They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Jun 21, 2013

Call Your Mother...Sincerely, The NSA.

So the whole NSA spying on every Verizon customer in the US and recording where they call, where they call from and the duration of every call is actually getting a bit passe lately.

Just like I said it would.

And I've been watching a bit of news lately...mostly the Daily Show because it is about all the "news" that I can handle nowadays. Which has shown that what you think of this Snowden cat is pretty well determined by which side of the aisle you work for.

And I'm not talking about Democrats or Republicans in this case. I'm talking about government against the people type thing.

Pretty much every career politician calls Snowden and traitor, or a hero. A whistle blower or a...and I love this one...a grandiose narcissist, who deserves to be in prison.

All of this makes me laugh because the debate about who or what Snowden is, in my humble opinion is


Now that we've got that out of the way, maybe we can have an intelligent conversation about the NSA and by extrapolation the government and its collecting of ridiculous amounts of data on US citizens. Namely, you and I. Or at least I, given the fact that I am the proud owner of 2 iPhone 4's supplied by Verizon (99¢ with a 2-year contract) A contract which obviously contained some sort of NSA rider that I was unaware of.

First things first, we should sue Verizon for being such a bitch. I'm sorry, this is a capitalist country and I thought corporations ran this country, how is it that they can roll over like a whipped puppy when some spy agency half the country has never even heard of comes calling? C'mon Verizon, take your balls out of your purse and tell them to eat a dick.

If they threatened you with something, all you would've had to say is we'll be happy to comply after you get the signed consent of every person not listed on a warrant issued by a judge in a court of law. 

Or you could've said no, and we're just gonna shut off 111,000,000 cell phones , but right before we do we're going to send them all a text saying, "We'd rather shut off your phones than hand all your data over to the NSA, because that's what they want. Have a nice day!"

Now that, would've been epic.

And I'm going to venture a guess as to why. Its because Verizon and the NSA and the US government, and congress and the media (the big one) are all the same fucking thing folks!

They're all a different snake on the same Medusa head. Only difference is, we're already all stone. They don't need to turn us.

Apathy is the best word that can be used to describe an American public that would only have 58% of the voting public show up to elect the sitting president. That means over 4 out of 10 of you pukes reading this didn't vote in the last election.

5.8 of us decides what's best for all 10 of us.

And let's not get started on all the empty bullshit that politicians spout every two or 4 years, because the simple fact that any of you believe any of that shit is proof positive that we can't be bothered. 

Then you've got the Red White And Blue wackos out there...these are your flag waving, America is the best, we can do no wrong, just say "freedom" and I'll vote for you. Well succinctly put, we're not the best. Sorry to tell you kids, but there are only two things that we are the best at. Buying really cool military toys, and eating. I'm not even sure we're the best at the latter. But there are very few objective measures in the world that we are number one in.

Defense spending #1
Education #17
Life expectancy #51
Obesity #18
Education Expenditures #60
Debt #1

And on and on the list could go. Needless to say, we're not #1 in much. But we think we are. Take it away Mr. Daniels.

Did you notice that heartbroken and embarrassed look on that girls face after he got done fucking her up?

Its about how all of us should feel. Little. Like we just got punched in the stomach. Like we just had the rug ripped out from under us.

The point is not who or what Snowden is, the point is that the U.S. government is spying on you! On you. Not on me, or some other faceless random person, or terrorist or criminal or anyone else. They are spying on you. Remember that when you pick up the phone, when you send an email, when you comment on this blog, and when you send your next sext message...

But you know what? Most of us are going to finish this sentence, and forget the whole fucking thing...

Jun 11, 2013

How Fucked Are We?

Sitting here at work, and I stole a few minutes to poke around google news and I came across an article that just about made me puke on my keyboard.

Americans say they are pretty comfortable with expanded government surveillance.

Read it, and if you're okay with what it says then stop reading because you're part of the problem.

Basically, it says that a majority of Americans are now O.K. with all the shit the government pulls to keep tabs on "terrorism"

Now first off, let's set some argumentative ground rules.

