This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Link to Funny Guy Who Loves the Bucks

I had to post this here, too. An example of a good Milwaukee Bucks blog post:

I don't know who the author is, but it made me laugh. Go Bucks!

Dallas Community Really Quick Hits

What have I done to this Sony CEO to deserve this?

Today is payday, albeit just Papa Johns payday and not real job payday. In honor of that and for no other reason, here are some things that are affecting me this holday season:

Coke Zero = good. I never thought I'd like a diet anything, much less a Coke product, but it just tastes like watered-down Coke. Plus, to borrow a phrase from Budweiser Select, it "finishes clean." That means that unlike other Diet Sodas, the 35th sip is as good as the first. It doesn't have that inhuman aftertaste.

Another equation: Coke Zero + a cup of coffee = Mountain Dew, in terms of making me work like a madman. Maybe I should try amphetimines. Hey, my baseball player heros use them.

My wife and I are going to Firewheel mall tomorrow to shop for winter clothes. We're anticipating it being fun, despite the fact that it's in Garland, which as I've explained before is like they took Rockford, IL and drop-shipped it right northeast of Dallas. Nobody likes Garland but cowboys and people who are likely to say, "I reckon..."

Anyway, it's a brand new mall, so there should be a lot of white people from Plano, McKinney, and Allen there. Come to think of it, Frisco's gotta be upset about Garland building this thing -- they couldn't have figured that they'd be competing with what was previously such a craphole. There are only so many affluent white people to go around in northeast Dallas. Plus, they just put a new Nordstrom at North Park, which most honkeys are at least going to check out. The amount and quality of high-toned shopping in my area boggles my mind sometimes. It's a wonder they let me and my ilk even live here.

There's a guy named "Johnny" where I work. Every time I see him, I sing the song "Johnny, don't point that gun at me..." by New Order. I do this in my head, not out loud -- or at least not loud enough for him to hear. I actually like the guy, the song just involuntarily pops into my head. Such is life when you're me.

My thoughts on ID, in radically condensed form: Yes, ID people are on to something; no, it doesn't belong in public high schools; yes, people should be making their own minds up about this instead of trusting the majority of the scientific establishment, because they are biased; yes, the real issue is whether or not the supernatural exists, and what that means for science; no, I don't expect scientists to "give up" and accept supernatural explanations when natural explanations could still be found. I could explain more, but it would be a book. A large book.

There's a big sale starting here today, to celebrate the finishing of the High Five construction project at 635 and 75 here in Dallas. We're celebrating because people will now be able to get home if they live south of us. Before, they had to sleep in the Wal-mart parking lot. Looking at the flyer for the sale, I saw a lot of good prices but also a lot of rebates. So I don't know how it's going to fly, especially since we decided a long time ago that customers wanted to be berated with "protection plans." Any time you work at a regular retail store and your bosses are teaching you how to overcome "buying objections," that's a bad sign. They don't overcome any buying objections at Fry's or Best Buy, and those stores seem to be doing pretty well. Sears, however, is just like where I work -- and looky there, nobody shops at Sears. I'm just saying there seems to be a correlation. Maybe it's a spurious one, but I doubt it.

After the Sony rootkit virus fiasco, I'm not sure I trust the entertainment companies to provide me with an acceptable product. Just put the music on a CD and sell it, holmes! They have the copyright and the monopoly, and they are evil -- all of them. Thanks, DMCA, for ruining entertainment. I hope Orrin Hatch is happy. I hope his Sony rootkit keeps him warm at night. I don't know what all this means, but I do know that I probably will be buying way less CD's. You know, I'm a really good customer. My wife and I buy a lot of music from these people, and they install things on my computer because they hate me for some reason. Why does Sony hate me? Well, Sony, right back at 'cha, buddy.

