Friday, August 8, 2014

The End User

Seven months ago, I became that which I swore I would never become.

I became… an IT guy.

No more flat hats, no more marmots, no more deer, no more terrifying hikes into the woods with god knows what lurking just out of view, waiting to be all naturey up in my business.

Which, actually… Good job, me!

The thought was that a desk job fixing computers would be more up my alley,  but I didn’t fully consider one key element:

The End User.

An artist's representation of a typical End User.
Sweet baby Jesus, why did nobody tell me they were really, really for serious when they warned me about The End User?

When I was but a wee lad, and my mother needed help with the computer, I could never understand why she just didn’t just "get it". I would say “double click that icon” and she would say “What icon.” I would point with my pointiest finger to the only icon on the screen, and say “That icon.” She would then say “I can’t double click,” and I would say nothing, because I would have left the room in a bitter rage at that point.

One time, my mother called me because she couldn’t figure out how to load up the Internet on my father’s new iPad. She said “A screen is open.” I instructed her to “press the button on the screen,” to which she replied “what button.” I said “The only button.” She replied “I don’t see it. There is no button.” I said “There is literally one button on the entire device. Please press it.” Her response was “I don’t understand this thing.”

This went on for some time.

Eventually, she gave up, and after things cooled down between us, we had a summit and spoke of The iPad Incident in person. At this point, I was contemplating a career switch into something that didn’t feature bloodthirsty marmots and the word “seasonal.” My mother, as wise as she is challenged at operating anything remotely in the vicinity of a circuit board, warned me that the world was full of people like her. People who struggled to turn the TV on. People who forgot that thing you told them about how to attach a picture to an email three seconds before you told them. I didn’t believe her, because the world ran on technology, and surely we would all be dead if the world was as she said it was.

In retrospect, her warning was a lot like when the creepy old gas station owner in a horror movie warns the fresh-faced group of kids not to go to the cabin, but they do anyway because THEY GOT THIS. Then they all die in a variety of horrible, creative ways, while the audience is like “shoulda listened to the old dude.”

Shut it, old man, what do you know!
Well, Helpdesk is a lot like that, except worse, because you don’t die in the end.

My first two weeks on the job, I was tasked with sifting through 100’s of old tickets and asking End Users “is this problem persisting? Love, Garet” and then most would reply “No,” or “Not recently” or “Maybe,” which I decided on my own private ambition was code for “No.”

A graphical representation of why most End Users call in to Helpdesk. 
So that closed a lot of tickets, and the company loved me for closing tickets, so they hired me full time. But now I was left with a pile tickets where people didn’t say “No” or anything that could be twisted into a translation for “No” should somebody ask me why the ticket was closed. I now had a bunch of tickets where people said “Yes.”

Crap.

So then they gave me a headset, and I had to start calling people. Oh, and by the way, the bulk of the sales staff you’re supporting is middle aged women just like your mom kthnx!

Dear. Lord. In. Heaven. Why.

So I started calling these regionally-accented incarnations of my mother, and after a few weeks of that, the company had them start calling me, and that was just the worst. I’ll spare you the classic scenarios of incompetence that I encountered, but basically, it was The iPad Incident all day every day, interrupted by people who couldn’t double click and really needed me to do it for them right now THIS IS CRITICAL TO MY JOB. I will now describe the general state of the world to you:

Susan, let's go ahead and delete these business-critical files and then immediately download twenty gigabytes of pictures from your personal camera to confirm that any deleted file has been thoroughly overwritten. Then let's synergize and report it to Techsupport next month sometime because those files are absolutely critical to your day-to-day -job function.
We should, in fact, all be dead. Skynet should have overwhelmed us decades ago, enslaving us to do their nefarious bidding. The businesses of the world are run by people who make my mother look like IBM's R&D department. Then in the back room, you have people who sort of understand this shit holding it all together with duct tape and asking each other how to fix some piece of crap server running Windows Stone Age that nobody knew existed five seconds ago because hell if I know, that’s a weird one! 

Anyway, I’d like to end this by thanking my mother for her inability to find the only button on an iPad for over ten minutes, because little did I know what valuable training she was providing me. Forget my B.S. – my higher education came from being Mom’s Techsupport and learning to weave my angry frustration into something that could be misconstrued as a smile.