  1. The government uses "terrorism" to justify anything and everything it does. Simply because all they have to do is invoke that word and people shit their pants and turn into helpless infants curled up in the corner.
  2. Americans are by in large a bloodless, lifeless band of consumer drones who need the world, or the small part of it that their massive asses occupy to be safe from harm so that they can play Xbox or PS4 and order from Amazon without having to worry about taking any responsibility for themselves at all.
  3. Americans have delegated to the US government a million things that used to be the exclusive purview of the individual, or at least a responsibility of citizenship, and Americans will jump at the chance to hand over any tasks or responsibilities they have left, so they can lay back down and watch the Real Housewives of Orange County.
Now that's what I think of your average American citizen. Not real high on the evolutionary scale. Devolving even. Luckily, if you've made it to this point in this post it means that you have an attention span that is at least 60-240 seconds long and in this day and age that is pretty impressive and would most likely put you into the top 1 or 2% of the population.

Moving on, I could quote Benjamin Franklin and the old standby of liberty for safety deserves neither, but there's not much point in that when there are probably a good portion of the public who have no fucking clue who Benjamin Franklin is.

So I'm just going to put it my way.

What a bunch of spineless pussies?

Now I realize that the government is charged with keeping us safe. And to a point I can run with that. We need cops, and feds, and prisons and all that goes with the Justice system. There is no doubt about that. But the extent to which the Justice system has grown is out of fucking control. If you think that's an exaggeration, the Federal prison system population has grown by 790% since 1980. Its gotten almost 8 times bigger since I was 2!!! (Look it up, I didn't believe it at first either)

So if there's 8 times as many prisoners, think of all the extra laws, lawyers, cops, courts and yada yada yada...

Now, basically what I'm saying is we're gladly handing over control of our lives to the G. (government)

And that's spineless, its lifeless, and its what a bunch of pussies would do.

Don't get it twisted either. I am by no means advocating anarchy. That's just as dumb. What I'm telling you is that like everything else there's a happy medium. There's a place where law and individuality can meet without one getting hacked up for the other.

But we've lost the gumption required to protect those last vestiges of individuality that we've got. The government has been laid bare lately. They're spying on us. They're spying on all of us. Its proven. There isn't much room for debate. They're keeping track of who you call, where you call, and how long you talk to them. And if they're doing that how far behind can all the other shit be, where they are actually recording every move you make, every dime you spend, every email you send. They probably already do that, but they had brains enough to implant a small thermonuclear device in the hearts of everyone who knows so if they ever utter a word about it...BOOM.

And they're going to keep doing it. Because this story with Snowden and his whistle-blowing or treason or whatever you want to call it will be a story for about a week or two and then it'll go away. It'll fade from memory and America will go right back to sleep anesthetized by whatever technological I.V. they like to hook themselves up to.

A couple of days ago I was asked a question, and the question was this;

Why does the government keep on doing this stuff? Why are they so incompetent? Why haven't they been fired or disciplined or arrested?

The answer was simple. Its because we allow it. As a society we allow it. This is the best we've been able to do. We obviously don't want our government to change, incumbents get elected something like 92% of the time. 

So if you support incumbents, which statistically, a whole bunch of you do, and you say that you want the government to change...YOU ARE EITHER FUCKING STUPID OR A LIAR.

Personally, I think incumbents get elected because its easy. Its easy to go with a name you know. Its easy to check the same box as you did last time. Its easier than learning who the other guy or gal is. Its just simply easier and it doesn't take as much time away from Candy Crush.

And again, there's the problem. Its easy...

There was a time when Americans didn't care about what was easy. They just cared about what was right. 

There's that old saying, if it was easy everyone would do it. 

I got news for you folks, EVERYONE IS DOING IT.

Jun 10, 2013

The Clock Is Ticking Dude...

So this will (hopefully) be my last post about dying.

