Archive for the 'Mad Ramblings' Category


USB type-A male to USB type-A male cables not available at Radio Shack

USB cableI have this drive enclosure that I got from my dad a while back. It’s got a couple jacks to connect it to your computer. You can either connect it via a standard USB Type-A female jack (type-A is regular-ass rectangle USB) , or you can plug in an ethernet cable and connect it to your router. Pretty easy. I decided to go the simple and direct USB route. It should have been simple, except I don’t have a type-A male to type-A male USB cable (pictured above). I used to have dozens of these all over the place a few years ago; they came with every new gadget I bought, and I had a few still in the plastic. Yet, when I needed one, I couldn’t find any in the house. I have type-A to micro, type-A to mini or type-A to the “chunky square one that connects to printers”. What I don’t have is just a plain old USB to plain old USB (pictured above). I figured I’d pick one up at Fred Meyer electronics. No big deal, since I had some shopping to do anyway. I scoured the place. Nothing. They had lots of variations, but no male-to-male type-A cables. The guy there said he hadn’t seen any in years. Feeling like I just stepped out of the Twilight Zone, I decided that I should just go to Radio Shack and be done with it.

I walked into Radio Shack, which is apparently a cell phone store now, and attempted to find my cable. I had a strange disembodied feeling and momentary vertigo. Was it possible that I imagined that these cables ever existed? No, of course not. They were completely commonplace a few short years ago. Still, as I scan the shelves I can’t seem to find one…and this is the store that should have every conceivable combination of consumer electronics cable.

Right as I’m about to leave, one of the never-helpful Radio Shack clerks walks up, and asks if he can help me find anything. [Side note: Radio Shack clerks are minimally trained in electronics, and heavily focused on loss-prevention. You are a thousand times more likely to be profiled than helped in their stores. They also try to position themselves between you and the racks of cables and adapters that you’re trying to scan through.] This dingus, whom I finally realized hours later to be the embodiment of the Zack Galifianakis’ pretentious illiterate character , asks what I’m looking for, then proceeds to tell me that no such thing (like the one pictured above) exists, nor has it ever existed. He tells me that USB cables always have something besides a type-A male connection at the other end (unlike the one pictured above). He says “I’m sure that if you go home and look closely at the drive, you’ll see that it has this connector” He shows me one of the square-type connectors that I mentioned above. I reply “Actually, I looked at the drive very carefully last night, and it doesn’t. Which is unfortunate because I do have those cables.” He then pulls a Microsoft Easy Transfer cable down off the rack, which is USB Type-A male on both ends, but has a giant chunk of mystery electronics in the middle of the cable. These are specifically for transferring your user folder from your old computer to your new computer and they cost $40.  He says “ah, this is what you’re looking for”. And I reply, “no, that’s a specific cable for transferring data directly between computers, and it’s also quite a bit more expensive than what I need.” He says “Still, I’m pretty sure it will do the job.” Skeptic Chad was skeptical.  Then I say, mostly thinking out loud, “This is really strange, because these cables used to be everywhere a few years ago.” At this point the guy delivers the line of the evening: “Clearly the world has moved on since then.”

In a flood of crimson rage, I reach out in a cobra-strike and press my fingernails into his windpipe. “Listen up you smug little shit!” I hiss through my gritted teeth, “You have no fucking idea what you’re talking about!” I shove him up against the rack, knocking adapters and cheap glittery iPhone cases everywhere and sending his glasses askew across his face. “I LEARNED TO CODE ON A RADIO SHACK COMPUTER TEN YEARS BEFORE YOU WERE EVEN CONCEIVED! EVER HEARD OF A TRS-80? DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT “TANDY” IS? YOU’RE NOT GOING TO TELL ME ABOUT TECHNOLOGY, PISSANT! I’M FIVE AND A QUARTER INCHES FLOPPY AND YOU’RE TWO AND A HALF INCHES SOLID STATE! YOU DO NOT MESS WITH OLD SCHOOL GEEKS! I WILL FUCK YOU UP WITH BASIC!
10 CLS
30 GOTO 20

None of that last paragraph actually happened. I just muttered “I guess I’ll look around online.” So I did. Four bucks on Amazon. I’ll be damned if I don’t get fucked right in the ass every time I attempt to shop brick and mortar.

The author as a young boy on his TRS-80. (Re-enactment.)


