Monday, November 17, 2008

Bittersweet Listening

It's been a while since my last post. Much has happened from my last post till now. The US has a new president-elect. I was bed-ridden sick for two days and have gotten better. Halloween has come and gone but the pictures and stories from it live on. Winter has set in and I'm already pulling out the winter jacket. I am finally in favorable sight with my swimmers and they are getting faster with each meet. Lastly and what I'll probably write on, I realized that ska is dying...

With the weather getting cold and work staying mundane and boring, I have taken to listening to a more positive, upbeat tune to help me cope. Obviously, I have turned back to my teen-hood listenings of ska. Much thanks goes to Pandora.com for entertaining me at work with ska radio stations. Five Iron Frenzy, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, OC Supertones, Streetlight Manifesto, Catch-22, Save Ferris, Goldfinger, Toasters, Suicide Machines, Clash, Rancid, Skankin' Pickle... I could go on for a while. All great bands that will get me out of my seat dancing faster than any other type of music. Looking at these names and knowing what I do about each band, ska is going extinct.

There are only a handful of bands still around cranking out music. Mighty Mighty Bosstones are in the studio recording a new album. Their first album in over half a decade. Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish are still putting out albums but there seems to be something lacking in each. It feels like it's just another album for the label. Streetlight Manifesto, being on of the newest addition to the music scene, is the only band that I can think of on some sort of indie/mainstream label playing good ol' ska.

Maybe I really have lost touch to the music scene, but still where ska was once booming in the 90s, it's almost at a dead stop in the late 2000s. This makes me sad. So while listening to my Mighty Mighty Bosstones and bobbing my head, I experience feelings of bittersweet joy. Happy to have been around for the Third Wave of ska but sadly awaiting for the revival of my favorite genre of music, ska.

I can't get over this song. It's such an awesome song. Since there is no music video of it, I'll just paste the lyrics.

"Break So Easily" - Mighty Mighty Bosstones

You would break so easily, so fragile that it frighens me.
A harsh sudden reality, a painful possibility.
To see it's like the strangest dream to be it needs to still be seen.
As loud as any noise you've heard, as quiet as a whispered word.
Try to answer questions forced, forced inside of me.
You were forced across the line, you're not providing me.
You would break so easily, I watched you break so easily.
What's it like to be right up against, not stay on this side of the fence.
A line so fine it can't be traced, a life so suddenly erased.Two came through just like a train.
A flash and nothing's been the same.
Try to answer questions forced, forced inside of me.
You were forced across the line, you're not providing me.
Provinding me with what I need to put a cover on you.
You took the answers when you broke, so easily you're gone.
Once the same until you broke so easily.
Tell me now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Day In My Life At Work - Thursday (10/23)

While thinking about what to write my next blog on, I realized that I should possibly capture all my life-changing, exciting moments while at work. I'll do my best to keep this guy time-lined and thorough. It'll be like Twitter but through blog. Anyways, hope you enjoy my life.

7:15 - Alarm goes off, I turn both alarms to what I assume is snooze.

8:05 - I wake up, turned out snooze was actually the off button. Oh well, I can shower and be at work a little after 8:30

8:40 - I arrive at my cubicle. I took my time walking to work. No rush to get there. I sit down and turn on my desk lights and computer.

9:00 - I've checked all three different e-mail accounts and have dealt with several confused swim parents. I now start going through procedural plans on how to manufacture our transmitter. My project requires me to create a process map on a thoroughly detailed account of how the 3150 transmitter is made

9:15 - Bored already. Same thing different numbers. I decide to listen to music. Been using Pandora.com too much so I decide to listen to thesixtyone.com

9:30 - Already watching the clock to see how long till lunch. With most procedure forms already printed off, I decide to check my blog.

9:35 - I come up with this blog's idea and start to chronically jot down my days happenings. I decide to keep this tab open to add as the day goes.

9:45 - My eyes keep stinging and watering . Don't know exactly what that means except maybe my body is starting to suffer from the mundane computer stare-off I have every day.

9:50 - Read my two favorite web comics Least I Could Do (leasticoulddo.com) and Looking For Group (lfgcomic.com).

10:05 - Water break, let's see where this takes me...

10:40 - Water break has ended. Recap of events. Got water. Mixed in tea packet. Talked with friends from old rotation. Got a couple people interested in going to BWW for lunch.

