Under the Weather

I have had a crazy week. While I have a handful of articles I have been writing on that are not ready to be published yet, this week calls for yet another personal post. This one is going to be long, but it has been a long week.

Life
More randomness for you today…

A Visit to the Surgeon…
This has been quite a week for me. It all started last Thursday, July 17th, when I went to see a surgeon to evaluate my infection. As mentioned in my previous post I said might have to have surgery. I have an infected lump under my skin in my armpit. After examining me, the determination has been made that I will need to have surgery to remove the infection.

The back story behind this started last August (in 2013) after I had bought a cheap razor and attempted to shave the area. The razor was very cheap and the blades did not cut the hair but it did cut my skin. The very next day a large lump was present, and having no health insurance at the time, I just let it be. Come January, when I got insurance, it had been an open wound on my body for a few months and was bleeding every day and constantly getting horribly infected. After the last few months of trying to treat this, my doctor sent me off to the surgeon.

What I have is called Hidradenitis. I have never had this before, however the surgery should take care of the situation. The surgeon said it will take a month or more to heal up after the section is cut away.

I will just say right now I am terrified of surgery, especially surgery that involves cutting away parts.

That surgery will happen in early August, almost a year after this whole mess begun. I have a really nice surgeon, he is really very smart and very kind. I have faith in him and I believe this procedure will go well and things will be fine.

The Next Day…
Friday evening I got really sick. I was just fine most of the day and then suddenly I came down with severe nausea, stomach pains and head pains. I had no appetite. I chalked this all up to my infection. Having an open infection on your body can get into your blood stream and make you feel sick. So I just weathered the situation.

The next morning I woke up at 04:30 and felt even worse. I eventually vomited and had several sessions of dry heaving. My body evacuated everything it could in all ways that were possible over the course of the day.

I felt dizzy and nausea and my stomach pains did not go away, even after vomiting. I started checking my food and what I had eaten  the previous day and really I could not find anything. I started to think I must have contracted something from someone in the waiting room when I went to see the surgeon.

There was an outbreak of Listeria along the west coat, including in my city. This is a kind of food poisoning that comes from factories when food is not handled correctly or there is some bacteria on the equipment that is infected. I checked my fruit against the lists I found online and none of my fruit was infected.

However, I had neglected to remember that a family member had given me some of her fruit. A few days later she got a call notifying her that she had purchased infected fruit from the local Costco.

So at least the mystery was solved, I had gotten Listeria from the infected fruit. I do not usually get sick too often, but when I do it is pretty bad because I have a weakened immune system.

My sickness continued through the weekend and only Monday afternoon did I began to feel a bit better. Though even now, a week later, I find my stomach to be a little sensitive on some things and I have had some bouts of unexplained nausea.

Another Doctor Visit…
On Tuesday I had to visit another doctor, a Dermatologist, for a life long skin condition that I have recently decided I needed to find some way to get under control.

I will note I have had amazing luck with doctors in this town. I have found the nicest most caring doctors I have ever had in my life here.

It would seem my luck with doctors in this town had come to an end because I got the rudest, most disrespectful doctor I have ever had in my life. He expected me to be the expert, to know what he knows and to use the internet to doctor my problems. Seriously if I wanted the internet to treat me I would not have spent the time and money to go see that doctor. Unfortunately, the internet cannot write me prescriptions, so he was forced to actually do his job even if in the most bare minimum.

When did it become the patients responsibility to become the doctor? I had done plenty of research online, however I did not know all of those long 20 letter medication names. I am not in the medical industry and really that is his job to know that stuff, not mine. Certainly they earned those degrees and get paid huge amounts of money per hour to actually… do their job? I can look up symptoms online all I like, but the internet does not replace a real educated medical professional. Hence, that is why we have doctors.

When I was done there, I had to make another appointment and at that time I had the front desk change me to another doctor for my next scheduled visit. I will not put up with disrespect and outright rude behavior from anyone. I am a person and I deserve respect. I am no longer in the situation in my life where I let others walk all over me like certain people in my past have done.

Tornado
Wednesday at 15:30 I was on the computer writing out a blog post. I had been working on that post for a while and was determined to publish it by end of day.

The house was quiet, I had no music on, everything seemed absolutely normal for the moment. The wind was blowing outside, it was a little cold for a summer day, but it felt like just a regular day otherwise.

At 15:45 the power flickered once and then went out and everything changed very suddenly. There was no warning of this oncoming storm. It just happened instantly, like a light switch being turned on.

I heard thunder very loudly outside and the winds started up hard. The house strained against the winds. It got very loud outside, the noise was violent. I have been through many storms in my life here, but nothing sounded quite like that.

I got up and looked out the window and I was not quite sure what I was seeing. There was this wall of grey and brown flying past, cutting off part of the backyard. I could not see past the wall. It took a moment for it to settle into me that I was in the eye of a tornado and seeing the edge there.

It was horribly loud outside, things were moving on the patio, stuff was flying everywhere. The house was lurching and straining against the wind and I could just hear it and that’s a sound I have no description for. I had this sincere worry that the roof would be gone when things were over. I have never been in a tornado before, but instinctively I knew that is what was happening. I had no idea what to do. I was in the safest location in the house that I could be in. There was nothing I could do except hope that everyone and everything would be safe.

All I could do was stand at the window and watch and be weary for any flying debris. Luckily I have a deck overhead so it was taking the brunt of the chaos, as I could hear things moving and crashing up above.

I was all alone in the house when this happened. I had tried to call my family but the phone networks were not working, nothing was working.

It rained, then it hailed HUGE balls of ice.. and rained again and then stopped and nothing but the wind kept up constantly. It was like watching a rainbow of weather happen over the course of mere seconds, back and forth changing from one moment to the next.

Eventually the precipitation stopped, but the wind stayed strong. The grey wall of dust in the backyard disappeared. I could finally see beyond the yard, so I knew it was stopping.

One final rain occurred at the end there, but was over fast and things started to slow down.

I went upstairs when my grandparents arrived. They had been at my mothers house and had been driving on the roads when this hit. They were safe and well, thankfully.

We went outside and saw that parts of the roof here were flung into the street, neighbors were returning pieces of the roof, which is kinda humorous now but at the time disturbing. When the neighbors had looked at the house during the storm the shingles were standing straight up during the winds.

This tree lost some limbs but was not uprooted. Some of the limbs were thrown from here to the front yard in the winds.

We also found in the backyard two of the trees had been damaged. One of the trees had lost some limbs.  Large pieces lay in the backyard just under the tree and some other limps had been thrown into the front yard. A bird’s nest was found laying in the yard, one small little egg remained. The poor bird was long gone and the egg would never hatch. We put the nest back in the tree, but we know the bird will never return.

The other tree, next to the house, had been partially uprooted. The roots had formed this huge lump in the surrounding grass and some of the roots broke through the grass and were protruding out. The tree had hit the house, bending the edgy thingy (technical term, I’m sure) for water drainage and hit the roof, but it did not fall onto the house. Somehow, by some miracle, the tree managed to stay rooted strong enough into the ground to only hit the house but managed to keep standing mostly.

By this time my phone was dead. It had almost no charge when the power went. I had quickly sent a couple of texts and let it die. That was only a half hour after the storm passed through. I got no replies from anyone and figured the service was down completely. I have learned the lesson I need to keep it charged better.