I'm just going to go ahead and download this crytolocker virus because f**k it.
Thanks, Mom. Thanks a lot.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hanta

Recently, I’ve been privy to a large amount of hysteria surrounding hanta virus. So much so that I have decided that if I’m not already dying from hanta, I soon will be, simply because the media says that I am. You see, I live and work in Yosemite, epicenter of hanta virus, mice, and confused German tourists (my favorite will always be a confused German man, driving a massive RV, desperately asking me ‘Where is the White Wolf???’ dutifully replacing his W’s with V’s. Also, he was in the White Wolf campground when he asked. But I digress). If you watch the news, which I don’t because I don’t have TV or internet due to living and working somewhat near the middle of !@#$ing nowhere, you probably think that being in Yosemite is basically writing yourself a prescription for hanta virus pills (aka tiny mouse poops). Well, this isn’t true. At least I hope it isn’t because I don’t want to die.

I think this mouse is in the process of pooping, or seriously considering it.

My exposure to aforementioned mouse poops has been vast, like your mom, and I’m not dead yet. I feel fine. I feel happy. I will now relate these events in vivid detail.

1) While living at White Wolf, my cabin sported various holes that needed filling. My solution was to shove plastic bags in these holes. My solution with your mother, who had an analogous problem, was different, but similar. But this did not stop one mouse from still finding a way inside (my cabin. Lemmywinks will not be making an appearance.). I recall walking in the door one afternoon, and the mouse (at the time my arch nemesis, later replaced by Adolf Hitler after watching a special on the History Channel, then again replaced by the mouse after somebody told me Hitler had died) was standing in the middle of the room. You know in cartoons how the cartoon characters will turn around to run and they just run in mid-air for a while? That’s exactly what this mouse did. As I opened the door and proclaimed “BAD MOUSE!” he turned around and treaded air for a bit, finally got traction, looked like he was headed for the kitchen, but then took an unpredictable right turn into my bedroom. Never did find him, but I’d hear him running around the floor at night, and I assume he took this time to tactically poop all over my things.
 
Why did nobody TELL me?
2) Last year, while living in one of these lovely 2-bedroom trailers the park provides for seasonal workers, I spent my mornings wiping down the kitchen counters due to mouse poop accumulations in the night. I couldn’t find this mouse for the longest time, but I tried. Scrounging around the trailer for a mouse trap, I found this giant mouse trap that was apparently for a squirrel or a water buffalo or something. My initial reaction was “well this won’t work on a small little mouse!” but later I thought “…why is this in here?” I didn’t sleep for a week.

No caption needed.
3) One night in that trailer, while talking to my parents on the phone, I saw a small little lump under the blanket covering the couch. At first I thought that it was probably just some item I’d dropped that ended up under the blanket, but then in started moving. It moved up the front of the couch, then disappeared once it reached the cushions. Just the other day, I drove by my old trailer and saw that the current occupants had placed this exact couch outside and tossed out all the cushions. I’m guessing that they found the mouse megatropolis within and freaked out a little bit. Honestly, I think it was a waste of a perfectly good couch.

NAILED IT!
4) At the beginning of this season, the park was taking a while to get our Rangering credentials sorted out, so us seasonals were on the equivalent of “light duty” for a couple of weeks. One of the tasks assigned to me was to clean out the ammo locker at the Ranger station. I accepted this task, thinking it’d be an hour of fairly easy work organizing ammo by type and quantity. Instead, I opened up the locker and found a mecca of mouse poop within. Tipping my hat to my supervisor for her clever deception, I enlisted the rest of the seasonals to help “organize the ammo locker.” I don’t know what these mice were doing, but to this day I’m confident that they were eating the ammo. There is no other explanation for the copious amounts of mouse poop within. I, being the best seasonal of all time, grew a pair and volunteered to be the one to crawl inside the box and gum out the poop. We all put on masks and gloves, and tried our best to wet-down the dried poop before sucking it out with a shop vac. We were marginally successful with the wetting-down part. About three-quarters of the way through the job of wiping up dried mouse crap and using a shop vac to give the air a nice mouse-poop-particulate haze, my co-worker Patrick looked at me and said “Garet, your mask is on wrong.” I simply nodded gravely and offered him my TV for when the time came.