10:45 - Back to work after checking my mail again. Evan twittered a funny video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8fXaJmDbsY)

10:55 - Already have had enough of the indie stuff. Moved back to Pandora.com but created a new station. Yeah, David Bowie...

11:30 - Wow, I actually did work for 30 minutes straight. Got bored and checked Twitter, apparently my favorite web comic character got a facebook account. Of course, I had to find him.

11:45 - Going to eat some BWW.

12:45 - Got back from lunch. Had me some Honey BBQ wings. Cute waitress kept asking our table if we needed refills. Back at the cube, don't want to work. Motivation has hit nil.

12:50 - Decided it's time to work on my daily crossword.

1:10 - Finished crossword. Only needed help with one word. Slowly getting better at those.

1:40 - Been surfing the web, came across an article about a huge spider eating a bird. I think I might be sick. I hate spiders.

1:50 - Too bored... Crossword # 2... I asked for something else to do or else if I could have an interview with my supervisor over what I've developed but he shrugged me off. Sometimes I feel like I'm just here to appease the higher powers that be.

2:05 - Finished this crossword. Struggled throughout it. My right ear of the headphones went out. There goes all stereo sound.

2:35 - Been reading some Darwin Awards. I think my new life goal is to not ever be published in the Darwin Awards.

3:20 - I'm slowing down. Have a severe lack of motivation. Tired of only liberal politic crap. I want something funny and original, not persuasive. I swear, you'd think the President was the freakin' ruler of the universe.

4:20 - Been poking around the web a little, just finished writing a long e-mail to the parents and swimmers or my team. It's around time that I start contemplating just leaving.

4:30 - Just got off the phone with Grandma. She's once again in the hospital. Doing fine, but in the hospital. Anways, screw this noise. I'm outie. Thanks for joining in on the life of Jonathan while at work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Little Green Monster

An amazing fact: Jealousy is probably the most prevalent feeling amongst my relationships.

Now, everyone will read that and say, "Dude, that's not cool. You can't be jealous. You have to be indifferent, stoic in your feelings." What do I have to say to that? Nothing. I agree with almost everything they say. No healthy relationship can have the distrust that jealousy brings about. Maybe this alone could explain my current several year stint of bachelorhood? Now to attempt to best explain why these ideas and feelings exist within me.

Have you ever had that sinking suspicion that you're not the coolest and most fun person around? My jealousy derives itself from these questions. How else can you explain possibly being jealous of her gay guy-friends? It's because you feel as if that she enjoys her time with them more than with you. From there the jealousy just festers and grows till the point that you snap and visibly become jealous thus throwing the girl into conniptions.

After reading the last paragraph, you may try giving your pseudo-psychological analysis on my possible low self-esteem. I agree that I'm not the most cocky, arrogant prick around. I find the whole 'belief in oneself' theory as a narcissistic and pretentious attitude to take towards life. Personally, if I could, I'd probably punch every person with this egotistical arrogance in the face. What makes them such a God-send? If they can top my list of achievements in life then be my guest at bragging and acting better than me cause you are, but until then shut up (it's this attitude that leads me to believe that it's not my feelings of low esteem).

Maybe I should assume this demeanor of ego? I keep my mouth shut about so many things purely based on the moral of humility. I know what I've done and I'm proud of it. No sense running around gallivanting about them. But when flunking business majors with zero athletic ability and with even less motivation in their career are able to seduce women with purely their arrogance in NOTHING, then I'm staring down quite the predicament. While girls say what they want is this and this, they completely act differently. Girls in and of themselves are the most mysterious paradigm.

Wow, so the rant has flipped. I've started with myself and now have been able to 180 it back to girls. Anyways, I know this is probably the most nonlinear line of thinking. This comes from the fact that this is a rant and I'm just writing things as they come to me. Allow me to finish by telling the story of what brought about this rant:

On Friday night I took a girl out to see a movie. We have gone on several 'unofficial' dates and there was an obvious attraction to each other along with the given public displays of said affection. After the movie ended, I received a phone call from fellow workmates who were out and about the town. They wanted to meet the girl that was able to get me to shut up and go on a date (I'm quite the cynic on relationships). I ask my date and she seems more than willing to hang with my friends.

The night is going awesome. All my friends are loving my date and she is getting along great with everyone. Then comes the whole friend of a friend situation. Let's call him Foaf. Anyways, I notice that this fellow is attempting to bust-a-move with my date while on the dance floor. I remain cool. It's the dance floor, you're supposed to dance with other people. My friend comes up and mentions something about Foaf and how I need to go 'stake my claim' on my date. This seems preposterous to me because I thought it was kind of already assumed that, since there was visible PDA. Apparently, I was delaing with another cocky SoB.

