Thursday, June 30, 2011

My take on Dickens

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But I couldn't tell which, really, because I couldn't see through the clouds of smog or over the piles of bodies.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What'll Ya Have? Part 4 of 5

And now a step back into the realm of sci-fi...but with a big genetic possibility...

Number Two: The Zombie Apocalypse
The contagion seemed to come out of nowhere, but most of the former experts agreed that it originated somewhere in the Ukraine, possibly after escaping containment in a former Soviet biological weapons research facility, long derelict after being abandoned for two decades.  It is also agreed that the...disease...was spread through the world's international airports, passed from traveler to traveler simply by their breath.  As it turned out, the Soviet scientists did their jobs well.  The disease spread like wildfire across the globe, despite the best containment efforts.

In the United States the first infections were reported in the Northeast...New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., along with a few other large cities.  Just like the containment measures taken by the countries around the world, our also failed to stop the rapid spread of this nightmare.  There had simply been too many exposed to track.

At first it was reported to be the return of the Spanish especially virulent strain of the Influenza virus that killed around 600,000 Americans in the span of 6 months in 1918.  But this was proving to be something much more aggressive than the flu.  There were so many deaths in such a short amount of time, that makeshift morgues were set up outside, attended by workers in full HAZMAT gear, who piled the twisted and crumpled bodies of the victims like cord wood until they could be buried in hastily dug mass graves.

Then something strange started to happen.

No one is sure how it happened, but it did.  About a week after the first deaths were reported, corpses inexplicable began regaining some form of consciousness, sat up and began walking around aimlessly.  At least it seemed aimless, until the...dead...spotted someone living.  When this happened, the dead became extremely violent, and much, much faster than anyone would expect from a body that had been rotting for a week.  Witnesses said that when the dead caught a victim, they would tear the flesh off their bones with their fingers and teeth, in a cannibalistic feeding frenzy.

Just when we thought it couldn't get worse...the dead came back to life...

The Army and National Guard units were able to hold off the initial numbers of dead, but as more began coming back to life, it didn't take long for them to overrun any fortifications.  It seemed as though their sheer numbers would overwhelm any firepower brought against them, which proved to be the case all over the world.

A few groups of survivors were able to escape, hiding in remote areas of the world.  Groups here in the United States hid in the Pacific Northwest, the sparsely populated desert areas, and the upper Midwest.  And of course, the better armed they are, the more likely they were to survive.  All those zombie movies were right...if you shoot them in the head it kills them.  Permanently.  Nevertheless fears still remain that the supplies of ammunition and food will run out, which will lower the number of living able to survive, but it's been witnessed that the dead will starve, and their rotting corpse will shut down, but how long will it take before they all run out of food?  I guess we'll have to wait and see....

-My 'guesstimated' chance of this actually happening:  Well, this is a tricky one.  Technically, there isn't a reason why a virus, bacteria of fungus couldn't invade the brain and take control.  So, let's say 1% to 2%

-My 'guesstimated' population survival rate:  The zombie apocalypse would be nearly as catastrophic as the nuclear winter.  Only about 10% of the population would be able to escape the initial disease and then the hordes of flesh-eating dead.  That percentage would drop as food supplies and ammunition starts to dwindle.

Guesstimated population survival rate: 10%, but it's going to drop fast once supplies run out!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

These are a Few of my Favorite Things...

-Oh, how I love Punk Rock.  Real Punk Rock.  Not the fake poser crap these days, like Green Day.  Sorry kids.  Not Punk.  I wish it were still the same as when The Sex Pistols, Minor Threat, The Misfits and The Ramones were still around, frightening Conservatives,  mothers and drab politicians all over the planet!

Here's a sample of why Punk songs may have frightened the unprepared, courtesy of Glenn Danzig and The Misfits:

See what I mean? :)

-Oh, how I love fast cars.  My favorite?  Right now?  Probably the Ferrari 599XX.  Doria's seen the wallpaper of the black one on my TV/computer.  This one here:

Oh yeah, now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!  *Sigh*

-Oh, how I love aircraft.  Especially helicopters.  One day I hope that I can afford to get lessons and learn to fly one.  It's pretty expensive, though!  But damn, all the possibilities that would open up with that skillset!  My favorite 'chopper, you ask?  It's the Bell AH-6 "Little Bird" attack helicopter.

Yeah, that's the one!  Small, sleek, fast, but it hits hard. 

-Punk Rock.  Did I mention that I love Punk Rock?  I'm pretty sure I did, but let's cover it again, just to make sure!

