Sickening

September 12, 2018 1:41pm
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Last night I spent more time than I’d like to admit browsing the Florida Sex Offender Registry.

Normally I’m not one to watch this thing like a hawk anytime someone new moves into the neighborhood, but we’ve got a handful of people coming to the house for therapy for the kids so it seemed like a good idea.

Thankfully, everyone checked out on that front just fine.

That said, afterwards I felt inclined to follow-up on an old (former) friend of mine who a couple of years ago apparently got busted for being in possession of child porn, and also creating it. (???)

As far as I knew, he’d lost his mid-level job with the military and got sent to prison. I honestly hadn’t talked to the guy in over a decade, so it was more of a shock than anything else, and then last night I stumbled upon a court document in which I guess he’s arguing a bunch of legal details on how it was handled…

…and inside, it also contained the legal review of the original video that had been taken…

…and words just don’t even describe my reaction.

I don’t know if it’s because now I have kids of my own that it feels even more heinous than it did originally, but I can’t imagine someone taking that kind of advantage of a kid … in this case, from what I’ve been able to discern, his own teenage daughter.

Reading through the text, and how he coerced her into what they did, I guess all I can say is that it most certainly wasn’t the same person who I was friends with as a teenager myself … who I worked at scout camp with and went to concerts with. It’s been about 20 years since those times, so I suppose that people change, and sometimes those changes cement the reminders why they’re not a part of your life anymore.

There was the friend who I knew since grade school that I had to block on Facebook because he had grown into a severe religious homophobe.

There was the uncle who had always been fun growing up, but in his later years wanted to argue about literally everything with a particularly conservative and often ugly set of views.

One thing that surprised me when I was browsing the registry was not only just how many offenders lived within a 5-mile radius of my cozy, little suburban neighborhood, but how many had gotten in trouble for offenses relating to kids. Some got busted for attempting to do something horrible with a minor and others for actually doing it.

Hell, last fall our kids’ pediatrician got busted in a prostitution sting here in a neighboring county!

I guess the point is, regardless of a history that you have with someone, you have to remain vigilant to those closest to you. I don’t think anyone ever expects something like that to happen. All you can really do is shake your head and think, “Thank god we didn’t keep in better touch.” 

It’s a little sad because I’ll never forget seeing Aerosmith with him from the second row as Steven Tyler twirled his mike stand over our seventeen year old heads. Or all of our shenanigans in scouts together. In fact, he was the one sitting in the passenger seat when I wrecked my sports car the same summer that I bought it.

But we were different then.

Customer Service with Extra Syrup

August 29, 2018 1:46pm
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It seems like sadly more often than not, we receive terrible service worth ranting about instead of great service worth bragging about, so I wanted to share a quick story I experienced this morning about somebody doing customer service right…

I was grabbing breakfast through the drive-thru at McDonald’s and when the cashier gave me my total through the speaker, it was a few bucks lower than it usually is.

I questioned this when I got to the window and asked if the prices had dropped, to which she quickly noted that she’d rung me up for a meal instead of the two sandwiches that I wanted instead.

Then she mentioned that I should check out their app because it occasionally offers customers coupons, such as buy one, get one free deals and whatnot.

It didn’t feel forced at all. She made a mistake, but corrected it seamlessly. And then saw a chance to help me out with a deal by referring me to their app.

A+ – Would buy McGriddles from again! 😉

Classy Like John McCain…

August 26, 2018 5:11pm
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I always thought that this was a pretty classy moment during the 2008 campaign when John McCain stood up to his own supporters in defense of Barack Obama. It was something that I’ve NEVER seen another politician do.

And I think it says a lot about the Republican mentality of those whose first action upon news of McCain’s death was to cut him down as less of a soldier, or a veteran, or a politician. That party – and its supporters – could stand to learn a few things from a man like John McCain.

