25 Random Things About Me (updated)

1. My dad kept his pistol in its holster, hanging on a hook in the bedroom closet.  When I was in high school, it accidentally discharged while I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth.  The bullet went through the common closet/bathroom wall and between my legs, missing my cojones by less than an inch.

2. I love science fiction…

3. …chicken fried steak…

4. …”Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who…

5. …and the color orange.

6. If I had to choose between the Bugatti Veyron or the Aston Martin V12 Vantage I think my brain would seize.  It would be like trying to decide which of your two perfect children is your favorite without being able to pick them both.

7. I once dyed my hair black because I was bored with the natural brown color.  (I was told bleaching it white like I wanted would turn it a yellowish straw color instead.)  I looked kinda weird with all black hair, but when the brown had grown out more so it was half brown and half black, it looked awesome.
UPDATE: I have now bleached it snow white and yes, it looks awesome.

8. My favorite number is 8.  It’s like infinity, sideways.

9. Three favorite authors: Isaac Asimov demonstrated how truly epic science fiction could be.  Douglas Adams taught me that it could also be humorous, but Peter F. Hamilton makes it feel real.

10. I like to snow ski slowly, as if taking a stroll, and I like to ski alone.  Speaking of snow…

11. I love the way the ground is brighter than the sky on cloudy days after a snowfall.

12. Once on a car trip around Crete, a friend and I drove north over the Diktean Mountains to reach the Lasithi Plateau.  In doing so we drove up into the clouds to cross over, then down out of them to the plateau.  It felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

13. I enjoy the beauty of Arabic script.  It can be simple, as in a newspaper, or woven into a complex pattern like a tapestry.  The most beautifully executed script I have ever seen was by a photographer named Hussain who made his name into a sailboat, waves and a sand dune with birds flying in front of a sun.

14. I must chew gum when I fly.  If I don’t I won’t be able to hear out of my left ear for at least a week.  (The Valsalva Maneuver doesn’t work for me.  Never has.)

15. My earliest memory is of playing next to my younger sister beside a lake.  I was three.

16. I once walked streets paved 4000 years ago while visiting Akrotiri, Santorini (Thera), Greece.

17. With a slight alteration to a statement made by Christopher Hutchens, I believe that which is asserted without proof should be dismissed without proof.

18. I think “reality television” is one of the biggest misnomers in history.  Inserting disparate groups of people into contrived situations isn’t reality.  It’s surreality.  (Okay, this wasn’t really about me, but I don’t like “reality television” so now it is.)

19. I prefer driving a vehicle with a manual transmission.
UPDATE: Now I’m older and prefer automatic transmissions.

20. I like surprising people who underestimate or misjudge me.  I love it if they also happen to be hypocrites.

21. I don’t know if this is uncommon or not, but in this era of the mouse, keyboard, and touch-screen, I have a permanent indentation on the left side of my right middle finger where my pencil rests when I write.
UPDATE: Yep, still there!

22. I can touch type, but when I enter numbers longer than four digits I use the number pad.  (Although, I also used it when I numbered these random facts so, hmmm…)

23. If I could travel anywhere in the world and stay for a couple of months, I would visit Paris. Why Paris? I would literally be following my dreams.  (Technically, it was one dream, but it was a very good dream.)

24. Key Lime Pie and Pecan Pie are my favorite two desserts.

25. Mac or PC?  Mac!

26. Bazinga!

25 Random Things About Me

1. My dad kept his pistol in its holster, hanging on a hook in the bedroom closet.  When I was in high school, it accidentally discharged while I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth.  The bullet went through the common closet/bathroom wall and between my legs, missing my sperm factories by less than an inch.

2. I love science fiction…

3. …chicken fried steak…

4. …”Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who…

5. …and the color orange.

6. If I had to choose between the Bugatti Veyron or the Aston Martin V12 Vantage I think my brain would seize.  It would be like trying to decide which of your two perfect children is your favorite without being able to pick them both.

7. I once dyed my hair black because I was bored with the natural brown color.  (I was told bleaching it white like I wanted would turn it a yellowish straw color instead.)  I looked kinda weird with all black hair, but when the brown had grown out more so it was half brown and half black, it looked awesome.