Maybe when I buy clothes at Firewheel tomorrow the clothes will come with an anti-theft device that installs on my body. Then Gap or whoever can track my every move and make sure I don't copy the clothes and give them to other people. Oh, what's that? You can't copy clothes? So shoplifting is different from copyright infringement, because the retailer is actually losing real money? Imagine that.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Last Night (Really a Few Nights Ago)


“A job’s a job and a…a look’s a look but…inner peace is for eternity”

(O.C. Supertones)

“I don’t know what that means.”

(me, 2 seconds later)

I’m going to warn you right away that you shouldn’t expect this story to have a point.

Also, those who can’t stand exposure to things like the word “Jesus” and concepts like “God” are probably going to hate this story, even though it’s what they need to hear most.

This story starts out like most of my stories – with me delivering pizzas. I started the night out in kind of a desperate funk, with my mind both tired and completely saddened by a torrent of issues that had been building for weeks. The sum of those issues equaled the fact that everything I was doing needed to change, and not in a way that I wanted it to. That’s what I was being called to do. I was feeling a little whiny about this, but mostly I was feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. My life and the life of my wife were the two main things up there, and it was really heavy. I walked through life with a frown on my face and a gremlin with big arms tugging at my step.

Eventually I discovered the freedom of saying “Here, God – you take it.” That was the first step, the first act of taking responsibility for this weight. I know it doesn’t sound like taking responsibility, but that’s exactly what it was. Before I gave it to God, I didn’t really understand it, which gave me an out. I didn’t have to think about it because I had no idea what to do. Now, with my life staring me right in the face, glaring at me with unblinking eyes, it was clear that I couldn’t handle it by myself. I mean, I could have made some sort of go of it with only my mind to rely on – it’s not like I was at my wits’ end or anything. I just knew it was time to let go because that’s what God wanted me to do. So I gave my life to God and said, “Do with it what thou wilt.” I said those exact words, out loud, in my car.

The weight was still there, although I had more of a peace about it at this point. I was looking for something to listen to that would affirm me and help me in this critical time, and I ended up turning on Power 89.7, the “Christian Rock” station around here. And by “rock” I mean “real rock,” and not the adult-contemporary Christian “rock” the secular moron thinks of when he hears the term. The first thing I heard is the quote I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, from the OC Supertones. Now, much of the weight perched on me is focused on my job situation, but I still had no idea what to make of “A job’s a job but…inner peace is for eternity.” I knew what it meant – Spiritual rewards are more important and lasting than material ones – but I just knew I needed (and still need, btw) a new job.

I ended up becoming frustrated with the Christian Rock thing by song #2, and put in a Christian CD. It really wasn’t doing it for me either, and I didn’t know why. Didn’t God have some sort of message for me, His follower? Maybe some instructions so I don’t have to fumble around here like a man with cracked glasses looking for his car keys in the snow? I still had the giant weight, and now had the additional burden of having to wait for an answer for which I didn’t even know the corresponding question. The whole thing was making me crazy.

I looked down at my CD’s, which were located in the little cubbyhole underneath the stereo. The 2nd one down was a CD clearly marked “A-10 Shun.” It was named after the first song, “Attention” by Commander Tom. That, and I like the thought of shunning the Atlantic 10 Conference. Anyway, I knew I had to listen to it. It’s precisely at this point that our story took a turn and became either a bona fide Spiritual happening or a self-fulfilling prophecy that played out entirely in my own mind. I obviously believe it’s the former, but if you’re inclined to believe otherwise I won’t be mad. After all, there were no witnesses in my mind to corroborate the event. And if there were, would you really believe them?

I took the CD out of its case and loaded it into the CD player of the car, which sucked it in and started playing “Attention.” It is, as you might have guessed, a techno song. And just like most techno songs, the beginning starts simple and builds to a complicated crescendo that’s scientifically formulated to sound cool. The instant the drums and boings started thumping and boinging, I knew I had made the right decision. It was heavenly. I normally like techno, but this was like…the only thing I can really compare it to is eating cheesecake. And not just any cheesecake, but my mom’s cheese cake with the sweet sour cream topping. It was that good. You know what else?

