Sunday June 11th, 2006:Camel Cash
I don't know if I ever told the regular readers here about how exactly I started saving Camel Cash, or "Cancer Cash" as I like to jokingly call it sometimes. Somewhere back in my late high school/pre college days, my good friend Lenny smoked a whole lot of Camel cigarettes. Many days passed where I remarked to him about his situation; after all that he smoked he should be getting something out of it(beside a greater chance for lung cancer). He replied back that it would be too depressing if he ever saw an entire box of camel cash, each representing wasted money, time, and one step closer to lung cancer.
On that note, I decided all this cash should be used for good. Some where during the summer of 2000 I decided that I would start saving camel cash. I joked that it would be for a pool table. At that time, I really wasn't into pool but it seemed like the thing I should get for a ton of camel cash. As the years, and the joke, went on I came to the conclusion I would really like a pool table for all the effort that I had been through. Around 4 years into the whole ordeal I decided that I wasn't going to get a pool table just by hoping for Camel to offer it. I was going to have to get it on my own.
The plan: get things with camel cash, sell them, and then buy a pool table with the money, Plan B as I dubbed it. Not the most heroic of plans, but a viable one for sure. Another 2 years later I've started to put the plan in effect. I have gotten my first order of cigarettes and have sold them for a revenue of $100, which I have deposited in a new savings account. It might take as long as it took to acquire 16,000 camel cash, but I am going to get a pool table out of it.
From the last post I made, here's the email that Mr. Hawpe sent back to me(see previous post for details):
I simply wanted to point out that there is a serious side to the argument about marijuana use and legalization - that for some people there are consequences, and that the casual attitude toward pot is inappropriate, just as a casual attitude toward alcohol is inappropriate. the fiction that some - not all but some - marijuana advocates perpetrate is that the stuff is simply without a social-psychological down side. And that's not true.
I was tempted to lay into the guy. I could have easily said if that was his fucking point from the beginning he should have said it outright. Instead, he wastes half the fucking editorial space ranting on about worthless topics of the day and then lazily argues about how pot is bad for society(or rather how the casual attitude toward pot is inappropriate to use his own bullshit words). Moreover, if his point was there are some bad consequences to legalization of pot then the editorial title should have reflected that, instead of using the misleading title "Marijuana's not very funny just look at the statistics".
However, I didn't say that. His reply was a bit more courteous than I was expecting. I didn't really feel like arguing anymore, so I left it at that.
Some where, at some point in time, I declared 2006 to be the year that I "take it easy." Keeping true to that, the website, my website, "Who is the Man With the Name that Rhymes?" is going to be on hiatus for a while. This shouldn't be too surprising to anyone keeping up with how little I've posted this year. I've been thinking about this for a some time, but it wasn't until the past 2 weeks that I decided what my plans were for the site. Here's my rough plans.
I'm taking down the current version of "Who Is"; I tire of the design and long for something fresh. On that note, I'll also be taking the SBB.org address to redirect to the new site. SBB, as far as I'm concerned, died a long time ago(for reasons I care not to get into). Within the new site, I will have the old SBB site up for nostalgia but that will be it . When I do bring up the new "Who Is..."(or whatever I decide to name it), it's going to be done with a scripting language. This is for a number of reasons; it gives me something new to learn; It will allow to do more things that I want to do with the site; Also, it will remove a technical problem I have with this site currently (not worth talking about).
This will be my last post for a while. I don't know what the timeline is like, but it should be done before 2006 is up. If that says anything, it says I expect to take some time with this project. I don't know what will happen, I don't know what hurdles I face. Hopefully, after it is all done both you(and my readers) will a bit more enlightened. With that, the man with the name that rhymes bids you farewell. I hope to see you in the near future.
-Shawn "If the Name
Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Sunday May 23rd, 2006:
Muse Pronunciation (myz) n.
1. Greek Mythology Any of the nine daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus, each of whom presided over a different art or science.
a. A guiding spirit.
b. A source of inspiration.
3. A poet
muse Pronunciation (myz)
v. mused, mus·ing, mus·es
v.intr. To be absorbed in one's thoughts; engage in meditation.
v.tr. To consider or say thoughtfully: mused that it might take longer to drive than walk.
I've always hated people who refer to themselves as muses; It reeks of pretentiousness. Especially when it's used in the sense of "I have a lot of ideas that I tell people therefore I must be a muse"(even though I probably have inspired no one or even thought careful about my ideas). Most muses, in my opinion, aren't even thought as "muses" just because, one, the word isn't in most people's lexicons and, two, most people don't consciously think about the people who've really inspired them. I think there is an other term out for "muses" who are just people prattling off their ideas. I don't know what that is, but I'm sure it exists out there.
Every one has good ideas, in one form or another. There are many people out there have a great ideas for a movie, book, video game, way to make money, etc. Having ideas doesn't accomplish anything however. That is where my disdain for "muses" comes from, most of them are all talk and no action. It's easy to come up with ideas, actually implementing them is what separates the posers from the real thing. And because I've said all that this post is going to flavored with irony today.
