Why we should celebrate Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day. While some are trying to erase history others want to celebrate it. Despite all the good, and bad, things that came from Christopher Columbus setting sail all those centuries ago, we today should at least remember what he did accomplish.

Columbus Day, like most holidays, is not steeped in historical fact, it’s about the myth. All those people running around dispelling the myth are missing the point. We know the TRUTH of the historical figure, history isn’t dead (as long as you leave it alone and stop trying to erase it) rather the truth is it’s just like Easter, Christmas, or even the 4th of July, we celebrate the myth, the legend, the story, not the man or the men who lived hundreds of years ago.

Every year on February 14th people who are in relationships buy cards, chocolates and flowers for their significant other. None of them are Roman citizens performing marriages ceremonies despite the law forbidding it. Most people don’t even know, or care, the historical truth behind Valentines Day, nor should they. We celebrate it as a day of LOVE, that is all. All of the symbols, the gifts, the rituals; these are just ways to show the people we love how important they are to us.

On Halloween kids dress up in costumes begging for candy. I am certain more than the VAST majority of them are not doing so to “ward off evil spirits” or to celebrate the dead in any way, shape or form. Most also don’t even believe in ghosts or spiritual forces yet they participate in the activities and celebrate the MYTH, or the idea of Halloween, not the actual “true meaning” or whatever that nonsense is. Same for Christmas, how many parents tell their kids to be good or else Santa Claus won’t bring them any presents? Now how many of them actually believe there is a magical elf king enslaving little elves forcing them to make toys for him. Oh, shoot, we celebrate the subjugation of elves if we celebrate Christmas. Darn it.

Looks like people just need to get over themselves and learn that Columbus Day celebrates the sense of DISCOVERY. It’s not about the actual truth or the consequences of those voyages, it’s just another way for us to wrap up an IDEA, in this case discovery, wonder, and exploration, around a semi-historical tale loosely based on real facts. Nobody cares that when we celebrate Christmas we don’t actually celebrate the Birth of Jesus at a historically accurate time of the year, or that we don’t remember the historical Saint Nicolas figure. Nor do we actually believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with a little green leprechaun waiting to greet us on St. Patrick’s Day.

Why is it okay to ignore history on literally every single holiday, except Columbus Day? I for one think you should have your kids make little paper renditions of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Tell them them the story, not the history but the STORY of the man who “discovered America” in a way that lets them know, it’s just a story, we exaggerate it because it’s another day to put aside our worries and just forget try to remember what it was like to be a kid exploring the world around you. Don’t take that sense of discovery, wonder, and curiosity away from your children. Not if you want them to actually grow up to become educated adults who question the world around them. Teach your kids the MUTH of Columbus Day and let them learn the real history when they go off to college and have to leave childhood behind. For now, just let them be kids.

The Spiders Lair Podcast Episode 16

In this episode I spend a good portion of time talking about Mortal Kombat, Tom Petty, and Nintendo roms disappearing from rom sites. I also give an update on an upcoming LIVE episode scheduled for Tuesday, October 31 that will be a very special HALLOWEEN episode, with guests.

Exploring digital music stores

I have reached a point in my music collecting that I need to explore other options. I like buying CD’s because they offer me a physical thing I can put on a shelf while also giving me the ability to rip the tracks to my hard drive and then move them to my iPod. The problem is, CD’s are not getting any cheaper for some reason. I buy from Amazon and even though I have Prime, it still ends up costing 7-10 per CD. I was buying them for $2 to $3 each brand new unopened or $.99 used from Hastings. Sadly, Hastings is no longer in business. There doesn’t seem to be any other new or used CD retailers near by so I have turned to the internet. I was hoping I would find some cheap alternative to Amazon but it doesn’t appear to be the case. Now I am exploring digital options.

First, I am NOT anti or pro digital. I have always been for whichever options is cheapest while being the most consumer friendly. My primary reasons for sticking to CD’s has always been cost. When I can get a CD for under $5 even if I only like 2-3 songs, it’s worth it because I value the packaging and artwork, the physical item, at least $1 value so I tend to figure that’s a good price. It’s not like in the 90’s and early 2000’s when I was spending $12 to $15 for a CD just for 2-3 songs, if that. Cost value has always been a factor. I purchase music from iTunes a lot but based on cost alone. For instance, if I know for a fact I only want literally 1 songs from a certain CD and it’s not worth the space having a physical copy would add to the clutter, then I pick up the song from iTunes for the $.99 or $1.29 they tend to be. However, if I know I want all of or a majority of songs, for example Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg, I wanted the whole record, so I was not going to spend the $9.99 on a digital copy when I would prefer a physical copy with the fold out pamphlet. This is another reason why just having a single JPEG for the album art sucks, you just get the superficial cover, you don’t get the actual contents of the booklets.

I realized there had to be a better option. I shot down Amazon digital because the selection sucks. Sometimes they have a “CD” I want and sometimes they just have selections from the artists library. I have come across HUNDREDS of songs or albums they do not have. iTunes has a similar shortcoming so in those instances I tend to look for the actual CD. I tried Pandora but I hate Pandora. I even tried the paid option for a period and it wasn’t any better. I learned Pandora is designed to help you “discover” music. I am 35, I discovered all the music I like when I was a teenager now I just want to build up my collection so I can have music to listen to when I am in the right mood.

