Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Holistic Approach To Moving Forward

I can't remember when, exactly, I posted this...

Today, we announce new analytics in order to empower our granular, client-centric approach to fulfillment. The new economy has given rise to new enterprise algorithms that will allow for the datafication of the cloud and increase clickthrough. As we look at the long tail, we take advantage of the low hanging fruit so that we can make management visibility a part of our next generation, content marketing solution.

The more eyeballs we can get on our disruptive innovation, the quicker we can develop an exit strategy that will keep us moving forward. This is a robust sustainability that will allow us to push the envelope through the sea change and help us to achieve our milestone goals. We do have a survival strategy on the runway that can easily become a part of our DNA. This is definitely a win-win if we can reach out to the right people.

In this new information society, we need to reach out to the stakeholders and think outside the box in order to improve our Web 2.0 netiquette. The framework is in place and we have already started our modularity. With any luck, we will be able to overcome the digital divide and start a cross-platform convergence toward hyperlocal building capabilities irregardless of value-added aggregation.

Monday, July 30, 2018

5. The Formidable Years

This chapter is a collection of small vignettes since I really can't elaborate on any of this due to lapse in memory (give me a break, it was nearly 40 years ago) or the story doesn't go that deep.

As I mentioned in an earlier post (Kissin' Time, there might be a link here), the parents in my neighborhood growing  up never bought into that whole "Kiss is evil" bullshit. None of our families were particularly religious but my parents went to church every week and sent my brother and me to Catholic schools. Just because we weren't religious, though, didn't mean our parents didn't want to cart us off for two weeks of peaceful evenings.

Our neighbors belonged to a Lutheran church and, for about two weeks, they had a vacation bible school. I think they got a tuition credit for their daughter's schooling based on how many kids she could rope into going. It was only for a few hours in the evening, but those few hours each evening had to be paradise for our parents.

Each evening, we would pile into the neighbor's red Chevy station wagon and head off to bible school (I swear I could hear cheers and champagne corks popping as we drove away that first night).  I'll be honest, I don't remember much from those days. I remember Jesus-based songs and the fact that bible verses were talked about, but other than that, I probably has Kiss songs in my head and just wanted to be at home playing. I think we did this for  and then it was over, especially since I would starting school.

The year was 1979 and Dynasty by Kiss came out. Now, I'm going to make a confession here and I don't want you to hurt yourself, so please sit and hold onto something. I liked Dynasty. As a matter of fact, I still do. Apparently, some fans disliked the album because Kiss went "disco" or they "sold out". News flash, Kiss sold out with their debut album in 1974. The entire object of their existence was to merchandise themselves and make as much money as possible. </rant>

I entered kindergarten and after the usual, cliché crying and crap that kids do when left in school for the first time, I eventually settled in to the routine of what would become the next thirteen years. Mary Beth (the neighbor from down the street) was in my class, and so was who would become my first ever best friend, Travis.

Travis lived further down the street from me, but within walking distance or bicycle distance. We were inseparable once we became friends. It seems that I would actually introduce him to Kiss and then other music down the line. We would be friends (for the most part) until grade school ended, and then we would lose touch. That is until 2009 when we would reconnect on Facebook. He's married with three kids and lives down in Columbus now. He will be heard from again in this saga.

Friday, July 27, 2018

We Need Not Worry About CERN

Originally posted August 26, 2015


Dave Brodbeck (MMVH, Best Episode Ever, Spit and Twitches, personal friend and all around good guy) brought this article to my attention and I decided that I would use it as a practice exercise in taking down faulty claims about science. The author of the piece is either clearly confused and seems to be mixing up the plot of an Asylum production made for the SyFy Channel with reality, or he’s writing a satirical piece about how old folks don’t get this new-fangled technology stuff. My article is written from the perspective of the former. I have added the text from the article with commentary below it. click above to read the entire volume of claptrap for yourself. I am doing a paragraph by paragraph commentary for your enjoyment.

What “CERN” could do to our universe as early as Sept. 24 is terrifying. The goals of CERN are insane.
Scare quotes, nice touch. There is nothing significant about September 24 that could be seen as terrifying, unless a gaggle of clowns collects on your front lawn…that would be terrifying. As far as the goals of CERN go, they are simply there to learn as much as they can about the universe around us. The only thing that is insane is the amount of wrongness that is packed into this article by Mr. Robinson.

