dragons convention gone horribly awry. I don't mean to belittle the folks who actually have Renaissance wear in their closets, which they drag out each year at the same time so they can "go native" at the Festival. But, still. I mean, COME ON, it's 50 frippin degrees out! You can't be comfortable in knee-length pantaloons, shirts cut off at the shoulder, and a chilly chain mail head protector. You just can't be. And, really. . . CHAIN MAIL? Are you expecting a drive by swording or something? *grumble, grumble*

I eventually became miffed at Melissa, who had a declared goal of walking around the festival grounds, sipping from a goblet of wine. Okay. Fine. But, first, we had to find a goblet. No problem. We were at the Renaissance Festival, after all. Goblets were plentiful. After a disturbing amount of goblet searching, with Melissa looking for "just the right goblet" (I never knew such a thing existed, by the way), she finally found a ceramic goblet she liked. And it only cost $16 (for a fucking goblet that probably cost 50 cents to make). Then, THEN, Melissa decided she wanted matching goblets, because thought it would be cute if we walked around drinking wine from matching goblets.

*brain stops functioning. Ryan's anger level at critical*

My once-pliant wallet built an immediate barrier at the thought of buying matching overpriced goblets in the name of "being cute." My internal accountant just couldn't justify the purchase. He sat there, cigarette in mouth, clear visor on his head, madly tapping on his tabulating machine, and he came to the inescapable conclusion that "that's just a really fucking stupid purchase, sir."

I informed Melissa that I was not going to buy a single goblet, yet alone two, just so I could walk around shlepping wine on a cold, drizzly day to better fit in with people who have little or no lives.

A battle of wills commenced. Informed that I would not acquiesce to a goblet purchase in any way, shape or form, Melissa, who is perpetually cash strapped due to her student status, went ahead and bought BOTH goblets any way, primarily, I believe, to piss me off.

The hitch, of course, was that, after buying two stupid fucking goblets, she didn't have any money left for. . . get ready. . . WINE.

I had her. She cozied up to me, and asked me for wine money so she could fill her stupid goblets, and I wouldn't hear of it. No way, sister. No chance. Not going to happen. Not on my watch. You got your goblets, and now you have to suffer the consequences.

So, she did what any girlfriend determined to get her way would do: she asked her friend for some money. Her friend ponied up the dough, and Melissa went off and filled her goblet with wine, making a point not to fill BOTH goblets. Fine. I didn't want to drink wine from a stupid fucking goblet any way! Argh!

Relationship fever. Catch it!!

Sunday afternoon, I brought my old computer to my friend, Gozz, who installed Windows 2000 Server so I can start to undertake my long awaited project of moving my blog to an at-home location, complete with fun and flashy graphics and PICTURES. Real, honest-to-goodness pictures. It's both an attempt to make my blog more interesting, while at the same time adding to my Web-based skill set. We shall see how this project evolves.

Posted by Ryan at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2003

Constitutional Convention Ponders "Do Not Call" List

THE SCENE: It's a chilly March afternoon in the Pennsylvania Statehouse in 1787. Delegates from around the nation have been working since February to hammer out the particulars for a new American Constitution. Amidst the intense discussion, the delegates start arguing over the language of a proposed First Amendment.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the. . ."

WILLIAM LIVINGSTON: What about telemarketers?


WILLIAM LIVINGSTON: Well, I was just thinking. You know, what if that whole electricity thing Ben Franklin sitting over there discovered eventually gives rise to the invention of a talking device that brings the world together through special wires.

BEN FRANKLIN: Dude, that would be sweet!

WILLIAM LIVINGSTON: Um, yes. Well, anyway, what if some companies started using the device to bother people at inconsiderate times in an attempt to sell them useless things?

BEN FRANKLIN: That would be, like, a total bummer.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: Yes. I concur. That would be a total bummer. We should do something, immediately, to prevent that from happening.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Very well then. Ahem. "or abridging the freedom of speech, except for in the case of invasive marketing attempts made during dinnertime by an as of yet uninvented instant global communications system, or of the. . ."

JONATHAN DAYTON: Now wait just a darned minute! That's just too wordy. It sounds terrible. Go back to the way it was.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: No, no, no! We have to take action on this right now. We're trying to provide a model of government for the future.

JOHN LANGDON: What about if we tack on a "Do Not Call" list somewhere towards the back?


JOHN LANGDON: A "Do Not Call" list. We'll send out a form to fill out, and every American citizen can decide whether they want to allow themselves to be bothered by invasive marketing attempts made during dinnertime by an as of yet uninvented instant global communications system. We'll gather the responses and staple them to the back.

JOHN LANSING, JR: That's un-Constitutional!

BEN FRANKLIN: Dude, we haven't written it yet.

JOHN LANSING, JR: Oh yeah. Sorry. My bad.

JOHN LANGDON: Then it's agreed. Every so often, however, we'll have to update the list to include new people to our great nation.

JOHN LANSING, JR: That sounds like a lot of extra work, and this thing is getting pretty long as it is. Can't we just trust that future generations will have the common sense to deal with this potential problem on their own?

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: I suppose that sounds reasonable. I mean, there's no way that, 200 years from now, Americans could possibly decide that telemarketing, as Mr. Livingston calls it, should be protected by the First Amendment. I mean, it sounds almost like some sort of stalking behavior, after all.

ENTIRE DELEGATION: *Laughs and nods in agreement.*

Posted by Ryan at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2003

And On A Less Serious Note

I didn't realize that, when Madonna kissed Britney, she ran her hand on her breast. Really, the picture is fascinating.

Posted by Ryan at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

Finally, I Get To Rip On Jill Nelson Again

I was beginning to wonder what happened to the cliche-dropping annoyance that is Jill Nelson. She just disappeared, drowned out of by other, more compelling, opinion columnists. Well, she's back, and she's in her typical mope till you drop form. So, let's begin with the dissection.

As Congress commences hearings on the Bush administration's request for an additional $87 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans and the rest of the world's citizens should be very, very worried.

Yeah, I'm feeling just terrified. In case you aren't familiar with Jill Nelson, she's about as loony left as you can get without falling off the edge of the world. She thinks the war on terrorism should be fought using balloons and squeek toys and that the overall money to fund the "happy fun war" should come from old bed mattresses somewhere. She's as dillusional as a heroin addict gong through DTs, and about as coherent.

WE CAN ONLY HOPE that this time around, unlike in April when Congress approved $79 billion or a year ago when they were deafened by the drumbeats for war, members of Congress — particularly those running for president — will stand firm in challenging the latest round of funding for what from its inception has been an ill-conceived and executed "war on terrorism."

Ah, it only took her until the second paragraph to dig into her cliche bag and draw forth "drumbeats of war." It's all about the drumbeats with her. Stop beating those drums, George W!! What really bothers me about Nelson is that she constantly, CONSTANTLY, drops paragraphs like the one above, but she never, and I mean NEVER, offers up any alternatives for how the U.S. should fight the war on terrorism, although one suspects by reading her that she'd like to build a huge wall around American and hide under her bed waiting for the first airborne shipment of anthrax to blow under her door.

It's clear that in spite of the bodies and bombings, the administration is steadfast in its refusal to recognize the debacle of its own making. George W. Bush's speech yesterday to the U.N. General Assembly was like déjà vu all over again (with apologies to Yogi Berra, who, unlike Bush, was on a winning team).

See what I mean? Bodies and bombings. . . alliteration at its finest, summing up how she perceives the war in Iraq. It's like the rumenations of a three-year old. Okay, Timmy, what is war all about? Bodies and bomings. And a quick cliche check: deja vu all over again. And she even threw in a barb about Bush not winning the last presidential election, because Jill is perpetually stuck in 2001. I sometimes wonder if she's personally hand counting the Florida ballots, chad and all, to vindicate her delusions. Listen. I didn't vote for Bush. I won't vote for him in '04. And, although I'm still amazed that the Supreme Court stepped in to stop the recount (an overstepping of Court power the likes of which has never been seen), it should be obvious, to anyone with half a functioning brain, that Gore lost Florida. He lost Florida. Gore did not win Florida, and because of that, he lost the electoral college. I don't care that he won the popular vote. It's totally irrelevant. In true Constitutional form, Bush won the election. The hypocrisy of folks like Jill Nelson is this: they decry, rightly so, that homeland security infringes on our Constitutional rights, and yet they yelp and scream that Bush lost the election, forgetting completely that he won as per the requirements set forth by the Constitution. Which is it folks? Constitution: burn it or embrace it?

There was no acknowledgement from the president that the war in Iraq has plunged the United States and the world into a quagmire with no end in sight. Or that to unilaterally wage a war that was opposed by most of the nations of the world undermines democracy and the possibility of world peace. Or that, having done so to disastrous effect, the United States now desperately needs the help of the United Nations to stabilize and rebuild of Iraq and provide a patina of legitimacy. Instead, Bush was the wolf in sheep's clothing, mouthing words of democracy, humanitarian concern and peace, while not budging on crucial issues such as the relinquishing control over that devastated nation.

Ah, Jill's favorite word: quagmire. And for those of you who like cliches, she offers up "wolf in sheep's clothing." And yet, despite her lamentations, she doesn't offer up even a semblance of an alternative. It's just, "Bush sucks," and that's about it. She also clings to her love of the United Nations, as if handing control of Iraq over to that odd conglomeration of "hug everyone" and corruption could do anything in Iraq but pass 20 resolutions, resolving to resolve to think about maybe, perhaps, you know, in the future, providing clean water in Baghdad. Thank you, no, I'll take the coalition of the willing and their engineers any day over the hobbled institution that is the U.N.

In spite of the pundits' strenuous efforts to spin the Bush speech as something new and important, the truth is that it was the same old, same old. Bush's passing mention of the need for AIDS relief, aggressive action against the international sex trade, and an end international slavery was overshadowed by the ominous cloud of Iraq and his self-declared "war on terrorism."