Then I tried Spotify. At first it seemed like the perfect option. I could add ENTIRE albums to my playlist, if I paid a monthly fee I could turn off ads, and the player wasn’t terrible to navigate. The first shortcoming I noticed, however, was like Amazon and iTunes they are limited to licenses. This means sometimes they have the ORIGINAL recordings by the original artists, and other times they have those disgusting “Remastered” copies. It’s never clear if a remastered edition refers to them cleaning up the original audio recording tapes from before digital like they did in the 90’s, or this new, very disgusting trend where old men attempt to re-record songs in their twilight years hoping they will sound the same as when they were young men. Trust me I have compared plenty of original recordings to the remastered versions and I can ALWAYS tell the difference. Something  is always off. Maybe the drummer gets tired and starts to slow down, maybe they are using a different drum kit than before, sometimes the guitarists tunes his guitar different or the singer just can’t hit the high notes like he could when he was young. Sometimes it’s noticeable but not too terrible and other times it literally sounds like a damn cover band. I hate that.

Also, they always add new tracks, usually “studio sessions” or demo crap I am not interested in. I want the ORIGINAL album just like it was when it was originally released. The whole point in buying CD’s or records even if you go that far, is to have a tangible item from your actual past. Not some replica. I don’t want reproduction NES carts and I don’t want artists re-recording their songs and selling replicas of their real works.

I have also run into the issue of rights. Sometimes Spotify only has the rights to a selection of songs from an artists not their entire works. This isn’t a problem for mainstream artists but when looking for tracks by techno DJ’s from the 80’s or those quirky low-selling alternative bands from the 90’s suddenly it becomes an issue. To make matters even worse, sometimes they don’t even have full soundtrack albums just a user created playlist containing the closest example of the songs from that soundtrack. I couldn’t even find a single recording of Techno Syndrome by the Immortals, the THEME song to Mortal Kombat. It wasn’t available on any of the digital stores, not even Pandora or Amazon. Nothing. Now I already have the complete line of CD’s, including More Kombat which is just a few bonus songs, but still if someone wasn’t aware of that shortcoming they wouldn’t be able to “discover” that song because it doesn’t exist as far as the digital stores are concerned.

All things considered I realized that buying digital is not the best way to go even still in late 2017. By now you would think they would have everything digital but its like streaming movies services, somehow less is more is their philosophy and its just frustrating as a consumer. I guess I will just stick to buying CD’s for the most part resorting to digital only when it’s necessary to acquire the one or two obscure songs from a particular artists, assuming iTunes or Amazon even has the song I want. I couldn’t find a single store that had Beautiful by Joydrop. I don’t want to spend the outrageous price they want for a copy of the CD for just 1 song so I either have to do without or settle for streaming from YouTube. That is, until YouTube decides to take the video down, again.

The Spiders Lair Podcast Episode 12

In this special episode I have a guest help me keep things going. My computer programmer friend from Idaho called into be on the show.

We talked about video games, PAX, Nintendo, Xbox, Sega, and a lot more.

The Science Fiction Paradox: Why Physics is not for everyone…

Niayesh Afshordi. Who is he? Well based on preliminary research he is a scientist who recently, well in 2014 that is, published a new theory of the origins of the Universe. I won’t get into the math, science, or physics of what he is proposing because frankly, I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to. What I want to do, rather, is use it as a way to contemplate some of the other mysteries of the Universe based on my current understanding. At least from a simple, lesser educated stand point.

When I first sat out to be a writer my goal was to write fiction stories. Originally I desperately wanted to write science fiction. I spent my early childhood reading books by Isaac Asimov, Isaac Newton, even Stephen Hawking. I was obsessed with astronomy for a good portion of my childhood. So much so that it fueled my other interests. I became interested in Star Wars primarily because of the space travel aspect. In fact all of my favorite episodes of the Transformers cartoon were not the ones on Earth but all of the ones that took place either on Cybertron or elsewhere in the universe in “outerspace.” I didn’t develop a purely academic interest in astronomy, physics or astrophysics, mostly because of all the damn complicated math. I make it no secret I hate math. So my interest remained mostly casual. Thanks, in part, to TV shows like Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek, I have continued to explore my interest in these subjects.

That is where this particular scientist comes into play. The purpose of this blog is “To Organize Chaos” and that includes trying to unravel the mysteries that I come across. In other words, its my way of making sense of the world around me. That includes the world of physics, something I have a basic understanding of and a strong passion for but nowhere near the level of understanding I would prefer.

The theory Niayesh Afshordi and his colleagues proposed was mind boggling at first. It basically suggests that our universe originated with the ball of mass that exploded began expanding outward to create all the matter we see around us, this we all know the gist of it’s the Big Bang Theory (the scientific theory not the TV show). The interesting thing this guy and his team proposed was that OUR universe began when a 4 Dimensional star collapsed into a black hole creating a 3 Dimensional Event Horizon. The theory is interesting because in our universe the world we see around us is considered to exist in 3 dimensions and space-time is considered to be  continuum. Some of us have a very, very, basic understanding of this thanks to Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies. However it gets more complicated than that. Fortunately I did take at least one physics class in college, the absolutely most fun and interesting course I took my entire college career. So to some extent I can kind of understand the basics of the 3 dimensional space-time, special relativity, and I know a little about what an event horizon is more than just the very basics you get from watching the film of the same name, or the movie Sphere if you want a little better scientific explanation.