More later!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What'll Ya Have? Part 3 of 5

So far the first two parts of my little apocalyptic series haven't been too far fetched.  They're both well within the realm of possibility.  The third installment is a topic of sci-fi movies, since there have been sci-fi movies.  From the wonderfully cheesy "Plan 9 from Outer Space" up to "Independence Day" and "War of the Worlds."

Number Three: Alien Invasion
It's a chilly, but perfectly clear spring morning in any city of your choice.  It doesn't matter which, because the outcome will be the same no matter where you chose.  People are going about their usual morning business.  Early risers are out jogging, people are begrudgingly commuting to their dollar-a-day jobs, worrying about things that will soon seem silly, like bills and due dates and deadlines.

Then, something happens.  Everything seems to become suddenly silent, and a shadow slowly draws itself over the entire city, like a long black curtain, completely blotting out the sun.  Cars screech to a halt on the roads and highways and drivers stare up in disbelief and what they see.  In the sky is a huge craft of some type, with a diameter larger than the entire city itself.  The sudden silence is broken by the sound of the approach of military jets, scrambled from nearby Air Force bases to intercept and investigate the gigantic intruder.  As they draw close, sharp flashes of light, reminiscent of the energy weapons we've all seen in sci-fi movies, come from various spots on the object, instantly vaporizing the fighters in giant balls of flame.

Honestly, we wouldn't stand a chance!

Emergency sirens sound all over the city, sirens left over from the Cold War to warn of an air raid or the threat of a nuclear attack.  Most citizens have never heard these sirens before, but they hardly notice because the streets have falls into pure panic and the beginnings of total chaos.  New reports on the TV warn citizens to stay inside, but that is the last thing that they intend to do at this point.

It doesn't take the invaders long to reduce the city to smoldering ruins.  The spacecraft makes quick work of any structure that contains life, and people are hunted on the streets by autonomous devices, which seem to be designed specifically to neutralize human presence.

None of our weapons, even our previously discussed nuclear warheads, have any effect on the alien ship.  The blinding blasts simply bouncing off the ship's armor, while at the same time making the entire area radioactive.  Those who survive the global invasion are forced to flee to the most remote and inhospitable corners of the planet in an attempt to survive, but given the highly advanced technology wielded by the aliens, their attempts at evasion may be short-lived.

-My 'guesstimated' chance of this actually happening:  0%.  There's really nothing on this planet that such an advanced race of aliens would need, that they don't already have.

-My 'guesstimated' population survival rate:  If such an thing were to happen, my guess would be that about 15%, maybe 20% would survive initially.  But, the clock is ticking for them!

Guesstimated population survival rate: 15% - 20%, but they better get real smart, real fast!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Laying Here Thinking...

To simply say that I miss her right now could possibly be the understatement of the past week.  It's been a while since I saw her last.

I miss her blue eyes, I miss the way she talks, I miss the way she smiles, I miss the way she laughs.

Somehow it helps me to feel better knowing that she knows how much I miss her, and that she misses me, too.  I do know one thing for sure, though...I feel even better knowing that we'll be together again very soon! :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What'll Ya Have? Part 2 of 5.

Continuing with my "end of the world" series, here comes Part 4!  This is a topic that was once a very real to everyone, and one that remains a very legitimate threat, even after the Cold War ended after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Number 4:  Nuclear Winter
Somewhere in the desert of the United States, a civilian rocket, carrying a satellite intended to provide consumers with GPS location for their cars and cellphones, blasts off into the night sky.  On the other side of the planet, powerful, yet very outdated Russian military radar systems dating from Soviet-era detect the launch of the rocket.  These systems, manned by inexperienced, poorly motivated and poorly paid Russian soldiers, commanded by officers still of the Cold War mindset, mistake the civilian launch for that of a first-strike launch of a nuclear-armed U.S. Military Minuteman III ballistic missile.

The commander of the radar systems make panicked calls to military leaders in Moscow, claiming that the United States has launched nuclear missiles against targets within Russian territory.  Upon hearing this, Russian commanders order an immediate retaliatory strike against American military and civilian targets, before fully investigating the claims of the commanders of the radar outposts.

Deep in the heart of Russia, mobile nuclear missile launch platforms, with their missiles always trained on a variety of targets within the United States, even two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, initiate firing commands and send their ballistic missiles skyward toward their intended destinations.  American radar systems, caught offguard, see this as a Russian first strike.  The President activates his "nuclear football" -- a briefcase that is handcuffed to a military advisor who is near the President 24/7 and contains all the codes and protocol necessary to affect a nuclear strike -- and orders an immediate launch of American missiles.