Weird is good.

Have you noticed those adds that say things like “Lose your belly fat with this one weird trick“? They’re usually for a product related to weight loss or “male performance” or hair growth or reducing the appearance of wrinkles or earning $5550 in a week. I’ve never clicked on one of these ads, but I always find it interesting when a new advertising device begins to emerge. Remember a few years ago when everything was “invented by a teacher” or “discovered by a mother” and advertisers seemed to be trying to trade credibility across professions? (Airborne, the makers of bubbling snake-oil tablets, was the first to catch my attention – though I’ve seen quite a few since.) I find it humorous that at this point credibility is no longer even desirable. Advertisers seem to think that bracketing their claims with “This is going to sound like a crock, but…” makes them more believable. I guess they’re trying to appease the part of your brain that detects bullshit by letting it smell their hand first. “See, I’ve already admitted that this doesn’t sound possible, so I can’t be trying to trick you, right?” Or maybe they’re just trying to tap into our curiosity click-reflex: Forget “proven”. Forget “tested”. This is not your grandfather’s ad campaign. This is some WEIRD shit I found in a dark alley of the internet, but you’re in luck because I’m willing to share it with you for $39/mo, plus $10 shipping (Refer 10 friends and I’ll throw in some açai berries!).


Another great product discontinued: Kepur guitar straps

Kepur, a brand of Core One Creative, made a type of guitar strap that I happen to love. They’re now discontinued and soon-to-be extremely hard to find. Musician’s Friend are selling out their last bit of inventory as we speak.
What’s so great about them? They are built to withstand nuclear attack. They will never ever EVER come off the strap knobs. I’m a fairly enthusiastic player, and one of the things I like the least about being an enthusiastic player is having my guitar come off the end of the strap and hit the floor while I’m playing it. All it takes for this to happen is a 180 degree twist of the strap and a little push. Guitar players have tried various methods for overcoming this common hazard.

The most expensive and complicated method involves various brands of strap-locks. These are basically special knobs you install in place of your existing strap knobs, and mated clips that you install on your strap. They click together, and you’re all set and secure. I tried a set of these once. As it turns out, they’re made of shit metal. (I’m pretty sure that’s not the official metallurgical name.) I had a strap-lock knob strip its way right out of the socket and the guitar fell to the ground. I was super pissed. I said to the strap lock, “You have one F@!*ING job and you FAILED!!!” Needless to say I’m not on speaking terms with strap locks any more.

A less elegant but 100% effective solution is to unscrew your strap knob, place a large flat washer over the inside of the strap knob, then the end of your strap, and then re-screw the strap knob to the guitar. The washer keeps the strap from ever coming off. Ever. Not even when you want it off, unless you go get the screwdriver again.

A third and very common solution, though probably the worst, is the Shitloads of Duct Tape™ method that has been popularized by every punk rock musician everywhere. You just put the strap over the knob and wrap it in shitloads of duct tape. This gives you a temporary solution that is extremely high in street cred.

OR, you buy a Kepur strap. You modify nothing. Just put it on your guitar. It’s kind of a bitch to get it over the strap knob the first time, and honestly kind of a bitch to take it off, but you could if you wanted to – without tools. It doesn’t really twist, and the ends are so indestructibly built that I can’t see any possible way that a guitar could come unfastened without deliberate intent. Even frenetic musical gyrations are not gonna do it. No sir.

One night, while I was wailing particularly hard on my guitar (punching it like it owed me money) I noticed that the end of the strap had managed to turn around and flip over into the dreaded just-about-to-fall-off configuration. [See graphic] I watched to see if the strap knob was going to come back through the hole, but I kept wailing and it held on just fine.  Mission accomplished.

The Kepur straps were pretty inexpensive, as musical equipment goes. The 2″ wide model was about $22. They had custom versions with little rockabilly style graphics on them for slightly more. I have a plain one and one with a cow skull graphic. I guess the reason that they weren’t successful is that they just don’t look like they’d be comfortable. And they’re not terribly sexy. They look like rubber. They’re actually a kind of bomb-proof heat-extruded polymer over some sort of webbing. You can tow a truck with them, literally. Fortunately, they don’t feel like rubber. They’re smooth, matte, dry-feeling, not sticky. They slide over sweaty cotton t-shirts as well as any other guitar strap material, and they’re pretty comfortable as well. Because they’re so restistant to distortion of their shape, they actually feel more like a padded strap than a 2″ wide nylon strap. The weight stays evenly distributed. I can speak authoritatively on this because I play HEAVY guitars made from blocks of solid aluminum. My back goes out well before my shoulder starts hurting.

