3.31.2008

3.30.2008

3.29.2008

Your new cheap MP3 source

Just in case you don't know about it, Mp3Fiesta.com is the new AllofMp3.com.

10 cents a song, 1.00 an album. Can't beat that with a stick (if you're into trading money for music, that is).

When I can't find a song on Mp3Fiesta.com, I check BitTorrent, and then I go to Amazon's music store. Isn't that a strange mapping of behavior? I look to pay 10 cents for a song, then nothing, then a dollar. My very first motivation is to give something instead of hopping on BitTorrent first (and for those of you who read the I Steal Music post, that was my pattern back when AllOfMp3.com was active. Once it went down, it took away my "cheap" option, so I went for "free" first).

Part of that has to do with the feeling that, for a marginal cost, I can go to a reliable source that gives me the music in the format I want, titled correctly, and reliably transcoded from the original source with no skipping and crazy stuttering.

The other part is the speed - I can get a fast connection to get what I want almost all the time. And it's easy to find what I want instead of having to surf through 27 false positives on Pirate Bay just to find a tracker hosting a decent torrent.

Absolutely zero of it has to do with my wanting to make sure my downloads are "legal" - In time, digital transmission of data won't have to worry about legal or illegal where media is concerned (for consumption, not the theft of source material). And I couldn't give a shit less about "making sure the artist gets paid" - the artist gets paid with my attention; a commodity worth FAR more than dollars and cents. They own my cognizance for a while... That's invaluable, especially when the result is that I pay to attend their concert and pay for a shirt or a hat (or both) with their name on it, because then they get not only my time and attention but my money as well.

So yeah, go buy up some credits and download till your heart's content.

3.27.2008

How To Actually Talk To Atheists (If You're Christian)

Update 3.31.08: A number of people have emailed and asked if they can print and distribute this article / email it to friends / tattoo it on their buttocks, etc. If you think there's value in it, feel free to print or email it :) Also, thanks to Bishop Alan for his kind words about the article. It's nice to see an actual church blessing on my work.

* * *

You know what's great?

Unicorns.

In fact, unicorns are freakin' AWESOME. And you know why? Because once you accept one into your life, they provide you with a lifetime membership into the Beer, Massage, Chocolate and Steak club. Have you not heard about the beer, massage and steak club? Well, let me tell you all about it - it doesn't matter if you don't like beer, or steak, or chocolate, or massages - whichever one you like, you get 24 hours a day for the rest of your life. And if you like all four or any combination of them, well... You're in luck! Because That's what the rest of your eternity will be - massages (happy ending or not, your choice), steak cooked just the way you want it, chocolate of any sort coated in any topping (or as a topping on anything you want), and any beer ever made or ever conceptualized, always on tap and never flat. And to get all of this, all you have to do is accept a unicorn into your life.

What? You don't believe in unicorns? Well, I assure you that they are very real! And I know this because I've accepted a unicorn into my life, and I trust that it will one day gain me admittance into the BMCS Club. How could I have accepted it into my life? Well, I just believe in them. And I trust they exist, because there are texts available to me that discuss them, as well as people available to teach me all about them. I mean, after all, with such great eternal rewards, why wouldn't you believe?

Okay, fine, don't believe in them - you're going to end up in the Pushups For Eternity club. That's where you have to do knuckle pushups on mounds of broken glass with Rush Limbaugh sitting on your back for all eternity. All because you won't accept a unicorn into your life.





Pretty silly, right? Well, my dear Christian friends, that's exactly how you sound to an Atheist.

Now, I know that the message of Christ's death and resurrection sin so that humans can spend eternity in Heaven isn't being sold by (most) Christians as steak and chocolate and unicorns. That's not my point. I do not want or intend to discuss the actual merits (or lack thereof) of the Christian faith. My point is simply that you're asking a group of people to believe in something they do not believe exists, for a reward they cannot prove they'll ever obtain.

And I'm sure that the first reaction that you, as a Christian, felt toward my example was distinctly negative. I'm sure your feelings ranged anywhere from marginal discomfort to outright repulsion; given the notion that your chosen religion - the belief system that you've based everything you know and do around - could be compared to unicorns, steak clubs and push-ups in hell, well... I think I'd be offended myself. But I assure you, it is not my intention to offend you. I have but one goal, and that is to illustrate a single fact:

What you're currently doing - cold-call witnessing and talking to strangers at the mall about your faith and standing on street corners holding signs that read "REPENT"? Well...

It's not working.


This? Not working.


It's at this point that you're probably ready to just write me off as yet another heretic. And that's your right, and I certainly can't stop you. However, you need to understand that I didn't intend to upset you. If I did, however, I will not apologize. Instead, I'd ask that you give me a chance to explain my case by pointing out that your reaction to my comparison actually proves my point:

Confronting a person by attempting to convince them that everything they believe and know is wrong and that you are right is quite possibly the worst way on Earth to persuade them.

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Before I illustrate how your current arsenal of witnessing tactics are not only ineffective, but are actively harming your religion and its' stance in an ever-growing public consisting of non-believers, I need to give you a bit of background information. And it's very important that, no matter how much you THINK you know these points, you pay attention to what I'm about to say, because the rapid swelling of the ranks of the Neo-Atheist movement have proven that what you think you know about them is absolutely, unequivocally, 100% WRONG.

First (and most important):

Atheists do not believe there is a God.

