Penpal

My biggest inspiration in writing had always been Eric Nylund until I started reading r/nosleep.  It’s turned into a place for amateur writers to share obviously fake stories now, but when I found it last September-ish, it was a place, for anyone that did not know the stories were 99% fiction, in which it would’ve been difficult to tell which things were be real and which things were not.  The rule on that subreddit is to suspend all disbelief – that everything is true.  And yeah, you pretty much assume that the stories there are fiction, but at least there was always this feeling of not knowing that for absolute certain.

One of those stories was the Penpal series, which I’ve linked to here before.  That series of short stories singlehandedly got me interested in watching scary movies, reading creepy things, and possibly most importantly, writing creepy things.  If not for that series, I’m not sure I would’ve ever gotten interested in that genre, and I probably never would’ve written and published the novel that I’ve blogged about here.

The writer that wrote the Penpal series, Dathan Auerbach, has expanded upon his series and published it on Amazon, as well as in paperback form.  I feel like I owe it to him to link to it here.

“Penpal” by Dathan Auerbach

Happy birthday, 240sx

My 240sx is officially 20 years old this month. Yeah, it’s a ’93 model year, but the manufacture date is 08/1992.

After owning it for a year, I’ve learned quite a few things about cars.

  • Automatic transmission – never again. People make way too big of a deal out of driving a manual in traffic (maybe unless you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour every day).
  • Lightweight, rear-wheel drive is simply incredible to drive. That’s not to say that fun cannot be had in a heavier car (I mean, my Camaro is ridiculously fun in a straight line), but whereas I could not feel the weight before, the extra 1,000 lbs and how they affect handling are pretty obvious to me now. Dat grippy feel around a corner, hnnnnnnng.
  • Despite completely removing a part, the car not only still runs, but idles better than before. The fact that some parts in a car are almost completely useless is apparently a thing.
  • Putting a car up on stands with a jack still scares the shit out of me.
  • Pop-up headlights are probably the dumbest thing that the auto industry ever thought was a pretty cool idea.
  • That $3-4 fuel system cleaner stuff they sell is completely worthless. A $9 can of Seafoam fuel system cleaner, however, is effing magic.
  • Cloth interior is definitely a thing that I would prefer not to have if given the choice. It’s so much easier to clean leather/vinyl.

On the supposed hypocrisy of a political belief system

As a fiscal conservative/libertarian, I come across a lot of cases of liberals “calling out” other fiscally conservative/libertarian individuals for taking advantage of systems that they do not politically approve of – perhaps for accepting social security benefits or using public infrastructure.

This is, of course, a flawed criticism by liberals (in most cases), and is the fault of their own authoritarian political policies.  A libertarian society allows for the maximum amount of freedom, and would allow for a socialist society to exist – by contract – within itself.  The opposite – a libertarian society existing within a socialist society – is not possible.  A socialist society imposes values and ideas upon all citizens, and a libertarian society allows citizens to live freely within a principal of non-aggression toward others (aggression being anything from an imposition of values to physical attacks).

If a fiscally conservative individual accepts social security benefits, this is not hypocrisy.  Was this individual allowed to opt out of paying into social security?  No, they were not, because authoritarian law that was imposed upon them stole a certain percentage of their income every month to pay into this system.  Why shouldn’t this individual collect benefits from a system they’ve paid into and had no choice of opting out of?

Similarly, why shouldn’t a libertarian take advantage of public fire safety services?  One cannot opt out of the taxes that provide that service.

It would only be hypocritical to accept public services if there was a way to opt out of that service (and its taxes), you opted out, and still tried to take advantage of those services.

Quick Grammar Tips

I used to have a grammar blog, in which I basically explored random idiosyncrasies of the English language, but I don’t have that anymore, so here are some fun grammar things.

  • If something disturbs you, it doesn’t phase you, it fazes you.
  • The difference between good and well: Superman does good.  You are doing well.
  • If you are using the word enamor, it is almost always followed by the word of.  Example: She was enamored of him.  Translation: She was filled with love for him.
  • Most of the time, affect is a verb, and effect is a noun.  Example: The effect was instant.  It affected her greatly.

Where have all of the tech posts gone?

I used to write and think quite a bit about technology stuff, but that just hasn’t been the case lately.  I still keep up with tech news and developments, but whereas four years ago I would’ve run home, partitioned a hard drive, and installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview, I haven’t even touched it yet other than downloading it when it came out months ago.