My grandparents went to my moms house shortly after arriving to make sure she was okay. Funny enough, my mom was getting in her car to check on them when they arrived. My moms house is fine, but the pool is filled with tree branches and is a mess, but nothing that can’t be cleaned up.

The partially uprooted tree and the huge lump under the grass. This area used to be flat, the roots under the grass pulled up the ground and broke through the grass at a point.

My grandparents came back and we talked a while. Whenever the wind ripped through every few minutes, the tree would sway and touch the house. For several hours we were concerned it would destroy part of the house. We could do nothing at all about it but wait.

Watching that tree sway and hearing my grandma be so upset caused my blood pressure to rise and I felt a panic attack starting in. For some reason I was numb with shock before that moment but hearing my grandmas voice so upset shook me hard. She had my grandpa to hold her, so I told them I had to go downstairs and start unplugging things.

I did unplug things, but mostly I had to lay on my bed and try to balance my own internal chaos so I would not freak out. I did not need my own emotions to make the situation worse for anyone else. I did eventually feel inner peace as I heard the wind start to calm.

After a while left the bedroom and sat on the couch in the main room. I opened the door. Washington always smells beautiful after a good rain here, so I just let the air flow in for several hours. I lit the candle that a dear friend gave me and sat on the couch and just listened to the remainder of the storm. The winds kept up and of course they were pushing into the house, forcing the tree to hit the house each time. However, the wind had lost some power and it was no longer such a worry it would fall onto the house as the evening went on.

The partially uprooted tree over the house where it hit the roof.

So for a while all I did was hang out and listen to the storm. The radio station said that 65,000 people were without power, homes were devastated by falling trees and people were injured by falling branches and some trapped in their cars. Many people were left homeless, a trailer park got hit very hard, many families left without a place to live.

In other words, we were quite lucky.

Later that night, my grandma got us all food. They got hamburgers from Zips (best fast food in town). My mom, aunt, my grandparents and I all sat around the table upstairs and had a candle lit dinner together. I have to say in light of everything, it was actually really nice. I really enjoyed myself. I missed my aunt after all these years. She never talks down to me, she listens to what I say and she and I get each others sense of humor.

That is when we all told our stories. My mom had been outside in the garden when the tornado hit. As mentioned, there was no warning, it came on in an instant. She was in the yard and her neighbor was there. They clung to each other as they felt themselves being lifted and grabbed onto whatever they could. They watched the garbage can lid be removed and all of the trash inside pulled out and strewn over the yard.. just like that from the wind. Insanity.

They were fine though. Her giant tree in her yard did not fall. Her neighbor (the other) tried to say she should take it down. I told her she never should, that this tornado was the worst thing this area could get and it survived, that is a testament to its deep roots and it will be fine in most anything now after surviving that. She has a leaky poor roof on her house, but it did not get hit directly so her house is fine.

When the sky cleared and the sun came into the yard, I knew the worst was over.

My aunt.. she was at Kohl’s shopping for clothes and my mom called her all panicked and she was rolling her eyes thinking my mom was exaggerating. Then she talked to my grandma and when she started driving into town she saw the disaster and realized what had happened, that this was no exaggeration. It is funny how she told the story, we were all laughing. She said when my mom (her sister) called she said “Where are you?” and my aunt answered something about needing clothes so bad and stressing over clothes. It was just funny the way she told it.

The grandparents were stuck in the car, trees all over the road, but they made it home just fine without many troubles. They got to see the havoc that the tornado had created while driving here.

So we had a nice dinner. My grandparents charged my phone in the car outside to see if I could find information online as I am the only one with a smart(ass) phone in the family. We did not find much just a lot of “power will be restored soon” type of information. The power company was calling us occasionally, keeping us informed. First it was 20:30, then 23:30. We heard from someone else it might be a week in other places. Being that we are near a local hospital, we knew we would get power soon.

I prepared to go to bed. I sent some texts to some friends, then tried to settle in to sleep. As I was laying in bed less than twenty minutes later, I heard the fridge come on and I looked up and saw the blinking clock. The power was back. It was 00:22. So I got up, tried the internet, and I found it was down. So I just went to bed to try and get some sleep.

There was word from the radio that another possible storm might move through during the night. I was deeply concerned about the tree outside falling on the house. It made for a rough night sleep.

I woke up at 05:30 and could not sleep further even though I felt exhausted. Finally around 07:00 the internet was back online so at least I could go look at the news.

Local radio up to that point had been pretty poor in reporting on the story. Radio sure has changed since the day of Ice Storm in the mid-1990’s. They all expect people to rely on the internet now. Well, when you do not have power and phones are out, most people go to their radio. So I found local radio to be very unhelpful for the most part, but KXLY did do some coverage here and there, so that was good.

All of the limbs finally cut down and laying over much of the backyard.

A couple of hours later the removal of the tree began. My uncle had come out with a chainsaw and some ropes and other things. He and a couple of others started work on the tree. It is really too bad, it was a very nice tree. It was here when the house was bought 40 years ago.

Limb by limb carefully the tree was chopped. Unfortunately some of the very heavy tall limps hanging over the house fell on the roof and caused significant damage, including putting a large hole in the roof. Eventually by mid afternoon the tree had been cut down to a very tall stump, the limbs laying over the most of the backyard. The limbs were very tall, I was worried that it could not be removed without injuries, however the boys did a brilliant job and everything worked out.

The stump now stands some ten feet tall, but the house is safe now. Eventually it will be cut down to a stump and kept.

We found that the deck in the backyard, a very secure deck I might say, had been moved and was no longer perfectly level. That says a lot to the power of those winds.

The birds nest that was thrown from the tree during the storm with a single egg that will never hatch.

Maybe this storm is not bad compared to anyone that normally goes through this type of weather.. but for this area, this is not normal. I saw a twister in the sky in my mid-teens here, but it never landed. That is just not normal for this city. This kind of weather is a first for me, I have never experienced it before in any place I have ever lived.

Everyone I know here is okay. Many are not okay though and I am sad for them. Crazy how things like this hit one house, miss another, then hit one more, back and forth.. such chaos. I could not live in places that this is normal.

In Closing…
I have surgery coming up, medical things to handle, I got through a bout of Listeria, and my home got hit by a tornado all in one week. What else do you have for me, world? Come at me, brah! :-)

 

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Randomness Today…

As promised, randomness will occur here. Today is a randomness post about life and other refinements.

I just finished a large bowl of Mac n Cheese.. I am hugely full and I do mean if I needed to get up any time soon, a crane might be needed at this point.

Blog Updates
I have not published anything in over a week here, while that was not intentional, it happened. I currently have a few different blog posts I have been working on, but none of them are ready to be published yet. They are in the works and will eventually make it out to your eyeballs.

I recently received my first real comment on this blog from someone named Max. It is in the About section linked at the top of the page. It is very nice to have people say such kind things to me. It is so touching to know that people have basically “grown up” with me and my little website. That is just so incredible to me, so amazing. I do not think I have ever done much important in this life, but to know that my words have meant something to someone is amazing and moving to me. Thank you for commenting, Max.