Here is the tricky part. It doesn’t really explain anything. I mean not to the layman. Actually not to anyone other than a scientist really. You see, the basic question the theory proposes to explain is how our space-time could work within the framework of our own laws of physics. IN other words, how could a singularity that contained all the mass of our universe be bound up into a single point so densely it could explode and create the universe we see. The simple answer is this, it doesn’t tell where the universe came from. In fact all it really does is makes it even more complicated. The simple explanation they propose is that our universe is just the left over crap from the dying star of a separate LARGER universe. Again this begs the question, if the laws of physics that govern our universe can only be explained if you place it within the scope of being a particle within a larger universe, then doesn’t that basically mean that 4 dimensional universe follows the same rules? SO does that mean THAT universe is the event horizon of a 5D collapsed star turning into a black hole? IF our universe began with the death of an older universe, where did that universe begin? IF the only way the math checks out is to keep staking older universes on top of each other then doesn’t that mean there is some fundamental flaw in the entire system to being with?

Sure, as a Christian I could just take the easy way out and say duh, it basically all points to God being the starting point and his words spoke it all into existence. That doesn’t really satisfy the scientist though, and it still leaves unanswered the question of where did God come from and all the crap he made the universe out of as well? That’s not a question I personally need answered. What I want to know is if every new theory requires the discarding of the old, while simultaneously keeping it all in tact due to a mathematical formula that was BASED on the Earth being the center of the universe, which has been disproved by using the very math it was used to prove, it gets complicated from here. I won’t get into Ptolemy or Newton, Google exists look it up, what I will say is if the math that is used to prove the Earth is NOT the center of the universe is predicated on it BEING the center of the universe and it also disproves the space-time conundrum that also exists because we still rely on that same math, which has been disproved by another proof using the same math it was used to prove, it goes in circles.

Now I must admit my understanding of the math is limited, but I do know if you have to keep adding new layers in order for the model to work, even though its using a proven false formula to begin with, that itself is used to disprove itself, GRR!

Maybe it would be best if I just did quote the Bible “In the Beginning God…” and walk away, it would be best. I won’t being to question the experts that know the math better than I do, just like for them to reconsider all the work they have to put into trying to ask a question that was answered thousands of years before they were born.

None of that is where I wanted to go with this. You see, getting back to my original paragraph, I set out to become a science fiction writer years ago. What deterred me over the years was my limited understanding of physics. I could go the lazy route and use the basic, preliminary approach so many writers use falling back on just letting a bunch of techno babble explain away any plot holes I created as a write. What I set out to do was to learn more than I currently understood. Sure I kind of remember what it means to be a main sequence star, the basics of what a pulsar, quasar, nova, black hole, galaxy, galaxy cluster, etc., is, and I kind of know the very basics of space travel, Newton’s laws, Ptolemy’s laws, the simplified version of relativity, and all the nonsense I learned from movies and comic books. To me, that’s not enough. I don’t believe I need to be an expert lawyer to write a crime drama, but if I want to do it well I would at least need to study the topic. Since I have no interest in writing crime dramas I have no need to study criminal law or criminal justice.

What I set out to do was to learn more than the basics. I picked up a bunch of books on physics, astronomy, the universe, stars, the Sun, etc., in the hopes I could at least fill in some of the knowledge gaps I have in the event I decide to actually set out to write the science fiction novel that has been swirling around in my brain since my youth. Then I realized I can’t get more than a few pages in before I become overwhelmed by the math. I always had a problem with how physicists always have to use complicated equations and formulas I can’t make sense of using symbols I have no clue what are the meanings so I bail early. I decided I needed to tackle this head on. So I set out to first fill in the gaps I have in the math department.

I picked up textbooks in basic Algebra, College Algebra, and fundamentals of mathematics, to supplement the math books I already had from college. I started with the most basic book and found that as I went through it I was actually starting to make some sense of some of it all. Not enough to consider it real progress but enough to keep going. I don’t have the time or money to take a bunch of math classes at college right now, so my plan is to settle for just going through these text books and trying to see if I can make some sense out of enough of it all to get to the next level. My ultimate goal is to tackle the Calculus head on so I can then dive into those physics books at least with enough of an understanding that the math doesn’t give me a headache and I give up, again.

Who knows, maybe as I go on this journey I will learn enough math to be able to get back into writing computer code. I also gave up on that because the math was too much for me. I had one college professor tell me my brain was just not wired for math. She said I was an artist, a dreamer, I was wired to be a writer, or a story-teller of some sorts. I had another professor, one in the psychology department tell me that was a bunch of crap and anyone could learn anything if they put the time into it. I think I fall into the latter category. I didn’t retain much due to not using it, but I studied the hell out of Japanese and learned enough to make small talk with a Japanese girl at a Mochi party planning event I attended while in college. Okay learning Japanese should be easier for someone who loves languages anyways, and video games, but still I am determined to push through this to the end. Then I will be able to re-watch episodes of the Big Bang Theory and laugh at the science jokes and not make fun of the nerds just struggling to live their lives as best they can.

