Sunday, May 09, 2010

All I Wanted Was To Watch A Movie

I went to see Iron Man 2 yesterday with my Dad and brother at a Cinema Draft House in the area. The place is old, was originally built way back in 1914 ( So we are sitting in our rather comfortable seats and this older gentlemen comes down in front and demands that everyone pay attention to him. He turns out to be the owner and then goes on to

1) Berate the audience for not filling up the entire theater
2) Explain why the American soccer team will never win the world cup and how our style is too wishy-washy
3) Clap for our troops and explain how he was one of the last cowboy helicopter pilots and did two tours in 'Nam.
4) Taught us the importance of know which eye is your dominant eye and how to determine it including yelling at everyone to put there hand up so we could find out
5) Gave us his theory on why older people can't see while driving at night and tips for fixing that situation
6) A history lesson on the theater, how much he paid for it, and that he is retiring soon

It had to be the single most surreal experience I have ever had at a movie theater. All I could do was thinking 'Am I going to have to go through this every time I come to this theater?'.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Adventures in Sailing! - TRYST

This post went pretty long. The last part of it is the best part if you want to skip around.

My first sail of the season took place this past Saturday aboard a 35-foot custom cruiser called the TRYST. The owner and captain of the boat bought her about a year ago after she circumnavigated the globe with her previous owners. The interior is beautiful, all dark wood that is probably a pain to keep clean. The exterior, in the words of his ex-gf, looks like a potato since it has a coach house (instead of a open cockpit) in the middle.

Originally the trip was going to be a 10 hour day sail from Grasonville, MD (just over the Bay Bridge) to Annapolis and back. It was cold, about 40 degrees, with a north wind blowing around 18 knots or so. We were all bundled up pretty tightly.

After we got out into the open I took the helm while the captain and one other tried to get the sails up. The headsail went up easy but the main was stuck. It took about 30 minutes or so to free it and series of 'perfectly executed technical maneuvers' that were neither perfectly executed nor very technical. Out of practice I am.

Once we had the sails up it was pretty smooth until we were going to turn the corner into the main part of the Bay. I wasn't paying any attention to the GPS chart plotter and instead just looking at markers. What I didn't see was that we were smack dab in the middle of some shallows. The depth fell to 5' or so pretty quick so we were in immediate danger of being stuck. Luckily we were able to avoid that particular awesome situation.

Then my best moment of ineptitude for the day happened. I wanted to tack and head toward Annapolis up the coast but the captain asked that I head towards the opposite shore first before we tacked. Tacking requires setting the sails differently and he wanted to keep it to a minimum if possible. Not being able to see the wind vane, how the sails were set, or feel the wind on my face it was hard to tell how close to he wind we were sailing. I assumed we were already pretty close so that turning any further north would cause us to tack so I kept us pointed in the direction we were heading in. Well, as it turns out I was wrong and we could have turned up into the wind something like 60 degrees more than we were. The net effect: we sailing south for 45 minutes rather than north west. So that was awesome.

After the course correction we sailed for another couple of hours. At this point we had been out on the water for 7 hours or so, 6 of those hours under sail, when the wind decided it was done. It dropped from its awesome 18 knots to like 5 knots or so, which isn't much for my 5000 pound Catalina, let alone a 21,000 pound boat like TRYST. We decided to fly this huge parachute like sail called a drifter. Drifters are a pain to set; lots of things can go wrong. I put on a life vest since I was going to be up at the bow pulling the sail out of the bag. One nice puff at the wrong time and over I'd go. We had to pull the sail out of the bag and restuff it since it had been put back incorrectly. Once that was done and everything was hooked up properly the sail come up pretty easily. Pretty straight-forward really.

Unfortunately, it didn't make a huge difference. At the piddly 3 knots of speed we were making we were 5 hours from anything. So after 30 minutes we made a decision to abandon going to Annapolis and instead head to Tangier Island back to the east under power. This required pulling the drifter down. It came down pretty easily luckily.

So the next few hours were pretty uneventful. We made it to Tangier around 4 pm and found a restaurant about 1/2 mile away from where we docked. Good food, looked like a cool place during the warmer months. We made it back to the boat after dark and started the 3 hours trip under power back to the dock. Our eta was about midnight. Originally, we were to be back at 9 pm.

