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My Language Journey (A thing I did for class)

Wow, that takes up a lot of room.

So yeah, I had to talk about my “language journey.” Essentially, I said I grew up in an English-speaking country, so I never had to deal with the majority of people not speaking the language I do, like a lot of English Language Learners (ELLs) do. I did, however, take Spanish in Middle School and High School. The teacher I had for Spanish 1 was a little crazy, and the teacher I had for Spanish 2 was mean. She thought my friend was dangerous because he once slammed his fists on the table in frustration. She said I was a “good kid with bad influences,” though, lol. But yeah, if we weren’t sitting in our seats when the bell rang, we were late. Essentially, we had 4 minutes to get from one class to the next. Sometimes I had to use the restroom, too. I think she was the kind of teacher who gave bathroom passes as a privilege.

Some Weird-Ass Shit

So yeah, this is a compilation I put together from stuff I’ve done since I started recording at the end of 2014. I think there’s like at least one 2014 track on there, anyway. I was just looking for my strangest tracks that might also be somewhat musically appealing. I dunno how successful I was on that end, lolol.

It’s occurred to me that I like to make experimental, almost noise-like stuff. I like to make normal, poppy-like music too, but I dunno if I’m as good at that or not. Maybe if I have someone else helping me on instruments, it can be okay. But if it’s weirdness factor, I’m definitely better at that.

I got fascinated with using paulstretch, wahwah, and phaser effects at some point, and just play with those all the time. Plus, if there’s a weird sound I hear and can get recorded, I’ll do that, too. I think I’m getting better at making a beat, and putting things in rhythm, maybe. Then again, I also just like things that come out sounding really odd, regardless of whether there’s a beat or not. Chaos can be fun, too.

A track I forgot to put in, but might be up for consideration if looking for something like the above, is this:

I was doing some of the assigned reading, by putting the text in a text to speech app, but the text for a few of the pages got all garbled up. I thought it was funny, so I recorded it. First, I just recorded it with the computer’s built in mic because my external mic was in another room, but it didn’t pick anything up but random clicks, so that kinda became the beat. Then, I got my external mic and recorded the stuff. Then, I ran a track through the wahwah thing. Then I ran another track through the wahwah thing. Then I ran three successive tracks through successive phaserings. A last track was paulstretched. I think one track was also reverbed, while another stayed the same. Stuff and things.

I always wonder if there is enough to some of these tracks, or if I should add more layers. A lot of the time, though, I dunno what else to put, so I just upload the stuff. Also sometimes, I have one more layer of sound, but it doesn’t sound as good, so I take it away. It would probably be handy to have better recording equipment than just my lappy and an external mic, but whatevs. I got no money, heh… I also had Ableton Live for a bit, but I didn’t know how to use it. Then, my computer got messed up and I had to restore it to factory settings, and I don’t have the password for Ableton anymore. Foolishness, indeed.

I haven’t actually really recorded much lately, though. I have a children’s book project that I’m supposed to be doing for a friend who just had a baby, but I haven’t gotten very far in that at all. Utter Tomfoolery, indeed.

Summer Term just started. I’m in the middle of like 11 consecutive terms without a break, heh… and then right after, I’m gonna go right in to student teaching. Hopefully my GI Bill lasts for all that.

Remember that one time you were gonna shove your head back up your ass?

What, you the only one who gets to get snippy? Drawing you like 10 times takes like 5 or 6 hours, and I don’t have the motivation to do that every time.

Because fuck that, and fuck you.

“Horribad” animation

So I did this, and I figured I’d post about it.

I was messing around this afternoon with a recording I made of my cat. I uploaded that “song” here: https://soundcloud.com/calamity-taco/interview-with-kiara It is totally a song. It has a rhythm and lyrics and everything. Anyway, when I was done with that, I messed around with a portion of the track, paul-stretching it, wah-wah-ing it, phaser-ing it, etc. Then I added in this  recording I did of my phone when, for some reason, somehow, all circuits were busy. For my cell phone. I dunno. It’s happened twice, anyway.

I’ve uploaded other tracks that were me messing around with previous tracks, to youtube. For this one, I decided I should do a small animation. Try that mess again. This didn’t happen until I’d been sitting around for a few hours, but inevitably, I ended up drawing. Then I put the drawings together in video pad, but when played back, Todd moved WAY slow, heh. So I sped him up. Then I was gonna put effects on him, but apparently video pad didn’t input some of the changes I wanted to them, and when I went back to reedit the project, part of the video was missing. So I was like “fuck it, I’m uploading what’s already been exported.” And there you have it.

It occurs to me that the animators I like to watch spend weeks, sometimes months, on a few minutes of animation. I spent a couple hours on this, lol. Maybe some day, I’ll download some animating software and try that again, but the one I tried to use, I failed to use correctly, and it seemed like just putting drawings together in video pad would be easier.

Also haven’t done a bunch of drawings with the last few journal entries. That took a bit of time, so I dunno how often I’ll be doing that anymore, heh… (I mean, I’m just SUPER busy. Sitting around. Not doing homework. This should’ve been something Todd said to me, heh.)

So yeah. Life and stuff. 3 more weeks of Spring Term. Need to get in and talk to my advisors. Politics are still frustrating and dumb. Not many people willing to compromise on anything. Just wanna see each other as monsters. This isn’t healthy for our country…

Some Kinda Update

So yeah. I haven’t written any blogs in a while. I’m still doin’ the school thing, and not much else. I’ve been depressed for a bit. Since like the middle of last Fall, I lost my motivation to get much of anything done, and I’m barely getting done the things I’m supposed to do, school-wise. I’ve been sinking further in, even as I try to get out (“try” being an iffy verb). There are things I know I should do, there are things I would like to do, there are things that are suggested to me that I do… I just don’t do them.