Neopets
Max made me aware also that my Neopets account is no longer there. I know I checked into it less than a few years ago, so I guess something happened. I logged in and got the warning info about the account being frozen. Then I made a new account to contact support explaining my situation. Hopefully I hear back soon. My Neopets account was one of the oldest on the site, the creators themselves invited me to play years ago and I signed up within a week of the site opening up. I hope they can get my account returned to me. They wanted info that I could not quite remember so hopefully things work out. I would be sad to lose that account and not have it recovered.

Plagiarism
I recently have discovered a situation online where someone has plagiarized my website, and not just in part but the entire thing, and I am in the process of dealing with that situation on a legal front. Stealing is wrong, mkay. It might be digital, but it is still against the law to take other peoples work and pretend it is your own. I have had this happen so often to me that dealing with it is almost routine now. When will people learn… originality is king. Write your own content and people will appreciate it. Build it and they will come has always been my website motto.

Life
I have had some medical issues and one of them may require surgery. I will be going to the hospital this week to be evaluated. They will examine me and make a decision on what should happen next. Everything should be okay, but I am nervous. I do not like medical things.

I have been overly stressed lately and I have had extreme anxieties about many things going on in my life. There are some people that have hurt me lately that I have been trying to come to terms with. This is related to a recent post I made here titled Lost. Things seem to be better after talking to this person earlier today, but I am still bothered in some ways. I know that I just need to learn to live with our differences, that some things will never change. Some people will never understand some things because they can not identify with experiences they’ve never had. This is my emotional reaction to deal with and come to terms with. Luckily I have a lot of very good friends who do understand me.

And speaking of wonderful friends… I do have those. As I have grown through this existence I have done much soul searching and self discovery over the last few years. I feel like I am finally on the right path in life.

I have realized many of the mistakes I made in the past were because of bad decisions made from the very start. I always tried to be something I never was in this world.

I feel like I was robbed of many wonderful memories for the majority of my life. My childhood was complete garbage, those who know me know all about that. But also the last twenty years of my life were thrown away. I fell in step with someone who really never cared about me who turned out to be a cheater and a liar. I was stuck being around people that never appreciated me or truly loved me, people that lied to me, tried to manipulate me, hurt me emotionally without care, made me feel like everything was always my fault, people who stomped all over my self confidence and made me feel I deserved nothing good in this life. These people just threw me away as though I was nothing and nobody.

I was always trying too hard to please others that did not care about me and to make people happy who did not care about my happiness. I completely never tried to understand what I really wanted out of this life and who I really am. I never did that important soul searching that every person must experience at some point. In that, many years have been wasted, so much time was lost. Many regrets were had.

It is important to enjoy and support others happiness, but it is also important to find happiness within. Both of these things are important to having a happy and healthy life. Being happy within, and also spreading happiness to others. One cannot be truly happy without these basic things.

Over the last couple of years I feel I have finally started finding self acceptance. I have reached out to other people who are just like me and found real true acceptance from them. And I have let myself start being who I really am in this life.

The wonderful friends I have now are the most true and real friends I have ever had in my entire life. They understand me as I really am, they do not expect me to be perfect, they understand who I love. They identify with my struggles and reach out to me when life becomes overwhelming. They make me feel I have value as a person in this world and in turn I feel like I am healing from all the pain I’ve had to endure. They are the kind of friends I never thought I’d be lucky enough to know. I mean really know and really talk with… not fake friends who stick around for the fun stuff and walk away when times get difficult.

Last year I flew to San Fransisco to meet my closest friend and his girlfriend. We had such a wonderful time. It is truly the only time in my life I feel like I actually connected with someone who is just like me, who understands all of those things that no one else has ever understood. That is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Now my friend is going to be moving and he will be much closer to me so I will get to see him more often. Good times are ahead, many good times.

For me life is just beginning. As time goes on, things will only get better.

 

“Living a life of purpose means helping others and being sensitive, compassionate, and sympathetic towards each other. But I believe there comes a time when we all must choose between sacrificing parts of ourselves in order to compromise with the world, or standing up for who we are without apology and prioritizing our own precious needs first. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, how will you have the strength or courage to take care of others?”
~Shane Bitney Crone

 

 

 

 

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4th of July

To those that celebrate, Happy 4th of July!

I used to celebrate this holiday when I was younger, but really haven’t in the past many years.

As a kid, fireworks were legal in my town. On our street as the evening closed in, lawn chairs would be spread out on the front lawns of most of the houses and kids would be running around everywhere. Sometimes a radio could be heard in the distance.

As a child I loved the snakes.. I do not honestly know what their real names were, but you know those miniature hockey pucks that you would light and they would grow out into snake-like forms. I sure did love the smell of those too, it was sort of a sweet smoke. Of course later on in life I learned that the smell I enjoyed was toxic.

We also had the sparklers. I did not so much like those myself, they would zap my hands and I found that more annoying than anything.

As it got dark the entire street would be filled with people lighting off fireworks. That is just how it was in those days. There was an innocence about it all because it was about families bonding with each other and the neighbors. Or at least that’s how my memory feels like it was. I know time can turn the past into a sugarcoated happy place.

We had many fireworks whose names I can’t recall, but one I do remember is the ever annoying Piccolo Pete. That thing would just send off the loudest most ear busting whistle ever.

I remember very clearly the last one we’d always shoot off was the Roman Candle. That was always my mom’s favorite too. Someone would hold the candle stick straight up into the air and it would put on a much longer show than the others that we usually had.

I also remember quite clearly one year that a firework, from somewhere in the neighborhood, went into our backyard pool and it burned a large hole into the lining of the pool on the very side. I think that was my first lesson on learning how dangerous pyrotechnics are. After that, I thought about them from a viewpoint of them being more dangerous than fun.

As the years went on fireworks ceased to exist in my life, for the most part. Sometimes a little box of Pop-It’s would show up in the house – those little paper poppy things that made a small explosive pop when tossed to the ground. One of the last fireworks I ever had was a little green cardboard tank with small fireworks out of several parts of it. Back then, I opted to keep the tank because I liked tanks. I have no idea what ever happened to that thing.

Those memories are over twenty years old now. In the past twenty years many things have changed. Most towns I have lived, including my childhood town now, no longer allow regular folks to use fireworks even on the holiday. Instead, towns will put on their own fireworks show at designated locations. People will gather together to see the show, rather than make a show in their own yard.

I have been to a couple of those types of shows, and while they are impressive, fireworks just have never been A Thing for me.

Some years ago I encountered a second example of how dangerous fireworks can be. While I have seen plenty of examples of fires and other things on the news proving that they are indeed dangerous, I once lived in an apartment where something almost newsworthy happened.

During the night, in a city in California where fireworks are prohibited, a family and their kids decided to let off a couple of fireworks in the apartment parking lot. They obviously did not want to be caught so they figured they should try to be discrete and chose to do the fireworks off to the very edge of the parking lot, instead of out in the open where they’d be easily seen.

Specifically, they thought it would be an ideal location to set off fireworks under some of the large bushes.

Brilliant.

So the police and fire department showed up shortly after, due to the bushes catching on fire. I remember seeing those bushes the next morning. A brilliant plan that was. At least it never happened again while I lived there.

Other than that, I have not had much interaction with fireworks or celebrations on this holiday. It is an interesting art, just not one that has ever fascinated me so much. Mostly, I consider them to be dangerous.