After a somewhat eventful motoring involving mistaken lights, hard to find markers, and a car on a remote island that we argued about what it was for an hour, we were finally in the channel and could see the dock.

The channel into the marina his boat resides in is very narrow and tricky. Compounded with the near impossible challenge of seeing day markers at night against a well lit shore line and you have a recipe for grounding. I was up on the bow trying to find a series of three markers that were very close together marking the narrowest part of the channel. The wind had picked up again so it was bitterly cold and the tide was coming in. We were able to pick out the markers and were between the three of them when I felt the engine cut out. The captain tried to restarting it several times but to no avail. We were adrift in the narrowest part of the channel being pushed towards a red day marker we had just passed.

We dropped the anchor to give us time to look at the engine and try to get it started. After checking the usual suspects the Captain decided we needed to get a tow back to the dock that we could fricken see a mile away, if that. However, before that we had a more immediate problem. It turns out the anchor, while it stopped us from drifting, was let out too far and now we were slowly swinging towards a marker. Two of us pulled the anchor in tighter to try to get the bow to clear the marker but in doing so we pulled it up too far to where it started to slip. The captain made the call to just pull the anchor up all the way so we would slip past the marker and just get stuck in the mud instead.

Well, we slipped past just fine. He called Tow Boat US - an adventure of its own - and we were told they would be there by 2 am. We all went down below to get warm and eat. Eventually we noticed we never did hit the mud and instead kept drifting further and further from the channel where the tow boat was going to look for us. So we set the anchor again and waited.

Eventually the tow boat showed up and took us back to the dock. By the time it was all done and over my 10 hour day sail to Annapolis turning into an 18 hour adventure to Tangier Island. While it certainly wasn't my brightest point in sailing, I learned a lot and had a good time with it. The group was a fun bunch and we had enjoyed each others company.

I also learned a few things, which is always good. The most reassuring thing was watching all the same crap that happens to me while docking, putting up sails, or just really anything was happening to a captain that had been sailing and building boats his entire life. Even experienced people crash into shit when docking. :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The last unit in my childhood development class was on sexuality and puberty. It has been bringing up a lot of unresolved issues for me from that time period and this post is going to be used to process them. It is definitely going to be an instance of To Much Information so you should stop reading now.

Yeah, I didn't think you would stop.

Anyway, it may come as a surprise that I was much more socially conservative as a youngin than I am now. I think a lot of it had to do with my peer group, being of the more nerdy side of things. (BTW, I find it hysterical that my spell checker accepts nerdy as a proper word). As most (all) people I had all sorts of confusing thoughts and self-esteem issues in my early teens. Questions of identity and self-confidence problems. I don't recall really having any lady friends, not close ones anyway, until my late teens.

Discovering my Dads various videos and magazines as well as late night TV was how I dealt with the feelings of lust and such during those times. Ogling members of the opposite sex at school was also a common past time. One girl in particular, whom later became my first and longest relationship, I had a strong attraction to. My parents, particularly my mom, described puberty by going through a popular book aimed at children about to deal with these issues (can't remember the name of it right now) so I knew what was going on physically. Mom even strategically placed pamphlets here and there to be found and read that helped as well. I remember one in particular about negative self-talk that helped my awareness.

It wasn't until, I think, the summer between my sophomore and junior years at school that I started to date. The first girl I asked out turned out to be the longest relationship of my life (very very long) and had the most ramifications for both of us. As I mentioned earlier, I was insanely attracted to her. The roles were somewhat reversed, however. She had more experience dating and with sex than I did so I followed her lead in a lot of things. She initiated the first kiss, for example, on the way home from a trip to the Renaissance Faire in a van with my brother and step-sisters. I couldn't stop laughing. Something I'll never forget.

Not to dive too deep into her issues but something is relevant here. Due to things that happened to her she didn't feel sex was that special or really meant that much. Me, on the other hand, having these nice socially conservative views from god knows where didn't want to have sex until I was married. Go ahead, laugh it up. It was the dark ages of my life from a perspective point-of-view. Anyway, I kept declining her advances. We did a lot of stuff but stayed away from full on intercourse for over a year. My biggest concern was that I would change after wards and I wasn't sure I wanted to. I knew she had more experience than I did but I don't remember being all that jealous of it up to that point. It wasn't that big of a factor since we were in love.