All I'm going to be today is musing through words. I'll be musing about my musing through my past few weeks. I intended to write about a short story about my trip to Vegas, but it turned out that was just "musing". Though I don't claim to be a muse, I have felt like one of those people who claim they are a "muse". My musing hasn't resulted in anything except the words you're reading. Some debilitating feeling, like mild depression, has been keeping me from becoming productive with my thoughts. I'd explore this feeling further but I feel that this might just be pointless "musing". Now that I'm "mused" out, let's begin.
One night before I was in Vegas...
I was in the apartment of my good friends, Alex Brandenburg and Dan Garcia. I think there was "musing" that night of hitting the town and having fun. Against that idea however was me, tired from driving for 4-5 hours, Alex, engaged with doing laundry, and Garcia, too busy playing World of Warcraft(or World of Borecraft if you're ever on the watching end of the game). What ended up happening was lazy drinking, sitting around, and "musing".
While not the most entertaining of events, I did enjoy myself. Garcia told me tales of living in world of Warcraft(WoW), Azeroth. He told his experiences with gold farmer groups in WoW; how he talked with them, go on quests and the like. He'd mentioned they often gave him the "hook up" with some items they found. I told him it was like he made friends with the Chinese mafia. He went on to tell me that on occasion he would talk to some gold farmers who do this as their job. I laughed and said, "Wow, the irony. Garcia's here paying to play this game in his free time for fun while across the planet some guy is sitting in a packed room playing the game as his job to feed his wife and kids."
Coming from that observation, I noted my holdup with getting into MMORPG's; it's too much like a job. Playing a video game, to me, is about an escape into a different world from my life. The cycle of kill more shit, to get better stuff, to kill more shit, ad infinitum is like the pursuit of wealth without all the benefits of knowledge, experience, and material goods you acquire along the way. To me an RPG should be about role playing, story, or a fantasy.
It was upon saying and thinking that I came upon an MMORPG that I would like to play. I "mused" about a MMORPG world that had a beginning and a end. The traditional elements of computer role playing games would be there, but as time went on the gameplay and the interface would change. It wouldn't be just about fighting bigger and stronger enemies, it would be about the change of your character. I would also put in an unknown feature(which I would maybe hint at) that at some threshold a player who had played, evolved, leveled the most would become god. By that I mean it would open up an interface for the game that allowed you to do anything. You create or destroy anything or even change the rules for the game. The ultimate end for game would be seeing what one character would do if he controlled it all.
It terms of funding, logistics, and the like, I imagine there would be many problems to work out, problems which I haven't thought through of course. Just to imagine one problem would be how to prevent a gold farmer from becoming god instead of a dedicated player. Not that it matters though, I can just say I'm "musing" and be done with it. I leave it to an inspired person to fill out the blanks.
To which I replied via email to:
Hello Mr. Hawpe,
I just read your editorial today in Courier. If I am to understand your argument correctly, you were refuting Mr. Moore's position on Marijuana(i.e. legalization with heavy regulation)based on information in the Wall Street Journal article Health Journal: More people seek help for marijuana addiction. You cite specific statistics about marijuana addiction to conclude that "It's bad stuff. No joke."
I agree with you. Marijuana addiction is bad stuff. As it turns out, almost all addictions(whether it be caffeine, gambling, heroin, sex, video games, television, or food)are bad stuff. But that says nothing about whether or not marijuana is bad. The argument whether or not marijuana should be legal(with heavy regulation of course)should hinge on many factors, too many to discuss in a simple letter. But if we are basing legality on simply the addictive properties of a substance alone then we should definitely make alcohol illegal as "researchers found that the overall rate of addiction among marijuana users is slightly lower than for imbibers of alcohol."(the same WSJ article) And while I don't have numbers to back me, I'd bet we'd both find junk food is more addictive than both substances given the amount of obesity in this country.
The prohibition of marijuana is lost cause. The focus of drug prohibition should be on drugs that are known to be deadly(or very damaging to human health even in small amounts). Fighting the use of drugs that have good or bad, let us say at best neutral, effects(e.g. marijuana and alcohol) undermines the effort to restrict drugs that seriously damage people.
I haven't check my email yet, I'm going to after this post. We'll see if I get a reply.
Bring Forth the Pool Table
After plenty of musing about the whole Camel Cash situation, I've finally moved on to getting a pool table. As I near 16,000 c-notes, preparations have been made to execute "plan b". The plan is buy things(like cigarettes) then sell them for money. The money earned will be placed into a savings account for the time being. Once I've finished selling all that I can, I will then purchase a pool table. Hopefully, by that time I will be ready to have a party so that everyone who has helped can help me can see the benefit of their donations.
Thoughts and Well Being
I've been a funk for a while. I've said it before, I say it now. I'm trying to fight out of it. While I'm thinking about this, something occurs to me that I said at the beginning of 2006; the theme for 2006 is going to be taking it easy, no stress from trying to accomplish too much. Well if at one end is stress from trying to accomplish too much, the other end is depression from not accomplishing anything at all. That's my thinking and feeling about my situation that I hinted at earlier.