Wrong Way

July 27, 2018 4:30pm
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Earlier today while I was getting gas, I had an encounter that to me seemed like a pretty good analogy for our current political climate and what the Trump admin and the Republican party are doing to our country…

Although the car started out at the pump behind me, I almost hit them pulling away because they got impatient and decided to pull up between me and the car on the other side instead of just waiting their turn.

Circling the parking lot to get out, despite the large WRONG WAY signs posted at the driveway meant for incoming traffic, the driver chose to go out the wrong way anyways.

It didn’t matter that she was endangering her own kids in the car.

It didn’t matter that she was endangering anyone else who wanted to enter the parking lot the correct way.

She was just going to do what she was going to do regardless of the warning signs and the rules that were put in place for everyone’s safety.

And it’s for this reason that I’m done arguing with Trump supporters about politics.

They don’t care about the warnings, and they don’t care about the other people around them. As long as they get where they’re going, everyone else be damned.

It’s useless to try and argue with these people because we’ve seen plenty of terrible results over the last two years of Trump’s presidency, yet they continue to cheer his name – anything to be anti-Democrat, even if they’re endangering themselves with every horrible decision that their faithful leader makes.

The best we can do, just like the careless driver in the parking lot, is avoid them at all costs, and when the time comes – we vote them off the road and vow never to let this kind of mistake ever happen again.

Dream Journal : Vicodin Dreams, Pt. 4

July 26, 2018 6:42pm
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This week I’ve been relying heavily on Vicodin to help me sleep while trying to pass a kidney stone, which has resulted in some particularly lucid, albeit still pretty weird dreams…

I had been watching an episode of The Game Chasers when I noticed something that seemed a little familiar.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until we went to visit my Grandpa later on that day and at random, I asked if anyone had been through the neighborhood recently asking about old video games.

I expected a quick dismissal, but instead he admitted that a couple of guys had been by the other day, and he took me into the back room where I quickly recognized the trim on the wall from the same that I’d seen in the video!

Although the guys had gotten an old school NES top-loader, thank god they hadn’t gotten everything because what was left was AMAZING!!!

It seemed like there were just stacks upon stacks of NES games everywhere – on tables and falling out of cupboards.

There were old systems and piles of controllers – where Grandpa had come up with all of this stuff, I had no idea!

My cousins had always been into Sega Game Gear, so at first I thought I’d just found their old handheld system in its case, but upon closer inspection there were three or four other units in this much larger display case like it was some sort of demo unit for a bunch of add-ons that had never even made it to market.

My luckiest find, though, was this unopened cart in a shiny, metallic purple box that I knew just from looking at it had to have been some sort of rare import, however while I fumbled to look it up online, the game box changed into a metallic purple VHS tape box, almost like those hologram cards where you could tilt them at an angle to make a crude animation of sorts.

I struggled with what to tell my Grandpa because it quickly became clear that he wasn’t just going to give all of it to me, but I made sure to mention that he shouldn’t sell anything else without checking with me first and at least he agreed to that! 😉

Dream Journal : Vicodin Dreams, Pt. 3

July 26, 2018 10:41am
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This week I’ve been relying heavily on Vicodin to help me sleep while trying to pass a kidney stone, which has resulted in some particularly lucid, albeit still pretty weird dreams…

The day started out in my office, which would’ve been fairly ordinary except that somehow I had an office much bigger than the cubicle that I actually have at work!

It was the size that’s usually reserved for directors and above. I didn’t have a door for some reason, but I had multiple desk areas and lots of room to spread out, to the extent that apparently I very much had because there were dirty clothes all over the floor.

As I was working to clean things up so the cleaning people at night could vacuum, a former co-worker with a fairly high-pitched voice was there chatting … I have no idea about what.

* * * * * * * * * *

I was a senior in high school, or possibly just graduated.

We were going to a party – hosted on a rooftop – and also strangely attending a wedding that one of our parents were hosting at their extremely elaborate home.