Anyway, they were really cool. Now they’re (almost) gone. Too bad they didn’t catch on. Maybe they should have added some optional duct tape for the ends, so you wouldn’t have to sacrifice your punk aesthetic. But hey, what do I know. The people have spoken, and these great straps obviously suck.

Update:  Please see the comment below from Kepur! They’re alive and well! Buy them!


Some thoughts on the “Horrorcore” killings.

On September 17 of this year, a 20 year old “rapper” named Syko Sam decided to kill a family and a couple of his friends in a scene so gruesome that police won’t even describe it.

Every so often, some asshole commits some atrocity that draws attention to a certain genre of music favored by the sick asshole in question. In the fevered rush to action, there are invariably calls to ban/censor or otherwise castrate artistic freedoms in favor of preventing future catastrophes. Generally, cooler heads prevail and our First Amendment rights are preserved. Right now, the spotlight is on a genre of rap music called “horrorcore” that seems to be centered around graphic descriptions of violent acts. As usual people are quick to associate the artform with the crime. It’s a natural connection to make. Especially since Syko Sam rapped about committing this crime before he went through with it. Eventually though, this will all blow over, there will still be horrorcore rappers and society will not collapse. I’m OK with this…in principal.

Most of my life, I’ve been a fan of genres of music that are often targeted by censors and religious nuts. After all, I grew up in a time that gave us GG Allin, The Dwarves, Cannibal Corpse, church burning Norwegian black metal and numerous other musical acts with horrifically bad taste. For a while in the 80’s there was a huge scare about the rise of “Satanic” music. I was a huge fan of this style of music, and I still am. Most of it wasn’t Satanic at all. In fact one of the bands that was most often accused of being so, Iron Maiden, was probably more responsible for getting me enthused about world history and classic literature than any of my teachers were. I have had endless talks with parents, teachers and other authority figures where I have had to defend these musicians based on their artistic merits. This is not new. It happened before my time, and again with Rap, and again with Goth…and probably will continue with every passing generation.

So why does this case bother me so much? Is this just a knee-jerk reaction to the new crazy shit the kids are into these days? I feel like I’m in more of a rush to blame the music than the media is. Part of it is because I’ve spent so much of my life trying to convince people of the artistic merits of “extreme” music. Now along comes a group of jackasses whose whole genre is devoted to describing murders in detail, and the pleasure associated with committing the acts. I’m having a real hard time finding anything redeeming here. And yet…

Is this really any different than an updated Maxwell’s Silver Hammer? Should we have banned the Beatles after the Manson murders? Or check out these lyrics by a band that I love, Slayer, from the song Sex, Murder, Art (in part):

My Princess
Dangling in distress
To discipline
My sole purpose never ends
On Your knees
My satisfaction is what I need
The urge
To take my fist
And violate every orifice

You’re nothing
An object of animation
A subjective mannequin
Beaten into submission
Raping again and again

So yeah…there’s that. I guess the leap of faith that I was willing to take with Slayer is that they are simply responding to the horror in the world, and presenting it as shockingly as possible. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit, but to me it always seemed that the point was to take all of these topics (gathered mostly from actual news stories) and present them to people as if to say “this is the sorry state of the world, folks”. I felt that even when Tom Araya is singing in first person as infamous serial killer Ed Gein, that the point is not to celebrate his crimes, but rather to attempt to understand the mind of a killer in order to understand how something like this could happen. Slayer are artists. They have a Grammy.

I’m not sure that I’d take the same leap of faith with these so-called horrorcore artists. From the few albums that I’ve downloaded and listened to over the last several years (often in an attempt to understand some of my younger friends’ taste in music) I haven’t found much more than an ugly and ignorant indulgence in macabre fantasy. I don’t want to take away anyone’s right to do that, but you know…garbage in/garbage out. No one is ever going to give these douchebags a Grammy. Oh wait…they did…sort of. Three 6 Mafia (get it? three 6? 666? Satan!) got an Academy Award for a song they did for the Hustle and Flow soundtrack. To be fair though, the song itself was not in the horrorcore genre, neither was the soundtrack.