8. My favorite number is 8.  It’s like infinity, sideways.

9. Three favorite authors: Isaac Asimov demonstrated how truly epic science fiction could be.  Douglas Adams taught me that it could also be humorous, but Peter F. Hamilton makes it feel real.

10. I like to snow ski slowly, as if taking a stroll, and I like to ski alone.  Speaking of snow…

11. I love the way the ground is brighter than the sky on cloudy days after a snowfall.

12. Once on a car trip around Crete, a friend and I drove north over the Diktean Mountains to reach the Lasithi Plateau.  In doing so we drove up into the clouds to cross over, then down out of them, to the plateau.  It felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

13. I enjoy the beauty of Arabic script.  It can be simple, as in a newspaper, or woven into a complex pattern like a tapestry.  The most beautifully executed script I have ever seen was by a photographer named Hussain who made his name into a sailboat, waves and a sand dune with birds flying in front of a sun.

14. I must chew gum when I fly.  If I don’t I won’t be able to hear out of my left ear for at least a week.  (The Valsalva Maneuver doesn’t work for me.  Never has.)

15. My earliest memory is of playing next to my younger sister beside a lake.  I was three.

16. I once walked streets paved 4000 years ago while visiting Akrotiri, Santorini (Thera), Greece.

17. With a slight alteration to a statement made by Christopher Hutchens, I believe that which is asserted without proof should be dismissed without proof.

18. I think “reality television” is one of the biggest misnomers in history.  Inserting disparate groups of people into contrived situations isn’t reality.  It’s surreality.  (Okay, this wasn’t really about me, but I don’t like “reality television” so now it is.)

19. I prefer driving a vehicle with a manual transmission.

20. I like surprising people who underestimate or misjudge me.  I love it if they also happen to be hypocrites.

21. I don’t know if this is uncommon or not, but in this era of the mouse, keyboard, and touch-screen, I have a permanent indentation on the left side of my right middle finger where my pencil rests when I write.

22. I can touch type, but when I enter numbers longer than four digits I use the number pad.  (Although, I also used it when I numbered these random facts so, hmmm…)

23. If I could travel anywhere in the world and stay for a couple of months, I would visit Paris. Why Paris? I would literally be following my dreams.  (Technically, it was one dream, but it was a very good dream.)

24. Key Lime Pie and Pecan Pie are my favorite two desserts.

25. Mac or PC?  Mac!

26. Bazinga!

I’m Gay

There, it’s done.  No melodramatic build-up to a climax you would have guessed much sooner anyway.  Those of you who have already decided you can no longer be my friend…well…the rest of us will wait while you leave.

Do not be ashamed to say what you are not ashamed to think. -Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Still here?  Thank you.

I have been told for so very many years that I should never let anyone know my secret.  You know, that I’m a queer, a faggot, a homosexual.  And I believed them.  But they weren’t trying to help me, they were helping themselves.  The result is that I have never once ever lived my life.  The total of what I am, or what I was until recently, is that small subset of things that don’t offend other people.

Pretending to be something I’m not had the result of molding me into a warped version of everyone else’s expectations; something I was never meant to be.  Breaking free of my mold will not cause the real “me” to suddenly appear, but it will give me the freedom to become the person I should have been—within limitations.

I will never know the joys of being a young, happy, gay man.  I was never given the opportunity to openly explore my true self in my youth like my peers.  There were times when I was filled with loathing for who and what I was, knowing I could never be “normal.”  I was afraid.  I was constantly called a queer in school, though I don’t believe they actually knew the truth.  They weren’t capable of that level of discernment and were simply being cruel the best way their limited abilities allowed.  It has taken me decades to realize the problem wasn’t with me.  It was, and for the most part still is, in allowing a narrow-minded group of people to decide what the definition of normal ought to be. A group whose sole purpose is the preservation of their own specific interests.  These people do not serve the greater good, they serve only themselves.

From this day forward, I will live my life.

Unjust Causes

Causes and ignorance, like drinking and driving, do not mix.  Most people mean well, I believe, they just happen not to know what they’re talking about.  Case in point: the “Tell Obama We Are A Christian Nation” page on causes.com.