This is not science-fiction and world-leading physicists such as Stephen Hawking believe CERN could easily and suddenly, without warning, destroy our universe or at least create on earth the apocalyptic events of Revelation, Chapter 6, in the Bible. Please watch the You Tube video titled, CERN ALERT: God Particle Could Destroy Universe Warns S. Hawking.”
Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t take what somebody says about what somebody says at face value. These things must be verified, and I did just that. Hawking never said that CERN could do any of what Mr. Robinson said. He said that of the Higgs Potential, which has little to do with the boson of the same name. Our universe is being held together, theoretically, by a field that could collapse at a moment’s notice. It’s really not a big deal.

Mr. Robinson, instead of citing a research paper or an article that cites a research paper on the subject, goes to that most notable of scientific sources…YouTube. I watched the video in question and it’s three and a half minutes of my life that I will never get back. Obviously, Mr. Robinson used this as his only source for this part of the article. The S. Hawking referred to in the title of the video might as well stand for Stewart Hawking, Mr. Robinson’s mailman.

Approximately 15 recent Hollywood movies about the sudden destruction of the Earth have shown a digital clock, calendar or newspaper showing Sept. 24, 2015, as the day when the world ends. The “Simpsons” on television showed the sudden destruction of the world with Sept. 24, 2015, shown on a digital clock. The television comedy “Third Rock from the Sun” showed the alien who was the college professor lecturing to his college class, asking, "So what if the earth will be suddenly vaporized without warning on Sept. 24, 2015? The television commercial for the upcoming "Heroes" show this fall, ends the commercial by saying something big is coming and then immediately shows the date Sept. 24, 2015. Recent music videos and music productions on stage also portray the sudden destruction of the Earth.
First, because Hollywood decides to pull a date out of their collective asses for something that appears to be a conspiracy says nothing. September holds a place in our minds, especially in the US, due to the events that took place in 2001. Secondly, after checking out both the Simpsons and 3rd Rock episodes, the Simpsons never show the year 2015, and the closest thing to a date we get is 092200 on an electrical meter. John Lithgow’s character in 3rd Rock actually says, “So what if the earth will be suddenly vaporized by an asteroid strike in 2015?” Hmm, no date given, and in 1996 when the episode aired, it seemed like a good long way away.

On May 13, 2014, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated more than once during a news conference that we had only 500 days until climate chaos, to which our own Secretary of State John Kerry, who stood beside him, kept shaking his head “yes.” This 500-day period of peace before climate chaos ends Sept. 24, 2015.
Like Hollywood, I don’t put much stock into what politicians say in order to further their agendas. Stating the number of days of something is meant to signify that if we don’t act on something, in this case climate change, then bad things will happen soon. I really don’t think that Mr. Fabius or Mr. Kerry are soothsayers or prophets.

Rabi and researcher Jonathan Cahn says that the “Shemitah,” will occur during September, and that one meaning for Shemitah is collapse. The fourth of four blood moons will occur during September and historically, major Earth events occur during the fourth blood moon. Protestant minister John Hagee states that the apocalypse is coming upon us, and apocalypse means tearing down the veil.
I am assuming that Mr. Robinson means “rabbi” at the beginning of this paragraph. Here we go again, like Hollywood and politicians, I also do not put much stock in religious types when they warn of apocalypse. John Hagee not only preaches about the end times coming at the fourth of these “blood moons”, which is only a lunar eclipse, but he’s the one who made up this “prophecy” in the first place. The fact that we can predict when eclipses are going to happen means that they are not mystical symbols or harbingers of doom.

Two of the major goals for CERN is to collapse and break apart the God Particle that creates and maintains our physical world and to tear a hole through the veil that is the barrier protecting our physical universe from the unknown, non-physical universes and other non-physical dimensions believed to be located outside our physical universe.
Let start off by saying, “[citation needed].” OK, with that out of the way, the goal of CERN is to understand the universe as close to the big bang as possible. They are a particle physics laboratory and a nuclear research facility in the purest sense of the word. They are studying the nuclei of atoms. The use of the phrase “tear a hole through the veil” is meant by many writers to mean that they are seeking understanding of the universe around us. How can we discover new things without venturing into the unknown?