I've had death on the brain for the last few weeks, and needless to say this is not something that a guy on happy pills with a fun mental condition should be thinking about. But it all worked out, so what the hell.

I think that I've even had what a shrink might call a breakthrough or two.

Now, we all know PTSD isn't fun. They've got all kinds of fun terms that go along with it. Words like avoidance, intrusive memories, flashbacks, reliving traumatic events, negative feelings or beliefs. All lots of fun.

Me, I've got a slightly different take on my PTSD. I think its due to the fact that I don't feel the same level of emotion and sensations as I did when I was at war. There's a big difference between what you feel here, and what you feel there.

I think its something missing. Or I'm missing something.

You see, when you're in Afghanistan (or wherever the hell) you feel keyed up all the time. Not necessarily in a bad way. You realize things on a subconscious level that you don't here. You could be walking to chow and a mortar round falls 20 feet from you, rattles your teeth and cuts your face up with flying rocks (good time by the way) and that reminds you just how close you and the great beyond are. It drills right into your mind, and brings to forefront of your thoughts just how flimsy the bond between you and your mortal coil is.

That kind of thought does one thing to me, it probably does the same to most of the guys I've known that are dealing with this shit. Dealing with death, feeling the grim reaper breathing on your ear, smiling at the devil. Whatever goofy fucking metaphor you want to use for it brings out a depth of feeling that most people who've never dealt with shit like that will never know.

Its cliche but there's truth in statements like...

Food tastes better, flowers smell sweeter, colors are more intense, you breath deeper, you smile wider, you pay attention, I mean you REALLY pay attention. Every detail of everything you see sinks deep into your soul. And you recognize one very simple, very over used, very heartbreaking and very hard to grasp concept.

I want you to delineate the moment you are in right now. And somehow in your mind separate it from the moment you are going to be in when you finish this sentence...

Alright, if you can pull that off, which I won't be mad if you can't. Its making my head hurt trying.

Now just figure that the space in between those two moments is about 1000 times longer than the span of time it would take you to die.

Realize that this is all we've got. This moment. This moment that I am spending sharing my thoughts with you. This moment that you've decided to spend reading my thoughts.

Then think of the wonderful girl sleeping in the room next to me right now. Think of how dearly I love her. Think of how all of this that we've built together could be swept away in an instant by any one of a million different things.

Think of your life. Think of all the things you planned to do. The places you planned to go. The writing, the painting, the running, the climbing, the reading, the learning, the yearning, the actions, the things you didn't do. Everyone has a million and one things they want to do in this life. But very few of us realize just how close we are at this very moment to shaking off that mortal coil (great metaphor) and bucking the kicket and checking out for good.

That's what I loved (yeah, loved) about Afghanistan. It made me realize that on a fairly regular basis. By blowing me or one of my boys up, by shooting at me, by dropping a mortar or two on my skull, by sending a rocket or two (flaming footballs for those of you who have been around a while) flying over my head and/or singeing Burnsy's eyebrows off. Yeah that happened.

And those reminders gave me a sense of urgency. Everything was urgent. Everything had to be done. I had to squeeze it all, or as much of it as my body could handle before I collapsed. And you learn that your body can take quite a bit more than you ever cared to squeeze out of it.

I had to write. I wrote over 240 posts in just over a year.

I had to tell everyone how much I loved them. I had to be with my friends as much as I could. I had to, I had to, I had to, and I had to do it now.

That's what I think has been missing. That urgency. Nothing is really that important that it has to get done right fucking now!

I can tell the princess I love her tomorrow.
I can tell my mom I love her tomorrow.
I can learn this tomorrow.
I can write this tomorrow.
I can do this tomorrow.
I can go there tomorrow.

Here's the problem Danny Boy...someday you won't get a tomorrow, someday you won't even get a next moment.

Somebody once told me that every moment is a test. That each moment is a test you get to take one time, and only one time.

Now what are you going to do with it?

How are you going to be remembered?

After your moment is gone...

Jun 5, 2013

So You're a Ghost, and this is your Funeral...