The first party was fairly uneventful, except that I noted finding it satisfying to actually be accepted by the popular kids by association with my friend who was more one of them than I was.

The wedding, on the other hand, was amazing namely for the cakes because instead of only having a single wedding cake, one of our other friends who ran a cake company brought her entire company to the wedding, with the couple getting to pick their favorite cake on the spot.

…and being our friend, we got to pick out some treats before even the wedding couple did…

The most notable was the frosting, which was just to die for, and I stalked the various dessert cases for several minutes as the crowds began to gather before finally making my selection(s)!

* * * * * * * * * *

This same weekend there was also a camping trip with the Boy Scouts that I was supposed to go on.

It was my first outing where I was old enough to go as an adult leader, so I wanted to go up after our parties even if it meant being a day late.

Hitching a ride with a semi-truck driver, we drove over a very questionable bridge into the UP that was honestly amazing that we even crossed, considering the end of the bridge had this disconnected incline where the driver almost had to jump the truck up a ramp and then wiggle the rest of the truck behind us across.

I had one or more of the boys with me, so when we reached this small town nearby to the actual campground, we stopped at this tourist shop where we had been told that they were doing customized t-shirts for everyone who attended.

…themed around The Simpsons???

Anyways, we stood in line with quite a few other kids who were also late, but when we finally got up to the front, the clerk just shrugged us away and said that they’d run out. This really bothered me because they knew in advance how many shirts to order and the mistake was clearly on their part, but he didn’t want to admit it. The best he offered was that we could come back in a week and he’d have some more, which was ridiculous because I explained that nobody was going to drive two hours out into the middle of nowhere to get a stupid t-shirt…

When we finally arrived at the campground, we ran into my Dad who told us about everything that the kids had been doing.

I mentioned that two friends of mine were there, and they’d been posting on social media that they’d been having a blast … and also noted that they both happened to be in the middle of transitioning – one from female to male, and the other the opposite.

His response bothered me, as he just chuckled, “I’d like to see the looks on the other boys’ faces when they find out…”

To which I quickly interjected, “…because you’d step in and remind them that they’re all Boy Scouts, right???”

When he didn’t respond, I just added, “That’s ok – that’s why I’m here now…” looking down at the Assistant Scoutmaster badge that I wore on my arm.

The rest of the trip was surprisingly uneventful. I met some of the staff members who were from Canada, and we talked politics and I asked in particular what they thought of our current events, and if they could help us out!

This made them laugh, and we all shared stories of earning our highest rank as youth and what it meant to be leading a new group of boys now.

At one point another leader from our troop showed up with even more late boys in tow, and it was surprising how true to character he was … always strict, yet he’d go well beyond the extra mile for any scout in need, even if it meant driving him two hours into the middle of nowhere on a Saturday night so that he could catch the last few hours of a group outing.

What’s on Scott’s mind???

July 25, 2018 4:05pm
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Preface: I hope this doesn’t come off as depressive, as it’s meant to be more reflective, but I suppose we’ll just see where it goes…

Head Stuff
For lack of a better term, lately I’ve found myself feeling very lost and disoriented.

Life is, and has been for a while, quite chaotic, but even when I sit down and identify things that I think I could do to improve the quality in general, I can’t seem to actually execute on them. Sometimes it’s because my plans are too complicated, sometimes it’s because I get overwhelmed and other things come up that displace my original plans, and sometimes it’s simply that it’s often easier to sit down and make the plans than it is to actually do the work behind them.

Part of it could be a lack of attention because I have so many different things that I want to do, but all of them require the equivalent of full-time efforts and I just can’t force myself to pick one and thus leave all of the others behind.

And it’s tough because sometimes I have that nagging feeling of what one of them could’ve been if years ago I had just picked one and really focused on it instead of dragging everything out together. I try to tell myself that just because I pick one thing and focus on it now doesn’t mean that years down the road I can’t work on something else.