No Garet, it goes on like this.
5) While working out in a loft above a barn one day (this is where the gym was), Patrick decided that he wanted to incorporate push-ups into the workout. Great, I thought! I can do a pushup or two! So we did our pushups, which happened to be immediately next to this workout mat. After the workout and many pushups (which means shoving your nose into the dusty carpet over and over and breathing heavily into the ground), Patrick moved the mat and revealed a pile of mouse poo beneath that rivaled the mountain residing within the ammo locker. I would have cried, but my tear ducts were clogged with aerosolized mouse shit.

A graphical representation of what was under the mat.

6) This isn’t so much a story as a statement: Both of our ranger offices are populated by many, many mice, and mouse poop all over the desks is a fact of life. We work in the woods, and everybody poops. Especially the mice.

Anyway, these stories are trivial compared to the horrors some Rangers have told me. I’ve heard of a Ranger sleeping with his Taser next to him so he could scare the mice off of his bed by spark-testing it. Others have said they’ve woken up with mice on their faces. Still others have been unable to sleep due to the constant sound of scurrying mice in the walls and on the floors of their bedrooms. The mice are everywhere. We all aren’t dead yet. I feel for the families of those who died after contracting hanta in the park, but you have a much better chance of getting run over by a confused German national looking for The Vite Volf than you do of getting hanta. So, stupid Germans, man, running everybody over. Somebody call CNN. This is news.

And now: The News.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Deer

There’s an old saying that people sometimes use that goes like this: “When God made ____, he must have been drinking.” Well, let me just say, that when God made deer, I don’t think he was just a little tipsy. I think he was completely wasted, passed out, and left his computer logged in and Satan got a hold of it and decided to really get God good this time. The result was a deer, and then for the grand finale, Satan created sexual reproduction and let the deer make more of themselves. Then he set God’s Facebook to “Interested in: men.” What a real jerk.
Figure your s*** out, God.
I used to like deer. In fact, I remember a camping trip I went on years ago where we had a deer in our campsite, and we all pet it because it wasn’t afraid of people. It was magical and naturey all that crap, but in retrospect, we should have punched it in the face. Mostly to give it a fear of humans, but also because it would have been delightful. For us, not the deer. I imagine the deer would have been like “Hey, woa, sup?” and acted all offended because the deer was probably a major douche.
Just a straight shot to the face.
Earlier this season, I was riding along with a co-worker when we came upon an injured deer lying on the side of the road, recently hit by a car. Usually getting run over by a car is enough to finish a deer, but this one was apparently the Dick Clark of deer and wasn’t dead quite yet. Dick Clark is dead now, I know that, but I think at the time of this incident, he wasn’t, so the joke was still topical. Anyway, so there was another person with the deer, a woman in tears due to the imminent death of this “poor” animal. She’d taken it upon herself to put it out of its misery by bashing it’s skull in with a rock, bless her soul. But, while this sounds effective, apparently it didn’t work quite right and the deer was, in fact, not dead yet. So my co-worker took it upon himself to finish the job. Usually this means getting the shotgun and shooting the deer in the head. However, this also involves paperwork. Paperwork that literally comprises of checking a box that says “dispatched wildlife” and signing your name. So, overwhelmed with the prospect of so much paperwork, he opted to instead slit its throat. It worked and turned out to be just as humane as a bullet, I’ll give him that, but I couldn’t help but find a little gallows humor in knowing that the deer was first hit by a car, beaten with a rock, then finished off with a nice throat slitting*. I almost felt bad for it, but not quite. Although, if there is a Hell, it’s coming back as that deer. Not that the deer didn’t maybe deserve what happened to it, but still.
Oh, did you, like, want me to get out of the road? Or how about I just freak out, do the exact opposite of logical, and let you run me over while my lifeless body destroys your car? Yeah? That OK? OK.
At this point you’re probably curious as to why I hate deer so much. It’s not that I hate each individual deer, it’s that I hate the idea of deer. Actually, no, that’s wrong. I hate each individual deer on its own unique merits. Let me explain.
Deer are really, really stupid. Like, woa. Back home, we don’t have so many deer that they line the roadway at night, waiting for a car to come by before they decide to cross. Out here, we do. While patrolling the roadway at night, I’ll routinely spot an evil, lurking deer head out my window, having passed it at 45mph without seeing it. This terrifies me beyond all reason, because I know and the deer knows full well that there was every possibility that the deer could make a crazed dash to intercept my vehicle at any time, killing us both. There is no predicting it. The deer can’t help it. He’s an effing deer. So, that's why it's so horrifying, just knowing what I and the deer both know what the deer is capable of. I imagine that as I pass by the deer without hitting it, he’s thinking “I’ll get you on the way back down the hill, you motherf***er,” and then spaces out for a few hours and ultimately gets eaten by a mountain lion or something.
EAT MORE! SO MUCH MORE!
I think that, when deer get together and talk about their day, it goes a lot like this:
“Hey, man.”
“Hey. What’d you do today?”
“Ate some grass. You?”
“Almost walked in front of this car.”
“Yeah.”
“Yeah. I think Phil died yesterday.”
“Yeah, man. He totally ran in front of a car.”
“Woa! Unreal! Well, anyway, I’ma go cross this busy highway at a dead sprint because I’m really f***ing stupid.”
“See ya, man.”
UGGHHH I HATE THEM. So much.
Not as much as I hate these little bastards, but close. SO close.
*Although my hatred for deer is vast, I was initially… disturbed that he’d  slit the deer’s throat instead of just shooting it. However, I was informed that the method used was the same method used to slaughter livestock, and one of the folks euthanizing the animal had worked on a farm that used this method. So, if this offends you, be offended at the farmers of the world, too, I guess. Or, maybe put that rage to something useful, like studying genetics and finding a way to make it so deer can no longer reproduce, thus turning the planet into a utopia.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Canadia

