Sunday, July 22, 2012

How long ago that seems..

About 10 years ago I remember using Launchcast from my Yahoo Messenger panel. That is how I learned about almost every metal band I currently listen to, almost. It would play songs and have you rate them so it would associate what kind of music you liked.

It took me maybe 5 months to finally get it to where it would play 15 metal songs and then on occasion the current top 10 playlist would creep in, but it wasn't bad because I could skip it. It only gave you so many skips and I reserved all those for the crap that it tossed in on purpose. But eventually the whole service went to hell.

It seems that I woke up one day and I couldn't skip enough songs, all it would play was the music I DIDN'T want to listen to. And only on occasion it would play the songs that I did want to hear. Its sad to see a service like that go so commercial.

I'm sure had it stayed the way it was it would still be very useful today. Technology changes in the blink of an eye, but sometimes we still yearn for how it was yesterday. That is why I'm a vintage gamer.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How GTA Vice City nearly killed me!

I had just acquired my first Xbox, because a friend of mine had one that wouldn't read discs anymore, and I figured the best thing to do was to start buying the GTA series because I had always wanted to play them. I didn't have a PS2 yet, because their's was still working (lol), so after fixing the Xbox I went to work on GTA III. After I was bored with GTA III I moved on to Vice City, the map was smaller but the fun was bigger and there seemed to be more things to do than before.

One night I was cruising the streets of Vice City doing what I would normally do, running people over, collecting my business income and using cheat codes to go on rampage killing sprees, when I received a phone call. Now for some reason I'm not a normal human being, or perhaps I am, in the fact that I simply can not sit still while I'm on the phone, I need to be up and walking around, for whatever reason. Part of my habit of walking around while on the phone was looking out the kitchen window and across the horizon, which had quite a surprise in store for me.

As I looked out from the kitchen window the sky hung heavy over the horizon with lightning and darkness looming eerily in the distance. I had been so enveloped in doing my business in Vice City that I was completely unaware that there was a tornado warning issued for my current area! Normally there are storms that would alert me to any impending alarming weather, but that night there wasn't.

I abruptly ended the phone call and went to switch the TV to the local news stations, which confirmed my fears that the weather was about to become extremely and violently severe. No sooner had I changed the channel to the local news and saw the incoming threat, the power went out. Nothing but the sounds of the wind wishing and washing against the trees and windows outside.

Lightning came closer and closer, followed by deafening crackles of thunder. Soon came the rain, as I collected myself and headed into the central bathroom and listened to a local radio station for further news about the storms. The wind and thunder shook the house and the trees started to bend, it seemed as if the roof was going to come off!

For what seemed like forever, but perhaps only lasted 30 minutes, I huddled in the bathroom hoping for my safety, wishing the storm would go away and leave nothing harmed. When the storm finally subsided I walked into the living room and checked all the windows, to make sure nothing was broken, luckily everything was in tact and ok. But without power the house was quickly heating up inside, so I decided to open a few windows and await the return of electricity.

The electric company came and checked for any down lines, blown transformers and power was finally restored in the early morning hours. Later that day I went to check out any possible damage or evidence that a tornado had come through, and as a matter of fact there had been! Many trees were broken, uprooted and the standard of bare without leaves, but not even a mile south there was a clear path of where a tornado had touched down and carved it's way through some trees, luckily it only went through the trees.

I can't blame GTA Vice City for nearly killing me, it was the storms that would have done the damage. But Vice City was so addictive that I played it so inventively that I wasn't even aware there were storms headed my way. A strange story, but something Vice City and I will always share.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Where is home?

Home is a place that makes you feel safe, a place where no matter how you feel you know everything is going to be ok. But what happens when you feel all solace is lost? What happens when not only the physical home in which you live, but the complete society and system in which you live leaves you feeling insecure of your very existence?

Almost a year ago I decided that my health was becoming an issue and I needed to seek medical attention, I walked out of the ER with what was essentially a painful fart and $1200 in debt (I'm dead serious). For something so trivial to be so expensive, how could you sustain faith within the medical system setup to help sustain your health? I can't, and that further dissolved any faith within the system that holds power above said medical system.

Due to deeply rooted brain washed fears, implemented by my parents, I've lived life on the straight and narrow, I don't smoke, I don't drink on any regular basis and I've never tried drugs. I assumed that would have upheld my health further than say, The Rolling Stones, but perhaps heroine is a preservative. But now as the tingling sensation in my legs and sometimes my hands and arms start to grow more concerning, I can't help but feel unnecessarily shunned by the American system.

I have chest pains and I don't know why, but being an American I can only assume it is heart disease, even at 29. I feel things that I assume are just growing pains, but I'm also socially groomed to be hyper aware of my health and it's importance. At the same time I would never want to live the rest of my life being in debt to a scheme set forth to make a portion of the population rich and the other portion fearfully throw money at the problem.

As an American we are told that we are the best country in the world and as a child I fed into that bullshit ideology, something that some people never seem to grow out of, and I now see it as a country that can't get it's priorities straight, unless it revolves around money. Why do we look down at other countries that obviously have their systems sorted out well beyond our own, while we're told that system would never work, no matter how long it HAS worked? When I tell a friend from another country that I don't feel well, the answer is always so simple for them to say "Go see a Doctor", because in their country, THEY CAN!!!

I'll never forget a PBS documentary about Tanzania, where they were interviewing children miners who work the mines to find their nation's export. What struck me as odd was that these children weren't scummy and filthy like the documentary actually said, in fact the children had some of the straightest and whitest teeth I've ever seen, anywhere! Now why would that matter, you may be asking, if these children were so poorly taken care of, as the documentary was trying to portray, why would these children's teeth be one of their top priorities?

I've lost faith in the system and it dawns on me that I probably wouldn't be accepted anywhere else, or maybe that is just another American scare tactic. As freely as the US is allowing illegals to stay and reap the rewards they unjustly enjoy, I can't survive here, but where could I do the same thing the illegals are doing in the US? Where could I freely move in, claim things as my own, avoid taxes and still get all the benefits of being from your country, or even more benefits than they afford their own citizens?

Within the US I fear for my life, health wise, but it seems I'm walled off from being any better anywhere else. All the places I would love to move I would probably just be looked down upon as being an American, much the way Americans do those places anyway. Even if I could become a citizen of another country that would afford me all the benefits to flourish the way I deserve, the US isn't kind to those who find the system lacking and give up US citizenship in favor of a better life the US refuses to offer them.

With a country that forces you to work to survive, because there are very few programs for the unemployed to gain good health insurance, yet supports companies that force jobs off shores, we can't sustain any means of existence. When a case of only the strong becomes only the wealthy, we really need to step back and take a look at the overall system. My health issues may pass, but the fear and uneasiness knowing that if something serious ever happens to me that I would owe a severely flawed system large sums of money that I could never repay will always be a thorn in my side.