Renewal of My Website

I’ve had my website, drumwild.com, since 1999. Over the years, it has served me well. In the early years, it got me gigs. I was asked to join the band Secret in late 1999 with no audition, because everything they needed to know and see was on the website.

For a while, I used it to post gigs.

Today, it’s a repository for things I’ve done, as well as a place where I write. It also serves as a way of finding me online.

For the longest time, I’ve used Network Solutions for all of my website needs. But this week, I stopped using Network Solutions, and I’ll give you some reasons why you should stop using them.

They nag: They start bugging me about things that are “about to expire” 3 months before their expiration. What they want is for me to renew 3 months early, so then my next renewal will be 3 months earlier than that one. Basically, I’d lose 3 of the 12 months for which I had already paid.

They force auto-renewal: This is how I know about the above. I changed my stuff to NOT auto-renew, and their system changed it anyway one year. Calling their customer service and talking to them about this is nearly impossible, but I did do it.


MY LATEST RENEWAL STORY
My actual domain was supposed to expire yesterday. I had been thinking about this website a lot, and whether or not I should renew it. The cost was one factor in the argument against renewal. But I wanted to keep it so that nobody else could take it and pretend to be me. Plus, it makes me easier to find.

So I went to Network Solutions and headed over to their renewal center to renew my website.

What I had, so far as products go, were the domain name, WHOIS privacy, and web forwarding.

Domain names are self-evident. The WHOIS privacy is where they block your info from showing up in a WHOIS search. People can use this to find your name, address, phone number, email, and other information. The web forwarding is a service that forwards drumwild.com to the page I created here on WordPress. This is cheaper than spending over $100 per year on hosting, especially when this website isn’t getting me new gigs anymore.

The cost to renew everything was roughly $75. The domain name alone was $35. They charge something like $12-$15 for the WHOIS privacy, and something like $15 for the web forwarding.

They default you to renewing everything for 5 years, which makes the price in the hundreds of dollars. So I had to set everything to 1 year only. The pricing looked weird, because it was roughly $75, but they also said that I was getting a bit of a discount. They do not show the work for the discount, so it seems high.

I went to pay with my PayPal, and it didn’t work. I waited a few days, and it didn’t work. Waiting another day and tried again, but it did not work.

I went to Google and was going to search, “Why is Network Solutions not accepting PayPal payments?” I only typed as far as Why is Network Solutions, and Google had tried to finish the phrase with a few suggestions. The top suggestion was:

Why is Network Solutions so expensive?

Great question! I figured that since Network Solutions isn’t trying hard enough to take my money, that maybe I should find another hosting solution. A dear friend of mine has been using GoDaddy for a very long time, so I gave them a shot first.


THE PROCESS
I had to first go to Network Solutions and remove the transfer lock, so that I could do a transfer. Then, I had to ask NS for a transfer code.

Then I setup my GoDaddy account and start a transfer, which was easy enough. A few days later, I got an email with the transfer code from NS. I copied it from the email and pasted it into the browser on GoDaddy, and it was all set.

Next, I had to set up the web forwarding. It needed about 24 hours to propagate.

So my website is up and running via GoDaddy, and everything is the same as before.


COST DIFFERENCE
As I had mentioned before, the cost of a one-year renewal for a domain, WHOIS privacy, and web forwarding was just under $75.

GoDaddy had a special where they would do a one-year domain renewal for $8.67. I transferred my domain to them, and that was the charge.

I checked to see what two years would look like, and that would have been just under $28.

If you’re wondering what the WHOIS privacy or web forwarding would cost, then I am glad to say that GoDaddy charges NOTHING for either of those services!

TL;DR: Needed to re-up my domain for one year. Instead of spending $75 at Network Solutions, I spent $8.67 at GoDaddy.

And they’re NOT paying me to say that [I currently have no sponsors].

Accidental Black Friday

There is no denying that I’m an early bird. As someone who grew up in the Midwest, I’ve always kept an early schedule. Beyond that, my Autism contributed heavily to my insomnia. Today, it fits perfectly into my old man schedule.

We had our Thanksgiving on Wednesday, and it went fine enough, outside of my anxiety that was caused by a blast of change upon change upon change. But this isn’t about that struggle.

Rascal T. Brat, being a cute elderly kitty.

Late yesterday, I decided to put some turkey leftovers in the crock pot to make a turkey soup of sorts. I needed a few things, like celery and corn. But I also needed some itch medicine for my little buddy Rascal, who is going through some hot spots.

With that information, I decided to go to Walmart instead of the grocery store. The grocery store has some hot spot medications, but only for dogs.

So I went to the local Walmart with my mission on my mind. As I pulled into the parking lot, there were signs pointing toward the store with the words “BIG DEALS” on them.

This was the moment where I realized that it was Black Friday.


WHAT IS BLACK FRIDAY?
The phrase “Black Friday” has its origins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, although sources cannot agree if it was 1950 or 1961. Black Friday represents the color of ink that the retailers and other shops want to see in their books.

When a company’s capital is in the negative, the ink is RED. But when the money is in the positive, then the ink is BLACK.

That said, the concept of Black Friday, as we know it today, is all about “great deals” to be had on things. So that 60″ television set that used to be $800 is now something like $350. It’s a relatively new concept, and it’s not good for our society.

But it is good for the corporate pocketbooks.


WHO IS THE TARGET?
More and more Americans are finding themselves to be poor, or at least low enough that their ability to celebrate the American tradition of Christmas is severely hobbled. Most Americans are maxed out on their credit cards. Basically, our financial situation is unsustainable.

Black Friday is mainly targeted at the poor in our society. But it also attracts the greedy.


WHAT HAPPENS?
Typically, people start camping outside the store, sometimes in a line of sorts. Other times, they’re just in a big glob of a mass of idiot humans.

Most of the time, they wait for the doors to open. If they don’t get the doors opened fast enough, people will violently push. People have been trampled, stabbed, or killed, as they fight over things.

Things.

The victors of the bloody battle take home their bounty, wipe the blood off of their faces, try to clean it from the products they purchased, and then they wrap them up, or more than likely keep it for themselves.

It’s the worst of Humanity, on full display.


HOW MINE WENT
It mostly went fine. This is a small town, so I’m sure it’s worse in places like Los Angeles. There was ample parking, so that was fine.

I got up to the entrance and noticed two extra guards. Cool.

The lady who greeted me says, “Do you need to know where to find the hot deals? Apple watch? Smartphone? Television? Other Electronics?”

I told her that I was here by accident, and just needed some vegetables and cat medicine.

This particular Walmart was more crowded than usual, but not packed to the gills, and nobody was killing anyone over anything.

I was at the check-out, when a Karen walked up to bother the cashier who was helping me about something. When the cashier said that she needed the receipt to do that, the woman absolutely BLEW UP!

“You’re accusing me of STEALING! ME!”

This is the battle cry of the Trump Republican; the people who believe that things like checking receipts is a violation of THEIR freedoms. But they’d better keep checking the receipts of non-whites and anyone else who isn’t in their tribe. It’s really animalistic, uneducated, and weak.

Fortunately for all of us, this Karen left right after she finished her huff.

It is truly sad, but in today’s social climate in America, you can tell the politics of someone by how they behave in public. Karens and others who scream about their “freedoms” are typically Trumper Republicans, the lowest of the low.

I think the loud screeching is some kind of mating call, like, “Fk me! Fk me!” And the red baseball caps are part of their plumage.

But I digress.

At the exit, they asked to see my receipt, and I showed it to them. They checked things and thanked me, and I was on my way.

I survived my first Black Friday, thanks to my being in a very small town.


WHY I AM OKAY WITH MY RECEIPT BEING CHECKED
This happened years ago at a Costco. Costco is a place to shop that is membership-based. They check your membership card before you are allowed inside, and then they also check your receipt when you leave.

I did some big shopping one day, and got lots of things, including a new Samsung tablet that cost about $500.

The cash register was busy, and I was putting bags in my car, getting my payment card read, and other distractions.

I go toward the exit, and the person asks to check my receipt. I give him my receipt, and he’s checking things out.

“Oops, there’s a problem. Something is missing. Let’s go back go cash register 4, please.”

I follow him.

As it turns out, the cashier scanned the tablet and then set it to the side, so it wouldn’t be boxed up with grocery items. She set it far enough away that I didn’t even think of it.

So I got my Samsung tablet, thanked security, and left.

I can only imagine the problem I would have if I had realized that I didn’t have it, and went back with my receipt to say that I didn’t get it. The security receipt check saved me $500 and a major headache.


IN THE END
I grew up with Christmas being a secular holiday where loved ones get together and exchange humble gifts. There was no big show of expensive items, and there was no religious celebration of any kind.

In recent years, there are some vocal and unaware Christian “leaders” who get angry every year about the “war on Christmas.” The idea is that Atheists and non-Christians are “destroying Christmas,” by saying things like “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Never mind that “holiday” is the combination of two words; “holy” and “day.” That’s not good enough. They want the holiday to be exclusively theirs, and they don’t want anyone else celebrating it.

They even get angry because Starbucks “took Jesus off the cups,” when there never WAS a Jesus on the cups in the first place. They think it clever to tell the barista that their name is “Merry Christmas,” as if it’s a cute way to force them to say it.

The reality of that situation is people say whatever the hell they want to say. Businesses will tend to lean toward “Happy Holidays” because their goal is to appeal to as many people as possible, so that they can get into the “black” on their books.

It’s the kind of stupidity that knows no bounds.

And as these people whine about “Jesus is the reason for the season,” I think about those same people — who have the nerve to call themselves “good Christians” — who are selfishly destroying our society and KILLING innocent people with their gestation and spreading of COVID variants that are stronger and more difficult to fight.

To this, I say NO, Jesus is NOT the reason for the season. The reason for the season is to spend more money than people you know, so that you can be better than them. It’s to acquire things, and to feel proud that you trampled a pregnant woman to death so that you could get a few hundred bucks off for a gaming console.

As they whine about how “happy holidays” is hurting their feelings, and as they cry about how Christmas is being taken away from them, I cannot help but think about what THEY are taking away from us.

They TOOK Christmas 2020 away from us by NOT getting vaccinated and NOT adhering to public safety guidelines. Family, friends, and loved ones ARE FOREVER DEAD because THEY couldn’t be bothered to take responsibility. The leader they literally religiously worship decided to politicize a public health crisis for his own benefit.

