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Fatigue

I am tired. Very, very tired. I have a lot on my plate and I am going to be stepping away from my blog for a little while. To be honest I have been grinding on fumes for the better part of this year and the bottom gave out.

I’ll be back. And when I return I’ll have more story to tell. I promise.

I've got some "soul searching" to do.

I’ve got some “soul searching” to do.

 

~ Adam Milton

Here we go again

Issue 7
Vol 4

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I am not a big fan of OK GO but I do love their music videos. Specifically this one. It was so much fun.

Lets get this started.

A native son reading between the lines

I am not sure how to start this. I feel that the beginning isn’t the beginning. I can’t even point to a specific instance that would be a good example of what I want to talk about.

It happened in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case, Mike Brown and most recently with regards to Freddie Gray. Each time in the wake of all that happened I find myself unfriending people on Facebook because their statuses are one step, one beer, or one closed door away from saying “Nigger had it coming.” Or the obligatory mention of a soldier, sailor, airmen or marine who has recently fallen in combat asking why “This isn’t a story?!? Gang-banger dies and our heroes are ignored!” Or my favorite the circuitous arguments with half spoken assumptions about each man and widely accepted “truths” about black men in America.

After Trayvon was killed a had someone post a picture of this man…

And claim that “THIS is what Trayvon really looked like…”. I quickly responded and said that this wasn’t Trayvon but a rapper who is named Jayceon Terrell Taylor and goes by The Game. We spoke for a few minutes about the entire situation and her entire argument revolved around who the “media had failed and was trying to make Trayvon sympathetic”.

I am rambling and that’s all that I have left. I am tired and aimless talking is all I have left. On the first or second night of the riots in St. Louis I called my grandmother. I wanted to talk but I found myself rambling. Suddenly all of my mother’s fear about her young black son became real to me in a way that I had never anticipated. I watched as much as I could and read all I could stomach and did all I could while my city burned.

I never posted anything about these situations on Facebook because in my mind Facebook is for sharing pictures, wishing people a happy birthday or making people laugh. I just don’t feel comfortable talking about anything of real substance on Facebook. I never, until now, wrote about it on my blog because my single experiences really don’t matter. It always felt a little trite and narcissistic to post that on facebook, especially when I couldn’t get into any nuanced conversation about this subject. I cannot, and will not attempt, to tell the entire story of a people who have been systematically devalued and underrepresented in our society. I never feel totally educated enough to really articulate anything of worth, just the way I feel.

The narrative is what hurts me the most. The unspoken and accepted narrative that Black men are unintelligent, violent and oversexed. Those narratives are there when the criminal records of these men are shared and used as justification for their killings. It burns because I carry that stigma and in a few instances all I have had to do was open the door to be labeled “scarey and black”.

I am proud to be Black. I am proud to represent a culture and a people more diverse than is ever given credit for. My heart beats harder than it should and I am frustrated and afraid. Afraid because I don’t know when and where I will be treated like a human being first or a threat. I just keep wondering if I am ever going to be pulled over or interaction with a police officer and that interaction would lead to my death. And when they reported on me, and my name was shared with the world what picture would they use? What story would they tell? Which story would be the easiest to tell? Which one would the world believe?

Just Like the Movies

I heard once that a lot of what we “know” is based on what we have seen in movies. There is our day to day life and we are experts on what is normal in our lives. Movies tend to fill in the blanks however. There are several cultural myths about Police and what they have to admit to you, what lawyers can do and what is possible for a hacker to do.

I have been in the military, specifically the Navy for six years and while I would never claim to be an expert on the Navy I do know enough to be amused when my civilian friends say things about it. Most of the time I find it amusing to hear them use words and phrases. I don’t do lists often and I feel it is about time that I do one.

1) “I could never have someone tell me what to do.”

Someone said to me once and I was confused. Do civilian jobs not have a boss or hierarchy? Maybe I should smoke crack and get out of the military now. I think what they meant was they couldn’t live with someone shouting at them constantly. That seems reasonable. Neither could I. Even in at Great Mistakes I wasn’t yelled at all of the time. Almost no one says “I am ordering you…etc”. Most orders are understood and more often than not things are done without raising your voice.

Join me in an experiment. Try yelling everything you want all day and find out how quickly you get tired.

2) Officers = GOD

Most of my interactions with Officers have been then asking me questions and me answering questions. My role is to be a technical expert and they use me to make decisions. It’s more complicated than that but more often than not the working relationship is equal parts advisory and leadership. Most Junior Officers are very new to the Navy and want to, and need to, learn. A lot.

Rarely does an officer walk in and start shouting. I have seen it and it doesn’t end well for the JO.

3) Totally Dependent

The Military is not autonomous. We are a strange blend of a fascist-socialist-dictatorship that protects a Jeffersonian Democracy. The Military, as a whole, takes orders and direction from the legislative branch. The president is the Commander and Chief and is the top dog of the chain of command but when it comes to amount of money we are budgeted, the size of our pay checks and allowances, the number of people promoted in a given year, where we are deployed, the types of weapons we use, who we fight and HOW we fight are all decided by Congress.

Case in point. The US Army doesn’t really use Tanks any more and don’t ever expect to use them as much as we did in the past, ever again. But congress keeps ordering M1A1 Abrams Tanks because the factory that makes tanks is in a state that is represented by a congressman or senator who is trying to keep jobs in his district.

This is a point of contention for me. I have gotten blamed in the past for what the military did and I only rolled my eyes. If you have a bone to pick with the Armed forces that’s fine and if you want to brow beat a person with no power to change it, no matter what they think or do, that’s cool also. Next time you go in to a McDonald’s please do the same to the greasy 17-year-old about how unhealthy the food is because he has as much power as I do to change entrenched sexist, homophobic and racist attitudes in the Military.

I keeps it real.

I keeps it real.

Sorry that turned into a rant.

Resolution Round up: I’m getting to old for this shit

Roger Murtaugh: the patron saint of grumpy old black men.

Roger Murtaugh: the patron saint of grumpy old black men.

Waste less Money/Food – B

I eat out less and I throw away a lot less food but I haven’t actively tracked amounts in a long time. So its hard to gauge how well I am doing. Thanks to my fruit fly invasion I just have less fruit out in general.

I’m going to reduce the amount of fast food I eat to once every two weeks and I am going to go back to planning my meals again. When I did that I did really well with saving money and not being wasteful.

Watch less TV – A

I don’t even always get around to the stuff on my DVR before I delete it. I rarely watch mindless TV anymore. For a while I replaced mindless TV with Netflix binge watching but I don’t do that frequently either. I read, study and write more. I love it.

Workout 5/6 times a week – F

I need to do better. I am so out of shape. Recently I got the motivation to really get back into lifting and running again. I did recently run a 5k. I am not sure what changed but I’m feeling addicted to working out again.

Dark Fedora – Discontinued

I stopped working on this because I have to many plates spinning in the air right now. I started a professional blog talking about Cyber Security and I am planning to write about operation Dark Fedora there.

Until Next time!

~ Adam

All the right moves

Issue 6
Vol 4

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Life is starting to speed up and its getting scarey. I am having panic attacks about it. I sit in my bed at night and feel my heart pounding and my mind racing worrying that nothing will work out, nothing will go as planned. I watch people fumble through each day and watch as just about everything fall into place. I feel like I am surrounded by my phobias and doubts. I feel them reaching for me, demanding to be dealt with, demanding to be faced and feared. I don’t grit my teeth. Not this time. THIS time I relax and remember the Truth and my heart beating is only a drum beat.

Lets get started.

The Next Big Thing (Big ideas #1)

At first I wanted to blame this on the fact that I work with a lot of older people but I can remember my peers saying the same thing. Even as early as 8th grade there was this faux-intellectual cynic telling anyone who would listen why “the world/humanity/society/culture/whatever is doomed”. There seems to be some sort of appealing feels to being cynical and nihilistic about our future.

What these people do is point to all of the bad things they see in the world and claim that it is only the tip of the iceberg. That in a few short years that what we see, what we take for granted, will all fall apart. Not because its the natural order of things (another big idea) but because people now or worse than ever, society is in a tail spin and moral decay is far beyond our ability to correct it. When I was younger I used to grow worried but now I only roll my eyes.

The Toba Event. Have you ever heard of this? Talk about incredible. They believe that there was as few as 10,000 people left on earth (This of course would explain some genetic abnormalities that we find in the human genome). We have stadiums that, if they had just 10,000 people would be considered empty. More over the entire country is LOUSY with buildings that can hold that many people.

What about the Spanish Flu. I have head about this but I had no idea as many as 500 Million were infected all over the globe, and up to 100 Million people DIED. There was 1.8 billion people in 1915. So just over a 27% of the people on the planet were infected and 5.5% DIED. It wasn’t some new super virus it was our good old friend the H1N1 virus. So many people died thanks to a lot of help from WW1.

"OK...WHICH ONE OF YOU FUCKERS SNEEZED?"

“OK…WHICH ONE OF YOU FUCKERS SNEEZED?”

Can you imagine what would happen NOW if 500 Million people got the flu? Let alone if 100 Million people DIED from that? 1,260,000,000 would be dead if the same percentages were used for the 7 Billion people on this planet.

The world is more interconnected now than ever. We have technology that 100 years ago would be indistinguishable from magic. Hell this blog proves how far we have come in just 50 years. What ever the obstacles to publishing your words (in any fashion) they must have been higher for black men. Now look at what I do. Once a month (give or take) I write a poorly formatted, misspelled long form essay where I ramble about things in my life and I have the power, the ability, to share that with 7 Billion people. With all those changes the human condition hasn’t really changed.

We still need the same basics that every person in history has ever needed. We still have to eat, sleep and we still have the most basic desire to have sex. More over we still create, share, laugh and explore. Language, technology, culture and societies are all superficial and change quickly.