I hadn’t felt this close to God in years.

I know I know, feelings are fleeting and can be influenced by 1000 factors that have nothing to do with God, but I’m telling you God was there. Jesus was there, hugging me. The song built and built to the inevitable crescendo, and when it hit, I felt joy like a fat kid in the desert who comes upon a cake. It was unstoppable, amazing, and transcendent. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The weight was, in that moment, taken from me and put at the feet of God. I no longer felt it in the front of my mind. All I felt was joy in my entire being as I drove down the road. My face was even smiling.

Eventually, the lyrics kicked in. Believe it or not, this is all there is to them:

C’mon don’t hesitate, hesitate…and show me your attention!

I was too busy being joyfully hugged to understand the implications of what this stupid techno song was telling me. It was only later that I got it – God wanted my attention, right now. It’s when my attention is somewhere else that I get into trouble.

The joyful God-hug continued through the second song (“Living my Life” by Sylver), which has some of the most cringe-worthy lyrics known to man. At one point, Sylvy sings “Got my train of inner thoughts back on the tracks of life.” That’s like…worse than a Point of Grace lyric. But its lameness didn’t stop it from applying to my situation. Check it out:

Livin’ my life…again. Swept away by the winds of change…taking time to rearrange.

That’s exactly what was happening in my life. Of course, these lyrics are so vague and meaningless they could apply to virtually any situation. Not so with song #3, “Glory of Our Lives” by The Echoing Green. It starts out with this statement:

Anything and everything is meaningless when forever’s waiting. We’re captive to this place…for now.

So that’s what the Supertones were trying to say! In my emotional and joyful state, the words hit me like a candy-coated punch. We may be captive to many responsibilities over the course of our lives, but our lives are only temporary. What really matters is what Jesus has done, which has taken the real weight off us and put it on Himself. That’s what makes “anything and everything” meaningless compared to the love that’s been given to us. I don’t have to worry – it’s in God’s hands. I told you giving it to God was the first step! Admit it, you thought I was crazy. Maybe you think I’m crazy now. I don’t care, because as Joey Belville says, forever’s waiting.

It’s at this point, midway through song #3, that my Spiritual experience ended. I went back to Commander Tom, and it was just another techno song – no overwhelming joy involved. I didn’t have any desire to listen to techno, so after a couple of minutes I took the CD out again. My weight was still there, but I was no longer in despair. I don’t know why God chose that moment to wrap me up in Jesus and spit me out a new man, but I’m very thankful that He did.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

News Today...Better than Yesterday

Today is a new day, or at least that's what I tell myself. Yesterday managed to make me very tired and ornery. The Bucks lost bad, I had to stay late at Papa John's, and I couldn't sleep last night. I'll try to make this post good in spite of that.

EPTH NEWS: I reached my goal of 20 people reading this thing yesterday, and am going for another 20 today. Let's try to get 20 every day this week, shall we? And let's start that count yesterday, because Monday we supposedly had 5. I hate the internet.

NEWS THAT'S QUITE INSIGNIFICANT BUT STILL COOL: Sony has decided to pull all "copy-protected" CD's (you know, the ones that come with viruses that secretly and automatically install on your computer) from the shelves, which is a victory for the consumer. That makes the consumer 1-5,032,675 this year. Sony is also going to allow their customers, whom they hate, to exchange their viral CD's for real Sony CD's in an as-yet-undetermined master plan. And even then, they still have to remove the virus from their machines. Check out this paragraph:
Sony on Tuesday suspended use of this uninstall process and promised to provide a “simplified and secure procedure” for uninstalling XCP. But the company provided no details on what this new procedure might be, or on how customers might exchange their XCP CDs. It also failed to address concerns about a second type of copy-protection software, called MediaMax, that ships with Sony CDs. Computer experts have said that this software suffers from many of the same problems as XCP.
Ok, so it's customers 1/2, evil corporations 5,032,675 1/2 then.