You can tell who cares about the well-being of their fellow American citizens, and who does not. The ones who do NOT go out of their way to make themselves visible, by wearing red hats, covering their cars with bumper stickers that contain the “F” word, they wear crosses, and they call themselves “good Christians.”

They’re utterly horrific monsters.

And you can see just how horrific they are on the news, when the Black Friday disaster videos start showing up.

So whenever someone says that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” the first two words that come to mind are “Black Friday.”

And the first thought I have is all of the completely unavoidable death that has been brought to us by these “good Christians” who refuse to take the pandemic seriously because of their superstitious mythological beliefs and their political standing.

Remember what they took from you.

Really, grown adults should know better.

Vaush says it better than I ever could. From Christmas 2020.

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The Past: I Am SO Over It [and Why the 80s Were SO Good]

I was cleaning house and moving a few rooms around a few days ago. While doing this, I found another box of photos that I’d thought had been lost. These images go WAY back in some cases. I’ll post a few of them here.

Me, with my Great Grandmother Augusta. She was 112 in this picture, and I think she died 3 years later. She gave me a nickel from when she was a little girl. My Great Uncle Bud lived with her his entire life, until she died when he was 88 years old. I suspect he was also Autistic.

Some of the photos were very similar to photos I already had, but they were in slightly different angles. This got me thinking about how the camera had a slightly different perspective, and how maybe I could do the same.

February 21, 1964: My parents’ wedding day.

I began giving some thought to various memories that I’ve had from the past. One by one, I’d give them acknowledgement. I’d give great consideration to what once was. I’d realize that I lived through it [with exceptions, like the photo above]. I would consider how it impacted my life, and what I did or didn’t do with those lessons. I thought of the people I had encountered in my life, the times we had, and how it’s all now water under the bridge.

Me, December 1965.

And then, I made the conscious decision to let it all go.

As I scanned the photos, I put them in folders broken down by era; almost by decade.

Thanks to progress that I’ve made via the work that I’ve done for my mental and emotional health, I began to re-contextualize all of these memories.

I would also start to ask myself some questions about these memories, such as which memories I should write down to pass on to my son, which memories are exclusively my own, and which memories I should consider throwing away for good.

It was then that the big picture hit me hard, and I felt it worth writing about.


A BRIEF LIFE RETROSPECTIVE, BY DECADE
While these are my personal thoughts on my personal experience, I have the nagging suspicion that the thoughts of other people might function in this way. At the very least, other Autistic people might think this way, and maybe this thought process will help them to better process the past.

Processing the past is a good way to deal with the present and future.

Summer 1968: My brother, me, and Taz. To the left of the house is where the offending neighbor lived. The neighbor has probably been dead for close to half a century by now.

This particular story — my story — starts in the mid-60s, when I was born. During my half-decade in the 60s, I didn’t have anything resembling a past to worry about. In fact, I didn’t even understand concepts like rumination or nostalgia.

For this reason, the 60s were fine. There were some bad moments, like my neighbor poisoning my dog. Other than this specific moment, and a few others, I don’t look at the 60s as something that was particularly outstanding to me.

So far as I was concerned, I was just living my life, and I had little in the way of external influence.

And most definitely, of important note, I didn’t really have a past.

Then we get into the 70s. While I could have a past in the form of looking back on the 60s, I was too busy with the 70s to be bothered.

I should say that this DOES NOT include things like music and movies. I was still listening to music from the 60s, as I do today. “Moving on” means moving on from my experiences and thoughts, NOT the media or other cultural avatars.

Spring 1971: Graduating from kindergarten. I had the Pee-Wee Herman look figured out before he even existed.

The 70s were difficult at times, because I started kindergarten in 1970. This was my first exposure to being alone without my parents with a large group of kids.

The anxiety that this produced was something that I was told to “just get over.” It would be another 46 years until I would learn that I was Autistic, and what that diagnosis even meant.

But I was too busy trying to deal with this anxiety on my own. I don’t wish that on ANYONE.

All the same, the 70s were full of some decent times and good memories, in spite of the bad memories and difficult times.

Then we get into the 80s.

The 80s was a time where I found a significant amount of independence and autonomy. In the summer of 1980, I had my first official paycheck-with-taxes-taken-out summer job. By the end of summer, I bought my first car, a 1972 Pontiac LeMans.

And before the summer was over, I’d march with my high school band at the Indiana State Fair, as the ONLY drummer in a 3-member drumline. More like a clump, if you ask me.

Summer 1980: My younger brother [R] and me, getting pumped to march with the Lapel Bulldogs at the 1980 Indiana State Fair marching band competition. I was the only snare drummer that day, and had total freedom to write my own parts.

I am fortunate enough to have video of this performance.

On December 1, 1980, I got my drivers license.

There was lots of activity around that particular day. John Bonham had died in in late September of that year. I got my license on December 1st. My birthday was 2 days later, and Led Zeppelin officially disbanded the day after. And the end of this year was capped off with the release of Back in Black by AC/DC.

What a way to kick off the 80s.

I’d start driving around more. I’d go on dates, or go hang out with some people, or go catch a midnight movie. Of course, I lost my virginity shortly after that. Not that I buy into the concept, but that first experience does make an impression.

The 80s had many other high-level events, such as my first guitar performance in the high school talent show, high school graduation, starting college, playing in my first rock band in college, playing my biggest show on guitar in 1985, and moving to California in 1986 to start pursuit of my dream of being a musician in LA.

Late 1988: Me, with my future ex-wife. She was closer to my mother’s age than mine.

However, as high of a note as the 80s started on, it ended up landing on an equally down note. I had almost married a girl I had liked in college. When that didn’t work out, I ended up meeting my future ex-wife.

While those first few years were challenging enough, she would make the 90s an utter nightmare.

This was just ONE piece of the major gear shift that the 90s brought.

The 90s brought me, and sometimes others, things like the LA Riots after the Rodney King beating trial verdict, where I almost got killed by a group of people who decided they wanted to kill me because I am white.

There was the Gulf war, and a failed 10-year high school reunion. But the biggest overall shadow on the 90s came directly from my future ex-wife, who was not a good person and didn’t treat me well. I’ll leave it at that.

She ended up poking holes in my condoms, which was how I became a father. Forced, against my own will. There’s a word for that, and it’s r@pe. Getting away from her was a nightmare. And when I left, I went to stay with another woman who was just as bad. She was trying to get pregnant so that I’d be financially responsible for the two children she had with her brain-damaged former drug dealer husband.

There were some good things along the way. The album I recorded with Ruby Cassidy went well, even though she had some dirty ulterior motives. I also taught myself the fine art of meeting women online, and most of those encounters were positive. And I ended up joining a band in the late 90s called Sun On Skin, and we made some great music together.

The 90s closed with a bit of hope, after I moved in with my mother, got my act together, and moved back to Hollywood. This was when I met Catherine.

Circa 2015: Catherine [aka Junior] with my companion of 16 years, LP.

This is where I think that my problems in processing the past became evident. I would do a mental retrospective on the decades. Of course, the 80s were by far more positive and awesome than the 90s.

And this wasn’t just because things were better. More about this later.

The 2000s didn’t start off very well. There was a big political scandal with “hanging chads” on voting ballots in Florida, and the election was handed to George W. Bush, the non-winner. Al Gore lost his spine and conceded. And, of course, this was followed with the 9/11 attacks.

At this time, I was getting more musically active. I joined SECRET in 2000, and quit in 2001 while taking the other band member with me to form WHIPLADS. This got me involved in Noodle Muffin, and I ended up playing a variety of instruments with a variety of bands and performers.

November 2009: Me [center] with Longineu “LP” Parsons [Right] as celebrity drum judges for the Guitar Center Drum-Off 2009.

The 2000s ended with Noodle Muffin doing their final live performance in late January 2009. I got to be a “celebrity judge” for the 2009 Guitar Center Drum-Off in Sherman Oaks, CA.

I also got called by comedian Fred Willard to be his drummer for a comedy skit that we did in 2009, and then repeated one last time in 2016.

And from 2005-2008 I got to work at MySpace, which was a dream of mine ever since the first time I saw the website.

The 2000s ended in the same way that the 80s ended, with me getting involved with someone who was going to only cause me harm. This time, it was a band in LA that ended up not doing all that much.

The 2010s were my darkest decade. I was involved with the band noted above, which I won’t be naming. I got roped in with the band leader’s idea of building a recording studio. We spent 4 years doing this.

In the spring of 2013, my son graduated high school. After that, he stopped coming over to spend the night, and has since been very busy trying to build his life, so we don’t talk as often as we should. This has felt like a loss.

By the end of the last year, in late 2013, I got sucked in by a “friend” online who was actually nothing more than a cancer scammer. This inspired the “friend” who was leading the band to change the studio locks, claim I did nothing, spread lies about me being a scammer as well, and then ripped me off.

Dealing with these two scammers was a big lesson, and the price tag was at least $50,000.

This threw me into a major depression that started in mid-2014 and carried on until late 2019.

Catherine and I had been together for 20 years when we packed up and moved to Oregon in 2019. We were there only six months, when an old girlfriend from 1982 found me. Her name is Annie. I wasn’t really in the best frame of mind to be dealing with any of this.

Still, Catherine and I had a long talk. We acknowledged that we’d spent 20 years together, but that we weren’t really ever a romantic couple. Catherine decided to let this old girlfriend come out for a visit. She ended up moving herself in, after divorcing her 5th husband of 16 years.

Everything was surprisingly civil.

I think that Catherine could tell that things were wrong once I brought up finding Annie, and my lingering, years-long feeling that we were going through the motions. We had been going through the motions, and my severe depression was not being alleviated in this situation. As I noticed this, I also noticed that Catherine and I had become more like roommates than anything else.

Of course, my 2020s got kicked off the same as everyone else’s, to a degree, thanks to COVID-19. Although there was a deadly virus flying around the world, I felt good about my situation at the time. Catherine went to stay with family in Rhode Island, and I was left here in Oregon with a girlfriend from the best decade of my life.

Catherine moved back to stay with us temporarily. She had her own space and things seemed to be chill, but this former girlfriend either had a mental meltdown or pretended to have one.

