I’ve been away from my blog for over a month now, going on two months. I kept waiting for an idea to pop into my head and inspire me to sit down and write. I thought of lots of ideas, but I never started writing. I decided that I would just sit down here tonight and write whatever garbage comes out of my brain. It could be awesome, but it could be awful. You be the judge!
Have you ever had a moment when you’re in a great group of people and you’re having a blast and you think, “there will come a day that I’ll never see these people again.” I guess I’ve lived long enough to have experienced this phenomenon often enough to question it. I should be enjoying the moment, and I am, but the other side of me is thinking that this is a situational friendship. We’re friends because we work together, or because we have kids the same age and we live on the same street, or we share something else in common. Being friendly is not the same thing as being friends.
Then, the job changes, the neighborhood changes, you stop doing your normal routine and start new friendships. You try fooling yourself and your old friends that you’ll stay in touch and get together again, but the best you can do is follow them on Facebook.
If you were my friend only because it was convenient for me, I apologize. We were really just acquaintances who enjoyed some of the same things. The last friend I had who always called me to hang out or go out and do something is a person I haven’t spoken to in over 6 months. That’s totally my fault, even though the phone rings on both ends. A really deep, lasting friendship is almost impossible to find as an adult. I found one when I met the woman who is now my wife. She is my cheerleader, my voice of reason, my audience, and the person I most want to impress with everything I do. She’ll probably stick around for a while.
Do you have someone in your life who you know will be there for you at all times, no matter what? Do you have a friend who knows everything bad about you and still loves you? You might want to keep that person in your life forever.
So many things happened on our honeymoon. People have asked me, “how was your trip?” As I explain things to them, I realize how little I remember what happened! I remember everything we did, I’m having trouble remembering which place it happened. I’m really glad I wrote a daily entry on this blog so I can remember what the hell happened on my honeymoon!
Here are the odds & ends of the trip:
1. On the ship, the elevators weren’t connected to each other. Usually, you push one button and it would control every elevator on the floor. On the ship, there was one button for the first elevator, another button for the next two elevators, another button for the next two elevators, and one more button for the last elevator. Every single time I wanted to get on an elevator, I started with the first button and pressed all four buttons to maximize my chance to get an elevator. On the flip side, as I rode the elevators, we would stop at a floor and no one would get on! I’m guessing that there was another asshole who did what I did and found a different elevator first.
2. Karaoke contests are frustrating! On the ship, we had three nights of competitions with a final night where the top two finishers of each night competed in the finals. I sang every night! The audience would vote for their favorite and the top two finishers went on to the finals. I believe, and I’ve been told, that I’m a pretty good singer. I have years of experience singing karaoke. I sang songs that the audience would like to hear and not songs I like to sing. Every single night, I sang and every single night, I was not selected in the top two! The only thing that kept me sane was the people who came up to me the next day and said, “Hi, Jim! I loved your song last night”" or, “I really enjoyed your singing.” So why the fuck didn’t you vote for me, you assholes??? Given my years of karaoke experience, I have seen a huge variety of singers. I believed every night that I sang better than all the singers who went to the finals. I’m conceited that way.
3. Meeting people is fun. During the first night on the ship, this friendly young woman asked Alana and me if we wanted to be on their team for a music trivia competition. She and her sister were on the cruise with their parents. The older sister was one of the karaoke singers who beat me on the first night. Her younger sister also sings, but didn’t enter the competition. They were both adorable and we struck up an on-board friendship that made me want to adopt them! I even told their parents that I wanted to adopt them! I have three wonderful sons, but if I could have had a couple of daughters, these two would be exactly the type of daughters I would want! Also, at every stop on the trip, I was able to go onshore and find an extremely interesting person or couple to talk to at a bar.
4. Food is just not that important. The main source of food was the buffet. When you entered the buffet, they gave you enormous plates! If you put a normal amount of food on this plate, it looked like you barely had anything on the plate! So I ended up filling the plate! I would taste something and if it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever tasted, I pushed it aside. I estimate that I ate about 25% of the food I put on my plate. One time, I found a small round dessert plate and put my food on that. It was loaded with food that I liked and it was just the right amount. Another thing that happened is, I wasn’t worried about getting hungry because food was always available! This made me take even less food because I knew that if I got hungry later, I could always go back for more. I ended up eating less during the trip than I would have eaten at home!