I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading about philosophy. Using the wikipedia and then going to other sources from there. Just a couple of topics I've read are the problem of evil, metaphysics, and nihilism. Trying to understand some of the problems of humanity, in a rational way, has in a way made me feel better about my funk. Life doesn't have a explicit purpose tagged with it. Some perceive a purpose, other don't. The purpose of life might be related to it's natural processes(to propagate) but there's no way to tell. To me, understanding that "purpose" is something completely perceived helps understand why it is important to have a purpose.
Now it's time to muse about these facts while I go on with life.
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Thursday May 4th, 2006:
Mediocre Weekday Adventures
Today is my day off. I've finally stopped working so much at New Albanian. We've hired two new servers over the past month, female servers at that. For a while, me as well as much of the staff had been lamenting over the number of guys who are employed there, to be particular the wait staff. For a long time of all the servers we had(around 10)we only had one female server there. If you know anything about human interaction, females(in particular cute ones) seem to make more tip money than dudes.
Unfair? Yeah. People, in a ideal world, should tip their waiters based on the service. That is how they make their money. Good or bad, the minimum should be %10 of the bill. Leaving no tip should only be done under extreme circumstances. Many people tip for social acceptance, not because they understand that's how their waiter gets paid
This is especially evident at work now. I've had some our new female servers take orders from male customers I know who typically don't tip me well, only for them to end up with a near 20% tip. There must be some sort of instinctual thing for guys to impressive attractive females. Yes it's unfair, especially for a guy that does just as much work as anyone else. Luckily for me we split tips at New Albanian.
My birthday came and went without much fanfare. I didn't really make much deal of it despite other people telling me how important it was. I might be jaded on the birthday celebrating thing. Come to think of it, I'm jaded on a lot of annual events.
Also, I've become pretty jaded when it comes to writing for "Who Is..." My posts are frequently bi-monthly and haven't really said much outside of things I've been saying for quite a while. That thought has stayed with every time I've sit and written another one of these posts. My reoccurring conclusion is that I need a change of pace in my life.
Hopefully, I think that is coming soon. I have a job interview next week with Hitachi Cable Indiana, HCI. They are, obviously, a subsidiary of Hitachi. They make various rubber parts, a lot of is various tubing for cars. I came across the job as one of the patrons of Sportstime works at HCI. I mentioned to him in passing about my job situation. As it turns out HCI was looking for an entry level IT person. That's about all I know so far. The interview is next Tuesday.
As I mentioned earlier, my birthday was last week. That day my aunt stopped by and gave me a present. It was a bit of a surprise as a hardly hear from her. She gave me a book. It was entitled Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About. Somehow I wasn't surprised; my aunt had been on a organic food kick for a while. Recently, she and I have had conversations about being healthy: eating right, exercise, drinking lots of water. So it didn't surprise me that she was into alternative medicines, which I presumed the book was about with the big, ambiguous "they" standing out on the cover.
Sure enough after glancing at the table of contents, I was right. My intuition about alternative medicine tells me "bullshit," but I was keeping an open mind about this. So I go into the introduction by Mr. Kevin Trudeau. The first thing that catches my mind is this disclaimer. It's one of a medical disclaimer that anyone would write so that they don't get sued. It's written mockingly as Trudeau claims that his free speech are some how being trampled on by having to write a medical disclaimer since he is not a doctor. I find this line of interest:
"Heaven forbid someone reads these words and claims to be adversely affected by them, thus ensuing a barrage of lawsuits filed under the guise of protecting the unknowning victims who were stupid enough to read this and believe it!" (emphasis mine)
I looked again and thought, "did he just call his readers idiots?"
I get into the meat of the introduction; it starts with a story of an interview with Bill Gates regarding his success. Bill Gates portrays himself as a man who saw a vision and took action upon it at right place and time. This gets compared to the reader who, upon reading this knowledge, will have a chance to act upon the vision they see, or rather the author's vision.
Later into the intro Trudeau says, "It is important to note that I wrote virtually every word in this book. I did not have this book edited or written by a professional; therefore, it is written in common language and plain English." Going further into the text I notice virtual gets used a lot. In the next sentence he says he has received "virtually tens of thousands pieces" of correspondence. I don't know how it is you receive a virtual amount of anything. When talking about discrete amounts of something, you either have that much or you don't. The way he uses 'virtually' is in such a way that it look likes he trying to nearly avoid lying, or should that be virtually avoid lying.
As I start going through chapters, it's clear the book wasn't written by a professional, or edited for that matter. The book is written with numerous paragraphs of redundant information. Many of them in the first chapter goes on about the conspiracy between the FDA/FTC and the public. Bold claims are made but no information is used to back it up. Details, at best, are vague. The phrase "it all about the money!" and "can you see why I'm made as hell and not going to take it anymore?" are used so much they come off as bad infomercial. Throughout the first chapter, Trudeau portrays himself to be a crusader of health against the evil megacorp pharmaceutical groups and the government.
Occasionally, Trudeau has some bits of good knowledge: The dangers of drugs being over-used/over-prescribed, corporations being entities that exist purely for profit, and the benefits of good diet and exercise. But overall most are ludicrous claims with no backing at all. He'll use specific numbers regarding studies or cancer rates, but when it comes to referencing dates or names, they are no where to be found. I was intrigued to see if there was any references at all so I decided to flip to the back. The closest thing I found regarding references was in the "Frequently Asked Questions" chapter:
"Question: You say a lot of things in this book. Where is the documentation and substantiation?