It also doesn’t help that I’m more inclined than before to lean towards the projects that have money associated with them because our finances keep getting tighter and tighter, and I don’t expect that to necessarily go away until all of these kids are off to college… 😛

Sick Stuff
Since Sunday night I’ve been dealing with another kidney stone, or at least I think it’s a kidney stone … if not, I’m real curious what it is that’s had me popping so much Vicodin over the last couple of days!

That’s on top of a real nasty rash (TMI?) that I’ve been fighting for the last couple of weeks, to the point where I saw multiple doctors and got all sorts of steroids to get it to go away. The specialist also took a biopsy of two hunks of my skin, which is something I’ve never done before and can’t say that I would recommend because I’ve still got the stitches to show for it.

Simply put, I need to be taking a lot better care of my body, but everything else being so chaotic makes it really hard. On a normal workday by the time I go to the office, work a full day, and come home and try to help put the kids to bed, I’m just exhausted and barely have any energy left to do anything at all – be it more work, creative stuff, or god forbid … exercise.

Political Stuff
Trump depresses the shit out of me, in the things that he says and the policies that he’s pushing, but mostly in the numbers of followers that happily agree with every self-centered, arrogant, cruel and crude, bigoted word of it.

Capitalism feels like it’s slowly eroding my respect for brands like Disney who’ve inspired me for decades, but now just seems to take more and more because they can.

I guess I have a hard time understanding where a lot of people allocate their values to be when so much of our world lately is every man for himself, I got mine, and you’re just not working hard enough.

I saw a quote the other day with regards to how airline flights are more cramped than they’ve ever been, and the response was, “Being comfortable on an airplane is not a human right.”

How did we become so jaded when people paying for a service don’t deserve to receive that service in a reasonable manner???

At the end of the day, I guess I’d just like to see people prioritized over profits again because it’s made a lot of aspects of life really ugly and unfulfilling, and it ultimately leads to a lot of people suffering so that a few can flourish, which isn’t right.

Relaxing Stuff
Amid all of this, I’ve been spending more time doing things that I enjoy recreationally, which I suppose is a good thing.

About a week ago I turned on my Super NES Classic and started playing Final Fantasy 3 – a game which I haven’t played since high school – and that’s been a lot of fun revisiting all sorts of memories from what made that game awesome way back in the day.

I’ve also really been enjoying finding random stuff on YouTube and collecting them in Plex – old TV shows, particularly ones that never even made it to DVD because they’re often episodes that somebody encoded off of VHS tapes and whatnot! Even though I might not necessarily watch a lot of them, there’s something oddly fulfilling to organizing these random blips in history into a format that’s more appealing to the eye if I did want to watch them … i.e. what a service like Netflix could look like if perpetually changing licenses and digital rights weren’t a thing.

Final Thoughts
Is it bad to yearn for what I think my life could be instead of simply embracing the general chaos that it is now?

It would be one thing if there was an end in sight to said chaos, but when I think it’s going to persist for the foreseeable future, particularly when some of those things that I strive for have the possibility to bring along with them great change, it’s hard not to want to run, not walk towards them both for personal satisfaction as well as just to find a bit of relief.

Maybe it’s about pacing, and trying to figure out a progression towards that thing or things that will actually work for you. Or in my case, also learning how to put certain things on the back burner without feeling like you’re all but abandoning them completely.

I feel like the chaos would be easier to deal with if there were some light at the end of the tunnel – something to remind me that all of this struggling isn’t being done in vain.

And that at the end of the day, it’s all going to work out and everything is going to be ok. Whatever that is.

Dream Journal : Vicodin Dreams, Pt. 2

July 25, 2018 1:44pm
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This week I’ve been relying heavily on Vicodin to help me sleep while trying to pass a kidney stone, which has resulted in some particularly lucid, albeit still pretty weird dreams…

Tonight’s dream sequence focused a lot around moving to Florida in various stages, beginning back in my hometown where I found myself getting ready to rent a uHaul truck to make the big journey down south.