It’s not that I don’t want to usually, too. It’s just that I don’t. On the days that I’m not required to go anywhere, I just sit around in my bedroom, in my pajama bottoms and a shirt, and stare at the computer screen. Or play Terraria. That’s one that’s been taking some time lately. I’ve had a couple interviews, but I haven’t heard anything back. Probably gonna have to take out a student loan, though I really don’t want to…

How does one get the motivation and energy back that one had six years ago? I used  to run all the time. I used to ignore all the warning signals in my brain as I signed paperwork and my life away. I used to want to  find someone. Seeing videos of me from 6 years ago and me from this past year, I used to be a lot thinner.

I guess I know I put in the effort before, and it led to some of the worst years of my life. So now, I want to be lazy all the time. It just sapped everything that I had, and it doesn’t seem to be coming back. Like, I put all the effort I had into those years, and now my body wants to catch up on laziness.

The world is stupid. Politics are stupid and complicated. The right answer is not obvious, though many want to pretend that it  is. How many people out there actually want to mediate this nonsense? At times, I think I do, but at other times, I just have no patience, and I turn on asshole mode to protect myself. I don’t know how many times I can take one party trying to reason and explain their positions, and then the other party calling them such and such thing, and outright dismissing them because of that label. I don’t know how patient I can be with people who have decided they are right, and the other party is wrong, regardless. Some people really ware on my desire to remember the humanity in everyone.

Then I turn into Todd up there. At least in my head. Maybe in my tweets, too.

I remember when I used to need to be right all the time. I remember the satisfaction of proving my intellectual superiority. I remember being straight out of High School, and thinking I know everything. Now, I think it’s a waste of time. Now, I think that claiming that certain demographics are smarter than others is nonsense, because different people have different experiences, and different kinds of knowledge. One can be extremely knowledgeable about his own world, but not begin to understand the nuances of another. As far away as one galaxy is from another, so is one person’s mind to the next, or further.

I have a headache.

FaithKidsNShit

I did another video. This time, I didn’t video record myself. I feel a bit better about this one than the last two I did.

As a Catholic, I dunno what I think of the “indoctrinating children” thing. I grew up with parents who made me go to church every Sunday, I knew a lot of people who also grew up with the Christian doctrine. A largish percentage turned away around their High School years, and then later.

I kinda feel like it’s up to the parents and what they wanna teach their kid. The kid’s gonna pick stuff up from their parents anyway; helps ’em form their morality, identity, etc. As does the rest of their environment. But parents are a big deal, and if they believe in a religion, they don’t think they’re “lying” to their kids, so…? *shrug*

Just some extra thoughts.

Back to What I’m Good At, Maybe

Last Summer, I wrote a blog about how I went from Conservative to Liberal, after I spent some time outside my own little corner of the world, and observed that other people have problems and perspectives different from those of the people from where I come from. I had always felt that compassion is important, and at times, being Conservative felt contradictory to being compassionate. During this period of my life, I found I couldn’t reconcile my compassion with my politics, and I had to make a change. Unfortunately, I’ve come to this conclusion: these people don’t seem to exhibit the same compassion for people like me.

What began my slight turn back was probably moving back home, and being around the people I grew up with again. These were all good, kind, and compassionate people, who continued to lean towards the Conservative side of the spectrum. There were issues on the Conservative side that I never gave up, like abortion, but there were also issues on the Liberal side that I couldn’t give up on, like global warming and general human rights. It is my continued belief that many of those with money started out with certain advantages over those of us without, and my studies of our education system, economics and politics continue to give me that impression. A good cross-section of all my Liberal issues is the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Standing Rock. A rich oil company is hellbent on tearing through a Native American tribe land, Natives being the most persecuted and exploited peoples in our country’s history.

First of all, what started to sway me back a bit was my friends’ openmindedness about my ideas, and their willingness to listen. Next came a Summer class I took on water resources. While there were a lot of environmental and human rights causes highlighted here, there were human rights causes highlighted of another kind; those of the farmer. The people who produce what we eat. While there are certainly many more people in the urban areas than there are in the rural, if the farmer doesn’t have sufficient water, he or she cannot produce the food that we all eat. What we learned was that the urban areas took much more water than what was allotted to them, quite often, and the farmers had to make up for that. In particular, we observed this scenario in Southern California, in the midst of their droughts. A tall order has been placed in front of those farmers, and understanding of their dilemma would be advisable.

Another thing that set me off was the Democratic Primaries, and in particular, the treatment of Bernie Sanders and his supporters. I was closely following that community, paying attention to polling and voting, happy for victories while weathering defeats. There were a number of things wrong with those primaries. First of all, there were the Super Delegates, who were counted for Clinton before any caucuses had ever been held. Even in states that Bernie had won, the Super Delegates went to Clinton. Next, there was the voter suppression, in places like Arizona and Florida, where legal complaints have been filed, and the DNC lawyers’ response has been to say that they should’ve known they would be cheated. Thirdly, there was the collusion with the media, who ran bullshit stories about Sanders and his followers, and the name “Bernie Bro” that was bestowed upon the supporters, a dismissive title reminiscent of “dude bro.”

Eventually, a few days before the Democratic Convention, in spite of his promises to go all the way, Sanders dropped out and endorsed Clinton. Furthermore, Donald Trump had already been named the Republican nominee. So it was Clinton vs Trump, a criminal vs a blowhard. Yes, Clinton is a criminal. I don’t care what FBI director James Comey has said about “intent” (a previously unnecessary prerequisite to committing a crime). Those of us who have been in the military and have had to take our OPSEC courses at least once a year know that “loose lips sink ships,” and that we need to protect FOUO documents from our adversaries. No need for “intent;” if we fucked up, we’d be in deep shit. Comparisons do other politicians using private emails to transmit FOUO content are false comparisons, what’s more, because Clinton ran an ENTIRE SERVER from her home, without official knowledge. She clearly did this to circumvent FOIA. “Cash flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Urianium Deal” isn’t just a random sentence I just typed out; it’s a title to a NYT story that you can google right now. Clinton’s smug face during the Congressional hearings over this issue burned me even more.