Extreme genres of music have a very specific appeal to individuals who are right on the edge of both society and sanity. Regardless of what the intent of the band is, a certain number of these idiots are going to do disgusting things to themselves or others – usually others. In spite of stereotypes to the contrary, I remain convinced that heavy metal is primarily a thinking person’s genre. At least that’s the artist intent. Say something about politics, the state of the world, society, human rights, dragons or wizards, and make it rock.

Horrorcore on the other hand invites, celebrates and revels in ignorance. It brings out the worst in these kids and encourages them to do “sick shit”. It practically dares them to commit these kinds of crimes in order to gain status among their peers. In this specific case, the record label seems to have been a major force that deliberately guided these kids toward this inevitable conclusion. I live in a town where this style of music is very popular with people in this age group (teens/early 20’s). I’ve been to the courthouse and have watched group after group of suspects come through with Insane Clown Posse tattoos and Twiztid t-shirts. For a while I was receiving incoherent death threats in mangled English as a result of a comment I’d posted on a friend’s MySpace page teasing her about having been a fan of ICP. The artists, labels and promoters seem to be pushing the idea that this behavior is the culture and lifestyle, something to identify with and be proud of. They’re not just saying “listen to this music, buy this record” any more. They’re saying “go out and do something shocking for the glory of the Family”.

What should we do about it? Absolutely nothing. Remember the Geraldo-manufactured neo-Nazi scare (right on the heels of the Geraldo-manufactured Satanism scare)? Neo-nazi bands have been making music for years. It’s every bit as violent and horrifying as horrorcore, but no one gives a shit because it’s just not cool to be a Nazi. We need to throw a little bit of subtle peer to peer campaigning at these kids to emphasize that being an ignorant waste of space douchebag isn’t cool. The rest will work itself out. We need to be a little more clever about it than the War on Drugs campaign though, otherwise we’ll all be chopped to pieces in our sleep.

Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what seems to be taking place. The Christian conservatives are screaming “Satan!” and are probably gearing up to burn a huge pile of records and CDs as we speak. This will, of course, only make horrorcore seem cooler, edgier and anti-establishment. I mean, you saw Footloose, right?

Check out these shining rays of hope: (And yes, I have seen Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years)


Atheists “lowest of the lows” according to Kay Hagan

“This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.” – John Adams, President and Founding Father

Why am I so outspoken on atheism? I feel that I have to make a vigorous stand in the face of the erosion of our Nation’s secular foundation. Atheists get a bum rap. In a certain respect, we’re lucky. There are no visible signs of atheism. We’re not a different color and we don’t have public behaviors that are easy to spot. We can stay under the radar if we choose. The one thing we cannot do is run for office. Not if we want to win, at any rate. An atheist can’t get elected dog catcher. Well, that’s not exactly true…you can in the most despicable and godless of all districts, The Bay Area. To date, there has been exactly 1 openly atheist congressman, Rep. Pete Stark D-CA. I am convinced there are many more secret atheists who have made a devil’s bargain, if you’ll pardon the pun, in order get elected. As Hemingway said, “all thinking men are atheists” though I suppose that could be taken a number ways depending on your view of Congress…and Hemingway. At any rate, it is politically safe to express contempt toward atheists in a way that we no longer tolerate when it comes to gays, or blacks or Jews or filthy awful Scotsmen.

The reason I’m writing about this now is that atheism is becoming a central attack theme in the race between Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hagan for Dole’s NC Senate seat. Dole is running attack ads calling Hagan “godless” for taking campaign money from the Godless Americans Political Action Committee. Dole’s people had this to say about GAPAC:

“Kay Hagan attended a fundraiser event in Massachusetts in September held in the home of two anti-religion activists, Wendy Kaminer and her lawyer husband, Woody Kaplan,” Dole’s attorneys said in a letter to Hagan’s lawyer.

They described Kaplan as a founder and advisory board member of the GAPAC. The letter said Kaplan and Kaminer were advisory board members of The Secular Coalition for America, which it described as “the national lobby for atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheistic Americans with the unique mission of protecting their civil rights.”

Protecting your civil rights is a “unique” mission now? Weird. I thought everyone wanted their civil rights protected. Those rotten godless sonsofbitches! How dare they demand to be treated with the same rights as everyone else.