I go to the dance floor several times whenever the mood stuck but never out of a jealous-driven reason. I went cause I found myself dancing to the song being played. Fast forward the hour or two to when we're walking back to my friends place. Foaf decides this is the perfect opportunity to upstage me with my date. I let them be. I just keep repeating to myself, "I will not be jealous. I have nothing to be jealous about."

We spend 30 minutes at my friends before I drive everyone home. This Foaf guy is relentless. His flirting ranges from the apparent following her around to spilling water on her pants. I've had about enough of the fellow but what do I say or do? "I won't be jealous." He follows us out and at some point must of swapped numbers with my date. "I won't be jealous." Then he immediately starts texting her as I'm driving her home. "I have nothing to be jealous about." She doesn't respond but here's what happened due from that night:

My date is an extremely friendly, flirtateous type that is best defined as having a free spirit. I don't know her extremely well. Was this just an innocent act or do I actually have something to be jealous about? I decide to try an experiment. I text her the next day while she is with friends, just to see how her day has gone. She doesn't text back. All of the sudden, I become the person being ignored. Did I so quickly assume that role the other guys assume when she's with someone? Do I have something to be jealous about? Do I have the reason to not trust her? Cue distrust.

Stupid feelings...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jon's Top 10 '80s List

Ok... So for my first list, I'm going to keep things simple. I'm going to list my top ten '80s POP songs. Mind you that there were many terrific bands in the 80s but this list is reserved strictly for pop songs. Anyways, here's my Top 10 80s Pop song...

10) 'Always Something There To Remind Me' - Naked Eyes

*Classic 80s sound with catchy lyrics and beat

9) 'Cars' - Gary Numan

*Ok, this song might sound annoying to others, but the heavy bass/synth screams everything that 80s pop was about. It is infectious.

8) 'Workin' for the Weekend' - Loverboy

*No need for an explanation on this workplace rallying chant.

7) 'Der Kommissar' - After the Fire

*Took me all last night and part of today but I finally found this stupid song, listen to it once and it's embedded in your brain.

6) 'Once in a Lifetime' - Talking Heads

*Probably one of my favorite bands from the 80s. They had several solid singles but this one stands above the others for its verses where he just talks and the chorus where everything comes together for a fun little diddy.

5) 'Whip It' - Devo

*Face it, you're already singing the song.

4) 'Centerfold' - J. Geils Band

* Solid song with hilarious lyrics. Probably will end up humming them for the rest of the night.

Now for my top 3

3) 'Rock the Cashbah' - The Clash

* Now there might be some arguement as to whether this is technically a '80s pop song, I argue that this is one of the best songs ever written. Even if this was a '80s rock list, it would be on here. This song rules!

2) 'Come on Eileen' - Dexy's Midnight Runners

* Come on, something this cool and it has a banjo! Of course it's in the top 3.

1) 'Take on Me' - A-ha's

* I know that this list doesn't have any hidden gems or anything on it. Pretty typical list right? Well if there's still a song hidden after 20+ years then it was probably hidden for a reason. This song defines '80s pop. End of discussion.

Anyways, I'm not claiming supremacy on anyone else's list or saying that these are THE best songs of the '80s, but I am saying if I was to make a CD with my favorite '80s pop songs. These would be on there. Hopefully you enjoyed this a tad more than my anger possessed scribblings.

* I feel that 'Never Gonna Give You Up' by Rick Astley deserves a mention on this list. Yes, it might be the most annoying song in history but even after some 20 odd years, that song still infects us all. Thank you viral videos...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pictures



I noticed that on my blog there consists only long rantings. No bullet points. No links. No pictures. Well, I'm going to attempt to change that. I'm going to post two funny pictures that make me smile any time I see them. Also, I'll start working on some bullet point or lists to do, just to change up the monotony of my ramblings.

Also, these pictures were found at www.funnyjunk.com

Venting While My MP3 Mocks Me

I decided to use this blog to better express my irritations with the 'streamline' Microsoft has supposedly achieved.

Upon the sad death day of my Creative Zen, my mother kindly donated her Microsoft Zune for a replacement. Terrific, I thought, now I use just the Windows Media Player from now on for all my music listenings on my computer. It went smoothly for the first month and a half.