5. I had a distinct feeling of “disconnectedness” during the trip. The TV channels on the ship were very limited. The cost of an internet connection was $100 for 200 minutes. You don’t browse casually at 50 cents a minute! So, I spent the entire trip with very limited access to Cincinnati news, which includes how the Reds and Bengals were doing. The ship forces you to be a part of the ship’s culture and they don’t want you to or care if you know what’s going on at home.
6. Too much togetherness is not necessarily a good thing. When Alana and I are at home, I spend a lot of time in my man cave and she spends a lot of time upstairs doing her thing. When we were forced to be together in the same room at the same time, we were ready to kill each other by the end of the trip! We laugh about it now, but there was a lot of frustration by the end of the trip. The key to our relationship is a strong desire to be together balanced with a strong desire to be alone periodically. If we can’t get the alone time, we don’t want the together time! The fact that we both know this and want this is a very, very good thing!
I’ve enjoyed writing about our honeymoon and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. I’ll have some pictures posted on Facebook soon. You can follow me at facebook.com/jim.whittenburg We just posted our wedding photos, so the honeymoon photos might take a while! Thank you for joining us on our excursion.
I used to watch all kinds of TV. I remember watching TV in the days before remote controls and before the DVR! With a good antenna, you could get all three networks plus a couple of the UHF stations (PBS and the like). Then we got cable installed in our town and I was in TV heaven! The picture was clear and you had so many choices! I watched TV when I came home from school. I watched TV every Saturday morning until at least noon. There were shows you just didn’t want to miss, so you made damn sure you were home when that show was on! As I got older, I found some shows that have become my lifetime favorites. Shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, SCTV, and even the early years of Saturday Night Live were on late at night and were not to be missed! I would even splash water on my face to help me stay awake sometimes! I grew up with the wonders of TV.
When I could afford one, I bought a VHS recorder. With this, I learned the pleasures of skipping past commercials, but it was very frustrating! It was frustrating because I never knew which shows were on which tapes! I’d spend more time finding a show than I saved in skipping the commercials! Then, I got a second recorder and I invented the dual recording feature all those with DVRs have come to know and love. I would record on one machine and watch something I recorded on the other machine. I was a TV watching genius! Then, the VHS machine got hungry and started eating my tapes! That’s when I discovered TiVo.
What a wonderful invention TiVo was! I now had no trouble finding the shows I recorded because they kept a handy list for me! I could record a season pass and record every episode of every show I loved. I was in TV heaven! That was good until TiVo started to get personal. TiVo wanted to suggest other shows I might like based on shows I recorded. At one point, I wondered if TiVo thought I was gay! No, I do not want to watch Tom Cruise movies all the time! No TiVo! That’s a bad TiVo! Then TiVo started to warn me that if I didn’t watch my older shows it was going to erase them. So now I was forced to be a couch potato and watch a marathon of all the shows that were going to expire soon. TiVo was hungry and needed more shows! It was a blessing and a curse but I got to watch a lot of TV.
Then, along came the HD DVR from the cable company. At first, it had as much space as TiVo. Now, I have a machine that has enough space to record full seasons of every show I like and keep it there until I want to watch them. I thought the space was almost limitless, but I have it filled up at 80% of capacity. I scroll to the bottom of the list to see the oldest shows I’ve recorded and I think I should probably watch that show. But last night’s new shows look so enticing! So I watch those instead while my older shows sit neglected. Thank god DVR doesn’t suggest shows because I record Glee, Smash, American Idol, and Once Upon a Time. If DVR suggested shows, I’m sure I’d be forced to watch Dancing with The Stars! After a while, if I haven’t watched a series I’ve recorded, I just end up deleting it and canceling the series. I’m like a one man Nielsen Machine!