Did you know that the war on terrorism was "self-declared" by Bush? News to me. I could have sworn, in the days following 9/11, that most nations of the world vowed to fight terrorism. Cliche check: "same old, same old," and "ominous cloud."

In the end, what the president wants from American taxpayers, Congress and the members of the United Nations is not critical discussion and united action, but money and bodies for Iraq. With an election in 2004, Americans are already saddled with a failing economy; the prospect of having to ante up another $87 billion to rebuild post-war Iraq — that's just the latest installment. With our sons and daughters being shot and blown up by insurgents there, we might not be so eager to pull the lever and give Bush four more years without someone else to help us pay the monetary and human price.

Yep, because, in Jill's mind, dead American soldiers, those sons and daughters, are being shot up with such frequency they're being stacked up like firewood. One would almost think, by reading Jill, that she sort of WANTS American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan to fail. Anything to ensure Bush loses in '04. She sees war. She sees $87 billion dollars. She refuses to see a world without Saddam. She rufuses to admit that the U.N. cozies up to dictators like a newborn pup suckling a nipple. Does the U.S. have clean hands when it comes to dealing with the political pukes of the world? Hell no, but in Jill's mind, the U.S. is the worst the world has to offer, and the U.N. is the guiding light that will save us all. Meanwhile, the U.N. is voting on a resolution that will decide, once and for all, whether to think about possibly, maybe, passing another resolution to stock the New York U.N. office with either Coke or Pepsi.

No matter that the invasion of Iraq is a debacle by any standards: more American soldiers killed since the war ended than during it. Daily sniper attacks. Political chaos and religious fervor growing. The bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on Aug. 19. The murder of Saddam Hussein's sons and the public display of photographs of their bodies. And still the question remains, where are Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction used by the Bush administration to justify this war?

Yep, should have left Uday and Qusay alone. They're just KIDS, after all. Plus, we MURDERED them. Those poor little boys. Political chaos? You mean the fact that more areas of Iraq, every day, come under ELECTED self rule? I wonder, sometimes, what the war critics imagined post-war Iraq to be like. Well, first off, the war critics were envisioning a coalition defeat, but nevermind. Did they think that, once the war was declared over, everyone would just lay down their AK-47s and go back to eating corn flakes? Furthermore, do the Jill Nelsons of the world honestly think that, if the U.N. oversees Iraq, the violence will suddenly stop? Alternatives, Jill, I'd like to hear your take on alternatives. I know you hate Bush, and I know you like to whine. But, some alternatives, woman!

Instead, America's president stood before the world and made no concessions, contradicted the obvious fact that the world is now a far more dangerous place than it was two years ago, and called upon the United Nations to help pay for and support our disastrous venture with bodies and bucks. Bush's message boiled down to simply this: America has made the world's bed; now we've all got to both lie in it and pay for it. Is it any wonder that the response of the majority of this august body might politely be described as tepid at best?

That "august" body. Sheesh. The U.N. is about as august as a homeless crack addict peeing on the street. The world is a far more dangerous place? Let me ask you this. Where, besides Iraq (and I think a recent incident in Saudi Arabia), in the past month, have terrorist attack occurred? If this world is suddenly so much more dangerous, I'd like to see evidence to support that. *waiting* *tapping foot*

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, most of the vaunted American free press declined to broadcast the speeches of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan before Bush or French President Jacques Chirac afterward. Both of these world leaders spoke eloquently of the pitfalls of any nation of the world acting unilaterally, of the dangerous precedents such actions set, and of the threat to world stability that America's actions have exacerbated.

You'll have to excuse me for not giving a royal fuck for what Jacques Chirac has to say. His nation was so in bed with Saddam and Co., there are still used condoms with Hussein DNA laying near Chirac's nightstand. And, again, in Jill's mind, we acted UNILATERALLY. Forget about the British. Forget Spain. Forget Italy. Forget Poland. Forget Romania. Forget Hungary. Forget Turkey. Forget. . . well, you get the idea. And yeah, world stability is, like, TOTALLY in jeopardy. Jeez, Jill, overstate much?

Is anyone surprised that Bush himself didn't even deign to stay for Chirac's speech? Instead, the media went to its usual stable of paid political pundits, whose job it is to convince Americans that Bush is either "presidential," "strong," "clear" or all of the above and then some.

Is she living in some alternative universe of which I'm not aware? Last I checked, except for Fox News of course, practically every major news organization in America is critical of our Bumbler in Chief. But, the problem with ultra-leftists like Jill, is that they automatically lump everything Bush does into a general category of "wrong." For the most part, Bush is repeatedly, and unabashedly wrong. But to let blind hatred of Bush cloud your judgement to the point you can't see the very real danger of international terrorism, and the immediate need to fight it, is far more dangerous than any weapon of mass destruction. Hate Bush all you want. I do. But also admit that, in the one realm of fighting terrorism and cleaning up the shit that is the Middle East, Bush and Co. are following the right course.

Yet try as they might, you don't need glasses to see that the president has no clothes. That with the exception of a very few allies, the United States is hanging out there alone, naked for the world to see. The question is, when will the American people recognize what a sham and disaster this administration is, both abroad and at home, and refuse to continue funding such madness? The world can only hope it's before November, 2004.

Leave it to Jill to wrap up yet another pathetic tirade by invoking the "emporer has no clothes" cliche. She uses that analogy so much, you wonder whether the fable is under her pillow. Very few allies? Try over 20, Jill.

And, I'm sure you noticed, except for calling for a new president in '04, Jill never, not once, offered up solutions to all the problems she perceives. Just one long, drawn out whine. If she's what passes as a pundit nowadays, I'll take vanilla, thank you.

Posted by Ryan at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2003

Schizophrenic Screed For Sept. 23, 2003

Well, he has a lot to say, even though the entire world, and arguably the universe, has no idea what it is he's saying. And he's back again this week, Stewartville's resident nutball, offering up more of his mind-boggling political analysis.

MACHEYE. Now for the full truth - it is called LX7-sinus not X2. Now as homeland security use of propaganda and their LS7 to stay in power, we the people of the United States get the blunt end of a raw deal. So don't forget a year 1961 and 1964. Now you have the truth. Now would you like to help or keep on running.

Who knew the full truth could be so incoherent? I'm so mad about getting the blunt end of a raw deal right now. Lousy LX7-sinus.

Jesse. Jane. Jesse. Jane. Jesse . Jane. Stormy . Daniels. Stormy. Daniels. Stormy. Daniels. Stormy. Daniels. Or something like that..

Posted by Ryan at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

I Could Be A Queer Eye For A Straight Guy. You Know, If I Were Queer

You know what?

If I had access to lucrative endorsement deals that allow me to pretty much pick and choose expensive clothes, furniture, food and hygience products, all basically for free so stores and products get exposure on a television show, I'm pretty sure I could convince the world that I'm flamingly gay, if I had to.

I could rip on poorly dressed men with waning social skills in a playful and friendly fashion. I could do that quite convincingly. I could lisp when I do it, too, if it makes me seem all that more queer.

I mean, I'm a fan of the show and all, and Melissa and I watch it quite a bit, probably more than is healthy to be honest. But, every time I watch it, I end up thinking, "I could fucking do that!"

Of course, I'd still rather have Dave Atell's "Insomniac" job.

I'm just sayin'.

Posted by Ryan at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

The Archives

Last night, I realized that everything I've written for this blog is housed on an unknown server somewhere. I mean, I've always known that, but I never stopped to ponder what that meant.

What it means is, if Blogger ever goes down for good, or starts charging for access, or whatever, I could very well lose two years of ramblings.

So, last night, I went through all my archives, month by month, copying and pasting the text into Microsoft Word. It wasn't a particularly fun exercise, but it was necessary.

The end result was over 400 pages of 8 pt. text. 400 pages of 8 pt. text. That just astounds me. I mean, it takes every last bit of ambition to write my weekly column, and that's typically only one and a half pages of 12 pt. text.

I've written short stories, plenty of them, that rarely exceed 20 pages of 12 pt. text. I've started on a couple abandoned book attempts that fizzled out after 40 pages of 12 pt. text.

400 pages of 8 pt. text after only about two and a half years. This blog has been a writing tool like nothing else I've ever dabbled in. It was fascinating to revisit all my old entries and watch a distinct style evolve right before my eyes. Without really even realizing it, my writing, my humor and my argumentative abilities have all drastically improved. And that doesn't even take into account all the commenting I've done on countless other blogs.

And to think, when my former officemate, Jen, told me I should start blogging, I at first rolled my eyes. I almost passed on a daily writing exercise that has helped produce more column ideas for me than anything else.

And this blog has given me an outlet to swear and rant and engage in unrestrained toilet humor. Oh, and I've also built a readership, made friends from around the globe, and even established contacts who help me in my job. All due to a blog, a tiny voice in a sea of voices.

Thank you, Jen.

Posted by Ryan at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2003

Searing Eye Pain, And My Own Busted Anecdote

So, last night I went to Subway, because I was too lazy to cook and I had two filled out Subway cards which meant I'd eat basically for free. I ordered a turkey footlong on parmesan/oregano bread, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and green peppers. Just call me Jared, except I've never been overweight, and I'm not a dork (well, at least I don't think so).

I brought the sandwich home to ingest, and upon unwrapping the sub, I decided it needed some spicing up. So, I grabbed the hot sauce, consisting of basically pure pepper extract, that I bought in Indianapolis in the spring. This stuff is pretty much liquid flame. Use sparingly. I used it sparingly, but it still almost welded my teeth together. I love hot food.

It never occurred to me, even after seeing the hot sauce drip down my fingers, to vigorously wash my hands afterward.

So, I went to put my contacts in this morning. . .