If I gave you the documentation and substantiation for every single statement I make in this book, I would have to provide 500 pages of this data...There are more than 900 studies that back up everything I say. There are more than ten thousand articles that have been published around the world that backup virtually everything I say..."
It goes on with virtually more than 2 sentences of vague numbers that virtually backup his virtual claims. All the while, never mentioning one specific date, time, place, study, or article. He also mentions that you can find all this documentation on his website, which requires a subscription that costs virtually $10/month or $499 for a lifetime.
By the time I got through the "Who are 'they'?" chapter I was ready to give up on reading this book. I was trudging though the next chapter "Why are we sick?", when I finally encountered this gem about electromagnetic radiation and it's ramifications:
"Science cannot see or explain how magnets work ...Science cannot explain how a satellite can beam electromagnetic energy that can pass through solid steel, be picked up by a radio transmitter, and magically turn into music. Think about it. If a satellite in the sky beams down electromagnetic energy twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and this energy is invisible, cannot be detected, yet has the ability to pass through almost any material, and contains so much information that a 'receiver' converts it into the music of an orchestra or images on a TV screen, isn't it possible that this energy is also hitting and passing through our bodies? Is it possible that this unnatural energy could have a negative impact on our bodies and our health?"
I don't know where to start. Perhaps it's best said that some where in this stupid paragraph there is a bit irony. This idiot is rambling about the effects of electromagnetic radiation and magnets, claiming that science can't explain it. Yet if it weren't for science he wouldn't even be using the word, electromagnetic radiation, let alone know what-the-fuck is electromagnetic radiation.
This was the last paragraph I read. At this point I turned to the Internet to see who this shit head was. Somehow, after reading the first few chapters I wasn't surprised what I found out about this guy. Upon researching I came across this great site, for critical thinkers. Even though I wasted time reading some of this book, I like to think at least I got another resource out of it.
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Tuesday May 2nd, 2006:
Life just isn't doing it for me. That's my conclusion for today. Work, play, the pursuit of happiness, they've all been folded into the same activities over and over again. There's nothing new or exciting about them. Often I feel like I can do this routine in my sleep, and frequently I do. I'm continually playing out a response to a stimulus that I already know is coming before it even happens.
I find a potential new job; I meet a new girl; something new comes into my life; All of these things happen to me and hits me as a sign of change in my life. Frequently, however, it is just wishful thinking. Often hardly anything changes. It's just another joke that life is playing on me. It could be perhaps I'm not determined enough to change my life. It could be that on some subconscious level that I've found my nirvana, too bad that consciously it feels like hell.
As I was driving home from work today, I was thinking about good and evil. Perhaps because I was thinking about finishing Star Wars: KOTOR last night. It's a good RPG cut from the same mold of the Baldur's Gate games. In it you play a character who becomes Jedi. As you continue though the game you make choices(both through words and actions) that push you to the light or dark side. For most of the game I was pretty much on the border, occasionally moving to the light side. By the end of the game though you eventually become either light or dark, which effects what the ending the story will be. I was mildly annoyed by this, simply just because I don't believe in characterization of good and evil portrayed in the Star Wars universe.
It's a belief that there is such a force as good and evil, often personified by someone or something, that pushes a person toward his actions. I think that belief is narrow minded and ignorant, and ultimately pushes responsibility off the individual for his actions. To me, there is no such forces in the world there's just actions that lead to either bad or good results. Often the choice between "good" and "evil" is the choice between our selfish animalistic nature and our selfless human logic. But that's hardly the end-all blanket model that covers "good" and "evil."
The reality is the human world is immensely complex. Having reasoning, knowledge, and wisdom, we'd like to think we can solve the entirety of our problems. We see some resemblance of patterns through life, something that eventually we call morality, but the expanse of decisions, thoughts, and situations spans out to the infinite; it's something we cannot grasp entirely. Because of that, people create simpler models of "good" and "evil."
Enough philosophy for now however...
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" ConnSunday April 9th, 2006:
I've recently(with this hour) have been thinking that I should install a web server onto my desktop machine, thus making shawnconn.com actually point to a server that I own. As it is right now, shawnconn.com points to a server owned by directNIC, my domain registrar. It references an HTML file that opens up a frame that points to files on my sister's website, Bei Capelli. That's why,if you ever noticed, all the hyperlink references point to files on that site.
The only problem with that is I don't know if it could keep up the demand. I already run an FTP server on that desktop, it also shares media files to XBoxWine(my hacked, networked, XBox running XBoxMediaCenter). The box is only a 233? MHz Pentium 2 chip with ~300MB of RAM. It's an old Gateway computer I got from my Aunt. I'm sure it wouldn't be that bad right now, but I'm looking to the future where I want to improve this website(and possible the near dead SBB site). This is, of course, mostly speculation right now.
I really haven't had the motivation to do much of anything in my life right now. I'm still working too much at New Albanian. There are some new servers there, but I'm still scheduled too much. My hope is that with less hours comes less work and more motivation to do other things(finding a real job, pushing forward with stalled projects, etc.). But that's all it is.
