Archive for the ‘Personal Thoughts’ Category

Orlando   1 comment

This is going to be a bit more of a raw and emotional rant on my part. I plan on discussing the 2nd amendment(as well as all the others) and gun control at a later date, but in light of the events of Orlando, and the fact that keeping this all in is making me feel physically ill, I need to speak more candidly about this.

First and foremost, this is a tragedy. This is a disgusting and horrible act, perpetrated by a disturbed monster. The families of the victims must be going through unimaginable pain, and my thoughts go to those still in the hospital. I wish them a full recovery. To those who have lost loved ones, I cannot fathom or understand what you have gone through, as I have not be through that pain. My heart goes out to you, and although it does little to ease the pain, I am sorry.

I’d call this a wake up call for America, but we have been hitting the snooze button for years now. We need to do something about this. We don’t have to all agree on what that is right now, but we can no longer sit here pretending that these shootings, these deaths are not a bit deal. Choosing to do nothing is still making a choice.

I am all about freedom. I don’t believe that people should give up their freedoms for safety. Giving away our rights should be a last resort, something we should rarely ever consider even in the worst of times. To do so is to let fear rule over our lives, and let those who wish to cause us that fear win. On the other hand, I am sitting across from a rack of magazines, staring at Guns and Ammo, and I have to fight the ugre to buy every single magazine and burn them when I get home. The thought of some bastard using his freedoms, our freedoms, to destroy so many lives for such senseless and stupid reasons fills me with rage. I had problems working, I had problems sleeping, and I don’t even have a dog in the fight. My closest connections are LGBT family members, and the fact that my company has an office in Orlando. (None of my coworkers were hurt in the attack, thankfully.)

I understand the anger. I understand the outrage. I understand that people want someone to blame, want some easy solution, some panacea to present itself and stop the pain.

Yes, the fact he got a gun so easily is what allowed him to do such harm. Yes, he did do this attack in the name of ISIS and because of jihadist extremism. Yes, he was also a self hating homophobe who picked his targets because of their orientation. No, it isn’t just one of those things and no, we can’t solve it easily or cleanly.

Life is not that simple. These issues are not that simple. Like with everything I have stated before, life is complicated, messy, and full of nuance. We cannot let anger and fear rule us. I refuse to let it rule me. If we want to be a free and just society, we need to rise above it all. We need to come together and make it work. That means compromise. That means swallowing your pride. That means getting down into the weeds and getting your hands dirty. We don’t do it by screaming, by throwing the blame endlessly, by ignoring the facts. I understand, and sympathize with that sentiment. But it will solve nothing on its own.

These are the times that try men’s souls. These are the times that define us as a country. History has its eyes on this moment, and we need to decide how we proceed.

Do we give in to our fear and take away rights from all citizens, due to the actions of the bad? Do we give in to our anger, destroy our humanity, define large swaths of people as the enemy, and commit atrocities too often repeated in history? Do we choose not to act, and let the situation devolve to the point that ideologues and demagogues make the choice for us, when we are past the point of compromise? Or do we find that compromise, fight and strive for a solution, and rise up as a country?

I don’t know what the answer is. I’m just a jerk on the internet with too much time and too many opinions.
I do know I am tired of all the death. I know I am tired of all the hate. I know that I don’t want to live in a world defined by those qualities.

I don’t feel like shuffling off this mortal coil just yet, so I will do my best to change this world. No matter how little that is, at least I can say I tried.

Thank you for reading,

Shaman

Posted 06/14/2016 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts, Politalking

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5 Things I’ve Learned From A Year Of Blogging   Leave a comment

I posted my first post on this blog a year ago today.

I have been blogging for a whole year. That amazes me.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve got the attention span of a hamster on speed, but I feel like it has been a lot longer than that. Then again, I also feel that way about my last year in general; so much of it has changed.

In the spirit of that change, here are 5 things I learned about myself from a year of blogging:

1.) I’m more of a poet than I am a writer.

I started writing this blog with the intent of changing/enriching the world. I wanted to write about mental health issues, personality typology, psychology self-help, etc. I felt if I was going to start writing, it would need to have a purpose, an end goal.

However, as noble and nice as those goals were, they don’t necessarily get readers, nor did they really get me writing. Doing the daily prompts did help me get a flow going, but it wasn’t until NaPoWriMo that I actually started to take this blog seriously.

It reminded me how much I love poetry. I find it makes it easier for me to express my thoughts and emotions in the moment. Even if, half the time, I end up with a bunch of depressing poems. It worked for Sylvia Plath, right?