As fate would have it, my Zune now states the the music on the device has been misplaced or can't be played. WTF? So, I sync it back up with my computer hoping for it to right its wrong. Alas, it screws up my computer giving me my first Blue Screen of Death.

Now, all my music that I use on the Zune was legitimately bought in hard copy form and then ripped to my WMP on the computer. No piracy, no download virus, no reprocussions for doing things illegally, right? Nay, I got the freakin' BSoD!

This pisses me off. I'm going to wipe my Zune's harddrive only to reload the CDs back onto it. That is, if the Zune software and synced hardware don't muck up my computer again. If I get any BSoD, I could very possibly just completely obliterate the existance of Zune on my computer. Then after several ancient Buddhist meditation sessions, I might reconsider giving it another try.

Wrapping up my ranting, I have often thought of switching to the Dark Side and buying an Apple iTouch (wifi capabilities kind of has me hooked), but I have held strong thus far. With new technology coming out, my reasoning has been to save money and get the best bloody freakin' device available. Zune has always been a top leader to me for MP3 devices. I am currently reevaluating those rankings, along with attempting to keep my sanity without my constant sidekick...

Breathe in... Breathe out... Breathe in... Breathe

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We All Had It Coming...

Alright, it's the end of September with only 5 weeks left till election day. I consider myself quite apathetic to the presidential outcome, it really all comes down to a situation of the lesser of two evils; but there are several things that are really starting to rub me the wrong way. Thus, everyone bored enough to read this will get to listen to me vent over the stupidity and arrogance of our nation's population. I'm not here to tell you who is right and wrong or even who I'm going to vote on, I just have to address several things that I find ridiculous.

On Saturday I had to go to a meeting with some fellow coaches. While sitting around waiting for everyone to show up, the conversation turned to politics (I did nothing to antagonize this outcome. I hate talking politics). After a few comments, someone says, "Well I'm for sure not going to vote for a Republican. I don't care who I vote for just not Republicans. They've messed our economy up too bad for me to want to vote another one of them into office again."

Everyone that knows me will know that if I'm not the Devil's Advocate for the conversation, I'm the guy that just can't let something so absurd slip by (thanks for instilling those Erik). Well after such a stupid comment I had to say something. I asked the person how she could justify something like that. Granted most people do not like President Bush, but is it really fair to state that all Republicans that follow will mirror him? I asked her about some key issues in the political race about both parties. Lo and behold, she had no clue about any of them. She was going to vote purely based on some vendetta against the Republican Party. It's this kind of ignorance that causes people like President Bush who have such a low approval rating to take office. Gah... They drives me nuts.

Next, I'm kind of a geek and surf the web quite often using websites such as digg.com and reddit.com for links to pictures, blogs, and articles. Around this time of the year it gets spammed by uber-liberal jerks who are using the websites purely as a propaganda podium. Am I to believe that an article bashing the opposing party is truely unbiased when under the link for the website there's a disclaimer stating that the statements on the following website could be erroneaous? Really? If I was like some people I know (see above paragraph), I would say screw the whiny lying Democrats who won't leave people be. There's no way I could vote for a party like that... Guys quit spamming the internet!

-Side note, I'm sure there are also many whiny Republicans out there spamming some conservative-based website. While I haven't come across them, they need to stop also. It's just so annoying!

Lastly, I'm going to stick with three points because it's close to lunch and I'm hungry. My third and final complaint is: just because I don't agree with you or vote the same party as you, doesn't mean that I'm an idiot or stupid or ignorant or etc. Just like everyone else who votes for the person that best fits that person's views, I vote for the person who I feel will best complement me and my ideas for the nation. So, back off. Due to several encounters with these pretentious dogmatic types, I just shut up and quit mentioning the choices I have made for President. Why do they feel like such the Godsend? Narcisistic fools...

Now that I have vented some, I feel better. I can't wait for this all to be over. Don't misread anything I've written, I am going to vote. I will be voting through an absentee ballot. Everyone who is legal should vote, don't make any excuses. If you don't vote, then three years from today I don't want to hear you whining and complaining about things. You have no right, complacent sluggard...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sucking and Horses

At the beginning of the summer I was lucky enough to participate in a hell-ish date with horses. Now before you gutter-trained minds wander too far, I was taken on a horse ride. This is my recounting of that trip. I wrote this the day after the trip to one of my friends after she asked how my experience was. Enjoy.