So I went to see my shrink the other day and told him all about my latest run ins with existential thought. In this case my thoughts on what I would think about not having done in the last 20 seconds of my life.

So we talked about what is missing from my life that old mother Army may or may not have provided, and how to possibly replace that now that I am a civilian puke.

However, he flipped the script on the question slightly. Enough to warrant another go around of thinking about being dead. How healthy is it for a guy who once considered suicide to be thinking about his own funeral? Hell if I know, that's why I go to a shrink!

The question goes like this...instead of you're hurtling toward a fiery death in a big tube of bags filled with dirty panties and vibrators (and that's just the guy's bags.) You're dead, and you get to come back for your own funeral and listen to what everyone has to say about you. Now what do you hope to hear?

Oh boy. First of all, what kind of funeral do I want to have?

Funerals are depressing by design. Not much fun at all. And I know one thing is for damn sure I don't want one of those.

I don't really think that a line of bereaved all waiting to say some heartfelt goodbye and then drive the long mile to the cemetery and chuck my ass in the ground would be how I'd want to go out.

That's just completely lacking in any sort of style at all. No personality whatsoever in any of that.

Now, not to say that I want strippers hollering for dollars at my funeral either (but that's got some potential).

I don't think a somber affair is really in the cards for me. I would want my funeral to be a little more upbeat than a...well funeral, but slightly less obnoxious than a night at Scores.

So I've been sitting thinking about this for about an hour, staring at the flashing cursor and slowly driving myself to drink so I decided to switch gears. As opposed to the funeral question I'm going to write my own obituary. Seems like summing up a life in three or four paragraphs is a lot easier than imagining what every chuckle head I've ever known is going to say at my funeral so here goes...

Mud Puppy died yesterday at the age of 86. He fell to his death from the top of a rock wall at the local Xsport, while exhorting the young man of 26 who had lost the race to the top to, "Take off your pretty pink panties and get the fuck....AHHHHHH!"

Mud Puppy is survived by his wife of 51 years, Princess Puppy, and 5 children, 15 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.

In life Mud Puppy had many titles, very few of which meant anything to him. He was a soldier, an MP, a team leader, a combat veteran, a college graduate (4 times) and a husband, father, son, brother, friend and all around pain in the ass.

He was known for his jaunts into local politics where he would run by telling the populace the actual truth and watching with bemused indifference as he was demolished in the elections. He was also even elected once to the local school board but was promptly removed when he demanded that teachers take a pay scale that was based on their students future earnings.

He contributed to several charities and ended up building just over 300 homes in his lifetime working to end veteran homelessness. He never could quite get rid of his juvenile sense of humor and as an octogenarian was known for chuckling during somber ceremonies when the word "duty" was used.

He wrote several books in his lifetime, none of which sold more than a few hundred copies except his Magnum Opus "Embrace The Suck" One MP Clusterfucking his Way Through Afghanistan. Which was on the New York Times Bestsellers list for 18 months.

He was opinionated and would readily let anyone know exactly what he thought about any given subject, mostly his philosophy was, stop worrying so much, the universe doesn't even know you're here. Do whatever the hell makes you happy, and stop being such a pussy. A philosophy he ingrained into his students at the College of DuPage where he was a visiting adjunct part time poorly paid shaper of young minds (his title not the university's), his claim to fame being that he was voted "Hottest Professor" by the female student body when he was 79.

Throughout his life he was an avid skydiver, and mountain climber, and he was semi-famous for completing several Spartan Races, Warrior Dashes and Tough Mudders throughout his lifetime. His last race coming on his 84th birthday when he placed in the top 50% of all contestants. After which he said, "I'm eighty-fucking-four, that should count for about a 50% handicap. So I win!" He was also an accomplished hunter and world traveler having visited over 150 countries in his lifetime, and as he was fond of saying, "In only two was I actually there to kill anyone."