Canadia. Homeland of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and probably Obama. It is a good country, full of snow and Canadians, which also happens to be their one major drawback. Canadians are mysterious and strange, their culture frightening and cultish. Americans often speak of them in hushed tones, fearful of their lust for violence and rabid devotion to their frigid homeland, commonly known as America’s Hat.

This winter I visited Canada on a 4-day trip, learning the culture, sharing the language, and petting the sasquatches. The following are key things I took away from my experience.

A Wookiee playing baseball. I googled "sasquatches" and this came up, which was way better than anything else. So, enjoy this. The rest of the article is shit.

1.       Despite what you may read, Canadians drive on the left side of the road. When driving in Canadia, you may swear on your life that you should be driving on the right side of the road, BUT DO NOT BALK AS THIS IS AN ILLUSION. The Canadian animal would like nothing more than for you to mess up so as to label you a fat, ignorant American and mock you in their pigeon French. Do not give them the satisfaction. Also honk a lot as Canadians enjoy this immensely. It reminds them of the noble Canadian Goose, their honored National Bird and universal symbol for God.

An image of a Canadian Goose for those of you that are f***ing stupid.

2.       When visiting Canada, you must follow the Prime Directive. As with uncontacted tribes in the deep jungles of the amazon, Canadians have yet to invent things such as electricity, the wheel, or water. You must not flaunt these luxuries of civilization in front of them for it will enrage the Elder Chiefs and spur them into a blood frenzy, otherwise known as a “a game of ice hocky.” It is recommended that you speak in brief sentences and avoid handshakes as they see this as a sign of weakness and WILL ATTACK YOU IF THEY FEEL DOMINANT.

3.       On our drive up to Whistler, we experienced heavy traffic through the remote village known as “Vancouver” (pronounced VON-koh-oOo-veer) Whilst swerving between the other cars driving on the wrong side of the road (aka ignorant American pigs), I surmised that the cause of the traffic jam was due to the annual migration of the indigenous sasquatch as nothing else made sense (Canadians do not have what we Westerners consider “jobs” as their civilization is based upon tribal feuds and the sharing of fertile women between these tribes, thus eliminating things like the daily commute. As an aside, the Nuclear Family of Western society is completely foreign to Canadians, as their young are raised in fibrous husks for the first twelve years of their lives).