So eventually I gave in and we decided to have sex on a New Year's eve, I guess in my Junior year assuming my memories of the time line are right. We did, it was great, and we proceeded to be a sexual couple from then on in. I was right, though. It did change me. And not all in awesome ways.

Because she had been taken advantage of so much in her past I didn't want to be 'that guy' so I never pushed for anything. It would always be from her lead. This led to problems later in our relationship and still makes it hard for me to be that initiator that our society generally looks for in intimate relationships. I just never learned it any other way. Once again, self-confidence thing.

We were on and off for something like 15 years. The first break up was the worst because I didn't see it coming at felt extremely betrayed. That is an entirely different story but I never was able to get the trust and intimacy back I had that first time around. Jealousy became a HUGE issue for me, and rightfully so in some cases. In subsequent relationships it hasn't been an issue, thankfully. But I have grown A LOT from those years and have a much greater perspective than I did then.

Here is the thing that drives me nuts though. I'm reading the book and it goes on about how different family of origin issues can predict all kinds of things. And I keep making comparisons back to what I know about her family of origin problems and how it affected her sexuality and how those issues, in turn, had an affect in my development and then it just pissed me off. While there were a lot of good things about that relationship I feel that I did myself a great disservice by robbing myself of the experiences I could use now as I re-enter the dating pool. While most of my friends were getting experience with dating and developing those skills and confidences, I distinctly remember being glad it wasn't something I needed to worry about because I already took care of it. At the time it was a relief but it also played into what turned out to be the co-dependent nature of our relationship that made it so disastrous for us both. And now I'm fucked, to put it bluntly. I feel like I'm going through things now that I should have gone through in my late-teens, early 20s and it frustrates me to no end.

The other thing is that has to do with the true self versus familiar self that I talked about in previous posts. That relationship is the familiar self for me. For better or for worse it is my frame of reference. When I'm having a dip in self-confidence I begin to worry that I may never find certain unhealthy aspects of that relationship that I miss and crave but are not of the true me. It helps to remember that that is just familiar self stuff and bring it back into perspective and I usually can slide right by it now. So that is a good thing for sure.

Ultimately, however, a real, loving, intimate relationship is what closes the door on that old familiar self. If only I knew how to do that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Civil Rights and the Republican Party

One of the canards that get thrown around a lot when race starts to be talked about is that it was the Republican party that voted for the Civil Rights act against the Democratic party. The idea being that everything is exactly as it was and if the Republicans of the 60's voted for Civil Rights then that proves that Republicans of today are not who racists generally support. A similar argument is made regarding the Civil War.

This overlooks one important dynamic of that time. By signing the Civil Rights Act into law a mass migration of Democrats occurred. The so-called Dixiecrats (southern democrats) left the Democratic party and moved to the Republican party. It was these Dixiecrats that voted against the Civil Rights legislation. That changed the make-up of the two parties drastically. The nail was put into the coffin of what the Republican Party once stood for by Nixon and Reagen and the Southern Strategy. To this day, polling from the south compared to the rest of the country yields very different results. It really is remarkable.

In a nutshell, the Democratic and Republican parties had a realignment that put much of the Republican's support in the south where the majority of it remains today.

Here is a break down of the actual votes for the Civil Rights Act according to Republican votes from the north and the south and Democratic votes from the north and the south. Without any ambiguity it is obvious that it was the south, rather Republican or Democrat, that went against the Civil Rights legislation rather than the north. The realignment then happened. Arguing that it was the Republican party that brought in Civil Rights is very misleading and disingenuous when compared to today's political realities.

Votes are listed in Yeas-nays format.

The original House version:
Southern Democrats: 7-87 (7%-93%)
Southern Republicans: 0-10 (0%-100%)
Northern Democrats: 145-9 (94%-6%)
Northern Republicans: 138-24 (85%-15%)

The Senate version:
Southern Democrats: 1-20 (5%-95%) (
Southern Republicans: 0-1 (0%-100%)
Northern Democrats: 45-1 (98%-2%)
Northern Republicans: 27-5 (84%-16%) )

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snowmageddon Proves Global Warming Is Fake! Not.

This handy little graph shows the record highs, lows, and the ratio of highs to lows over the past 50 years. The 70's had, by far, the most record highs while the 2000s had just slightly more than the 50's and 60'. However, and here is the big eye opener, check out the record lows. Very few over the last 20 years and the ratio of highs to lows is just getting larger. What does it all mean?