These days, I have too many distractions to watch TV. Now, I have the internet calling my name! Facebook needs me! Words with Nerds needs me! There are too many funny sites to explore! There is so much news to read! I now watch TV with a laptop literally on my lap sometimes! I see an actor and I can’t remember what other show they were on so I go to IMDB.com and look it up! I need to know something and I can’t remember so I Google it. I used to watch TV to relax and now I make it an immersive experience. Except now, I find myself not even turning on the TV for hours. The internet has sucked me in so deeply it won’t let go! There are even times I’ll sit on the couch and read! And my TV sits there like a spurned girlfriend waiting for me to notice her again. ”Remember me? We used to be best friends! Now I feel like you don’t even notice me. I used to be fat and heavy but now I’m sleek and thin but you don’t care! You don’t love me! You never loved me!” I feel guilty. I feel like I’m cheating on TV with the internet.
TVs problem is that it’s too needy. ”You don’t like what I have to offer? How about this show, or this one, or how about I add 100 channels of everything you can ever want to watch? Will that bring you back?” You’re just trying too hard, TV. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed and I need to move on. But don’t worry, I’ll still look at you and remember the good old days. I will always love you. Just make sure you don’t record Desperate Housewives just because I recorded House. Thank you, TV. I <3 you!
I wish I could take credit for writing this, so I’ll just have to be content with the fact that my son wrote it. Don’t just read it – do something to stop SOPA and PIPA! Little by little, the US Government has taken away our rights and freedoms by pretending to give us “safety” or because “we know what’s best for you.” Thomas Jefferson put it best - ”The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small élite” Keep giving up your rights and the country that you and your ancestors thrived under will not be there for your children and grandchildren!
What’s SOPA All About?
Hey there. I figure many of you lost your daily time-wasters from this SOPA blackout thing, so I’m inviting you to learn a little bit about what’s happening and why it’s important. Yeah, it’s long, but it’s easy to read, it’ll take less than 10 minutes, and I think you’ll have a much better understanding of why people are upset and how this affects all of us – not just us nerds working in the industry. I’m not here to preach and I’m certainly not starting a political argument; rather, I’d simply enjoy knowing that I helped some friends understand why this matters.
This is a complex issue that I’m about to boil down to its simplest form. If you’d like more technical information, it’s already widely available. Google it while you can.
In A Nutshell
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) are new pieces of legislation targeting the very real and troublesome issue of online piracy. This has been talked about for some time, and copyright owners already have the means to pursue shutdowns on illegal content. If you want to see what they’re already capable of, go to atdhe.net, a site previously used to stream live American Football games.
What makes SOPA/PIPA different is that they aren’t designed to bring down the illegal content, but rather they’re designed to block the “facilitation” of accessing the content. In other words, censoring links, ads, and entire domains (anything .com, .org, .net, and the like). If you’re not going to read this whole thing, here’s the best way I can break it down:
- If you’re a romantic: This will censor our one truly free & open medium.
- If you’re a cynic: This will put the Web in the hands of people who make decisions with their wallets.
- If you’re a student: This will make launching a new career in relevant industries far more difficult and costly.
- If you’re a businessperson: This will destroy the Internet‘s current status as a vital economic tool.
- If you’re a developer: LOL SUCKS BRO
What It Might Do
Unfortunately, the way these have been written is so broad and uninformed that there is no way this will go into law without being abused. The average age of Senators and Representatives are 60 and 55 respectively, and primarily come from backgrounds in law and lower-level politics. Young people – how useful do you think a technology guide written by your parents & grandparents would be? Congress is applying provisions and regulations on an industry of which they have very little understanding. Sorry Dad, but your generation has no place in regulating the Web. None at all.
Here’s a bullet list of situations that are possible (others say probable, others yet say guaranteed) due to the technical ignorance of the authors:
- The US Government (Attorney General’s office, specifically) will be able to blacklist entire domains, meaning they can authoritatively decide that no one can link to ‘Site A’ at all, ever, regardless of whether or not the individual links lead to any copyright-infringing content. If you’re not in favor of censorship, this should piss you off.
- Sites like Google, Reddit, Facebook, and virtually anything with user-generated content will be forced to spend extremely valuable development time implementing new back-end techniques to ensure these links aren’t showing up on their sites. If you’re not in favor of hindering valuable American businesses, this should piss you off.