All twelve and a half thousand people are sincere in their desire that the United States return to the Christian nation it once was.  The problem?  The U.S. was never a Christian nation at any point in its history, nor should it ever become one.  In an 1814 letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper of Pennsylvania, former President Thomas Jefferson noted: “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, part of the Common Law.

Another Jefferson letter to the Danbury (CT) Baptist’s Association in 1802, written during his first term as President, reassured the association’s members their religious freedoms would be protected.  That letter is the source of the oft repeated phrase: “…make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” which is the heart of the premise of Separation of Church and State and part of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights.

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 press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [source]

So, what of all the people wanting a return to Christianity?  And I don’t mean only those on causes.com; that’s a single page on one web site.  There are so many people desperately wanting a return to something that never was.  Perhaps they would be better served now if they hadn’t been passing notes in their American Government classes or doodling on their book covers in History class.

Before you click that button, make sure you know what you’re “liking” or “joining.”  You may think you’re letting people know you’re supporting a worthwhile cause, but We The People will think you’re an idiot.

An expert opinion?

It was a recent article by the Daily Mail that brought me to the topic of this essay, though not the article per se.  It all started with the discovery in an underwater cave in Mexico’s Quintana Roo province of a boy’s bones which date to around 10,000 years ago.  Having been studied in situ for four year now, the bones have been brought to the surface for further study.

The bit that is supposed to grab your attention, however, is the possibility that we might have to rewrite history (yet again) based on this discovery, this new evidence, that humans were already in the southern part of North America while the Clovis peoples were migrating across the Bering land bridge.  The point being there would be no time for the Clovis peoples to migrate that far south, therefore the boy was part of another earlier civilization.  (They were called Clovis after the Clovis, New Mexico site where they were first discovered.)

I just don’t see this supposition borne out by the facts.  Migration from Eurasia is estimated to have occurred about 17,000 years ago.  Clovis peoples are in what is now New Mexico around 13,000 years ago.  It is about this time something triggered a “cooling event,” the Younger-Dryas stadial, and habitation of the Clovis sites ceased.

Unless these so-far resilient and resourceful people suddenly became dimwitted and decided they didn’t want to follow the game (their food) to a warmer climate, there is plenty of time for them to have migrated to the Quintana Roo region and much farther.

It was this story on the Daily Mail’s web site that prompted the following comment:

I’ve been on enough digs and seen enough evidence to show me that humans have lived on this planet for millions of years already. Some with a very high degree of civilization. If you think what we’re living now is a high degree of civilization, you’re deluded. We have forgotten how to respect our planet and have lost all of the REAL high technological processes that we once knew through subversion and other interesting means. I truly believe that the likely scenario is that humans were already on the South American continent millions of years ago. They made their way NORTH, not South as some would have you believe. This is why we have Teotihuacan and other high tech cities in South America, Central America and Mexico, the southern, central and northern USA and Canada. The mounds, pyramids and other structures did not just build themselves and it’s impossible for much to have been done by the hands of slaves or what have you. Logic is a wonderful thing. Use it, don’t lose it.
– B. McIntyre, Montana, USA, 28/8/2010 17:44

This comment has a rating of +14, the sum of positive and negative ratings this far.  You have read the comment for yourselves and now I’d like to show you what it says to me.

I’ve been on enough digs…”  Really?  How many have you been on?  Which ones?  How many is enough?  What qualifies you to interpret what you have seen on those digs?

…and seen enough evidence to show me that humans have lived on this planet for millions of years already.”  If by “humans” you mean anything in the genus Homo, then you are correct.  Homo habilis appeared roughly 2.4 million years ago.  If you are referring to humans that resemble modern humans, the time is closer to 200,000 years. [Timeline of Evolution]

Some with a very high degree of civilization.”  Using what scale?  What determines that a civilization is of a high degree?  Examples would have helped.

If you think what we’re living now is a high degree of civilization, you’re deluded.”  Perhaps, but you must forgive us since you have yet to offer anything by which we could measure these degrees.  Are we Medium?  42?  G?  Orange?  We’re deluded?  Do you have a clue what you’re talking about?