The resulting pain was exquisite. It took me about three seconds to fully absorb the sizzling sensation overtaking my right optical orb. If I could have raked my eye from my head and placed it on the counter to cool off, I would have. Thankfully, I only polluted my right eye. My left eye escaped the trauma thanks to a hand washing that most ER doctors would consider overkill.

I yowled, and I howled, and I cussed, and I sweared. And then my nose started running uncontrollably (we're talking gobs upon gobs of nasal discharge). Then my eye started to swell and redden, and then I couldn't see due to a fountain of tears. I was honestly considering calling in sick, because there was no way I could drive with my compromised vision.

I sat on my bed for 10 minutes, waiting for the pain and suffering to subside. Finally, I was able to slink my way to the shower and eventually the eye watering subsided and I regained my vision, well, mostly.

I'm now sitting at work, with a slightly swollen, red eye. This shit is supposed to happen on Mondays, not Tuesdays.

Layne, over at Plain Layne (you know where the hell she is, and I can't hot link while blogging at work any more, so figure it out), related a tale of getting busted by her girlfriend while surfing for porn. It made me think back to. . .

First off, I should say that, for guys, surfing for porn is no big deal. In fact, it's largely believed by most men that the Internet was created for the sole purpose of looking at naked people and downloading clips of couples in full fornicating action. However, there's a big difference between looking at digital nudity and, um, taking matters into your own hands.

About four years ago, while living with my longtime roomie, Gozz, I was doing my duty as a good male Web surfer, toggling between news reports and nudity, when I felt a twitching down below.

With my door firmly closed, and Gozz watching a movie in his room, I thought it was safe for me to proceed with a personal coronation ceremony and "crown the king," so to speak.

Midway through the coronation, however, the phone rang. Gozz answered, and I listened intently, like a mouse aware of the presence of an owl nearby. He seemed to be talking to someone he knew, so I relaxed my vigilance and went back to crowning the king.

Suddenly, BAM! My door flew open.

"Dude, it's for you," growled Gozz into my darkened chamber, and it should have been painfully obvious, with me silhouetted in front of my flickering monitor, just exactly what it was I was doing.

In a sudden state of panic and desperation, I did what any tagged masturbator would probably do: I dove for my closet. Actually, it was more of a pathetic stutter-step, with my pants around my ankles, followed by a headlong trip into my closet, bringing roughly two-thirds of my clothes down on top of me.

Even after Gozz retreated back to his room and closed my door, sinking me back into darkness in my mountain of clothes, I stayed motionless for about five minutes, debating what to do next. My gut instinct was to find a new apartment but, upon reflection, I decided to pretend nothing happened and go from there.

Gozz never said a word. Now that's an awesome roommate.

UPDATE: I just spoke with Gozz via MSN. Here's what we had to say:

Mark G. says: I just read your blog

Mark G. says: I have tears in my eyes

Ryan says: Oh, crap. I was wondering if you would read it.

Mark G. says: Funny thing is... I dont remember that

Ryan says: You don't?!

Mark G. says: no

Mark G. says: not at all

Ryan says: I mean, that's awesome, but amazing.

Ryan says: My tax-lady was the caller.

Mark G. says: I dont remember

Ryan says: So, I probably shouldn't have blogged about to bring the information back to you.

Mark G. says: I never took the time to see what you were doing when I did shit like that

Ryan says: Soooo, just ignore the post. It never happened. You didn't see nuthin.'

Mark G. says: I would open the door, say what I had to say and go

Mark G. says: the door opening was to make my voice clear

Mark G. says: GOD that was funny!!!!

Mark G. says: I was laughing so hard I had to stop reading

Ryan says: Glad I could entertain you.

So, the moral of the story, children, is never assume that you were caught masturbating. And definitely don't blog about it unless you're absolutely certain!

Posted by Ryan at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Weekend Retreat And Rollerblading

Melissa and I decided to go back to my hometown of Harmony (motto: We're Not As Dull As Preston! Oh, wait, we are!) for the weekend. I'm not sure why, but Melissa really likes Harmony. She refers to going to my hometown and staying at my parents' empty house as "A Retreat." Strangely, I frequently use the same words regarding Harmony, but it's in reference to getting the hell out of there.

Okay, I'm somewhat kidding here. In reality, I do like Harmony, a little bit. I particularly like Harmony for its solitude and lazy living. After consecutive weekends spent in the twin cities, Orlando and of course, Rochester, I was ready for a nice relaxing stay in my hometown.

We drove into Harmony at about 8 p.m. on Friday, at which time we decided to cook dinner. Dinner consisted of me whipping up a batch of my famous Japanese curry, and accidently spicing it up to a point that it practically melted our forks. In addition, Melissa, who was in charge of vegetable dicing duty, got lost in her task and sliced up five garlic cloves (in addition to the two cloves I prepared with the chicken). Let me just take a moment to explain, in no uncertain terms, that seven cloves of garlic, in anything, is overkill.

With our stomachs full of spicy curry and a disturbing amount of garlic, we went off to bed. What followed was a night of rumbling stomachs that no doubt sent tremors throughout the town, to say nothing of the flatulence that hung in the air the next morning like a rancid fog. We both thought it was hysterically funny, even as we battled to get the hell out of the bedroom. Retreat indeed.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, after dropping off a vehicle at our destination town and stocking up on Gatorade and other goodies, we set off on a 24 mile rollerblading trek from Harmony to Lanesboro. For those of you who get the chance, I strongly suggest taking advantage of the extensive bike trail system of southeastern Minnesota. It's one of the prettiest, most nature-rich areas of the state, in my opinion. This was our second time rollerblading the Harmony to Lanesboro route this year, and the weather was fantastic, nearly perfect, with the only imperfection being that everyone else in the area took advantage of the day to do some trail riding as well.

One thing I find most amusing about a lot of people who ride the trails in that area: they take it WAY too seriously. So many of them are decked out in the ridiculous bike racing gear I've grown to dislike so much, including the loud, tigh-fitting shirts and the spandex biker shorts that look like they're just on the verge of being outlawed. And I won't even get started on their bicycles, which look like they cost more than some automobiles and include more accessories than they probably will ever use. I mean, we're talking about thousands of dollars invested in biking equipment and clothes, for a trail system that could be traversed by a three-year-old on a Big Wheel.

Then there's Melissa and me, with her wearing a tank top and denim shorts, and me wearing an ancient pair of shorts and my trademark tee-shirt that features a ripped male torso. What's more, we're the only rollerbladers on the entire trail system. Some bikers actually seemed to regard us with scorn as they passed us by. Not everyone, mind you, just the folks who believe the trail should be dedicated exclusively to expensive bikes and stuck-up people.

A funny thing about rollerblading over 20 miles: at the end of the trip you can't WAIT to get those damn things off your feet. Still, the trip itself was awesome, and again I totally recommend it.

Alas, since Melissa had to work back in the cities on Sunday morning, we had to depart from "the retreat" Saturday evening, but only after polishing off the curry leftovers. With our garlic levels thusly re-fortified, we headed back to Rochester where, a couple of hours later, garlic vapors started to issue from our mouths, noses, pores and pretty much everyhere else garlic can issue from. We were a stinking couple, to be sure, so we sequestered ourselves in the bedroom where we couldn't offend the outside world.

Such was my little weekend, and it was great.

Posted by Ryan at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2003

My Latest Television Obsession

By the way, if you're not watching Most Extreme Elimination Challenge on Spike TV, you are denying yourself more laughter than you can possibly imagine. I call Melissa up whenever it's on, and we watch it together. It's balls to the wall hysterical.

UPDATE: I spoke with Erik, over at Intellectual Poison today. His voice wasn't as deep as I imagined. And he talks really fast. And he put me in contact with, like, the god of Linux. Not Linus Torvalds, mind you, but a bigwig nonetheless. Thanks again, Erik.

But, it all begs the question: when are Layne and I going to go out for drinks? Huh? Huh?

Posted by Ryan at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

Schizophrenic Screed Update

The demented author of the Schizophrenic Screeds that have made this site such a hit has, according to reliable sources, thrown his hat into the ring and is running for one of three open Stewartville school board seats. That, in and of itself, is not unusual. He ran for school board way back when I was news editor for the town's paper. He lost, as Dick Cheney would say, big time. This time, however, there's a major difference.

He's running unopposed.

Think about that. Try wrapping your mind around it. Let it run between your fingers and marvel at its very nature.

A certifiably insane, incoherent, paranoid schizophrenic is running, unopposed, for a school board seat. That means there's a very good chance he'll win.

Now, I had to report on school board meetings with that crackpot simply sitting in the audience, and he would take up 15+ minutes each meeting crowing the same disturbing nonsense I post weekly here. I mean, here it's at least harmless and amusing, but in person he was just fucking creepy.

And now he's poised to win a legitimately elected position. He could effectively sit on a board that is tasked with overseeing the betterment of our youth. He could play a role in shaping and molding the minds of countless students. Please join me in a collective shudder at the very thought.

I am soooooo glad I'm not news editor for that paper any more. The stress of school board meetings alone would ensure my untimely demise.

Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard . Amanda Beard .

Posted by Ryan at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

Finally, a Cheddar X, On Time And Everything

And, because I'm blogging at work, that means no hot links, so if you want to find out about the Cheddar X, I suggest you perform a Google search on it. Anyway. . .

1. This one's from Lileks: "Families of terrorists who blow up men, women and children, some of whom are Americans, no longer receive money from Saddam, because Saddam no longer rules Iraq. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Explain."

I read this Lileks Bleat yesterday, and I have to say it was one of his bestest screeds, although picking just one of his musings as his best is like trying to decide which M&M in a pack is the tastiest.