- Major copyright owners like MPAA and RIAA, known for sueing working-class families for hundreds of millions of dollars over trivial downloads, will also be able to get in on the action of serving court orders. They’ve taken advantage of every flaw in copyright regulation, and they’ll do the same with Internet regulation. If you’re not in favor of corporations abusing flawed policy, this should piss you off.
- New startups will have significantly more initial overhead (explained below), crippling the power of the Web as a business tool. If you’re against dragging down one of a small handful of succeeding industries in an otherwise bleak economy, this should piss you off.
What It Will Do
The most romantic notion about living in the Internet age is that it’s a truly free & open global medium. Any message can be communicated to the entire world. As soon as you allow our politicians to have any measure of control over it, the whole system becomes susceptible to lobbying and before long decisions are being made based on the weight of their wallets over our rights and best interests. We’ve seen it in plenty of other industries, and now they’re coming for the Web.
The Internet has also revolutionized commerce in nearly every modern industry. You don’t need a big music label to release your debut album. You don’t need Hollywood for millions of people to see your film. You don’t need a single physical store to sell your products across the world. This global connection is the reason why we see companies grow from a garage to a multi-billion-dollar corporation. The Web provides us with an accessible, low-cost, universal way of entering virtually any market.
This is very much in danger under the provisions of SOPA/PIPA. New startups couldn’t simply build a site and start making money. Instead, they’d be forced to implement costly censorship techniques, and pay exorbitantly for legal counsel that shouldn’t be necessary. This prevents the Web from being the business outlet that it currently is, and that myself and countless other young professionals in a struggling economy are banking on having a career in. One day I want to make my creative services available all on my own – if something like this is made law, I’ll likely end up doing so outside of the US.
What It Won’t Do
Here’s the real kicker: this will do virtually nothing to stop piracy. This system of blocking and censoring is one than can be easily circumvented by those who know what they’re doing. Hell, even if they block a domain entirely, I can still access the site with nothing but the IP address. I’ll spare you the more technical details – again, if you’d like to know more, Google it. But this is one thing I’m 100% on – supporters are promoting it as protection for American intellectual property, yet it provides none. This is what really infuriates me, as it will get the typical “This is for ‘murica, greatest country in the world” spin and instantly convince the lowest common denominator that it’s in their best interest.
What Do You Want Me To Do?
Look, I know as well as anyone that sometimes it’s just easier to pretend like something won’t affect you and ignore it. I do it all the time. I’m not a political activist for much of anything, and I’ve certainly never cared this much about legislation before. Maybe it’s getting older, maybe I’m selfish, maybe I’m just frustrated that this could even be considered a solution by the leaders of my nation. But I can’t sit back and watch this one happen, and I hope you won’t either.
I’m not going to send you to a bunch of sites and sources, you’re going to see plenty of that today. If you visit Wikipedia, you’ll get your representative’s contact info, and if you click the black bar over the Google logo, you can sign a petition. It will feel futile, but it’s pretty much all we have.
If you’re mad, stay mad, because the bill will be revised again and again until we forget it was even a thing and then they’ll sneak it right past us. They’ve already tried to kill the hype of the protest by announcing SOPA was shelved, even though the main sponsor has since said that work will continue on it in February. This isn’t going to happen soon, but it’s going to happen eventually if we don’t pay attention. And then you’ll just have to come with me to Australia or some shit.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions, ask away. I’ll be working from home today (a luxury I can afford thanks to the Web as it exists today) but I’ll hop on here afterwards to answer anything I’m qualified to.
The people who know me casually see me as someone who would seem quite normal. I don’t throw off this weird vibe (at least I don’t think I do). I tend to blend in and mirror the crowd I’m with. When I’m with people who want to have the usual “hi, how ya doin’” kind of conversation, I can small talk with the best of them. When I’m with a group of friends ready to party, I can party with the best of them. I guess I’m saying that the conversation I’m having in my head can be filtered and used for good, not evil. Sometimes, the evil slips out. I’ve been told that I tend to say whatever is on my mind without filtering it. That’s true now, but that’s not always been the case. I don’t always say everything I’m thinking. That would make my cloak of invisibility fall off and you would see how much of a nut job I really am!