Alright, so Dole calls Hagan “godless” like it’s a bad word, and Hagan responds by calling this attack “the lowest of the lows”. Hagan claims to be Christian, and judging by the fact that she took thousands of dollars from a secular rights group and then threw them under the bus, I’d say she probably is. Lowest of the lows – really? Worse than a terrorist? Worse than a genocidal dictator? Worse than a serial killer? Child rapist? Wall street swindler? Worse than a wife beater? A drunk driver? Worse than someone who borrows your stuff and doesn’t return it? The religious tyranny in this country, and particularly in politics, is swirling into a furor that will likely result in witch trials if we don’t get a handle on it. This country was founded deliberately secular, and for the safety of freedom of its citizens it needs to remain that way. I’m tired of watching politicians try to out-pious each other. Our Founding Fathers would be supremely pissed off about this, if they were here to see it.

Speaking only for myself, and not on behalf of any political party or organization, it’s my view that people should be ashamed of their religion, not proud of it. Religious belief is proof of a flaw in ones ability to think rationally, not a virtue. People should feel a certain amount of embarrassment in admitting that they think the Earth was created a few thousand years ago by an invisible man in the sky who then destroyed it with a flood because he was angry but saved all the animals by ordering one man to collect breeding pairs on a homemade boat. You’re kidding, right? We can all agree that Norse or Greek creation myths seem far-fetched, but this is somehow plausible? And I should take comfort in electing someone whose belief in this nonsense is more steadfast than their opponent’s?

Clinging to superstition puts us all back in the dark ages. We have 99.999% of the answers that religion used to provide. We know the history of the universe going back several billion years. We know how the sun will one day destroy the earth, a few billion years from now. We know how mankind evolved from out of the muck. We know about heredity, and DNA. We know germs cause disease, not demons. We know about schizophrenia, rather than possession. We can make wires a single atom wide. We have vaccines and heart transplants. We have computers that can perform billions of calculations per second – while communicating with satellites – that fit in your pocket. What have you done for me lately, religion? There are a few dark corners where we still have to guess, but religion provides nothing better there either…just more unanswerable questions. Who created the Big Bang? God? Then who created God? We can endlessly regress these questions like toddlers pestering our parents, or we can accept the reality that there might be some questions that will just go unanswered, and emerge into the intellectual adulthood of our species.

Being godless isn’t a bad thing, and atheists aren’t the lowest of the lows. We’re just ahead of the curve.


An introduction…

I’d like to take a minute to make a quick introduction. I post under the name secularJihad because I am a fervent, some would say militant, atheist. I am out to destroy Christmas. I would prefer most churches be bulldozed or turned into all-ages rock venues, unless they have some intrinsic artistic, cultural or architectural value. (Most pre-fab box-built megachurces from the last 20 years don’t.) Religion is ridiculous. That’s my opinion. It’s the opinion of many other atheists, and it’s the opinion of most religious people as well…as long as they’re referring to someone else’s religion. People get defensive about their own particular brand of superstitious nonsense. The fact is that most people adhere to whatever religion they were raised in, unless they wise up and break free. Most don’t have any good reason why they believe what they do, its just what they’ve always known. Maybe it’s time to reconsider? I think so.

I’m highly critical, to the point of being insulting, to most faiths. Most religious people are as well, again, as long as their own diety isn’t being ridiculed. I don’t have any such restriction. The idea of Saturn eating his children is just as silly as the idea that Yahweh magically knocked up a young girl and then killed her offspring to teach us a lesson, or the idea that drawing a cartoon of a prophet somehow forfeits the artist’s right to exist. They’re all equally non-compelling mythologies to me. If you think Richard Dawkins is overly harsh toward religious people, you should probably avoid my posts. I think he’s about as gentle at his most annoyed as I am on an average day.

When I’m not pissing on other people’s most closely held beliefs, I enjoy a variety of pastimes. Most are music or computer related, or both. I’m an avid music collector, mostly focusing on grunge-era independent music, shoegaze, metal – from Black Sabbath to Mastodon, AMREP noise and various forms of electronic and experimental music – particularly Bill Laswell’s far reaching ambient collaborations and remixes. I’ve been a bass guitar player since I was about 13, and a so-so drummer since I was about 30 (had to wait until I was a homeowner for that one). I’ve played in several bands, with long-ish stints in a six piece noise metal band, an instrumental post-rock band, and a stoner/sludge metal band. I love most music, but loud and heavy wins out most of the time.