If there is one consistent that we over look and forget its that we have lived through, thrived even, through horrible things in our recent past. That flu epidemic was 100 years ago, a life time for a person, but in the grand scale of human civilization it was merely a blink.

I think what predicates the idea that we are on the precipice of the end of humanity is that it is fundamentally a narcissistic idea, if so far as, that you, and those like you, are the only ones who see how terrible the world is and where it is going. They are the heroes in the narrative that the world was better in the past. People were kinder. More moral and more gentle. That everyone had their place and while there was turmoil and strife it was always overcome by the righteous. Everyone worked hard and had a job.

I am reading (slowly) a book called The Martian. One of the biggest hurdles to traveling in space is the time and resources it would take to even get to Mars. With conventional technology it would take 6 months, even when the planets are at their closest, to reach our crimson neighbor. In 2003 there was a new engine proposed: EM Drive. The science is beyond my ability to summarize but what I did take away is that it would take 10 weeks to get to Mars. 10 Weeks. Substantially faster that what was though possible even a year before that drive was proposed.

I am not going to predict any fundamental or sweeping change in the human condition or quality of life here on Earth. I think change is gradual and ignored. That’s how it sneaks up on us. I do believe that now, despite all of the suffering and hardship, is the best time to be a person. I believe as good as it is now it will only get better. And I know that we have overcome the insurmountable before and we will do it again. If there is one thing we have shown time and time again is that humanity really doesn’t know what’s possible. And if that’s the case I believe that just about anything is possible.

Total War

The easiest definition of “Total War” is the idea that any thing the enemy has is fair game. Infantry, Ships, planes, buildings, schools, hospitals, the wounded, and civilians are all fair targets. The idea of total war against a population is abhorrent but a few days ago I waged total war on one of my oldest nemesis: Fruit Flies.

I have met the enemy on the field of battle.

I have met the enemy on the field of battle.

In early May I treated myself, used my tax return to fly out to Los Angeles so that I could see Age of Ultron with my friend Becky. It was totally worth it on every level. The movie was great (saw it twice that weekend) hanging out in LA and see my old friends was great, and it pretty much cemented the idea that I will move back to the west coast when I am done with the Navy.

When I returned to my house I found at least 3 tiny fruit flies flying out of my toilet. I thought nothing of them. In fact I use a slightly diluted solution of distilled white vinegar to really make the grout in my bathroom bright. Vinegar also attracts flies, they love it. In fact it was the very same vinegar I used last September to stop the last fly infestation. I saw those three and thought nothing of it.

The next few days those three must have called some friends over and had the most freaknasty orgy in the record history of fruit flies because their numbers went from “annoying” to “what the fuck is this shit?” to “ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS!”.

They fucked...ON...the "F" key of my keyboard. DISRESPECTFUL.

They fucked…ON…the “F” key of my keyboard. DISRESPECTFUL.

Annoyed I set traps out. Variations of what worked last time and each one was a failure. I used combinations of vinegar, water, sugar, pineapple and dish soap all topped with a crude funnel. In the next 4 days I tried to lure them to a vinegary grave I caught maybe 8. Each day I adjusted my formula. Add more vinegar, more soap, more pineapple, less sugar, less water. The 8 that I killed must have been the dumb ones who were wall flowers in the fly sexy party happening in my apartment. Mean while the rest were too bust having drinks and chatting each other up next to any light source to notice that a few of their friends died in the pool. When I talk about the numbers I want you to think of a fraternity party in Beijing where women get in for free.

So I decided to pull out all of the stops. I did research, read up on fruit flies and set out more than one trap. Placed some on the top of my refrigerator, on the counter, in the corner. I left lights on to attract them into the same room as the traps. I walked the traps around to get the smell of vinegar in the air. I bought traps from Target, designed to attract and kill them. I woke up the next morning and found a wopping 0 of them had fallen for the bait. I walked out of my apartment and heard them laughing in chorus.

For I asked him his name  "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many."

For I asked him his name
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”

That night I grew angry as I realized that I had wasted a little over a jug and a half of white vinegar and a bottle of apple cider vinegar on these tiny fuckers. I had thrown out a FULL bunch of bananas, 3 apples and several yams in an attempt to leave my enemy no ground to run to. I took my BBQ fire starter and began to set them on fire. Was I quick enough, agile and dexterous enough to catch them mid-flight and burn them out of the sky? No. Did I leave scorch marks on my ceiling and walls where I burned those little fuckers into oblivion? Yes, yes I did.

I learned that like most flying insects they were attracted to ultraviolet light. So I fastened a 3M hook to a low hanging part of my ceiling and took a wire hanger to allow for my 30 dollar bug zapper to hang freely in midair. Surely this…THIS would work. I told my coworkers about the plan to burn them and the bug trap and she just shook her head and said “You need a woman in your life.”

I disagreed. I don’t need a women. I want money. I want purpose. I want to work for a shadow organization that keeps the world safe. I want an Iron Man Suit. I want to be Batman. I NEED adult supervision.

So I hung the bug zapper in my house for a night. I turned my lights off strategically and corralled most of them into a corner. I heard a single, faint “zap” and smiled as I walked to bed, knowing that I, a HUMAN, had defeated those little flying bastards.

AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAHAH!

AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAHAH!

I knew they were small enough that if they made contact with the big zapper that I would never find the little bodies. I was totally OK with their little bodies being atomized by electricity. I would vacuum the fly underneath and around it later that day. As I went to work I decided wouldn’t revel in my victory and know that I had to go to extreme measures to kill them but I had done it.

When I came home I left the lights on, as the sun went down, and waited to see how many of them were left, if any. The strange thing about fruit flies is that you never see them everywhere until you see them everywhere. I searched my ceiling and quickly found one. My vision refocused and I saw a few more and it refocused again. Now there was more than ever, crawling with a dismissal confidence on my ceiling, bathing in the sot glow of my bed lamp.

I went to sleep at my wits end. I had nothing short of building a small flame thrower to burn them out of the sky. Through the purest instinct, the will to survive and reproduce, they had overcome every natural and technological trap I had set for them. They were clearly no interested in the sweet vinegar pools of death of the glowing blue trap I hung from my ceiling. The only thing I knew that had worked was fire and me going on the offensive. Most things in the modern home are fireproof and it takes effort to burn things in your house. I even burned one of them guys off a paper towel and the paper was fine. It was easier to scorch the paint on my ceiling. I was going to have to buy a bic lighter, a can of axe body spray and some renters insurance and fight the good fight.

I need help.

I need help.

As I went to sleep I look up to my ceiling once more and saw a collection of them sitting on my ceiling like they owned the joint.

In 1993 the UN basically eradicated the use of chemical weapons from modern warfare. Now I am not naive if a nation was desperate enough it would, find or make quickly, and use some of the worst weapons we ever made on an enemy. But you know who didn’t sign that treaty? Me. You know who doesn’t count as people? Fruit Flies. You know who can suck my dick? PETA.

I bought two cans of Raid the next day after work and watched with satisfaction as I poisoned them. I saw up close as they choked and fall from the windows and ceiling in my house. I wiped them up and vacuumed more than once. And the day after that I came home to a pile of flies in my kitchen. The Raid had stuck to my window and when the ones who had not died yesterday had found my window today were poisoned.

Some of them died stuck to my wall or the glass. Stuck in a defiant pose. I began to think about the nature of perception and what is really important in life. I thought about the value of life and how precious it all really was. I watched a fly struggle in its last moments and wondered if it could even begin to consider or understand what was happening. I then opened a window because I realized while I had a spine I was not totally immune to what was ever coming out of the blue spray can.

My Finest Hour

scott_pilgrim_finest_hour_comic_book_cover_wallpaper_01

I didn’t particularly love Scott Pilgrim vs The World but it was entertaining. I do love this picture. It is the cover of the final Scott Pilgrim Book. It was about his finest hour, his best moment. I have been writing in a blog, on and off, for ten years. Exploring what makes me tick and exposing my thoughts, desires and my fears. I teeter between a ethereal and muted self loathing and a brash comic book level of delusional self-confidence and at each apex I feel guilty and ashamed that I have these emotions.

At one end I feel weak and sorry for myself. I imagine myself hurting and disillusioned. I know other people have it way worse and my grass my look a little greener than yours (like everyone’s does) but that doesn’t always stop me from feeling sorry for myself. I grow embarrassed because I think like this and that I want to leave cryptic and insipid Facebook statuses about how hopeless or bad I think everything is.

On the other side I feel my heart beating and I know that I am needed and nothing else matters. The world needs and will always need men like me. I am unfocused, brilliant, vibrant and buzzing around my world. I am also unshaken in the idea that I can what the world needs. I almost hear the music swell and I know that it is now or never.  I am everything that I wish I was.

I am somewhere in between. I think the confidence is a part of my mind/personality that allows me to bounce back. That forces me to bounce back.

I listen to the Cracked podcast (and so should you) and they mentioned that most of our perception about the world beyond our personal experiences is formed by what we see on TV and movies. It sounds dumb but if you think about it there is some truth to it. I always use the example of what people think the military is verses what it really is. The movies get a handful of things correct but most of it is wrong. If only because the truth is often boring. Once I thought about this I realized I expected life to move like a movie despite what I claimed.

I have said before that I don’t think anyone should be looking for someone to save them. There isn’t going to be a manic pixie dream girl to swoop into your life and explain what you have been doing wrong, love you despite your faults and teach you to love again and there won’t be any wise or black men that show you the meaning of life, give you confidence back and teach you to dance.

This trope is basically Mr. Freeman's career.

This trope is basically Mr. Freeman’s career.

I did find myself looking for one defining and heroic moment to prove myself. In the movies, in all the great stories, once this moment is done the screen fades to black and the credits roll. The hero learns his lesson and lives happily ever after. I know after any great moment in your life doesn’t stop the adventure, unless you die. Life just moves forward, with or without you.