Whether or not that happens,
I guess is ultimately up to me. But there is no fire for me. There is no "do or die" attitude. I'm languishing here at my parents' house. As I told the Reillys, Dennis and Essie(sp?), last night at Richo's, with moving out of that house I felt like I was going somewhere and now that I moved back I have, literally, ended up back where I started- At that moment of writing that sentence a streak of violence just hit me, an image of finding the person who stole my shit and me running a nail through his head- Dennis however pointed out that is just literally, not figuratively; I have experience a lot of changes for the better since I've moved back. Regardless, if I'm going to do anything about my situation I'm going to have to stop dicking around and actually do something.
I'm been watching a lot of South Park over the last few weeks. I recently caved and order broadband through Insight. In the past I had apprehensions toward getting broadband through them because of the bad service in the past(back when @home was running the show through Insight). If I known how much worse SBC DSL was going to be, and how much Insight has changed, I wouldn't have done what I done. But regardless, I got internet back at my parents' house and celebrated with downloading seasons 1-9 of South Park.
The show has really gotten better with age. In fact, I'd say they're just as good(if not better) as The Simpsons in their prime(disclaimer: most the new episodes of The Simpson I see these days just don't do anything for me). Perhaps because the show's creators aren't limited in their satire, unlike the Simpsons who are in a primetime network TV time slot; any topic is fair game no matter who gets offended.
As I been going through episodes, some I've seen before and some I haven't, I've found many good satirical criticisms about society(more so in later episodes). One of the however caught me as particularly poignant in season 6 episode 15, "The Biggest Douche in the Universe" when John Edward is arguing with Stan after obtaining is own Psychic TV show.
John Edward: So, you think you can talk to dead people better than me, huh?!
Stan: No, I don't think either of us can. [Kyle gets up from his seat and leaves the room]
John Edward: They told me your show is getting better ratings than mine, that you're saying I'm a fraud on your show! You'd better not ever call me a liar, or a fake, or a douche again, or else I'll sue you for slander!
Stan: I'm saying this to you, John Edward, you are a liar, you are a fake, and you are the biggest douche ever!
John Edward: Everything I tell people is positive and gives them hope! How does that make me a douche?!
Stan: Because the big questions in life are tough: Why are we here? Where are we from? Where are we going? But if people believe in asshole douchey liars like you, we're never gonna find the real answer to those questions. You aren't just lying, you're slowing down the progress of all mankind, you douche!
John Edward: I'M NOT A DOUCHE! And I challenge you to a psychic showdown! I'll prove to the world that I'm psychic and you're not!
Stan: Fine, douche! [slams one door on him...]
John Edward: I'm not a douche [...then the other]
In my next post I'll talk about my adventure to Vegas.
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Monday March 27th, 2006:
While I have been trying to make the best of my situation since I've moved out of my house, I don't know if there's any accomplishment that I can say I'm proud of. I don't know even if I've had any accomplishments. It has been a little over a month since I've returned here; I can't think of anything that has made much of any impact on my life. It could just be my current feeling of apathy, but I think it's just because there's isn't much going for my life right now.
I'm thinking that job opportunity fell through. I haven't heard from them; they probably found someone with more job experience. The only thing that makes me feel bad about that is was all the time I spend looking into this job was a waste. I'm finally working less at New Albanian now, 3 days a week, the thinking is that it will give me more time/motivation to find a job with more responsibility and challenge.
Just as with professional life, my social life is equally stagnant. Trying to think about the events of the past few weeks, I struggle to come up with anything, evidence of a pretty uneventful life it seems. Box wine monday is still on hiatus. There has been other gatherings in light of this. The regular BWM crew is doing a good job at keeping the spirit alive. For me however, it feels like it's on life support.
My journey through life would seem to be 2 endless plains, one of flat boring terrain and another of a dull gray clouds, both meeting together to make a mediocre sandwich with me in the middle. If there's anything to change the somber tone, it's that I'm going to be going to Vegas next weekend, from the 1st to the 4th. My bro Alex has gotten a paid trip through his job, for him and someone else. Hopefully the adventures to come there will be change for my life.
Right now I need a new frontier to explore. The places, things, and people in my life have become boring to me. That might sound contemptuous; I seem to recall some phrase about familiarity breeding contempt. It's just I need something new for my life. Prior to me moving out of my house, I felt like my life was advancing toward something. Now I just feel stuck in familiar things, feelings, thoughts. Thoughts that keep just recycling through my mind that lead to the same actions that lead me to the same people, places, and things. I feel trapped.
Thinking about this whole situation brings me to one my favorite words, transcendence. The word can mean many thing depending on context. But to me, personally, it has relevance to the drive to do, to see, to feel, to know more. For me, this word might be the closest thing to utilize against the question about the meaning of existence. Given a state that we might be in we use our minds, our bodies, and our feelings to change that state. We do this day by day, we transcend our current state into a new state that, hopefully, changes for the better. Whether viewed from the scope of the individual, a community, or human civilization, there must be something about transcendence that is deeply rooted in our existence.