The obvious answer is, "It's a good thing." Duhhh. But, more than that, it's the main thing. People comment to me that, yes, it's good that Saddam is gone. . . BUT. . . we should have taken him out with UN support. fuck the UN! They've become so completely corrupt, the institution was swayed by French and German interests intent on preserving oil rights and BMW sales contracts to Ba'athists. People then counter that, if we were so intent on moral righteousness and liberating oppressed people, we should send more troops to beleagured nations like Liberia. I agree, but current troop strength dictates that to be difficult. I'd love to be able to dispose of every meglomaniacal dictatorship or mullahcracy, but we just don't have the military resources to do so. But, just because we can't liberate EVERYONE doesn't mean we can't liberate ANYONE.

*backing down, because I could go on forever on this and there are more questions to be answered*

2. You've got the Magic Button of Death. Every time you press the button the person you want to kill will die. One other random person will also die. Do you use the button? Who do you whack?

Ah, the eternal moral borometer question. Would I push the MBD to smite Osama bin Laden (even though smiting a corpse seems like overkill) if it meant an innocent person would also die? Yes I would, even if that random person turned out to be me. Bin Laden pushed his MBD and wiped out 3,000+. Saddam pushed his MBD and wiped out over 1 million. I wouldn't hesitate to push my own personal MBD to ensure either of those turdlets can never again threaten basic human existence.

And Carrot Top, too.

3. You've won a million dollars with the conditions that you can only use it to purchase things for yourself and anything you haven't spent in a month is forfeit. What do you buy?

A house. A BIG house. On a lake. A BIG lake. Then I buy savings bonds.

4. You've won a million free and clear. What do you do with it?

Pass. Too much like question #3.

5. What song or band do you listen to when you want to reminisce or visit a moment in your past? What's the moment?

Pretty much anything by Journey. Every time I hear a song by Journey, I think back to my way younger years in the old roller skating rink of my hometown, clutching the shag blue carpet on the walls, trying to stay upright. The old Asteroids video game that you sat down at. Ditto for Breakout. Ditto for Outlaw. All video game classics. I remember my first crush on a girl four years older than myself. A WOMAN! The roller rink burned down when it was still magical to me, but I can always listen to Journey, or REO Speedwagon, and remember it exactly as it was all those years ago.

6. Or, is there a song that defines a period in your life?

Okay, you're not allowed to laugh here, but I've always had a special place in my heart for 99 Red Balloons by Nena and Major Tom (Coming Home) by Peter Schilling. Whenever I hear those songs, I remember dawdling in my parents' old clawfoot bathtub, which seemed deeper than the ocean to me at the time. I loved that bathtub, especially with bubble bath. Not necessarily a period in my life so much as an item, but whatever.

7. Can you know what someone is like just based on how they look or act without meeting them?

Um, how, exactly, can you tell how someone looks or acts unless you actually meet them?

Posted by Ryan at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003

Schizophrenic Screed for Sept. 16, 2003

You know him. You love him. And, if you know what's good for you, you fear him. He's Stewartville's not-so-anonymous Miscellaneous advertiser. No, he's not sane, not by a long shot, but he's sure entertaining, in a head scratching sort of way. Sooooo. . .

MACHEYE. What can be said now, nothing. The black pearl of space, retardation, gangrene (Help Democratic Freedom).


PS Coming off the sun it's called L7. What more can I say. Now you got nothing like I got nothing. L7.

Isn't there a rock group called L7? Those bastards, coming off the sun like that. Anyway, there you have it: your weekly dose of mental illness.

NOTE: He actually does give his name and number each week, apparently hoping for a call, but I can't, in all good conscience, print his full name and real number here (thus the Xs), because some of you, and you know who you are, would actually call the nutjob and make him even more paranoid. You sickos.

Posted by Ryan at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

Hurricane Idiots

I've yelped about this before, and I'm sure countless other folks have to, but I must reiterate. Why, I ask you, WHY, when a population is confronted by something as powerful as a hurricane, they simply have to go to the beach to see for themselves?

Seriously, the top story on this morning featured a picture of a woman in a rain slicker walking along the beach, buffeted by strong winds and blinding mist. And she wore a grimace that indicated she was not all that pleased to be there.

Well, what the fuck did she think was going to happen? It's a fucking HURRICANE, dipshit! You don't go for a stroll in a fucking HURRICANE. Why don't you just go and casually pluck daisies from a mine field, or maybe try retrieving a quarter from the lion's den of the local zoo.

It's not just limited to hurricanes. Here in Minnesota, we're treated to a spring and summer phenomenon known as tornado season. And, sure enough, if the weather starts to look like it could harbor a tornado, people start emerging from their homes to take a look-see. It's gotten to the point that the sirens warning of severe weather practically entice people outdoors rather than prompting them to seek shelter in their basements. Sure, everyone KNOWS that tornados can whip up winds that can send 2X4s through concrete slabs, but that doesn't stop them from wandering around with their eyes looking skyward. Yup, looks like a tornado, all right. Big one, too. Sure wish I were indoors.

Crap on a cracker.

I'm not saying I'm immune from the disease, either. I've done my share of stupid pre-storm wandering. But, when the sky turns a paricularly menacing shade of gray, I head for the bunker. I mean, sure, it would be cool to actually see a tornado forming, but is it worth the potential cost? Hell no.

In my opinion, however, hurricane wanderers are 8,000 percent bigger idiots than tornado wanderers. I mean, at least with tornados, you're never really sure if one is going to coalesce, and even if one does appear, it could be small.

Hurricanes, on the other hand, are practically a sure thing. You know, usually days in advance, that the fucking thing is coming. Hell, you become so familiar with the hurricane, you even get on a first name basis with it. This time, it's Isabelle. Such a nice sounding name. Isabelle. Sounds like a character from "Gone With The Wind," and how fucking appropriate is that?

You don't get that cozy and familiar with a tornado. Tornados don't get names, although it could be argued that every tornado automatically gets the honorary title of "Oh, SHIT!" or "FUUUUUUCCCCKK!"

The point is, hurricanes give a lot of fair warning, particularly with today's satellite technology. So, why, when confronted with satellite images that show a galaxy swirl of a storm that blankets a goodly portion of the planet, would a person decide that it's a good day for a beach stroll? I just don't understand.

But, it's the newscasters that always floor me. I swear, they compete to see who can put themselves in a more precarius hurricane position. You'll see one standing on the beach, screaming to be heard above the gale behind them, and then you'll switch channels to see a newscaster standing on a pier, practically lashed to the rickety wood structure roiling amid the wind, and then you'll switch channels yet again and see a newscaster trying to surf, with chunks of raw meat tied to their leg to entice sharks.

That's the nice distinction between print and broadcast journalism. In print journalism, your success is often based on skill (except for the Jayson Blairs of the world). In broadcast journalism, success is usually based on appearance and stupid human tricks.

So, to wrap up, let me just say: stay the fuck indoors, people. There's a hurricane coming, for crying out loud.

Posted by Ryan at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2003

Ketchup Is Pissing Me Off

Heinz Ketchup has just gone too far. Far too far. Really, what genius at Heinz thought it would be a good idea to make the plastic restaurant bottles red?

Sure, they make it look as if they're full to the tip, but they're not. Sometimes, there's not so much as a squirt left at the bottom, and yet there the bottle stands looking perfectly full.

Now the waitresses can just glide by and assume everything is fine, when in reality there's so little ketchup at my table, my fries can only be afforded a light blush application of ketchup.

Bring back the clear bottles, Heinz! Stop trying to hide the nation's ketchup shortage behind a cloak of red plastic. Ketchup bottles should only be completely red if they're completely full, so waitresses know when they need to be refilled and households know when they have to prop the bottles upside down to get at the last blorp in the bottle.

Vote NO to red ketchup bottles in '04. Do your duty as an American citizen.

UPDATE: Upon reflection, I guess it's not all bad. As Dave Barry would note, "Red Ketchup Bottles" would be a great name for a rock band.

Posted by Ryan at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

My Officemate Is Driving Me CRAZY!

I can't take it any more. I just can't take it! I tried to keep an open mind about having an officemate again. I honestly wanted to believe she would be as fun as her predecessor, Jen. Alas, it was not to be.

It's not her personality, mind you. Well, it is, a little. She has a tendency to suddenly start chatting about stupid things. Which is fine. It breaks up the monotony. But, her timing is all wrong. She starts blabbing at the exact moment I'm at my busiest, or worse, on the phone.

But, it's the nose blowing that's sending me over the edge.

She suffers from allergies, which isn't her fault I guess, but still. I mean, this girl, I think, actually enjoys her allergies. I think she believes that her allergies somehow make her special. She takes pride in her nose blowing.

You have not heard a nose being blown until you have heard this woman blow her nose. She really gets into it. It's her own personal nose blowing religion. I would be fine with it if it was one of those wet, sloppy sounding nose blowings that bespeak of a truly suffering soul.

But, no, her nasal discharges, which occur with a regularity that could make atomic clocks obsolete, are high-pitched, dry, ear-shattering trumpets that could no doubt set every elephant on the serengeti into rapturous sexual frenzies.

They come in threes, these nasty nose chimes. I'll be sitting here, vigorously tapping out a technical article, when suddenly the air is pierced by the first of her nasal ejaculations. It's disconcerting, to be sure, but it's even more disconcerting to know that two more are sure to follow. Sure enough, in quick succession, two more nose eruptions echo through our office chamber.

Even my managing editor, who happened to be in the office once when my officemate issued forth one of her trademark nasal triumvirates, had to admit that her nose blowing was unusually loud, with a "unique" sound. My managing editor then went back to the blissful silence of her her own office domain, leaving me to the ear splitting explosions of Jumbo.

And now, NOW, she's added a cough. Starting late last week, she started this strange, hollow cough. Like her nose blowing, her coughing has its own unique sound. Unlike her nose blowing, however, her coughing has no set time-frame. She'll just start this staccato hacking that almost always takes me by surprise and causes me to mash my keyboard.

I tell you, I really don't know how much longer I can take this. It's like trying to work in a nursing home, except there's only one patient, and that patient wants the whole world to know they're coughing and blowing their nose.