This year will be no different than the previous years. I will be home and hoping that not too many people in the city light themselves on fire… or at least that they manage to avoid any bushes while doing so.

 

 

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Lost

Lately I’ve been feeling tremendously lost.

My anxieties have been so bad the last two days I’ve been so sick. I have so many worries and so much stress it is tearing me up emotionally and physically.

Yesterday, someone who is important to me, tore me up verbally. They blatantly disregard that I’m a human being with feelings. They said some very hurtful things, some I will never forget. They don’t understand me at all. I just want to be accepted for who I am, not ridiculed because I don’t live up to their expectations of perfection. I can only be me and if I’m not good enough, really I don’t know what to say. Everything they said was just aiming to hurt me.. and they succeeded. I’m too old for this garbage. I don’t even know how to proceed with the situation.

I’ve been through so much in this life. There is so much I still am dealing with. All I wish is for the next handful of years to be better than the last handful of years. Not amazing, not outstanding, not awesome.. just better. That’s all. Is that too much to ask?

I hurt and worry.

Silence is comforting.

Music and silence.

  

“It’s hard to tell who has your back, from who has it long enough just to stab you in it….”
~Nicole Richie

 

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Radio Influence

I grew up listening to the radio. Yes, I grew up in the MTV age – the 1980’s – but I still love radio and always have. Today I am going to talk about some radio shows that have influenced my life and also talk about a show I have been listening to lately.

Casey Kasem
I have always loved music. Music is so important to me as a person. Music expresses emotions in ways I have a hard time putting into words. Music has always been an important part of who I am and it remains so these days.

I always had a radio by my side growing up. The first radio show I listened to on a regular basis was definitely Casey Kasem’s Adult Contemporary Top 40. Pop and Rock mostly, it had all the best of what I loved. I was there when MTV first came on the air and while I was captivated by it, I still had to listen to the Top 40 show. Here is his profile on IMDB.

Much respect and deepest regards to Casey’s family, as Casey has recently passed away. I’ll never forget Casey Kasem. He made his show so personal, like talking with a best friend. He influenced my love of music and my life. When I had no one else growing up, I always had music and Casey was a big part of that.

Rick Miller
As I got older my radio interests went from only music, to also listening to radio talk shows.

I got into my first radio talk show when I was just in my late teens. It was hosted by a guy named Rick Miller. I remember very well how he would say “Rick on the radddiiioooo”… okay so it doesn’t work so well in text. He was a local radio personality. At first I was forced to listen to The Rick Miller Show in the car on the way to work with another family member. In time, I found myself deeply enjoying listening to him. Rick Miller ranted and talked at length about important issues facing the political and local community. While I didn’t always agree with him, he made me think. He made me question important decisions being made by the city and the government. He was probably the first person who really got me interested in paying attention to politics.

I moved to California while he was still on the air. I was unable to listen to him after I moved because he was only broadcast locally in Washington State. By the time I returned to Washington State, Rick Miller had disappeared. To this day I still have no idea what happened to him. I found news articles online mentioning he had moved to Seattle and done a show there, but due to controversy he was taken off the air. As far I know, he is no longer in radio. I hope he gets back into it someday or somewhere. If you happened to know where he is now and if he is broadcasting somewhere, please drop me a line and let me know.

The amazing thing about Rick Miller is he is the type of guy that would say things even if they weren’t popular things to say. He didn’t have a problem standing up and calling things as he saw them. He was a non-conformist and always true to his points and strongly believed in what he was saying. He was logical and saw things in a unique way. I guess you could say he helped influence me because I too wanted to be able to be strong on my beliefs regardless of what the blind masses had to say about it.

I hope the voice of Rick Miller is not silenced, I hope he is out there somewhere still speaking strongly opening minds.

Bob & Tom
Another show I loved was The Bob & Tom Show. This show contained a mix of parody and original songs, comedian guests and also humorous news and discussions. Completely different from all other shows I’ve ever heard on the radio, they made the art of radio at pure comedy genius levels. They kept me laughing constantly. I loved listening to Bob & Tom while I was working in Washington and when making a long commute to and from work in California. I began listening to that show online and later listened to it on a local station. The humor on the show influenced my whole day. Nothing is a better start than a whole lot of smiles and laughter.

When the whole FCC thing happened with Janet Jackson, the radio industry was changed. I still love Bob & Tom and occasionally listen to some of their stuff on Youtube, but it simply is not the same show it used to be. Or perhaps, I have changed. I don’t know. It has been a few years now since I tuned into a regular show, perhaps I should go back to it and see if its gotten better since that whole FCC thing.

Either way, they still are absolutely awesome, the best of radio comedy, and worth checking out.

This American Life
I have recently found this wonderful radio talk show. It is broadcast over the radio, however I have only ever listened to it online.

This American Life will pick a topic and it will either tell three or four different stories related to that topic or it will dedicate the whole show to one story if it is a longer story requiring more detail.

The episodes are completely true stories of real people and the events that have happened in their lives.

I found this show because of the game I reviewed here recently, the post about Gone Home. A similar real life situation, like that in the game, happened where a group of boys stumbled upon an abandoned house. Over the course of ten years Adam Beckman felt strongly compelled to investigate the house and its history. This American Life decided to dedicate a whole episode to that story. You can listen to that show here.

I really enjoyed that story so I decided to look through the archives and listen to some of the other shows. I wanted to talk about some of the stories here that really stood out to me, ones I’d recommend to others to listen to. While there are years worth of episodes in the archive and I have not listened to them all. I will mention a handful that I really have liked so far.

An episode I really enjoyed listening to is this one called DIY. This story is about Carl King, a self taught investigator. One of his friends, Collin Warner, was framed and put in jail for a crime he did not commit (murder). No matter what logic and evidence came forth, his friend remained in prison. Carl King is a true friend, a real friend in the highest regard, as he spent 20 years of his life working to get his friend Collin out of jail. Carl had to prove Collin’s innocence, but before he could do that he had to learn all about the law and how to go about collecting evidence and presenting a case to help his friend.

How good of a friend are you? Would you fight the system for 20 years to get your dearest friend out of jail? Carl went above and beyond what most people define as friendship. His story truly touched me.

This American Life doesn’t only talk about serious issues, they also have some funny episodes. This next episode I really enjoyed is called No Coincidence, No Story! This particular show is very funny and also thought provoking. It tells several stories about people who have experienced unique and fun coincidences in their lives. Some are just really simple, but some are just totally mind blowing.

Another episode I have to mention is called The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar. This show tells the story of a family whose child is kidnapped and then later turns up in a photo taken in another town. The boy is returned to the family… but the boy may not be their boy. It investigates both sides of the case and talks with several family members on both sides of the situation. It comes forward also with the full answers of who this boy belongs to and what it all means to both families ahead. I found this story to be interesting and touching and also very sad. While some mysteries of this story would be easily solved today – it was not back in a time where that technology did not exist.

This next one is called Fear of Sleep. This show tells a few different stories about people who have had difficulties with sleep. This includes a crazy story about Mike Birbiglia who sleep walks and does something dangerous and still manages to survive. Also there is a story about Seth Lind who has nightmares for a couple of years after the movie The Shining, something I can relate to since I had a similar issue with the movie Arachnophobia. Some other sleep stories are told as well. Since sleep has been an issue in my life, I definitely could relate to the subject of sleep problems.