When I was a young boy, I was surrounded by a large, loud family. I’m talking 13 kids, two parents, four cats, one dog kind of large, loud family! My only hope to survive was to observe how the older siblings got into trouble and I tried to do the opposite. That worked out until I was the older brother in the house. I found new ways to get into trouble! I figured out that the less my dad heard, the better off we all were. You could haul off and smack your brother in the head, make him cry, and Dad would come in and yell at the kid crying! I experienced this phenomenon from both sides. It was bizarre being the one making someone cry and then sitting there while Dad yelled at them. He gave a cursory yell at the offender, but the loud one was the one who was really in trouble. So I learned that quiet is good and keeps you out of trouble.
The problem with this is, you really can become invisible in a group if all you do is observe without adding to the conversation. It took me a long time to become more vocal in group settings. Even so, I’m not the most talkative or loudest of the bunch. When I’m with a group of friends, there’s usually one person who dominates the conversation. They can be loud and boisterous and make people laugh at how silly they are. That will never be my style. I will sit there and pay attention and laugh when appropriate. There comes a time in every conversation like this where something pops into my head that may or may not be appropriate to share. When I do share, and it gets a laugh, I learn that sometimes the weird thoughts in my head can be appreciated by others. I’ll never tell a “guy walks into a bar” joke, or clown around in a crowd. There’s too much of the “quiet keeps you safe” in me to be that guy.
At home with Alana, it’s a different story. Here, I have an audience of one and she’s a great audience! She loves the silly! I can be a clown with her. Everything I do that makes her laugh has to be repeated so she can laugh again. After being with her for over a year, I could record a “best of” album of my greatest moments in silly! When the wedding planning began, and we had to go meet professional photographers, DJs, and the Rabbi, she saw my professional persona for the first time. This is the persona I try to maintain at work, though I’m not always successful with that. She was surprised at how “serious” I was in those meetings. I just explained that’s just how I am in those situations. I can’t be myself in every situation. So, she gets to see all the crazy that’s inside my head because she loves that shit.
The battle in my brain is ongoing. If you’ve been lucky enough (cursed enough) to be on the receiving end of a snarky comment on facebook, you’re welcome. You’ve experienced the unfiltered version of me. The other me, the quiet me sitting on the sidelines is having an unbelievable conversation with myself! I really need one of those cartoon thought bubbles hovering over my head. On second thought, that would be really dangerous to your well-being! It’s in your best interest that I not say everything I’m thinking. I’m not really being quiet to protect me, I’m being quiet to protect you!
It’s officially “Holiday Season.” For me, that means many things, none of which are normal! First, we have Thanksgiving. For you, that means a day off filled with family you may or may not like. If you’re the host of this gathering, you have to get up early to get ready. Then, you get to clean it all up and fall into bed wishing you had spent the day at work! For me, it means a day off that begins with a 10K and ends quietly at home with the woman I love. In between, it’s filled with football, naps, and Facebook.
I have had Thanksgivings filled with family. As a child, we had to have a “kids table” for our own family! We didn’t need to invite extended family to fill the house. I liked helping Mom make the stuffing because it involved tearing up stale bread. As an adult, I found a recipe for White Castle Stuffing, so I had to make that! It was awesome! When I clean and prep the turkey, it comes to life as I thrust my hand into the cavity and make him dance. I never understood why the include the neck, but it was always a source of “R Rated” fun. Carving the turkey starts with such precision and ends with a plate of shredded meat yanked off the bone. Patience is not my strong suit.
The Thanksgiving conversations remind me of a first date. They’re always so polite and safe and no one really says anything. You haven’t seen some of these people since last Thanksgiving! If they’re on Facebook, they should know what the hell you’ve been up to so why do they always start with, “so what’s new with you?” Some families have the drunken uncle at the table who will say just about anything. Sometimes, I’m that uncle!