Yep, I'm using the definition of Atheism as my first point. And I do this not because I think you don't know what the word means, but because I'm fairly certain you've not yet realized the concept. When you witness to an Atheist, the person whom you are addressing does not believe there is a God - therefore, any information about God, Jesus, the holy trinity, the parting of oceans, great floods, and the creation of man falls on deaf ears.

To put this in more universal terms, you're attempting to sell a concept for which there is no proof other than the beliefs of men who have spread the word before it.

Whether you like it or not; whether you accept it or not, the fact remains - you're attempting to convince someone that something they cannot see, feel, hear, or otherwise partake of any empirical evidence of its existence, exists. Regardless of how much you believe in the story and how much it has affected your life and the lives of those around you, they do not.

This is important to understand. Until you do, you're arguing with a stop sign.


Second, Atheists do not need to believe in a God.

We've established that you're communicating with a person who does not believe what you are sharing with them exists. You're asking them to buy on faith the fact that spending time in church, telling other people about this belief and living a life based on it may one day reward them. That's difficult enough. When you add to this the fact that you are not only selling them something you can't prove exists, but that they don't even want, things turn from difficult to impossible.

Atheists assert that the foundation for their actions and deeds lie in proven methods related to science and the establishment of undeniable fact. In this, they believe that they have everything they need to live a healthy, rewarding life.

They're not wrong - no more than you are in asserting that your faith in the tenets of Christianity are all you need to live your life. And that's the point. It's hard to convince a man with two working legs that he needs to buy a third, or worse, get rid of his and try the ones you have on. And when he looks for your version and cannot see, feel, touch or otherwise prove that they actually exist, he's going to completely dismiss you. It's not personal, it's just how we work as people.

You're no different. Think about the last time you heard about a confidence scheme on the news - twenty or thirty elderly couples were duped out of their life savings by a man promising investment returns or selling a product which did not exist. If you are honest with yourself, you'll admit that your very first reaction - the one you had before you caught yourself and realized that these poor people are victims - was "Holy cow, why didn't they research it before they invested?"

It's crazy to buy something you can't prove exists, isn't it?


Witnessing is interruption marketing.

It's unfortunate but true - just about every method of "witnessing" to non-believers equates to human spam. To start, I'll list just a few of the methods we all know about:
  • Knocking on doors and talking to strangers about your new church / Christ / a church-related event designed to get new members
  • Cold-calling people from the phone book / phone lists to invite them to your church / discuss Christ and his teachings
  • Direct mail campaigns
  • Holding up signs on street corners
  • Walking up to strangers at Starbucks / the mall / anywhere besides your church
  • Handing out literature (i.e. "Chick Tracts")

This = Human Spam.



It's really easy to point these out as interruption marketing because... Well, they are. Honestly, they're low-hanging fruit. Easy targets, right? Probably unfair of me to just pick those and use them to illustrate the tactics all Christians use to witness. So let's talk about some techniques you may have employed that, to you, probably didn't come across as brazen as the above mentioned tactics:
  • Have you ever asked a co-worker to attend church with you?
  • Have you ever asked a stranger to attend church with you?
  • Have you ever asked either of the above about their faith in God or Jesus Christ?
  • Have you ever shifted a conversation that had nothing to do with church, Christ, or God into a conversation about any of the above?

When you did any of those things, did you notice an eye roll? Did the person groan? Did they shift in their seat and, at the very least, say they would go (or research what you just said, or give the matter some thought) and then never got back to you?

These techniques probably feel natural to you. They feel like you're sharing the good news of your faith and the joy it brings to your life, and it probably feels great to share that joy with others.

There's another organization / concept that those involved are equally as glad to share, because it's changed their life and they can't wait to spread that good news. This organization thrives on new members. Each individual collection of people works diligently to get more folks into the stable, because the larger they grow, the more they thrive and the farther they can spread the word of this great, life-changing group.

Surely, you know who I'm talking about. It's called Amway.

Now, before you get up in arms, I did NOT just compare your belief in God and Jesus to selling cleaners and credit cards and pre-paid cellphones. But I did, however, compare your technique of spreading the word about your belief to the technique of spreading the word about Amway.

Again, try to put yourself outside of your own perspective and into the shoes of your intended audience. You're interrupting their time and space to bring them a message you feel is important. And sure, you have the right to choose your faith and the right to free speech, but as GK Chesteron said, to have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it. And ultimately, "You need to hear this because I need to say it" is the ultimate in self-serving causes... And if you're serving yourself, you certainly aren't serving God.

So. You're dealing with an audience that doesn't believe that what you want to share with them even exists. They don't need it. They don't want to hear about it. Your attempts to share it with them are seen largely as annoying or, at the very least, an interruption in their day. And the result of these tactics is a massive swelling of the ranks of the "New Atheist Movement" (Neo-Atheism) in America and abroad; a movement that has been covered in great detail and has caused great concern within all denominations of the Christian church.

What to do, what to do...

Well, considering the facts, you've really only got two choices. The first is to just keep doing what you're doing. After all, it worked in the past. Your church regularly asks you to do it. It feels good to witness, and at the very end of the day, you can justify a few "lost sheep" if you gave it your best effort, right?

Well... If you're fine with that - if screaming your message through a megaphone and praying (literally) that someone hears you - is okay with you, well... Look forward to staying as frustrated as you are now (if not moreso). Stay persistent, right?