Unable to reconcile my deep-seeded hatred for Clinton, I turned to Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, who was one of the few politicians who showed that she gave a damn about NoDAPL. She also had a slightly less extreme stance on abortion than the Democratic platform. As the Fall pushed on, I observed mainstream media either ignoring Stein or unfairly denigrating her, as they had done with Sanders. My distrust for these mainstream news sources grew, and I turned more and more to Redacted Tonight, HA Goodman, Tim Black, and Glen Greenwald. I followed Democracy Now! For a time, but they seemed to focus their ire on Trump and ignore Clinton’s sins, like everyone else. What I witnessed of the debates… I couldn’t fully blame the msm for preferring Clinton over Trump. Trump came off as an angry, incoherent buffoon in those debates, and Clinton was much more refined (even though I still hated her with a passion).

During the General Election, however, Wikileaks began to expose the sins of the Clinton Campaign, the DNC, and the MSM, showing us their emails, their own words, which pointed not only to collusion between all three,  but a “Pied Piper” strategy to elevate the most extreme Republican candidates—like Trump. DWS was forced to resign from her position as DNC Head (but was immediately hired to the Clinton Campaign) and her replacement, Donna Brazille, was fired from CNN. What did the guilty parties do? They insulted our intelligence. They attacked the character of Wikileaks found Julian Assange, they pretended that the emails either didn’t exist or were fake, and—the ongoing tomfoolery to this day—they accused without evidence Russia of the leaks. Initially, before election day, the FBI found no evidence to link Russia to the leaks (and Wikileaks, who have a 100% track record for authenticity, said that Russia hadn’t given the emails to them).

Still, with the exit polls as they were, I was fairly certain that Hillary Clinton would become our 45th president. I had agreed to help cover election day with my school newspaper, and realized only after committing that I was likely to hate that night. However, as we all know now, things did not go as expected. It was very interesting to watch the disbelieving, horrified college students, as they reacted to Trump coming away with state after state: Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, etc., etc. I was actually softly chuckling to myself like a crazy person. I didn’t like Trump, but I figured that if Hillary won, status quo would continue on, and people would remain asleep. Plus, I had hated her for longer than I had hated Trump. My hatred for Trump only began with the primaries, where he defeated much more seemingly viable candidates like Rubio and Kasich. I wasn’t sure I could believe a word he said; he always talked in circles. He turned the Republican primary debates into utter nonsense. Entertaining nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless. And now, he had defeated the “most qualified candidate.” How had he done this?

The aforementioned Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—the “Rust Belt” states—had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since the 80s. They had faithfully turned out for Obama during both of his elections. Why would they vote for Trump? Because the status quo sucked for them. Their industries (coal, steel, cars, gas, etc.) had failed them years before. They watched presidency after presidency leave them exactly where they were, furthermore. After the election, I frequently listened to NPR, who interviewed these people. The mayor of a town in Pennsylvania claimed that if ISIS were to come, they would see their town and move on, thinking someone else had already hit it. Another man, a retired coal miner, was convinced that Trump would bring back his industry. Young people were approaching him with questions about how to get into the coal mining industry, and he happily obliged. If Trump doesn’t follow through with his promises, however, the man stated that they would start looking for someone else to replace him. In any case, these people’s concerns were very real, and to some degrees life-threatening. Did Hillary supporters understand their perspective?

No. The entire voting demographic that voted for Trump was white washed as “racist white people.” Immediately after the election, Democrats were far more concerned with reassuring one another in their echo chambers that they had shoulders to cry on, that the big bad Republicans wouldn’t get them, etc., etc. Protests immediately followed, as did a resurgence in the “Russia hacker” narrative that at first had been dismissed (though never by Democrats, who would prefer to talk about military retaliation for unverified cyber attacks on another nuclear-armed nation). Still, I found the “special snowflake” dismissals to be just as irritating. It’s not as though Trump won by a significant number in several of the states he won. If he hadn’t been running against Hillary Clinton, I find it hard to believe that he would have won. She is literally the worst major candidate in modern times. She lost to Obama in 2008, and now she’s lost to Donald Trump, owner of the worst approval rating for a presidential nominee ever (she holds the second worst). The fact that she later won a “Most Admired Woman of the Year” award is dubious at best; the fuck did they poll?

Regardless, the year wore on, I bickered online with people about politics,  and videos by a guy named bearing started popping up in my related videos thing on Youtube.  He was funny, and I felt sympathetic to the contempt he showed SJWs and Feminists. My feelings for those people, in any case, goes back a ways, to when I started following the internet folk group “The Doubleclicks” because they were funny. Then when I read their stuff, I found out they were kinda assholes. The idea that any guy that is nice to a girl just wants to get in her pants started to be one that I commonly saw expressed, along with the idea that white people needed to admit that they benefited every day from being white in order to become “slightly less horrible people.”

Furthermore, I began following groups like “Secular Pro Life,” “Democrats for Life,” “Pro Life Liberals,” etc., and the way they treated their dissenters… was WAY nicer than their dissenters treated them. It was very frustrating, at times, to see these people—who responded to this shit like saints—get dogpiled on and disparaged the way they did. The circular arguments they took part in because their patient, thorough explanations for their stances were simply refuted by “no, that’s wrong. Fuck you.” To see bearing’s responses to bullshit like that was HIGHLY refreshing. He has a total lack of patience for that kind of thing, and he responds to it in a funny way. And it pisses his detractors off OH SO MUCH.

Through bearing, I found out about Teal Deer, because some SJW channel with a skull for an avatar took a potshot at him while attempting a character assassination on Teal Deer, and he responded to it. So I started watching Teal Deer’s videos, and he was making appearances on Honey Badger Radio’s “The Doge and Bunny Show.” I first started following Bunny Blackwell because… well… heh. She has a very soothing, attractive voice. Shortly after, I started watching the other Honey Badger videos, and found them all to be pretty cool people. My only knowledge of MRAs was what was provided by people complaining about them on IMDb and the like, who claimed they were a bunch of whiny “dude bros” who harassed women. The problem with that definition in relation to the Honey Badgers is that their main team consists entirely of women (unless you count Doge). These people expressed ideas that I kinda felt were true, but was uncomfortable to entertain, myself. However, hearing them say these things, I’ve come to the conclusion that, “Yeah, they’re right. Fuck militant feminists and their open misandry.”