Said horse ride was more-or-less my first time. To fully understand and respect my fearful and tentative demeanor around the horses, you must first realize I don’t like horses. Nothing against them, I just have never enjoyed horses. They’re big and do the one thing I hate doing, run.

Now we arrive to the ranch where my friend’s horses are kept and I'm confused as to what to do - this is all new territory for me. We first have to go out into the field and find them. Along the way the two largest horses decided that I had sugar cubes or some sort of sweet in my pockets and that they wanted them. These Goliath-proportioned equine would surround me to nip at my pants. In no exaggeration, these horses were at least seven feet tall. They towered above me. Given my misunderstanding of horses, I really didn’t appreciate my predicament. Not that there was a situation to be worried about but I really didn’t enjoy my current position in between 2 horses that I couldn’t see over. Fast forwarding through the rest of the boring search, we eventually find her horses and take them to her shack to saddle them up.

Upon being acquainted with her horses, I have decided that it would be best if I took the smaller one. In my mind, the smaller they are the less than can hurt me. Nay, my friend refuses and gives me Colt, a gorgeous horse that looks me right in my eyes - according to horse trainer Jonathan (me) that is much too tall. Without much arguing (they are her horses and I'm not quite ready to appear like some sort of sissy) I saddle up Colt and we head out.

We start out in the arena rink as I get accustomed to riding on a horse. I quickly pick up on the general instructions. Tug right to go right, left for left, back to stop, kick-tap to go. Simple, right? Well in this arena lay a nice hurdle just sitting in the middle of the rink. Unbeknown to me, Colt used to be a show horse that was ridden regularly in arena competitions. While the arena contained Colt from darting into hyper speed, it also tempted him to run a figure eight right into the God-awful hurdle.

Now, I consider myself a quick learner and of the athletic type. With this accredited to me, I immediately realize I’m screwed. I have no idea how to stay on a horse whilst in the air let alone while trotting (she had failed to give me a proper instruction on how to correctly ride a horse at their different speeds). Once I realize what I’m about to experience, I hit a state of existence that I’m positive everyone has felt before. I scramble into survival mode. Finding any possible means to stay on this incompatible means of transportation, I clench my legs around the belly, grab to horn of the saddle, and close my eyes. With a bolt of energy, we rise in the air several feet only to collapse on the other side. Breathing heavily, I open my eyes. To my amazement, I am still on the horse. Minus the whiplash experienced, it actually wasn’t that bad. At least she was impressed. Thank God for luck.

Well for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And in my case, the consequence for my astounding feat of beginner's luck was the belief that I was comfortable enough to leave the arena and go riding through the valleys and forests. Once again, not to be viewed as the wimp, I quietly agree and follow.

If you thought this was the terrific and hilarious story of my trip, you are mistaken. The fun was only beginning.

With my friend in the lead, I observe how she rides her horse and quickly adapt a crude version for me to execute. With each change in speed, I use this cheat to form a style that looks like I can’t decide whether I want to sit or stand. Thankfully, she was ahead and didn’t have to witness my attempt at riding. As we go along, I become sorer but much more comfortable on my horse. I actually begin to enjoy trotting about with Colt, who has proven to be quite a gentle horse. We find a trail that leads through the woods and she decides to follow it.

Now begins what is commonly referred to as hell.

As soon as we enter the shady brush, we are attacked by mosquitoes the size of quarters. After a few bites on the horses, they respond by entering a quick trot. Although sudden, I quickly adjust and things seem to better. Another 5 minutes pass and we arrive at the top of a large hill that looks down into some valleys surrounded by fairly thick woods. In the center of the valley sits a small deer. While I would say that deer are only good to look at from a distance, it's apparently even cooler to see them up close for my friend took off down into the valley. Following, I find all this to be pure silliness. As if the deer was actually going to come up and let us pet him? This was a vain mission in following an elusive animal.