I remember constantly thinking about new computer parts I wanted, or new computers I wanted, or being really excited about hardware/software releases, but lately I’ve just been pretty content with my five year old desktop and my two year old laptop.  My laptop would also be five years old if Apple hadn’t given me a brand new one in 2010, but I think I still would be happy with my old MacBook Pro too.  It’s weird to me to think about that, but the only real upgrade I’ve done on any computer lately was the SSD in my laptop, and right now, that is the only upgrade I think about (my 80 GB SSD just isn’t big enough anymore, and I want an Intel 330 series drive because they’re faster and cheap for solid states drives with the Intel brand).  I mean, I want an iPhone 5 or whatever they’ll call it, but I feel like I would have been a lot more excited about it a few years ago.

I attribute this lackadaisical attitude to a few things:

  • Perhaps being a systems administrator has sort of dulled my desire to pursue really technical stuff outside of work.  Alternatively, maybe keeping up with server technologies has just taken priority over consumer technologies.
  • I’ve found a lot of other hobbies recently (some of which are old hobbies that I’ve gotten more into, and some of which are new): politics, cars, male fashion, and writing, though I am trying to make the latter into more than a hobby.
  • Consumer technology seems to be converging so much that’s it’s hard to find specific things to care about anymore.  In late 2006, you could’ve found me promoting OS X and Windows and hating on Linux pretty often.  I still think Linux (any flavor) is annoying and feel like OS X is the best consumer operating system, but Windows is a really close second, and I just don’t think it matters to most people anymore.  I spend most of my time in Chrome on OS X or Windows.  The main reason I prefer using OS X is because it has better/more polished/more intuitive multitasking (Mission Control/Exposé/hot corners), but I could almost as easily switch over to Windows and not really care a whole lot, as long as I could find a PC laptop that wasn’t ugly as sin (like most of them tend to be).

I guess I just find it interesting how that particularly part of my life has evolved.

Also, Mac OS X Mountain Lion is pretty sweet and was only $20.  Pretty awesome for an OS upgrade.  Thanks, zombie Steve Jobs.

Why are nerds so bad at dressing well?

Note:  I am a huge nerd, for any random person reading this.

My last post got me thinking about this: why are (most) nerds so bad at dressing well?  Is clothing just something that isn’t important to them?  Is there something more to it?

Upon coming to understand fashion by reading advice that was mostly from nerds for nerds, I quickly realized a lot about the nerd mindset.  I think a lot of nerds don’t like being told to conform.  They’re always the ones that thrived on being different.  So when a random neckbeard stumbles into r/malefashionadvice and they find out they can’t wear graphic tees, they turn around and walk right back out.

The thing about fashion is that there are rules and guidelines, and they exist for a reason.  If you want to dress well, you can’t get butthurt over not being able to wear your Think Geek shirts anymore.  Fashion advice is simply that – fashion advice.  If you want to dress well, then don’t seek out excuses to continue wearing your bad clothing; seek out ways to express yourself through clothing that isn’t offensive to anyone with a sense of fashion.

I think nerds also over-express their preferences for utility.  Cargo shorts/pants are terrible, but they have a lot of pockets, and I guess that’s why they’re a staple of nerd culture.  I don’t know why this is the case, as one could just as easily wear a messenger bag and much less offensive clothing.

When I started slightly caring about this kind of stuff in 2006, I also remember the feeling of being somewhat uncomfortable in what I was wearing.  Like I was out of my element.  And that was still when I wore terrible bootleg jeans and random surf/skate tees.  That quickly changed though, and looking back on what I’d previously worn, I couldn’t believe it.  When I see pictures of those baggy jeans and those shoes with the giant toebox I just want to go back in time and shake some sense into myself.  Big things are not flattering on any body type, especially not skinny ones.

The switchover from that style to my current style about this time last year was a lot easier.  The stuff I wear right now feels very right, and it felt like that from the beginning.  It’s all about learning to get out of your comfort zone and rock the shit out of your clothes, even if you have 0% confidence in your body.

This is one I don’t understand since nerds are typically not athletic – stop wearing athletic shoes to do non-athletic things!  Basketball shoes are for playing basketball!  Running shoes are for running!  They look terrible.  It would be fine if they didn’t, but they do.  They have a place and a purpose, and it is not for going to the mall or to work or to class.  Shoes are one of the most important parts of an outfit, so wear decent ones, and don’t cover them with baggy jeans.

Also, stop wearing fedoras.  I don’t know what it is with nerds and fedoras, but every nerd seems to think they can throw on a fedora and be instant classy.  This just isn’t the case.  There are only certain people that can pull off certain hats with certain clothes.  When you put on a fedora with your graphic tee and your dad-jeans, you are just accentuating the fact that you have absolutely no idea how to clothe yourself.