Throughout the United States, Minuteman silos open their doors and launch their missiles toward predetermined targets in Russia.  American ballistic missile submarines, called "Boomers," scattered about in oceans all across the globe also retaliate against the Russian launches.

Within the hour, the northern hemisphere of the globe is rendered uninhabitable by radiation and nuclear fallout that will last for hundreds of years.  Any living person or creature that wasn't killed by the hundreds of nuclear blasts all across their respective countries, will eventually succumb to a combination of starvation and radiation poisoning.  Industry and agriculture are wiped off the face of the planet, as are most major industrial cities, including Moscow, London, New York, Washington D.C., and even Atlanta.

 The Hydrogen Bomb
The chance for survival in the ensuing nuclear winter is slim but, if there were any advanced warning of the attacks, there are precious few individuals who would be prepared for a nuclear armageddon.  Those who had built bomb shelters underground, and who had prepared these shelters with air filtration systems to filter out the radioactive fallout, who had stocked their shelters with enough food and water for a very long "hibernation" period in their new concrete homes buried under scorched earth.  But the sad reality is that even they will eventually face the same fate as those who died earlier.  Stored food and water will eventually run out, and "the outside" will not be safe enough for any sort of habitation for many, many generations.  Once their supplies run out, they will be forced to leave their bunkers, and the radiation will soon claim them as vicitims.

This concept of immediate nuclear retaliation was called MAD, or "Mutually Assured Destruction."  It was the horror story that played through the minds of previous generations -- those who lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War.  But, don't think that just because the Soviet Union has collapsed, that the world is safe from such a fate.  Far from it.  Within the "new" Russia, parts of the Soviet mindset remain alive and well.  Large numbers of Commanders in the Russian military are the very same ones that taught Soviets to hate Americans.  And as for us here in the United States, our Minuteman missiles are right where they were 30 years ago...still holding patient vigil for a moment that we had better hope never comes.

-My 'guesstimated' chance of this scenario playing out: Slim, about 5%.  If this was the 1950s or 1960s, I'd say much higher.

-My 'guesstimated' population survival rate:  Slim to none.  Initially, about 2% to 3% for those who had enough warning AND had prepared accordingly.  However, this will drop to 0% once their supplies run out and they are forced to abandon their hiding spots.

Guesstimated population survival rate: 2% - 3% initially, dropping to 0% later.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What'll Ya Have? Part 1 of 5.

Here we are, a bit over a year away from the date that the Mayan calendar stopped, suggesting to some that they believe that the world will come to an end.  Rather, that society as we know it will come to an end, bring about changes that will start a new order.  Now, I don't believe this any more than the next logical person, but it's still fun (in a twisted sort of way) to ponder the possibilities.  I know that it sure helps to pass time when I'm at work, and anything that helps to pass the time there can't be a bad thing!

Over the next few days I'll present to you, my list of the "Top 5" ways that I think that our "civilization" (or lack thereof) will ultimately meet its demise, starting with number 5.

Number 5: The Petroleum Meltdown
Yes, it's true...our entire society, along with the societies of every other industrialized nation, survives only as long as there is petroleum available, at a reasonable cost, to fuel industry.  Think about it this way...petroleum is somehow involved in every single aspect of your life every day.  Your car runs on gasoline, the engine is lubricated with oil.  All the tractor trailers that are delivering products and goods to stores are fueled by diesel. Aircraft, which are also transporting goods as well as passengers, fly only with fuel for their very thirsty engines.  Most passenger trains and freight trains require diesel to operate.  You get the idea.

When oil wells go dry, we'll be in serious trouble, very quickly

So, let's step forward about 50 years into the future.  This is a date that we can assume that most of the oil fields in the Middle East are starting to run dry, and we still haven't reached a good solution, such as drilling for the huge amounts of oil right here in North America.  Almost immediately the price of gasoline and diesel at the pumps jumps to a level that most people can't afford, which also includes the trucking companies and railroads.  Jet fuel becomes impossible for the airlines to afford.  Industry quickly grinds to a halt.  Food and goods can't be delivered to customers, workers can't afford to drive to work because they aren't even making enough in a paycheck to cover the cost of fuel. The entire global economy quickly slips into extinction, along with any sort of law and order.

Marshall law will quickly be declared, but there aren't enough police, or even military, to contain the violence of an entire population enraged over their loss of everything.  The only ones who will ultimately survive will be the ones who are smart enough, cunning enough, and possibly violent enough, to make a spot for them in the new life that emerges, which I imagine will be a lot like the Wild West of the 1800s.