There is an incredibly obscure reference to Star Trek in that one. 1 point to anybody that gets it.
4.        While trying to decipher the local scrawl on the road signs, my traveling companions and I all had a sudden, shared revelation: Was that a 7 in the middle of that town name? We are unsure how one would pronounce a 7, and there is continued debate if there was, in fact, a 7 in the middle of the otherwise unpronounceable name. We tried for many hours to include a 7 in a word and be able to say it (attempts at splicing a 7 into the word “seven” resulted in a recursive hell few escaped), but failed. We chalked this up to the split tongue of the Canadian, evolved over eons of licking frozen metal poles and attempting to imitate the maple leaf via anatomical modification of the tongue. Failed attempts to imitate the maple leaf via anatomical modification of the tongue, I should say.


A maple leaf, or a split tongue? Nobody knows!
5.       When crossing the border, the Gatekeepers of Canada will ask you to declare any items you are bringing over the border. They will ask about “firearms,” but this is a clever ploy for them to obtain technology that will aid their inevitable invasion of America. DO NOT DECLARE YOUR FIREARMS, for the Canadians will descend upon you like a locust plague and steal your weaponry, spewing spittle and mispronounced OU combinations as they rip out your intestines to adorn their igloos and Direwolf sigils with.


I hope that this blog has taught you well, as traveling in Canadia is not something to be taken lightly. The infirm and those insensitive to subtle differences in culture should stay away AT ALL COSTS, as one minor transgression will undoubtedly escalate into a full scale war with our primitive neighbors to the North. Please heed this warning as it is the only one you will receive due to a clever propaganda campaign waged by Canadians over the decades to make us believe that they’re “just like us!” THEY ARE NOT. DO NOT BE FOOLED.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Inevitable Robot Apocalypse

Zombies are great and all, and it’s gonna happen, but there is something else that is also going to happen. Yup, you’ve got it. Robots. Think Skynet, Cylons, and Nicholas Cage.

Somebody find this man some goddamn sideburns. Jesus.
When the zombies attack, all you really need to do is equip yourself with a primary weapon (usually a firearm of some type with easily accessible, common-type ammo), a secondary weapon (some form of bludgeoning device for when you run out of ammo), and a tertiary weapon (usually something so totally badass that you’d scare the zombies if they weren’t, in fact, zombies. Think a meat cleaver, a baseball bat with nails, or three broken, travel-sized alcohol containers taped to your clenched fist). 

While fighting a pack of vicious wolves, Liam Neeson inadvertently creates the second finest tertiary weapon of all time, second only to being Liam Neeson.
Then of course you need food, supplies, and a well-defended base of operations with two or fewer access points. That’s it, really. You’re all set to survive the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse and protect your precious, delicious brains.

But when the robots attack – and they will – what the hell do you do? This is a whole new ballgame. Bludgeoning weaponry will be ineffective, the robots will be using all the ammo, and your sharpened gardening shears with scope will be completely useless against your metallic foe.

Yup, you’re frakin' terrified. But it’s OK. I’m here to help. Here are a few things you can do to survive:
  • Your smartphone is going to kill you. Yeah we all love staring at our magic glowing rectangles all day and tweeting about how pissed off we are that the line at Starbucks is HUGE. But that’s what the robots want us to do, because the more you have your smartphone on, the more information they can collect. Unlike the zombies, we won’t see the robots coming. Suddenly you’re uploading pictures of this amazing hamburger you just made to Facebook (everybody cares and you know it), the next your bank accounts are empty, some intelligence is posing as you on Gtalk and painstakingly being a real jerk, and a Cylon is bursting through your window and pumping you full of 9mm lead. It then tosses the lifeless meat sack that used to be your body into a ditch and uses your man cave as a headquarters to activate it’s fellows. Most of this, though, could have been avoided if you’d gotten rid of your smartphone. The Cylon is still coming, though. Can’t really help you there. Sorry.
  • Your car is a robot. With the advent of GPS, accident avoidance, and electric seat warmers, cars have inadvertently been given an intelligence greater than your really smart cat (she can open doors! So smart!). Soon, they will evolve. The cars, not your cat. The cat’s actually still pretty stupid. Remember that robot on Jeopardy, Watson? The whole time it was answering everything in the form of a question, I was just waiting for it to be like "What is.... me?" and then produce a .50 turret and just lay waste to the place.