I record my own music, but not nearly often enough.

I’m also a digital artist, specializing mostly in 3D still illustrations. Most of these begin in either 3D Studio MAX or Photoshop. I was professionally employed as a digital artist and photographic retouch-er for over a decade, and have recently moved into the graphics software industry. I still do creative work on the side when the job sounds interesting, and when I have time. I also create images for a variety of royalty free and rights managed brands that are sold on-line.

Racism is bullshit, as are most forms of discrimination, and should be avoided.

I am a vocal opponent of most laws restricting personal freedom, especially when they originate from religious doctrine, or modern perversions thereof. One person’s freedom to follow their faith ends when it cramps my style. I am awkwardly Libertarian in that regard. I oppose the drug war, and support gun ownership. I’m pro gay marriage and pro choice. Basically, I don’t care what you do, that’s your business, and don’t tell me mine. In other respects I proudly support many Socialist principles, and so do you, whether you know it or not. Our grandfathers would have all been worked to death in soot-filled factories if not for Socialists. Socialists gave us the weekend, and the 40-hour week. Hard battles were fought to give us these benefits, and they’re being eroded. Don’t believe me? Check your Blackberry. I also support government health-care and public schools. I don’t mind paying a high tax rate for a government that provides for me in times of crisis, and ensures my basic needs will be met if I am unable to meet them myself. And I don’t mind if my taxes go to help someone else who is in this position. My odd mixture of political beliefs makes me unpopular at nearly every political round table, but more often than not, I identify with progressives and Democrats. I generally oppose war, but in particular I oppose open-ended wars against concepts, rather than targets.

I prefer medium-light bass strings.

I’m supporting Obama/Biden in ’08, and have donated a few hundred dollars to their campaign. (Though it pains me that Biden was such an ardent proponent of the drug war.) It comes down to this: Do I want to live in a bright shiny sci-fi future where we all float around in pollution free hovercars and everyone is happy and free to express themselves creatively, or do I want to live in a charred industrial waste-world where we are surrounded by a wall that’s piled high on both sides with flyblown emaciated bodies of those trying to get in, and those trying to get out? I personally choose the former, and while I don’t think Obama will magically transport us from Fuckedville to Utopia in 4 or 8 years, I do think that electing him could be something that future generations will point to as the turning point in taking us there. Regardless, the politics on this page are my own, and Barack Obama does not support this message.

Spicy food, FTW!

I like animals, but strongly prefer cats. A cat is happiest when she gets to just chill out and enjoy her space. I get this. Eat. Sleep. Stretch. Yawn. Pet me. Litter break. Bath. Repeat. Simple. I get it. Dogs tend to get all up in my business in a way that I find a little bit intrusive. They’re ok when they’re calm, or when I’m jacked up enough to want to actually play with them, but that’s almost never. Cats can be annoying little shits at times too, but in general my money’s on them.

I am tentatively embracing the Apple Mac platform, though I’ll probably always have a few home-built PCs around.

I started out blogging on MySpace, but moved to WordPress because MySpace’s blog implementation is amateurish and doesn’t syndicate well. I tend to blog on the topics of religion, politics, music and computing, which should be no great surprise if you read the rest of this post. I try to infuse a little dark humor into my caustic vitriol. I am an admirer of the late Bill Hicks, and in particular of his ability to cut through all bullshit and speak with equal enthusiasm on topics from pornography to music to politics to the great existential questions. There are a lot of unfunny black-hearted cynical fucks who like to think they’re a little like Bill. I’m one of them.

Steve Jobs is a cocky prick, but I do love my iPhone.

I spent most of my college and post college years, when I wasn’t at work or studying, getting high with friends. I had a great time. Though I don’t know if I’d do it with quite as much gusto if I had a second chance. I think I could have accomplished a little more if I’d been a bit less pacified and a bit more focused. I recently completed a 5 year period of total sobriety. I have to say that in some ways, my life got a lot better, and in other ways it pretty much blew. I’m a bit awkward socially to begin with, and being the odd man out at every social gathering wasn’t easy. At any rate, 5 years seemed adequate to prove a point, and I’m back to being party-optional. Though I’ll probably pass more often than partake. It’s hard enough for me to manage all my work and personal obligations without inhaling an additional handicap.

So that should be enough to start. Maybe too much. More to come…