-My 'guesstimated' chance of this happening:  Well, there is a 100% chance that oil wells WILL eventually run dry, but hopefully by then we'll have other options for fueling our economy.  My guesstimate for this exact scenario playing out is 30%.

-My 'guesstimated' population survival rate: 75%

Guesstimated population survival rate: 75%

Monday, June 13, 2011

The AutoCAD Monkey

Doria, here's a good Monkey joke for you...a little long, but pretty good.  I've had this buried in my email for a long time.  Just dug it out :)


A tourist walked into a pet shop and was looking at the animals on display. While he was there, another customer walked in and said to the shopkeeper, "I'll have an AutoCAD monkey please." The shopkeeper nodded, went over to a cage at the side of the shop and took out a monkey. He fitted a collar and leash, handed it to the customer, saying, "That'll be $5000." The customer paid and walked out with his monkey.

Startled, the tourist went over to the shopkeeper and said, "That was a very expensive monkey.  Most of them are only few hundred dollars. Why did that one cost so much?"

The Shopkeeper answered, "Ah, that monkey can draw in AutoCAD - very fast, clear layouts, no mistakes, well worth the money."

The tourist looked at a monkey in another cage. "That one's even more expensive! $10,000! What does it do?"

"Oh, that one's a Design monkey; it can design systems, layout projects, mark-up drawings, write specifications, some even calculate. All the really useful stuff," said the shopkeeper.

The tourist looked around for a little longer and saw a third monkey in its own cage. The price tag around its neck read $50,000. He gasped to the shopkeeper, "That one costs more than all the others put together! What on earth does it do?"

The shopkeeper replied, "Well, I haven't actually seen it do anything, but it says it's a Manager!"


There ya have it!  The AutoCAD Monkeys!

We're just a Minor Threat! And that's okay.

Since we were on the topic of Punk Rock, and having devoted my previous entry to a British band that is possibly the most famous group of Punk Rockers ever, I thought that this time I would give a little attention to an American Punk Rock band that was responsible for kicking off the Punk Rock movement here in the states.  A seldom mentioned band from Washington D.C. called Minor Threat.  However, you may recognize the name Ian MacKaye, who was not only the vocalist for Minor Threat, but also went on to sing for Fugazi.

Let's take a look at a couple of Minor Threat tracks, two of my favorites, that show two different styles of the band.  First off, their self-titled song, from their self-titled album...Minor Threat, on "Minor Threat" by Minor Threat.  Okay, here we go:

A very aggressive, heavily distorted guitar track...probably not a heavily rehearsed song.  Short and to the point!  Next up is a song called "Good Guys Don't Wear White," also from the "Minor Threat" album.  Two very different sounds to come from the same album.  Check it out...

There are a few other Minor Threat songs that I really enjoy, and I just may post them at a later date.  But for now, go out and hit YouTube and check out some more of their stuff!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Sex Pistols, and my Weekend.



 This is my favorite song at the moment...I actually consider it my "theme song" is a person can have such a thing.  Peter Griffin did, and that's good enough for me.  I've loved the Sex Pistols for quite some time and consider them the epitome of Punk Rock.  I think that they're what all Punk bands should strive to be like. Their sound is raw, powerful and has a very "fuck you and the horse you rode in on" attitude.

Also notice that in this video, Glen Matlock is playing bass instead of Sid Vicious.  I'm not sure when this video was recorded.  It was either during a period where Sid and Johnny weren't getting along (which was a lot), or after Sid had died from the overdose.

Good stuff!

On another note, this weekend was pretty great!  I got to spend a lot of time with a very awesome woman, who I've been dying to spend more time with.  Last night we went to see Rehab at Wild Bills.  Pretty good show!  The two opening acts were definitely different, though!   But yeah, I'm pretty thoroughly happy about the whole weekend, and it's because of the person I spent it with :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Some Songs...

I don't think I can mention enough just how SICK I am of hearing the Five Finger Death Punch cover of Bad Company by...Bad Company.

It has to I've the WORST cover of any song ever recorded by a horribly mediocre and genetic sounding band.  They even changed some lyrics to try and sound more trendy.  Fuckers.  Yet the radio stations play it like it's the only thing around.

I've gotten good at switching stations every single time it comes on.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Time Enough, At Last!

Every day I hear about how sour the economy is, and I do feel very lucky to be working when so many are desperate for a paycheck.  But things haven't been this way for long.  I thought that I would share my story of the Great Recession, with an implied warning that it's not over yet!