Well, to quote Seth Godin, quite possibly the most brilliant modern marketing guru alive today:
Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over. That's just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.
And the goal is to get people to follow the teachings of Christ and live a Christ-like life, right? Well, telling them to do so over and over again in ways that disrespect their time and personal space is nothing more than simple badgering. It might FEEL like you're doing the right thing, but as we all know, feeling like you're doing work, and actually getting work done are two different things. But there's something you can do that will bring you far closer to your goal than just talking and hoping:

Become the prototype.

Live the example, and let your actions spread the message. Get people to see the merit in the life you live and adopt your practices.

Let's follow two scenarios - one for each path you can take.

Using the traditional, human-spam model of witnessing, you use interruption-marketing techniques to spread the word about your faith. Because you are Christian, and because you are employing techniques that are unwelcome and unwanted, you communicate the following through your actions:
  • Christians would rather be correct than listen to differing opinion.
  • Christians do not respect the personal space (mentally and physically) of non-believers.
  • Christians feel they are superior to non-believers because they have salvation.
  • Christians would rather rely on faith as evidence than rely on fact.

All of these are going to lose your audience. Period.

And as I said before, if you're fine with that - if you're okay with the notion that saying the words and annoying or inconveniencing people with your methods of spreading what is supposed to be a message of brotherhood, unity, respect and love... Well, let's just say that you might need to evaluate the motives behind your actions, for they couldn't possibly be borne of love, respect or brotherhood.

Did Jesus ever hand out a pamphlet about himself? Did he ever tap people on the shoulder and say "Hey, have you heard the good news about me?" No... Not according to any of the literature I've ever read... And I've read a lot of it.

No one pays attention to magazine ads and billboards. People use Tivo to skip commercials on television. There are any number of email spam filters available to prevent just that sort of communication from inflicting itself on you digitally. In every segment - including yours - interruption techniques fail.

Considering your audience's opinion that you are infringing on their freedom to choose not to follow your faith, and their personal space with selling tales of what they consider to be mythical tales and arguments based on belief, you've lost before you've begun... And to go ahead with that program anyway implies a selfishness that only further harms your cause.

Its time for a new tack.

If I am the target for your message, I'm going to be far more receptive to one that incorporates respect for my time and my belief (or lack thereof). I will probably dismiss, as you do, the one which interrupts my routine and infringes on my time to tell me you're right and that everything I have spent years figuring out and pondering and basing my life and views around is wrong.

The second scenario, using my proposed example of witnessing by example, you employ the exact methods that Christ himself used to bring people inline with a respect and love based lifestyle. Live the teachings of your faith and sway action by your deeds. It may not feel like it’s as effective as talking and handing out literature - but the rational being will concede that that stuff has already failed everywhere it's being employed. And ultimately, living the example may not SEEM like it's as much work as hitting the street to hold posters or cold-call people to invite them to your church... But it's far less intrusive and far more effective in the long run.

Make no mistake - this is NOT giving up on saving souls or witnessing. Its a changing of tactics, one which requires diligence in action, commitment to the lifestyle, and confidence that those around you are taking notice.


Spreading the 'good news' is fine... But its hardly news at this point, and there's nothing good about not respecting my right to be who I am. And I can't guarantee or even suggest you'll convert everyone you meet with this new tact. But obviously, judging by the level of concern within all denominations of the rapidly spreading New Atheism, what you're doing isn't working the way you think it should. In fact, its doing more to push people toward the movement you're fighting so hard against. That doesn't seem like a good plan to me.

Eventually, living the example will entice someone who is paying attention to ask you your motives, or at the very least, inquire about the specific actions you're undertaking (such as volunteering for community service, feeding the hungry at a shelter, working with Habitat for Humanity, etcetera). And when they do, you'll have to engage them in conversation about your faith.

When you do, you should know that electing to enter into conversation with an Atheist equipped with your faith and scripture as tools is akin to electing to explore the ocean with a torch. The equipment you've chosen simply will not work in that environment. You can't blame the environment - after all, it is what it is, and you chose to go there.

So, here's a few pointers:
  • Don't bring it up first.
  • If you do bring it up first, and the other person is disinterested or reacts negatively, just let it go.
  • If the conversation does continue, remember that respect is paramount. You're not right, and I'm not wrong - you simply have faith in something I do not. That's not a weakness on my part, even when you consider it a strength on your part.
  • The faith you have? It's belief in the absence of proof or fact. That's the definition of faith. So, don't offer belief as evidence. You can, however, offer it as motive. "I believe in God" does not prove that God exists. "I volunteer at hunger shelters because I believe in God" does prove that you have a motive for your actions.
  • You will not sway an Atheist with promises of eternal reward or threat of eternal damnation. You can't point to heaven or hell on a map, so there's no evidence of their existence. Furthermore, bribery and intimidation are the tools of those who seek power, not those who seek redemption.
  • The Bible is not regarded as the word of God to an Atheist. It's a book written by men. Using it as evidence or proof of anything more than your motives for doing what you do is going to be dismissed.

Even if the conversation never ensues, it's a universal truth that action speaks louder than words. People DO take notice of those who act in accordance with a respect and love based lifestyle. They feel good when they see a person helping another person - and in fact, it makes them want to help out themselves. One need only look at the total figures of collected donations for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade Center attacks to see this in action. Deed follows deed. Tell a person what to do, and you may get them to do it... Make them want to do it, and it'll get done, no matter what.