Lastly I would like to mention one more to you called Hit the Road. This is an entire episode is dedicated to Andrew Forsthoefel’s journey across the country. He walked from Philadelphia to the Pacific Ocean, all along the way talking to people about their lives and their regrets and their pasts. I found this story to be both inspiring and very thought provoking. TML played an edited version of his story. A more complete version of his story is here on Transom.org.

In Closing
I’d like to say that while technology has changed the world with TV, phones, the internet, tablets and many other devices… there is still a true charm to enjoying a traditional media like radio. Like black and white photography, radio tells its own stories and in its own way.

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Computer Fan

As life goes, we all find we must get a new computer at some point. Especially when the only computer you have is 10 years old and running an operating system that even Microsoft themselves won’t support. Yes, good old Windows XP is on my old computer.

I really loved XP. I don’t much like Vista or 7 or 8, they feel like they were made for people who are absolutely clueless about computers and need an “are you sure?” popup for every little thing they do.

I come from the days when deleting a single file could destroy your OS and you did not get a warning you were about to do such a stupid thing, it just happened and you were screwed. XP, for me, was the last of the best generation of operating systems. However, life must go on.

Someone in my life who very much cares for me decided to gift me a computer of my choice. This came during a time when my old machine was falling apart and I was backing up on a very regular basis for fear that any day it would explode. I can’t afford a new computer at this juncture of my life, so this person swooped in and surprised me with their generosity, much to my shock. I am eternally grateful and hope that I can do the same for them someday when they are in a bind.

I am much more of a software person than a hardware person. So when it came time for me to buy a new computer I spent a lot of time reading and educating myself on hardware so I could make good decisions and stay within a reasonable budget.

Instead of going with a Dell computer again, I decided it was time to get a high permanence machine, something that would indeed make me happy for another 10 years. Something that was upgradable as well.

I deeply debated about building my own. A friend of mine tried to encourage me to do this. I just don’t have the confidence and comfort with hardware yet to feel like I could do this successfully. In all honestly, I didn’t want to screw up because of my inexperience and waste the money of someone doing me such a nice thing for me.

Blueness

Pure Blueness

Instead I decided I would go with CyberPowerPC. A couple of my gaming friends have bought computers from them. They told me that the customer service kinda sucks, but that the cost is good for the value and that they are happy with their computers.

If you are not familiar with CyberPowerPC, basically you go through their website and put  together a list of parts for the computer that you’d like and they build the computer to your specifications and ship it out to you. So it is customized however you’d like, but you don’t have to build it yourself. You select the case type, RAM, video card, power supply, etc… absolutely everything.

Being that I love the color Blue, I decided I’d get a nice case with a clear siding sporting a cathode blue neon light. I am a function over form kind of person, but Blue is a must always for me. I would just not be me without Blue.

I am literally wearing only blue right now. Blue shirt, pants and socks. Blue is me.

I do not want to get too technical here, but I’ll mention a few things. For the CPU I got: Intel® Core™ i5-4670 3.40 GHz 6MB Intel Smart Cache LGA1150.  For the video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 2GB GDDR5 PCIe 3.0 x16. I did also select liquid cooling, a first and new experience for me.

I also selected “Maximum case fans” but I did not select any brand name case fans. Brand names are not things I care about in regards to clothes and such, but for computers that is important and I should have known better here. Everything else on the computer is a brand name item.. except this. Which I later learned was a mistake.

CyberPowerPC was a bit difficult in getting the order through. They have fraud protection in place and it was difficult for the person that ordered my computer to convince them that yes the computer is supposed to be going to a different address than the address that is on the credit card. It was a week long battle but eventually this was cleared up and the order got processed. After that, it took less than two weeks for the computer to be billed and shipped to me.

Inside my computer

Inside My CyberPowerPC Computer

When the computer arrived it felt like it was 60 pounds even though the website said it was 35, but it felt like I needed a crane to move that thing.

I got it all set up on the first day and spent the first week or so just transferring my backups and setting everything up the way I wanted it. I also spent much time getting used to the new operating system.

I noticed right away there was a faint sound coming from the computer that didn’t sound quite right. However, having never had a computer like this with a liquid cooling system I was unsure if the sound was normal or not and so I just let it be.

About two weeks into owning the computer I noticed the sound got really loud. I opened up the computer and looked around for loose cords or anything that might be out of place. I tightened up screws and did research online best I could.

I closed it all up and ran it as is but kept researching. I suspected it was a case fan, but I couldn’t quite figure out which one.

Just about at the three week mark the computer started making noises that no computer should ever make. I opened it up and watched carefully. I started up several games and just waited with my flashlight.

Soon the sound happened, it was like a cross between a helicopter and a lawnmower and just as loud. Then I saw it, one of the case fans was unstable. Very unstable. When I tilted the machine to the side it made no sound at all, but when the machine was standing up normally it would go into this unstable flappy motion on and off about once every minute.

I did research. During this, soon enough the fan would make that sound continuously. It was disturbingly loud. Shutting off the computer and back on would sometimes cause it to only do it intermittently, but eventually it would not stop with the continuous disturbing noise.

I found online that the bearings in the fan were unbalanced and it would spin out of control to try and rebalance itself and when it worked.. the fan would run normally.. until it became unbalanced again. This all made sense to what I was experiencing.

I looked at the BIOS and saw the fan speed. It would speed up to 900 RPM, then when it would become unstable it would jolt down to 400 RPM before regaining speed after re-stabling itself.

I decided on a temporary fix – I would lay the computer on it’s side. That fixed it in terms of noise and funny enough the fan would spin at 1200 RPM without problems in that position. So this was a good for-a-while fix.

I decided to check and make sure that this was truly the only issue. So I shutdown the computer, unplugged the one problem fan from the motherboard and turned the computer back on. Everything was silent. So I had found the culprit.

Being that I am nervous about hardware stuff, I decided I needed to make sure I could replace the fan properly.  I familiarized myself with how it was hooked up and how it fit on the case and how the cord was wrapped in the machine. CyberPowerPC was very very detailed and organized with all of the cords in this machine when they built it. I have never seen so many cords nor such extreme OCD-like organization in a computer before. I wanted to make sure I could handle this situation without any weird complications. Thankfully, this all looked really simple. I have changed a fan before.. on a Dell computer, but never on a computer quite like this one before.

New Fan

New Cooler Master Fan

I ordered a nice new name brand fan from Amazon, the Cooler Master SickleFlow 120 and I also ordered a 24″ 3-Pin Fan Cable Extension because of how the cords on this computer are laid out. It needed to loop around the back of the machine to fit along the same cable path the current fan is on. So I decided I’d stay with the neat organized cable situation and make sure my new fan fits the way the old fan fits.

I waited for a week and finally all my things had arrived. During that week, my poor computer lay on it’s side on the floor.. but it was perfectly silent and it stayed properly cooled, much to my relief. I used SpeedFan to keep an eye on the temperature. A neat little program I’m going to keep handy.

As I had fully prepared ahead of time how this would go, I felt confident this would be an easy and simple process.