The best part? We found out today that, come June, our magazine staff will be moved to a cubicle farm. How will her nose blowing and coughing go over in the compromised privacy of Cubicleland?

Expect a lot of IBM resignations next summer. That's all I'm saying.

Posted by Ryan at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2003

A New Game For Me To Play

My long drought of computer game purchases came to an end Saturday with the ceremonial walk-through of Best Buy. I went in the store with no particular purchase aspirations, and I came out with a new digital camera battery and the first person shooter "Chaser."

The battery worked fine. The game, not so much. Here I have a system that is so advanced, I don't even use one third of its capabilities, and yet it couldn't run a game with such meager system requirements as an 800 Mhz. Hell, mine is a 2.3 GHz. It should eat that game alive. It did not.

Off to the Web I went, downloading every patch I could possibly click on, and still the game would not work. So, I was left with the distasteful alternative of calling tech support. The techie I spoke with asked me about my computer, and after I explained to him the details of my system, he said, "Man, that sounds like a sweet system. I wish I had that." Although I was pleased that he was envious, his envy did not make the game run correctly.

He told me to go and download the latest version of DirectX, which seemed odd, because the latest version of DirectX was supposed to be included with the game, but whatever. Then he told me to see if my nVidia video card had any updated drivers available. I was incredulous, but I did as I was instructed.

Reboot the system.

Game works. Woo hoo!

I'm not sure what to think about Chaser. It relies way too much on trying to tell a story, with digital animation that has all the angular choppiness I've grown to be so unimpressed with. Granted, it's far better than the days of Virtua Fighter, a game where all the characters looked like they were wearing cardboard for clothes and their hair consisted of road construction cones.

Chaser is the next generation of digital animation, and I'll admit it's fascinating to witness the evolution. Still, they haven't had a lot of success capturing facial emotion. My character is getting shot at and he shows all the emotion of someone watching their vehicle going through a car wash. Ho hum. Still, I have to hand it to the folks who produced Chaser: they were all about the details, including arm hair and a stripper dance sequence that had me pondering masturbation. The stripper, mind you, not the arm hair.

As first person shooters go, Chaser is okay. You pretty much just shoot at everyone because, strangely enough, everyone is shooting at you. It reminds me of the days of Unreal Tournament, a game that I spent way, way, wayyyyyyyy too much time playing. However, Chaser is far more plot driven, and the weapons are a lot more difficult to aim. The AI enemies are maddeningly accurate, even from long distances, but you can lure them in pretty easily and shoot them at your leisure. Oh, and there's a lot of blood. A. Lot. Of. Blood.

That was one of my gripes about Medal of Honor, which is one of the best first person shooters ever created. As great as it was, there was nary a drop of blood to be seen. You could empty an entire clip into a nazi, and there would be no blood to be seen. It's not that I'm a blood-thirsty fiend laughing maniacally as the digital life oozes from my target or anything. I'm just a sucker for realism. Medal of Honor was dripping realism, but there was no dripping blood. Give me some blood, that's all I'm saying.

Chaser delivers blood, in a pooling and splattering fashion. That's nice. It's good to see game designers taking pride in their work. Still, Chaser keeps trying to impress me with long-winded story lines. I mean, I get it, people are trying to shoot me. Have at thee!

A plus point for Chaser is the futuristic space component. One thing that I LOVED about Unreal Tournament was the space station maps where you could look out the window at earth or Mars spinning below. Chaser does the same thing. The opening mission, you're on a space station high above earth, and you can just marvel at the world drifting below. For some reason, I think that's just so cool.

So, would I recommend Chaser? I'm not sure. I haven't played the multiplayer version yet, but I imagine it's going to be pretty neat. The single player version, like I said, is preoccupied with the story line and drawn out cut scenes that take just shy of forever. But, lots of weapons, lots of blood, and lots of action.

I give it 7 bullets out of a possible 10.

Posted by Ryan at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2003

Oh, Wait. I Guess I CAN Blog At Work

Okay, I'm not sure why, exactly, Blogger keeps changing its posting design, but it totally screwed with my Internet Explorer at work. I mean, it looked all confusing, and I couldn't do any posting from work or anything. It was heartbreaking. Truly heartbreaking.

Then I realized I could try using Netscape Navigator. A funny thing about IBM. The company is no fan of Microsoft. It openly embraces Linux and thumbs its nose at Gates and Co. at every opportunity. But, it begrudgingly acknowledges that most people only know Windows, so they have to install it on all the PCs. Still, they get a sucker punch in on Microsoft by installing Netscape on all the PCs. Of course, most users instinctively still use IE, but Netscape is always there if needed. And, damn it, I needed it.

Voila! I'm blogging at work. It's not perfect, mind you. I have to hard-code in the bold and italics and, as for hot links: fah-get about it. But, i'm able to brain dump, and that's the important thing.

Boring weekend. I was supposed to go to the cities to see Melissa and we were going to take in the Renaissance Festival Saturday. Alas, Friday morning I get a call from the girlfriend. And she's crying. Not good. Apparently, her dad experienced problems following tonsil surgery of all things. His body reacted unfavorably to the anesthetic and his intestines unexpectedly shut down. Not that the intestines ever EXPECTEDLY shut down, but you get the idea. He bloated up like a dead horse and was in horrific pain. Imagine the worst case of gas ever, multiplied by 500. Well, things looked grim, and in the heat of a gas attack of magnificent proportions, he told Melissa that she had to contact his lawyer so he could change his will.

Melissa, understandably, expected the worst, and the tears did flow mightily. So, she came back down to Rochester to see her dad, and that's how we spent our weekend: sleeping and laying around all day, and then visiting the hospital. Not me, of course. I only tagged along for one hospital visit. I hate hospitals. They give me the willies. All those sick people laying in beds or shuffling around with tubes snaking out from under their gowns as they push an antenna of liquid-filled bags in front of them. *shudder*

I always feel guilty for being so healthy, as if I should at least fake a limp or run a tube from my nose just so I fit in a little better. It wouldn't do me any good. The patients would still recognize me as a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness and I would feel their scorn even more.

Sunday, with her dad in far better condition, Mel drove back to the cities to work at Restoration Hardware. She had to work at 8 a.m., which meant the alarm clock was set for 6 a.m. An alarm clock should not spring to life at such an hour on a weekend. It should simply not be allowed. It went off and I immediately started getting ready for work. I had just squeezed a snail of toothpaste on my brush when I realized, "Hey, wait just a damned minute here. It's SUNDAY." Back I went into the bedroom to roust Mel. I went back to dreamland and didn't wake up until 1 p.m.

Sunday afternoon, a friend of mine came up to Rochester from my hometown of Harmony. He needed to get away from Harmony for awhile because his life just sucks hard-boiled eggs right now. For some reason, his wife has taken it upon herself to personally boink every male in Harmony and, being that she's probably the most exciting thing to hit Harmony since James Lileks visited the sleepy little hamlet in the early 90s, most of the males oblige.

I don't understand it. I CAN'T understand it. She had a devoted husband, a beautiful three-year-old daughter, a newly-remodeled home, and a future as happy as anything Harmony can provide. Yet she opted for cheap sex with cheap men, including a 40+ year-old with a Harley. What's the matter with people? It's enough to make me want to stay single for eternity. Maybe even longer.

Anyway, on a happier and totally unrelated note, Melissa bought me a little water-proof writing tablet and a pen with an impossibly bright light on the tip so I can write down thoughts that may snake their way into my gray matter as I slumber. Granted, the few other times I've tried to capture my nocturnal musings, the scribbled nonsense makes the literature of 50,000 monkies seem coherent by comparison. Still, I got a real kick out of the idea that popped into my head last night. Apparently, I was having a morbid bit of dreaming, owing primarily to the whole thing with Mel's dad. At some point, I woke up and wrote:

Cool funeral home name: The Good Mourning Funeral Home.

Damn I'm funny when I'm half asleep. Bring on the valium.

Posted by Ryan at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2003

A Child's Take On The Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

There's been a lot coverage in the news lately about school children reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance." One court says it's unconstitutional, and that's followed by some folks in Congress raising a snit, and that's followed by CNN interviewing Pat Robertson, and that's followed by me clicking off the television.

I'm a product of a school system that started each day with the obligatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, starting, I think, in first grade and eventually being phased out by my fifth grade year. I never really questioned why we stopped reciting it. We just did. One day we were standing with our hands over our hearts, the next day we weren't. It didn't affect my life much. Pledge or no pledge, I was still getting beat up every noon hour by the class bully. I really hated that kid.

I won't immerse myself in a logistical argument for or against reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, because the lines have been drawn on this issue for some time, and it's not going to do any good to throw my two cents into the mix.

But, here's the deal about the Pledge of Allegiance, particularly as it applies to first graders: that is one COMPLEX pledge to learn verbatim, especially for a classroom full of youngsters who rarely use words exceeding three or four letters.

For one thing, the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance was never really explained to my class. Or, maybe it was, I don't remember. I spent most of my elementary school days staring out the window, so I may have missed the explanation. What I do remember is, every morning, forming a semicircle around the flag and, upon a cue from the teacher, reciting some of the biggest and most nonsensical words I had ever heard up to that point in my life.

And there was always a student or two struggling to remember and pronounce the words. We'd wrap up the pledge, and then we'd have to wait for the stragglers to finish. We recited the pledge, each and every day, and I never once understood what the heck I was even saying. And it's not hard to see why. Let's just look at the words that make up the Pledge of Allegiance and how I remember interpreting them.

Pledge -- I didn't know what it meant to pledge. I had no clue. The only Pledge I was even remotely familiar with was used to dust wood furniture. So, right off the bat, in my little mind, I was imagining myself dusting around the house. Now THAT'S patriotism.