A tribute to Code Red Mountain Dew

The year was 2001. I was sitting on a school bus heading down to Las Vegas for a high school track meet. My event, 800 meters and shot put. I wasn’t over weight at that time. I was fairly active, especially being into break dancing. But I loved my Mountain Dew soda drinks. My track coach always got onto me how bad it was to drink a soda before a run. I never listened. My teammates teased me saying with as much Mountain Dew as I drank my blood had to be green. Fortunately we never tested that theory.

As we were sitting at the first stop in Wells on our way down I went into the convenience store to grab me a soda as I did every stop. One of my friends pointed out to me there was a new Mountain Dew, a cherry flavored drink in a red bottle. I like cherry flavored drinks so I gave it a try. They were selling them 2 for $1. This was at a time when the normal price for one was $.79 cents so it was a bargain to get the extra one. I filled my gym bag full of as many as I could spending some of my food money on getting these sodas. I was hooked instantly.

From that day on I have pretty much drank the Code Red soda basically non-stop. How much do I drink? Enough that when a new store adds it to their line they quickly sell out. I have had grocery stores that didn’t carry it add it and it became a big seller. No I am not exaggerating, I buy about 3-4 12-packs of Code Red a week. On top of that I usually go through 2-3 20 Oz bottles a day. I drink so much, yes by now you are thinking this guy must be very unhealthy. Well no, not really. I am not as active as I used to be, but I get out and walk from time to time. I still break dance when I can. I even eat healthier than I used to. Also, I don’t drink alcohol or smoke, anything. I never have. So I always justified it as my one vice, if you can even call it that really.

In later years it got to the point where I would walk into a store, go to their soda section and if they didn’t have Code Red I would instantly walk out. The only time I would ever settle for a drink that wasn’t was if every store in town was sold out and I had no other choice. I would even order cherry mix at restaurants to add to my normal Mountain Dew, if they offered that as an option. The reality is, I became obsessed with drinking this drink.

I do, as an adult, understand the health risks. Therefore I don’t put any blame on society, my parents or the soda maker. I also certainly don’t blame the Government either. I quite enjoy living in a free society where *I* get to make that choice and nobody gets to tell me how to live my life. The problem is, I am getting a little bit older now. I am in my mid-30’s which means some of the things I could do when I was younger are now catching up with me. I have tried to get off the soda before, but I never can stay away for too long. I have tried tea, juice, energy drinks, even water. Nothing really tastes quite as good as a fresh, ice cold can of Code Red Mountain Dew. The only time I ever drink the green one anymore is if there is no other option. I still enjoy the green one too, but not nearly as much as the red one.

Yes, I have written about this before elsewhere, and I will probably write about it again. It’s one of those things I write about much like Nintendo or The Beastie Boys, it’s a big part of my life. It’s a defining characteristic of who I am. This isn’t even a confession. I drink Code Red Mountain Dew and you know what, I enjoy it. I will probably stop when I get to the point where one more drink will kill me and even then it might be the last thing I do before I die.

My philosophy has always been just enjoy your life and live it how you want. I don’t let people tell me I need to quite because it’s bad for me. I don’t always feel that great after I finish a soda, but I usually still crave another one not to long after. I am sure I would probably feel better if I could get off it entirely, but really why bother? I enjoy it, it’s something I like and I think the negatives don’t really outweigh the benefits, which include giving me some comfort at the end of a long day. Everyone has something in their life that identifies who they are or what type of person they want to be. I don’t drink Code Red, or Mountain Dew before that, because of some TV commercial. In fact I always hated the image it portrays and drank it in spite of the piss poor advertising. I never thought drinking Mountain Dew made you “cool”. Listen, I was a white rapper in a town full of non-Whites, I was about as far from cool as you are ever going to get. I drank it because of one reason, I liked the taste. That’s it. You don’t have to blame Pepsi or MTV or even Xbox. Hell I never even owned an Xbox until less than a year ago, any model.

I drink Code Red Mountain Dew and it’s green big brother because I enjoy it. It tastes good. I like the fizzy drink. And above all else, it’s just one of those little things in this life that helps me get through the day. Enjoy the things you enjoy in life. Tell the haters to go jump off a bridge with all the other sheep.

 

The story of how a film student turned news reporter: A tale of two interests

Once upon a time, in a world gone mad with fake news, there was one man who decided to change his entire life plans for what seems like no good reason.

This isn’t going to be a full biography or even a memoir. It’s more or less just a recounting of the events that lead me to go from studying film in college to working in the news media business. It wasn’t really a long journey but there were some detours along the way.

It all started when I was 12 years old. My parents bought me an old fashioned typewriter and I set out to write my novels, screenplays, and short stories my imagination had been dreaming up. If it sounds cliche I apologize, but it’s very true. Except the year was 1994 and we couldn’t afford a computer. That is a story for another day. It would be 2 more years before I would up able to upgrade that typewriter into an electronic one with a floppy drive built in. It would be another 4 years after that before I would get my first desktop PC and 2 more years before we would get a printer hooked up to that PC.