Me with Annie, and Catherine with Annie, at the beach in Lincoln City, Oregon, on August 29, 2020.
Annie and I dated back in 1982, and I later found her in late 2019.
Precisely one month later, everything fell apart, Annie left, and both Catherine and I were left to deal with our respective heartbreaks.
I do not know anything about Annie’s life now, but I do know that we can never go back. Nobody can ever go back.

Whether she had a legitimate mental health episode, or she was merely acting, things went really, really badly.

One day, she just walked out and never returned. I know where she is now, and last I heard she was safe. The split with her broke my heart like nothing I’d ever experienced in the past.

Today, I am still in Oregon. Catherine and I still live together, although we have separate rooms. We do not present as a couple, but rather behave as really dear friends who care about each other and who want to help each other through these highly difficult times.

We still care about one another a great deal, but are coming to realize that we may not be capable of being a romantic couple. It’s a good thing that we both agreed that attempting to pick up where we left off would be a bad idea, and that where we left off wasn’t really all that great in the first place.

I am very fortunate in that regard, to have a dear friend like Catherine.


WHY WERE THE 80s SO DAMNED GOOD?
Through the 60s and 70s, I never gave much thought to the past. As a result, I actually spent time living in the moment, and being present for everything that happened.

The 80s were different and unique for me, apart from all other decades, because not only was I NOT involved in rumination or nostalgia, but I had become an autonomous human being who made decisions for himself.

From the 60s to the 70s, and the 70s to the 80s, I was always living with a sense of improvement, or things getting better.

The very early 90s was where I saw my first major decline in life satisfaction. The present was horrible at times, so I’d look back to the 80s for good memories. These memories were not tainted by anything in the present.

My nostalgia kick has its early origins in the 90s.

The 2000s had some powerful times and lots of things happened. And overall, the 2010s were an utter nightmare.

The 2020s started out as awesome as humanly possible, and then went as horrible as humanly possible. Annie and I made the best of it until late September and early October 2020, when things fell apart.


IN A NUTSHELL
I considered making a graph, but it’s so easy to summarize.

1960s: Early childhood, no past.
1970s: School life, no nostalgia for my life in the 60s.
1980s: Awesome life, no nostalgia, no rumination.
1990s: Some difficult times, rumination about the 80s.
2000s: Some decent times, minimal nostalgia about the 80s.
2010s: Very difficult times, heavy rumination about the 80s.
2020s: In progress and getting better.


A CONSCIOUS DECISION
It’s interesting how chains of events feed one another. When Annie and I found each other online in late 2019, it prompted both Catherine and me to sit down and truly evaluate our current situations, as well as our past and our future. This is where we determined that we weren’t truly a romantic couple, and made the decision to split.

When Annie left, it prompted both Catherine and me to talk more about our past, and whether or not we could have a future as a romantic couple. This was in lieu of picking up where we left off, which is what I did with Annie to a degree, 37 years later. Knowing that this is a mistake, Catherine and I decided to remove this as an option. This is why we are dear friends instead of a couple.

But when Annie left, it also gave me pause to consider my relationship with the past and how that might be having a negative impact on my life.

When I talk with someone from the past, I have the ability to pick up where we left off. I will talk about things that I remember as if they had happened yesterday. Meanwhile, the other person seems to be left wondering why anyone would do such a thing.

Please allow me to tell you about the time that I scored four touchdowns in a single game while playing for the Polk High School Panthers in the 1966 city championship game versus Andrew Johnson High School, including the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds against my old nemesis, “Spare Tire” Dixon. [Al Bundy]

I have found that people from my past aren’t particularly interested in re-living some of the awesome things we did back in the day.

Maybe it’s because they’ve moved on, or more than likely they didn’t enjoy those moments like I did.

I moved on, too, but I was also ruminating and attempting to find a way to return to that magical time when life was at its peak for me.

I even went so far as to resuscitate a short-lived high school relationship from 1982 in an attempt to pick up where we left off. It wasn’t my plan when I met her, but it became my plan once she showed a great deal of interest in doing this as well.

The thing is, you can never go back.

It’s like the awesome taste of that first piece of chocolate cake. No matter how much cake you eat after that, you can never replicate the sensation of that first bite.

My decision to not go back to the past includes the relatively recent past. If I moved back to LA after having been in Oregon for almost 3 years, it would be a different experience.

This is why Catherine and I aren’t going back. We had a good run, but there were some problems and once they came to light, it was impossible to ignore them. And I most definitely WILL NOT be going back with Annie.

Both of these break-ups were painful, and I spent the last year working to cope with all of it, and to figure out how to stand up, how to breathe again, and how to move forward.


In happier times: Showing two of our favorite movies from the past.

WHEN THE PAST GETS RUINED BY THE PRESENT
What really, truly stinks is when a fond memory gets ripped to shreds. Before Annie and I found each other, I had some truly fond memories of our first date. We went to see Poltergeist, and I later took her to my house and played Stairway to Heaven for her on the guitar.

There were other fond memories of us together. And those memories are forever blemished with what happened just over a year ago. Again, I don’t know if she had a serious mental health breakdown, or if she was pretending to have one for other reasons.

But with that early 80s memory permanently ripped to shreds, I really have no interest in looking back on it anymore.

To be fair, she is not the only one. Thanks to my Facebook experience in 2019, many of my great memories from the 80s have been crapped on by modern-day versions of those with whom I’d shared these memories.

For example, I’d found the guitarist from my college band. He was someone I had looked up to for years. When we reconnected, I trusted that it would be safe to tell him that I had gotten my Level 1 Autism diagnosis in late 2017.

His response to that was, “Interesting. I always knew there was something wrong with you.”

Finding people from the past and catching up with them will only destroy those memories further.

So maybe it’s best that I leave them alone.

I might write about some of them in the future. That’s fine. What is NOT fine is me sitting alone, ruminating and thinking about what it might be like to try to go back.


IN THE END
There are people from my past who are reading this. One of them is a musician I’d met in 1998, and we still email and share music-related experiences to this very day. Another one has been a good friend since 1992, and I attended his second wedding in late 2016. Yet another was a good friend and fellow musician in high school, whom I’ve not seen since 1983.

These are examples of people from the past who are NOT cut off. I kept in touch frequently with the first two. The third one is a musician and is a kind and sympathetic person.

I can’t think off-hand of anyone else who would fit into these two types of examples, so these may be the only ones.

But those who forgot about me and moved on can stay moved on, and I should do the same.

And anyone who says they’ve been desperately trying to find me is more than likely lying to me about it. I’ve been VERY searchable online since at least 1999, when I started my website, DrumWild dot com.

During those 20 years, I’ve been found by musicians looking for a drummer. Other than that, only one person from the past found me during that time, and it was back when I had a LinkedIn account. NOBODY from my past found me via my website.

The past can be a good thing, when it comes to lessons learned, experiences that were had, or people that were encountered. Reminiscing on occasion is fine.

However, the past becomes destructive when reminiscing turns into ruminating, and full-blown nostalgia fills the space where new people and experiences should be growing.

When this happens, the past is magical, the present kind of sucks, and the future is utterly hopeless.

The only way to rectify this is to pack the past away, where it can be accessed on occasion, so that the present can be open to new people and experiences, thus allowing for the idea of a more positive future.

When I went through the 80s, I had no thought or concern for my experiences in the 60s and 70s. I do strongly suspect that this was a major element in allowing the 80s to become as great as they are in my mind.

Of course, there’s the newness of adult-like autonomy that played a role. This cannot be replicated in a general sense. However, I do live in a new state, and there are new people around, and there are some new experiences to be had.

The pandemic has mostly gotten in the way, which has slowed my ability to move forward. But I am confident that new people and experiences will still find a way. And I can spend my time embracing those, instead of clinging to a past where I’m the only one who seems to care about it.

Pink Floyd wrote a song about the past, how amazing it was, and how we always get pulled back to the present when we try to go where the grass was greener. The passage of time is a major theme in their songwriting.

As I let this song play, I will be taking my past and packing it up for safe keeping, until some time in the future, when it is appropriate to unbox it and give it a bit of a look before putting it back.

The endless river. Forever and ever.


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Perspective: The Life of a Photon

INTRODUCTION
We humans tend to behave as if we have all the time in the world, as if we will live forever. As a result, it is important to gain some perspective on occasion.

In today’s entry, we will see things from the perspective of a photon.


WHAT IS A PHOTON?
A photon is a piece of energy that has no mass. It acts like a particle, has momentum, and travels at the speed of light.

The light that illuminates our planet, warms the planet, and feeds plants is nothing more than a stream of energy packets called photons.


THE LIFE OF A PHOTON
Photons are generated in the core of the sun. However, they do not escape from the sun right away, due to the strength of the sun core’s gravity.

By way of comparison, the core of the Earth is about 2.5 years younger than the outer crust. As for the sun, the core is 39,000 years younger than the outer area. Time struggles to crawl in this gravitational area.

The photons struggle to escape the core. In the process, they end up bouncing off one another. But eventually, after 170,000 years, the photon is free and is ejected into space at the speed of light.

From there, it takes the photon 8.3 minutes to reach Earth. Once it reaches us, it serve a few purposes. It will warm the surface, provide light, and provide food for plants via photosynthesis.

However, most photons will not reach Earth, as they are flying out from all directions from the globular sun. Those photons just fly out into space.

Many of these photons will not strike anything.

Consider a chunk of space that is 2,300 cubic light years in size. On average, one can find ONLY ONE STAR in this area. A mass of space that is 1 billion cubic light year in size will contain approximately 40% of a galaxy.

So these photons fly, and fly, and fly. They can do so for approximately 25 quadrillion years. After that, the photon loses its power and it dies.

THE KICKER
The thing that blows my mind about all of this is the fact that photons DO NOT experience time. So far as these energy packets are concerned, they might exist only for a fraction of a second.

Conversely, we believe that we exist for years, or even decades.

Unlike photons, we experience time, and it changes based on the mood or situation.

When we are about to have a car accident, for example, time will suddenly move in slow motion. We will look around, and our brains will engage in a way where “our lives flash before our eyes,” in an effort to locate a previous solution to the problem.

When we go on a vacation for two weeks, it will feel like it lasted only a day. Then the first 8-hour work day after vacation will feel like two weeks.