When the time arrived, I unplugged everything from the back of the computer and set it in the middle of the room. I pulled out my tools and my flashlight and opened the shades to get in some natural lighting. I removed both sides of the case to have access to everything. Unlike Dell machines this computer has two flat panels, one on each side, that are made to be removed easily and individually. I guess they assume if you get this kind of computer that you’ll upgrade it and mess with it in general. Dell computers clearly state if you open them you are voiding your warranty. Not to say bad about Dell, but I do like the CyberPowerPC policy much better.

I cut the old zip tie holding several cords together on the other side of the computer behind the motherboard. Then I carefully removed the old fan.

Looking closely at the old fan, I saw on the inside along the edges were marks showing where the blades were hitting when it would become unbalanced. Amazing how such a little thing could create such a huge amount of disturbing noises.

I carefully put in the new fan, secured it very tightly with the new screws to the case and got all of the cords hooked up. As it turns out the 24″ extension was perfect, I could have gotten the 18″ instead, but I’d rather have more room to make decisions with.

Other Side of Computer, Behind The Motherboard

Other Side of Computer Behind The Motherboard

I grabbed a new zip tie and wrapped all of the cords back together, including the new fan cord. I moved the computer back over near the desk and plugged in the monitor.

The moment of truth arrived. I held my breath and hit power.

The computer started up without issue and went as normal to the Windows log in screen. I took my flashlight and looked. All of the fans were spinning, everything looked and sounded normal. I hit the power button again and it shut down.

I quickly put on the side panels, hooked up everything, cleaned up the mess of stuff I had on the table and put the computer back where it belonged – standing up normally on the desk.

Feeling relief, I put everything away and felt happy that I had managed to handle this one little hardware thing and that everything fit and worked as planned. Yes it sounds simple, but for someone like me who is weary about hurting a very expensive computer, I am always nervous with such things. I have some of the worlds worst luck at times.

Top Inside of Computer with the New Fan on the Right

Inside Comp, New Fan on the Right

I turned the computer back on and checked the BIOS and saw that the new fan was spinning at above 1800 RPM. Everything looked good, so I logged into Windows and started up some programs and got lost in some email and Facebook for a while.

About a half hour later, I heard It. Oh it wasn’t that loud, but I heard Something.

I looked over at the computer. I listened closely. Was that my new fan?!

I heard this whirling vibrating sound. It wasn’t like the old fan, it was a whole other new sound.

I thought… oh well it’s a new fan and it’s going faster than the others, it needs time to be used for a while and such. So I sat and did other things for a while…

But then it got louder.

I gave my computer a look that said “REALLY?!”.

With a sigh, I shutdown and pulled the computer out onto the floor and removed the side panel again. I turned it on and pulled out my trusty flashlight.

I sat and watched the new fan carefully. The fan was moving very fast and spinning perfectly straight. I could not see any flaws in it. The wires were all straight and as they should be too. Nothing appeared wrong.

Then I realized… there was no sound at all anymore. The sound had disappeared. What was the difference really I considered… now that it was on the carpet and I was watching it…

I thought for a moment about that sound and realized it was more like a vibrating sound than any other sound.

I decided to put the computer back on the desk again and listen. The sound returned.

I put my hand on the top of the computer and the vibrating noise stopped.

Well isn’t that just funny… the case is vibrating so much from that new fan that it is vibrating against the wood of the desk and making that noise. Phew.

I am glad the new fan is not defective.

Decisions, decisions… do I keep the computer on the carpet? It’s sort of awkward and in the way on the carpet though.

I looked around my desk and noticed the porcelain turtle. I grabbed it and plopped it on top of the computer.

Problem solved.

Ahhh.. Silence.

I mentioned my little story to my two friends who also have a computer from CyberPowerPC. Strangely enough, both of their computers had case fan situations too. One person got a computer with blue fans instead of red (the company sent her new ones to replace the wrong ones), and the other computer had an issue with a wire being out of place causing problems with the case fan (easily fixable).

Little Ugly Turtle Saves the Day!

Little Turtle Saves the Day!

So 3 out of 3 computers between my friends and I that had case fan issues. Case fans are really cheap. I’d say if something were to go wrong on a computer like this… issues with a case fan would be the best thing to do wrong.

All in all, I can’t really complain, it was a simple fix and I learned a whole lot about my computer in general. I read about so many problems that could have been happening to my computer with those noises. I read through solutions to common problems. I read about liquid cooling and learned how that works in and out. I actually bothered to read through the motherboard manual as well during this whole process. When I didn’t get something, I looked it up online. It’s nice having a library at my fingertips.  And of course I’ve been doing a ton of learning with my new operating system. It has seriously been all very educational from the beginning. I am thrilled I got this specific computer, it has taught me so much in general.

I am very pleased with this computer. It is easily the best computer I have ever owned in my entire life. I am without words to describe how grateful I am to have this, not only is it the best gift ever, but it truly will keep me happy for a long time.  It is a weight off my shoulders as I don’t have to worry about it imploding every day of my life like I worried with my old one. I don’t have to make daily backups. I can play all the games I own on the highest graphics settings without problems. I can make and edit movies without it feeling slow or unstable. It feels really very good to me.

And if something else goes wrong… I will feel more confident that I’ll be able to handle it without so much stress. That educational experience is a gift all by itself.

 

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Dear Mr. Spider #2

Dear Mr. Spider,

Oh yes, Mr Spider, I see you up there in a tiny little corner in a location I cannot reach right next to the ceiling. Your cloaking device ain’t working today. You may think you blend into that little area there… but I see you. I am watching you. Indeed I am.

Don’t even think I have forgotten The Desk Event from a few days ago. (Seeing a Mr. Spider on the desk is okay. Reaching for something to kill him with and looking back to find him missing is when things are not okay! This resulted in a serious Emergency Desk Cleanup Event which was soon followed by a major Vacuuming Event)

Do you hear me typing a letter to you?

I see you getting all scrunched up further into that little corner, almost looking like a shadow. Almost. Not quite. Nice try, Mr Spider.

I’ll get you as soon as you are in arms reach. I really need to train up the Increased Target Range skill so I can surprise you with my abilities to get you even in those little ceiling corners you to gravitate to.

I am just sitting here and I might look distracted but no.. no no no.. I am still watching, don’t think I am not.

I see you Mr Spider… and you still still haven’t moved. You know… I know you know that I know you know I’m watching you… you know.

Surely you must also know that if you weren’t so far away.. if only you weren’t.. then you, Mr. Spider, would be Mr. Squishied.

So I sit and wait.

And you sit and wait.

Surely you understand I am just as patient as you are. We’ve played this game many times before. Sooner or later.. you know how this is gonna go.

Innocently waiting,
Katherine

Update:
And I just realized something… Mr Spider was in that corner… until now!! I saw him about a half hour ago, in that same spot up there by the ceiling. Now he’s disappeared!.. it feels like it might be time to vacate the house for a little while.. or you know.. for a few weeks.

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Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day and to a lot of people that means it is a special day to celebrate how much they love and appreciate their Dad.

To me, this day has always been just another day.

The person that my Mom married and had me with, which by default was supposed to be my “father”, has never matched any sort of definition of that word or any other variant of it.

I’ll just refer to him as “BE” from here on out.