I was always looking for that one perfect moment where everything lined up and I had a chance to do or be something really special. I can’t, for the life of me, tell if these moments are as frequent as they seem or am I looking for something that isn’t there. Manufacturing meaning from an empty and aimless nothing that was, at best, casually apathetic about my existence.

I have experienced excellence from others and from myself. Those moments everything was clear, like a bell was struck and the ringing cleared the air and I could see everything. I was magnificent in those moments. I have to remind myself that those moments don’t often appear, fully formed, in front of you. I have to make those moments, work to see past the fear, the doubt and the nervousness.

~ Adam

 

The Inner Space

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Issue 5
vol 4

When I was in high school I was obsessed with The Matrix. In college it as Friday Night Lights and if you have been following me those long ten years then you know that. After college it became the Dark Knight and then the Dark Knight Rises. With each movie I was looking for some meaning and that meaning would shed light onto myself. I guess life is about self discovery. And to think that at one point I thought I knew or had discovered all that there was to know about me.

I know why I write and now you know too.

Lets do this.

Two Wolves

two-wolves

There is a story about a grandfather talking to his son’s son. The Grandfather spoke of a conflict, a war, inside of him, inside all of us. A war between two wolves. One was selfish, mean and cruel a scarred combination of the worst in humanity and the other was the best of us. The boy asked which won would win and the Grandfather said “The one you feed.”

I am not sure if it is a Cherokee story or not. I don’t care enough to search and find out but the story is no less true. The mental environment you cultivate plays a big part in how you view the world around you, work with and through it also.

I was raised by who could be easily classified as Black intellectuals. I was taken to museums and arts shows when I was little. My mother did confess that she took me to those things because she wanted to give me culture and expand my horizons. She also took me to those things because they were free. My father, who majored in art and understood it very well, gave me simple lessons about the history of art and the eras we were looking at. I used “Black intellectuals” because I was also educated about race and the socio-political environment I would have to navigate because I was a Black man. I was also taught the history, academic an cultural, of Black people in America in a very casual way ever present way. There was a picture of Zora Nearle Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, and Billie Holiday that hanged in my living room.

I was also taught to be a respectful skeptic. I was 8 years old and I told my father an opinion that was blatantly sexist. He challenged me. He changed how I thought about the subject. He encouraged me to think outside the box and often asked me questions about how I arrived to that conclusion. He would critique my logic and after a while I learned to do the same thing to him and the world around me.

These values and education does not exactly fit in with the Military and a stranger fit still is my bellicose nature. While what you have seen about the military in TV and Film aren’t exactly accurate.

SEEMS LEGIT.

SEEMS LEGIT.

The environment isn’t always friendly to someone brought up to think like me. Being smart is always a bonus in the military, or anywhere, but being black and bookish (for lack of better phrasing) I am looked at like and oddity.

There is apart of me that gets excited at the idea of combat. Right or wrong the thought of launching Tomahawk into an enemy country makes my insides all warm. Its not just a missile or a weapon it is an offensive weapon. That means we will never shoot a Tomahawk in defense of a unit. When we shoot one, our only goal, is to fuck someone’s day up.

'MERICA. FUCK. YEAH.

‘MERICA. FUCK. YEAH.

A part of me knows that is wrong. The very idea of killing should send chills down my back and make me sick. Life is precious. We have no right to take what we did not grant or create. Its almost universal in every civilized country and religion that killing is nothing short of abhorrent. With all that said there is a very real part of me that would like to be apart of that. Its hard to reconcile or even understand.

Mom would not be proud

I hesitate to share this so let me preface it with some known facts. 1) I am a heterosexual male. 2) I have been raised in a culture that tells and reinforces me to think of women as sex objects. There was this post I made a little while ago. 3) None of that is an excuse. 4) I got caught checking out a woman’s butt at work.

I work with a collection of characters (read: mental patients) and one of them decided to anoint herself my “work wife”. She is tall, blonde and goofy. If I was a white women I would be her. Or she would be me…Um…

Shits getting weird...

Shits getting weird…

Either way there is this woman that comes in and works from time to time. At the end of the day I was sitting at my desk and my work wife was sitting across from me at her desk. This woman says goodbye and I *ahem* shamelessly check this woman out.

“I caught you.” Work wife says with a smug smile easing across her face. .

“What?”

“I caught you looking at her butt,” Work wife goes on to explain how I checked this woman out. “In your defense, she does have a nice butt.”

My only response is to shrug. Its not the first time I have been caught. If I were younger I would have been mortified. And I should have been embarrassed but with age I have become a bold perv and I am not proud. Not ashamed either. Just sort of apathetic.

Not sure why but I felt like sharing.

 Maddening

I got an Xbox One last October for super cheap. I am sure it took me a matter of hours to get the most up to date version of Madden for that console. Normally I play Madden all football season long and don’t really pick it back up until shortly before the NFL Draft. Not this year. Some reasons I will explain I can’t get enough of this year’s version of Madden. Madden 15.

Every year between 2001-2010 I owned the current year’s version of Madden. New players, mechanics and features are added each year. I didn’t own Madden 2011 because I had no place to live (stuck on the USS Bunker Hill) but from 2012 on I continued my streak. Some years the improvements are only superficial and other years the game feels totally different.

In Madden 2002 I would run a sweep play (a play where I toss the football to the running back and he runs wide in hopes for running up the sideline for a big gain) with such a sickening regularity it was almost a joke. If it was 3&18 I was going to sweep right to my custom running back where he would take it for 40 yard or more each time. In Madden 2003 I couldn’t do that. The game had improved enough that it kept me honest and I had to learn to be more dynamic in my play calling.

In 2004 Madden 2005 came out my first year of college. It was my favorite version of Madden. They introduced so many features to improve the defense. That year I played in a dorm wide Madden league and I chose the Ravens. I beat the Eagles, a previously undefeated team, and won the AFC North. In the playoffs I had an epic game against the Jaguars and lost by 3 points. Even in my defeat my defense played like heroes.

Madden 2002 vs Madden 15.

Madden 2002 vs Madden 15.

This year’s version of Madden is my new favorite. What I like the most is that I feel like I have close to total control over how my players progress and grow. Let me explain.

My preferred mode in Madden is the franchise mode. In franchise mode you control a team over the course of up to 30 seasons. In those 30 seasons the CPU controls the other 31 teams as you control your team. You control their playbook, free agent, draft, etc…

For the longest time I was really a C+ player. My defense was fierce, often leading the league in fewest points allowed fewest rushing yards,  most the sacks. And this time was no different. I used the St. Louis Rams and played to their strengths. I ran the ball and played defense.

My real talent was developing players. I would draft well and get the very best young players to year after year. Up until this year the longest I played with a specific franchise was 5 years, maybe. Right now I am on my 13th season with the Rams with a total of 5 Super Bowl Trips with 4 wins. Tre Mason, Greg Robinson, and Sam Bradford are either currently Hall of Famers or will be very soon and Aaron Donald is not only the greatest defensive tackle of all time but the greatest defensive lineman and the best pass rusher with 206 sacks (the current record is a staggering 200 sacks in a 18 year career).

Every year you play in franchise Madden generates a draft class. This class is a randomly created set of players with attributes for their specific positions. I had big, sure handed recievers but I needed a fast guy. That’s why I drafted Layne Harper. I called him “Young Jordy Nelson” but as the years went on as he went to 10 consecutive Pro Bowls and averaged 106 reception a year he became Mr. Consistent. Until his 9th season when he caught 19 TDs and 143 passes. He was, and still is a monster. If he retired right now he would have a wopping 1217 catches, 14,001 yards and  119 TDs.

The Young Jordy nelson should be self evident.

The Young Jordy nelson should be self evident.

One of the biggest reasons I play Madden is the fantasy of running an NFL franchise. Making choices that allow me to draft, sign, develop and lead players to winning seasons. Winning seasons for the team I am most emotionally tethered to. I love the Rams and I want them to be competitive and I don’t care how it happens. Even if they win a Super Bowl at 9 am on a Saturday while I sit in my underwear on my couch.

Until Next time.

~ Adam

Half truths I tell myself

BSdG86S

Issue 3
Vol 4

Shit. I am tapped. Its that time of the year again. I have stalled. I have jumped the shark as a person. No big revelations. No major hurtles to overcome. Nothing. Right now, I am emotionally the dog days of summer. The gray days drag on and on. Football is months away and the aimlessness is oppressive. I still have…my wits? I know I missed February and I hope some, at least a few, of you noticed.

Lets get this shit show on the road.

Fanatic

I am a St. Louis Rams fan. If you know me, at all, this shouldn’t be a shock. I love football (was terrible at it) and am totally ride or die for my team. If they move back to LA I am going to sink into a terrible funk and may never get out. 55% of the time being a fan is waiting. Waiting for your team to play, waiting for the time out to end or waiting for the season to start. 44% of the time your team is not winning the championship and its a little bitter to watch another team win. Only one team wins in the end, in any sport. That’s your ecstatic 1% but the other 44% you are upset, pissed or hating another team.

As I said before I am a Rams fan and with that declared let it be known: I hate the Seahawks. The one team I hate more than the Seahawks is the New England Patriots. Last month the Patriots won their 4th Super Bowl this century and something I have been mulling over for quite sometime crystallized: I am a Hater.

Let me explain. The St. Louis Rams lost 17 to 20 against the, at the time, upstart New England Patriots. I was 15 and had nothing else going on in my life. I took that loss the way most people deal with losing a pet or a large sum of money. I was devastated in a way that I cannot over exaggerate.

Time went on and I watched as ESPN globed the dear-eyed praise onto Tom Brady. If you had not known better you would have thought that the anchors and experts on the air were 12-year-olds with a crush. They loved Tom Brady and he fit this sickening narrative. The young good looking and brash Quarter Back of America’s team won with guts and guile, not over the top flashy talent. He was a 6th round pick, doubted from day one and he had made himself and arrived on the scene fully formed and done the impossible. He even married a Brazilian Super Model. I grew to hate Tom Brady.