IN THE END
Time is a human construct that we created to measure progress. A day is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to complete one revolution on its axis. A month is how long it takes the Moon to have one full revolution. A year is the amount of time it takes the Earth to completely one revolution around the Sun.

Sometime we get wrapped up in it. Other times we lose track of it. Sometimes we worry about it as we are “running late” for work. Sometimes it becomes urgent when we are having a medical issue. And sometimes it can seemingly drag on forever and ever.

All of this happens in our minds. And all the while, the second hand on the clock keeps perfect time, never speeding up or slowing down.

Illusions.


IN THE END
You might have the time today. It is also possible that you may have significantly less time than you believe.

Or maybe you just are, and time is of relatively little value.

But time isn’t the only illusion. I may write about those in separate entries.

That is, if I can find the time.


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51 Years Ago: 11-17-70 by Elton John

INTRODUCTION
Today I’ll be writing about one of my biggest influences with regard to music, Elton John. The live performance that he gave back in November 17 of 1970 has been an album that has stuck with me for the majority of my life.

As is the case with most artists whose careers started before I was born, I catch them when they are current and then work my way backwards. I first found Elton John in or around 1973, when I was 8 going on 9 years old.

The following year, shortly after the release of Elton John Greatest Hits, I got the music book for the album. It had melody and lyrics, but also piano parts and guitar chord boxes. This encouraged me to sit at an air organ that I had and try to work up parts to play along with the record.

The year after that, in 1975, I moved to a small town called Lapel and started fifth grade there. During this year, we had a time where people would bring things to class to share, almost like a show-and-tell, except it wasn’t called that.

Circa 1977: Drumming with said Elton John shirt. It’s cut off from the photo, but the poster on the wall above the horse poster is Elton John as the Pinball Wizard.

During one of these times, a kid named Mike Anderson brought a 45 single to school and played it for everyone. It was “Island Girl” by Elton John.

And in 1977, an older girl named Sherry who would watch us kids when our parents were out of town, bought me an Elton John shirt. I wore it just about every day until it got so many holes that I had to get rid of it.

It was around this time that I started digging into Elton John’s past catalog, and I got completely lost in it all.


A BIT ABOUT 11-17-70
This album features Elton John performing live with Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums. It is his fifth album, and his first live album. He and his band performed at the A&R Recording Studios, New York, NY, for a live radio broadcast on WABC-FM.

This wasn’t originally intended to be released as an album. However, as most of us know if we were alive back then, people would sit by the radio and tape things. Some people did it over air, while others did it in a more professional manner.

The bootleg tapes that were making their way around were so prevalent that his label felt they had no choice but to release it as an album. Their hand was forced, and the world was better for it.

I love the entire album, but this might be my favorite track.


THE RELEASE OF 11-17-70+
April 22, 2017 was Record Store Day in America. This is where artist will produce and release special promotions.

This year, Elton John released 11-17-70+, which was the live album with SIX previously unreleased tracks. Given that I’d never heard the bootleg myself, I had no idea that the album was incomplete.

The six songs really add to the show, although I had gotten used to the original release, so it felt a bit strange hearing these new songs.

If you love 11-17-70, then I recommend upgrading to 11-17-70+.


A SECRET DREAM OF MINE
In 1974, Greatest Hits wasn’t my only exposure to Elton John, as I’d also been fortunate to have acquired Caribou.

As I listened to this album, I ended up thinking of none other than Bernie Taupin. I imagined him living on an island with everything he needed, and a pencil and paper. I could see him sitting on a beach writing out lyrics, putting them in the mail, and then receiving big checks.

So I decided that I was going to do the same thing, to a degree. I went into the basement of the house and I wrote out some lyrics to send to Elton John.

A big favorite of mine from this album.

I wrote out the lyrics and then mailed them to an address for the Elton John fan club that I’d found in the back of a magazine.

After a few months, I confided in my grandmother that I’d written some lyrics and sent them to Elton John via his fan club. I asked her what she thought the chances were that I’d get a response.

She said, “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the fanclub will probably not forward this to him, and it may very well end up in the trash.”

Oh boy. I felt as if I’d wasted my time.

Grandma continued, “However, the good news is that you made a decision, sat down, and wrote your first song. Whether it’s good or bad doesn’t matter. What matters is that you did it.”

Suddenly, the bad stuff faded away, and I was left with a sense of ambition to keep doing more.

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC AND THE BROWN DIRT COWBOY
It was either late grade school or early junior high when my friend Tom, an incredible pianist and musician in his own rite, loaned me this album. I loved it INSTANTLY.

Of course, I had to return it. I thought that it would be a good idea to get it on 8-track, so I could play it while riding in my dad’s Jeep. Although that only happened once, I’d often listen to it at home.

It turned out that the 8-track was a really bad idea because the song Someone Saved My Life Tonight gets cut in half, and it would take me right out of the album listening experience.

The entire album moves me, but my favorite track is above. It’s actually two tracks. What makes this album awesome is that it was recorded “on the floor.” What this means is that the entire band performed and the whole thing was recorded as they played it.

Many bands today record one track at a time, or they record the basic core and then track other things later. But in this instance, it was everything.

Neil Sedaka walked into the studio as We All Fall In Love Sometimes was coming to a close, and they were starting up Curtains. He asked the producer if they were practicing or maybe laying down a scratch track. When the producer said that he was witnessing the album recording, his jaw dropped.

Elton John has said that 11-17-70 is his greatest live performance, and I know that includes performing in front of an audience. But to me, this album represents a special form of live recording that not many bands can achieve or endure today.

In my 33 years in Los Angeles, I’ve only recorded on the floor with a band twice.

It’s a really cool thing.


MY PERSONAL ELTON JOHN CONNECTION
If you’ve ever played the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” then you know how this works. You pick a random actor or person, and then show them connected to another person, and that person is connected to another person, who is then connected to Kevin Bacon.

My connections are less than this. As for Kevin Bacon, I once got to do a show with The Bacon Brothers, so the connection is pretty much direct.

My personal connection to Elton John came in 1997 when I recorded The Mystic Dancer with Ruby Cassidy. When we recorded the album at Jimmy Hunter’s Cazador in Hollywood, we hired studio musicians. We had guitarist Steve Caton from Tori Amos on lead guitar.

But, to the point of this entry, we also had the late, great Bobby Birch on bass. Bobby played bass with Elton John for quite some time.

Bobby had gotten hit by a truck in 1995 while crossing the street, causing him some very painful back issues after the accident left him with two broken legs and a damaged spine. As a result, he’d have to sit in a chair while playing and be careful about how he moved.

Elton John, sitting with Bobby Birch, back in the old days.

My album was one of the first that he’d played on after the accident. He was truly a cool guy. Both Bobby and Steve were true professionals who didn’t need too much in the way of guidance.

You can hear Bobby playing bass on the entire album. This is my favorite song, as any long-term reader knows.

The album features songs written by me, with lyrics by Ruby Cassidy. I played rhythm guitar and was the Music Director of the album. We had Steve Caton of Tori Amos on lead guitar, Bobby Birch of Elton John on bass, and producer Jimmy Hunter on drums, keyboards, backing vocals, and special effects.

Sadly, Bobby decided to take his own life in 2012, after falling from a stool he would sit on during a performance, and causing all of his back pain to get significantly worse. Nothing else could be done. I understand and respect his decision, while at the same time acknowledging the tragedy of it all.

RIP Bobby.


I’d sometimes go to different dormitories and just sit at the piano playing, and sometimes taking requests.

MY ELTON JOHN SURPRISE IN COLLEGE
I won’t have an “In The End” for this one, and instead will be ending my entry with an anecdote involving an incident during college orientation.

No doubt, Elton John had a big impact on my life with regard to music. He inspired me to go to some drastic measures to learn how to play piano.

My buddy Tom showed me some things on piano, as well as a kid named Larry B. I felt that, in order to benefit from what they had shown me, I’d have to practice.

The problem was that I did not have a piano.

So what I would do is discreetly unlock a small window of the band building. Then I’d go back and break in after dark. Then I’d sit at the piano and play as a flashlight lit the keys.

It was a clean plan, and I never got caught.

Now, back to college orientation. We’re getting the sales pitch from the people who are running the orientation, and we hit a time in the orientation where we’re all going to have a snack break.

They brought out snacks and the guy running it says, “I wish we had some music to go with this time. Any music majors want to play something?”

I jumped up and volunteered. My mother put her head in her hands, thinking that I was going to bang on the keys randomly and scream like an ape. Of course, that is something that I would do, but that’s not what I did.

One of mom’s many recitals as a pianist, when she was 4.5 years old. At this point, she had been playing for about 2.5 years.

Instead, I played one of my favorite Elton John songs. I can’t say it’s my favorite of all time, but it is most definitely my favorite to perform.

As I was playing and singing, I heard my mother say, “I didn’t know that he knew how to play the piano.”

My mother played piano when she was VERY little. That came to an end when her family moved and had to leave the piano behind because the windows and doors were redone and the piano didn’t fit out.

That was the end of piano for her, sadly.

I got her a keyboard for Christmas about six years ago or so. She couldn’t even find middle C.

My performance did anger some fellow Music majors. I guess that was the best way to know that I was doing something right.

To be clear, I do not consider myself to be a pianist! Elton John most definitely IS, as is my buddy Tom who showed me some tricks. I’m just a guy who can figure out how to play songs, and I can write some songs. But I’m nowhere nearly as talented as anyone I know on piano.

Below is the song that I played. Although it’s not from 11-17-70, I do recommend going to listen to that album, or ANY old Elton John tracks. It’s a good time of year for that kind of music.

This song is great for a dark dive bar or a dimly lit dorm piano.

Now you know why November 17th is one of my favorite days of the year.

Rebuild Your Identity [It Might Stink]

INTRODUCTION
Does YOUR identity STINK? If you’re an America, then it might.

How a human identifies plays a crucial role in the survival of any person. It’s what drives them to do certain things. It informs our social connections and behaviors. It can motivate. It can inspire.

It can also be destructive.


IDENTITY AND 1970s FACTORY WORKERS
My memories of factory workers goes back to 1970, when I would show up at the UAW picket line with my mother and distribute buckets of chicken to the workers who were on strike. They had tents set up in the parking lot, burning barrels, the whole thing.

These people built their entire identities around being factory workers. At the time, if you worked at the factory, then you had a fairly secure position.