One of Bunny’s old videos mentioned Sargon of Akkad. Bearing had also included a clip of Sargon in one of his videos—I think it was a tweet to Christie Winters, who took it as serious, even though there was context that made it obvious sarcasm. Anyway, I started watching him, too, and in one of his videos… he was drunk with Milo Yiannopoulos. My previous knowledge of Milo was what the media reported of his Twitter exchange with the lady from Ghostbusters, which made him seem like a dick. A lot of my liberal friends also believe that he is a dick, who says dangerous things about trans people and illegal immigrants. This portion of this “skeptic community” that I stumbled across is where it starts to get gray, and make me feel uncomfortable. I don’t know how I feel about deporting immigrants. 50 years ago, they were already coming up here and doing their thing, and no one cared then. I get that we have laws for a reason, but I also feel we should be compassionate towards others, and breaking up families doesn’t seem all that compassionate to me. However, Obama deported more immigrants than George W Bush, so Democrats using this as a talking point are hypocrites.

There’s also the thing about the Skeptic Community being a remnant of the larger Atheist Community… and I’m still a Catholic. It doesn’t seem to matter to most of the people I follow whether one’s religious or not, although there’s occasionally insults thrown that way, which I can deal with (I went through BMT and Tech School, after all; they’re just words). I am of the mindset more and more that a kind of relativism is the best way to approach this. Whatever one chooses to believe (or not believe) is his or her own business, and whatever one chooses to do is A-okay with me as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else (aka Mill’s Harm Principle.) Furthermore, there are things I believe that make sense to me given my experiences in life, but that I cannot prove. No one will ever say anything to me that will disprove what I believe either, in my mind. That change is up to me and no one else, and a change in someone else is up to them and no one else. There are inevitable problems with this stance (how far does it go, what can be defined as “harm,” etc.), but there are inevitable problems with every Political Theory.

Regardless, I decided this past weekend to make a video in the style of a vlog, kinda. I did one scripted, didn’t care much more it, deleted it. Did another one unscripted, still felt like it was kinda crap, but uploaded it to youtube anyway, because I liked the imagery of it.

A couple of days later, I decided to do a video on “Realism vs Liberalism,” two conflicting International Policy theories, and I started it with reading from my text and having had a few beers. It was messy and awkward, and I edited out a lot of it and inserted myself doing a “let’s play” of Gunmetal Arcadia Zero, which I also didn’t like, but I put up on youtube anyway (I’m trying to find ways to promote my book, which hasn’t sold much of anything, yet).

I feel like I should be able to put a quality vlog up, but I think my two problems are 1. Not doing enough preparation, and 2. Being uneasy with seeing myself as I’m being recorded. I’ve recorded vocals plenty of times before now that turned out alright, so I think I just need to get used to it, maybe? And also do a lot of preparation on what I want to say. In any case, I will probably make another attempt at this vlog thing at some point, but I feel like my strengths and experience definitely lies in the blog (a written format).

Still, I struggle with my political perspectives. I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of different voices, who probably think I mostly agree with them. I don’t really, though… heh… I hate Trump and I hate Clinton. I hate abortions, I hate misandry. I also hate misogyny, pollution, inequality, bullying, fear-mongering, political violence… and I’m very confused, to be honest, heh. I think people overreact a lot to opposing viewpoints. I think there isn’t enough patience or understanding going around on behalf of both sides. I think that the Western World is going to suffer greatly if we can’t figure this out, because if we continue to Balkanize in the manner that we have been, we’re not going to be able to coexist anymore. My short story, “McCainites,” from a couple years ago, imagined a world where the US was divided into small city-states based on strict ideologies. It still feels like pure fantasy to me at this point, but…

“Don’t be a dick.” Is that concept too hard? To quote Bill Burr, “I dunno.” I just dunno.

New Year’s Eve, 2016

For the past few years now, I’ve been writing a New Year’s Eve blog in reflection of the past year, and how it went for me. The furthest one back that I can see is from 2012, when I was still in Tech School for my Air Force job (though on “Exodus” back home for the holidays). I feel like I did one in 2011 as well, but whatevs. That year, writing that blog, I had no idea what was to come in the next 4 years… Or maybe I did. Or maybe I should have. Oh well. That was a long time ago, and I was a different person then than I am now. Am I different person now than I was this time a year ago? I dunno. One thing is for sure, however: my situation is drastically different than it was then. I don’t know that I’ve grown—in some ways, I feel I may have regressed—but I’m happier now than I have been in a bit over 3 years.

On December 31, 2015, I was here in Oregon, too—for one more week, anyway. It was the end of the longest vacation home I had had. It sucked extremely bad when I had to leave again… The last night I was home, I went out to eat with my parents, my sister, and her family. I’d been hoping we’d walk around downtown Corvallis for a little bit too, but they wanted to go home. So we went back to my parents’ house, I sat down in the bathroom, and instead of relieving myself, I was actually trying to regain my composure. I think a few tears trickled down my cheeks before I pulled it together. Even with taking my cat to Arkansas with me, I couldn’t feel much besides miserable. We got back to my apartment, and no one wanted to be there; her, or me. She walked around the apartment, growling, and then hid under the couch for quite a while; she didn’t eat, drink, or go poddy. Eventually, she adjusted, though.

I found out soon after that that results for a psychological interview had come back, and my counselors had diagnosed me with avoidant personality disorder. They didn’t necessarily feel it was an absolute fit for me, but felt it was close enough to call it as such. This meant that they would tell my Commander, and recommend Administrative Discharge based on a personality disorder incompatible with the Air Force. This is what I had wanted. I had struggled for the prior three or so years at that base to adjust, to get along, to function in this setting without freaking out. I often felt like these efforts, and my struggles, went unappreciated by my immediate leadership and coworkers; like I was making it up, or something. I was simply not equipped with the ability to function like a robot, like they apparently expected me to (and how a lot of the Air Force expects its airmen to respond). If you tell me to behave a certain way, but then don’t behave that way yourself and/or look the other way when one of my coworkers don’t behave that way, it’s going to bother me. A lot. Furthermore, if people repeatedly do/say things they know upset me, I’m not going to indefinitely ignore it. At some point, it is going to cause a reaction in me. In short, I have to feel like I’ve received the respect I am due, and am properly appreciated for my efforts, or I am going to get really, REALLY pissed off. Perhaps that is starting to sound less like having a personality disorder and more like being a normal human being, but I digress.