Ultimately, salvation has very little to do with saying the words "I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God and died for my sins." There are many, many people - some of whom hold the highest offices in the American government - who say this, and then go on to live lives that, by any account, are not at all Christ-like. How many people in your church have spent a week engaging in debauchery and other 'sinful' behaviors, only to appear in church on Sunday, ready to ask forgiveness for what they've done? And how many go right back out and do it again? How are these people better than those who live good lives and help their neighbor and further advance brotherhood and unity... But don't believe in God?

Which of these two types of people would you rather point to and say, "I taught them that?"

If you're more interested in lip service than in actually influencing people to live better lives, I'd say you need to revisit that book you proclaim to live by and, you know...

...Actually read it.

3.26.2008

Facebook hates you.

My only listed interest on Facebook is "you."

I forgot I put that until today, when I saw it in my profiley thing. So I clicked it to see what Facebook has to say about you, and this is what I got:


So it seems that the world's largest social networking site actually cares not one bit about you.

That's sad, huh?

What's more sad is that I even took the time to make the screen captures to present this joke. That's sad. I could have been making some chili or reading Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Cash or something. Instead, I drew red boxes on a screen capture of a screen showing the search results of a misuse of the "interests" system in Facebook.

I should be beaten with a sock stuffed with a soap bar.

3.25.2008

THANK GOD...


Know what that is?

Depending on how you look at it, it's either a $25.00 CD rom with some bits burned on it, or it's my heart returning to a normal pulse and a severe reduction in the amount of acid churning in my stomach.

When I upgraded to a Mac back in February 2006, I consolidated all of my myriad storage and backup repositories into one dedicated NAS. In the process, I culled a bunch of older / different versions of a bunch of old crap - one of these being the original source files for my first book.

The version I have is from October 2005 - before I placed in the book-only chapters or did any editing whatsoever. To try to make that version worth using would take at least 2 weeks of re-integration into the old file, finding bugs, squashing them, finding typos, squashing THOSE, etc...

So thank GOD my printer had an image on file. They burned a copy to CD rom for $25.00 and shipped it overnight. What great folks.

So now, I can FINALLY do the 2nd revision to the book and add the content I wanted to add in. Look for that sometime around June.

I've been Frosted

One of my favoritest people ever, CallieMo, "edited" a Robert Frost poem in my honor.

And honored I am - so much so, that I'm going to share it with you here.

Whose word these are I think I know.
His site is on the big Web, though;
He might not see me stopping here
To watch his words posted quite slow.

My dear husband must think it queer
To stop when there's no new stories here
Upon this site where posts I make
Day and night all through the year.

He gives his graying head a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The hours and the minutes creep
Until a new post Joe does make.

Joe's stories are funny, odd and deep,
But Joe has promises to keep,
And reams of prose before he sleeps,
And reams of prose before he sleeps.


That rules.

3.23.2008

Easter

I had ham and chocolate eggs and banana pudding today.

It was so I could remember why people eat toast and grape juice on certain Sundays.

3.22.2008

I wanted them - now I just might have them

I just got an email from someone who claims to have a size 13 Nike Air Minot.

I am literally squeaking with excitement. For as you know, I really, really, really, really want these shoes.

More as it develops.

3.21.2008

"Studying and Analyzing" vs. "Stuck in a Rut"

My wife insists that I am currently stuck in a rut.

Lately, I've been listening to Kings of Leon. I'd say it's been about 2 weeks of just constant repeat, with a smattering of this band or that band sprinkled in... But mostly Kings of Leon.

Now, she hops in my car and hears them, or hears the alarm clock play them when I wake up, and she sighs and says "That's all you listen to lately."

And I tell her "Yeah, they're fantastic."

And she says "You're stuck in a rut."

Now, this conversation would be interesting to me, except that it's not. It's the eleventy billionth time we've had it. Before Kings of Leon, there was about three weeks of Silversun Pickups. And before that, numerous occasions of just Jeff Buckley or The Roots or Kamal the Abstract (Q-tip) or Sonny Rollins... And each time, she will sigh and accuse me of being in a rut. And each time, I have to explain to her that these are not ruts - they're like going to school and studying chemistry for a semester, or spending three weeks in medical school studying the Tibialis Anterior muscle.

And she sighs and says "Whatever... It's a rut" and I tickle her until she pees her pants.

Now, there's a massive difference between spending weeks stuyding an artist, absorbing every note of the bass line and every hit of the drums and every lick on the guitar and every word of the lyrics; noticing the subtleties of the light background that a strings section is providing or the hollow echoes produced by moving recording locations for a particularly haunting song... And being in a 'rut'.

Ruts are usually not by choice. Ruts are behavior patterns that one settles into that turns into routine, usually with the conscious mind on autopilot. They're lifestyle behaviors - getting up in the morning, having the same two cups of coffee before driving the same route to the same job, having the same conversations with the same co-workers before having the same lunch and reading the same websites for news, then taking the same "eyes-open nap" between two and five just waiting for the clock to tick past that magic number where it's no longer taboo for you to leave and drive the same route home while calling the same people on your cellphone to complain about the same traffic on your way to the same fast-food place to get the same dinner you'll eat before watching the same television programming that lulls you into the same sleep at the same time at night, where you dream of something completely bold and different and unique and freeing before the same alarm clock rings to wake you for the same 2 cups of coffee...

That's a rut. And I've been in it before (along with several others). So I know what one looks like.