It was literally all they had. They worked and paid bills. That’s it.

Occasionally, the factory would lay off someone, or fire them. Whenever that happened, I just knew that it was only a matter of time before I’d be reading a news story about that man’s suicide. The best you could hope for was that he didn’t kill his family first.

Why?

Because his identity was attached to the factory and his role as a factory worker. When his identity was taken away, he was left with nothing. He didn’t know where to go. He couldn’t rebuild. He couldn’t find another job.

The hard truth is that he died on the inside long before his body died.

Pro-Tip: If an employer says that everyone at work is “like family,” that’s a cue to run for your life. You don’t want a boss who is like your abusive uncle.


MY TAKE-AWAY
When I noticed this happening, I asked my grandmother about it. She told me all about human identity and the role it plays in our lives.

I was still merely a grade school kid when I decided that I would never tie my identity to my job. Rather, I’d wrap up the whole of my identity as a musician.

“I am a musician!” I declared this to myself every day.


HOW THAT WORKED OUT FOR ME
My life has been a series of one job after another, with no steady, assured platform upon which to land. I’d work as a software teacher, then an Admin Assistant, then an accountant, media duplicator, DVD author, and website tester.

Had I tied my identity to any of these, I’d be in bad shape. I haven’t worked in almost six years.

But my identity as a musician allowed me to flourish, to a degree.

Because my identity was and is anchored in music, it always stays with me, even if I am not working. It gives me confidence.


At the time, it was called “Dennis Morgan’s Fantasy Island.” Ruby and I recorded a theme song for the club, and he loved it. Before this, it was called KELBO’s, and that was a place you’d go to if you were interested in getting shot for no reason at all.

A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
I used to go to a club in Santa Monica in the 90s called “Fantasy Island” on Pico Blvd. after work. I could have a beer and watch the exotic dancers do their thing. It was a break between the ugliness of the working day and the hellish nightmare that was living with my future ex-wife.

Click HERE to listen to “Fantasy Island” by Ruby and me.

When a guy goes to a place like this, it’s usually to escape something horrific. Judging men in this position only makes it worse. Listen to them and have some sympathy.

When a dancer there was talking to me, she did that typical thing by asking me what I did for a living. I know this is small talk, but I hate it because the answer is typically used to pass judgment. Some people ask that question because they want to know whether or not they should respect you.

Circa December 1996: Ready to take on the world!

At the time, I was an Administrative Assistant. This was in the mid-90s, and at this time men who held this job were considered to be gay and got harassed a great deal. My boss kept with the gay jokes for 5.5 years, and this was at an employee benefits and human resources consulting firm, where they should know better.

So, as this little lady stood there awaiting my response, I said, “I’m a musician.”

It’s true. Although it’s not what I was doing for a living, I was working toward making it my living. And it represented me at my core. Still does.

Pro-Tip: If you are a musician, but do not make money with your music, then you are STILL a musician.

Conversely, being an Administrative Assistant doesn’t really represent me as a person. It would merely serve to inform someone that I can type and that I’m organized.

What I do to make money isn’t who I am. This runs counter to American attitudes, and American attitudes about work are hyper-toxic. Now, back to the story.

She got excited and said she was looking for someone to collaborate with on an album. She asked for my number and said she’d call me. I blew it off, as this happens a lot. But the next day, she called and came over with her lawyer.

Pro-Tip: The old-school Hollywood blow-off was, “My people will call your people,” or “Let’s do lunch.” People on Facebook do this with the phrase, “We should get together sometime.”

From there, we spent the better part of a year making some good music together.

The VIDEO is of us running through this song for the first time, right after we wrote it.
The AUDIO is from the final product.

THIS APPROACH WAS NOT BULLET-PROOF
Life was in full-force by the end of the 2010s. I’d always be in 2-3 bands at the same time while writing and recording with Noodle Muffin.

2005: Venue marquee for The Gig in Hollywood on Melrose. I was drumming in both WHIPLADS and Falling Moon.

Things were moving, and I felt motivated and alive.

My problems were slowly building up, after I got involved with a malignant narcissist who was parading as a musician. We started building a recording studio on his property.

About 4 years in [2013], another “friend” came to me looking for help, claiming that she had cancer. I’ve written about both of these people before, so I won’t be getting too deeply into that. Just understand that they were picking at me and slowly tearing me apart, stealing my time and money, while I was working to help both of them.

While the studio scammer kept his scam focused on me, the cancer scammer put her focus on everyone on my friend’s list. The studio scammer then started spreading rumors that I was “in on it” with the cancer scammer.

This is when people began to stop talking to me, and my reputation took a major hit. At the time, I was in a band called The Wrong Dots with former child actor Robbie Rist. He’s best known as “Cousin Oliver” on the television show, “The Brady Bunch.”

He and I had been friends since he came to the first WHIPLADS show on 9/13/2001. But here we were, in January 2014, and he’s asking me for my phone number because “we need to talk.”

L-R: Karen Blankfeld Basset, me, Robbie Rist, and Jeremy Cohen,
as THE WRONG DOTS.
We were at Rock-N-Roll Pizza filming an episode of Mystery Diners

This told me that he deleted me from his contacts before he did this.

He effectively fired me from the band, stating that my presence would mean that people took him less seriously. I never really took him as someone who cared what other people thought, but he was suddenly very concerned.

With this phone call, I realized that my identity as a musician did not protect me 100% of the time. In fact, it had been destroyed by this experience.

I felt like a factory worker from the 1970s.


IT DID HELP A BIT
My identity as a musician did help me get out of the pit, to a degree. Unlike the factory worker, who’d have to land another factory job in order to be whole again, I decided to focus on myself as a musician, instead of bands and performing.

So I signed up for master class guitar lessons from legendary guitarist Bill Harkleroad, aka Zoot Horn Rollo of Captain Beefheart fame. We spent a full year improving my guitar playing abilities. This wasn’t so I’d be better suited to play in more band situations, but rather so I’d be a better guitar player for myself.

But enough about me. Society is in trouble, and I have an idea.


DO YOU NEED TO REBUILD YOUR IDENTITY?
As I look around, I see lots and lots of people who are suffering because their identities have been corrupted. These people used to have identities that were attached to things like their family lives, their community, the music they like, TV shows they’d watch, and more.

These are what I consider to be “secondary identities,” or “passive identities.” In other words, it’s a type of identity that keeps them busy, keeps them grounded, and it motivates them to say and do the things they say and do.

Some got really wrapped up in a certain reality television show, where reality is never portrayed. The host of that show ran for president. He’s wealthy and famous, and they want to be like him, so they started a parasocial relationship with him, and believe that he’s their friend.

A parasocial relationship is where one person believes that the other person is their friend and that they have a special bond or connection. Meanwhile, the OTHER person has NO IDEA that this person exists, and they don’t care.

We see this a great deal in America with celebrities and musicians.

As a result, I’m seeing people around my age who used to look up to their favorite musicians. But instead of growing out of that and becoming adults, they just switched from that to what can essentially be reduced to the observation that they are worshipping a politician.

I have NEVER seen so many people so wrapped up in a politician. The scary part is that he can do whatever he wants, and they don’t care because he’s that rich and famous guy who will be glad to see them, should they ever meet.

Of course, this is not true. He doesn’t like them. He actually LOOKS DOWN ON THEM. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. And he pretends to be a Christian, thereby exploiting people who genuinely believe in that stuff, so that they’ll have one more thing in common.

He’s using them, and this has destroyed them.


A BIG NEWSFLASH
To all of the people who are currently in a mode of total hero worship of your favorite politician, there are a few things that you must know.

Your political beliefs are the least interesting thing about you. And yet, you make the entirety of your own “self” all about this. I’d rather hear your doctor’s opinion about the quality of your bowel movements, than hear you blather on about a politician.

The same goes for your religious beliefs. Lots of Americans claim to believe lots of things in a religious sense. I DO NOT CARE what you believe. What’s way more important to me, and the world, is WHAT YOU DO WITH THESE BELIEFS. If you’re being a total turd, then it doesn’t help your case to declare yourself a “good Christian.” Just SHOW ME that you’re a good person.

Self-righteousness is ugly. It’s a certain smug attitude.

Racist attitudes and behaviors are ugly. Enough said.

Hatred of your fellow Americans is NOT American! People who are not like you, such as Democrats or others on the Left, should not be demonized or dehumanized. An American citizen SHOULD NEVER do this to another American citizen.

This is just a high-level list. Making a celebrity politician a big part of your identity is NOT very becoming. It doesn’t welcome others. It locks you into an information bubble. It’s negative, destructive, and horrific.


WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
Evaluating one’s own identity is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it can be done. Below are a few steps to help you get started.

Control your media diet. Do you watch the news too much? As a result, do you feel highly invested in things that you cannot control? Cutting down your media diet is a good way to start getting better. Limit your reading or listening to 30-60 minutes per day.

When your media sources have you locked in, and you end up watching a news channel on YouTube for several hours at a time, they’ve got you. They set your mental and emotional tone for the day. If they sell fear, then you’ll be afraid, and that fear will manifest as anger or hatred.

Cut back or stop using social networking. If you use Facebook, try using it less. Resign from ALL of the political groups you joined. The world won’t die because you’re not there to repeat things that everyone else is saying.

These groups will keep you angry and agitated, and keep you on the hook. The LAST thing any politician wants is for you to find yourself, find your life, and only think of them on occasion. They WANT to live rent-free in your head. Only YOU can stop them.

Stop believing everything you hear. If your sources are constantly telling you that “the others” are coming to get you, and they’re going to take away your guns, your religion, your freedom, and more, then understand that you are being manipulated. They want you to be afraid, and they know that fear will be expressed as anger and hatred. That’s what keeps you online for longer, and that’s how social networking sites make their money.

If you have a persistent feeling of anger, hatred, hopelessness, or other extreme emotions, then you’re being played by those whom you claim to respect.

Get back to what you love! Someone close to me used to make really detailed wooden ships. But then he got wrapped up in political commentary channels on YouTube. Since then, he’s not made ONE ship. He’s not felt positive about anything.

He lost himself and stopped being himself

Find that thing you love that you’ve abandoned in favor of a self-important reality TV show politician who always needs your attention and money. It could be knitting, making or listening to music, hiking, gaming, shooting a gun at the range, hunting, fishing, poetry, book club, or even helping others.