For the first few months that I began the process of winding down with my time in the Air Force, a couple newly-promoted supervisors made clear they didn’t necessarily believe I was getting out, and applied pressure and stress to my situation that I didn’t need. For example, I was made to go to Vital 90 (the PT sessions for people who failed their PT test), because a policy had come down that everyone had to be with at least one other person at PT, and no one else was available to go to PT with me. I hadn’t failed any PT tests and knew I wouldn’t likely be taking another one, so this pissed me off. Eventually, when it was clear I was separating, the two backed off a bit (perhaps due to some pressure from above, who found out I hadn’t been allowed to do any out-processing yet). Those last few weeks, I only occasionally did PT, and when I did, all I did was run until I was uncomfortable, then walked for a bit, then quit. Upon leaving the military, I’ve majorly slacked off on my exercise and my gut has grown much larger, but I just can’t be arsed right now to get a regular schedule in. I hate exercising so much right now…

It was very weird, the way the last few weeks went down. I could not be given a definitive date that I was exiting, so I could not make plans with anyone back home for my return. Day after day, I waited for the Commander to look at my package, and day after day, there was no news. What delayed things more was that it was apparently required that I be given a final Employee Performance Rating, even though it meant nothing at that point. Before the Commander could sign off on the discharge paperwork, he had to sign off on that, and a million other people had EPRs, not to mention his other duties. I started freaking out and getting impatient, frequently asking my first shirt and superintendent if they’d heard anything, to the point that they told me to stop asking them, heh… Eventually, the Commander signed it, his boss approved it… and two days later, I was out. The entire time, I was told I would be getting certain health benefits for the next 6 months, but it turned out I wasn’t, so I had to hurry up and get health insurance before my Tricare was cancelled. Also, because I was only given two days’ notice for my separation, it was 3 weeks before any moving people could come get my stuff. So I just sat in my apartment in North Little Rock for 3 weeks. I barely remember it, but it was weird.

There are times when I think that if I could go back to the end of 2011, before I went in and talked to that recruiter, that I would instead just be like, “nah, I’ll just stay here and be a janitor for the rest of my life.” There was a janitorial swing shift position at a hospital I took on in 2012 that maybe would’ve become a regular gig, had I been sticking around. I maybe wouldn’t have gone through all the hardships I did these past 4 years. Then again, I wouldn’t have grown as a person, at least not as much. The trials I endured, the mistakes I made, the tears I shed, all are valuable life lessons that make me the person I am today. There are a lot of things I didn’t know about the world, or myself, until my time spent in the Air Force. I also wouldn’t have this nifty GI Bill that’s paying for my tuition at Oregon State.

There were a few places I called for work here in Oregon while still having to stick around in Arkansas; a one or two called back, but then found out I had to stay in Arkansas another couple weeks. When I got back, I went back to subbing janitorial for the school district, and also took on a summer custodial position with them. It was to include me building an excel document for the district foreman and his assistant to monitor the school custodians, but it turned out that they didn’t quite know what they wanted with that, and I didn’t know how to deliver on the little guidance I was given. I worked on that for a couple weeks and then was put with a cleaning crew the rest of the Summer. I think that may have soured my relationship with the foreman and his assistant a bit, as they probably expected more, but I did my best. Anyway though, the first night I went back to cleaning a route at a school… man, I was sore. It was the first time in 4 years that I’d done manual labor for 8 hours. It was bad. It wasn’t as bad the second night, but still, it was kinda sad.

Meanwhile, I took my first three classes on Oregon State’s Corvallis campus. This was exciting to me, as I’d always wanted to go to school there; two of my siblings graduated there, and my dad worked there for 30-some years. Taking a full load of Summer classes and also working manual labor part time… turned out to be very taxing. I was tired both physically and mentally every day, and by the end of the Summer, I was only willing to work an hour a day, and even THAT was tough. I got 3 A’s that term… and one C+. The first grade below an A- that I had gotten at OSU (I had been taking classes online since Winter 2015). It wouldn’t have been so bad, except I had shown the instructor my work and asked her a lot of questions about it, and she told me that it looked good to her. There were only 3 assignments in the entire class, and we didn’t get grades for the first assignment until more than halfway through the class. My strategy is normally to figure out what the teacher’s expectations are with the first few assignments, and then adjust accordingly. I don’t feel like I was given the tools to get better than a C in this lady’s class, and certainly not after she told me my final assignment looked good, and then gave me the worst grade yet on it. So I was pissed. She received some negative feedback for her class.

For a brief period, between August and September, I also started practicing with the local rugby team that two of my friends are members of. I paid my dues, bought a ball, mouth guards, cleats, the whole shebang. I didn’t exactly want to do it, though, to be truthful. I mean, I wanted to, but I didn’t want to. I would enjoy aspects of the practice, like running around a park with a bunch of other guys and gals who were all friendly. Plus, I’d never played a team sport before, so it was exciting to say that I had. The time factor, getting tired, and being crap because I was a beginner, however, were aspects I didn’t like. I lasted a month of practices (missing a few here and there) and played one game. It was raining, we didn’t have enough players, and I had to play the entire game. There are no time outs except for halftime, and I was already pretty fat by that point, so even though I wasn’t really going at full speed, I got super tired within like 15 minutes of play. This may be because I was involved in every scrum that happened, and that put a lot of demand on my body, helping one group of men push against another group of men. When it was over, I didn’t move for like a half hour. I inevitably decided that I had enjoyed it, but then Fall term came… (There was also a coast trip and a camping trip in there, but yeah).