It was the European Organization for Nuclear Research that built CERN, known as the “Large Hadron Collider,” where scientists identified the “God Partical,” called the “Higgs Boson,” during 2012. This is the world’s largest machine, a few stories high, located 300 feet underground, and 17 miles in length. When operating at full speed, within one second, molecular particles will travel 11,000 times around the circular tubes of this 17-mile collider. Earlier, using less than one-third of the energy to run CERN than what will be used Sept. 24, the scientists almost lost control of CERN, as it destroyed the physical matter of the molecular particles inside its collider tubes.
OK, much in the way of semantics to get out of the way. The European Organization for Nuclear Research did not build CERN, THEY ARE CERN! CERN is a French initialism for the organization (Conseil européen pour la recherche nucléaire). That being said, it was CERN and several other scientific organizations that built the Large Hadron Collider. The LHC is a particle accelerator that is used to simulate conditions of the extremely early universe and it is very much under the control of the scientists. The LHC does NOT pose any risk to the well-being of the earth or organisms living on it. Oh, and “God Partical”?

Within CERN, large bunches of molecular particles are accelerated to 99.9 percent of the speed of light, eventually colliding head on, which releases unbelievable energy, heat and many dangerous things such as worm holes, dark (anti) matter and black holes. In particular, it is the creation of the dark (anti) matter and the black holes by CERN that could destroy our universe in less time than it takes to blink an eye.
Mr. Robinson appears to have the scientific understanding of a GOP presidential candidate or a head of cabbage. Apologies to heads of cabbage everywhere. “Large bunches of molecular particles,” may sound scientific to Rick Perry, but to people with some degree of understanding of science, like a 7-year-old, it is nonsense. Please, for the love of all things good, please give your readers a modicum of credit. They are actually beams of particles that are accelerated in opposite directions and then, when the speed is right, are moved into the same path. While the idea of 99.9% of the speed of light might sound “unbelievable” to you, to scientists at CERN, it’s still pretty slow. I’m sure they would love to get even closer to 100%. Worm holes? Is this an episode of Stargate? Black hole? No. The LHC will not allow for the formation of an earth-swallowing black hole, let alone one that will consume the entire universe. Finally for this paragraph, no, dark matter and anti-matter are not the same thing. Please, oh please, call a community college physics professor and ask him to explain the difference.

CERN has had more than 10,000 scientists from 100 countries involved with it, including many who have never been at the CERN site, and they are the scientists working at leading physics and research universities around the world. The CERN scientists created the internet so they could send in real time, the data generated by CERN, to the university physics labs and the smaller particle colliders located around the world. You can thank CERN for the internet and the recent creation of the super-fast quantum computer.
When something as large and complex as the LHC is conceived, finding a mom and pop collider shoppe to build it in the phone book might sound feasible, but it’s really not. I just got my latest copy of the Yellow Pages yesterday and I looked, but to no avail. It took thousands of scientists to design, refine, redesign, and debug the blueprints and schematics for this project. This is not your baking soda volcano from fifth grade that earned you a participation ribbon. Also, the internet was already past its first named incarnation, ARPANET, when Tim Berners-Lee at CERN proposed the World Wide Web, which is how you are reading this article and how I am gagging from the utter inanity of your article. The web is how we manage data over the internet, and yes, because CERN has a shit-ton of data to deal with, sending a container ship loaded with floppy disks is just not an option. Also, quantum computers are only in the conception stage at this time. It could be many decades before anything like that exists in reality, but when it does, I’m sure you will have another unintelligible piece of journalistic toilet paper for me to rip apart.

General Rolf Heuer, general director of CERN, says CERN will “open the door” from our physical universe to non-physical universes, which will allow human scientists to interact face-to-face with non-physical beings. Sergio Bertolucci, director for research and scientific computing at CERN, said there are parallel universes and parallel dimensions of non-physical intelligent beings located everywhere around us, and CERN will allow these non-Earth entities to come into our physical world and be with us.
I am now stupider for reading this paragraph.

In this way, CERN is being used as a stargate so that human scientists will be able to go to and from currently unknown, perhaps very hostile, non-physical worlds and dimensions located and currently unseen, outside our physical universe.
Let me guess, you did a research paper on how to properly pronounce the word, Goa’uld.

One of the goals for CERN is to identify and break apart the glue that holds together the molecular particles that make up our physical world. CERN destroys matter, and everything in our universe is matter. Destroying physical matter eliminates the restrictions and barriers produced by physical matter that keeps us from entering the non-physical universes around us.
The goal of CERN is to discover that which composes matter in order to better understand the origins of our universe. In order to do that, it is imperative that they collide atoms at such speeds that it is able overcome the strong and weak nuclear forces. Destroying physical matter is not possible, but converting it to energy is. Can you please explain these “barriers” that you’re yammering on about?