Studying the emphasis on a particular phrase on the drums in order to highlight the bass line underneath Maynard James Keenan's brilliant vocals on Lateralus for weeks on end? That's just homework.

3.20.2008

If life was a FPS...

... I would so totally take a suicide point to 'nade this truckload of propane barrels.

3.19.2008

Jeremy's_Wake_Up_Call.jpg

Jeremy sent me this today. It's a mapping of "what you said vs. what you did" for 2008:



Now, to be fair, a week or so of that delay was from the sickness / illness. The rest however.. He does have a point.

Lessons learned: 1) do NOT start a multi-part story before going on vacation and then hope you'll finish it while there, 2) do NOT eat at Arby's, 3) do NOT start posting a multi-part story without having all parts finished.

Duly noted. I have a LOT of catching up to do and forgiveness to ask.

3.17.2008

Actual picture of the tornado

One of the local news stations here, 11 Alive, has a viewer-submitted photo of the actual tornado that hit downtown Atlanta:



That's just crazy.

3.16.2008

Ch-ch-ch-changes

So, I was totally torn on this post, but I figure what the hell. I might as well.

As you know, I made some resolutions this year regarding writing, working out and life in general. So far, you know that I've tried hard to stick to the writing one, with a few hiccups but overall not so bad. And the life one, well... Those of you who used to talk to me on IM and message boards on other websites know how that's going. So, I figure I'd update you on the working out thingy.

Some of you know that I tried out for a professional football team last year (actually, two of them). The training went okay, and the tryouts went so so so so much better than I imagined. I kept in contact with some of the folks at the Georgia Force, and they've given me a few pointers on areas to train on and whatnot. In addition, I've done a complete refocusing on how I work out, changing the model I've used for nearly 17 years (I won't bore you with the minutia, basically I did long runs and 3 sets of 10 of weight lifting exercises, the stuff you learn in high school and whatnot).

So, I posted an update on the football tryout blog I kept (if you haven't checked it out before, it's got a lot of crap from July - October of 2007, a few videos that some people have said are funny, and other crap not really worth reading but is free of charge). It shows the progress I've made.

I won't post the pics here, but here's a link to the entry with the pictures. I don't know why I can't bring myself to post them here, I guess I just feel they make more sense on that blog than on this one, considering the context. Either that or I'm just embarrassed to be showing off or whatever. But hey, I'm proud, it's been a lot of work. So I guess the ego wins this time.

Feel free to make fun of me in the comments :)

3.14.2008

Tornado hits Downtown Atlanta

Yeah, I'm not the news - I'm just watching it. I'm hardly the first or only guy "covering" the tornado, but I'm doing it, so you might as well read it. FUNNN

A supposed tornado hit Atlanta tonight.

You can see pictures here

From the video I've been watching and Twittering about:

CNN Center's atrium / food court is blown apart. Half the windows in the building are blown out, as are windows at the Ritz Carlton and the Omni Hotel.

The Georgia Dome has roof damage, scoreboards and other fixutres are dangling from the ceiling.

The Georgia World Congress Center is flooding as water pours off the streets down the new stairway that was just opened a few weeks ago.

Georgia State University is a total mess, dumpsters are stacked in a pile in the middle of Courtland and several buildings have blown out windows.

There are cars scattered across the streets and trees down all over the place.

The old Cotton Mill Lofts (the ones that caught on fire a few years ago and the guy was stuck on the crane for 4 hours in all that heat) now have no roof.

I'll update more as other crap makes itself apparent.

A pitiful sight

Man... It KILLS me to see that. I hate it when I see abuse like this. It's like a beautiful woman with a black eye... And a Ferrari logo.

3.13.2008

The apology you just knew was coming

So.

It's been a month since I started the story that I need to finish on MI.

I have now twice skipped updating on a Monday.

I have completely destroyed my vow made at the first of the year. And for that, I am sorry. I wanted to make a joke here, maybe tying my apology to the Elliot Spitzer debacle, but the truth is I'm not trying to be silly here. I'm actually genuinely sorry.

I know that it's just stories on the internet, and that I have legitimate reasons for delaying MI with the sickness and all, and that I've done WAYYYYY better at updating this year then I have since 2005... Yadda yadda yadda. I made a commitment to update every Monday, and I've failed in that commitment. It's a very important thing to not let people down, and I feel that the people who read what I write are paying me quite a handsome sum in terms of attention. When you pay me the courtesy of giving me regularly scheduled doses of attention, I owe it back to you to keep to that schedule - or I run the risk of disappointing and ultimately losing you, and I really don't want that.

So please accept my apology on this. No plans, no "I will try" and no promises are attached - just know that once I have your forgiveness on this, I won't put myself in a place to ask for it again.

Joe Peacock = Japan

I decided to jump on the bandwagon of misusing TLDs (the last thing after the last dot in a url, i.e. .com, .net, etc) for vanity and hilarity.

In the vein of del.icio.us and whatnot, I registered joepeacock.jp, because my initials happen to be japan. All it does is mirror the existing joethepeacock.com site, like joepeacock.com does.

So now I'm actually turning japanese. Isn't that grand? And aren't you just so happy that I decided to write about it? I BET YOU ARE!!!!

3.12.2008

An epic and harrowing tale (yet another)

Last night, my good friend and the star of many of my stories, Mike, called and said he wanted to go to the Thrashers - Avalanche game. This is a rare thing for him, since he's usually working evenings during the week. So, I asked Andrea and she was into it.