Allegiance -- You know, some adults don't even know what that word means. Seriously, the way I learned to pronounce it was to pretend it was like a sneeze. "Ah...ah...ah...ALLEGIANCE!" Bless you. Still, even though I learned how to pronounce it, I didn't know what it meant until years later.

Republic -- Try explaining the concept of a republic to a first grader, and you could count on one hand the seconds it takes for their eyes to glaze over or they start looking over your shoulder at the toy box they'd rather be playing in.

Indivisible -- Okay, readers, see if you can guess what Ryan Rhodes, in first grade, thought this word meant? That's right: INVISIBLE. One nation, under God, invisible. . . My imagination ran absolutely wild with this one. An entire nation that's invisible? Why, that's amazing!

Liberty -- My mind always conjured an image of the statue of liberty, because that was the only "liberty" with which I was familiar. So, in my mind, the Pledge of Allegiance must have, in some way, been promising everyone a visit to the statue of liberty. I still haven't seen it in person, and frankly I'm feeling a little bit cheated on the deal.

Justice -- I spent the better part of two years reciting "justice" as "just as." Of course, grammatically, it made no sense, but no one ever corrected me because it sounded so similar, so I just assumed it must have been right.

So, now that you have the background, let's revisit the Pledge of Allegiance as I understood it all those many years ago.

I promise to dust after I sneeze, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the toy box for which it stands. One nation, under God, a really cool invisible nation that no one can see, with a visit to the statue of liberty, and just as for all.

That just HAS to be unconstitutional.

UPDATE: *snort* My aunt just sent me this little bit of first grader thinking about the Pledge of Allegiance. "The republic for Richard Stands." For some reason, that really makes me laugh.

Posted by Ryan at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

Schizophrenic Screed For Sept. 9, 2003

The insanity continues! Here, once again, is the mind boggling musings of a certifiably insane man. He's in rare form, as always. Try to make sense of him if you can, or, as they say, go ahead and try to "understand" him. He must have a point, you know, like terrorists do, right? Riiiggghhhtt. -- Doctor Evil.

MACHEYE. Now I turn my attention to homeland security & my words are you know who you are & I know how you do it. Thanks for the brainstem teletype from space. You have many holes & many flaws which tells the story now & as the Macheye looks at this what can we say. We fell flat in 1964. One President & also Democratic freedom. So now what do we have. Very bottom line the black pearl of space of retardation of gangrene. R13FCC-L22-2-2050. We the people of the United States. Now would anybody like to help out?

Yup, yet another compelling argument about, well, something. This guy should be writing for Indymedia. He makes about as much sense. Anyhooo, there ya go, your weekly window into mental instability. I feel I'm a better person for reading it. Do you?

Posted by Ryan at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2003

Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

Two years ago, 3,000 Americans died in an act of terrorism so spectacular, so disastrous, so unbelievable, I still have a hard time understanding how, and why, it happened.

On that fateful day, as I watched footage of the attacks over, and over, and over again in a televised loop that eventually nauseated me, I stole time to write my weekly column. Here is my column, exactly as I wrote it that day.

"A Day Without Laughter" c. Ryan Rhodes, Sept. 11, 2001

I'm generally a jovial and innocent individual, and these traits are usually reflected in the playful content of my writing. In the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C., however, I have had little to be jovial or playful about, and my innocence has been severely shaken.

In fact, since news of the attacks first broke, I have yet to enjoy even one of my trademark full volume belly laughs, or engage in flippant and sarcastic conversation with anyone. Rather, I've maintained an air of stunned silence, not because I'm scared, but because I'm concerned. Oh, I'm also depressed, nonplussed, and indescribably angry.

I'm concerned for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because the once impenetrable borders of America have been penetrated, not through the conventional contrivances of war, but through the shadowy world of international terrorism, an attack medium in which the enemy is often nameless, faceless and, for all intents and purposes, omnipresent.

I'm concerned because the enemy, in this case, is armed with a weapon far more ominous than any bomb or nuclear weapon. Specifically, this enemy is armed with nothing less than ideas and beliefs, and the conviction to sacrifice themselves and the innocent in the name of their ideas and beliefs.

I'm concerned because, in an attempt to seek retribution and retaliation, the United States could spark a conflict for which the world is not prepared, a conflict that may involve chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons.

Finally, I'm concerned that, in a debilitating catch-22, the American people will be asked to sacrifice their freedoms in the name of preserving freedom itself.

I'm depressed, horribly saddened by the loss of life both aboard the hi-jacked planes and in the targeted buildings. These were victims who had the modest dreams of day-to-day existence denied them by the barbaric actions of terrorists who believe all targets, military or civilian, are fair game when it comes to carrying out their cause. These victims will never again hold their families close, take leisurely strolls along park walkways bathed in the waning light of a majestic sunset, or sit with friends and enjoy the millions of simple everyday miracles we often take for granted.

I'm depressed because all of the deceased met their ends under circumstances that no person should endure, and many executed final acts indicative of how hopeless and frantic their situation was. Some of the victims, teetering high above the ground, made the horrific decision to plunge hundreds of feet rather than face the searing inferno promising to burn them alive. For the horror they experienced, I'm deeply pained.

I'm perhaps most depressed at my loss of innocence, and the loss of innocence of America as a whole. From this bleak Tuesday on, terrorist threats will be very real specters haunting the American psyche, and there will be a lingering trepidation each time I set foot in a potential terrorist target, whether it be an airliner or a national landmark building.

I'm nonplussed, locked in a periodic cycle of disbelief, each time I see footage of the second airliner burst into flames as it slammed into the side of World Trade Center Tower One. Similarly, I can't believe both towers, bastions of American economic power, can no longer be seen as part of the New York City skyline.

Awash in partially complete news reports and rampant rumors, I joined countless Americans across the country in a frantic guessing game of "what happens next." Informed that fuel prices were destined to skyrocket due to the attack, I sat in a gas line for 45 minutes waiting to fill my tank. There were no frazzled tempers at the pump, no impatient horn blaring, only the same wide-eyed look of uncertainty and disbelief on the face of every motorist I encountered. Where will all this uncertainty lead, and what can we do to return to even a semblance of a normal existence?

Finally, I'm angry, furious that America was attacked in such a cowardly and pointless exercise of terroristic subterfuge. Worse, my anger is directed toward an unknown source, a source who could just as well be another face in the crowds I pass each day.

I'm angry that the machine of American anti-terrorist intelligence was unable to see this attack coming, although I'm also aware that similar and more devastating terroristic plots have likely been foiled repeatedly by the same machine.

I'm angry that the individual I was yesterday has been forever altered by Tuesday's events and I desperately want my innocence returned and to feel whole once more.
And, perhaps more than anything, I want to laugh again.

Reading this again, after so many months of distance, I'm struck by how prescient that column was. It also brought me back to that disgusting day.

Only, it wasn't a disgusting day. It was a gorgeous day. Here in Minnesota, it was slightly cool, yes, but amazingly clear and sunny. You couldn't imagine a nicer September morning. It was as close to perfect as you can expect a day to be here in the Midwest.

I was late for work that day, owing primarily to the fact that I had been informed I would be laid off just the day before. I was on the cruise control known as two weeks notice, so I didn't have a lot of incentive to drag myself to work.

My alarm clock radio went off, and as I fumbled for the snooze button, I sleepily made out the announcers saying something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I remember thinking, "Well, that pilot sure screwed up," thinking it was just a single seat Cessna.

The alarm went off again, and this time the announcers were more frantic, more desperate. Another plane smashed into the other WTC tower. I sat bolt upright. All the rules of coincidence told me this couldn't possibly be one.

"The World Trade Center has been attacked! They attacked the World Trade Center!" said an astonished voice on my crackling radio alarm.



Who the fuck are they?

Of course, now I know who "they" are. But, at that time, I had no idea who "they" were, and frankly I didn't care up to that point. Names like Osama bin Laden and al Zawahiri, and groups like the Taliban and al Queda were as alien to me as E.T.

Stunned, I got ready to go to work, forgetting entirely to even click on my television. Had I seen the footage and the unbelievable events that seem surreal even to this day, there's no way I would have left the house. I would have been glued to my television all day.

Outside, in that glorious September air, it seemed inconceivable that New York was enduring a terrorist attack. Then, as I drove to my hated workplace, with my radio on, I heard that the Pentagon had been hit and that as many as four other planes were unaccounted for.

"What the fuck is going on?!" I screamed at the windshield, scanning the skies for errant planes.

Once at work, I saw enclaves of stunned IBMers discussing the unbelievable. I caught snippets of conversation, all of them sounded too incredible to be true.

At my desk, I tried to log on to the Internet, only to find that it was practically at a standstill due to the insane amount of traffic flowing through cyberspace. As slowly loaded, I saw the fireball that engulfed Tower One, and for the first time it hit me just how dire the situation truly was. People were dying. A LOT of people were dying. And that's when I noticed the first tears streaming down my face. It all seemed so pointless, so hateful, so wrong, there was nothing else to do but weep in disbelief.

Then, over the IBM loud speaker came the most callous and despicable public address ever. I can't remember the exact wording, but it went something like this: "Due to the events occuring in New York City, network traffic has been overloaded. Please restrict your Internet use only to business needs and keep focused on your weekday as usual."

Un-fucking-believable. You could hear workers up and down the halls yelling their displeasure at that announcement, and for good reason. IBM got the message: about a half hour later, all the television kiosks in the hallways had been switched over to news coverage and workers crowded around the terminals, thirsting for any and all information. Some were crying; all were stunned.

The rest of the work day consisted of one unbelievalbe image after another, after another, after another. Nothing made sense. Everything changed. Everywhere. Forever.

UPDATE: For those who believe in "understanding" terrorists and trying to see their point.

You want understanding? Fine. Let's try to understand together.