Initially for Fall term, it had been my intention to sub with the school district in between whatever classes I had. This plan changed when I signed up for 5 classes, and a total of 20 credits. My advisor had told me that I would be able to graduate by the Fall of 2017 if I took 5 classes every term. When I met with her again in the Fall, however, she realized that this wasn’t exactly plausible. I’ve conferred with my other two counselors (I have one for Education, Liberal Arts, and Political Science), and decided to take a smaller load here on out. However, the 20 credits weren’t the only challenges I took on; I also got a job with the school newspaper, something I’d always wanted to do. Also, I volunteered to talk to a high school class every other Friday about college, over Skype. I am a crazy person.

I really enjoyed writing for the paper; I love writing, and I enjoyed my coworkers. However, as the term wore on… I was taking 20 credits. I wasn’t studying as much as I should’ve been, because I was spending a lot of time and effort on my news stories. It didn’t help that I was only making $10 a story, which wouldn’t even cover gas. Eventually, I came to the realization that I was probably going to get more C’s, like the one I suffered this Summer, if I kept working there. So regretfully, I quit. I kept doing the volunteer thing, however. Regardless, at first, I was super pleased with all the extra time not working on news stories gave me. And then I realized that I still needed to devote several hours a day to my studies if I was to get the grades I wanted. In the end, my efforts got me 2 A’s and 3 A-‘s. Overall, I rather liked this term; my classes were all interesting, and I reconnected with on my teachers from High School. He was exactly like I remembered him, haha; he has always been high energy, with a lot to say, and a sense of humor to deliver it with. He is a lot of fun.

So, for December… I haven’t done much. The week after finals, I was sick all week, but the week before Christmas, I don’t feel like I did much of anything. I suppose I worked on my last blog, and I did some music. I also turned 32. So old. This past week, I stayed with my brother in Beaverton, while his family visited his in laws in Arizona. We observed that we hadn’t really been in contact all Fall, because I had my crazy term. At one point, we were gonna be a band, and practiced several times. Also, I used to call him every Saturday when I was doing my laundry, back in Arkansas. I also used to go to church every Saturday, in Arkansas, and I was part of a Bible Group with some really nice people. It seems like I’ve gotten a lot lazier since I’ve been back, and not just with exercise… My motivation is drained, and I stay up all night, when I used to get up at 5:15 every day. I attempted for a short period at the start of this break to find a job and applied at several places, but then I got sick, and I kinda just let it slide. I need more money than the GI Bill will give me to exist though. Lotsa bills in life. Still car payments to be made, still vet visits, still insurance, new tires needed soon, etc. What am I doing?

My book that I wrote last year is in the process of being edited, however, so I am happy about that. There’s like one fifth of the book yet to be edited at this point. And then… I will ask a friend, who is a better artist than me, to do some cover art for me. And then… I will try to find some book review blogs to submit it to. And then… I will announce a release date. We’ll see how that goes.

So that was my 2016. The first four and a half months seem like a different year to me altogether than the final seven and a half; I was in a different world, then. I was working a job I hated, far away from the majority of the people I loved. I was financially secure, but I don’t think my sanity would’ve lasted much longer there. In spite of all the uncertainty and stress I’ve experienced since being back, I really am much happier to be home. It is some to do with the familiar scenery, but it is mostly because of the old support system I had when I lived here before has been reestablished. I love my family and friends, so much. They are all very good to me; often times much more than I deserve. God has blessed me with their presence in my life, and I am forever thankful for that.

So I gotta say, I liked 2016 quite a bit. It was much better to me than the previous two years had been, at the very least. I got to go home, I got to pursue my educational goals, and I did a few things I had always wanted to do (regardless of how long I actually spent doing those things). I know the election of a certain billionaire blowhard to the White House has gotten a lot of people down, but consider this: the alternative was no better. She just has the capacity to hide her sins better. That’s not saying much, and a lot of people now see her and her husband for what they really are, even though the establishment in her party is determined to learn nothing from this defeat…

US politics are fucked.  The US government is evil, or at the very least corrupt. Same goes for our media. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on, either. If your only defense is that the other side did it too, that’s no defense at all. One thing you can count on, though: there are a lot of people who are tired of the bullshit. Say what you want about my generation, but we have a good bullshit radar, and we don’t like it. We will always question why, as much as it pisses you off; we aren’t going to mindlessly throw ourselves on a live grenade for you. In the coming decades, you will be gone or in nursing homes, and we will be in charge. It will be a different world than the one we live in now.

That world isn’t coming in 2017. Still, everyone needs to stay awake. Don’t stop questioning the answers. Don’t start accepting the bullshit. Keep fighting for the truth.

The DEFINITIVE Top Ten Albums List of 2016

So it’s December again. 2017 is right around the corner. Another year come and gone. With it brought—surprisingly, I know—a year’s worth of music. Even though the year isn’t quite over yet, now is the time that I make my top 10 albums of the year list. Nothin’ amazing is gonna come out for the rest of this month, right? If it does… well, I’ll probably be like, “Aww man, I wish that’d come out a few weeks earlier…” Regardless, the following are my top 10 albums of 2016. You might read many other top 10 albums of 2016 lists, but this one is the only one you will read that will be written by me. Undeniably, therefore, these are the albums released in 2016 considered the best by me, and are the top albums of the year, based on the highly scientific criteria that I liked them the best.

Something wrong, Todd?

Maybe you should run some water over ‘em. Anyway, here we go…

TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2016

  1. Face to Face: Protection

I had some difficulty with this one; it was a really close call between this and Useless I.D.’s “State is Burning.” In the end, I gave “Protection” the nod, based on a very important piece of criteria; I listened to this album more, and this album is more uniquely Face to Face than “State is Burning” is uniquely Useless I.D. When you listen to “Protection,” you hear Trever Keith’s vocals, and you’re all like, “this is Face to Face.” If you are me, that is. I could sit here and pretend that I know much more about this band, but my knowledge of them goes as far as: they were one of the first bands on Fat Wreck Chords; they come from the desert somewhere in southern Cali; my eldest brother had a few of their albums and they sounded pretty cool; I have a split they did with the Dropkick Murphies back in the mid noughts. So really, I don’t know shit about them. I do recognize their lead vocalist’s voice, however. Also, this album is their quickest, most upbeat offering that I’ve heard, and it was recorded in the Blasting Room. Bill Stevenson is the guy. So yeah; I wasn’t inspired to buy their last offering, but I picked up this one, and I liked it a lot. Standout track: 14:59.