And so we went.

In order to consolidate vehicles, parking fees and frustration, we left my truck and her car at her workplace. This is a workplace where she has worked for four years. This is a workplace where everyone knows her, what she drives, what stickers are on the back of it, and that it sometimes sits in the evenings when she meets with her husband for dinner or events.

So we go to the game and eat quite possibly the most disgusting chicken tenders ever to be tendered from a chicken. We cheer the two goals the Thrashers were able to squeak out against the Avalanche's five, and we heckle and jeer the stupidity of the referees and whatnot. We finally take off and head out to grab our vehicles.

While standing in the parking lot moving our stuff from Mike's car to our own, we decide to go ahead back out for a bite to eat, which resulted in the most disgusting french toast I've ever had. It took about an hour.

When we come back, we discover that my truck and her car are MISSING!!!!!!!

Now, surely they HAD to have been stolen. There's only one person who would have called a tow truck - the groundskeeper at her workplace - and he knows Andrea, what she drives, and that she occasionally leaves it in the evenings. Furthermore, he knows what I drive, and so CERTAINLY they had to have been stolen. There's no way that he'd be so stupid as to...

"Yep, towed," the cop told us when he arrived.

"Thanks, officer," I said through grit teeth.

Andrea went in and talked to him. He confessed he had the vehicles towed, claiming he didn't know they were hers - MEANWHILE, stating he called her at least four times to find out if it was. Now, why would you call someone if you don't know it's their car? And if you're uncertain enough to place the call, wouldn't you be uncertain enough to not tow it for fear that it might actually STRAND BOTH PEOPLE DOWNTOWN???

So, we head over to the tow place only to find out they need this years registration. This wouldn't be a problem, except that our registrations both expired just a short while ago and the new tags JUST arrived - so we hadn't placed them in our cars or wallets yet.

Thank god for Mike. He took us home, then back downtown to get our cars out of hock.

Anyway, through the muck and the mire, I paid for tickets to a losing game, two horrible dinners, and two cars that shouldn't have ever been towed in the first place - and I was out until 4 AM experiencing the privilege of all these things.

Happy times, happy times...

3.11.2008

I'm a-fixin' mah feeds

I dunno why, but lately, my XML / RSS feed has been wonky. Sometimes, it posts items late; other times it combines like 3 items into one. It's crazy and silly and makes me pithy.

So, I just whapped it with a codehammer. I hope that fixes it.

If you've missed the past few links (livejournal and facebook readers), here's the last five:

- Some thoughs about NASCAR
- Set your clock ahead an hour tonight or the terrorists have already won
- The best advice one could possibly give to a new parent
- Uncanny...
- Yet another goddamn "1000 True Fans" post

Nothing really worth reading, honestly. But it's there if you're bored and looking for text on a screen to stare at for a while (there's even a few pictures in there).

3.09.2008

Some thoughs about NASCAR

Yeah, I know - if I read this title on a blog I read, I probably wouldn't read the entry either. I mean, who thinks about NASCAR?

Well, I never really used to. I used to just make fun of the entire enterprise, teasing fans of NASCAR that turning left for 3 hours couldn't possibly be considered a real sport, and furthermore, only golf could be more boring to watch.


Yep. It's just lots and lots of this. All day long.


Well, lately, I've been taking my dad to the races. He's a huge fan of NASCAR (dating all the way back to when he lived in Florida and used to watch stock cars race up the beach in Daytona). It's never been something I gave a crap about, but he likes it, and I figure there's worse ways to spend a day with your father. So, I go, and for the most part I text people and browse the internet on my phone as much as I can without appearing obviously bored.

But today, I really took the time to pay attention to what's going on - both on the track and off. And I was completely blown away at all the realizations I made:

1) NASCAR actually IS a sport.

The drivers are athletes - make no mistake. They sit for 4 hours in a cramped compartment controlling a machine with no power steering at 188 miles an hour, mere inches away from a guy who'd love to put their opponent into a wall. I mean, most of us freak out in bumper-to-bumper traffic at 40 miles an hour - can you imagine six inches of separation between you and a guy who hates you at 188 miles an hour? For 4 hours straight?


2) NASCAR fans are decent people.

Yes, there are HUGE amounts of beer and cigarettes. Yes, the vast majority of the fanbase speak with a graduated southern accent and probably can't spell ninety-six, much less count to it. But they're great people. They sit right next to people wearing shirts and hats adorned with an enemy driver's number, and somehow, they find a way to pat each other on the back. There are no fights in the stands - when one starts up, the crowd around the area self-police it and it calms down quickly. They all sing the national anthem when its played and they cross their heart during its rendition.

They're good, fine people. Rednecks, yes. But great people.


3) NASCAR is INCREDIBLY well put-together.

This show of 48 drivers travels from city to city each and every week, and somehow, they manage to unload a car, get it tuned up, get it tested, get it tweaked, get it tested even more, and then race. Then they pack it all up and do it again the next week - all without any slip-ups in safety or performance (for the most part).


4) NASCAR has the most loyal fanbase of any sport.