BE never wanted a girl and he most certainly never wanted a girl like me. I am a bit of a tomboy and I’m very much a nerd. I’m not pretty and I am overweight. I don’t wear dresses or put on makeup. I don’t collect shoes or spend three hours in the bathroom brushing my hair. I was never into Barbie dolls or fashion or any number of things that people assumed I should be into just because of my gender. I was not into those things growing up and I still am not interested in them.  I have no particular reasons for not being fascinated with those things and I really don’t feel I need a reason to explain why. I am wired to be who I am.

I am just me, it’s that simple.

I have very few memories of BE, but those I do have are all on the negative side. Most of these memories are from early teen years.

I remember BE constantly badgering me because I was not skinny (even though he himself was pudgy). He lectured me on how to be on a lady, how I should sip a soda properly, how I should sit and eat and behave. He was never nice about this.

My Mom really did want me to have a father, but it’s not her fault he could never be one. I remember some very specific times when my Mother insisted he take his kids out to eat.  BE never wanted to take me out, but he did want to spend time with his son. So he’d insist I sit in the backseat always, his son up front so they could talk. I remember things being said like “we’ll have to talk about this another time, it’s man talk” with an annoyed glance in my direction.

He was cheap, so he always took us to McDonald’s. Always. Upon arriving and preparing to order, any food choice I made was not the correct one. He’d call me fat constantly and make me choose whatever he felt was best. During the meal, BE would ignore me completely, except to tell me how to eat or to criticize me.

His son hated me (and the feeling is mutual) so it was always them against me in everything. I call him “his son” because to me I don’t have a brother and that is definitely a story for another day.

There was one or two times my Mother wanted him to take me out, even when his son was not around. These were just awful experiences. He’d take me to McDonald’s and focus entirely on lecturing me about dieting and eating healthy. It was always ironic, considering McDonald’s is far from healthy.

I only remember actually having to go out with him a handful of times. I remember how much I dreaded spending time with him, not that my home life was much happier. It was all par for the course.

Other than those times, I remember only seeing BE whenever he had a child support check to drop off and as far as my memory can recall, I haven’t seen him since I graduated and he got to drop off that 18th check. That was his last check, so finally he was done with me.

As a side note… while he did always want a son, apparently the one he got was not good enough either because he abandoned that one eventually too.

After that, I never heard from BE or saw him. At one point, some 15 years ago, his son gave him my phone number but he never called.

BE eventually married the woman he cheated on my mother with and moved to the east coast. The women he married was also a cheater, cheating with BE when she was married to someone else. Two peas in a pod. She has kids from her previous marriage, and I guess they were ones he approved of, so he was happy just to merge into her family and not bother with anyone in the past.

I haven’t seen him in almost 20 years now and I don’t think I’ll ever see him again.

Some people in my family refer to BE as “sperm donor” because that sums up his contribution to my life pretty well.

I can’t remember a single time BE actually hugged me or said something nice to me.

I can’t remember him ever saying he loved me. That’s okay, because I’m certain I never loved him either. I never even knew him, he was just some stranger that randomly dropped a check off for my Mom once a month.

Today is not a special day to me. I don’t have anyone to call up and tell them I am proud that they are my Dad. So instead I’d like to say Happy Father’s Day to any Dad’s that are reading this who are good to their children, good to their partner and have really been the true definition of what a Father is supposed to be. Your participation in your child’s life is so important and I hope you get one of those wonderful phone calls today.

Before I end this, on a related note I’d like to say that I grew up listening to the radio. Music is so important to my life, I can’t live without music, it is a passion for me. I always listened to the Weekly Top 40 with radio legend Casey Kasem.  Casey Kasem passed away today at the age 82. I am saddened to read about this.. his voice always brightened my days and made me smile regardless of the home life I had. He, in his own way, made a direct impact on my childhood. I’ll always remember him fondly. I am sorry for the family that they lost their Dad.. and of all days, they lost him today. My heart goes out to them.

 

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Review: Gone Home

I recently purchased “Gone Home“, a game by The Fullbright Company, on Steam. I know some of my readers probably aren’t interested in games, but I must say this is not a typical game at all.

It is not a combat game or an online game and there are no weapons or bad guys or things like that. It is a stand alone, single player game. Uniquely, his game functions more like an interactive 3D story novel.

While I know I am late into discovering this game, I have for a long time wanted to play it, but always read I should wait for a sale. Recently I put it in my wish list on Steam realizing I always missed the sales, so that way it would notify me when a good price came along. This past week I got the email letting me know it was just seven dollars, so I had to go grab it.

The moment I started it up, I was entranced…

Imagine that you have just returned to the United States, after having been gone on a trip to Europe for over the past year. You have been given an address to where your family now lives. While you were gone, they moved to a new house, a house you learn is called “The Psycho House” by those in the neighborhood.

You head home thinking you’d see your family and get to catch up on life and tell them about your trip and instead… you find an empty home.

There is a note on the door from your sister…

Katie,
I’m sorry I can’t be there to see you, but it is impossible. Please, please don’t go digging around trying to find out where I am. I don’t want Mom and Dad anyone to know. We’ll see each other again some day. Don’t be worried. I love you.
-Sam

The most exceptional thing about this game is that you don’t actually interact with any other characters at all. Instead you interact purely with a house and the contents within the house. I think this makes it that much more interesting.

You play the character Katie and navigate the house in first person. The game makes good use of sound and has decent graphics for an indy game. The layout of the house is very nice and well thought out, it reflects a lived-in feeling that ads to the tone of the game.

Your exploration to piece together the story involves picking up items and examining them, reading notes and scraps of paper and listening to journal entries your sister reads to you upon discovery of certain items.

As you explore the large house, which is really a mansion, you meet all of the characters in the story through all of the objects that belong to them.

Our individuality is quite connected to the items we keep, the pictures we find special, the notes we treasure, the experiences we have – all expressed in our individual possessions. That reality is greatly touched upon in this game as that is how you discover the mysteries that lie before you.

There is an overall arcing storyline, but each member of the family has their own story. You piece this all together through the items you find and little by little you began to understand everything.

There are other elements to the situation – the house does feel creepy and there is a feeling that the place is haunted. It keeps you on your toes as you explore… I jumped quite a bit at one point. There is also this general fear of something that might happen at any time.

I have to say not only is the story very human but all of the characters (except one..) are very easy to relate to. You can understand their situations and where they are in their lives. It is all very realistic and easy to feel some sympathy for what has happened to each of them in their own ways.

“Gone Home” is realistic and played full screen with the sound up and no interruptions makes it quite submersive and enjoyable.

Personally, I sat down and played until it was completely finished in one sitting. Then I had to go online and see what I missed and I did miss a few things, so I had to go back and check them out.

The game left me thinking about it the rest of the day, particularly the history around Oscar Masan and Terry Greenbriar, but I also really loved the main overall storyline.

I have to say it was truly a unique and fun experience to play “Gone Home”. The story is very human and easy to relate to, and the characters are well done.

I don’t want to give much away in case I’ve made anyone interested in trying, but I will say that I think if you want to purchase this you should wait for it to be on sale. The full price for this game I feel is a little too high simply because the game can be finished in one complete sitting (2-6 hours depending on how rushed or relaxed you feel in your exploration).