The first year after my divorce, my brother Carl invited me to his house for Thanksgiving. I went and had a nice meal, but it was awkward and uncomfortable. I don’t meant to offend him, I just felt like I was an intruder and not a guest. Every year after that, I was either happily alone or in someone’s house trying to find a comfortable chair. You can’t do a seat check in an away game!
I won’t even mention how much I hate using the away bathroom! (I guess I just did.) First there’s the lock that I’m never sure if it actually locks the door. Then, I have to turn on the fan to drown out the god awful noise that I’m about to unleash! Time to wash my hands. What the hell kind of soap is this? I just want clean hands – I don’t want to smell like a tropical rain forest! We top it all off by trying to figure out which towel I’m supposed to use. I’d almost rather be using the gas station’s bathroom at this point!
My current tradition with my sons is to take them out for pizza on Friday. We get to hang out and I don’t have to clean up. If I do decide to host another Thanksgiving, it’s going to include drinking games and Survivor style competitions where one family member after another gets eliminated from my house. I’ll leave the Feats of Strength for Festivus.
Larry King used to write a column for USA Today where he would share random thoughts. Now it’s on Twitter, but I’ve never seen it. I never watched his show when it was on, but I liked how he could just sit down and write such randomness for the newspaper. I too have many thoughts that pop into my head, with many of those thoughts turned into a Facebook status update. Today, I’d like to share with you my random thoughts Larry King style:
1. I have entirely too many plastic cards in my wallet. I have everything from credit cards to library cards to shopper loyalty cards. The only two I need are the Kroger Plus card and the 5/3 debit card. I’m one sub away from a free one at Jersey Mike’s, so I’ll keep that one too.
2. There’s not much worse than using a bathroom away from home, only to find out it’s broken and won’t flush! That’s a walk of shame if there ever was one.
3. Is there a better band than Radiohead? No band has put out such consistently good music that the masses don’t really understand, and where the band itself doesn’t really care if they do.
4. The internet consists of countless websites but I still go to only a handful of them every day. I always use Facebook, Yahoo e-mail, and dailywhat.com for comedy. If there’s anything else I want, I Google it.
5. Suspenders on suits make a man look like a man. Suspenders on jeans make a man look like a farmer.
6. I wonder if there’s a doctor willing to put me in a coma for 12 hours so I can get a decent night’s sleep.
8. Knowing that today is the first day of the rest of my life, while knowing that tomorrow is also the first day of the rest of my life does nothing to help me with my procrastination problem.
9. You know how it feels when you’re watching a TV show or movie and you see an actor you can’t quite name and you sit there trying to figure out what other TV show or movie you’ve seen them in? I feel that way when I can’t remember the name of the person in front of me.
10. Being funny is easy. Writing funny is hard!
All my life I’ve felt like I operate outside of the “normal” of the rest of the world. In a family of 13 siblings, I was a loner. That upbringing is probably the genesis of my ability and desire to sit back and observe what goes on around me, all while seeing the absurdity and humor no matter how bleak.
After a three year stint in the Army and four years in college, I went to work at a major public accounting firm. None of that would lead you to believe I would be operating outside the norm. You don’t do or say anything in the Army unless you want to clean latrines for a living. My college life consisted of being married and driving from Fairfield to Oxford and back again, followed by studying most of the rest of the day. I was a “serious” student! When you think “accountant,” you don’t think “funny accountant.” That’s an oxymoron if I ever saw one! However, I met quite a few “not-normal” accountants over the next few years. I still tried to fit in as best I could.
I didn’t always speak up. When I was young, I was hesitant to say what I was thinking because I didn’t want people to see how weird I was. Today, I have no such qualms! I have absolutely no filter and I will say what I think as soon as I think it. One nickname I had while working as a loan officer was “The Silent Assassin.” When I asked why, the nickname giver said, “you don’t say much, but when you do you come out of nowhere and say some things that hit the bullseye!.”
Nothing I say is meant to hurt, unless I mean to hurt you (which is rare). Sarcasm mixed with a dry sense of humor are tools I’ve honed to a sharp edge. Writing this blog may help you begin to understand how I see the world. It won’t always be abnormal, but I’ll try.