But I also find it really fun. Trying to find the right rhyme to end your verse, without forcing things or ruining the flow, is incredibly challenging. But when you get it done right, it is incredibly rewarding.

2.) I talk too much, and I need to write more.

I have a friend who reads my blog. She’s been reading it from the start, and she makes sure to read everything I do. She says that she really enjoys what I write.

I have no idea why though. Not because I don’t think it is good; I wouldn’t make posts I don’t think are ready to be read. But because she is the one who gets to have all my pure, unaltered idea vomit thrown at her on a regular basis whenever we hang out.

Whether its philosophy, atheism, politics or any of the other things I’m interested in, she has heard me go hours and hours of diatribes that would probably make most people lose their minds.

Now, I imagine if I took all the time I spent melting her brain with my rants, and instead took the time to write them down. I’d have three times as many posts by now.

If you were to also add all the times I’ve had a personal rant in my head that I never bothered to voice to anyone….

Well, I don’t think I would have time to do anything but write.

Regardless, I should probably start writing more things down. Which means…

3.) I always should have a pen and paper. (Or start recording myself like a loon.)

I have forgotten the amount of times I have had an amazing idea, the start of a good poem, or a nice melody, and lost it forever because I couldn’t write it down in time.

Many creative people have as well, and it so it is mandatory that we all have a pen and paper on us at all times. I’m getting better with doing that, but it isn’t always feasible. So I’ve tried to expand to my note taking to other forms of technology.

I don’t really like typing notes into my phone, because it takes too long, and I have a crappy, unreliable phone. However, recording my self tends to work in a pinch, especially with how good voice to text has gotten.

With it, I can idea vomit onto a computer at record speed. It is probably the best way for me to get my ideas down.

So why don’t I do it more often?

Because I get most of my ideas on the train, bus, or walking around. People tend to be sitting/standing/walking by me, and so I look crazy. Plus, sometimes I like to write about more controversial topics, and I’d rather not have to fight the bible-thumping MRA republican Nazi Sith lord that may happen to sit next to me some day.

So, until I either lose enough shame to be fine with looking even crazier in public, I will just stick with the writer’s classic.

4.) I do my best writing on the spot, but I should still revise.

I tend to write best when I just throw my ideas down. Whenever I have been able to sit down and get into a groove, I write the stuff that I am most proud of. The things that I have found to be the weakest were things that I planned out, made outlines for and then wrote over days.

It’s a little counter intuitive, but working out what I want to write just stifles my natural creativity.

I know that doesn’t work for a lot of people. They need to create outlines, rough drafts, revisions galore, etc. before they have something they feel is good enough for people to see.

I tend to write how I speak, and I think I’m well spoken. So my writing reflects that.

That being said, you can always clean things up. You can polish up the writing to make it shine, cut out excess bits, change things around to flow better, and just make it a better piece in general. You are able to do the type of things that you aren’t be able to do in conversation. (Although it would be really awesome if we could.)

It’s something I don’t do nearly enough. So I just need to carve out time every week where I can sit down and write. Not too hard, right? Well…

5.) I need to do more to motivate myself.

Last, and most importantly, I need to motivate myself more. I can’t do any of the things I listed above if I can’t get myself motivated enough to actually do them.

Back when I started this blog, I had motivation. I was trying to find a purpose, a direction in life. I wanted to give myself a reason to get up in morning that wasn’t just paying bills. Other blogs and armchair psychologists told me blogging would do that, one thing led to another, and now the plague that is my blog was released on the internet.

But now I have a new, much better and more mentally stimulating job. My self-esteem is at healthy, levels, and am feeling more positive about life.

Because things are going so well, and with how busy work has been lately, I have been letting this blog fall to the wayside. It’s become easy to push a post off until tomorrow, then until next week, and off until next month.

Do I need to write? No.

But it is something that I enjoy. It is something concrete I can point to when I want to feel like I’ve accomplished something. I allows me to leave something behind when I go, even if it’s just in my own corner of the internet.

All those things should motivate me, and they do. But like I have stated before, misery is probably my best motivator, and will continue until it eventually kills me.

So hopefully this next coming year of blogging will be eventful, inspiring, and just miserable enough to keep things going.

As always, thanks for reading.

-Shaman

Posted 02/11/2015 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts, Writing

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Monty Oum   Leave a comment

February 1st, 2015 animator and creator Monty Oum passed away.