Starting Sept. 24, CERN scientists will be generating 100,000 times more magnetism than that which normally travels in and around our earth. This level of magnetism is needed to “speed up” and “break apart the God particle.” There will be more than a trillion degrees Celsius of heat generated from the destruction and collapse of the God particle, from the iron and gold molecular particles that they will start destroying September 24, 2015. This heat will be the equivalent of our sun exploding and dissolving. Starting Sept. 24, CERN will be entering into new territory by creating its highest destructive energy level yet, for the purpose of breaking through the glue that holds our physical universe together.
Scary sounding language, indeed. One hundred thousand times the magnetism of the earth? Is that all? I figured it would have to be more to approach the speed of light. I am currently looking at an MRI scan on my computer that was made by using a magnet 188,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field. Truth is, as a magnet, the earth is pathetic and weak at about 50 microtesla, that’s 0.00005T, whereas the MRI we’re using is a 9.4T magnet. The temperatures sound scary as well, except that when we look at the mass of the atoms colliding in relatively slow fashion, the heat generated will dissipate very quickly. By the way, they already broke all records for heat generated with temperatures 100,000 times hotter than the heart of the sun (27 million-million degrees, or 27 trillion)…yay, you got something right.

Breaking apart the God particle, which is the glue that holds together the matter in our universe, could destroy time and space which also keeps our universe intact. CERN scientists want to go back to a time when there was no physical matter and before the creation of our universe. In this respect, CERN is being used like a time travel machine to take scientists back before the creation of our physical universe; before there was physical matter.
Again, NO! NO! Bad reporter! Bad! The Higgs Boson is a particle that can help explain the mass of matter. That’s all. There is, as stated in one of your earlier errors, the Higgs Potential which could cause the collapse of the universe, but that would not be through any fault of ours, unless it’s my next-door neighbor’s kids who keep getting into things. I keep telling them, “If you keep throwing that basketball into my yard, it’s going to cause the collapse of our universe.” Do they listen? No, of course not.

Let me explain that long, rambling second sentence: Scientists at CERN are looking to simulate the early universe through experiments at the LHC. They are not trying to create a time machine, but I’m sure many of them would love to, as would I. I’m sure Mr. Robinson would love one, too, so he can go back in time and correct this disaster of an article.

There will be more shocking things that I will write about next week concerning CERN. Please go to You Tube and type into the You Tube search engine: “CERN,” “Tom Horn CERN,” or “Anthony Patch.” I recommend watching You Tube videos such as: “The CERN Hadron Collider was built to annihilate humanity/invade earth,” or “CERN LHC turned on in April 2015, Black Hole Doomsday Machine?” or “The CERN Deception — The Evil of Dark Matter.” CERN also has an official website on the internet.
Or, if you’re really worried, go to the CERN website and read about what they’re really doing. It’s quite fascinating. If you need help understanding the basics of particle physics, visit a local community college or university campus and talk to a physics professor. They’re chock full of information and, believe it or not, they really talking about it, too. As for you, Mr. Robinson, I am looking forward to your next “SHOCKING” expose on shit you obviously don’t understand.

I know, I picked the low hanging fruit here, but somebody had to. The shameful lack of fact-checking on this article is appalling to me. You might find typos in my article, but keep in mind that I am a one man operation most of the time. I will correct my errors and update my information if I need to. I am sure that Mr. Robinson’s article will stand tall and proud long after September 24th has come and gone with nary a hiccup from the universe.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Wrong About Everything

Tomorrow's post will be a report of an article takedown from three years ago regarding CERN and how it will destroy the earth on or around September 23, 2015. It's almost three years later and the article is still up (http://www.thedailyreporter.com/article/20150901/NEWS/150909972) and we are still here. Shocking, I know.

The article itself is a prime example of scientific illiteracy and conspiracy thinking. The author never bothers to look up actual information about CERN and uses only YouTube videos by conspiracy theorists to fill in details. Needless to say, it is all wrong. Just by reading this article, I can tell that the author was probably one of those people who forwarded emails that began, "This has already been checked out through Snopes and it's true, so you don't have to check." He probably shares memes all over Facebook, too.

I have preached the importance of fact-checking and spreading misinformation before. While this article is almost three years old, there are still people who believe that Large Hadron Collider is going to destroy the world. The original article makes all of these assumptions about CERN and the LHC (used interchangeably by the author) that could easily be checked by going to Wikipedia. This is why intelligent people won't take conspiracy theorists seriously.