An additional note I’d like to make is, my screen is rather dark and I found myself feeling like it was almost too dark. In fact, the darkness made it hard for me to discover a few important items in the basement until I found out about them online. In the settings you can nudge up the brightness and I think just one or two little notches up would have improved my experience. If your screen tends to be darkish.. I’d highly recommend adjusting that brightness in the game settings up. Not too much though… darkness is an important part of the setting in the game environment.

Overall I’d like to say that this game is beautifully made, has a remarkable setting and story, and is presented in a very compelling and interesting way.  I’d easily give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars on that rating scale. The .5 knocked off for the playtime being too short compared to the retail cost. Otherwise.. amazing and well worth a good play through.

  • Gone Home” the website. You can read about and watch some video here.
  • Steam is where to purchase this game.

 

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A Divine Adoration

The Divine Lorraine Hotel

Photo by Thad on Flickr

I am one with unique interests and hobbies and that is just how I am. I have never been very fascinated with celebrities or high profile people or fame. I have always found my interests elsewhere in the exceptional things of this world that catch my eye.

One of My Things is that I enjoy extraordinary architecture, art and other objects of individual beauty in life. I see something interesting often more, where others walk on by and see nothing of importance at all. I have always been this way.

As such.. there is a building in a city I have never been to, that I absolutely adore.

She stands tall on the north side of Philadelphia, PA. She was the first highrise hotel in the city. She was built by Willis G. Hale “whose eccentric and unique high Victorian designs made him the darling of the fashion-conscious arrivistes pouring into Northwest Philadelphia late in the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth century.”¹

The building I refer to is named The Divine Lorraine Hotel.

This building has an important place in history as it was a part of a very early civil rights movement in the 1940’s. She was the first interracial hotel in the city and from what I understand, she might have been the first interracial hotel in the entire United States. Father Divine was on the cutting edge of history, long before history happened.

A full detailed history of the Divine Lorraine is not the focus of this article, but I feel the article would not be complete without some background about her for those that are not familiar with her. There are many places online you can read her full history if you are interested in learning more. At the bottom of this article I include a list of links to some good pieces of information and photography.

If you are not familiar at all with The Divine Lorraine Hotel, I would suggest watching this video before continuing.

In 2003, Eric Blumenfeld purchased her but in 2006 he flipped her for a profit. The Divine Lorraine Hotel was then bought by a company that was supposed to fix her up and reopen her to the public. At that time she was still in very decent condition. However, the community felt betrayed as one day a bunch of men came to her with a large truck and gutted her out entirely. They took everything she had, all the furniture and floor tiles and even the doors. Inside, they tore her down to the very depth of her skeletal frame, leaving her as just a shell of the building she once was. I presume they sold all they could of her to whomever would be interested. Then they left her.. windows open, completely abandoned without any care about the safety or security of the building.

This left her to the elements and heavy vandalism. Hundreds of people broke into the Divine Lorraine over the years that followed. The vandals proceeded to cover her with graffiti inside and outside and even on the roof. People stole the statues that Father Divine had placed on her and took whatever was left that they could find after the company had gutted her.

Photo by James Mundie on Flickr

Photo by James Mundie on Flickr

These people that broke into her mistreated her, disrespected her, abused her and found no reason to care otherwise. There were fires that broke out suspiciously and the “L” from one of her iconic signs has mysteriously gone missing somewhere in the last couple of years.

I have looked at literally hundreds of photos of The Divine Lorraine Hotel over the last few years. There are so many photos showing her in all her beauty from back in the early 2000’s and earlier. But there is even far more photos that show her in a depleted and ruined state.

When I look at Divine Lorraine, I do not see the damage. I do not see the years of destruction upon her, the grime, the graffiti and the empty floors with no rooms. When I look at The Divine Lorraine Hotel I see a beautiful soul there. She might not look beautiful to some, but to me she is quite elegant.

Billy Procida noticed her beauty too, as he is the one that decided to he would help fund the restoration of The Divine Lorraine Hotel.

And so it was in May 2014 E.B. Realty and Billy Procida came to her rescue. Eric Blumenfeld (the president of E.B. Realty), who once bought and flipped her, bought her up again in 2012 and made big plans for The Divine Lorraine Hotel and now those plans have the funding to make her restoration happen.

Over the past couple of weeks in late May and early June 2014, the graffiti that covered her skin has been removed. They are protecting her and working on her constantly. It is the end of the vandalism and a time of rebuilding, recovery and restoration.

The Divine Lorraine Hotel is going to have a future. She is being taken care of, being properly restored and being given back a future that she might not have had if she stayed in that ruined condition for too much longer.

She was once torn up inside and not loved or cared about. In time it is showing that while many people have hurt her.. the love of others can and will heal her.

She will live again. This brings me joy and happiness. I nearly cried when I saw the news about her a few weeks ago. I am an emotional and compassionate person. It really makes me smile to see each new announcement on her recovery. I am so delighted that she will make it past all of that abuse and she will come out looking like new. One day a few years from now.. she will be filled with life and celebrated once again as she deserves to be.

You might ask.. how could I care so much about a Hotel I have never even visited in person?

Quite simply.. I identify with her. I am no one special or beautiful like she is, but we are both survivors. I understand what she has gone through in my own way. I too have been abused by people who should have protected me, damaged by complete strangers, and wounded by some who claimed to love me. I have been abandoned, unloved, uncared about, forgotten about and tossed away completely. And so has she.

I have scars on my soul that will never heal entirely, they are easily covered up and they are fading in time, but they will always exist on me as a person. Divine Lorraine will have a future, but she too will never be the same. She has scars upon her that can be covered up and they will fade in time, but she will never be entirely the same again either.

Once someone has trampled upon you in such a life altering way, it changes who you are at the very core of your being. It changes how you perceive yourself and how the world perceives you. You are changed forever after such experiences.

Like the Divine Lorraine, my scars are fading and I am finding my future.  The vandalism has stopped and life has begun. The love and care from those in our lives are making us better and soon we shall both truly live again.

One day… I will fly to Philadelphia and I will meet Divine Lorraine.

Links to articles and videos about The Divine Lorraine Hotel; her history and future.
(The Divine Lorraine Hotel is one of my obsessions so it was hard to choose just a few.)

  • The Kingston Lounge. This is the article that I read back in 2011 that caused me to become so fascinated with this building.
  • News article from PhillyMag.com about the cleanup of the graffiti and the future of the Divine Lorraine hotel. Written in June 2014.
  • A/N Blog writes about the Divine Lorraine as she is now and her future ahead. Written in May 2014.
  • There is this amazing piece talking about her past and her soon-to-be future with some really great photos. This is from early 2014.
  • “Left Behind” written in 2005 is very well written and touching about how things were for David Peace and the Divine Lorraine in those days.
  • This photo gallery shows some great photos of the Divine Lorraine from back in 2005 before she was gutted.
  • There are many photos of The Divine Lorraine Hotel on Flickr.
  • If you do not feel inclined to read about the history, this Youtube video is worth watching as it has a good summary of the Divine Lorraine’s history.
  • This Youtube video series has three parts (one, two, three). It was made by some students for their Photojournalism course at Temple University in the Fall of 2010. It is well worth watching as they venture into the Divine Lorraine on their own after the city took action to keep people out.
  • Another Youtube video of some explorers who go into the Divine Lorraine.

 

¹ Quoted from “Willis G. Hale’s “City of Beautiful Buildings”

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