Well first of all it is interesting to note that over Snowmageddon that some of the talking morons on TV claimed proves Global Warming is a hoax we didn't have a single record low. Second, in the 2000's there were nearly 15x more record highs than lows, 11x in the 90's. No other decades are anywhere near that unbalanced.

Additionally, while we may have had a cold snap in the northern hemisphere over the past few months the southern hemisphere has had record highs for the past few YEARS. In fact, some areas of the world are working on a 15 year drought. 15 years! Versus our two months. Yeah, wow. Global warming TOTALLY disapproved there.

So, in summary, can we please stop making ridiculous claims by observing local, short term trends about average, global weather? Really. What do people not understand about the words 'average', 'global', and 'trend'. Willfully ignorant, that is why.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Faithfull and the Willfully Ignorant

Every once in a while I'll be minding my own business and a thought pops in my head with crystal clarity. Usually I live in this gray cloud of indistinct and nebulous thoughts so when something like this happens it is refreshing. The circumstances that clarified this for me are not important (I can't remember them anyway) but what I realized is that while I find a lot of enjoyment in having a spirited discussion with people that think differently than I do, the religiously faithful and the willfully ignorant are two types of people that I find it impossible to have any sort of meaningful difference in opinion with.

The very definition of faith doesn't lend itself to critical thinking. On part of having faith is believing in something despite evidence to the contrary. From my point of view, a lot of the tenants of different faiths are self-contradicting and not always consistent. That people find hope and reason for being in faith is a good thing in my opinion. I just don't see the point in engaging them in a debate about it.

The willfully ignorant are by the most frustrating people to have any sort of disagreement with. Like the faithful, critical thinking is not something held in high esteem. What I mean by willfully ignorant are people that believe something for primarily ideological reasons despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. For example, that Obama is a socialist/marxist/facist and/or was not born in the United States. It is like arguing with a brick trying to challenge that belief. Another one that burns me is global warming denialism.

What it boils down to is this: Challenging assumptions/beliefs is healthy. I like having a debate with someone that doesn't hold on to an opinion from an ideological or theological position but from a well information opinion. I think well informed people can draw different conclusions and have honest disagreements. Those conversations are very enlightening and enjoyable. As for the others, there is still value in understanding their point of view. There just isn't any value in challenging it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

North Korea!

I have been fascinated with North Korea for the longest time, mostly because it is like a black hole of information. Nothing comes out of there. So when I came across these guys that bribed their way in through China and video taped the entire thing I had to watch it. I gotta tell you, it is as crazy as I thought. The whole place is like one big-ass Disneyland fantasy attraction in that it is all made up. It is nuts!

I find it totally wild that they have these places all set up to show western visitors and how it is all choreographed but in this weird clumsy sort of way. The bit about the food is crazy. So are the big roads with no cars. Can you imagine living there? Your entire world opinion would be that North Korea is this amazing country with the most loved leader in the world and the evil Japanese and US people wanted you all dead. Meanwhile, you are living in next to this huge highway that has no cars on it in a village with no power. It is no wonder they are so paranoid of any information coming into the country. The people would just freak out if they knew what it was like just across the border in South Korea or even China for that matter.

Check it out. There are three videos, each about 20 minutes long.
First Video
Second Video
Third Video

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Why The Foreclosure Crisis Is Not Over

So in 2007 the foreclosure crisis and credit meltdown was kicked off by subprime loans resetting to where people had to start paying on principal and interest, effectively cranking their monthly fee through the roof. At the time the crazies were blaming poor people and such since subprimes are/were generally held by those with less income.

Well guess what, we are about to be smacked in the head by something almost the same size as the subprime reset - the option ARM reset. ARMs are ajustable rate mortgages which basically means each year or so your interest rate may increase or decrease a bit based on some federal rate the loan is indexed against. Option ARMs, however, had the added awesomeness that you could defer paying on you principal until some date at which time you would have to start paying principal and interest; just like subprime loans! Hurray! Unlike subprimes, these were not generally held by those with less income (read: the poor) but more middle-class type people.

And the reset that blew us up the first time on subprimes is about to happen on Option ARMs.