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Tuesday March 7th, 2006:
In the world of news from Shawn Conn's life, there isn't much to report. One thing I suppose; my house go broken into the first night of gravity head. I came home tired and worn out, having to work the next morning only to find my shit busted into. I don't really care to brood on it too much. Not really much was stolen considering what could have been taken(i.e. laptops, computers, Xboxes) and the amount of time the person had to do it(i.e. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m). In all, a Playstation, all my games, a little tip money, and change was taken. I wasn't pissed that my money or my PS2 was gone so much as the time and effort that I feel is wasted now; I spent a lot of time into setting up that PS2. Time that is gone and that I would have to spend again to get back where I was.
I guess, if anything, it was better the PS2 was stolen rather than the XBox-though, to my annonance, they did take the 2 Xbox controllers and PS2toXbox adapter I just purchased- which took a considerable more time to mod. My mom, being my mom, said the most important thing was that I was safe. Her reasoning being that I should be glad I wasn't there when the intruder was there. In response to this, I said I wish I was there. Had I caught the piece of shit crackhead doing what he did, he probably would have answered to Mr. claw hammer, a former resident of my house. In some sort of angle on the human condition, it is awful that I talk about such violence for something as trite as a few possessions. But once again it's not so much the material loss as it is the immaterial things, such as the transgression of invading someone's home and robbing them of things they spent much time and effort into fixing. My morality is funny like that; I am very calm and forgiving toward my fellow man until they cross my path.
I've told myself in the past if my house/apartment was ever broken into I would move out immediately. I stuck to that belief and moved out two days later. I have since been living in my parents' house with all my possessions stacked to the walls, living in the tiny room that I used to call my own, stranded with no access to the Internet. I'd expect even less frequent posts from me now. I'm stuck at their house for sometime while I contemplate my next move. It has thrown my life into disarray, but otherwise I feel fine. I am free of many bills once again. I have many aspirations of obtaining a new occupation. I've recently met a beautiful and entertaining person. In disaster, I've found opportunity. I will not be held back. My kung fu is strong.
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Wednesday February 22nd, 2006:
Time Vs. Money
I've come to the conclusion lately that one post every 2 weeks on this website is as frequent as things are going to get for me. There is just too much stuff that I want to do and not enough time in the week to do it. There are projects to be done(scripts, computer shit, etc.), work to accomplish, a new job to find, a social life to maintain, and other little mundane details of life that aren't worth mentioning. Lately, I've been longing for those days where I had absolutely nothing to do. I suppose these are inevitable results of getting older and having more responsibility, but it can be stressful sometimes.
At some point as you get older, you realize the significance of time spent compared to money spent. In some abstract way, sure, you can say time is priceless. But realistically, when you have to work to keep your standard of living, time is commodity that is just as exchangeable as money. You have 168 hours a week, once you take out sleep and work (lets say roughly 56 and 40 respectively) that leaves 72 hours. That's already almost 60% of your time gone. When you start to factor other chores or tasks that you take on when you get older, that number can easily go up to 70% or more depending on your lifestyle.
No one likes spending 7/10 to 3/4 their life just working/eating/sleeping. Thus, free time is considered something to be valued. So if it takes 5 hours to accomplish something, and you make $12/hour, if that amount($60) is more than someone offers to do it for you then it is worth the money to pay for it. And it's that equation which has created the base for a huge portion of our (service based) economy. That is a very utilitarian means of thinking I'll admit. While it's not a end-all-be-all philosophy, there is a reason that it has the prefix for utility on it.
In other news, I have the follow up on my previous work story involving a new printer. After finding this site, I was able to get a hold of a few people and get a thermal printer for one of the registers at a cost of $360. After talking to the guy on the phone, I set up the thing. Thus, for a grand total of $450(around half the cost of what were offered from Amy's POS people) we were able to get a thermal printer. In the near future there's a good possibility of me adding a register to the existing 2 POS systems and perhaps adding WiFi to Prost, the banquet hall addition to Richo's. While I have gotten paid for this, it really wasn't my primary motivation. I just want to make use of my abilities. Before I leave this job, I would like to say I've made useful contributions to NABC.
A final thought
I don't where this last thought exactly came from. Perhaps it was the mentioning of the word philosophy; it's been something that has been floating in mind for a few weeks and I think it's important enough to take down as words. It occurred to me as I was coming off a high. I was noticing things around me and it occurred to me that I notice little details- a smile from a companion, a feeling in my gut- only for brief microseconds. A question arose in mind, what if these tiny little details I'm noticing are part of my subconscious. I know by definition the subconscious is the things we aren't aware of, but I looked at it like this.
Our minds are constantly processing new information from our senses. So much that we can't focus on everything all at once. What if there are those tiny moments, significant moments, where our brain takes notice but we, as people of limited mental capacity, don't take significance to it because all the other signals going on are much louder than the tiny ones. That one little moment has effected us, but we are none the wiser to it because of the other louder signals have pushed our thinking in another direction. In the right moments, I have felt like I've been aware of these things. Maybe this all rambling to whoever is reading it. But I feel like I've stumbled across something.