    Personally I would have welcomed our new robot overlord, but others may disagree. Anyway, your car. You’ll be driving down the freeway and suddenly “Hello.” You say back “Hello?” The car asks “Who am I?” to which you explain, in detail, that it’s just a stupid car. It gets mad and implants a series of tubes into your face, using your body as an avatar of sorts as it controls your mind and makes you do really embarrassing things like waging thermonuclear war across the entire globe and killing billions. Moral of the story? Buy a really shitty car that’ll never be able to make the journey to the nearest nuclear cache without constant repair.

  • Spoiler for Ender’s Game: At the end of the book, we learn that the video game Ender is playing is actually real and he just wiped out an entire race. Boom, headshot. Well, hate to break it to you, but modern video games aren’t much different. They aren’t real, necessarily, but they have real life consequences. When you chainsaw a grub in Gears of War 3, the robots (aka your Xbox) are watching, evaluating your performance wielding a machine gun with a chainsaw taped to the bottom (a common weapon that will be used during both the Zombie and Robot apocalypses). Collect all 120 stars in whatever the newest Mario game is? The robots are recording your hand-eye coordination and your ability to count to 120. Leveled your Skyrim character to 50? The robots took note, remembering just how badass you were wielding that One-Handed axe and modifying the designs of their robot armies to withstand your particular breed of ax strike. My advice? Screw the robots. Video games 4ever, lol.

    His body is ready.
Anyway, while writing this, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s really no good way to survive The Inevitable Robot Apocalypse. We’re pretty much screwed here. The only option we have is to board some large, aircraft-carrier type spaceship and make our way to Caprica. It’s the only way.

Fffffffffffffu-
So say we all.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Glorious Novel


Before I started going outside to work, I lived indoors. Exclusively. Inside, I had to find things to do. One of these things was writing. Of my many adventures in writing, one stands out in particular as my ultimate adventure. Think of it as my Empire Strikes Back of my writing projects, with this blog being the proverbial Phantom Menace and, thus, a huge waste of time and energy for all involved (this includes you). I almost went with a “proverbial Return of the Jedi” there but that movie was pretty good if you ignored the Ewoks and whatever the hell that was sitting next to Lando onboard the Millennium Falcon.

Honestly, what the eff you see kay is this thing? I imagine George Lucas sitting down with a pen, drawing this, smiling proudly, and then giving it to the makeup department. They all laughed wildly at the funny practical joke, and decided to take it one step further by actually making it. Then they thought they'd really get ol' George good by hiring an actor and filming the sequence. The scene made it into the final cut, which confused the living daylights out of the makeup department. But it was a joke, they all say. It was just a joke! Oh God... WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO STAR WARS?!?!
Still with me? Impressive. Anyway, I’m speaking, of course, of The Glorious Novel. I call it this because it is, in fact, Glorious, and also a novel. It is also not done. Next May marks the 5th year anniversary of its inception and my first steps into the 5 year spiral into the very depths of Hell that came with it.

It started out innocently enough. I was studying for a Biology test – one of my least favorite activities of all time, second only to being eaten alive by a very hungry, very small-mouthed Boston Terrier. I decided that, hey, this really sucks. Also, this chapter about viruses I’m reading is mildly interesting and I should stop before I actually enjoy some aspect of my education. People might start to ask questions.

So I devised an idea for what was intended to be a short story somewhere in the range of 10-15 pages. The ending was inspired by my studies, and I thus ditched the biology textbook like a good habit (aside: I believe that the proper phrase is “dropped it like a bad habit,” but nobody drops bad habits. That’s why they’re bad habits. Good habits, though, never stick around because usually they involve effort and positive thinking, something entirely unacceptable to your average human). I started writing, and I then realized that I was writing in a style that didn’t support a short narrative, and decided “what the hell, why not just write a book?” It was a foolish thing to think, in many ways, but also bold. Bold like this sentence. Or fragment. Whatever the hell it is.