Just walking down Souviner Row (where all the merchandise trailers set up in the parking lot and people go spend a ton of money), I took note of some prices. $149 for a driver jacket. $30 for a t-shirt. $20 for a hat. $100 - $200 for race radio headsets. And a VAST majority of the people in the stands had all of those things on. More than that, in the 3 races I've attended, I've spoken with no less than 20 people who travel to more than 10 races a year. There were more than 300 motor homes and campers at the race, and according to one of the vendors I spoke with at the NEXTEL seminar thingy I went to, they estimate that more than 30% of each race is attended by people who attend more than 10 races a year. I even saw a guy with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s new number, 88, shaved into his back hair.

Holy. Crap. Now that's dedication.


5) NASCAR has the most accessible athletes of any sport.

When I took my dad to Daytona in 2006, we had Pit Passes. These passes allow normal, everyday citizens like you and I into the pits and garages of the racers on race day.

This blew my mind.

Here you have a car worth over a million dollars, and well over one hundred thousand dollars worth of tools and equipment just laying out around a bunch of drunk rednecks who are trused to be on their best behavior around all of it. More than that, most of the drivers were in the pits, signing autographs and saying hi to kids.

Now these are HUGE stars - Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart... Names I actually know, and I know jack about NASCAR. And they're just standing there answering questions and signing autographs for kids and adults alike just a few hours before they have to go race.

Now, I figured that it might just be because it's Daytona, and I guess Daytona is a special place for racing. But no - today, the pits were COVERED with fans who were all on their best behavior, and the drivers were signing stuff and shaking hands and saying hi. To EVERYONE.

You tell me what other sport would allow a fan into the locker room to browse through the lockers and touch the bats / pads / sticks of the players, and the players would gladly meet them and talk to them?

Now, I can't really say that I'm a fan of NASCAR. But I will say that I have a whole new respect for it, and I will probably pay much more attention to the next race I go to with my dad. But don't expect me to shave "88" into my back.

3.08.2008

Set your clock ahead an hour tonight or the terrorists have already won

Not really posting this for anyone but myself, since this is something I screw up every single year. But hey, if either of the two people who read this thing forgot, well... Here's a little reminder.

The best advice one could possibly give to a new parent

3.07.2008

Uncanny...

There is no way that this is coincidental.


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Sent via SMS. Please forgive any typos or pointlessness.

Yet another goddamn "1000 True Fans" post

So, I'm blogging. I'm part of the "blogosphere" (in a literal sense... I'm not 'down' with the Silicon Valley set, the celebrity blogging set, the tech blogging set, the political blogging set... So actually, insofar as the "blogosphere" as a society is concerned, I don't actually exist - but I blog, so I guess I can claim credit if I want it).

So, being a blogger, I guess I have a duty to write about this 1000 True Fans concept. It's a fine concept. It's actually quite valid. And everyone's into it, talking about it like they talked about The Long Tail and Crowdsourcing and Mashups and Dramatic Gopher and whatever else. And here I am, reading this thing, and my first reaction is:

"Duh."

Not that I'm super brilliant or even barely smart. But the truth is, it's REALLY old news to me. My entire career over the past, what, 5 years has been based on this. And I did NOT come up with it. Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki... Hell, even Courtney Love wrote about this in 2000!!!! And she's a coke-adled dipshit!

Anyone with the common horse sense to just look at the closest wall with writing on it has figured this out. It's just that now it has a clever title that's easily quotable. Get 1000 folks who will spend $100 dollars a year on you, your shirts, your mugs, your books, your records, your performances, and whammo, you can live on what you sell them.

Um... Yeah. There's a term for this theory. It's called "elementary school math". It's a really simple formula:

(1000 people) x (100 dollars a year) = 100,000 dollars a year.

You can live on that. Fucking GENIUS, really.

But what if I want to be RICH!!!!!!!!!! What should I do then?

Well, maybe it's time for the 10,000 True Fan theory. The 10,000 True Fan theory is the idea that if you can get 10,000 people to spend $100 on you each year, you can make a million dollars a year.

SEE! That's all you have to do!

Come on.

I mean, I really hate to be snarky (okay, Liz called me out - this is a lie. I love being snarky. But I hate being a dick, and I'm kinda sorta probably being one here) - there are a tremendous number of bloggers out there (including guys I read, like Wil Wheaton) who are embracing this idea whole-hog and going crazy conceptualizing a way to pull off 1000 True Fans as I type this. And maybe it's just because I already did this three years ago with my first book, but I really see this as DIRECTLY comparable to the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFarin.

I mean, it's a world-changing theory! If you want to be happy, all you have to do is don't worry! It's going to sweep the world and everyone's going to be happy and war's going to end and HOLY POO! Brilliant! I'm gonna get started not worrying RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

Anyway.

Perhaps I'm just being an asshole here. I dunno. It just frustrates me to see these theories sweeping collected societies not unlike super trendy diets (Hey, YOU! Read my book about how you can quit eating sugar and you can be unfat! Here, here's a box of bread mix for $22.00 that will help you!) or fashion accessories that seem so brilliant and hip but are actually just retreads of old, basic crap (Crocs, anyone? It's a fucking SLIPPER and you look like a tool in them. There are no exceptions). You can feel free to chalk this up to my being a snob just like my post about the movie 300.

But the truth is, saying something like "all you have to do is bench press 400 lbs, and then you'll be strong!" is useless without actually showing someone how to work up to that. So maybe, in my self-publishing book idea thing that I'm still pondering but probably going to do, I should focus on that. It's something I do know a little about, and perhaps I can actually help those writers and musicians and artists who have just become riled about 1000 True Fans come up with a way to actually GET THEM.