Whatever it might be, find those things and embrace them again. Trust me, the world isn’t going to die just because you did something that made you happy.

Try to find the best in others. This is a difficult one for me to do, because so many are under the spell that causes them to worship idiot politicians.

Have you ever said something that you thought was either nice or even neutral, and the other person took it negatively? When you view the intentions of someone else as being bad, then you will take everything they say as being bad.

In fact, I have a personal anecdote about that last one, so we’ll go there and then wrap it all up.


MY WORST DATE EVER
My dad was dating this woman and she had a daughter around my age. She was a really pretty young girl, same age as me [16]. The plan was that I’d take her out for a movie, maybe hang out at the mall and arcade, and then return.

I cleaned my car and dressed as nicely as possible, given that I was 16 and didn’t care much about fashion. When they arrived, at first glance, I thought that she and I would have a good time hanging out.

But she was severely depressed. Her depression put mine to shame. Made MY depression seem so small and inadequate, if you know what I mean. Someone who is more depressed than me should consider serious clinical help.

My dad gives me some money, and we head out. I open the door for her, and then get in.

As soon as I get in the car, her depression lights up like a bonfire. “You’re just taking me out because your dad paid you to take me out.” I tried to tell her that he was giving me money to pay for a date, because it wasn’t summer, I didn’t have my summer job, and so I couldn’t really afford to pay for a proper date.

We said a few other things back and forth. Eventually, she cried, “I’m ugly and you hate me!” and she ran out of the car. I explained to my dad and her mother what was said and what happened.

I never saw her again.

While I understand her huge, looming depression, she had also made some horrible assumptions about me. She assumed that I thought she was ugly, which was not true. She assumed that I didn’t really want to go out with her, which was also not true. She assumed that I’d gotten paid to take her out, which was not true.

She had an ugly view of the world, and assumed the worst in me. As a result, I never stood a chance, no matter how hard I tried.


IN THE END
Your own personal identity is a very important thing, because it informs others of what you’re all about. If your life is all about politics, then you are probably a very boring person to be around. Those who have attached their identities to a certain wealthy reality TV show politician are always angry, fearful, and ready to attack at any moment.

Nobody likes that. Nobody cares. Nobody wants you around.

And if you view others in a negative light, then you will be able to quickly and easily find the bad in everyone and everything, and you’ll never give anyone or anything the time of day. Instead, you’ll just stay inside your own head.

Nobody wants to be around that person.

If I were to meet a woman, and she told me that she was into X politician, and held X political beliefs, and was involved in X religion, then I’d know that this is a very shallow, boring person, and that I should get away from them quickly.

However, if I were to meet a woman, and she told me that she was into X type of music, loved spending time at X location, and enjoyed doing X with her group that meets every other week, then I’d instantly want to know more about this person.

Again, your political positions are THE most boring thing about you. And your religious beliefs are a close second.

Ideally, you should be living what these things mean to you. If that means that you’re a person who is ugly on the inside, and who has nothing but anger and hatred to offer, then it would be a really good idea to step back and re-evaluate your beliefs and positions.

There is nothing wrong with becoming a better person.


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The Phones Are Listening

INTRODUCTION
I’ve known about this for a very long time. For a while, it was a suspicion of mine. This is because they’d try to be discrete about how they delivered things to the phone based on what they’ve heard.

From 2017-2019, I spent a good deal of time at home. But I was fortunate enough to have some people in my life who got me out of the house on the weekends. In this regard, Catherine has been a good friend to me.

Catherine and I are still good friends to each other, as well as roommates, even though we were a couple from mid-1999 to late-2019.


SOME GOOGLY WEIRDNESS
When we went out on the weekends, sometimes I’d buy a guitar. During those two years, I bought every guitar I had ever wanted to own, as well as a few that I didn’t previous know about.

Every time I bought a new guitar, I’d start seeing stories about it in Google News. Google would also put my new guitar up front-and-center whenever they delivered ads to my phone.

I wrote about this on a forum, and one person I knew on the forum replied that I was “paranoid and stupid” to think that this was the case. Of course, this person now talks about how lizard people are real, along with other Q and Trump conspiracies.

Not much of a thinker there, and one of many reasons why I no longer belong to any forums. The idiots are busy calling other people idiots and being aggressive so they can feel better about themselves. But I digress.

CATHERINE’S BIRTHDAY, AN ASIDE
Today is Catherine’s birthday, and her birthday has something to do with why I am writing this. But it’s not the first time her birthday showcased some questionable online behavior on the part of companies.

I threw a big party for her ten years ago, for her 11/11/11 celebration. She’s into numbers, so I would accommodate.

At one point in the party, I took the stage and told everyone that I was going to demonstrate how SIRI is sexist. How I did this was I asked SIRI two different questions. I kept both questions about as equally crude as possible.

The first question was, “SIRI, where can I get some pvssy?” SIRI responded with a list of escorts, how far away they were, and their phone numbers. “Here are a few nearby options in your area.”

Fine.

So then I went to the SECOND question, which was, “SIRI, where can I get some d!ck?” SIRI wasn’t having ANY of this and responded with, “I’m sorry, but that is a VERY inappropriate question.”

Kind of leaves the ladies hanging, methinks.

Now that I’ve shared this funny aside, back to the Google Listening Party.


MAKING BIRTHDAY PLANS
Catherine let me know that she wanted me to be involved with her birthday celebration. She wanted to go somewhere to shop briefly, and then wanted to go get something to eat.

While she was looking for restaurants for dinner, she saw something cool on the map. That is, a place called Spencer Gifts, or simply Spencers.

Keep in mind that she was doing all of this on HER iPad, logged into HER Google account, and that’s it. My phone was positioned on a table nearby, and I was wearing my Samsung watch, which can also hear lots of things.

Catherine said she had no idea that Spencers still existed. I said the same, and noted that the last time I’d been to a Spencers was in 1999. We continued talking about Spencers for another 20 minutes. Not ONCE did I type out ANYTHING on my phone relating to Spencers.

We ultimately decided that we’d go to Spencers during the day sometime, and then in the late afternoon go somewhere for dinner. And that was the end of the conversation.


AND THEN, IT HAPPENED
About 10-15 minutes had passed, when my phone notified me that I had an email. I went to look, and this was the email:

I suppose it could be a coincidence, but I doubt it.

I seriously doubt that this was a coincidence.

Remember the guitar purchasing stuff? Given the precise nature of their recommendations after every single guitar purchase, even back then I knew that it was not a coincidence.

The difference back then was that they were trying to cover it up a little bit. They wanted some plausible deniability, and got that in their efforts from people who now believe all kinds of crazy things.

Now, in our Post-Truth Dystopian Hellscape, much like how our politicians no longer try to window dress anything they say or do, companies like Google and PayPal have gone full-blown “mask off,” showing that they no longer care if it’s obvious.


NO MORE FACADE
Some have suggested that the world has fallen and has become a nightmare. Certainly, I suggested that in the previous section. However, so far as I am concerned, it has been like this the entire time, and the problem is that we’ve lost our comfortable facade.

It’s the lie that gets sold to us, which most will accept blindly and willingly, because it protects their belief that they live in America, the “greatest country in the world,” and that everything is fine, all is under control, nothing to worry about, Baby Jesus is watching everyone, and so on.

The people who want to keep believing this about America are the same people who are NOT willing to do even ONE THING to try to drive America more closer to that reality.

It’s like the entire place is on fire, and they’re standing there cheering, “We’re number one!” while waving giant foam hands with a finger pointing up, painted like the American flag.

Everything is mask off. No more polite society, where people will be civil with one another. No more acceptance. No more kindness. No more Humanity.

It’s all dead and gone.

And companies like Google and PayPal have decided that they should start removing the mask as well. At this point, most people suspect that their phones listen to them.


THE SKEPTIC TAKE
I have found the take of a few skeptics to be worth considering. What they suggest is that the phones do not have to listen to us, because they follow what we type, and the phone algorithm has deemed us all to be predictable.

That can be the case. In going back to my guitar purchasing adventures, I did buy the guitars at the guitar store, sometimes with my phone. I’d also take photos of the guitars and put them in a neat folder in my Google Drive. So most definitely, I could be giving them a great deal of information in that way.

But this Spencers thing is VERY different, in that I hadn’t looked up, searched, or done ANYTHING on my phone relating to Spencers, ever. I have NEVER looked up the company, gone to the website, or anything else.

Note the “Auto tag.”
In this photo, Tibo Bat killed a leaf for me. Good boy!

The FIRST time that Spencers came up in conversation since I’ve been using iPhones and Android phones was last night. I gave them NOTHING and no reason to suspect that I was ever a customer, or that I ever would be.

While the skeptics DO have a point, I believe that I also have a point. Smartphones are basically data scrapers and they take data ALL the time, in any format they want.

This includes the methods they’ve suggested, as well as what I am suggesting.

When I take a picture of my cats, the phone automatically knows it’s a cat and tags it.

That’s the Artificial Intelligence at work. Nice of it to help me out, but it’s also helping itself out.


IN THE END
What can be done about this? Not much. One non-option involves attempting to live in modern society without a smartphone. Ownership of these phones has become a necessity. If you get a job and are signing up for company health care, HR will email you a QR code, which you scan with your smartphone to start the enrollment process.

That’s but one of many examples.

I did go in and modify some permissions that some apps have. For some, it makes sense to have these permissions, but with others it does not because the app does not use the microphone at all.

Maybe I’ll not keep my phone so close to me all the time. And I could stop wearing the watch unless I’m going out, step count be damned.

But if I end up keeping my phone out of voice range, I’ll probably not do that until tomorrow. My plan for now is to spend the rest of the morning talking about naked women showing up on my doorstep with nothing but a bag of beef jerky in one hand and cat snacks in the other.

Maybe Google and PayPal can make something happen. Yes? After all, it seems that SIRI was no slouch ten years ago. And I will be flat-out asking.

One can only hope.


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Three Types of People Worth Remembering

INTRODUCTION
This is something that I’ve been meaning to write for a while. My dilemma on this was whether to start off positive, or to end positive. Ultimately, I’ve decided to start off positive, since those are people deserving of my praise.

As for the ending, let it serve as a warning.

Let’s GOOOOOOO!!!