She is Brazilian I swear...ignore the umlaut in her last name.

She is Brazilian I swear…ignore the umlaut in her last name.

My beloved St. Louis rams took a nose dive after that game. Winning seasons were few and far between and the fair weather fans abandoned ship like the rats they were. I watched every game I could an wished for a winning season. I am, was, and always will be ride or die for my St. Louis Rams. Through thick or thin, and there has been a lot of thin, I would always cheer for the team and I will always appreciate the 1999 Rams season.

The Patriots fan base grew larger and fatter as more and more band wagon faux fans proclaimed their allegiance. That’s what I hate. Most of them couldn’t name a player before Tom Brady or even name a starter on their Super Bowl teams in the 1985 season or the 1996 season. They just want to be apart of a winner. They had skipped the years of struggling and draft busts, injuries and could have been. They skipped the worse part of being a fan. The part of being a fan that makes the winning worth it and gives you street cred.

Its nothing short of bitter to watch your team, at best, only be average. Now I am faced with the very real possibility that my beloved team may pack up and move west. And for nothing more than money. A shitty team in LA will make more money than a shitty team in St. Louis.

I am sadder than I have nay right to be. But this is the risk you take when you become a fan. Now for a gif that sums up how I feel.

Awwwww...

Awwwww…

Lucid Dreams

About a week ago I took my comforter to the cleaners to get my cleanest blanket clean. It’s snow white and stains, the ones from everyday use, were starting to show and becoming hard to ignore.

I sleep with a box fan and normally my comforter is big enough, thick enough, to keep me warm. Now armed with only thin blankets I am colder than I am comfortable and I have not been sleeping well. I stay up with my thoughts, my heart racing. Whats worse is I know I should get up and write this stuff down because in the morning my thoughts, if I remember then, won’t be so clear, it won’t be so well organized and articulated. Whats left in the morning is the broken puzzle of of emotions and half thoughts and me scrambling to put it ll back together.

I hate my weaknesses. I hate that I stopped running. While I was never really all that good, or fast, I was surprisingly fast for the way I looked. In boot camp I was able to finish a mile and a half in 11:04 with bronchitis and mononucleosis. I hate that there is a word for one of my biggest problems. I don’t just hate that I can’t let go of my insecurities and doubt, I don’t just hate that I lie to myself and say I don’t care, that my problems seem to sit with me, no matter how much I try, I hate that it seems hopeless. There is a part of me, a part of everyone I hope, that rebounds and redoubles my efforts when things get difficult. I hate that when that part of me kicks in and my my brow wrinkles and my ears burn and I am focused I am again faced with the reality that it may be as hopeless as I always feared. And all of my will and resolves away. Its like running full speed into a brick wall.

I tell my most junior guys that being an IT out to sea is like being a defensive back int he NFL. High risk and low chance of reward. Everyone knows your mistakes and worse, people think they can do your job and generally have no respect for the work you put in. None. And no matter what you did, you are only as good as your last mistake.

Just me and you.

All alone on an island.

In the picture above are two men. The one in red is one of the best players at his position int he NFL. He is big by any standard, even in the NFL, and he has world class speed. Patrick Peterson is a defensive back and his job is to prevent completed passes to often bigger and stronger athletes called Wide Receivers. Patrick is so good that he is often told to cover one man and prevent him from having an impact on the game.

The man out of focus is just as fast, just as good, has the benefit of knowing where the ball is going, and about 5 inches taller. Peterson’s job is to stop him. His job is impossible but he excels at it. That’s how I felt on deployment. I felt exposed, overworked, under-trained, under appreciated, and constantly under pressure. I was not the best IT in my division and farther from the best to have worked on my ship but when the chips were down and I needed to cover the biggest, strongest wide receivers, when I needed to repair the most needed systems when sucess was the only option I did well because I refused to let anyone down. I refused to let my work center, my division, my department, my ship down.

I was standing in a dark part of the ship once talking to this cute girl. In the brilliant red lights she told me a secret. She hesitated and I promised to tell her one of mine also. An exchange to make her comfortable. I told a lie and she spoke the truth. I don’t remember what I told her but I know what I wanted to tell her. What I am going to tell you now:

I can be the outlier, the difference maker, the one that sets the standard, the guide and the beacon that everyone follows. I can make a change in my world and the people around me, a real difference. I can endure the pain, the pressure, all of it and still come out on top. The plain truth is that you will always need people like me, men and women who believe that they can live up to all of that and who believe they can make a difference.

I am not sure if this is either apart of normal self-esteem or delusions fed by the hero centric narratives I enjoy (cartoons, movies, comic books, video games, etc), or something that holds a little bit of truth and has been colored by those narratives.

Resolution Round Up: Refocus

Waste Less Money/Food – B

I don’t mind the grocery store. It has some of my favorite things in it. I just hate going on Saturdays and hate it even more going on Sundays. It is always packed full of people who seem to make it a mission to get in my way. I have begun to think ahead and plan meals. I have stuck to only eating fast food on the weekends. I have increased, by at least 250%, the number of vegetables I eat. I eat spinach, broccoli, squash, that bag of mixed veggies.

This was Dr. King;s dream. Vegetables judged by their nutritional value and not the color of their skin.

This was Dr. King;s dream. Vegetables judged by their nutritional value and not the color of their skin.

 

Workout 6-5 times a week – D

Its simple math. I can easily get 4 times a week. I skip a day during the week and have a hard time forcing myself to go consistently on the weekends. I love to workout but I really, REALLY, love to sleep. Sleeping is the shit. Getting up on the weekends and playing 4 games of Madden on a Sunday has its merits. Its straight up laziness though. I could get up and go to the gym for an hour and still have plenty of time to veg out.

Watch Less TV – B-

I watch WAY less network TV. I spend way less time just staring at the bright moving pictures on my big screen. I spend some nights reading and just relaxing. I even skip xbox for 5 or 6 days. If that was the only truth I would have to give myself a A+ but the rest of the story is that I got Netflix for Christmas and I have been binge watching Deep Space Nine and Scrubs and I finished Family guy back in January. I am almost done with the Cleveland show and next I think I will move on to Breaking Bad. I will never be able to read when I get ready for work in the morning and I hate to eat and read. I still watch Sportscenter and the Daily Show when I wake up. TV is a hard Habit to break.

Operation Dark Fedora – A

If you follow me on Twitter, and you should, you would have noticed that I have had some success when it comes to my project. I was able to purchase everything I need, install the CPU (with a bit of trial and error) and get a functioning server sitting in my living room. I cleared those hurdles and even got it connected to the internet.

The biggest challenge now is connecting remotely. Its a daunting task and I have learned so much because I had to learn so much to get this to work. In my next resolution update I plan to go on in a little more detail.

Until next time.

~ Adam

Still hands and a thousand yard stare

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 3.14.56 PM
Issue 2.
Vol. 4

So Far 2015 has been pretty cool. Its been warm…NFL playoffs…books…yep. STUFF. I did learn something about myself. I cannot read and eat at the same time. Well not a book certainly. Maybe something on the internet but definitely not a book. I only really watch TV now when I am about to eat, eating or just finished eating.

It doesn’t feel right. Lets get this started.

Overrated.

Let me be blunt. I hate when people’s sole motivation is to be provocative. I knew a guy once who loved to tell people how much “he didn’t give a shit what they thought.” He offended people and was loud. He even went without showering for longer than any adult should just to be off putting because he was out to make sure everyone knew he didn’t give a shit. He wasn’t innovative or interesting. He was a toddler that wanted you to pay attention to him, his antics and his toys.

So when I say that I think “Star Trek: The Next Generation is overrated, specifically Captain Picard” I want you to know that I do care about what you think. I just wanted to share my point of view.

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First lets start off with this. I am a Star Trek Fan. I enjoy most of the movies and really love DS9. When It talk about Star Trek with someone they always say “Aw man Picard is so awesome!” I don’t have a problem with him as a character but the fact of the matter is that he isn’t much of one.

Picard gives long, painfully articulate and pompous speeches about the nature of humanity and freedom. Picard is never wrong. He is a boring, self-righteous megaphone for the staff writers of TNG. And when he is on a roll he is always attacking the most painfully obvious strawmen I have ever seen on TV. Be it Q or the Ferangi (which was supposed to be the number one enemy on that show until the Borg showed up) or any number of poorly fleshed out enemies that are little more than plot devices that serve to give Picard a reason to wax and wain about whatever.

Deep Space Nine isn’t perfect. Far from it. BUT If I removed Sisko from the show and removed Picard from TNG and compared the remaining characters what TNG has is walking tropes (Boy Wonder, Pinocchio and Fish Out of Water) set in space.

Quentin Tarantino is, at best, a decent director with a mastery of mimicking other, better, directors, or as he might pronounce it “an homage to”. Pulp Fiction and Django Unchianed are entertaining but Kill Bill (both volumes) is a goofy kung-fu movie and Inglorious Bastards is a reason for Christopher Waltz to speak for 2 hours too long. The name sake of the movie, the bastards, hardly show up and when they do the movie is interesting but the rest of the movie is just Waltz talking, rambling, in a confused and drawnout attempt to build tension. After the opening scene I could careless about Waltz or anything he was doing. Eli Roth and Brad Pitt made that movie watchable.

..."Blah blah blah blah"...

…”Blah blah blah blah”…

Kill Bill was fun, at moments, but over stayed its welcome. Truth is I haven’t seen that movie in years and when I did it was only because a friend of mine in high school was obsessed with it.

Taco Bell is an abomination. Anyone who answers the question “Where should we eat?” with “Taco Bell” or says, out loud, “Taco Bell is food.” should be mercy killed. Yes, you can eat Taco Bell but it isn’t food. I can eat the small orange pebbles at a playground but that doesn’t make it food. You know what hell is? Hell is that movie Demolition Man. Not because personal freedom and sex have been outlawed or you have to wipe your ass with three seashells but because of this…

What hell hath man wrought?