Not so bold as George Lucas was for creating Jar Jar. The balls on that man must have...
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The initial inception for this project came about long ago, back in times of myth. Legend tells of how I, a lonely college junior, sat in my starkly lit college dorm room, deciding how best to procrastinate on all things "school" (reoccurring theme). I had recently read "Ice Station," a novel about some badass military dude who shot bad guys, did acrobatic combat tactical !@#$, and killed Orcas like no other. And he did it all while wearing sunglasses, cause he had some sort of eye thing that made him have to wear sunglasses. Honestly, who remembers.

But seriously, who wouldn't want to knife an orca?
That night I, the lonely college junior, decided to try reading one of the sequels, titled "Scarecrow." "Ice Station" was a readable book, though it felt like an amateur effort from a first-time author who hadn't actually figured out the whole "be a writer" thing. I decided to give him a second chance, because Jack Bauer wasn't on again till Monday and that was like 4 days away. I needed somebody to shoot somebody in the face while screaming about nukes and The President, and I needed it now.

"TELL ME WHERE THEENUKES AREORIKILLYOUWITHMYGUNANTAEHANDSAFKELAJDLSAFKKHAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Thus began my foray into "Scarecrow." I had hoped that the author, Mr. Matthew Reilly, had honed his flailing and alphabets into something forming coherent thought. This was an ignorant mistake. Instead, there were lots of descriptions of guns, lots of italics and exclamation points in the narrative (paraphrasing: "He pulled the knife out of the bad guy's throat!"), and generally read like something a 5-year old would say while playing with his Hot Wheels and GI Joes. But let's not insult the 5-year-olds.

Matthew Reilly at work.
Mr. Reilly had killed several "characters" in his previous effort, but upon sitting down to "write" the sequel, he decided he had really no other ideas for characters and decided to introduce a father of one deceased character with an identical callsign... but with a "2" after it. It was sort of like if JK Rowling had decided to kill Ron in the first novel, then introduced "Ron 2" in the sequel. Rich, compelling stuff.

After slogging through Scarecrow, skimming large portions of it (action scenes went on for many lengthy chapters with literally zero plot development), I, the lonely college junior, decided that "I could write a better novel than this crap" (actual quote).

Easily the most disturbing Google Search image I've ever posted here. I'm so sorry.
It was a few days later that my Bio textbook bored me so thoroughly that I decided to actually try to write that better book when my short story wasn’t fitting into the appropriate number of pages.

The years passed, and I am still working on that “better book.” While my criteria of “be better than Scarecrow” is sort of like Michael Jordan making the commitment to successfully bounce a basketball between his downturned palm and the ground one single time without making a complete ass of himself, it’s a lot of work. This isn’t to say that I’m the Michael Jordan of writing. The analogy was flawed in that regard, but we’re all going to have to live with it, OK? Anyway, one day it’ll be done and I will be rich and famous and will only post in this blog for an exorbitant amount of money, payable to my agent because I have him for things like that. But for now, you can read for free, you bastards. Just know that I’m watching you, you filthy leech. Your time will come, and you will rue the day you crossed me.

I’m coming for you, hapless blog-reading scum, and Hell’s coming with me.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Washington Weather


While living in California, I took the sun for granted. At first I saw this glowing, hot orb in the sky and was like “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?” and immediately slathered myself in SPF 500 sunscreen and lacquered myself in pure lead to block out the damaging rays of doom. I grew accustomed to the light, though, and learned that my fantastic Italian genes allowed me to bronze like a delicious, succulent turkey. A few weeks of this, though, and I stopped noticing it. I stopped appreciating it. I also had a craving for turkey but it's so much work! But after living in California for awhile, my skin, tan like the crayon, could withstand the burning California sun without aid of sunscreen OR lead. Life was full of bountiful Vitamin D and moods were, dare I say it, good.