Maybe.

3.06.2008

Mail is NOT worth this

I HATE THE USPS.

The library's hidden opinion of my book

Courtesy SexCPotatoes:

The Stark Library Consortium has a pretty interesting contextual opinion of my book, it seems...




Also fun, check out Google Books. Apparently, I'm a religion:




Strange.

A guide to self-publishing?

Jeremy told me he thinks I should do an e-book on how to self-publish a book. I said "hogwash, no one cares about that." But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there's been a bunch of email that I've answered over the past 3 years on how to do exactly that, why it's a good idea, what the point of it is, etc.

I wonder if it's e-book worthy, or if I should just blog about it?

More than that, is there space there to talk about creativity, motivation, writing technique, business, marketing, etc? Or does that clutter the concept too much?

I COULD do it blog-style and then create an e-book version for taking with you on the road, which would just be a mirror of the blog version. I don't know... I'M SO CONFUSED

What do you guys think?

3.05.2008

Thrashers suck

You know, it'd be nice if they, you know... Actually SHOT THE PUCK ONCE IN A WHILE...

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Sent via SMS. Please forgive any typos or pointlessness.

3.04.2008

Political blues

I dunno, I was half expecting and half hoping that Obama would sweep all four states in today's primary so we could just get the good ol' democrat vs. republican battles started. But now, we have to sit around and watch two candidates in the same party attempt to bash one another without pulling a coupe de grace and completely submerging the entire party with an incredibly awful accusation of whatever sort...

More than that, we have to watch John McCain smile smugly as his tune is finally being played in the Republican party. Is it me, or does it seem like a "gimmie" for that guy to pay him back for the brutal treatment he suffered in South Carolina in 2000?

3.03.2008

Get the new NIN album - FREE!

That's right - you can hear every track on the new Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts I-IV absolutely free - without resorting to piracy or stiffing Trent at checkout time!

Simply go to your local Guitar Center, walk into the keyboard room, and hit the DEMO key on any of the keyboards. If you do it 36 times, you'll get the full record! Isn't that great?!?

Well, maybe not. But it's free, and it'll save you from feeling like a goddamn moron for waiting for hours to download this crap from the website.

You're welcome.

Lost time

Blah. I hate being sick.

It's one thing to go on vacation - that's planned time away from getting things done, which means it's manageable. But spending an entire week either huddled in a lump in bed or hugging a commode really puts a massive dent in life. There's so much stuff backed up work-wise that I'm going to probably have to hire a warlock of some sort to create a dimensional rift so I can summon black demons to go torment people I owe stuff to so they'll forget I owe it to them.

But I will say that nothing makes you realize how good it feels to do things like walk in the sun or work out like being locked down that way. Also, nothing will make you realize just how much trust you put in total strangers preparing your food, or the companies that actually produce the ingredients. It's very safe to say that I will NOT be thinking Arby's ever again. Every time I see one of those commercials where the construction workers whistling and hooting at the suited man with the Arby's bag, I think "you know, they won't find him so attractive when he's leaking various liquids from various places... Or maybe they will, which is even MORE disgusting."

Oh, and if you're looking for new and interesting ways to spice up either injury or illness, might I recommend combining a moderately-recovered strained abdomen muscle with food poisoning? Ever tried that? It's the bee's knees.

3.02.2008

JACKPOT!!!!


I was hoping my CD player would begin spitting out silver dollars or something.

3.01.2008

Get ready for calls from your parents...

If your parents are anything like mine, you are the single source of all information regarding anything that might have at some point - or might ever at ANY point - have been on the internet or generated by a computer. You're also the solution to any crazy email forwards regarding scams and fake do-not-call lists for your cellphone that actually harvest your number instead of block it from telemarketers.

If that is the case, get ready to hear from them again regarding a new letter from the IRS that's about to go out. Yes, the one that's ACTUALLY coming from the IRS is great news - you're going to get a short-sighted and ill-conceived tax rebate to go dump on consumer goods (probably in the form of a down payment on a MUCH larger purchase requiring your credit cards) to help boost a fledgling economy, etcetera and so forth. But that's not the letter I'm referring to.

It strikes me as obvious that broadcasting across every major news avenue that there's a letter to be looking for from the IRS might just be a bad idea. Why?

Well, let's say that, for instance, I wasn't a silly and pathetic internet writer boy hiding out in my little mancave writing stories about my ridiculous past and, instead, I used the power of TextEdit to pull scams. And let's say it's been a particularly dry month, and my creativity has waned a bit. And let's say I was watching CNN or Fox or MSNBC or any of the other "news" agencies out there and someone said "Hey, everyone in America! There's going to be a letter coming your way, and it's great news, and you should be on the lookout for it. It's from the IRS, an organization you have absolutely no trouble giving your personal information to each and every year. And it's going to be about a bunch of money you will be getting. Isn't that great?"

Well, if I'm a scammer with writer's block, it's fucking terrific news, because my creativity just came back. All I have to do is knock out a couple thousand fake letters on fake IRS letterhead talking about the rebate that's coming your way, and ask you to send me some followup information to make sure that the huge bureaucracy that is the IRS has got it correct. Give you a PO Box in Washington, DC that took me 12 minutes to register for online as the return address. Sit back and collect all the identities I want.

I dunno, maybe I'm just malevolent. Maybe this isn't a risk at all. Maybe I just need some sun and some vitamins.