What hell hath man wrought?

 

California Dreaming

I swear its not the bitter cold or the on-again-off-again snow. Its not any of that. Its the fact that every time I drove home I would make this slight turn, almost a lean to the right and I would see a valley full of houses, stores and all of suburbia laid about before me. Boxed in by high hills, each one lush with green and where it wasn’t green there was this rich, almost earnest and earth brown color that everything seemed to be bathed in. There was this dreamy vision of San Diego that seemed to remind me that anything was possible and that there was adventure just beyond the horizon.

Maybe it was my early and mid 20’s or maybe John Steinbeck knew what was up and California was the real deal. Goddamn I miss California. I always said that I would live where ever I found work. I would take a paycut to work and live out there again. I don’t care. I would find a way to make it work.

This is a little too on the nose isn't it?

This is a little too on the nose isn’t it?

 

Just Under the Wire

I have nothing to talk about. I hate doing these but sometimes man I have to and when I do it is some of my best writing. It is the night of the 29th and I have less than 6 hours to produce something…anything and share it with the world and then the clock starts again. I love to write but recently I have been coming up dry with topics. I could write about the most flattering news I heard in a long time but I don’t think I should share that information.

It did make me think though, made me think of the nature of talent. I have said before that I don’t believe in talent, or that it is overrated. No where near as important as everyone believes. So much of my world when I was younger was predicated on the idea that I just didn’t have “it”. That certain something that was necessary to succeed. That was the root cause of most of my angry and feeling of inadequacy in high school. If there was one thing I could tell myself back then was that the Sarah Connor was right, “The future is not set. No fate but what we make.”

I don’t totally believe that. So much of my current circumstances are because of choices that were made for me decades and eons before I was even a thought. I do believe that I would have been happier if I believed that back then. I would have tried more things and understood why teachers, coaches and my parents pushed me as hard as they did. If only I knew. If only I believed.

I hate a lot of things. Maybe hate is a strong word. Loathe? Is that less hate filled than…hate? I like loathe. Either way I loathe “Manic Pixie Dream Girl“. Like the “Magic Negro” its almost laughable that there is someone out there that with the power of the existence will teach you the meaning of life or has some insight. I believe that friends, family, and even God is here to help but if you really want to be saved you are going to have to save yourself. No one else is going to complete you, no one else is going to guide you.

I have thought about writing YA fiction where the main character isn’t special or chosen. They are very run of the mill and have no qualities or preordained destines. They would struggle with this and eventually learn to accept this or be a small piece in a bigger change or revolution. In the end I think my character would just end up making soap, writing manifestos, and blowing up buildings like a maniac.

When I was going to enlist I had my parents and extended family tell me every awful and terrible story about how the military wasn’t a good place for “black men” and how I would never “get close to what you want to do.” They had every reason why I shouldn’t enlist. Now on the inside looking out I am faced with the same pessimism and doubt “You will have to make 100,000 a year to simply maintain your current quality of life.” or “There isn’t really any jobs out there.” or perhaps my favorite “You have 6 years in maybe you should just do the next 14 and get retirement for the rest of your life.”

I don’t have anyone else to worry about and I know one thing. I know the same thing I knew 6 years ago. I know that if I don’t even try to do what I want I will always regret it. I know that if I never attempt, I mean really try to be a penetration tester I will always regret it. I know that if I never write a book I will always regret it. I regret so much of what I didn’t do already and I don’t want play it safe only because I am afraid or don’t know.

I love the St. Louis Rams. In fact I love them so much I live vicariously through my Madden franchise. Madden is an excellent game. Players get better as they gain experience and thanks to my expert tutelage one Aaron Donald broke the record for sacks in a season. The old record was 22.5. Impressive by any standard. His first season with me, when he was a rookie, he had 38. He was an unholy and unblocakble beast. I’m going to be honest if the Rams move back to LA you should come looking for me. I will be in a snuggie, drunk, and sitting in my shower just crying.

Thats all I got. I will be back next month with something more? Let this tide you over.

tumblr_nbnqioKImd1qm5nqro1_r1_500

~ Adam

3652 Days and counting

Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.

Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul…

Issue 1
Vol 4.

Cheers. Ten years ago I started to blog because I missed my friends at college and needed away to express myself. It was on blogger and you can still check what I used to write about back then here. It has been the most incredible ten years of my life. But that’s a empty thing to say. The first ten years I spent so much time learning to talk and to not be afraid of the dark. The next year years was middle school and high school and I wasn’t that interesting. Since I went to college though, that has been something. Worthy of a blog, at least I think so. And I think you would agree.

The next ten years I may lose my irreverent sense of humor, stop thinking so much, find a wife, have children, buy a house, get a real job, stop daydreaming that I am Batman, develop a rational and mature self image and become a productive and well adjusted member of society.

all_aboard_the_nope_train_by_odscene-d5nu2je

So lets continue on as I ruminate on my life and my mis-advenutres all filtered through my wry, offbeat, sense of humor. These are the musings of a young man with a caustic and flippant sense of humor, who thinks too much and too little of himself. Who’s reach was maybe just beyond his grasp and who never gave up. Ever. The story of a young man who was willing to share his victories, because he forgets them to easily, and share my failures because I never seem to let them go. This is my story the misadventures, both internal and external, real and imagined, of Me.

You know that promise I made so many years ago.

Lets get this started.

Laura Janet Milton

I didn’t even cry the day she died. I was numb. Shocked that my greatest nightmare had come to pass. When I told my friends because I knew that if I didn’t then it would all rush out when I least expected it. It would tumble out of me, a ball of emotion and a frantic and desperate pain. I saw the wash of pain over their faces and heard the tears they beat back. They were there for me.

It has been over a year. So let me tell you what I know is true.

As much as I am like my father it has become self-evident that I am my mother’s son. The dedicated, ambitious and driven man who types this, the man with an irreverent sense of humor. That’s me. It took me a long time to figure it out and about a year to come to terms with that. I look in the mirror now and see how much we look alike and I wish I could have seen in before. We were always told that I was the spitting imagine of her but we couldn’t see it.

Days go on and I now know what it is like to live in a world without her. Not as dark and cold as I once thought it would be but her light is gone from the world, her specialness is only left in me and memories. Its hard to understate how it is both alive and vibrant and so hallow. There are days when I would give anything just to hold her again.

Harder still is when I remember that she is dead and, for an instant, the pain is new and real. Burning, hot and scarring I am wounded by the memory just like it was the first time. My mother is dead and there is no amount of begging, pleading, working, praying that would bring her back. This notion is bitter and cold in my mouth and I still cry and suspect that I will always shed a tear for her.

I still speak to her, argue even. We talk about me, my life and what I want to do and should do. I wonder if she knows all of my secrets and failures, the things I never told her. I laugh and think to remind her to watch Gone Girl, a movie I think she would enjoy. I told her about my career and my promotions and the opportunities that have come my way.

It is hard to speak about her and not because of the emotions I feel but because I know that my words, my writing, however elegant is not enough to describe the woman that raised me. I love my mother, always did and always will. It was and still is a damned shame that it took so long for me to realize that the young man who didn’t just dare to dream but dared to work for what he wanted and was always a little surprised when it did work out, the obsessive book buyer and carnivorous reader, the dedicated worker and planner  is the son of Laura Janet Milton. My wit isn’t sharper, maybe more accurate and not as dry but I grin through my tears thinking about her laugh.

Above all else that is what I miss the most. Her laugh. If you got her laughing it was like a small personal victory. She told me once I was one of the funniest people she knew.

She would ask now about my plans. I would tell her about the additional schooling, the certifications and the contacts with GS-15s. She wouldn’t understand the Cyber Security Challenges that I took part in, the CSAW convention I went to or CompTIA. No she would understand but she wouldn’t care about the details. She would nod and smile because she knew I had a plan, a thought out plan with real and reachable goals. “What about writing” she would ask and I would answer and tell her about my blog and the books I am reading. “Well…you know what to do, Right?” She would look over her glasses slightly, brow wrinkled.

“Yep,” I would say.

“You can always ask for help. I know you are a grown man but me and your father are here to help you.” She isn’t looking at me now, she is changing the channel. I see the white static in her glasses.

“I know Mom,” I pause. “Thanks and I love you.”

“I love you too Adam.”

Alien: Isolation

One of the most disappointing games I have ever played was Aliens: Colonial Marines. What I expected was an trip into the expanded universe of  James Cameron’s Aliens. A continuation of the atmospheric world that drew inspiration from Vietnam and Starship Troopers in methodology, imagery and characters. I wanted a game where the characters were desperate, out numbered and holding back their animalistic panic with whatever is left of their military discipline. A game that mimicked the penultimate battle in Aliens, a desperate though controlled retreat as the Xenomorphs overwhelmed their defenses. What I got was a poor homage to an excellent movie and a dull FPS that I took back to the Gamestop the next day.

What could have been...

What could have been…

I know video games, like movies are about wish fulfillment and games like Halo, Call of Duty and the Batman Arkham series play to the immature side of my ego where I am a super-soldier, special forces or just Batman. Its all one in the same really. The motivations are epic, noble and heroic, the enemies are faceless, malevolent and many and the story is little more than an excuse to kill or punch your way to the end.

I bought Alien: Isolation back in October and I am still enjoying it. Despite being burned so badly by the last Aliens game that I got I spent 200$ on an Xbox One just for this game. The trailer, and articles written about it seemed promising. A lot of games promise, as a change of pace, that your character isn’t a trained killer or soldier. When you are first introduced to your character you find her welding. She is less the hyper-masculine effigy that is all but ubiquitous in modern games and more “Average Joe”.

Working Joe...Joe...Joe-ETTE? I'll allow it.

Working Joe…Joe…Joe-ETTE? I’ll allow it.