  1. kriegsmammut: polybius

So this dude’s album was put out by the record label “Pterodactyl Squad,” a British label that puts out chiptune music. I think I read back when this album came out that this dude used Atari sound effects and loops to make this album, hence why it is considered chiptune. There are points on this album when it sounds more like experimental or noise music, however… It gets pretty abstract and weird. That’s why I like it, though. I find myself more and more liking stuff that pushes the boundaries of what is considered “music.” Also, I like to piss my friends off with stuff like this, sometimes. There’s a 9 minute track on here called “monster resurrector” that  I really like, but it’s too long, so… standout track: defiance

  1. Pup: The Dream is Over

When I picked up this album, I think I was thinking that these guys were the band “PEARS” that the scene has been giving some attention to as of late. When I last heard anything by “PEARS,” I was like, “eh, this is pretty good, but… I’m not super inspired to listen to anymore or buy it.” So when I got this album, I was surprised by how fun and upbeat this was. Right away, these guys drew me in with their opening lyrics: “If this tour doesn’t kill you, then I will. I hate your guts, and it makes me ill,” etc. There’s singing, there’s shouted lyrics, and there’s some unusual, changed-up rhythm—almost like math rock—thrown in, too. There are a few slower tracks that I skip sometimes, but overall, I really like this album. Think I might have to check out their first album, too. Standout track: Asleep in the Heat 

  1. Nerf Herder: Rockingham

Ah, Nerf Herder. It had been quite a while since they came out with their last album, I believe; like, 10+ years? Their first album is a classic, regardless, makes me feel super nostalgic for like 1996 or whenever. …20 year ago, holy shit. They also did the theme song for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You might recognize the name “Perry Grip,” as he’s been doing stuff on youtube in the interim, “Dramatic Chipmunk,” “Young Girl Talking About Herself,” etc. Anyway, this album is gold. Some goofy, funny shit, as per usual. Stephen Hawking even shows up at one point! They got a song about cons, a song about Star Wars, a song about Ghostbusters, a song about Doctor Who, a few songs about people I’ve never heard of, but most importantly… Standout track: Portland

  1. Aesop Rock: The Impossible Kid

Not to be confused with the mainstream sellout a$ap rocky who basically stole his name (I don’t really know anything about that other guy, but I was annoyed when some coworkers knew who he was but didn’t know AESOP ROCK). Ian Matthias Bavitz has been doin’ this for quite a while longer than that poseur; since like the mid 90s, in fact. The first thing I heard from Bavitz was his track “None Shall Pass” off the 2007 album of the same name, and his vocals were hypnotizing. Half a decade later, I picked up the first release of his collab with Kimya Dawson, “the Uncluded,” which had a very unique blend of folk and rap. “The Impossible Kid” is “just” hip-hop, but it’s some pretty awesome hip-hop; the tracks are really interesting and unique-sounding, and once again, Aesop’s got a hypnotizing way with his vox. A lot of it doesn’t follow a conventional rhythm, so that’s pretty cool. I don’t listen to much rap, but what I do listen to tends to stand out in some way to me. I don’t like listening to the same ol’ shit, not even with punk music. Aesop Rock definitely isn’t the same ol’ shit. Standout track: Lotta Years

  1. Richmond Fontaine: You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing to Go Back To

Allegedly (according to my brother… also Wikipedia), this is to be Willy Vlautin and co.’s final project together (maybe Vlautin’s gonna go write some more critically-acclaimed novels? Only one I’ve read is Lean on Pete, and it was pretty awesome). They’ve been around for 20+ years, so it’s kinda understandable that they feel it time to move on, now. If ya don’t know, Richmond Fontaine is an alt country act. Their latest offering follows 2011’s “The High Country,” which was a concept album with spoken word tracks interspersed throughout. This one is more straightforward music, but as with most of their past material, most songs tell a story, anyway. The second track is about a guy going back to his home town, to find that there’s nothing to go back to (hence the title of the album), another one’s about a guy who swindled the narrator of some horses, but when he meets him again, he’s so pathetic and lost that he can’t really be mad at him anymore, and so on (a lot of Vlautin’s characters are often of questionable character, or at least put in questionable situations).  If you’ve never heard of them, but like songs that tell a story, you should check ‘em out. Standout Track: Three Brothers Roll Into Town

  1. Jimmy Eat World: Integrity Blues

Y’know, I think Jimmy Eat World have been consistently putting out an album every 3 years ever since 2001, when “Bleed American” came out (before that, their first three albums came out within like 2 or 3 years of each other). Some people say this is their best album since 2001. I disagree, because I really liked “Futures,” which came out in 2004. However, this is their best album since Futures, by far. A lot less filler than some of the albums between then and now, I can’t think of a single track off the album that I get bored of or don’t really care for. It’s a bit of a mix of everything from their past 3 albums that worked for me, with some upbeat, poppy songs, some slower, mellow songs, and a track that goes from rather synthy to ending with a super sludgy, heavy breakdown at the end. Both their singles are solid, though I prefer “Sure and Certain” to “Get Right.” That said: Stand out track: You With Me

  1. Descendents: Hypercaffium Spazzinate

These guys are the godfathers of pop-punk; they’ve been doing their thing since 1978 (well, Bill Stevenson has, but Milo Aukerman joined in 80, and Karl Alvarez and Stephen Egerton joined in ’86, so that line up’s been around for 30 years). It’s been 12 years since their last album; Milo has a habit of disappearing into the academia for long periods of time for some silly reason. In the interim, Stevenson and crew were doing “ALL,” “the Descendents” with a different singer, but ALL hasn’t had an album since 2000, and it never got the same attention that the Descendents got (which I think is a shame; I think I tend to like ALL songs better than Descendents songs, even though I think Milo is also the guy, in addition to Bill, as are Karl and Stephen). I think it’s telling that ALL probably won’t do another album, because there are quite a few tracks on here that sound like they would’ve been ALL tracks. There’s some more serious subject matter here that Descendents didn’t used to do, and I really dig it. At the same time, everything’s upbeat and fun; the band sounds like they’ve always sounded like, and they sound like… the Descendents. No one does it quite like them (well, aside from ALL). Standout track: Victim of Me