Most known for his work on the animated series RWBY and on Red VS Blue, Monty went in for a routine medical procedure, and had an allergic reaction. He fell into a coma and sadly didn’t recover.

I know I’m a little late to the news, but I only found out about it Wednesday morning. I loaded up the RT podcast at work, and saw that the title of it was “RT Remembers Monty Oum.” It was like getting hit in the chest by a 2×4.

I remember when he was hired on as Rooster Teeth’s animator. I remember seeing his Dead Fantasy and Haloid videos, and thinking they were awesome.

It’s hard to watch his videos right now.

It’s like walking into an old hangout, and finding out one of the regular employees is gone. You may not have interacted with him that much, but the place still feels kind of empty without him.

It’s a shame for such talent to get cut short so soon. Seeing his work now, I’m amazed how much he grown as an artist. RWBY looks visually stunning, and the fights are spectacular…

It’s a shame that we won’t get to see how much farther he would have grown.

I’m not completely sure why Monty’s passing is hitting me so hard. When Robin Williams died, I was a little sad. I got a little nostalgic/sad seeing him in movies. But with Monty, I find myself fighting back tears, even now.

Maybe it has to do with his age. He was only 33 years old. In those years, he accomplished more than I will probably accomplish in twice that time. That’s probably why I didn’t care as much about Robin Williams. Although he was still a great actor, he had already lived his life; had his career. Monty was only just getting started.

Or maybe, after hearing the RT crew reminisce about him, I felt we had a lot in common.
The described him as quiet; kind of introverted. He seemed to keep to himself. But he was also the kind of person you could lose hours talking to, if you got him on a subject he was into.

He loved learning, and seem to know a bit about everything.

He was a hardcore multitasker. They were talking about how he would be working on whatever project he had going, while also watching something else on another monitor.
How, when he got an idea, he would lose himself in it, working hard to make it a reality.
He was obsessed with efficiency. It seemed insane, although it made sense to me. One thing they brought up was how, when he needed to microwave something for a minute, he would punch in ‘5-5’, instead of ‘1-0-0’ because the first one was only two buttons, and thus more efficient.

All those little nuances reminded me of things that I do, although maybe not to that big of a degree. But I definitely relate to him at some level.

Above all else though, I think the reason I find this so sad, is that I never bothered to look into his work while he was still alive. I felt like he would be around for a while; I didn’t feel I had to start watching again until he got to the “really good” stuff. Then I could get around to commenting on his work, sharing it, “liking” it.

I know he had millions of fans. He had people thanking him, admiring him every day. He would probably never see what I would have had to say. But, the sad reality is, now he never will.

Even though I didn’t know him, if I could go back I totally would have let him know how amazing I thought he was. Even if I would have been another face in the crowd; an email in his box.

He had a saying: Keep Moving Forward.

He was always moving. He didn’t really believe in slowing down, or giving up. With that attitude at heart, he created some wonderful things.

His friends at RT said that, in lieu of flowers, we should honor his memory by creating something. The only real creative outlets I have are poetry, music, and writing.

The poem would have probably not have been very good, and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have been into my style of music. So, at the very least, I’m writing this. I also will try to make more time in my life to be more creative.

Because life is far too short to waste, and if I left a fraction of the mark Monty did, it would be worth it.

My heart goes out to his wife, his family, and all of his friends. Rest in peace Monty Oum.

You were a bright star, and the world is darker without you in it.

-Shaman

Posted 02/05/2015 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts

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Letter to the Internet RE: Feminism   Leave a comment

Hey Internet,

Can we stop threatening to kill, assault, rape and otherwise harm people already?

I say this because I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion on sexism and feminism lately. From catcalls in New York, to Dr. Matt Taylor wearing a shirt with sexy women on it, to someone threatening a school shooting if Anita Sarkeesian came to speak (GO UTAH! Way to make America proud!), to the pay gap, to the…

Look, it’s a big topic. But it is also one that needs to be discussed. There are a lot of real problems, arguments to be made, and solutions to be found.

But it won’t happen until people chill out and actually, you know, try to have the discussion.

Let take Anita Sarkeesian as an example. Whether you agree with her or not, (I personally find her too sex negative for my taste, she tends to over- generalize, and takes things out of context) she is the perfect example of how not to respond to someone criticizing your position.

When she came out and started talking about video games and sexism, lots of people disagreed with her, and others supported her.

That’s the normal part.