In all that time I never stopped writing. I always said my dream was to be a writer. I didn’t care what I did I just wanted to write stories for a living. The thing is, I had no direction, no motivation and very little self esteem. In high school my interests changed. At some point I decided I needed to start a band because I thought that would impress this girl. That dream would morph into a very failed pursuit of a career as a Hip-Hop/Techno DJ. I would go back and forth mixing and scratching my way into releasing several independent, underground records. I even went so far as to scrap together enough money to start up a record studio. Okay it was in the closet of my sisters bedroom in an apartment we shared, but I felt like it counted, it had to. I never stopped writing though. I hadn’t considered myself a write at this point, a song writer to some extent but I never really counted that as “real writing” in my mind.

During this same time I also began pursuing a side career in video production. At first I picked up cameras, editing equipment and microphones in an effort to produce music videos to accompany my music career. The truth is, my interest in making music videos waned and then I shifted to making short films. I also dabbled in internet videos, migrating to YouTube once that became the big thing. Always a rebel, not a follower, I intentionally avoided YouTube only using it to host videos but sharing them on my own website and promoting them through Google Ads and Myspace because that was what I thought I was supposed to do.

Around late 2008 I was invested in starting up a new venture. I was trying to make a series of web videos that would mimic the style of content that was airing on G4 as the network was dying and I wanted to keep that type of content alive. I doubled down on video production, eventually walking away from the music for the next few years. It would take a major life change before I realized I needed to get serious and do something different with my life. I decided while I was living in a run down house in the middle of nowhere Nebraska with no job, no vehicle of my own and no plans for the future, I needed to do something real with my life. It was then I decided to try again going back to school. I had applied for loans, grants and scholarships before but since I was intent on going to film school I was always limited in my options. I tended to apply for schools that wanted more money than I qualified for. Then I decided to just take what I could get. I settled for enrolling in a Broadcasting program at UNK, that is the University of Nebraska at Kearney, in Kearney Nebraska.

My plan was to major in Broadcasting (taking video production, editing, creative writing, and other courses) while minoring in Theater. This way I was getting the technical skills I would need to make films while also getting a foundation in the theater arts. I knew I would need to work with actors and set designers in order to get any film project I dreamed up off the ground. Then something catastrophic happened. I won’t go into the details but due to hysteria following recent campus shootings, stabbings, etc., I found myself in being asked to leave my university over a hunting knife  friend gave me as a gift. Being the defensive type instead of just going along with what they were asking of me I pushed back, eventually getting to the point they revoked my scholarships and asked me to withdraw entirely from the university.

With no where to go I quickly enrolled in another school in the area. They didn’t have either a broadcasting program or a theater program, so I had to transfer my credits into the closest program they offered, Communications Studies with an Emphasis in Mass Media. It was close enough I could settle for that.

I didn’t enjoy the fact I was no longer enrolled in film courses or studying the subject I intended, but I was just relieved to still be in school working towards something. Through all of my video editing I eventually landed a summer job as a videographer for a wedding photography company. During the course of the summer the videographer who I was working with told me he was a production assistant at the local TV station. His dream was also to become a filmmaker and he had a blog reviewing films on the side. I saw this as my chance to step into the world I had been dreaming of. With his recommendation I applied for a job at the TV station, and landed a spot as a Video Editor. At last I was doing exactly the job I had gone to college to get. It wasn’t my actual dream job, it was just an entry level but I was just happy with that.

Barely 2 weeks into working at the TV station there was an immediate hole in the production team. A morning camera operator quite suddenly and unexpectedly. They asked me, since I had worked as a videographer, to step into the role of camera operator for a couple of days a week. This was in addition to the three days a week I was video editing on the evening shift so it gave me full time hours and I got to work in the studio not the newsroom. I was excited just to be in the studio. I was happy to do the grunt work, micing up the talent, situating guests, running cords, and pointing cameras where they instructed me. They were so impressed with how quickly I adapted they offered me a full time promotion to Assistant Producer, complete with a raise in pay and benefits. I was so happy I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be living my dream.

I never stopped wanting to write. I kept working on my blog on the side hoping eventually I could work my way into reporter or newscaster because I wanted to get out of production and into the exciting world of news. My first news report came when I answered the phone and learned a local family had been killed in a major wreck. I scrambled to take down the info, ran to my desk wrote up a short little news brief, turned it into a reader (that’s what we call it when the newscaster just reads the info no graphic or video) and sent it over to the booth. It was my first chance ever writing a breaking news story, an the thrill was unbelievable. I would slowly get to help out writing stories as I worked in the newsroom. I wasn’t a full reporter, I was mostly in charge of re-wording AP stories we pulled off the wire but it was still better than nothing.

After nine months doing this I realized I needed a change of scenery. It was a small market TV station in the middle of Nebraska. Most of our stories centered on community happenings, local sports and a lot of corn and livestock stories. I even found myself producing a weekend, pre-taped agriculture show. I needed to spread my wings and get out of Nebraska. I made a life-changing decision to move to Texas.