1 of 3: THE PEOPLE WHO STUCK WITH YOU DURING HARD TIMES
I’ve had some rather difficult times in recent years. I won’t rehash any of it. Rather, I’d like to use this space to THANK the handful of friends who stuck with me during the worst of times.

Hard times that last more than a few months can be exhausting for the person experiencing it, but it can also be draining for those friends who are sticking around to help.

Not only did I know that my rough times were exhausting for me, but I also assumed [and rightfully so] that it might take a toll on some friends who were there as sounding boards, or those who gave advice. This fact was not lost on me, and at times it would cause me to hate myself, as I felt like I was dragging them through the dirt.

To those friends, not only have I let them know that I am doing better, but I’ve shown them and myself that this is true. I consider this my reward for not giving up and hanging in there.

Now that I’m in a better position, I can be a better friend and lend my own shoulder and/or ear for a while. I recently listened to a friend talk for an hour, as he had some rather difficult situations to deal with. After that call, we talked again for close to another hour.

Yet more evidence to help me see the fruits of my labor.


2 of 3: THE PEOPLE WHO ABANDONED YOU DURING HARD TIMES
When the hard times first hit, I maybe lost close to 100 “friends,” or people who said that they were my friends. More about them in the next section.

That was immediate, and it was followed by a slightly slower loss. One friend who was once dedicated and supportive ended up taking things the wrong way in an email and ghosted me immediately, about a year ago. I sent an email asking if things were good, and then sent another about six weeks later.

No response.

This situation in particular, with this one person leaving, admittedly hurt more than the large groups who left. This is because I had sincerely believed that this person was a good friend. We’d been friends since 2009.

I suppose that if someone leaves based on a misunderstanding, and they are not interested in working it out, then maybe they ended up not being a friend after all.


3 of 3: THE PEOPLE WHO PUT YOU IN HARD TIMES
In stark contrast to the friends who remain, those who put me in hard times is the largest group of all. Sadly, I think this is the case for most people.

The 100 or so “friends” who dumped me instantly were the kind of “friends” who had me around because I was useful to them. I acquired these friends when I worked at MySpace. I was always ready to do the MySpace favor.

Once I was no longer working at MySpace, most of them put some distance between us, but claimed to still be friends. All they needed was an excuse.

That excuse came from two people who used me and scammed me out of my time and money. One of them LIED to all of these friends, so that he could take all of my music gear that was in a recording studio we were building, as well as keep my investment in the studio.

In a very Trump-style move of pure Narcissism, he told all of these “friends” a big lie about me. His motive was that this made it easy for him to RIP ME OFF IN PLAIN SIGHT, and he’d NOT get any judgment for it, because he’d already turned my friends against me.

And before he changed the locks, he looked me in the eye and told me that I never contributed anything to the studio, when I’d been working on it with him for over three years, and had invested over $5,000 cash, $8,000 worth of gear, and over three years of my life.

Pro-Tip: If you have a new friend who starts adding all of your friends on Facebook to their friends list, it’s a BIG red flag. HIDE your friends list if you use Facebook. It’s happened to me twice. I no longer use Facebook.

01 Nov 1995, New York City, New York, United States — Crocodile hunter Steve Irwin and alligator “Irvine” pose together at the Central Park boathouse. — Image by © Najlah Feanny/Corbis

While a REAL friend would write and ask me if there was any truth to it, they instead chose to believe this person [whom they do not know]. Based on what he said, they began attacking me.

These worst-of-the-worst involve some ex-girlfriends, one ex-wife, and a series of people over the decades who would tell me they were my friends, and I would believe them.

These days, a person can tell me they’re my friend, and a woman can say that she loves me, but in this post-truth era of alternative facts and bullshit, I need to SEE that a person is my friend.

There are ways to figure it out, and I am looking through those online. If you are Autistic, like me, then I would highly recommend learning about these avatars of evidence and using it to your advantage, for your protection. I will write about this soon.


IN THE END
People change. Times change. Attitudes change. Whether it’s a friendship or a romantic situation, there’s a cruel trick at work. Relationships require that each person involved be able and willing to fulfill certain needs of the other person.

People change over time. Situations change over time. This is why I’ve usually had a problem with marriage, although I’ve let that philosophy slide three times in my life, resulting in one divorce and two almost-mistakes.

Not only does the ability and willingness to fulfill these needs change over time, but the needs of both people involved also change over time.

Within the context of marriage, there is so much change that it is utterly ridiculous to offer up a promise of a specific emotion [love] for a specific amount of time [eternity].

That whole mess seems dishonest, to say the least.

While things are less complicated with friendships, the same thing still applies. The people who are still my friends after all of these years, or even decades, have gone through their own changes. However, they had some elements of themselves that remained true throughout time, and will probably remain true until their final breath.

Most of these friends are either musicians, or they have some kind of musical ability but don’t play anymore. If they ever have to dish out any cruelty, then they save it for people who have earned it.

They’ve witnessed my Autistic weirdness first-hand, and are accepting of me as I am. This observation leads me to suspect that my Autism can serve as a filter to weed out all of the no-good people. This will be a vast change from it attracting these people. But that happened because I had yet to know that I was Autistic.

Beware of those “friends” and “loves” who put you into hard times.

Forget those “friends” and “loves” who left you during hard times.

And thank those friends and loves who stuck with you through it all. They are by far more valuable than anything that can be purchased with money.


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Americans Believe Lots of Stupid Things… and It’s Getting Dangerous

My formal education was abysmal. Grade school was a rehash of things I already knew by the time I got there. As for junior high and high school, I was putting more time into protecting myself from bullies and shitty teachers than actual learning.

I learned more during my first quarter of college than I did in the whole of my time in high school. It was pathetic. And while I’ve been told by a reliable source who was there that the school has improved and is at the top of the list in Indiana, I still have concerns about American education as a whole.

Being at the top in Indiana is like being the cleanest turd. It’s still a turd.

And it’s not just education. It’s also religion. Typically, they claim to believe in Jesus and all that. But lately, the White Evangelicals have been total mask off. It seems they didn’t really put much stock into either that Jesus character OR the bible, as both have been rendered mostly irrelevant.

All the same, they still hide behind a bible, a cross, and an American flag, as well as labels like “patriot.”

It has gotten so bad that many things, like “patriot,” no longer have any meaning at all.


Q, FLAT EARTH, MOON LANDING FAKE, AND JFK JR RETURNS?
Christian Conservative Republicans are currently living a life of the ultimate convenience.

If they don’t like it, then it’s “fake news” or a “false flag.”

But if they like it, then it’s totally true.

Trumpers, or Trump voters, are a combination of white supremacists, Evangelical Christians [Protestants], people who believe we never landed on the moon, people who believe that the earth is flat, and other stupid things.

There was a rather disturbing gathering of these people recently in central Dallas, Texas, at the site where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Why were they there?

Because John F. Kennedy Jr., the son of President John F. Kennedy, who DIED IN 1999 was going to return on a specific time and a specific day, to announce that he’d be running with Donald Trump.

There are SO many problems with this, the biggest one being that JFK Jr. IS FUCKING DEAD!!!!

Christian Conservative Republican Trump voters are typically either Evangelical Christian or Protestant, as well as some Baptists. The one thing they HATE is Catholics. The third iteration of the KKK [an American Christian terrorist organization]was there, not only to oppress and terrorize blacks, but also to “keep Catholics in line.” That is, to remind them that they’re third class citizens and that they are not welcome.

My grandmother identified as Catholic and my grandfather as Protestant. From what I’ve learned from them, America DID NOT approve of their marriage. Their respective churches did not approve. Protestants were in charge, and wanted to keep it that way.

They viewed Catholics as “Mary-worshipping monsters.”

So WHY would White Evangelical Christians be waiting for a Catholic to return?

Another big problem is the Kennedy family have always been STAUNCH DEMOCRATS. This means they have deeply held reasons why they align with this party. Trump aligns with whomever is going to benefit him the most in any given moment. But Trump voters MOST DEFINITELY are ALWAYS Republicans.

Why would Republicans gather to await a STAUNCH DEMOCRAT to return?

To be clear, they WERE NOT waiting for his ghost to arrive. Rather, they have declared his death to be a “false flag.”

Now, they’ve declared other false flags, like a school shooting where CHILDREN died. But they said the reason for this was so that Democrats could start a gun grab.

I’ve yet to hear a reason why JFK Jr’s death was a false flag. And I guess this is not the first time they’ve pushed this.

In this video, you can see the crowd, and there is text on the screen detailing what is happening.

I am surprised that Forbes ran this, since they’re mostly pro-Trump. Maybe things are starting to get too weird for them, too.

IT IS VERY MESSY
So what we have here is a case of White Evangelical Christian [Protestant] Republicans, who are awaiting the return of a Catholic Democrat, whose death was faked in 1999 for some reason.

These idiots are also trusting “Q,” an anonymous online source who gives them NOTHING in the way of facts or evidence, and who demands that they “trust the plan.”


HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
It’s simple.

Republican Americans have been attacking the educational system for at least the past four decades. They push for removal of certain facts, or the outright removal of an entire subject, and they get it. Why? Because Texas is a big state, and because they have big buying power, they can dictate what goes into the school books for the entire country.

Yes, it’s money driving a decision on what to teach and what not to teach.

Another big problem is that Christian groups have been driving American discourse for at least the past four decades. They know that their base is relatively uneducated. But it’s worse than that.

Christians are taught to NEVER QUESTION what they are told, because questioning is doubting, and doubt will get you punished in hell for all of eternity. Indeed, to them asking a question about something deserves the same punishment that the likes of Ted Bundy or Hitler would get.

Also, Christians are primed to believe anything they are told, WITHOUT EVIDENCE. Even if they can’t see it, they have to keep on believing. This allows the goalposts to be moved. JFK Jr. did not return, and Trump did not get reinstated, so they just pick another date and then continue their gormless madness.

In other words, it’s a combination of stupidity, ignorance, and religious superstition that keeps this ugly thing alive.


EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION
They also use a variety of emotional manipulation tactics to stay alive and keep people agitated. Their move is to NEVER LET THE PEOPLE CALM DOWN. Keep them outraged constantly on a daily basis.

Remind them that they need to be afraid of something that doesn’t exist.

Christian Conservative Republican weirdos are behind such phrases as, “Think of the children.” They use children as human shields, which is the move of cowards, to get what they want.