As you progress however through most games you find bigger and better weapons and more ammo with increasingly aggressive and deadly enemies. The game is all but begging you to be a relentless murder machine. Not Alien: Isolation however. It manages to keep its promise.

Simply stated what Alien: Isolation does is make you revel in being powerless, scared and Isolated. Without giving away to much of the story you are a young woman, a skilled worker, that is trapped on a space station with desperate people, violent androids and creature so menacing that one movie has lodged itself into the pop-culture lexicon.

The first time I encountered the creature I was with the only other person I had met in the game. His name was Axel. He was slightly bigger than Amanda and a ragged image of a man stressed beyond his limits. The cut scene started after we just outran a group of thugs, armed with way more than anything we had. Clutching his pistol he is out of breath and we argue about him having to kill someone. Something wet lands on his arm. He looks up, slowly and is quickly impaled by the tail of the Xenomorph. I never get a real look at the creature. His scream is wet with blood as he is yanked into the vent high above us. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears as I dashed into the shadows towards a sickly green glow. Confused for only a moment I realized it was a button and that I needed to press it. Doing so would bring the tram and save me.

Form above, behind and all round I hear the menacing hissing of the Xenomorph. I am brought back to the nightmares of my childhood. I am on the Nostromo, on LV-426, on Fury 161. I can’t see it and I know that even if I did it would be a quick and messy death. The tram seems almost malevolent as the seconds stretch into what seems to be an eternity as I look, almost panicked, into the shadows.

The tram arrives and I don’t even peak in. I back into it, slowly. I am only waiting for the cut scene to start, maybe the token first glimpse of the monster before I am saved by another person or an explosion or whatever.

The Xenomorph lands at the doors of the tram with the casual, confident grace of a predator, the “perfect being”. It almost takes its time looking up before it sprints for me, arms out, hissing and growling then entire way. Now Its holding me, close and the screen cuts to black just before the smaller, secondary mouth shoots out and kills me.

I died and my heart was still racing. I love this game. I love everything about it.

Resolution Round up: Extended Play – The End of 2014

2014

Running – C

I still hate running. But now I do it a few times a week. I am in better shape but I feel like I am a bit of a failure because it took me so long to start running again. I just need to keep this up.

Apart of me knows that if I run I will lose weight but I won’t feel differently. Looking at pictures of my self I had no idea how skinny I was. I am going to start running again.

Fast Food – C

I don’t eat nearly as much Fast Food as I used to. I go once a week and after my trip up to New York when I splurged and ate whatever I wanted I have been on the straight and narrow for sometime.

Dating – D

I don’t care anymore.

Certifications – B

Network+. Learned what to focus on and what was important. I plan to still work towards a handful of certifications and I plan to hit it really hard once classes end this semester. I had plans for 3 this year and I only got one of those. I could have gotten the first two but the last OSCP was well beyond me.

Overall – C-

This year was hard for a lot of reasons. I bit off more than I could chew when it came to work and going back to school. This year I couldn’t even maintain the momentum of writing and posting once a month. I couldn’t tell you why I felt like everything was always right on the edge of spinning out of control. I couldn’t tell you if it was a testament to my failure as an adult that it was so out of control or a testament to my resolve because I was able to handle so much new chaos and still managed to survive and in some cases thrive despite it.

Resolution Roundup 2015: Raw Emotions

I need to keep it simple this year. I have a lot ridding on the next two years. I leave the Navy at the end of 2016 and I want all of my ducks in a row before I leave. These resolutions are the building blocks of those ducks…

Ducks are made of blocks right?

SEEMS LEGIT.

SEEMS LEGIT.

Waste Less Money/Food

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I threw away food this last year. It would sit in the back of my refrigerator and spoil and grow rancid before I threw it out. I ate less fast food but I could have been better about it. Every time I did eat fast food I didn’t eat the chili or the chicken in my fridge. I would save it for later and later would never come. I wasted so much money and food that towards the end of the year when I threw out mushrooms that were floating in their own putrid soup and the roast beef that was only fit for a vulture I knew I had to do something.

So from now on I will spend at least 30 minutes each week planning my meals for the next seven days and buying food according to that plan. I will keep track of the food I have in my house to stop from buying to much of one thing.

Workout 5-6 times a week

This is a little cliched and I know it. I am in crappy shape and I need to do better. I used to workout all of the time and I enjoyed it. I have a gym at work and not 5 minutes away from my house. To be clear this isn’t about losing weight or getting into better shape. I used to have a hobby that gave me structure and goals, a hobby that got me out of the house. I need to be more active and this is a way to do it.

Watch less TV

Recently I noticed myself watching less TV. Now I really only watch whats on my DVR or HDD. I have the exceptions of sports but I want to greatly reduce the amount of TV I watch on a weekly basis. I want watching the TV to be a choice and not the default action. The shows I really watch with any consistency are the Daily Show, Sports Center, South Park, Married, You’re the Worst, and The Americans. Everything else I watch can watch on DVD, Netflix on just get by some…other…means.

I don’t hate or think less of TV but it had taken up to much space in my normal day-to-day. This also means that I have more time for reading, writing, and podcasts. Maybe even spend more time creating things…

An Adam Milton...PODCAST...

An Adam Milton…PODCAST…

Operation Dark Fedora

People are only good at what they practice. If you want to be a world class singer, dancer, artists it takes years of consistent and deliberate practice. If you want to be good, great or even a professional then the same methods apply but on a shorter and much less focused time line. I want to be a professional penetration tester. I can get the training and certifications but in the end I am going to need to practice. This is a strange resolution but the goal is by the end of the year to build a functioning simulated network on a CPU and use that to practice attacking and defending

Kicking ass all over cyberspace.

Kicking ass all over cyberspace.

 

This is the sort of project that I can add to a resume and in a few summers when I go out to Blackhat I can hold my own.

This will be an ongoing year long project. In my earliest research I think I can have the majority of the physical parts by the middle of February and be fully up and running by my birthday.

Long Post

This was a long post. Thanks for sticking with it. Thanks for sticking with me even if this was the first post of mine you ever read. If I only learned one thing these past ten years then I would consider myself a failure. I have learned so much more than that. I learned about life, my potential, love and the importance of making a plan and sticking to it. I learned you can do everything right and have no regrets and still wish you could have every moment back, just to do again. I love the FARCers and wish I could live freshmen year over again. But that FARC exists only in pictures, our memories and our hearts. The same can be said for the men and women I served with on the Bunker Hill. And my Mother.

But here’s to you and all of my loved ones. I will continue on because it is the one direction God gave us. I am Always Forward and Always Courageous.

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Come back, I promise

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Come back on December 27th 2014. I promise a new post then. I got something planned.

Warm Sunrise

Issue 22
Vol 3

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Last month I was exhausted. I ran around all over the state and country. I tried, several times to sit down and writing something. What I did manage to come up with was wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t me. I was forcing narratives and it just felt like crap.

I have been producing, consistently since November 2012, for sometime and I think the well, for at least a month, was dry. I am happy to see the traffic on my blog rose, sharply, around the dates I normally would have posted something. Thanks for checking in and sorry there was nothing new.

Let get this started.

Time and perfection

I think it would be hackneyed to say that ten years ago, 18 years old and an incoming freshmen, I was a different person. My priorities, language, body, mind, fears was different. I was different. Many people say that with age comes confidence and that’s true, certainly for me. At 18 I was terrified at the idea of work and being a professional. I mentioned before that school and so many teachers had shattered, well before my adulthood, my confidence in my ability to enter the working world. The only thing I seemed to believe in was my ability to write. So that’s what I did in December of 2004. It was wild and irreverent and a little off the wall. At the time I thought I was going to be the next famous journalist and writer. I would be on ESPN in two decades, in a black suit arguing on the Sports Reporters.

In the future though there will be more robots.

In the future though there will be more robots.

Then my focus changed and I went more into writing. I majored in English and the idea of working for Intelligence organizations and Spy craft seemed interesting enough for me to really take seriously. Time went on and I did more and more research and what had been calling my name since I was little beckoned me even closer. The easiest way to work in that field is to join the military. I was old though, now 22, and it seemed far fetched. I did the research through and one thing led to another and I made the biggest mistake and the first steps towards the greatest trip into self-discovery I have ever taken.

College though. Man I miss it. I miss the smell of fall and the feeling of promise and hope that accompanied the start of every academic year. I miss my friends and I miss FARC. I planned a reunion this fall but to many people couldn’t make it. Maybe next year? Who knows?

McDavid was the first place I will credit for pushing me into a leadership role. After my first year I was an Arts Advocate and the President of Scam, Student Council at McDavid. I was and am intensely proud that with out even running I was voted into office. The older people, the man and women who had been around trusted me to carry on McDavid’s legacy and that is what I did. With a little help from my droid companion: R2-D2.

A compliment is detected.

A compliment is detected. (and I am not C3PO…I’m Mace Windu).

For 3 years I cut my teeth on leadership, organization and managed people who just wanted to help. As much as I learned about history, literature and political science I learned more about how all of those things. Dealing with attitudes and immaturity. Learning to stand up for myself and to forgive people. That was my biggest lesson, forgiving. More than any one subject in those first few years into adulthood I learned more about myself that I could have ever imagined.

I used to roll my eyes at the idea that anyone, especially me, didn’t “know themselves”. Psh. I knew myself. Addicts and weak people didn’t “know” themselves and it was just an easy excuse, something to blame their failures on. I understood everyone of my motivations and goals. It was so simple. Only a delusional, two-faced, cruel, immature fool didn’t know themselves. Or so I thought.

It turns out I was just moron enough in my early 20s to think I had everything about myself figured out. It took a bloody mouth from the Navy and Nuke School, a lonely wandering desperation and a lot of soul searching just to realize that most, if not all, of my motivations were unknown or even worse they were hallow. I was out to prove something, to anyone, to myself for years and I didn’t know it.