Once I arrived it was time to find a job. I tried the local TV news stations first. The ABC affiliate hired me right away. I had previously been working at an ABC station so it was an easy fit. But something was wrong this time. They didn’t have an opening in production or the newsroom. I didn’t have enough experience as a writer or reporter to get an on-air job so they stuck me in Master Control. For those that don’t know MC is the room where all the switches are. It’s the person in the dusty closet making sure the commercials run. It’s your job to watch all the shows, log the commercials that air, the time they air, and cross them off if they get dropped. For the most part, it was a boring job sitting watching TV all day while also making sure you were keeping the programming going back and forth between local and network. It was a lot harder than it sounded but it was still easy. The problem is it wasn’t anything at all what I wanted to be doing. There was no writing, no video editing and no camera work. It was just sitting in a closet pushing a button when they light flashed. My first day taking the helm the guy training me took a lunch break at a time he thought was the easiest. Once you get into Prime Time it’s basically all automated. At that point you just put a check next to the name of the commercial when it airs. In other words you just sort of sit there babysitting but not doing anything productive. The problem was the transition hadn’t occurred. There was still one more local commercial break, the lead into Prime Time. I missed my cue and the station went into Wheel Of Fortune, blank. It was totally black for 2 whole minutes. It was actually 3 minutes, 2 minutes of commercials and 1 minute into the show. That meant the station lost thousands of dollars due to a mistake I made. Needless to say that was the end of that job.

With no prospects and the other TV station not returning my calls I decided to try something different. I got in touch with the career counselor at my University, I was still enrolled as I was finishing up taking online courses. She helped me re-write my resume with an emphasis on my writing and creative talents. Then I sent my resume out to radio stations, newspapers and local print shops. I had an interview with a radio station for an internship. I was excited for the offer, but it was an unpaid internship that required college credit. I began the process of writing up a lesson plan, finding a sponsor at the university I was attending and then I realized I still had a car payment due, and other bills piling up. I took a part-time job delivering pizzas for Dominoes. I don’t know what had changed from the time I did it before or if Texas was just different but they were taking my tips out of my paycheck and taxing me for them. I was driving 18 miles to work and wasting all my gas to get a very minimal paycheck. Between that and the unpaid internship I was sinking into debt, fast.

In order to get by for the summer I pawned all my video games. My PS2, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, all my games, DVD’s and Blu Ray discs. I still had to pay that ticket back so I was scrambling. Finally literally on my birthday I got a phone call from the local newspaper. Literally the local newspaper in the very town I was living had an immediate opening for a staff writer. It was exactly my perfect dream job and it came to me, on my birthday. I felt like that was God’s way of saying here you go, you worked hard, persevered an stayed faithful now have at it.

I have been at that weekly newspaper for 2 years. I can honestly say it truly is my dream job. I always wanted a job where I got to write stories for a living and that is what I am doing now. I still found I have time to write for my own blog on the side and even keep working on those novels, screenplays and short stories whenever I find the time, or motivation. You never know where you are going to end up but I read these kinds of stories all the time when I was working at a gas station for minimum wage buying scratch tickets on the off chance I might win enough money to afford a pizza that week. Now I have my own apartment, a decent car, am paying down my student loans and truly am living the American dream. It’s not the dream I set out to pursue but if you have a skill, talent, or vision don’t give up just hang in there and see where life takes you. No matter what happens, take every opportunity you can get because you really never know where this life with lead you

That’s how I went from studying film and dreaming of becoming a Hollywood producer to writing for a weekly newspaper. When I look at the careers of some of the most famous authors and artists of all time, many of them worked at newspapers during the day and wrote their other works on the side. It’s sure a whole lot better than selling gasoline to a bunch of angry people who just want to get back to whatever it is they are doing.

Site Update: Videos

I had to delete a couple of videos from the YouTube channel today. I am working on taking the site in a new direction and the two videos did not fit the tone I want the site to go in.

Also, I am stuck using my cell phone for now. I promise I DO actually have a good DSLR camera for shooting videos, but the tab broke off my 16GB SD card rendering it useless. I am in the process of trying to get it fixed. I have tried a couple of do-it-yourself fixes with no luck. I have a 32GB SD card but for some reason it refuses to record video for more than just a few seconds at a time. If I can ever get that figured out I should be back in business.

For now I will continue using the cellphone camera. I don’t know how much longer even that will be an option as the cracks in the screen are starting to interfere with the touch capabilities so the phone is on its last legs as well. With all these technical issues I am facing an uphill battle. But don’t fret I will persevere.

Saturday Morning Cartoon memories

It’s been a few years since the major networks ceased doing their Saturday Morning Cartoons blocks on TV. As a child in the 80’s and into the 90’s the whole ritual of getting up early on Saturday morning and being glued to the TV wasn’t just something we did, it was pretty much all we did.

Everyone has different memories of the Saturday Morning cartoons. For me it was often fighting my three sisters for control over what we watched next. Fortunately we did have 2 TV sets, although the smaller one was in black and white and was mostly used for video games, it still caused many fights that often ended with someone getting hurt. My oldest sister is 3 years my senior so she always wanted to watch stuff like Soul Train and in later years MTV. My immediately younger sister was barely a year and a half younger than I was so she typically had similar tastes in cartoons as I did, except she had this weird obsession with puppets so he gravitated towards stuff like Eureka’s Castle, Fraggle Rock and things of the like. I could get her into Pound Puppies, Snorks and Muppet Babies just fine, but she protested watching Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Transformers, G.I. Joe or even Scooby Doo. I never could figure out what she didn’t like about Scooby and friends. Then there was my baby sister. She had no say, all she wanted to watch was Rugrats and Nicktoons, didn’t matter what day of the week. When they moved Doug and Recess and all that Nickelodeon crap over to my network TV slots I sort of moved on and let her have it.