Lastly, he was known as a man who never missed a beer, or a party, or a chance in his life, but he also never missed a day of work, or a car payment, or a house payment and his family never went hungry even though he did a few times so they didn't have to. In 86 years he never let up, he never let down, and regardless of what came along and punched him square in the nuts he kept right on trucking, and he skidded headfirst into his coffin proclaiming his last words in a loud and thunderous voice...DAMN THAT WAS FUN!!!

Yeah, that's the guy I want to be.

Jun 4, 2013

And then it all went black...

Was reading a book the other day. Its something that I do from time to time. I have been known to take in a little literature now and then.

The book wasn't your usual story telling. It wasn't a hero vs. the bad guys who had kidnapped his girl and he had to save her from the evil mountain fortress where they were holding her.

It was more of a "save yourself" kind of a book.

Self help, would be the way that most people would characterize it. Which is something that I've been reading more and more since the war ended for me. I like those stories. Some guy with no legs ran a marathon, some woman graduated from college at 87, some kid overcame the odds and played basketball or any shit like that.

But this one posed a question. A question that I've been pondering and mulling over...obsessing over would probably be the best way to put it.

The question was this, you're on a plane over the mountains, doesn't matter what mountains, doesn't matter what plane doesn't matter if you're alone or with someone, just you're on a plane and you're 35,000 feet in the air and the plane just goes into a tailspin and is headed straight for the rocks and all you can do is sit there for the roughly 20 seconds you've got left and think to yourself...what didn't I do?

Now at first that strikes me as the typical shit. Motivational nonsense that has no basis in real life. But then the more I started and continued to think about that the more it started to hurt, and the more it started to gnaw at me. What haven't I done?

Well there's the big one. Haven't had a kid yet. Propogating the species. Leaving a legacy. All that jazz. I definitely want to do that. If you were to talk to my fiance she'd tell you that I've been baby crazy lately. Always noticing the little ones around, and seeing how much fun its gotta be to have one of my own. Teaching him...or her what's going on. Showing them the entire world through their wide eyes. Its gotta be a fun thing to do.

Then there's other ones. Mostly selfish ones. Haven't been to Africa or Australia yet. Haven't been on a Cruise. Haven't jumped out of a plane for fun. Haven't gotten my Masters Degree yet, but I'm working on it. Never in my life have I ever actually been in great shape. I've been in good. You don't really have much choice on that one in the Army. I managed to finish 2 Bataan Death Marches (the memorial kind, not the real thing) but I've always wanted to do one of those Spartan Races or Warrior Dashes or something like that. I haven't quit smoking. I haven't written the book about Afghanistan that I know is in there. Hell its probably already here. I don't even give a damn if it gets published but I want to write it.

When you really start thinking about all that shit, you get really uncomfortable. Most of my life I live in relative comfort. Now given my life choices my idea of comfort is different from most. I spent 14 years in the Army and the majority of my non-military professional career in a prison so I don't need as much comfort as most people do. Nonetheless I live in a nice suburb, I drive a nice car, I earn a nice living, I've got a nice family, I've got a beautiful girl, and I don't really want for much. And therein lies the problem.

Inmates use a term called "thirsty" Meaning "want" Obviously if you're thirsty for something you want that thing. You can be thirsty for success, thirsty for love, thirsty for money, thirsty for power, thirsty thirsty thirsty.

But for the most part, I'm not. I'm mostly satiated. My life is pretty satisfying for the most part. And that's definitely the problem. I almost wish I had a need, something to really thirst for. Some deficiency in my condition that led me to focused action. But I don't. So I've got to create it for myself, and I'm not quite sure how in the hell to do that. But at least thinking about this question has shaken me out of that comfort that I've been feeling. Which is nice, nothing fun ever happens in your comfort zone.

But its a simple fact, one day you are going to find yourself standing before the man in whatever Valhalla or Heaven or Great Castle in the Sky that you believe in and you are going to have to tell your story. Now everyone's story is going to end with...and then it all went black. All the stuff leading up to that is yours to write. Hopefully your story is a good one.

I'll leave you with a little Hunter S. Thompson:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”