Now it feels like wasted years and time. I feel old, past my prime and fragile. My friends moved away and moved on with their lives. I survived two long deployments and worse yet I buried my Mother and was scarred, changed by all of it. My sense of humor is irreverent as always but my wit is slower not because I am slower but because I am calmer, more patient. I am heavier but understand my health and working out so much more. That’s all true but it is not the truth. I have said it before and it bares repeating. The first truth of my life, and the only one that matters, isn’t my will power, however strong. It isn’t my vision, however wide. It isn’t my luck, however dumb.

The truth is that I am never alone and never was. I always had friends and people who believed in me and my blog has always reflected that.

Resolution Round up: This time its personal

McBain

Running – A

I don’t hate running. Whew. That was close. I almost wrote that that I…um…hated running. And I don’t. I hate sucking at running. I get the runner’s high quickly and I used to be able to just…go. I lost it when I got lazy and with each day that passed that I didn’t run it became harder and harder to start again.

Now the goal is simple. Run. Run as much as I can before the winter comes and when it does come run in the bitter cold. Because that’s what a runner would do.

And that’s what I have been doing. Each step, wheezing and coughing, arms held up above my head I am desperate and exhausted running in the cool autumn mornings. I don’t like running but what I like, love and am addicted to is the knowledge that running is not something I want to do but at least 4 times a week I wake up, lace up my shoes, and push myself.

Dating – F

I don’t care anymore.

Fast Food – A

With my new diet I have one cheat day a week and that cheat day is only really a cheat meal. Fast food is expensive and I have effectively cut most of it out of my diet. I don’t even really have sweets that often either, not that I was a HUGE sweets person. Next year, if I keep this up, I might make another change in my diet.

When I say “diet” I don’t mean cutting out one or more things for a few days, weeks or months only to return to gorge on them again. I mean I have made permanent  changes in the amount of food and the types of food I eat.

I have even done the unthinkable and reduced the amount of bacon I eat.

I am just as shocked as you are Koala.

I am just as shocked as you are Koala.

Certifications – C

This one is hard to grade. The original goal was to get certifications not just for those specific trainings BUT to motivate me to go after what I want. I drug my feet and finally got Network+ back in May. I was working on CCNA but then I was already thinking about another certification. Then I registered for classes. So I am closer to my end goal but have not really kept up with my immediate or mid range goals. There is so much to this world that it is hard to stay focused.

Shitty Weekend

Every Friday night I make the resolution that the next few days, Saturday and Sunday, will be productive. The weekend before last  I dusted everything in my apartment, top to bottom, and cleaned up my room. Finally shelving books and putting away washed clothing and hooking up the dusty Nintendo Gamecube in my room. This weekend I am going to wash my bathroom mat, mop the linoleum floors and vacuum. My house was to be in order.

I am cleaning my toilet with a Clorox wipe and casually flush it down the bowl without thinking twice. I had done it many times before. The flush sounds weak, like its choking. I wait and flush again and still nothing. I stoop down, hand over my mouth and start to worry that my toilet is clogged.

I like for my AC to be on when I sleep but I woke up last night sweating. In the dark of night I turned the temperature down and realized that despite being set at 72 it was a broiling 75 in my apartment. Half asleep I ignore it and stumble back to bed. It is the last days of summer and so in the morning I have my patio door and windows open thinking that if I give it a break everything will be okay. I turn on my air conditioning back on and after running for a few hours it is still a balmy 78 degrees.

I go on cleaning binges but the one thing I hate to do is to take out the trash. This led to the infestation of flies after I forgot to take the trash out of my smallest can and let old cups from Italian ice give birth to Beelzebub’s swarm. At first there was one. Then I realized there was 2 and then 3. Before too long more than I could count or kill.

ENGLISH MAJOR!

ENGLISH MAJOR!

I cleaned, this time with avengeance. Target’s 409 brand knock off was everywhere. I hated flies and I know I had to get rid of them quickly.

If I told you I cared about Missouri Football before my sophomore year in high school I would be lying. My brain had just enough space for the NFL. I went to Mizzou and in the fall of 2003 we beat Nebraska for the first time in my life time, short as it was. My friends and I, doing 50 down a road I am sure was 40 mph, started to cheer and swerve and act like maniacs. In the recent past we have had more ups than downs. Recruiting major talent and winning the SEC East last season. Those were halcyon days. Better than any season I played in NCAA Football. Saturday as I was cleaning, my AC was blowing warm air, flies diving bombing me like P-51s attacking the last Japanese Battleship and my toilet was choked by my failure to realize or understand that Clorox wipes do not break down, my Missouri Tigers played poorly and lost to the Indiana Hoosiers. 31-27, a bitter defeat.

I go to sleep and make a silent promise with, life, fate, God, or whatever that tomorrow would be better. The Rams would play after all.

I woke up the next morning, after biasing in my own juices, to find that the clog went down on its own. Better already. I flush, testing it and watch as the toilet fills with water, choked again. Not after I…attempt to use it again. I won’t give you a blow-by-blow of what happened lets just say that my title of this section, “Shitty Weekend”, was more than a pun. So I break down and drive to the grocery store to buy enough liquid plumber to unclog Ron Jeremy’s shower drain. Over the course of the entire day I bought 5 more bottles of Draino, a plunger, a small toilet snake and a wet dry vac. I lost a bathroom rug and the rest of my Sunday.

I would fight the beast.

I would fight the beast.

Sundays are sacred. Not because of God but because of the NFL. I love watching football. Not as much as I love watching the St. Louis Rams. I find the game on at a local bar and watch my St. Louis Rams run the score up, 21-0, on the Cowboys and I am overjoyed. THERE is no way…NO WAY…they could lose this game. A team with a defense as good as ours is going to hold the Cowboys and we are going to win, asserting our selves as a good team, with some problems BUT a winner none-the-less.

I watch, in public, for the next few hours as my team loses 34-31. I go home, defeated, and attempt to clean my toilet again. After washing my hands long and hard enough to crack the skin on my knuckles and throwing away everything that the toilet water touched and the Draino stained I shower and get ready for the next day.

I’m not sure why I am telling you this. Why I would share such a crappy weekend with you. I had a point but I don’t remember if this was it or not. I did learn that the S-bend for a toilet is too much for the acidic gel of Draino to over come. I learned never to flush what shouldn’t be flushed. I also learned that a combination of Vinegar and fruit scented dish soap will attract and drown flies. Vinegar attracts more flies than honey.

Who knows. Maybe I am getting better at this adulthood/life thing.

Until Next month and thanks for reading.

~ Adam

One on One

Sanders (440x312)

I know many of you don’t follow or care about football. That’s your problem. Deion Sanders was one of the best to ever play. No exaggeration. He excelled at football. You know how easy it is for you to make toast? That’s how easy he made football look. Being an IT in the Navy is like being a corner back in the NFL. High profile, high stress, high expectations. If you fail everyone sees it. If you do well most won’t notice and fewer care.

I hate it as much as I love it. I thrived on it.

Always depended on the kindness of strangers

I live in my own head. I have complicated, vivid and recurring fantasies. Insecurities, pride, humor, my natural irreverence all of that drives the movie that seem to play on loop in my idol mind. Let me see if i can get this across…

I have said it before and I will say it again. I have amazing friends. They aren’t just good to me but they are driven, smart and kind people. Good things have happened in their lives and I am a little jealous. The Navy is wonderful but in terms of my life goals I feel a little behind the power curve. So I always joke that two of you meet in a public place and you guys have an exchange where you recount your personal and professional achievements and over the course of the conversation you exchange the whereabouts of mutual friends with each other an then someone says “Hey what about Adam Milton?” and they sigh and respond with muted and forced joy “Oh after the Navy he sorta lost touch with reality and now dresses up like Batman and beats up homeless people. He’s…he’s in great shape though.”

"NO! I! DON'T! HAVE! ANY! CHANGE!"

“NO! I! DON’T! HAVE! ANY! CHANGE!”

I don’t know what is more upsetting that I  imagine myself as the aging, hulking and mildly sociopathic version of Batman from Frank Miller’s landmark The Dark Knight Returns. OR the fact that when I imagine myself doing this I can only laugh.

I am no where near as apathetic about my future as I used to be. I have hope, actual not fake hope, that the things I want are possible. I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT DATING. I am talking about my career.

I constantly meet people, either at work or through a friend that knows about Network Security or does it themselves and when I ask questions I get mostly two things 1) Affirmation that I am going down the right path. 2) enthusiasm.

The industry I want to get into isn’t hard to start in. There are plenty of resources out there. Websites. Organizations and books, books and more books. So much that I didn’t know which ones to focus on. If I wasted money, worse yet time, I would be angry. Its good to hear that I was on the right track and all I needed was a little push.

When I meet security professionals and start to talk about their job their enthusiasm starts to bubble over. I ask questions and they talk and when they realize I am more than just a guy with some passing interest their enthusiasm for me is more than apparent. An almost child like excitement. Not the potential money making or the end game but the journey. I am excited to learn. I am excited to finish books about the subject, magazines and classes.

The trick now is focusing that excitement into something useful.

Throw Back

I went to the University of Missouri from 2004 until 2007. If I could go back to any point in my life I would return to 2004. I met so many wonderful people in that short stretch of time. I had so many firsts and learned so much. I tell every young person they should go to college and just experience it.

I went to the wedding of another FARCer and it was just as wonderful and stunning as they deserved.

I flew first class, sitting in seat 1A eating nuts out of a ramekin and drinking soda out of actual glassware. When I landed I spent the day with my Dad, woke up the next morning, dawned my dress blue uniform and drove to my friends apartment. That’s where this story starts. At Nate’s front door.

I smell India. Body odor and curry. I am in my stiff wool uniform walking down the dull sky blue hallway. I knock on his door and he opens it. Standing there dressed in basketball shorts, a tee-shirt and a boyish smile that could light up a room. “Hiiiiiii…” he lingers on that word because he knows I am ready and he is not. “Most of my friends would be late. I gotta get used to this military thing.”