Back in January of 2007 I started working for a company that did the structural design and layout of pre-engineered roof and floor truss systems for residential homes, multi-family buildings (apartment buildings, hotels, and the like) as well as commercial buildings.  It as a job that required a lot of creativity and find a structural solution that would allow what the architect had put onto the paper, the visual elements of the building, to work in the real world.  Every day presented a new challenge, and a fresh chance to learn something new.  Ah, those were the days.

Fast forward to mid-2009.  By this time the construction industry had been in the grip of a crushing recession for months, and it was only getting worse.  Most of my colleagues had already been laid off, simply due to a lack of work.  I was hanging on because I was in charge of the most accounts of various national homebuilders who were operating in the Atlanta area.  I was actually laid off in March of 2009, but I was rehired two weeks later when they discovered that I possessed very specific knowledge of how these builders liked to have their projects designed.  Each one was different, and all were very picky about it.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.  I was laid off for a second time a few months later.  However, fate was still smiling upon me (albeit very dimly), because two short weeks after the second layoff, I was hired by another company, based in Oakwood, GA., that was in the same business.  Apart from learning a few different processes at the company, I was back in the saddle again...for a while.  But, as they continue to say, damn them, all good things will come to an end.  I was laid off from the second company in late 2009.  Hmph.  That made three layoffs in the same year.  Saying that the economy was bad, was the understatement of a very gloomy year.

The "New Hard Times."  They really were for me.  They still are for a lot of people.

And so began my journey through unemployment, scouring ever help-wanted ad, every job website that I could find.  Applying to at least two hundred jobs.  Nothing.  No one was looking for experience, they were looking for dumb and cheap, it seemed.  On the positive side, there was time enough for anything that I wanted to do, as long as it didn't cost much!  It turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise, even though when I look back on it myself, it's still hard to see it that way.  I was able to get a few priorities straight, made a few new friends with my abundance of [anxious] leisure time

Then came February of 2010, about a full year after getting laid off for the third time, and a full year of being on unemployment, hardly being able to make ends meet, although I did...miraculously.  One afternoon I received an email from a temp. service offering me an interview to a position as an Electronics Technician, which is what my college degree is actually in.  I snapped it up, of course, and later the same day as the interview, a Thursday, they called back and said that I had the job.  Report to work at 7:30am on Monday morning!  I've been at it ever since, working a couple of overnighters to get product out the door on time, working 10, 11, 12 and 13-hour days continuously to stay caught up with demand.  All-in-all a good job, although sometimes very exhausting and quite frustrating.  But I suppose that goes along with every job...

So, chin up everyone.  It could be worse, and things WILL get better.  I have a good feeling about tomorrow.  I think better things are right around the corner, as long as we work hard to make sure that it happens!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Zombie Apocalypse, and why it's not so impossible

Recently we've been hearing a lot about "the end of days," or "Judgement Day," or "The Second Coming," etc., etc.  Now, to all of us logical thinkers, we know that these things are nothing more than superstition.  Kind of an easy out, if you will, for a group that feels that being stuck here on Earth with the rest of us is a bit of a burden.  Imagine that.  Me.  A burden!  Heh, okay maybe they've got something there.  Personally, I think we have more -- real -- threats to worry about, things that really COULD end human existence as we know it.

My favorite movie genre is the Zombie flick.  Good ol' brain-craving abominations, risen from the dead by various means.  I like the "disease zombies."  You know the ones...from 28 Days Later, the Resident Evil series, Quarantine, and the television series The Walking Dead.  And you know what?  The scary thing is that some of this stuff really isn't beyond the realm if possibility.

Take for example the plight of a group of poor ants in Brazil, whose body chemistry is taken over by a fungal spore that infects the ant's brain.  The spore takes control of the ant, turning it into a mindless drone (wait, isn't that what most ants already are?....).  The spore makes the ant climb a tall blade of grass and latch onto the very top with it's mandibles, then the spore kills the ant.  A few days later, a fungus sprouts from the ant's head, releasing more spores into the air.  Don't believe me?  Don't take my word for it...check out National Geographic's article on the ant killing brain fungus here.

Scary stuff, huh?  And who's to say that such a fungus, or bacteria, or virus, long dormant in some dark jungle doesn't exist?  It may just be waiting for someone to come along and cut down the wrong tree...

Zombie Uncle Sam wants YOU to be ready for the Zombie Plague!

Get your gas masks ready, folks!