So they want to go after a magical Satanic kabal of celebrities and the wealthy who are trafficking children so they can put fear into the child, thus making their bodies produce adrenaline, so they can drink the blood and extract adrenocrhome so they can remain youthful and live forever, because reasons.

They forget that Trump is a wealthy celebrity himself. Then again, he’s also the utter antithesis of what a Christian should be, and he has been chosen as a replacement for Jesus.

Yes, it’s getting that wild here. It’s mindless, stupid, superstitious nonsense.

IF THINGS GET WORSE
It is very possible that I may have to delete my Atheist channel, and maybe even this blog, because someone might find it. In America, we’re quickly approaching a point where Atheists are deemed to be “demonic, Satanic devil worshippers who eat babies.”

I was first called this when I was 11 years old, so this is nothing new, and it does not surprise me. This sentiment has not gone away. I am almost 57 now, and it’s just now starting to get worse.


THE BIG PROBLEM
The BIG problem is that these people sincerely believe that they are warriors in a Holy War, where they have “god” on their side. Because of this belief, they will be willing to do anything or kill anyone for the cause.

Yes, things are getting dangerous in America. While I don’t feel a sense of fear right now, I do have a great level of concern that we are quickly entering a place in time in our society where self-declared “Good Christians” will be praised and rewarded for the execution of “heathens,” as well as “non-Christians.” This includes anyone who is NOT a Christian.


THEIR FUTURE
Note that this is not about MY future or OUR future. These are dangerous morons who love guns and believe a god is on their side. We already know what this turns into. Reference The Taliban for more details.

The problem in America is that there is no one group of “Christians.” The label of Christian can be split up into almost 50,000 different groups. Indeed, there are over 50,000 brands of Christianity available for purchase in America.

What they all have in common is that they do not like each other. In fact, they have contempt and hatred for each other.

What do I see in their future?

After they’re done killing the Atheists, Democrats, Leftists, and people of other religious beliefs, they will start killing those who are the wrong brand of Christian.

We have all of these different brands because the bible is open to interpretation. The slightest disagreement on the smallest of details results in a schism and a new brand is born. This is what explains the hatred among these splintered, broken, superstitious groups.

Emo Philips can illustrate just how deep that rabbit hole goes.

They have a goal of ONE Christianity ruling America, and America ruling the world.

The are terrorists.

IN THE END
I’m going to cut this now, before I get too detailed.

Basically, we have a bunch of uneducated, superstitious Christian Americans who are being controlled by Trump, by Republican leadership, by their churches, and by an anonymous online source that goes by “Q.”

They’re relatively stupid, which means they’re more easily scared, and thus easier to control.

They love guns and stockpile them. They’re VERY aggressive and have no interest in a polite society.

If you have a Joe Biden sticker on your lawn or car, or an Atheist symbol, then you’re marked for death and can expected to be killed by any of them at any time. Some areas are more dangerous than others. My area is about 50/50, so it’s still a big risk to be “out.”

They’re all about white supremacy and have no problem being completely mask-off about it. A woman who participated in the armed insurrection in an effort to block the Constitutional duty associated with the peaceful transfer of power, as well as an attempt to overthrow the United States government, recently said that she would be “no jail time” because she’s “white” and has money and is successful in business.

She was given 60 days in prison to “send a message.” This light sentence sends NO MESSAGE at all, which is why the 1/6 insurrection was merely a practice run, and they WILL be doing it again. They’ve said it, so I will believe that.

And a good number of them are emotionally stunted and mentally unstable. There are MANY examples of this online. This one is my favorite.

While you might be inclined to laugh at this initially, it’s actually very, very terrifying.

So I will be looking at my situation and give everything a true evaluation. Should I delete my content? Modify it? Stay as thing are? These are questions that I must answer myself.

Should I end up deleting my profile, that does not mean that I’ve given up or am going away. It DOES mean that I will be finding a safer way of supporting the fight against these stupid, superstitious, violent people.

Finally, DO NOT thank your lucky stars that you do not live in America. Because when America goes to total shit, and it will, the rest of the world will suffer as a result.

Don’t expect Christian Conservative Republican Terrorists to relegate their activities exclusively to America. Remember, these are people who sincerely believe that a god, the ultimate power of the universe, is in an eternal fight with evil and satan himself, for ownership of THEIR personal souls. What an ego boost! Not only that, but they believe in “Manifest Destiny,” which is the idea that THEY will be at the top, that THEY will be in charge, and that EVERYONE ELSE is to be a servant, and that concepts like the law or prison apply ONLY to those who are NOT in their tribal group.


If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading! https://paypal.me/drumwild

Commodore 64: Upgrade to Heatsinks

I’ve written about my Commodore 64 from 1984 before. It’s a machine that I got from someone who had belonged to CSUN [Commodore System User Network]. He maintained it very well and had lots of floppies and manuals. I’ve had this for at least 10 years.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve done a number of things with this system. I got a EPYX 500XJ controller and refurbished that. I’ve gotten a good number of original C64 game cartridges.

I love it when old tech [C64 from 1984] and new tech [SD2IEC from 2021] can merge together.

Most recently, I even got an SD2IEC unit, so that I can access a MicroSD card with the Commodore 64. This is great, because I can use my Windows 10 machine to download D64 [Commodore 64 disk image file extension] files, put them on the MicroSD card, and then run them on the C64 from the card.

But there was something I did not know about until a few years ago, when I finally opened the machine up and took it apart.

The C64 had an issue where it would glitch out and reset for no reason. I noted that this would happen after the unit had been running for a while.

So I opened it up and noticed that it had an RF shield covering up the motherboard.

WHAT IS AN RF SHIELD?
The RF shield, or Radio Frequency shield, was a requirement by regulators to protect potential radio interference. Back in mid-80s, the radio frequencies emitted from the C64 could interfere with the operation of analog television sets.

That BIG metal cover is the RF shield. It also doubles as a heatsink.

I haven’t had an analog television set for close to 2 decades. And even though it has holes in it, the RF shield can still hold in the heat.


A QUANDARY
A while back, I took off the RF shield to see what was underneath it. I saw this:

Those white stains on the chips are the result of old, dried up thermal paste.

I saw this, and paid no mind to it at first. I had read that I could throw out the RF shield, so I removed it and gave things a try.

A few keys wouldn’t work properly, and the unit would shut down after a few minutes. So I did some more reading and learned about thermal paste [aka “thermal grease” or “heat grease”].

It seems that the RF shield works to double as a heatsink of sorts.

My original fix for this was to order more thermal paste, put some on it, and reinstall the RF shield. This worked, and I continued to use it this way for a few years.


MOVING TO A HEATSINK SOLUTION
Thermal paste is disgusting. It’s hard to get off of anything and everything. So getting it removed from the chips was quite the challenge. I constantly got it on my fingers. It’s truly messy.

Fresh install of new thermal paste. I had spread it too thinly. The BEST way to install thermal paste is to put ONE DOLLOP where the contact would be, and then allowing the contact to spread it evenly. This was an amateur mistake, and my reasoning for doing this was simply to cover where the old paste was. The dollop method ensures that no air bubbles wil exist in the thermal paste, which can allow overheating.

I had also used too much, and did it wrong. I did redo it a second time, using the dollop method, but still added too much in my quest to ensure that I added too little.

The second installment of thermal paste, using the dollop method. This is AFTER the heatsink/RF shield was installed and then removed. If you use thermal paste and remove the shield, it is recommended to REDO the thermal paste to avoid air bubbles.

I had to remove the thermal paste. Full removal allows the chip to have its natural appearance. However, it seemed to have stained some of the chips.

THE HEATSINKS
Heatsinks [or “heat sinks;” I’ve seen both spellings] are aftermarket pieces made of aluminum and are designed to wick heat away from computer chips.

With bigger modern computers, I’ve seen big heatsinks being installed on top of a big dollop of thermal paste. There is nothing wrong with this.

My beef with thermal paste is that it’s just way too messy, and it needs to be redone every so often. I wanted something cleaner that would last longer, hence the heatsink route.

These heatsinks come in a bag of 10 for about $8.50.
While some heatsinks work with thermal paste, these have thermal tape already installed for convenience.
At an angle: To the left is the “walled” area, and to the right you can see the open trough. Installation direction might not be an issue. For me, it was a matter of confirmity and consistency.

The surfaces of the chips had to be cleaned so that the thermal paste was removed. After that, the heatsinks could be installed. I did not have any special instructions on how to do it, so I positioned the heatsinks on the chips [2-3 per chip] so that the part that looks flat and walled was on the outside, and the parts that were opened and grooved were lined up.

The idea is to imagine the air flowing through these ridges.

Putting them on the chips was a little tricky, just because everything is so small. But I was able to get it done, and it looks WAY better than it did before.

I did not use any chip surface purifier. That, combined with teh flash, gives the chips a grey look. I don’t think that this will cause a problem.

It is important to note that the thermal tape on these heatsinks is VERY strong. Once you place them down, you can slide and move it a little bit. But before too long, it feels like the heatsink is permanently attached to the chip.


PERFORMANCE
I do not have anything to tell me the temperature inside the breadbox. All I have to go on is how the computer performs. This means watching out for the problems that it had back before I learned that I needed to redo the thermal paste, and hoping that nothing burns out.

This isn’t the most scientific approach, but it’s all I’ve got.

When this Commodore 64 overheats, there is a typing issue that occurs, where the T, Y, and I keys DO NOT register any keystrokes. So if this happens, you’ll know that it might be overheating. I learned the hard way, after disassembling the keyboard and putting it back together. Lots of tiny screws and some soldering involved in that.

I was able to write a long journal entry and save to 5-1/4″ floppy without incident.

I played Donkey Kong Jr. for about a half hour and got up to around 200,000 without a shut-down or any glitching. I then continued with a few more games and everything performed fine.


IN THE END
Nothing lasts forever. I’ll probably have to replace some chips, and I plan on replacing ALL of the capacitors sometime next year. Once I recap it, that should last me the rest of my life.

Retro computing has become a major hobby of mine. I was interested in machines like the Commodore 64 when they first came out, but I could not afford one back then.

Now that they’re affordable, using the Commodore 64 takes me back to long-gone time when life was simpler and having 64k of power meant that you could control the world.


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