Thanks to celebrities hopping on the anti-science bandwagon, more people have decided to follow them instead of taking the path of science literacy. I suppose it's easier believe in misinformation and falsehoods than it is to actually study and read even the most basic science articles. Yes, science uses "jargon" that the laity don't understand, but that because in science fields, that language is necessary and descriptive. There are articles that cut through the jargon and give simple explanations of scientific concepts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

We've Changed Our Privacy Policy

If we actually had a privacy policy, we would be changing it, because that seems to be the latest trend in business these days and that's what we do…follow trends. Currently, our policy is simple, if we have your data, we hope to keep it private, but we usually end up selling it to whoever gives us money. This goes for our employees' data as well, but that's usually stolen every few weeks when somebody breaks into our servers. Ah well, those are the breaks of running a business I guess. The really important stuff, like the President & CEO's salary info, arrest record, and various enemies lists are kept on a secret, iron-clad server that nobody has been able to crack, not even the feds. Rest assured, that his information is safe, and if you know him and have paid him a hefty amount of money, you can be reasonably sure that your info is safe on that server. Otherwise, you may want to change your Social Security number.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Chapter 4. Mom Rock

In the late 1970’s, my uncle owned and ran a small gift shop called His & Hers Curiosity Shop. Because he had a regular day job, he couldn’t run the shop during the day, so my mom did. And because I was just a tot and not yet in school, I had to go with her, which I didn’t mind. The shop only took up about two-thirds of the available space. The rest was set up like a living space.

The back area was like a living room, with a TV, refrigerator with a variety of flavors of Pic-a-Pop, and an area rug so that I wasn’t sliding all over on the cold linoleum or tile floor (I can’t remember which). I used to play back there during the day while mom worked, or went next door to visit the lady at the donut shop (this was the late 70’s in a southwest suburb of Cleveland, there was no chance I was getting kidnapped). Much of the wall decor in the back revolved around Linda Ronstadt. My uncle LOVED Linda Ronstadt...and her music.

My mom had plenty of her music on the many mix tapes she made for the car and the shop. She carried with her every day a plastic cassette box filled with tapes, both mixes and pre-recorded. She drove a 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass with an aftermarket tape deck. We would drive to the shop listening to The Eagles, the aforementioned Linda Ronstadt, Steely Dan, Boston, Foreigner, Journey, Bad Company, and many, many more (does this remind you of a K-Tel Records commercial? Kids, ask your parents)

This period of time was my biggest exposure to music. I was already listening to Kiss, which my mom also had on one or more songs on her mix tapes, but I was also introduced to plenty of other music over which I had no control. The Bee Gees were a constant, and mom had them on every tape that she made and also had a few of their cassettes in that box. Every day I went to the store with her, she exposed my young mind to The Bee Gees. Today, I own nothing by them on LP, CD, or mp3…but I also do not change the channel if they appear on the radio…it is my curse.

I was playing in the back when my mom ran next door to the donut shop. I’m guessing the store wasn’t open for business yet, and I was left there, again suburb, 70’s, safe. The shopping center was either old or new, I don’t remember, but it made funny noises and I could hear people on either side of the store through the walls. This scared me, especially since this was my first time being left alone. The TV wasn’t enough to soothe my frazzled, young nerves. I waited in the back, and suddenly, everything hanging on the walls and all of the tchotchkes in the gift shop suddenly appeared threatening to me. When mom finally returned and resumed the tape in the player, I breathed a sigh of relief. I never told her how I felt about being left there alone because I loved being at that store and didn’t want to spend the day at my grandparents’ house. They didn’t listen to music all day long.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

SGMR Industries, Inc. Origin Story

I have loved corporate humor for a long time. This is the origin story of SGMR Industries, Inc. that I wrote on June 30, 2014. 
SGMR Industries came out of an idea from last Christmas when I needed a company name for a post. This link leads to that post which lampoons the company year-end letter, or the speech that was given at the company Christmas party. I used to hate these things, because for so long, no matter how great the news was, it was always just shy of that point where the employees would get decent bonuses. So, I took it many steps further and created an entire persona for the CEO and the company itself.
It should be obvious that SGMR Industries is named after the blog itself, but in the context of the company propaganda it doesn’t stand for anything. Also, the nature of the company is not stated, but it contains every possible position that can be conceived of (this makes it easy to use as an sample company). It could appear to be a machine shop in one post and a silicon valley startup in another. The only thing that can be assumed correctly is that it is the worst-run company ever, thanks to the president and CEO, Alien Coffeeground.
Yes, I have named the president and CEO after my online identity. That’s the only thing I have in common with this incarnation of the persona. The CEO represented is not indicative of any particular CEO I ever experienced, but is an admittedly over-the-top figure who abuses his power and position for his own gain. This is basically a look at the inner-workings of a corporation through the imagination of a former employee of several corporations (that would be me…the real me). The company, as a whole, is not meant to represent any one company I have ever worked for, but really exaggerated examples of what I’ve experienced at all of them.
So, I am officially making SGMR Industries, Inc. a regular feature here as it will pop up occasionally as I need to hire people (like replacing people that might be lost, through no fault of my own, at the company’s “team building” exercise). There might also be a need to address some silly public relations debacle from time to time.
OK, back to present day.