After quietly following my friend while she chased Bambi for 5 minutes, I notice that she stops in the middle of the thick of the forest. The closer I come, the more I realize she didn’t stop but her horse did. (Cue eerie suspense music)


I watched in horror as the horse bucked my friend off. Throwing her right into what looked like a convenient placement of comfortable looking brush. I was so wrong. To this day I don’t know specifically what it is called, but along with other names and adjectives, it was referred to as stinging metal - I believe, like I said I’m not sure. Well this agitated my friend into a yelling frenzy with her horse. While they had their battle of control, I felt some stinging on what little forearm I had bare. I look down to find over a dozen mosquitoes on each arm. Cursing, I swat them off. It is at this moment that I realize why the horse bucked. On Colt's neck lay the most mosquitoes I've seen in my life. It was as if a black blanket had been thrown over his neck in an attempt to warm him; except instead of warming the horse, the blanket was sucking the life out of him. Terrified that I was about to be bucked off by a horse that was quickly becoming aggravated, I discover my true hidden talent - I am a superb motivational speaker.


Ignoring the growing amount of pests on me, I immediately start to swat the bugs off of Colt's neck while whispering anything comforting I can think of. Speaking not only to him but also to myself, I attempt to keep things under control. While panic settled and more irrationally horrid outcomes flashed through my head, I began to speak and swat faster. Eventually both arms became involved in the effort to keep Colt bug free and me still mounted. This situation continued for a few minutes until I have an ingenious idea, let's get out of this blood-sucking, cursed, God-forsaken, hell-on-earth, life-draining, etc. , horrid terror of a place. I grab the reins and use my newly learned technique to leave. I shout something to my friend saying something like "let’s get out of here." I’m not quite sure what exactly I said and I’m sure it was laced with more emphatic words but it got the point across. She finally got onto her horse and we took off at what seemed a break-neck, full tilt gallop.

Mind you, I am still new to this whole horse riding deal so I had no idea how to ride at this rate. But once again I quickly adapt and manage to stay on. We race all the way up the hill, through the woods, down the valley, and up to the stables. It was only here did my poor butt get a rest. I have a pale panic stricken look upon my face as I dismount, not to mention almost completely swollen forearms. Looking back at it, the paleness could be attributed to my dramatic loss of blood. Needless to say, somewhere in Jordan, MN there floats a pint of my blood. Maybe it has been transfused with other animals or people by now turning average beings into amazing encouragers, but I do believe it that it has been smeared all throughout the woods as a marker for danger.

Amazingly, this entire time I had stayed mounted and never fell. Along with the amazing feat, I do believe Colt and I gained a silent respect for each other. As I fed him his sugar cube, I felt as if we both realized that we had connected. Tired, I plop into the car silent still from the event. It could also have been from having a sore throat from all the encouraging I handed out in the past hour. She gets in the car and asks what I thought of the ride. To this I replied in the most concise and enveloping statement possible, "I feel like I was just raped in my butt while lying in the middle of poison ivy."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cold Hearted?

Today was a pretty lazy day. Cleaned house, washed clothes, and watched a movie or two. Other than getting some much needed essentials done, I was also able to catch up on some 'essentials' on the movie side.

I bought the Darren Aronofsky double packet. In the package were Aronofsky's two largest hits, Pi and Requiem for a Dream. Like I said, it was a dull lazy day so I watched both movies. Just wanted to talk maybe a few paragraphs about the two films.

Firstly, Pi was awesome! It literally had me on the edge of my seat for the entire 90 minutes. I had no clue what was going to happen or how everything would tie together. Was Max slipping into insanity or was he finally reaching enlightenment? Playing with the unexplainable sequences of numbers that haunt mathematicians, Aronofsky put together an amazing story. Also, shooting in black and white was a brilliant move. So in summary, awesome movie. A must watch for anyone.

Next, there's the uber-dire movie Requiem for a Dream. Now my opinion could very well be skewered based on an expectation on the movie set by my friends. I knew full well that going into this movie, I would not be receiving the typical Hollywood ending with smiles and laughter. Knowing the realistic cynicism that came with this movie, I did my best to keep an open unbiased approach to my viewing of it.

Disclaimers aside, this movie was good. Along the same lines of Passion of the Christ or Schindler's List, this movie is good but not one that you will watch just for viewing pleasure. Requiem quickly envolves you in the life's of 4 people who attempt to reach a state of happiness that would complete their lives. It's this belief that drives them to make decisions that ultimately lead them to this movie's grim ending. Not trying to give too much away, I'll just say that the brutality of the script and story had me reflecting on it well into the night.

So, I'm not depressed. I didn't cry. I didn't mope around my apartment. Does that make me a cold-hearted? I don't think so. Maybe after you watch the movie you can let me know.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Something Good - Continued

Hey so the code for the music video is being stupid. All you have to do is click on the link or you can also go to here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMLCrzy9TEs

And watch it on YouTube. Anyways, Cheers...