The part where things start to go a little awry is when people started threatening to kill her, leaking her personal information online, making flash games about abusing her, and ultimately making her flee her home and call the police.

All because she thought video games might be a bit sexist and exclusionary, and that 50% of the population might enjoy them more if they weren’t.

This happens pretty much anytime a woman speaks up on the internet about feminism (See Gamergate). Even when they make good points, or bring up legitimate issues. Well, unless they disagree with feminism, that is.

There is no good reason for this. Absolutely none.

I’m not saying that people have to agree with someone’s bad arguments. There are plenty of those out there, and we need people to point them out.

I’m not saying you aren’t allowed to also bring forward your own poor arguments. Just expect them to be refuted, and be open to learning why they are viewed as poor.

Through this, we create solutions and grow as people.

But when we do things the way the internet prefers to do things, we completely kill rational discourse.

Because of all the threats thrown at her, no one can ever seriously argue against Anita Sarkeesian again.

No matter how calm, kind, or rational your critique is, you will get roped in with people like Thunderfoot and the Amazing Atheist.

Even if they were making nice, logical arguments (although they aren’t; both put so much venom in their videos even a rattlesnake gets jealous, but that is part of their brand) you get thrown in with all of the other less intelligent fans.

You know, the ones actually threatening to rape her and burn her house down. (I also understand that it’s just people on comment boards, and if that’s where it stayed, it be less of a problem.)

If I were to speak out in her defense, I get labeled a wimp, a “beta-male”, or a social justice warrior. Someone who just white knighting to impress anonymous women online. As opposed to trolling them online and accepting my loneliness as a bitter ball of righteous indignation.

I can already hear the counterpoint, “Women do it too! They are just as bad as men, if not more so, due to institutional oppression, societal protections, etc.”

I agree. No, not completely. I understand both sides have their loudmouthed, idiotic spokespeople. But, even though I would like to say so, they are not equally to blame.

But I don’t see nearly as many women threatening men by posting their personal information, making dozens of vitriolic and hate spewed videos and blog posts about a single person, creating games about abusing them, threatening to shoot up their events, etc.

(If I’m wrong in that regard, please feel free to show me. Unlike most people on the internet, I’m willing to change my opinion when I’m presented with evidence to the contrary. I don’t buckle down and shove my head even further up my own rectum.)

I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that, until a few years ago, video games, internet, conventions, and other nerdy things were bastions for younger, single, dejected men. I’m not trying to stereotype, but I am at least two of those things, and I flocked to the internet like a moth to flame.

Women have started “invading” these things, and people just don’t like to share.

But since we share 50% of the population, and women aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So we should share the internet and video games too. Women are pretty cool.

You can call it feminism, equalism, “beta-male” talk, etc. I don’t really care.

Everyone deserves equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal treatment. We should all strive to make that a reality.

No one, and it is sad that I actually have to state this, deserves to be threatened, to be harmed, or to be assaulted for saying their piece.

The people who do so, male or female, need to grow up.

Thanks for reading,

Shaman

 

P.S: Let me know how you feel about this in the comments. I love discussing the issues. 🙂

Posted 11/23/2014 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts

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Fleeting: A Haiku (Plus An Update On Life)   Leave a comment

Our time is fleeting
With moments worth repeating
Fond memories earned.

——-

Remember when I said that I might be busy because of my new job?

This quarter is the busiest time of the year, and although its overwhelming, I’m staying on top of things and doing well.However that doesn’t leave me with a lot of energy to sit down and write.

I have lots of stuff written down. Halfway decent stuff even.

But I’m having a bit of a problem with the whole typing it up and posting it thing.

So posts may be a little far apart. I’m going to keep trying, but worst case scenario you may only hear from me once a month or so.

Thanks for reading. 

-Shaman

Posted 11/10/2014 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts, Poetry

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Are you really a writer?   2 comments

I don’t consider myself a writer.

In the most technical sense of the word, I am. These are in fact, words I am typing, and supposedly people read them.

But a waiter at a restaurant writes out my lunch order, and I read it when I get the bill. A cop writes me a ticket for speeding, and I read that also, before cursing him in the name of all deities fictional and imaginary. Luckily for me, I take the bus. 🙂

My point is, just writing things down doesn’t make them writers, and doesn’t make me one either.

I’m just an EDI configuration analyst who writes a blog on the side.

But maybe I’m a bad example. I do this as a hobby; as a way to get my voice out more and to rant at my friends less. It is not my dream to one day be The Next Great American Author™.

So how about other examples?