The uHaul dealer that I visited also featured a number of areas aimed at cleaning your old place, so while I was there I decided to run a load of laundry – presumably of random items that I would need on my trip. I also wasn’t exactly sure which size of truck that I needed and was torn between renting one and somehow trying to “borrow” a van from the warehouse where I worked, so I ended up leaving the dealership to ponder this while my laundry continued to run.

* * * * * * * * * *

I ended up acquiring a van from work and was driving it around town when I ran across a couple of people who I follow for doing videos and podcasts about Disney World. I parked my van and rode around with them for a while, talking about Disney trivia until they finally had to get going back to California and me on my way to Florida.

It was pretty early in the morning, so I decided that I wanted donuts before I headed out.

Driving back through town, I was reminded all the more of why I wanted to leave because the city had since been built out in a very bizarre and somewhat confrontational way. With all of the houses at the interior, followed by small businesses, then industrious ones, followed by Walmart and almost a wall of sorts at the city’s edge, it felt very clear that my hometown wasn’t welcoming to new visitors at all. They had even built this elaborate water play area designed like a castle, which would’ve normally been very cool, but for some reason it was blocked at the street level by all sorts of other businesses so you could barely see it, which just seemed very dumb.

Anyways, I pulled up to sort of a makeshift Dunkin Donuts that was setup as a stand outside, but before I was able to order, one of my old scout leaders from my childhood approached me and said hello … which was very disturbing because he’d been dead for many years!

We talked for several minutes in which he attempted to explain what had happened and calm me down, until finally I was pulled aside by one of the Dunkin workers who had gotten a soda for me in a nice, big travel mug.

At least, I thought this was a nice gesture until she tried to ring me up for $14.99 for the mug and soda. And for some reason they didn’t have any donuts, only breakfast sandwiches. We hung around for a sandwich anyways, but ended up leaving about 10 minutes later when they still hadn’t managed to finish making our order…

* * * * * * * * * *

Fast forward to being on the road – I was traveling with Sara and we had just pulled up to my cousins’ house in Ohio to surprise them. We only stayed for a few minutes because it was Christmas morning and they had other guests – also friends that I knew – and all of their kids were getting ready to unwrap their presents underneath the biggest collection of decorated Christmas trees indoors that I had ever seen.

During our stay, there was some talk about our plans once we got to Florida. Somehow we’d left rather sporadically, so much was up in the air regarding places we’d lived and whether our belongings were still there to go back to. It wasn’t clear how long we’d been gone, but it seemed that we left without dealing with our house or the apartment we used to rent, so we both wondered if they were still available or the banks and landlords had put them back on the market again.

Walking back outside, a fresh layer of snow had fallen on the ground and covered the black sports car we had been driving … which was particularly low to the ground and very claustrophobic.

The status of our relationship together was unclear, as I suggested just driving on to Florida instead of turning around and heading home, to which Sara mentioned that her kid might not be too fond of that.

* * * * * * * * * *

I made it to Florida – by myself – and had settled in to my first day on a new job that seemed rather nice and flexible.

I still wasn’t sure where I was staying that night, but at lunchtime I ventured out to find something to eat and ended up at a HoneyBaked Ham store only a few blocks from my new office. Looking forward to a sandwich that I’d grown accustomed to getting elsewhere, I quickly found that their menu was completely different and I ended up trying a thai salad instead.

A particularly intriguing part of ordering was when the cashier asked if I had a Disney MagicBand with me because instead of using their loyalty cards, a lot of customers just got their points added right to the band so that they could spend them over at Disney World instead, which seemed very cool to me!

I sat eating my salad and thinking about how I was going to blog about my first day in my new city until eventually I had to get up to use the restroom. When I returned, I strangely found that my salad bowl had been emptied, but left on the table, and when I asked the guy at the next table what had happened, he told me to talk to the girl behind the counter who admitted that the manager had told her to clean my table.