We have forgotten how to respect our planet and have lost all of the REAL high technological processes that we once knew through subversion and other interesting means.”  You have now gotten so far off point you can no longer see it with a telescope, but let’s play along.  Technological?  Are you saying civilization and technology are synonymous?  The part that reads “through subversion and other interesting means” is our first solid clue that B. McIntyre is a conspiracy theorist nut job.

I truly believe that the likely scenario is that humans were already on the South American continent millions of years ago.”  With the fact that the skeletal remains of the boy mentioned in the aforementioned news article appear to be the older than anything in Central or South America, this highlights another of McIntyre’s fallacies: that he or she is an expert.  You can truly believe anything you wish, but that does NOT make it true.  However, continuing to truly believe in the face of opposing evidence could indicate some sort of mental illness.

They made their way NORTH, not South as some would have you believe.”  The “some” referred to here would be, at a minimum, paleontologists and geneticists who have made it their careers to study such matters.  They should all bow to McIntyre’s opinion because he/she “has been on enough digs and seen enough evidence“.

This is why we have Teotihuacan and other high tech cities in South America, Central America and Mexico, the southern, central and northern USA and Canada.”  To which high tech cities in the USA and Canada are you referring?  Omaha and Toronto?  Perhaps you mean the high tech, fluted arrowheads of the Clovis peoples?  Because, yeah, that far surpasses anything we’re capable of in our Medium, 42, G, Orange degree of civilization.  Hey, McIntyre!  Did you know that we are now able to send messages long distances without having to burn anything?  And we can do it in the rain!  Shove that up your “Teotihuacan.”

The mounds, pyramids and other structures did not just build themselves…”  Was this meant to support your million-year-old South American dynasty theory?  How?  Seriously, offer some evidence these were not built by southerly migrating people.

…and it’s impossible for much to have been done by the hands of slaves or what have you.”  Holy Hannah!  What the hell are you on about now?  Is it possible the news article I read could be so different from the one you saw?

Logic is a wonderful thing.  Use it, don’t lose it.”  This could be evidence that McIntyre likes Chinese food and/or Snapple.  It certainly has the ring of something from a cookie or a bottle cap.  Sadly, it is impossible to use or lose something one never had, and McIntyre MOST DEFINITELY does not have logic in his/her skill set.

There wasn’t a single fact or bit of supportable opinion in McIntyre’s comment.  The entire thing was utter bullshit from “I’ve…” to “…it.

My spam is boring

Sad, but true.  Every time I check my junk mail folder to see if any “real” mail fell through the filters I am disappointed by what I find.  Where have all the good spammers gone?

In the beginning there was no spam and it was good.  Then some entrepreneurial nerd with way too much time on his hands invented a new way to break an old law and it was not good.  Not every Thomas, Richard and Harold could afford a personal computer in those days so the spammer’s sales pitch had to be believable, or at least inventive.  The major spam-fighting tool was, and still is, common sense.  If someone you’ve never heard of tries to sell you something you weren’t in the market for in a way you cannot verify, take a pass.

Spam filtering has evolved to the point where not a single piece of junk mail has found its way into my inbox over a period of years.  On the other hand, spammers have devolved into special education “script kiddies” whose efforts are pathetic.  They do not try to be creative in the least, dispensing several times a day their offers of…

  • Swiss watches – Over a million had been sold by December 14th, but that number was down to 600,000 on the 15th.  (400,000 returns?)
  • Erectile dysfunction medication – For the record, I don’t need it.  But if I did I would get it from someone who could spell the name correctly.
  • College diplomas – I can just imagine the job interview: “Yeah, I got me a Masteer degree, so when do I gotta start?”

…and a special shout out to all those ladies who found my ad on “that dating site”.  Sorry, girls, but the idea of unprotected cyber sex doesn’t appeal to me.

That is the extent of my spam entertainment.  The fact that I get each one several times a day is completely irrelevant.  They are all dumped into the junk mail folder and I never have to look at them.  They’re even deleted automatically after a given period of time.  That said, today will most likely be the last time that folder is ever opened.  Today’s spammers are almost too pitiful for words and I will not allow them to continue to disappoint me.