I have a friend who writes every day. Her dream is, in fact, to one day become The Next Great American Author™, as famous as Stephen King or Mark Twain.

I’ve read her writing, and I like it a lot. It could use some peer review and revision, like everything else. But she has a lot of raw talent. She is reluctant to call herself a writer; at least not yet, and I agree.

I would call her a dreamer, who aspires to one day be a writer.

How about my dad?

He’s actually written 3 novels (that I know of) and is currently working on another. He’s tried to get at least one of them published, and would like to get all of them out there some day. But I’ve never read any of them. I also wouldn’t consider him a writer, because that isn’t he is known for.

I would consider him a radio talk show host who has also written some books.

How about some on who has an English degree, and writes every day, and also dreams, like my friend above, of being The Next Great American Author™?

Nope.

Having a degree only shows that you should be a competent writer, it doesn’t prove you are one. Just look at JK Rowling, Kurt Vonnegut, and the other famous writers out there without a BA in English. You need the actual skills to back it up, or it’s pointless bragging.

No, I would call this person a barista (or sales clerk, fry cook, etc.) with $50,000 worth of student debt, who dreams of being a writer.

So how would I discern a “true” writer?

Well, it isn’t through dreams, or degrees, or rough drafts nobody reads. A dream keeps you going, a degree teaches you skills, and a rough draft gets you started.  Those things are all good, and they can help you be a writer.

But they aren’t what earn you the right to call yourself one.

The thing that does that is proof,  plain and simple.

Because it doesn’t matter what you say, or how loud or often you say it. What matters is what you do.

A musician doesn’t go around introducing himself as a musician at parties, he goes out and plays music.

A smart person doesn’t tell her coworkers she is smart, she shows it by excelling at her job.

A chef cooks, a painter paints, an actress acts, and a dancer dances.

A writer doesn’t go constantly exclaiming he is a writer to everyone who asks (and probably many people who didn’t.)

A writer sits down and writes.

So if someone tells me they are a writer, my next question is going to be, “What have you written?”

If they stumble and bumble their way to some excuse about how they just aren’t ready yet, or some other weak not-really-an-answer, I won’t take them seriously.

Because you can call yourself whatever you want. I can call myself Grand Dictator Shaman Romney, Wizard King of the Etherium, Esq.

But if I can’t back it up with full caster levels and the ability to practice law, I’m just making stuff up to make myself feel important.

If you can’t show proof that you are a writer, you are doing the same thing.

However, that is just one EDI-configuration-analyst-who-writes-a-blog-on-the-side’s opinion, and I would love your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-Shaman

Posted 10/18/2014 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts

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Hey, Guess What?   3 comments

Once more into the prompt.

Our free-write is back by popular demand: today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.

(I only edited this for formatting/ clarity. The core writing was all in 10 minutes.)

I got a new job!

The offer came out of nowhere (I had applied by putting my name and resume in one of those cheesy looking ads on the side of a website), and I got the job within a couple of days. The pay is much better than the one I’m at now, good benefits, 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, etc. It is in a tech field doing something I’ve never even heard of, with what seems like an awesome bunch of people.

It almost feels too good to be true. It feels like I’m going to get there and it is going to turn out to be some nasty sweatshop where they beat me with a riding crop for hours on end and laugh at my continual suffering.

Or even worse, it could be a call center.

But, I’m trying to stay optimistic, and I am definitely excited.

It feels weird to leave this job. I’ve been working here for over two years; it feels like I’m leaving a huge chunk of myself behind. In the time working here I’ve become a whole different person. I no longer hate myself; I wake up in the morning and I am glad to see the person staring back at me. I finally am (mostly) in control of my demons.

So I guess this would be the inevitable next step. Once some things in life improve, everything else seems to cascade and fall into place. I couldn’t (and definitely didn’t want to) be stuck in a dead end job forever.

So what does my new job mean for this blog?

I still want to keep it going. This has been a big turning point for me. Making blogging a goal helped keep me focused, and helped keep me from giving up. But I have no idea how much I’ll be able to do with this new job. I’m pretty sure it’ll actually give me more of an ability to write now, but I won’t be able to do so at work anymore.

So, as a heads up, for the next few months content on here may be a little sparse. I’m still going to try to post at least twice a week, and I don’t think that will be hard for me to do.

But it will probably be poems, or small, quickly voiced thoughts. The longer winded diatribes will have to wait.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-Shaman.

Posted 09/25/2014 by Shaman in Daily Prompt

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