Here is a graph to illustrate the point. You are basically looking at two mountain peaks. The one on the left in purple was the subprime reset in 2007 that blew us up the first time. The one on the right, in mostly blue, is what is going to happen over the next year or so and is what will blow us up again. Why again? Because our super smart congress has done shit to make any changes. Reactionary dumbasses. But that is another post.

Can we avoid it? Sure. Pass things like bankruptcy cramdown that allows homeowners who can no longer afford their house to settle the mortgage through bankruptcy. You know, like we could do for decades until 2006 or so - right before the crisis - where congress in all its awesomeness decided to revoke that law on the behalf of the bankstas which in no small part contributed to the severity of the explosion.

The frustration and contempt I have for these mental midgits/egoasses makes me feel like I need a cold shower.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Year in Pop

I don't really care much for Pop music but I came across these mashups a month or so ago. This person takes the top 25 pop music for the year and mixes them together to make a new, and in my opinion, pretty incredible song.

Here is 2008:

And here is 2009:

There are more at the website of DJ Earworm.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Wallowing in the Familiar

It has been a while since I blogged anything, to say the least. Between Facebook has serving as something of an outlet and the pressure of writing some sort of summary of the last 8 months or so I just haven't been all that motivated. I'm not sure this post is going to go anywhere in particular in any case.

On Saturday I did nothing productive. I was going to do the Polar Bear Plunge but decided not to and basically sat on my ass and played video games all day. It was mostly unsatisfying. I don't know what bothered me about it so much. Was it the pressure I felt from not getting any work or school done? I'm sure it had something to do with feeling overwhelmed; something I have always had trouble dealing with.

In any case, the only thing that came out of it came to me on Sunday when I realized what I was doing. I was wallowing in the familiar searching for something true. But was I really searching or was it more that I was just waiting? Waiting for something to come along that meant something to me? The real me, the true me, not the familiar me. What would that even look like?

The last two months have started to get under my skin a bit. After spending so much time in the late summer and fall doing new things and being outdoors I have just kinda buckled down and tried to make it through the cold months.

I am ready for this house thing to be resolved. The first few months didn't bother me that much but now it is holding me back. Or, more likely, I am using it as an excuse to hold me back, which amounts to the same thing really. I don't know where I am going to end up and I'm not comfortable with that. I also don't know what it'll be like not to have something at least semi-stable in my life. My personality needs an anchor and I fear this house may have been it for a little while. Maybe not. I don't know, and that is an issue.

What is it that makes being friends with an ex so complicated? Unresolved emotions I suppose. I used to be in contact in some way with the various few ex's in my life and now I'm only in contact to some degree with one, and that hurts some. It certainly simplifies things as well, so it isn't a complete loss. Still, even though I knew some needed to move on being shut out completely and suddenly is hard to deal with. At the same time, I chose to do that with the person that has been in my life the longest. Almost a year ago now. Ok, 3/4 of a year. Details. I hate details.

It hasn't been all doom and gloom. Not that any of it is really doom and gloom, just more like it has been unsettling. I am much more comfortable in my skin. I think I talked about this on this blog before. A year or so ago I stopped fighting what my nature is and just decided to embrace it and it has made all the difference in the world. Mostly this was in the form of expectations I had for myself. I accept that focusing on a single project for any long period of time is something that is difficult for me. So I don't try anymore. I break it all up in chunks and flip between stuff whenever something starts to frustrate me. I started working out and eating better. Cleaning the house up to put it on the market allowed me to get rid of literally over a ton of crap with more to go. School is going well, even if it adds to feeling overwhelmed sometimes.

And I guess that is my biggest obstacle right now. Dealing with those overwhelmed feelings in a healthy manner rather than falling back into the familiar. Working out helps. Regardless, it is probably something that I will always have to deal with. And that is ok. How boring would life be without a little struggle? Need the valleys to experience the peaks, etc.

I am going to wrap this up. This was nice and I hope to keep up with it again, but I'm not going to put any sort of expectation on myself to do so. I bleed hearts though so it should be easier going forward, even if it is just a song or something here and there.

So in summary, while I have been in limbo the bast couple of months I have made progress too. Things are good, even if I am missing something in my life. Like most of my posts, this was not reviewed in any way. I just sat down and wrote the thing at once. Let it poured out. It is the most raw that way, and most useful to me.

I'll leave you with what I think is the most simply creative video I have seen in a long time. Very cool.