BASEBALL HATES STEROIDS: In a sweeping move designed to keep Congress of their collective-bargaining backs, the baseball players and owners agreed to implement the steroid penalties that commissioner Bud Selig proposed last April. It will be a 50-day suspension for the first offense! Expect to see some seriously shrunken players come spring training. Of course, home run lunatics are mad because they want to see some more 80-homer seasons, and those are now officially a thing of the past. You know, it really bugs me that there are baseball fans out there that think that players taking steroids is ok, and not cheating, and that it adds to the fun and excitement of the game. Maybe I'm making up a class of imaginary men here, but it seems like every time I listen to sports talk on the subject of steroids, some moron calls up and says he doesn't care how they hit the home runs, just that they do. Those are people who either don't have kids or hate the kids they have. You can't have little Sosas and McGwires walking around High Schools carrying bats and having mood swings as violent as any swing they've unleashed at the plate, can you? I mean, that should be reserved for the psycho football players, shouldn't it?*

Also, it must be pointed out that the Sosa-McGwire homer-off that saved baseball in 1998 was almost indisputably fueled by cheating. Baseball wasn't complaining then. The whole subject just bugs me. Let's move on.

Under proposed new legislation, "copyright infringers" may be punished with jail terms instead of just outlandish fines. I say, that's fine, but if any police resources at all are used to find these "copyright infringers" when there's all this terrorism going on, I want the President, the congress, the Attorney General, the head of the FBI, and the offending officer's superiors to be impeached/fired/etc. I want their careers to be done. This is not a game, people. We are wasting valuable resources helping out companies that are doomed anyway, when we could be getting a better handle on the people who want to kill as many Americans as they can. It's about time we got rid of the meaningless term "copyright infringers" anyway, isn't it? In this day and age, the meaning should at least be firmed up into something real like,
"One who makes a copy of a copyrighted work for the express intent of getting it for free." To legally show in court that someone is guilty of this copyright infringement, the state should have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt these things:
1) The defendant himself or herself made the copy using a source that he did not own (it shouldn't be illegal to make, say, 10,000 copies of a CD you own for personal use. Also, it should be illegal for content providers to limit the number of copies you can make. If you buy a CD, you should own it and the media on it).
2) The defendant intended to circumvent the law and never pay for the copyrighted work (it shouldn't be illegal to download or copy a song to see if you'll like it. They could even put a solid time-frame on "intent to steal without paying" -- something like 2 months).

Of course, these steps would effectively end copyright legislation. That's good. The record companies, and now the movie companies, are fighting a battle that they will ultimately lose using the resources of the American public. And if that's not wrong I don't know what is.

* The author retracts this sentence, for fear of pummeling by roided-up amoral "jocks."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In Response: Dear Abby -- Old People Issues

DEAR ABBY: I married my husband, "Ralph," two years ago. We moved from New York to Arizona after he retired, one month after the wedding. We both have grown children and grandchildren back east.

The issue is: I'm not allowed to hang pictures of my family in the new house. I'm allowed to have four pictures in the office, one picture in the den and one in the living room. If I receive a new picture in the mail, I must choose which of the old ones will be removed and replaced with the new one.

Ralph feels that only "old people" put pictures up all over the house. I requested that we come to some agreement on this. He said that as far as he's concerned, the issue has been resolved.