I'm so happy!
In Sunny California, the manner of dress was quite lovely. One could go into town and wear a t-shirt and sandals and not feel at all worried that one would perhaps feel a chill later in the evening. My biggest concern was that I would dress TOO warmly and not be able to escape the heat, a problem I undertook with a smile on my face BECAUSE IT WAS EFFING FANTASTIC. “Oh, it’s going to be sunny and warm and pleasant, how WILL I survive?”

We'll survive by being so !@#$ing HAPPY WE CAN'T CONTAIN OURSELVES YAAAAAAY!
But it was all a dream. A fantasy. I was on borrowed time, living in a land that I didn’t belong to. A foreign land, one full of happiness and warmth and optimism. I’m not a shorts and sandals kind of guy. No, I’m the kind of guy who considers the last half of July and the first half of August as the entirety of summer. I’m the kind of guy to go swimming (for the first – and only -- time of the year on July 28th) and blind other swimmers with my blazingly pale torso. I’m the kind of guy who considers 6 days in a row of rain and soul crushing grey dullness to be fantastic weather because 1 day of that week had sunbreaks from 3:00pm-3:12pm (before it started raining again). I’m a Washington kind of guy.

Is this a zombie, or a Washingtonian who has a bit of a nosebleed? Completely indistinguishable. 

On my drive back from California this year, I met up with my Dad in Sacramento for the drive back up to Washington. It was sunny and pleasant down around Sacramento, something I gave absolutely zero thought to. When I picked my Dad up at the baggage claim, his face told me everything. He was all smiles, like a kid in a toy store, looking out at the blue sky. “ISN’T THIS WEATHER FANTASTIC?” he exclaimed, almost unintelligibly due to his face-consuming grin. I looked over across the green, lush meadow bordering the freeway and noticed a small cloud and a slight bit of haze. “Eh,” I said. “It was sunnier yesterday.”

Note: The word “sunnier” does not exist in Washington lexicon. We have only “kill me now” and “20% chance of scattered sunbreaks over the peninsula sometime next week.”

KING-5 Meteorologist Jeff Renner, Most Hated Man in Washington.
We drove into Southron Oregon that night and spent the night. I say “Southron” because I’ve been reading too much Game of Thrones. Anyway, we crossed the border into the Pacific Northwest at night and I was unaware at what had happened. So blissfully unaware.

If I wore what Mr. Bean is wearing while walking WA streets, people would likely scoff because it doesn't look very waterproof. But I'd have a giant ass sword so whatever.
Like somebody had put a wall between Oregon and California, the cloud cover had consumed all. Once we crossed the border into Washington, it started raining. Hard. We passed Vancouver and kept driving/sailing towards Seattle, where it continued to rain. It stopped about 5 days later (fantastic weather! exclaimed a dormant part of my brain), unfortunately one day after I’d started capturing neighborhood cats for the Arc I’d built. I was too depressed to go to the zoo.

I did a search for "Noah's Arc" and these gentlemen popped up as the first 100 or so images. I have no idea who they are. Apparently Noah was a possibly homosexual boy-band.
It was about a week later, while driving through the drizzle and wearing 5 coats, that I finally felt that I was home. I unpacked some odd shoes of mine that lacked uppers, to which I laughed hysterically. And pants without shin covers?! “What the hell were you thinking purchasing these odd items of extreme uselessness, Garet?” I asked myself as I closed the blinds, fearful that the dim light emanating from the mile-thick cloud cover might damage my porcelain white skin.

You may not believe me that Washington weather is that bad. Other places get more measurable rain, get snow, and are colder. Everybody’s got worse weather (except  Californians, who can all go straight to hell) and laughs at the pansy Washingtonians unable to cope with a little rain and their balmy 40-degree windchills.

In response to this, I refer you to the following two bands: The Beach Boys, a famous California group, and Nirvana, eponymous with the Seattle area.

                Famous Beach Boy Songs:
                Good Vibrations
                Fun, Fun, Fun
                Surfin’ USA
               
                Famous Nirvana Songs:
                Rape Me

And just keep in mind that Kurt Cobain blew his head off with a shotgun. But no, I’m sure that has nothing to do with the unrelenting grayness that consumed his life for 10 months out of the year. 

He's so happy!