Of course not all the cartoons we watched aired first on Saturday mornings. Often times they were re-runs of syndicated shows and shows that ran earlier in the week. To that end we never really knew what we were going to get. My earliest memories were watching the Heroic Autobots battle the Evil Decepticons for control of the world’s energy sources. You could argue that watching this show about robots running out of energy contributed to my interest in alternative energy sources, but let’s not give too much credit to the animators of a Japanese cartoon. Save some of the blame for Captain Planet and his Planeteers that would come much later.

Another thing I liked to do during the week was record episodes of cartoons, commercials, and other shows that interested me and play them back on the weekend. I didn’t do this often but it was something I would dabble in. Normally I would end up erasing one of my sisters’ boy band concert videos so when they found out I taped over their boy crush for a bunch of random commercials and crap they would usually go ballistic. Most of my memories were fighting my sisters over what to watch more than enjoying the actual program. Because of this what we typically did was landed on one channel, watched it until commercials then flipped as fast as we could to the next and so on and so forth. This meant we were only getting bits and pieces of each show, but it was better than sitting through an entire episode of that lame New Kids on the Block cartoon that, in my opinion, never should have existed. Those brief moments in between when I got a glimpse of M.A.S.K., or C.O.P.S (why did so many cartoons back then use acronyms?), that’s when I would get excited.

I did eventually get crafty in my ability to turn my sisters on each other. I found ways to get the baby to play with her toys while I would get my younger sister and older sister fighting over a hair brush or article of clothing or something sisters cared about then I would sit on the floor way too close to the tube and claim it for my own. Once my parents would see I was firmly engrossed in a show if one of my sisters tried to change the channel they would get scolded with a firm “You weren’t even watching it, he was let him finish his show.” This strategy worked more often than not. I can’t be sure if they ever caught on because the oldest sister moved on to chasing boys and the youngest sister was easy to manipulate leaving the one opponent, the middle child. Even at the tender age of 8 I quickly learned how to negotiate with the middle child. I would usually agree let me watch this show and the next one and you can have it after that while I play Super Mario Bros. Since I tended to hog the Nintendo and always force my sister to be Luigi, it was easy for me to casually hint that she could play as Mario while I watched my shows. Then all I had to do was enjoy my programs while she romped through the Mushroom Kingdom with player 1 controller in hand for a change. This strategy didn’t always work as my parents were slow to increase our catalog of Nintendo games and my sister was quick to lose interest in the three games we did own for the longest time.

Manipulating my sisters was only half the battle. I also had to find crafty ways to get my parents out of the house in order to prolong the part where dad would kick me out of the house to play outside while he napped on the couch with the TV tuned to some fishing show or NASCAR or whatever else it was adults watched to fall asleep. Normally by the time the parents told us to play outside I would casually, sometimes sneakily, make my way into whichever side room had the video games and try to get in as many rounds of Atari or Nintendo as I could. We still had both systems well into the 90’s so this usually worked out until my parents just decided to give me my own TV set and I ended up winning the war for the TV after all was said and done.

For me it was mostly fought on Saturday mornings. Everyone remembers those blocks. I didn’t have much preference either. I would sit through an episode of the Alf or Teen Wolf cartoon, flip it over to an episode of Care Bears or even sit through an episode of Rainbow Brite if that’s what it took to keep the cartoons going and the old westerns my parents enjoyed off the TV. The battle continued Monday through Friday as I would get up at 5 in the morning, turn the TV to a minimum volume and sit through episodes of The Odd Couple, Perfect Strangers, Mork and Mindy, even Kate and Allie, just so I could stake my claim to the TV set before school.

I had a set list of shows I couldn’t miss. Transformers was TOP priority. It didn’t matter if it was Saturday morning, before school, after school or a random tape I rented from the video store, if there was a chance I could get my buddy Optimus Prime on the TV set I was going to do whatever it took. Priority number 2 was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I would also watch this regularly whenever it aired as well as rent tapes from the video store. Priority 3 was X-Men the Animated series. This came alter but once I discovered it this show became a must watch. Fortunately for me both of my younger sisters developed an equally strong interest in X-Men characters (they each also collected the comics and trading cards as did I) so it was much easier to get them to call a truce when that show came on. Then down the list the priority was, shows with robots, shows with magic, shows with mutants, shows with cute girls that had purple or pink hair (yeah I was weird sue me) then at the bottom of the list was shows with talking animals. This, of course, only applied to cartoons.