The Muslim religion flourished for hundreds of years after its founding. Largely a religion of peace, it gave rise to a culture that excelled in the arts and sciences, despite repeated Crusades to take back the Holy Land. Then, in the 1700s, some moron had a dream that he shared with a Muslim cleric. The cleric translated that dream to mean that the man's son would give rise to a new type of Islamic worship. It turned out not to be his son, but his grandson. Oh well, skipped a generation, I guess. The individual's name, Wahhab, and his Wahhabism strain of strict Koran interpretation took hold in what is now Saudi Arabia. Among its teachings were strong misogynistic tendencies, a condemnation of innovation, an all-encompassing adherence to daily prayer, and pretty much zero tolerance of non-muslims, or infidels. Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia today. So, pretty much, that part of the Middle East, the most holy part of the Middle East, has been stuck in the 1700s.

But, not the rest of the world. We've moved on. We've become technologically advanced and are gradually becoming enlightened as a society. We try to value all races, all genders, all beliefs. They do not. That would be fine if they just sat on sand. We'd be more than happy to let them live in their backwards little worlds of state-run religions. But, in the 1930s, damn it, we found out they have oil. They actually DO have something we need. Like it or not, we do need that oil, for now anyway. So, the Middle East stagnation met Western progressivism, and it has NEVER been a pleasant introduction. We're infidels, after all. But, we're infidels with really neat things, and a whole shitload of money, and the ruling classes of the Middle East tend to like that money thing. Not that they're willing to share that wealth with their starving masses or anything, but whatever.

Ah, but the starving masses care that they're starving, and they want answers. So, they're told by the clerics that the cause of all their misery is the decadence of the West. Sure, that doesn't make any damn sense at all, but when you're hungry and miserable, you'll believe most anything. So, they've been pretty surly with us since the 1930s, at least, and probably well before that. And it didn't help that the major powers of that time were out conquering new territories for colonization.

Then, the whole WWII thing broke out, bringing war to the Middle East because tanks and planes need gas to kill. That kinda sucked, and pissed them off even more. And, of course, there was the whole holocaust thing that resulted in the mass killing of Jews in numbers so staggering it's hard to wrap your mind around it. Plus, they were still hated by many European countries after the world, so the displaced Jews found themselves in the Holy Land, and in 1948 the U.N. decided that they deserved their own nation, which they did. The initial plan was to create two nations, Israel and Palestine, but the Palistinians didn't like that idea much, so a major war broke out between many Middle Eastern countries determined to drive Israel off the map, and little America-backed Israel. Israel kicked ass, because most of the Middle East can't fight their way out of a paper bag. This pissed off the already pissed off Middle East even more.

Oh, and the people are still starving, despite enough oil money flowing into most Middle Eastern countries to at least keep poverty at bay, but the ruling classes just don't like to share. So, they keep blaming the West, and now they had Israel to blame as well. All the better.

Which is pretty much where we're at now, except now some groups want an even more strict interpretation of the Koran than even Wahabbism expounds. These groups of Islamic Fundamentalists have all the anger and hatred in the world, for all the reasons listed previously. They're also pissed that they suck so bad. They're mad that they're nothing. They're mad that they're so damned irrelevant.

So, in order to show that they're relevant, they blow shit up. They kill themselves and others, usually innocents, so they can say "see, we matter, too," even though they don't.

They don't have a point. They don't have a message. They simply want to kill people who aren't "them." That's the reality, no matter how much you try to understand them.

UPDATE: Always, ALWAYS, remember.

Posted by Ryan at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

Hark, Salam Pax Speaks

And, apparently, he has a British accent. I found that weird. I don't know why.

Posted by Ryan at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

9/11 Looming, Tomorrow, In Fact

Inspired by Michele's Voices project, I intend to post tomorrow about my own take on the 9/11 two year anniversary. Actually, I intend to post it this evening.

It's maddening, really, to hear people say that America should "get over" 9/11, as if that horrendous event was nothing more than a stubbed toe on the way to the refridgerator. I mean, I agree that, as a nation, we should move on, but we should never "get over" what happened that day.

We should be outraged, pissed, stunned, saddened, anguished, resolute and solemn all at the same time every time we see a picture of the crumbled towers or see footage of that doomed second aircraft slicing through the second tower.

That day should forever serve as a microcosm of America's place in the world. During one horrifying morning, America looked up to see an explosion of hate threatening to tear apart the very fabric of Democracy. Many of us realized, for the first time, that our great nation is reviled by sick fundamentalist groups who are at their happiest when they're miserable. The word "freedom" rings hollow for them. We should never forget that.

I have a picture saved on my computer at home. It's hidden, difficult to find, because normally I don't want to find it. But, sometimes, when I need a reminder of the importance of the drastically revamped American foreign policy of pre-emptive warfare, I wind my way back to that picture: a picture of a man, falling head first from one of those ill-fated towers, a man who, until that ugly morning, had hopes and dreams not unlike the hopes and dreams of all of us. He simply wanted to live. But he wouldn't. Not that day. That day he had to jump to escape the searing heat and suffocating smoke. Get over that? No fucking way.

Posted by Ryan at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

Comments, Wonderful Comments!!!!

Yeah, it's anticlimactic, but what do you have to say? Eh? Eh? Can't hear you?

Posted by Ryan at 12:29 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2003

Plain Layne In Not-So-Plain Print

Michael Snider, reporter for Canada-based Macleans, and a fellow blogger (where HAVE you been lately, man?), wrote a fun article regarding the community aspect of blogging. Plain Layne, as should be the case, got top billing as a top blogger. Now, maybe Layne has the validation she needs to start writing professionally and drop her career as a Minicorp manager, a job that is robbing her of her personal life, and her readers of a great novel. Of course, a few other familiar bloggers are mentioned (moi being one of them).

But, read the article, and then start blogging, because I need something else to distract me from work.

Posted by Ryan at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2003

Drinking a Beer, Blabbing a Blog

People often ask me, "Ryan, what's the best part of attending tech conventions." Actually, people never ask me that, but if they did, I'd tell them "The free food and beer."

Oh, and sitting out at the swimming pool during the break watching scantily clad women. That's nice, too.

Since my flight left Rochester at 5:25 a.m. Saturday morning, which, technically speaking, is well before the ass crack of dawn, it's understandable that I slept the entire way to Orlando. And I mean, I slept. HARD. Worst moment of the flight? I was soundly sleeping, entered REM mode, and had a dream that the plane I was on was about to crash. And I mean this was a VIVID dream. We were just about to crash land, with all the passengers crying and praying when, at the moment of impact and mayhem, the pilot of the plane in the real world, not my dream world, came over the loud speaker to announce our final descent into Orlando. I almost woke up screaming my ass off. Terrifying.

But, we landed with no problem.

Beer's empty. Must return to convention.

Posted by Ryan at 07:09 PM | Comments (0)

Here I Am In Florida, Or Lando

Did I mention that I had to attend a convention in Orlando this week? I have to attend a convention in Orlando this week. Nice hotel. Really nice, actually. It's a toned down version of the gaudy Opryland I stayed at in Indianapolis many, many, many months ago. Yes, the Gaylord Palms is quite nice, and my room is HUGE. I keep expecting someone else to come in and share the room with me.

At any rate. blogging will be light, at least until Wednesday. I'll post cryptically whenever I can steal away to the semi-circle of laptops that constitute the Internet area. Now I must find a Diet Pepsi, if possible. Unlikely though, so I may have to opt for Diet Coke. Forgive me, Pepsi, for I know not what I do.

Posted by Ryan at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

Schizophrenic Screed for Sept. 2, 2003

And now, for your enjoyment, I bring you the second installment of the raving lunacy that is the Stewartville Star's classified ad "Miscellaneous" conspiracy theorist/bona fide whacko." If you need further explanation, I suggest you scroll down a few posts.

MACHEYE. No further controls for the black pearl of the censor in the nose. Left elbow consisting of a high frequency known as 22-2-50. Low frequency 22-2-25. Right elbow storage center. By using high or low frequencies in the sun belt they can make optical illusions look real. They will try to fool you any way they can with lies, propaganda, falsifying paperwork and saying they don't know. Mr. President Bush now acts like a big fool. The only thing I can say, he just made a bigger fool out of all of us. Called we the people of the United States darn fool. R-13FCF.

PS The genetic number to the right that you don't want to forget: 22-2-284-green.

So, there you have it folks. A schizophrenic dude who hates W. Keep in mind, he hated Clinton before Bush, from what I can tell. He's so, um, difficult to understand, but he did hate Clinton. I know this because he cornered me once at the Stewartville library, in 1999, well before the election, and told me that the Clinton administration was responsible for some strange infestation in his hair. In his defense, his fingernails were smeared with a white substance, but I'm pretty sure it was dandruff.

I ducked into the local Hardees. And met Jessica Alba (I wish). I mean, Jessica Alba, how cool would that be. Jessical Alba, man, Jessica Alba. Jessica Alba. Jessica Alba.

It's so hard to reason with the insane.

Posted by Ryan at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2003

Just A Little Reminder From The Good Folks At English Grammar

In the English-speaking world, there is a little thing called a double negative, which, when spoken, makes a positive. A classic example of this is the Rolling Stones' "I Can't Get No Satisfaction." Now, what Mick meant to say is that "He can't get any satisfaction." But, by saying "can't get NO satisfaction," he's actually saying that he's absolutely rolling in satisfaction. What he CAN'T get, according to the double-negative grammar rule, is a relief from all that satisfaction. I know, I know. Shut up, Ryan, you're ruining a classic song.

Okay, so let's examine Pink Floyd for a second. "We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control." Applying the same rule, we discover that they DO need education, and they DO need thought control.

Fine, Ryan, whatever. Do you have a fucking point?

Just this. Everywhere you look in newspapers and Web sites, you see the term "anti-war protesters." Do you see where I'm going with this? Sooo, if you're an "anti-war protester," aren't you then, in fact, a war supporter? After all, if your aim is to be a "war protester," you should say "war protester." You're protesting war. You're not protesting anti-war. Or, maybe you are. Confused yet? Good.

