Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I was going to write a long post about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA), but I played Battlefield 3 with my buddy in Cincinnati instead. And I've been ranting about this on Twitter and Google+ for almost a month now. So I'll keep this post short.

Chuck Wendig has already captured my attitude towards these bills in his own... inimitable fashion. But he has left out a few points I want to make.

These bills won't create jobs. What they will in all likelihood do is overwork every I.T. guy in companies that have to comply with the blockade rules in the bill: advertisers, search engines, and payment processors.

They will implement Internet censorship. Internet service providers will be able to block any website they believe is "dedicated to the theft of US property", and be immunized from any retaliatory lawsuits.

And you won't be able to avoid it. Any tools that would circumvent such blocks on the Internet would be banned. These are the same tools that are used to get around Internet censorship by repressive regimes elsewhere in the world.

There are plenty of websites up today where you can learn more about SOPA and PIPA. I ask that you take the time to learn about these bills and, if you agree with me, to do whatever you can to oppose them.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Year, New Look

Behold! I bring you a new blog layout.

First of all, credit where credit is due. The new look is a pre-cooked blog template called The Essayist, downloaded from The only major change I've made is the ink pen, which is an image I downloaded from and resized.

I definitely think I prefer the new look. The old one was a bit... colorful for my subject matter, though it was easy to use. It also strikes me as more readable than the old format.

I'll be tweaking the layout a bit more this week, probably, so let me know if you think there's anything I should add, or perhaps take away. Suggestions to delete the entire blog will be forwarded to Cap'n Hector.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Yes yes, it's Friday the 13th and I'm just now doing a New Year's post. If SOPA or PIPA make it into law I'm sure you can have me taken down for this grievous offense.

2011's largely a blur to me right now, but some events still stand out. Going fishing with my dad in West Virginia and catching a mess of trout. Weathering an earthquake and Hurricane Irene with some good friends. Getting hacked for the first time, then getting hacked again for good measure. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage and starting my first house hunt.

And 2012... who knows what's coming up? Hopefully my wife and I will find the house for us and get moved into it before the year is half gone. I'd also like to travel out of the state again, if only briefly. I'd like to see the inside of a casino before I die, and now's as good a time as any. There's also an election to keep a close eye on, for as long as I can stand it; I'm estimating I'll break down and hide in a closet in mid-February.

Anyway. Resolutions are a big thing this time of year, so here are a few things I'd like to succeed at this year:

Lose 50 pounds. This is not a resolution so much as a requirement. I feel like crap and my weight is to blame; therefore, the weight must go.

Write every damn day. Technically I've already failed at this, but if I can spin up to writing every day by the end of the year, I'll consider this resolution fulfilled.

Cut back on the comic books. I love reading them, but they take up too much space and they're an expensive habit. Another one that needs to be evaluated at the end of the year, but I'll be happy even if I can just move to electronic comics at some point.

Nothing special here, as you can see. But I think these are all things worth doing this year, and I intend to attempt them all.

Now if you'll excuse me, Mitt Romney's tainted my blog with a campaign ad, and I need to figure out how to get rid of it.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Write What You Feel

"Write what you know." It's one of the oldest chestnuts in writing. (The oldest one probably has to do with grammar.) It's also not an easy thing to do.

Say you have a job in a patent office. (You poor bastard.) And when you write you write about the ins and outs of working at a patent office. You write about your crazy or not-so-crazy coworkers and the little stories that happen every day. You write about going home to your husband or your wife, maybe your kids or your dog, and the time you spend with them.

You write boring.

All that stuff isn't a story. The ins and outs of your job aren't narrative; they're probably a training manual. The little stories about your coworkers aren't gripping fiction; at best they're cute anecdotes, at worst they're going to turn you into a pariah and get you fired. The time you spend with your happy family is not interesting except to a genealogist.

"Write what you know" is not to be interpreted as "write what you do". You write what you feel.

You don't write about what you do at the patent office. You write about the bone-deep exhaustion you feel at eight in the morning because you were up too late again last night. You write about the panic of a deadline that's about to sail by, and the elation of nailing the bastard before he gets away. You write about the way a drop of blood looks on a TPS report after it slices your index finger open.

You don't write about your coworkers and the things they do. You write about the secret struggle for dominance between I.T. and the secretarial staff. You write about the bald spot on the back of Ed's head that looks like a smiley face, the glint of light on Olivia's lipstick when she walks just-so under the fluorescents, the purplish-red shade Donald's face turned when he gave his "exit speech" after the layoff.

You don't write about the daily events in your household. You write about the kick in the collarbone when the dog jumps onto your chest to lick your face. You write about the misting rain on your skin while you're applauding at your son's soccer game. You write about the warmth of an arm around your neck and a body pressed against yours, side by side. You write about broken dishes and screaming matches that rip your throat open and makeup sex that means you have to buy a new bed.

And you never, ever, name names. Names hurt, and anyway they aren't so important. It's impressions and emotions and thrills and sorrows and loves and hates that you want to capture, and you can never do that if you're afraid you'll hurt someone.

Write what you feel. You're the only one who can, because you're the only one who really knows.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Please Stop Trying To Kill My Dog

Just back from a walk with Lina. She's devouring food and water and is in a Corgi happiness state - in other words, just fine. She is lucky.

Five minutes into the walk (in the middle of the night) I catch her chomping on something. Tell me, is there a thing where people eat fried chicken in the middle of a grassy park area and then just leave the bones there for neighbor dogs to find? Because it sure as hell happens a lot around here.

So Lina's eating a chicken bone, which is bad news because they break apart easily under the power of mighty canine jaws and turn into pointy shards that can tear up Corgi insides.

This is a beef bone. That's different. And she was supervised.

I get the potentially-fatal bone away from Lina (no small feat - thanks dog), take three steps, and hear the tinkle of breaking glass under my feet.

Broken glass! A whole bottle's worth of pointy shards! My dog does not wear shoes!

Artist's rendition of a dog who got carried home tonight.

One explanation is that my neighbors are just slobs. That's the simple explanation, but I can't believe it. I have to assume my neighbors are actively trying to kill my dog, probably in retaliation for some Cosa Nostra shit she got up to when she was a puppy that I'll never know about.

Lina practicing Omerta.

It is clearly time to move, preferably somewhere where black-suited thugs are not waiting in bushes to grab my dog and take her into the back room with the rubber hoses.