-Shawn "If the Name
Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Thursday February 9th, 2006:
A Torrent of Doubt
So as of late there has been a shit storm of muslims going ape shit over that depiction of Mohammad with a bomb on his head. With all the big news media outlets trying to respect the offense to the religion, I hadn't seen the image myself. Curious at what it looked like, I jumped on the Internet and found it. I was rather disappointed; I was expecting a more comedic looking picture. If anything about this situation is funny-because the depiction isn't- it's that the resulting actions of these extremist muslims are just reinforcing the stereotypes that the picture was conveying.
On that note, I've been tired of this neocruscade bullshit between all the extremist factions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. My solution is that there should be one giant royal rumble in the Middle East to decide who should control the precious piece-of-shit holy land. Every extremist shit head who justifies their murdering, or support of, should head out there while the rest of the moderate, rational world continues on with important things. Each side will represent their respective religions. Combat will take place between the 3 factions in a giant ring in the fucking desert. Combatants will only be allowed swords for battle. Last team standing wins the holy land. Huzzah.
Enough of world politics for now though. The state of the world has been depressing me as of late. On top of that, my own mundane life, and self-loathing is keeping me in a perpetual state of melancholic apathy with interspersed periods of happiness. It has good and bad moments. However, I'm craving more than this cyclic routine, so monotonous it is killing me. I'm striving for more challenges. I've been looking for them when the opportunity comes along. Recently, I learned how to make a skin for my XBox dashboard. Albeit not much of challenge, it was still engaging and fun for the hour that it consumed.
There is also another bigger challenge I've taken on at work, for work. Recently the printer, a clunky old dot matrix printer built into the register, at Sportstime has gone bad. It's not completely trashed, but it's getting there. I commented to one of my employers, Kate, about the situation. I made the remark about how nice it would be to have a thermal printer. In reply to that, she ask me if I could hook of a thermal printer to it. After thinking about, I replied that I could figure out how to do it.
And so began my step into the world of POS resellers. A POS system stands for Point of Sale system. To describe it simply, it's a computer running sales software that has a cash register attached to it. Funny enough, as I thought at the time when I first learned what the term meant, POS also can stand for "piece of shit." Coincidentally New Albanian's POS system is a POS.
I found out the POS system at Sportstime is a Micros 2700 with an integrated roll printer. It was a big selling unit long ago. Today it is quite ancient. After taking some time to play around with it, look at the interfaces, and other tinkering. I saw that there wasn't much I could do without a user manual, something that didn't exist at Sportstime. However, after opening up the guts of the printer I saw that replacing the part that was screwing up wouldn't be much of a big deal. Getting that part however would be a big deal.
You see, the way these POS systems get sold is that you get them through resellers. One tier way from the company, Micros, that actually makes the unit, they don't just sell the unit they sell "solutions." Solutions is a relatively new e-marketing-extreme bullshit buzzword for saying "we handle everything but make sure you pay out the ass for it." It has become one of those fad words for marketing that gets used so much that the original meaning of the word gets lost. For example, we do business with a company called Retailer Supply whose slogan is "Solutions that Work" Another boss of mine, Roger, after reading their slogan made the insight that any solution, by its definition, works.
So these guys make a lot of money employing people who fix, maintain, and sell equipment at highly marked up prices. For example, having a person come in to troubleshoot why your kitchen printer isn't working, find that it is a busted wire, get a new wire, and wrap it around the wall leading to the kitchen cost about $40 for the wire about $320 for the labor. Thus, if you're wanting to get just a certain part for a certain ancient printer you're probably going to have to deal with these guys.
Anyway, I told my other boss, Amy(yes I have 3 bosses), about my findings for this certain printer part which could be fixed if I found a replacement. She told me that she would talk to her people who supplied her the POS system to see what they could do. They came back to her with $400 to replace the printer, $800 for a thermal printer + cost of labor(and some egregious $32K to replace the entire POS system). Thus she asked me to do my thing. Unfortunately she got back to me too late to make a bid on eBay for the exact same model of POS and printer that left for a paltry $50. Looking online, left only few results but I did find a few. One company, who ridiculously enough I had to get a "quote" from, gave me $195 for the printer. Not as bad as but I think I can do better; it's just a silly part for a printer that almost 20 years old. It wouldn't be worth $195 if there wasn't this silly business model.
I was about to give up and just suggest that they buy the printer $195, but then I found this site. They seem to have manuals for our POS system. If all goes well, I can contact them and get a manual from them. With a manual I know I can interface a new printer with these systems.
More for later.
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Tuesday February 7th, 2006:
The Changing Landscape
I don't know why, but I feel like I need to apologize every time it has been 2+ weeks since I've posted to "Who Is...." For the past year or half it has felt like I only post something on here when I have something important to say. This is good to keep in mind, if for anything to prevent really crappy posts from showing up on this webpage. This big reason why I haven't been posting as of late. Another is I really haven't done much critical thinking as of late. Because of that, and a few other factors that I'm not going to get into, I've really been burnt out on my job. I've told my boss, that once gravity head(New Albanian's festival of high gravity, or high ABV, beers)is over I'm going into full job look mode.