Something Good

Since the last post was so God awful long, I think I'm going to keep this one to a minimum. As StrongBad says, "Can't nobody say I don't do nothin' for the peoples."

Since the last post was so serious, I figure it's only right to do something lighthearted. I have other things to talk about, but I'm pretty sure it would be me complaining and you poor fool reading it (yes, it has to do with relations with the opposite sex).

Right, so here's the deal. I have this amazing application for my Mozilla Firefox called Stumble Upon. This guy has helped me pass many an hour and lonely night. Without this app, I was only using maybe .01 percent of this amazing proof of intelligent evolution called the internet.

This weekend while "stumbling" I found this awesome music video. Those that have been around my house the past few days know exactly what it is. It's by a band called Utah Saints and it throws down a terrific electro beat. Awesome outfits and dance moves with a little twist in the end that some might pick up on early on but it's still a fun way to pass 3 minutes by. Finally, I am still contemplating trying out this raccoon tail key chain deal.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Night of Too Many Stars

Autism is an epidemic that has been ignored for quite some time. Finally, we are seeing more and more information about this much confused disability. Something that has been long overdue.

I have much gratitude to Comedy Central for doing the NoTMS special to help raise awareness for autism but at the same time I don't think that they properly explained or showed the effects of autism. That's what I am going to do my first blog on...

As I write, I'm going to do my best to keep things objective but that is almost impossible, seeing how I seem to have an opinion for just about everything. I am open for criticism but please be kind. I am not an elegant writer that can weave words to paint a beautiful portrait. I am not educated in any way on sociology or economy. I am but a nerdy engineer that feels like my voice means something.

Now on to the blog...

Autism is something that I grew up around, thus positioning me to being extremely active in its going ons later in my life. A close family friend had a daughter 5-6 years younger than me that had a mild case of autism. Often she was misdiagnosed by others as having ADD or ADHD (something quite closely related to autism, research it). Her active mind just functioned much too fast for her body to keep up. This led to stuttering, leaving words out of sentences, and what seemed as spontaneity in topics. When I was ten, she was finally diagnosed as to having autistic tendencies and was then put into multiple rigorous "lessons." These lessons covered difficulties she had such as her stuttering. Whenever she started talking too fast, she was taught a trigger word, turtle, that was to cue her to slow down her speech and focus on what exactly she was saying. Also, something worth mentioning was her difficulty with social interaction. She just would not be entertained by us. We functioned too slow for her.

Now, don't be misled by all the things I've just said, she was one of the smartest girls I've met. She was amazing at math and took to music, specifically the piano, like a young Mozart. In fact, the best way to explain her was that she was so smart her brain was light years ahead of what her body could do, processing thoughts faster than she could ever humanly keep up with. When looking back, I am left in amazement at her intelligence. Even to today, she leads the class in academic excellence. She also has much adapted herself to the social realm of life.

Fast forward several years and get to my high school years, we now meet Alex. If I ever had any emotional attachment to a child I worked with it would be this guy. Alex was diagnosed with autistic tendencies much earlier than our family friend. He was in sessions by the age of three. I met the guy shortly after in church. For some random reason, he liked me. I was working in the nursery one day, when he was dropped off. He wouldn't respond to anyone but me. When it was time to read a story, he was first to jump in my lap. Upon seeing this, his mom Elaine inquired about my service as a babysitter and possible older male model for Alex (the world of therapy sessions for children seemed to be ruled by women). How could I say no?

I worked with Alex for three years before I came to college and even after these years I still keep in contact with the family. During my short tenure of working with Alex, I found completely different characteristics in him when compared to our old family friend. He never stuttered and wasn't hyperactive at all. He just had an extremely difficult time expressing thoughts and feelings. It was as if his vocabulary was that of a baby's and his understanding of bodily feelings such as pain or having to go to the bathroom was non-existent. I would have to walk around with a ring of over 200 note cards depicting actions or nouns. These cards would have a picture of the action or object with the word right below it. I would have to quickly find the appropriate card for that present time and show it to him (one of his therapy tools). For example, say I needed him to sit down. I would then find the card with a chair and arrow pointing to the seat. Pointing to the card I would say sit and do the action. He would stare at the card briefly then look at me then look back at the card. If you looked close enough, it was as if his brain was processing this information and trying to memorize it. After several weeks of this, he slowly picked up on words and the need for the note cards diminished.