Live-action shows was much different. I prioritized shows with a cute girl I crushed on, Saved by the Bell it was Kelly, Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains it All it was, you guessed, the awesome Melissa Joan Heart, and okay well there wasn’t a cute girl on Boy Meets World, I just found that show funny as hell. And in case you are wondering, it was the red head with glasses on any show that had a red head with glasses. Or any girl with glasses. For some reason I was into chicks with glasses… Okay moving on…

By the time the 90’s rolled around I was shifting into more live-action stuff like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad, and CGI animated shows like Reboot and Beast Wars. I only gave Beast Wars casually passing as I was a die-hard TRUKK NOT MONKEE type. Still I eventually came around and became more interested in that show. The 90’s also saw my tastes briefly shift to anime. I got into Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, Dragon Ball Z, The Slayers, Patlabor, and even Digimon for a while. By the time my anime watching friends were getting into Powerpuff Girls I had snapped out of it and the anime spell was broken. I haven’t hardly looked back either. I do remember though, the Saturday Anime block that came on the Sci-Fi channel. We didn’t have cable when we were very young, so we didn’t have the Sci-Fi channel (as it was called back then) until mid-95. By that time I was pretty much over the Saturday Morning cartoon craze.

Those are some of my memories, please comment your thoughts, memories and stories plus favorite cartoons from the 80s and 90s, anime excluded if you can.

My thoughts on the Civil War crisis affecting our country

I want to preface this by saying I personally am a white, Republican, college educated, Southern Baptist, who voted for our current president for various reasons. I, in no way shape or form, support the removal of Civil War monuments, statues, or historical markers that honor the soldiers who fought and died for their country and what they believed in. As far as I am concerned, white, black, slave owner or not, Christian or otherwise, they were PATRIOTS fighting to defend their families and their homeland from what they considered an invading army. Those men are heroes and need to be honored and remembered. The battles that took place need to be marked so people can remember what that conflict did to our nation.

HOWEVER: The generals, the statesmen, the Confederate leaders, are not heroes who served their country. They were traitors to the United States, they led a rebellion against their country, in violation of the Constitution they previously swore to protect. The instant they broke their word they became liars. God throws Liars in the pit of hell. A man is only as good as his word, when a man swears allegiance to the Flag of the United States, swears an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, then turns around and violates the clause of the Constitution that expressly forbids the individual states from entering into treaties, they not only become liars and traitors, they are no longer worthy of the respect of their fellow countrymen.

It is different than the British Patriots who determined they were no longer being represented by a distant government. Washington was not distant to the south, D.C. sits on Virginia soil. The reason monuments to the CONFEDERATES and the CONFEDERACY need to come down is they are symbols of, rebellion, treason, unpatriotic, and to some racist. The racist issue is at the center of the debate. To me, I don’t care about that. I won’t get into the details but as a REPUBLICAN, the party that led the Union (not the North it was NEVER just North versus South. There were FOUR slave owning southern states that fought on the side of the United States, there were ZERO free northern states that fought on the side of the Confederacy.)

I want to explain why people in my position are appalled these monuments even exist in this day and age. First, those who claim it’s jumping the bandwagon or following the mob, you are wrong. Many people, myself included, grew up in parts of the country where the civil war had no impact, I am from Idaho and Nevada we learned about it but there are no monuments to it, no traces of its lineage. So for us, we ASSUMED the issue was settled 150 years ago and the nation healed in the interim. I had no IDEA there even were confederate monuments still in this country.

For me personally I see that as an attack on the UNITED STATES, not an attack on white people, or a symbol of slavery or racism, just a memorial honoring a TRAITOR to the UNITED STATES. I am an AMERICAN first, a resident of whichever state I reside second, and a Republican all the way throughout (Although our current president is giving me doubts). The reason *I* am in favor of removing all statues that HONOR the traitors, the generals, the statesmen, the LEADERS of the rebellion, is because the Union won. We remained UNITED and the soldiers who fight today, even those who hail from former, FORMER, Confederate states, they join the U.S Army to serve their country, the United STATES of America. The Confederacy ceased to exist.

I am appalled because I honestly had no clue these monuments to REBELS even existed, let alone on PUBLIC property. Here is my take. In the instance where the VOTERS of a district decide to remove these statues from public land, so be it the VOTERS decide. Not terrorists like Anonymous or some other organization, not Black Lives Matter, not even the Democratic Party.

Likewise, if the VOTERS in Charlottesville VIRGINIA decide to remove a statue, it would be UN-AMERICAN for anyone who is NOT from Charlottesville Virginia, to interfere with local politics, no matter which side they proclaim to support. That is where WE as Americans need to stand united and draw a line. If the voters in a DISTANT state far from where you live want to remove a statue, it is NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. Stop calling people liberals, snowflakes or idiots when you don’t understand what is actually going on. Some of the people who are crying out are liberals, some are overly sensitive and easily offended, but you have NO RIGHT to tell people to “get over it” or that they HAVE to feel, as in their emotions, have to be the same as yours. THAT IS UNAMERICAN.

If you disagree fine do so in a CIVIL and ADULT manner. Not name calling, not making false accusation or assumptions, and for God’s sake, white or black, if you are a CHRISTIAN, AMERICAN, REPUBLICAN, then stop pretending that you actually care about the Confederacy unless 1, YOU HAVE ANCESTORS THAT ACTUALLY FOUGHT IN THE CONFLICT, and 2, (and this is where you need to shut up) actually ARE secretly racist. That’s it, everyone else should be disgusted these statues to TRAITORS exist. I am not telling you how to feel, I am telling you how *I* feel and explaining it with grown up words. Please try to do the same.