My point is, it's sloppy grammar to say "anti-war protester," and I find it astounding that reputable news agencies can't catch themselves making such a common sense mistake, over and over and over again. After all, aren't they supposed to be experts with the written word? Maybe I'm looking too deeply into this.

Maybe I just can't get no satisfaction.

Posted by Ryan at 02:27 PM | Comments (1)

September 03, 2003

Depleted Uranium

Being that I'm not a nuclear physicist, I've stayed away from the debate regarding the military's use of depleted uranium shells. But, in the back of my mind, I've always pretty much sided with the military. After all, it would have to be a pretty jaded military juggernaught that would specially train skilled tank crews and then load them into a tank chock full of radioactive shells.

But, there are those folks out there, the perpetual whiner known as Riverbend being top amongst them, who maintain that DU shells are responsible for everything from children with three legs to old men with bad breath. Being that she's an Iraqi (supposedly), I can understand why she casts doubt on everything around her, but I just end up thinking that her screeds against DU shells sound suspiciously like the rantings of a soul who has been fed Ba'athist propaganda her whole life. Hell, according to her, the 1991 Gulf War was overkill (note to Riverbend: blame Saddam on that one, sweetheart, I'm sure the Kuwaitis didn't appreciate being raped and killed by your overhyped military machine).

But, getting back to the issue of DU. I don't know all the science, but I DO know that UNDEPLETED uranium-238 isn't all that toxic in its own right. It's present in a lot of things on this planet, including tobacco plants. Sure, it can be refined to be more radioactive, but that's a different story entirely. To hear critics tell it, though, you'd think DU shells are miniature nukes, and that's just plain, well, wrong. Overly simplistic, and wrong.

Like I said, I don't profess to know all the science surrounding DU, but this blogger does, and his take on DU seems a lot more informed and a whole lot more level-headed.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Posted by Ryan at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2003

A Spam To Be Shared, Savored, Laughed At, And Ignored

I don't normally give spam e-mails even a passing nod, but this one had me howling. HOWLING I tell you.

Dear Sir

With great pleasure and regards do please consider our request I got your contact from an email directory and I decided to contact you and seeker your
assistance to help me make claim of my fund. i am from Angola and my father was the rebel learder who was short dead on monday 25, febuary 2002, by the opposing force of Angola Army force, for the pass years now our country have been in political crisis and conflits, between the Unita rebel and government allied forces

Well, gee, how can I NOT take "great pleasure" away from that paragraph? He was short dead? Do the midgets of the world know of this life-threatening affliction?


I am living hear in the Netherland as asylum seeker and my family are in Gabon. Before the death of my father he has disclosed to me about fund he had deposited in a security company hear in Holland The total amount of which happened to be 32 million USDollars. The ducument covering the consignment fund was handed over to me by my father before his death,i carefully search and found the security company where i confirmed that the consignment were deposited in their security vauit in Holland.As the next of king to the depositor,the security company has accepted to release the consignment.

Well, he can't spell for shit, but he sure can concoct a whopper of a tale. Best line: "which happened to be 32 million USDollars." Well, if it just HAPPENED to be that much, I'll bite.

I am seeking your assistance because, my father has declared the record With security company stating that his foreign partner shall be the authorised person to make claim on this consignment because of his position in the goverment on which no name was giving by my late father as his foreign partner to this effect,i request to make you the beneficiary of this consignment.for your assistance,i am ready to give you 15 percent, from the the total fund.

Oh, happy, joyful, day! How lucky I am to be singled out for this wondrous financial windfall! I'll be rich, I tell you! Rich! My take in the whole deal will just HAPPEN to be $4.8 million!

Note this transaction is 100% risk free and of mutul benefit to both of us.In this situation every process to completely move this fund may exceed for 7 working days,with your co-operation to assist me and my family.

Well, it's a good thing he pointed out this is a risk-free endeavor. I was getting kind of suspicious there for a second. But, relax Ryan. All is kosher.

Dear friend include your phone,fax number address for easier communication and to notify the security company,you are the beneficiary who will make claims of the fund i will be very grateful to hear from you as soon as possible to know how to proceed.

Well, friend, let's proceed thusly. I will extend my middle finger, tell you to kindly fuck off, maybe brush up on your English writing proficiency, and then perhaps you can go to hell. Let's proceed like that, shall we? Please contact me if you have any questions on this process.

Posted by Ryan at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

A Fair Weekend

First off, don't ask me what's wrong with the comment engine. I don't know what's wrong with the comment engine. I will address the problem later, maybe, I don't know. In the meantime, e-mail me any comments should they be so important that they require saying. I apologize for any inconvienience. Actually, I don't.

Melissa and I went to the Minnesota State Fair Friday eveing, along with my friend, Marc, and Mel's friend, Alyssa, who we're trying to hook up so Marc can extricate himself from the nightmarish bitch known as Kelli and enjoy a somewhat normal relationship for a change. But, my, how I did just ramble on.

I was new to the Fair, having never attended the annual gathering. And, all I can say is, holy shit, what a massive celebration that is. I don't know if Friday night was some sort of fluke or what, but the fairgrounds, which take up many, many city blocks, were packed. We stood on a slight hill for a little while, watching an absolute sea of people below us. I haven't seen crowds like that since my days living in Tokyo when I would watch the phenomenon of street-crossing hordes in areas such as Roppongi and Shibuya. It was sort of exhilirating, in a way.

I had purposely avoided food all day in order to gorge myself on fair food, and my first stop was a mini doughnut stand. I followed that up with a bratwurst, and I followed that up with a pronto pup, and I followed that up with even more mini doughnuts, and I followed that up with the most God-awful taco thingee that very nearly rotted out my innards. And to think I actually paid for all of that ($4 for a bratwurst, for crying out loud). Oh, I also had a bite of Melissa's crepe thingee, which had a texture not unlike human flesh, and some cheese curds. I am soooooo going to two hours of hapkido tonight, which will probably only work off the pronto pup and maybe one bag of mini doughnuts.

After the fair, we all went to Ol' Mexico for some drinkee goodness, and then Marc disappointed Mel and I by being a complete and total bonehead by not asking Alyssa for her number, or even angling in for a goodnight kiss, even though it had been their THIRD evening out together, and even though Alyssa practically had a buzzing neon sign on her forehead flashing "Interested!!" Marc's excuse? Well, he really didn't have one. He's totally into Alyssa, and he practically suffered a stress-related coronary getting ready for the date, but it all boils down to a demented shyness on his part, combined with a total inability to read obvious signs. Hell, Alyssa could have stripped naked and whispered "take me now," and Marc would have asked "Sure, where do you want to go?"

Saturday was the most decadent day in recent memory. Melissa and I stirred awake at about 11 a.m. She got up for a little while before sliding back into bed, initiating a fantastic bout of sex. Then we fell asleep until 2 p.m., waking up only for another romp. Then we went back to sleep until 5 p.m., waking up for, well, you know. We didn't officially get out of bed until 6:30 p.m., at which point we took a stroll to the local Rainbow Foods to buy ingredients for the meal I had in mind that would center around a batch of Japanese curry I liberated from my parents' kitchen awhile back. We also stopped at the local MGM liquor store for a complementing bottle of merlot. Back at the apartment, I cooked the main curry sauce, which was probably one of my most successful attempts EVER. I put Melissa in charge of the rice, and she did a fantastic job as well. Following the meal, we watched a little too much Trading Spaces, and then wrapped up the evening by sexing it up on her coffee table. It was the most lazy, perfect day we could have ever hoped for.

Sunday morning there was a knock at the door. We didn't answer, but I shuffled over to the door to retrieve the note slipped underneath. It was from the caretaker telling Mel to call the landlord. Turns out, the woman living below Mel complained bitterly about the noise over the previous two evenings. Noise? Oh. Right. Coffee table sex. Gotcha. Melissa apologized profusely and then hung up. Then, we engaged in, well, you know. Around that time, we heard a cacophony of noise erupting outside: sirens of every type screamed down the street, and I knew something rather substantial must have happened not too far away. In fact, this happened. Oh well, we were safe and sound. Once again, we lazily lounged about the apartment until 4 p.m., at which time we finally decided to get off our arses and go rollerblading. For three hours. I couldn't WAIT to get those things off my feet. Then, it was off to Ol' Mexico for dinner, trivia and drinks. Our night concluded at about 11 p.m. Despite all the sleep over the two previous days, we were strangely pooped. Must have been the rollerblading.

Monday, Labor Day, we slept until noon. Honestly, we slept so much over the three day weekend, I think we almost entered another dimension. We lounged around the apartment for most of the day and, well, you know. At 5 p.m., we drove to Lake Calhoun, where we took a leisurely stroll along the shore and soaked in the waning summer odors and felt the tickle of encroaching fall in the air. It's almost imperceptible, but there's a cool tinge to the air, and the angle of the shadows as the sun descends hints at the planetary tilt of the earth on its axis, rocking us ever so gradually towards winter. Taken together, autumn can be felt in a real, tangible way, and it's a little bit depressing, while at the same time it holds promise for holidays and little enjoyments of the darker, colder seasons.

A little after 7 p.m., I kissed Melissa goodbye and started the hour long journey back to Rochester. It was a strangely surreal drive home as the sun disappeard, with Mars a piercing beacon of red low in the sky in front of me. Summer is over. It really is. Melissa starts school this week, and my weekly visits to her and from her will be drastically curtailed as she works toward her degree and I just, well, work. I'm not complaining, mind you, just reflecting. Once again, it was such a madhouse of a summer, things happened almost too fast to realize that things were happening. I hope that won't be the case always, but I'm pretty sure it will be.

Welcome to September, everyone. Time marches on.

Posted by Ryan at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)
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