Once again, don't let these stories blind you of these kid's pure genius. Alex, at the age of 3, was able to count by odd and even numbers all the way to 100, without missing a beat. It was as if he was a computer programmed to do a function. In a steady rhythm, he would count. Not only could he count, but he could do simple multiplication and division. He was 3! He was also quite found of music and the piano, playing many things by ear or just making songs that even I, a seasoned musician, couldn't possibly hope of writing.

After finally growing his vocabulary, Alex could talk and interact without much problems. But for some reason, he could never discern between symbolism and literalism. I remember when his mom said to Alex, "You're as cute as a pie. I just want to eat you up right now." This innocent remark was returned with a scream and Alex running to his room. He literally thought that his mother wanted to "eat him up." It took him a week to finally talk to her again.

It's hard to try to relate to such thought processes that seem so non-linear to us. Luckily, I read an amazing book called 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.' A fiction book that was written from an autistic child's point of view. It was an eye opener. Never had I ever been able to relate to such a literal interpretation to our world. Thought processes such as, "If I pass 5 yellow cars today, then based on previous days, today will be a bad day. I should panic." Everything is based on fact or previous experience. It's all so concrete, so serious.

Now, my thoughts might seem random and without purpose right now, but hang with me, I'll try to tie them up into a nice bow. This past winter break, I babysat a 15 year old boy named Rigo for the weekend. Rigo was autistic, but once again, he didn't have the same symptoms of my previous encounters with autism. Yes, there were some common threads but it was a completely different situation once again. Rigo had underwent many therapy sessions with many different approaches as to how to deal with his disorder, but unfortunately he didn't respond to any of them. This left Rigo as a teenager with the mentality of a 4-5 year old. He would always have his Ipod headphones in his ears so he could listen to a large variety of music ranging from classic rock to children shows. He couldn't form whole sentences but could only mutter a word or maybe even just a grunt to try to communicate with me. His parents told me of different activities Rigo liked. Of them, the one we participated in the most was driving. Rigo loved to ride in the back of my car as I drove around town or through the countryside. Listening to his music, he would just stare out the window as the sites passed by. It was almost as if it would hypnotize him into a calm lull.

We also tried other activities. He loved McDonald french fries and Coke, just my kind of guy. But even better than sitting in McD's he loved to ride with his music and food and coke (are you seeing a common factor). We tried multiple things ranging from swimming (yes, he was an amazing swimmer) to Chucky Cheese (which still baffles me to this day just to its noise and bright lights, a definite no-no in the autistic realm - senses overload). Nothing worked other than riding in the car. I drove a total of 8 hours that weekend in a town less than 20 miles wide.

Now, I will try to tie everything up into a grand finale. Rigo, Alex, and Jaime (sorry I never mentioned her name till now) were all autistic and yet all needed completely different help. Some were receptive to treatment and others just couldn't seem to handle it. Autism is something commonly referred to as being mentally challenged. Even with my experience of the most severe degree of autism (Rigo), I could always find some amazing characteristic or talent these children had. Alex and Jaime with their math and Rigo with his amazing athletic ability, many adults don't know how to swim. To label them a mentally challenged would be horrible. I many times felt stupid around these kids who were half my age.

I only told you of my three most intimate interactions with autism. I have, in fact, dealt with more than a dozen cases on a regular basis. Through coaching or swim lessons or nursery or babysitting, I have seen many different types of this ever growing epidemic. I must state that in all my interactions with the dozen or more autistic kids I have worked with, I have always been astonished by them. These kids are geniuses trapped in an ever cruel body.

Now, to bring everything to a point and do it quickly because I know this has now turned into a rambling. Autism is something we must work on correcting because it is effecting households across the nation. But if we focus on the cure, we miss out on these terrific individuals that will touch your life. Autistic children or adults are not mentally challenged in any way. Alas, they are usually quite more intelligent than you! There are no identical cases of autism, every child and adult must be dealt with in a different way. And finally, thanks to Comedy Central and all those stars for their effort in promoting awareness of this epidemic, but sometimes you just have to witness things first hand.

Do something good for this country and your community, research autism. Interact with those that have "special needs." Find your voice for those that don't have one. And finally don't get me started on the origins of autism because I don't know if you'd have to patience to finish this blog otherwise. But I will say, ALL EVIDENCE POINTS TO THE VACCINES!!! CLEAN UP YOUR ACT, PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES!!!