Since that time, there was a Twitter account (closed) which I used to openly mock tech companies' new product announcements (*COUGH* apple *COUGH*). These days, I have been writing new material and it will be posted here periodically and much of it mirrors realities happening in the business world today. I am also working on a project that I attempted to start a while back.  

Monday, July 16, 2018

Chapter 3. The Gods Have Smiled On Me

Originally written May 3, 2016

The site that once was
Peaches Records & Tapes
One of the first places I ever went to buy records (I’m old, we didn’t have CDs) with my family was a record store called Peaches Records and Tapes. The location closest to my house was in a shopping center with two separate buildings. There was a shopping strip with a couple restaurants (one of those will feature prominently in this memoir later on), a drug store, and a place that I would later learn was a convenience store (It was called Treasure Island, or Isle, I can’t remember now). The other building on the lot had a dance club, some other businesses that I can’t remember, and Peaches.

Peaches was the main business and took up the most room. The building used to be a department store. It had a large rectangular tower with the bright and colorful Peaches Records sign on both of the wide sides. It stood towering over the area like a beacon on the hill or the Tower of Sauron. Below the main sign was a light up signboard that advertised upcoming albums, concerts, and events. Running along the lower facade were outdoor posters of the month’s top albums. The only one I remember clearly was Abacab by Genesis.

It was the biggest record store in the area and upon walking in, the racks and racks of records stretched as far as the eye could see. It wouldn’t be until many years later that I would find out that Peaches was a nationwide chain, but I recall the workers there knowing the customers, if not by name, by musical taste. They were willing to order any hard-to-find item and take the time to look for whatever the customer was looking for. I really wouldn’t appreciate this until many years later when only the electronics stores were selling large volumes of music.

Most of my music was purchased there early on. This was before CDs and digital downloads, when the most durable medium for music was the vinyl album. This was before I discovered the mail-order services that sold eight, eleven, or twenty albums for a penny. This was my musical Mecca, but there was one item that could not be purchased anywhere except for Peaches. Maybe there were cheap, off-brand replicas sold elsewhere, but none of them compared. I am, of course, talking about…the record crate.

A simple wooden crate, about twelve inches across and deep, and two feet long, the Peaches crate was more than just a storage box for albums, it was a rite of passage. My mom would eventually end up with six crates full before she finally allowed my brother and I to pillage and plunder her collection. I had a tiny record collection made up primarily of Kiss albums, but it was growing by the week. I was being exposed to more and more music and I wanted a place that would be strictly for all of the new albums I would be getting (especially when I discovered the aforementioned mail-order services). This crate was my birthright and I wanted to earn mine.

I know, hyperbole much? But at this time, I felt that record crate meant that I truly appreciated music and that simple wooden structure was the symbol of that commitment. When that day finally arrived and my dad assembled it for me and put it in my room, I placed all of my albums into it, except for the children’s albums. Those stayed on the bookshelf since I did not see them as worthy to sit in the same area with Kiss and Cheap Trick (more on that later).

Thursday, July 12, 2018

SGMR Industries, Inc. Data Breach

Yes, I'm back to doing SGMR Industries, Inc. posts. 

Good news, folks, we've found a way to direct media attention away from our President & CEO's latest drunken tirade, and we get mentioned in the same paragraph as Sears, Kmart, Whole Foods, Panera Bread, and other fine companies. This is truly a shot in the arm for our bottom line. We will be having a celebratory press conference this afternoon and all employees are required to attend an can make up the four hours this weekend.

So what happened? There was a minor data breach in our server room and a few names and email addresses got stolen. And physical addresses. And social security numbers. And credit card numbers. And banking details. And security questions and answers. But that's all. The data was encrypted using the always-dependable A1Z26 Encryption Protocol. The number of records stolen could have quite possibly been as few as 15, but most likely it was in the neighborhood of 1.5 billion. We will be taking steps to recover the data before it's decrypted and sold to…oh, right, it was decrypted immediately and sold off to the highest bidder. Well, for all of those people looking for a fresh start, now is your chance.