  1. Avett Brothers: True Sadness

Quick breakdown, the Avett Brothers are a folk rock/alt country band from North Carolina, consisting of brothers Scott and Seth Avett, along with a couple other dudes (and maybe now a chick?) These guys were starting to worry me, because I was not all that into their last offering, “Magpie and the Dandelion.” It had a lot of slow, long, mellow, and boring tracks. I can do a track like that here and there, but it was literally almost the entire album; I think there were two upbeat, energetic songs on the entire thing. With “True Sadness,” they’ve vindicated themselves. The album starts out with the super upbeat, catchy, happy “Ain’t No Man,” followed by a couple slower songs, but then picks up again after that. There are one or two more slower songs, but they’re evenly spaced and good songs. The most upbeat track after “Ain’t No Man” is probably “Victims of Life” (suppose that title doesn’t sound too upbeat, though), but the whole album reminds me why I like this band so much. The brothers are talented singers, the band is a talented group of musicians, and quite a few of the songs really speak to me (I must confess that I love when they sing about drinking too, and there’s at least two songs in which they do this). So yeah; this is comparable to 2009’s “I and Love and You,” and reminds me of why I like them so much. Standout Track: Smithsonian

  1. Jeff Rosenstock: Worry

“Jeff Rosenstock” is a name of a person who has been in a few ska, punk, alternative, etc. bands spanning some 20 years; he’s founded a couple record labels, is friends with Mike Park, and he opens his mouth REALLY wide when he shouts his lyrics (just watch him do it). Back in the day, I discovered his old ska band “The Arrogant Sons of Bitches” because someone on AlbinoBlacksheep.com  made a flash video of their song “Go Ska!”. I remember people saying “this isn’t what they’re usually like,” and I was like, “why does that matter? Is this bad? I like it.” I owned their whole album at one point, but now I only have 3 of their tracks. I didn’t really pay attention to “Bomb the Music Industry!” for whatever reason, but now I wish I had, because it seems they were pretty awesome. I rediscovered Rosenstock when he followed my Tumblr account (and I followed his, and he unfollowed mine, the dick). His album last year, “We Cool?” was a lot of fun too, and had the awesome song “Hey Allison!” on it. This year’s offering is even more awesome. Some people compare it to the Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” because there’s a bunch of short songs in the second half that lead into each other. In a recent interview, Rosenstock said he never listened to the Beatles. Anyway, it’s a punk album, it’s also got keyboards and a xylophone I think, and it’s pretty sweet. Based on my criteria for writing my list, it is the best album that has come out this year. Standout track: Wave Goodnight to Me

2016 HONORABLE MENTIONS

Mac Lethal: Congratulations; The Dillinger Escape Plan: Dissociation; Modern Baseball: Holy Ghost; MC Chris: is Dreaming; Delerium: Mythologie; TMBG: Phone Power; Useless I.D.: State is Burning; Switchfoot: Where the Light Shines Through

TOP 5 EPs OF 2016

5.King Punch: Burger on the Orient Express. This is like a British ska band or something. A lot of their stuff might be closer to rock with horns, but they’re pretty awesome; really catchy music.

4.Corey Valentine: The Glow EP. Some kinda British synth pop act. Very catchy, very poppy. All the poppiness, in fact.

3.Matt Wixson’s Flying Circus: About Time. This is some indie pop punk dude. He put this record out on Community Records, a label you should check out. Someone said something about him going to shows he isn’t featured in and playing outside as loud as he can with an accoustic guitar. That sounds awesome.

2.Boy Meets Robot: The Robots Will Kill Us All. I’m not sure if this is a guy or a band. Either way, this is a really fun chiptune rock EP. Very catchy, and also funny, a la Jonathan Coulton.

1.Jontron and the Gregory Brothers: Love is Like Drugs. Jontron did a video with the guys who do the “Songify This” thing. It’s very catchy, poppy, and funny. Jontron is the guy.  You can tell he puts a lot of work into whatever he does. People say he’s really nice, too. He seems like it.

BEST COVER ALBUM OF 2016 (THE ONLY ONE TOM LISTENED TO):

Ninja Sex Party + TWRP: Under the Covers. I enjoy Danny Sexbang and Ninja Brian. Also, the TWRP guys are pretty cool. They like to do some kinda funk/synth/rock type of music. This album introduced me to Rush’s “Subdivisions,” and it also has the best cover of Boingo’s “We Close Our Eyes,” (though unfortunately, that’s not really saying much… most covers of that song are shit. Sorry to say it, RBF.)

That’s pretty much it. I haven’t listened to everything there is to listen to this year, but I don’t think anything else would’ve interested me as much as the stuff I listed above. I have a system for buying new albums; if the sample I’m listening to doesn’t immediately interest me, I move on. I can be highly temperamental and moody, too, so there’s probably at least a few albums I’ll discover a few years from now and be all like, “…this is really good. I should’ve listened to this the year it came out.” At the same time, I don’t seem to like a lot of things other people like. *shrug* Not really a hipster; just a weirdo.

All White Men

So there’s a Google Docs registry of all white men in the US. It’s here. make sure to sign it, because it’s your civic duty, or something.

They want to know if you’ve taken advantage of your white privilege. I said I had. They also wanted to know if you are dangerous. I said I was. I have avoidant personality disorder and a bad temper, and also I think for myself.

20161121_140929

I drew that. Also, my cat was laying there, so I picture of her too.

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I’m not sure why these are both so blurry. My camera phone sucks. Also, here’s a video to demonstrate how crazy I am.

And then here’s another video, because why not?