Abby, I can't tell you how much I miss my family back east. To display their pictures brings me so much joy. Because I feel like I am a child who can't make any decisions in "his" house, I refuse to buy anything for "his" house, and things are still in boxes after two years because I refuse to decorate "his" house. What do you think? -- STUCK IN ARIZONA

DEAR STUCK: These letters are always so fascinating, both for what they say clearly and what they gloss over. Allow me to summarize your life as you have described it: You married this "Ralph" character because you two deeply love each other, or at least want some companionship at this stage of your lives. Immediately after the wedding, you moved with him to Arizona, which cancels out the companionship thing because you left your entire family behind. As you were unpacking on your great Arizona adventure, you started to get a bunch of pictures out and hang them up. Ralph then told you no way, not in his home -- only old people put a bunch of pictures up. You had to admit he had a point, but you told him you needed those pictures to feel close to your family. He asked you why you were still flapping your gums since the issue was resolved. You decided that you were going to protest this by not unpacking anything else, and therefore nothing else has been unpacked. You two now live out your lives in a sort of picture/box cold war, with days going by without anyone saying anything about it.

My question is: How many pictures are we talkin' here? 20? 50? 500? Because this doesn't make any sense. Either Ralph is Hitler in disguise, or you're not telling me the whole story.

Here's my step-by-step advice to you. You're not going to like it.

1) Plan A: Wait until he's out of the house, then hang the pictures up anyway. If he comes home and tears them down, wait until he's gone again and put some more up. Eventually, a man who makes his wife unpack everything from their move is going to be too lazy to keep fighting this battle.

2) Plan B: If he continues to rip your stuff off the walls, superglue it. That will get the issues out in the open.

3) Plan C: If he somehow can get the superglued pictures off the wall, call your family, pack up your stuff, and go "back east" -- you two need to be separated before your drive each other crazy. Why did you get married in the first place? And why in the name of all that is holy did you move thousands of miles away from people you can't stand to not see on a daily basis? Unless...

I just thought of something. Perhaps "Ralph" isn't the thing we should be concentrating on. Perhaps the real issue is why you'd move so far away from your family with a man you clearly know nothing about. Was it just stupid romance (something you should have outgrown by now, btw), or was something far more insidious at work?

When you see those pictures, those idealized portraits of your family, what brings you "so much joy"? Do you only remember the good things? Do the people in the pictures smile at you constantly? Do those smiles allow you to forget that your children despise you and your grandchildren think you're mean and smell funny? Do they gloss over the time you and your brother sued each other over your parents' land, or that time your nephew stole your credit card and rang up $15,000 worth of debt? Do they cover up the fact that one entire side of the church at the Stuck/Ralph wedding was empty except for a few of your mutual friends who felt sorry for you? Am I on to something here?

Stuck, you have but one chance to have a happy end of your life. Ditch Arizona, go home, and start loving your real family. If Ralph loves you, he will come looking for you. If not, you're better off without him.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Spud Webb

I realize my posts lately have been erratic and short, much like Spud Webb.* As reader Todd from Nebraska has pointed out to me, one can tell that I'm actually having to do work at my job. This will probably continue for today at least, since I've got one of those things known as a fricking work ethic. Certain changes they've made in the way I do things here has created a situation where I have too much packaging material and not enough space in which to hold it. This problem must be rectified, otherwise I'll be overrun by foam peanuts. Those things stick to everything. Is my job rewarding? Probably not.

I am working on a heartfelt spiritual essay of limited length, and will soon begin composing my ID/Darwinism "magnum opus." Plus, there will be entertainment reviews shoved in there too. After all, I did finally see Super Size Me and consequently no longer want to eat at McDonald's. That's probably worth a post, especially given Morgan Spurlock's creepy porno moustache and even creepier vegan chef girlfriend. Oh, and I've decided to compile all the quotable things I've written on here over the past year and a half. Maybe I'll make a demented desk calendar or something. I should be able to sell at least 10 of those.

Lately I only feel fully alive when I'm writing. The rest of the time...I feel "eh." What that means, I have no idea -- I'm just happy I have fingers with which to type.

*If anyone goes to Spud Webb's site, please tell me how it is, because my work filters it out. Apparently, is enough of a threat to productivity to keep away from our workplace, but is not. Needless to say, I appreciate that.