More good news is that the President & CEO's data was not involved in the breach, nor were any of the executives of the company as their data is kept on separate servers in the Cayman Islands for "tax purposes". While we would take some of the blame for this issue, it should be noted that nobody thought that anyone would ever want to break into our computer systems since they are probably riddled with viruses due to the President & CEO's penchant for web surfing while intoxicated (and without pants). It also comes as a surprise to us that anyone would take our privacy policy seriously anymore and trust that their data is safe with us. I guess we can blame the victims.

We will be live streaming our press conference for free at 5pm, Cayman Island time (we don't know time zones). You must register with your social security number and valid credit card in order to view the conference.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Chapter 2. Kissin' Time

Originally written April 26, 2016

Thinking back, I figured that the Lovin’ Spoonful album was probably a gift that my parents didn’t entirely care for but didn’t want to get rid of, so they added it into the kids’ music collection. I’m pretty sure if mom and dad didn’t much care for the album before they gave it to us, they were probably sick and tired of “Summer in the City” after that. I don’t think I ever listened to anything else off of that album except for that one song, and that was because that song had a sound that I liked. Of course, I would eventually get past that song and onto bigger and better. You might even say, “The hottest band in the world."

Kiss had already been around longer than I had been alive, but by the time I was old enough to have heard of them they would come out with the album that would redirect the rest of my life. Destroyer put Kiss on the map. I could go off on a tangent of how Bob Ezrin produced this album and would follow it up by producing Pink Floyd’s The Wall album, but hell, I was three and a half years old and didn’t really care much for that. All I knew was that the band looked cool in their black and white makeup, the giant boots, and their music appealed to me. Lyrically, I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t understand many of the double entendres that they were using, it was just cool. Just this moment, I realized that “Strutter” was about a stripper, and I’m 42. I just never thought about it (that is a conversation for another day).

Let me pause here and discuss a little something that I still read about to this day. Back in that magical time of the seventies, many young people latched onto Kiss as a band of rebellion from their parents’ music and what society as a whole deemed as acceptable. Many of those parents My parents understood that music was music and that by allowing us to own and listen to Kiss, they weren’t turning it into “forbidden fruit”. This would continue on with Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and Dio. All of these acts were permitted in my parents’ house because they recognized that music is music.

Anyway, we were friends with the kids down the street, the older two were our ages and also Kiss fans. We used to play on the neighbor’s swing set and sing Kiss songs and just have fun. I know it sounds silly now, but when you’re a kid, that was the height of fun. Growing up, there was a vast cast of characters that I will eventually run through as I write this. Some of them have faded away completely and others simply moved into the periphery for a time. They will be introduced in due time and as the story requires.

Eventually, my brother and I would get the solo albums, Kiss puzzles, Kiss dolls, and the remote control Kiss van. Yes, Kiss was all about merchandising (say it like Mel Brooks in Spaceballs, it’s funnier) and Eric and I fell for it completely. We were even allowed to stay up past our bedtime to watch Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, which was the greatest movie of all time (at age three or four, the taste centers of the brain are severely undeveloped). I would watch this piece of sh…film many years later thanks to a friend and I really can’t remember much of it except that members of the band were in it and there was an amusement park. These days, I’m amazed that that movie isn’t listed as directed by Alan Smithee.

Kiss will come up again. And again. And again. This is because I ended up seeing the band three times, though one could be listed as unofficial since it was before their return to the makeup. For now, though, I’m going to go back to listening to their debut album and remember some of those smaller details of my early life.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

My NaNo 2018 Plans

NaNoWriMo is still off in the future a few months. Currently it's in the mid-90s and it's the 4th of July. However, I've been thinking a lot about this year's project which is in the advanced planning stages. I've thought about how I'm going to undertake the challenge this year and have decided to shake things up a bit.

While the spirit of the month is quantity over quality (50,000 words in 30 days), I have decided that I'm not going to incessantly pore over my word count. My plan is to check it and update it once a week, and maybe a couple times in the last week for verification.

I will not be writing in Scrivener, but in OneNote, which what I've taken to doing since it's readily synced up with all of my computing devices (I'm writing this in OneNote on my phone, for example). Don’t get me wrong, Scrivener is possibly the best novel-writing software on the market, but I want to switch things up this year.