Let me tell you about Nate. You have that friend that oozes confidence without any self-satisfaction. The friend that all your lady friends wanna get to know? The friend that drops wisdom like Johnny Appleseed, with a casual grace and shades Steve McQueen level cool that makes him a blast to be around even when you are in the most boring situations. You read this and now you think I have a crush on Nate. I don’t care. Why? Am I that progressive? Secure in my sexuality? Nope. Nate is that goddamned cool.

We speak for a moment and I decided to let him get dressed while I drive to McDonald’s for breakfast. As I return, walking down the hallway, he makes himself laugh “Dude what happened? I said 7:30?!?”

Fucker. I said this. Maybe I can’t be sure. I don’t know exactly what I said but it was in the same vain.

The open interstate of my beloved home state of Missouri aren’t much to look at. Unless you like the slate gray of well worn asphalt, the dull green of wide open America and minivans buzzing you as they forget the brake pedal and fly past you going 90 MPH. We speak and like any good friendship its like we never left.

Before too long we are in Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri. No its not St. Louis or Kansas City. The city is non-discript and looks like a college-less version of Columbia. The brownish brick buildings, windows framed with flaking window trimming like some beach town relocated without regard, bathed in the warm summer sun.

It isn’t long before we are at the wedding, me and half of my college friends, riffing back and forth with the sophomoric banter, quick and pointless. A girl we all knew leans in close and says to someone “Don’t you miss this?” in her own brand of knowing sarcasm. She is taken back to all those nights when we played halo and did the same things. This must be her own version of a war story flashback.

Without thinking, and as quick as a crack from a whip, my arm shot out, pointed at her and I said “Fuck Yes You Do.” And I realized that I did indeed missed this. I missed this. I missed the rambunctious, irreverent, whiskey dulled, madcap adventures I had in college. Now one of us is getting married. And most of us have moved away. All professionals. One is a doctor. THEY LET ME HOLD A GUN.

I'm just gonna leave this...right...here...

I’m just gonna leave this…right…here…

The other guy I spent most of my time with was Chris Terrell. I wish I hung out with him more in college. I have plenty of funny friends. I mean everyone has their moments. If there was a game where you could score points from being funny Chris is your five tool player, your go-to shooter, your clutch receiver. He has the beard of an epic hero. I bust his balls about his lack of writing productivity (rightfully so he is a monster in Microsoft word). They call him CT and he is always a good time.

I feel one day that they, the world, is going to gather me and most of my friends up and sit us in a room and say “Listen there was a terrible mistake. We let you guys become adults. We let you guys drive cars, buy houses and even have children. That was our mistake. There was a horrible mix up an we are sorry. Most of you will be shipped back to second grade. Adam Milton…you are going back to Kindergarten. You know why.”

The night ends the way it started with beer and laughter. We are all sharing six of the biggest onion rings I have ever seen. Big enough that they had to come from baseball sized onions and the batter was sweet and salty and fell apart perfectly as you bit into them. I am a sucker for bar food. All of us had been to enough bars, with enough mediocre beer, soggy fries and burgers I could have done better myself that I knew these were some of the best onion rings any of us were going to have. I looked at them and wished nights like this could happen every weekend.

This is the sad part because I know as soon as the night ends it all turns back into pumpkins and mice. The adventure ends. Chris drives back to Columbia. Nate and myself drive back to St. Louis and I fly east. I know we are going to stay in touch. I will call and we will text and we might all take a road trip to South Carolina for a Mizzou game. But this night is what I crave. Nights where we sit in a strange little bar drinking and playing pool. Laughing and encouraging each other. I miss it.

Here’s to that night and the nights spent at the Boner farm. Here’s to the Mizzou wins and the losses. Here’s to it all. The bad jokes and unearned laughter. The faded college shirts and the time they pulled me off the girl who was trying to take advantage of me. What…I never told you about that? Ask Nate about the Valentine’s Day massacre he does that story justice.

I miss all of it but more than miss I am happy to have had it and prouder to call those men my friends.

Lies I Tell Myself

I remember coming home from my last day of school in 4th grade, crying because I was going to a new school in the fall. It was a defining moment in my life. I have so many memories, most of them bad from St. Roch. It was a culture shock. I went from medium income and a very diverse environment to what felt like the sheltered white privileged epicenter of St. Louis. There was where I cultivated my love for sarcasm and hate for self-pity and complaining. One of my classmates, who by most accounts had an incredible life, spent a sickening amount of time complaining that he wouldn’t get to see Star Wars as quickly as the rest of us. He would be left out. He complained about everything and seemed to go out of his way to be petty. I told him he shouldn’t complain and-

He cut me off and told me he didn’t want to hear about it. I rolled my eyes and that interaction stayed with me for years, and still does. I remember his entitlement and so much more that just annoyed me. He was the type of guy to snitch on you when it was easy too. Once the teacher asked who had thrown a lunch box and on accident. I had done it. Forgive me I was 10 years old. Either way before anyone could say anything, before I could explain, he shouted “Adam did it!” Just shouted it to the teacher. I was fuming. He was a snitch. I told myself if it were public school he would have gotten a fat lip.

He was also the type of guy to see someone else with something cool and would go out and copy it immediately. If I got a book he would get it also and would read it as fast as he could and ask me what page I was on daily. Even after we left St. Roch he would constantly ask me about my grades. He messaged me after September Eleventh over ICQ (did anyone else use that) and after some idol small talk he just rudely asked. He was insipid and with the dull emotional and social quotient I am sure then given a wider array of choices we wouldn’t have been friends.

That was 15 years ago. At the time I was only 13 and having the perspective to look back and realize something happened 15 years ago was unfathomable. Its hard to grasp now.

Something I learned a few years ago was that Allies never really the underdog during the second world war. In fact many Japanese admirals told their leadership that they should avoid total war with the US because of our overwhelming industrial base and natural resources. That is one of the reasons why that war is so idolized and revered. America and the rest of the Allies were courageous underdogs drug into war by a bellicose and overconfident Axis war machine, or so the legend goes. I read some of this in a book called “Sea of Thunder“. Mostly the part about the Naval war in the pacific. I bought this book on the anniversary of the Battle of Midway in 2010, June 4th. My birthday as well. I remember because it was 35$ on itunes and I could justify the expenditure because I was turning 24.

I went back through my iTunes to look at all of my audio books and realized something.

Check the date.

Check the date.

I bought this audiobook on the Sunday before my birthday. I could have sworn, up and down, that I bought it on the morning of the 4th and not the night of the 30th. What am I…stupid? How could I confuse something so different?

Stupid is a harsh word. It was four years ago and, to be frank, I hardly ever remember the dates I buy anything. This leads me to think about the myths that persist about our history. There are too many to count and the farther you go back the more evidence exists that our ancient history that it is blatantly made up in order to fit the narratives that echo in our cultural memory. History is selectively told and repeated and eventually become fact.

That subject could be the subject of a series of books written by more studied, more intelligent and more patient men. This is my blog and I write about the only thing I am a scholar on: My life.

There is a great episode of 30 Rock called “Reunion” where Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon goes back to high school, a place where she thought she was the victim of a cruel social class of popular kids that picked on her. She had vivid memories of being bullied. She goes back and realizes that her smart remarks and the wit she uses to make money now she used to cut people down. Like “I Am Legend” (the novella) she was the monster in the end.

I would say things like this to people. And dress slightly better than this...

I would say things like this to people. And dress slightly better than this…

I look back now and realize how many times I used my rapier wit to attack people. Even the boy I spoke about in the paragraphs above. I have a knack of getting a crowd going and I know I used that to make my friends laugh at people who hurt me, slights real or imagined. How many times was I the aggressor or the villain by my own definition

I have a cousin. My entire life my mother stuck up for him. “He isn’t mean. He just needs a friend.” I would protest that her nephew wasn’t just disliked by me but by everyone. “He is lonely. I gave him your number you two should hangout.” He spent my entire life bullying me, attacking me and trying to set me up to get into trouble. On Halloween my mother, always the bleeding heart, had invited him to go trick-o-treating with me. Eight-year-old Adam was incredulous, how could she invite him to ruin my night. After a evening of colorful candy and bad jokes we all piled back into the car. As we are driving away he has used his finger to write “Ass” in the condensation that sat on the outside of the glass.

“Look what Adam did!” I turned to see the offending word and tried to erase it. I protested and he laughed. Even at 8 it was painfully obvious that he had done it to sabotage my night. I don’t remember what I said and what my mother’s response was. I do remember the seething anger and hate for my own blood relative.

Looking back though he didn’t have a father or a stable home life or the toys that a father and a stable home life could provide. He was jealous of me and my trips to Disneyland and the cable I had, the heat and the food. Looking back he must have seen an aloof and “holier-than-thou” little prick that never wanted to be around him. My Mom may have been right and he just wanted a friend. Even now as I look back on that Halloween night I can see his shoddily made costume in the dim fading twilight.

So now I am spiraling out of control, hands on the tiller and desperately careening down memory lane. What about the time I remember going to the Zoo when I was little, one of my earliest memories. I am playing hide and seek with my Dad and I am 3 years old. Did that happen or do I only remember the stories my parents told me and the pictures I have seen from that Day? Was I really ignored in school or did girls out of my league (and when I say “out of my league” I mean breathing) hit on me and I didn’t know how to respond. Was that class, test, game rigged or didn’t I try my hardest? Was it my skill or dumb luck that allowed me to win? Did I really try my best, my damnedest and most dogged in Nuke school or was that the lie, the narrative, I told myself after I left to feel better. And did the legend of that struggle and my time there get reinforced by what my friends and instructors saw and wanted to believe themselves. Did they need, as much as I did, to believe in a man that could and would do such things? Was I the hero they deserved or the one they needed right then?

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~ Adam