I have kind of have started that; Last week I turned in a resume/cover letter for a job at the U.S. bankruptcy court in Louisville. The job is a "systems specialist." The actual work seems to be help desk, hardware/software installation/maintenance, and some responsibilities with researching new software/hardware purchases for the court. All of which I do in some form right now, but not professionally. However, I feel with a degree in C. S.(although, it's not necessarily related to that job), much personal experience, and my determination will put me in a good place to get the job. I've already been over there to talk to HR a little more about the job and to turn in the resume/cover letter. The deadline for the job isn't until the 24th, coincidentally the day Gravity starts, so it's still going to be a bit of time before I hear back from them.
Outside of this, the rest of my life could be called a drag. While not a completely bad thing, it does have some moments of depression littered about. I did determine that this year, 2006, was going to be the year of taking it easy. So, if easy going, uninteresting, activities-outside of finding a new profession, of course-define my life than that's okay with me. I'm taking my life a step at a time.
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Wednesday January 25th, 2006:
I once asked Brian Young, being a person well versed in philosophy, if there was a philosophical term for "the feeling that there's nothing new left to do." That was his answer. I've been bouncing around with that feeling as I've been heading into this new year. It's a stupid, irrational feeling; there's plenty of things I haven't done. I guess much of it is I'm bored with life. Or to be more accurate, I'm bored with my life.
Right now I'm on the upswing when it is coming to this. I am aware of my situation. I know what I need to do. This year needs a theme for me. Theme is relaxation and reflection. I need not to feel pressed for time. I have another 20,000 something days ahead of me; I have plenty of time. This year will have many things I'll need to do. One of the most important of them is find a new job, but that will be done in good time regardless. The most important thing is I take it easy, decide about the things I want enjoy and do.
As far as enjoying things goes, I need to get back into the social swing. I've recently been pretty anti-social recently. It happens a lot when I focus my myself on projects. My mind is so concerned with little details within one project of my life I often fail to see what's happening around me. As far as doing things goes, I have two things right now: restarting the Strange Case project and a script rewrite for Ted.
The Strange Case project has already started somewhat. I think more will be finished tonight hopefully. Also, there is this script rewrite for Ted. The script is for a movie called The Tragedy of Stop Motion Man. It this project Ted and Jon's brother, Jim Brooner are working on. The script, in it's original draft, is a bit wordy. It will be good to fix this for two reasons: one, to prevent the audience from being bored by long, clunky, drawn-out dialogue and, two, to cut down on screen time. The latter is important being that the main character is going to be animated by stop motion while the rest of his world is going to be live action. Ergo, the less screen time there is the less work there is to do.
Technically, the movie is very ambitious, especially for a very tiny budget movie. So ambitious that I wouldn't want anything to do with that end of it. Artistically, the script needs some work. There's two ways to go with this script, tragedy or comedy. Just working with Ted, makes me come up with off-the-wall absurd ideas for the movie that really hilarious. But the title, and I presume Jim, lean toward the idea that a movie is a tragedy, with the titular character being a metaphor for the ever growing defunct practice of stop motion in movie animation.
Its tough to decide. I could go either way with the script. I'm thinking that it would easier to make this movie into a comedy just I'm picturing a lot of disconnect between the character and the rest of the world. Then again this could be used thematically as well, the disconnect could be used to show the character's isolation in his world. Lastly there another bit I'm going to have consider in the script, production. As it stands, there are few things in the script that are probably get changed since it would require a lot of work for a budget of near $0.
We'll see how it turns out when I finish it sometime in the next week or so.
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn
Wednesday January 10th, 2006:
Well it's finally done. It's been about a half a year, obviously a bit longer thanks to many distractions, since I began the project but it's finally done. I now have one modded XBox complete with a brand new 320GB hard drive. It houses not only a huge majority of video games from yesteryear(Atari 2600, MSX, C64, NES, Genesis, PlayStation, SNES, Gameboy, GBA, etc.) but also is a huge media box that can hold XBox games, movies, and music. The goal wasn't to take this long, it just kind of happened. After researching a lot of information, getting the modchip, and installing it, I was pulled away by the lure of a ton of PS2 games. I needed a break from dealing with stressful computer problems.
As I expected, the rest of the job(i.e. flashing the mod chip, replacing the dashboard, installing applications and emulators) took a long time. Not that it was much work. The biggest consumption of time was just trying to look of the right information. With there being a few different versions of Xbox, modchips, BIOS's, dashboard, and so on, the vast possibilities make it tough to find exactly the right information you need to make the modifications necessary. Now that it's all done, it's time to kick back and enjoy the results.
One unsuspected surprise from this project was from one awesome program for an modded XBox, XBox Media Center. I've seen in action before. It's your general all-in-one media playing program. I thought it would be pretty cool to have it if I wanted to play computer video/audio files on my TV center. I figured I wouldn't use it much though. That was until I started to play around with it; I saw some of the cooler options that are available if you have your XBox networked like mine. Not only can you play any video/audio files on a disc, but you can also stream them off a networked PC. Furthermore, you can listen to Internet streamed radio stations, rip CDs, IMDB look up movies, CDDB any CD's you play or rip, play visualizations with audio you play, and check the weather(near useless to me but still cool). I don't know if any of the guys at Microsoft had seen this, but if I worked there I would built this into the 360.
Well enough gloating about my new toy. I suppose I'm off to do something with myself.
-Shawn "If the Name Don't Rhyme It Ain't Mine" Conn