I got mad because I wasn’t finished eating, so I demanded to speak to the manager who was very rude and explained that I’d been there too long and other customers needed my table, so it was time for me to go. I asked for a refund, which I was quickly given, but was more disturbed by how unconcerned they were about upsetting a new customer. The guy I had been sitting next to had been told he had to finish up and leave, too, but because he stayed at his table and hadn’t gone to the restroom, they otherwise just left him be.

I left vowing to write a letter to their district manager, however what happened next somewhat distracted me from that mission…

* * * * * * * * * *

After parking my car, on my walk back into the office I managed to get my pants unsalvageably dirty. Despite having all of my belongings there in my car, I didn’t have a second pair of pants, so I ran over to a nearby clothing store to see about finding a replacement.

They didn’t have much to offer, as they sold mostly women’s clothes, but as I left I found the saleswomen pushing dresses and jewelry on me nonetheless. As I tried to walk out the door, I suddenly found myself being dressed in their clothes just the same, with the clothes having some sort of witchcraft in their labels that proceeded to sew themselves into my skin so that they couldn’t be removed … a shiny, blue dress, some dangly jewelry, and even a long, brown wig.

I was speechless as I walked back into the office, yet my female boss gave me a look over with a raised eyebrow, then just shrugged and pointed me to my desk, as they were getting ready to begin a presentation. Looking around the room, a couple of other men had also fallen victim to the same clothing shop across the street, and nobody said a word about it.

* * * * * * * * * *

After work I ended up going home with the same guy from the salad place, whose wife said it was ok for me to crash with them for a few days until I figured out my bearings. They had some pinball machines in their basement which were a fun release after kind of a weird day, although eventually I just went to bed after I realized that my playing was keeping them awake upstairs.

Dream Journal : Vicodin Dreams, Pt. 1

July 24, 2018 9:44am
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This week I’ve been relying heavily on Vicodin to help me sleep while trying to pass a kidney stone, which has resulted in some particularly lucid, albeit still pretty weird dreams…

I was a member of Aerosmith!!!

…sort of…

I was visiting a group of friends at college and trying to find someplace where I could take a shower. They had these big, community locker rooms / showers, so I waited until everyone had left, borrowed someone else’s towel and shampoo that were left there, and did what I needed to do.

Later on that night when we were front and center for a show, somebody with the band pulled me aside and told me that I could be a big help to them, on account of how much I resembled lead guitarist Joe Perry with my long hair and all.

I stood out on the stage for a few minutes with one of Joe’s guitars while they adjusted lighting and whatnot, and when they were done the same guy asked if I wanted to work with them full time!

It felt like I’d been picked to be a part of the band, and for the next six months I toured with the group and stood in for Mr. Perry whenever he was too busy to be bothered with setting up shots and whatnot himself. It was amazing and I felt like a rockstar … even though I never actually played a note myself, despite standing in the shadows of giants seemingly every single night.

Eventually, though, I realized that my dream wasn’t really to be Joe Perry, but to be a famous musician like Joe Perry, and so reluctantly I handed my mantle down to another fan who sort of looked like the star to instead focus on actually making music myself.

If it turned out that I still sort of looked like Joe Perry doing it, then that would just be a bonus.

Understanding the N-Word

July 18, 2018 1:42pm
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Reading through comments about the Papa Johns guy getting blow back for saying the n-word … it makes me sad that people still don’t understand the power of that word.

I really like this video of Ice Cube schooling Bill Maher when he said it last year because he spells out why it’s ok for black people to say it, but not white people…

I think it’s the least we can do as white people to remove this word from our lexicon out of respect for the history it bears.

And I’ll be the first to admit that, much like Bill Maher, I know that I’ve said it a couple of times myself in jokes. Looking back, I’m not proud of those moments or those jokes, I know it was wrong, and I’ve learned from it.

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