I will write every day, but some days may be more productive than others. I’ve found that forcing myself to write at least 1,667 words per day makes me less productive overall. I have a tendency to want to keep going forward on my story idea rather forward on word count. That is, I don’t like to go back to an earlier point in the story and start writing from there again. I tend to want to pick up from the last events that I wrote, whether they’re good or not. I will be thinking more about the story this year since I am more productive when I have fresh ideas in my head.

I seem jump way out ahead of daily goals in the first week and then slow down after that. That’s because the idea is fresh and there are infinitely many directions I could go with the story, but that quickly narrows down to only a few directions and I rarely, if ever, choose wisely. Thinking about this, I could write a Choose Your Own Adventure style of story this year and keep going back to the beginning. Or, I could start writing thirty different stories, that way I get the day one momentum every day of November.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Chapter 1. This is Where It All Starts

Originally written April 21, 2016

A few years ago, I attempted write my memoir. As I started to write it, I felt that much of my life was way too boring as a whole. So I decided instead to pick out specific events, certain nuggets of interest and write about those instead. That would be far more interesting than my David Copperfield (the book, not the magician) life, as described by Brad Pitt’s Louis in Interview With the Vampire, “I was born. I grew up. I died.” No, nobody would want to hear the pathetic tales of a grade school kid trying to be accepted and failing at every turn. So, I turned to the events and wrote about those with little if any foreshadowing. How did I come to be declared dead by the student body of a high school that didn’t even know me? What happened before that, and that, and even before that? These are the stories that nobody would want to read, but they are the stories I want to tell.

I had gotten turned onto a blogger, music writer, and photographer named James Stafford, who was writing and posting a new chapter of his memoir, Why It Matters, weekly. There was something there that I needed to read. As a skeptic, I don’t believe that things are meant to be, but I definitely found something to connect me to this life being played out before me. Each chapter (most of them, at least) was titled with a lyric to a relevant song to that chapter for the most part (something I will not be doing). It was life affected by music that he discovered in his earliest years after he rescued his aunt’s record and 45 records from certain doom (DOOOOOOOOOM!). While his story is far more interesting than mine could ever be, I notice some parallels, and I pull some inspiration from his words. I look back at my earliest memories of childhood, to the house where I grew up, and instantly there is music…

“What kind of music do you like?” This is a question that has haunted and harassed me for most of my life. It’s a question that, when asked, sends my mind into a vortex looking for an answer. It’s a question that makes me think that the asker is convinced that it is only conceivable for a person to like one kind of music. Depending on my mood, I may choose to answer with a “yes”, or simply by saying, “all kinds." I don't only like one kind of music, but all kinds, from all genres. I've been told that one cannot like Pink Floyd and punk music because the latter hated the former. I guess then that I am violating some artificial construct of the social order because I will listen to Dark Side of the Moon followed by Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death just to spite the people who say it can't be done. I suppose I could blame my upbringing.

I was born nine months after what I will simply refer to as the greatest album of all time was released (don’t read anything into that, please). I was born into a family that loved their music. Nobody played any instruments, mind you, but I grew up with stories of my grandmother dancing around to Elvis Presley (this was at a time when parents weren’t supposed to like Elvis and even find him immoral and corrupting). I feel like there was some form of music playing in the house at every waking hour, whether it was mom playing the latest music of the day by The Eagles, The Bee Gees, ABBA (gag!), or dad was listening to a new batch of oldies 45s that he picked up at one of the record conventions, including Elvis, The Beatles, Buddy Holly, or the oddball "The Flying Saucer," by Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman, which was story of alien invasion told using song lyrics. I would dance around the living room as a little kid in my own, weird way, just soaking up all of the music around me.

The stereo was kept in the living room, the main room of the house, which points to the importance of music to us. My brother and I shared two rooms, a bedroom and a playroom, and in the latter was a record player with a small collection of records, mostly children’s records. I say mostly because one of those records, it would turn out, was a grown-up record, The Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful. I only remember ever playing one song off of this album, and while it might be way too overplayed to this day, especially on oldies stations, I still love “Summer in the City” and it still transports me back to those earliest days in the gold-carpeted, yellow and white checked walls, and that black, plastic record player. I think it was a GE Wildcat, thanks to Google, and I recall seeing the GE logo on the speakers, but then I also remember the Berenstain Bears being spelled with an “EI” instead of the “AI”, so don’t take my word for it.

Before I knew it, I would end up with my own music and that would start me down a road that I would never veer away from. I would find myself on a quest for more music. It's a journey that lasted...well, frankly, as I write this in my forty-second year of life, I am still on that journey. It all started with a crate that was, to me, more than a crate. It was a symbol of this journey and, while the crate sits idle, the journey continues...