From the Desk of Mr. Zissman

The musings of an over-stimulated mind

Archive for March 2011

Workin’ For a LIVIN’

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My new job? YEAH, IT’S AWESOME. No, seriously, I love it. I love being a technical consultant and I honestly enjoy solving tech problems. It’s like being a detective, but instead of solving homicides or robberies, you remove viruses and malware. It’s really quite enjoyable.

BUT, just like a detective needs tools of the trade, so does a technical consultant. And, alas, unlike a detective who mostly has his supplies provided by the department, I am on my own to acquire these essential tools of the digital trade.

BUT ALL IS NOT LOST! You, yes you, my loyal reader can help me better myself! And by bettering myself, I am bettering the computer systems of AMERICANS and gosh darn it, don’t you love your country?

Now, what exactly are these tools?

TOOL OF THE TRADE 1: Trusty Thumbdrive

The most basic of tools and yet one of the most important. Software, documents, programs…all of them will be contained within this little device. And 16 gigs for $20.99, well by gosh by golly, you can’t go wrong!

TOOL OF THE TRADE 2: Portable HDD

For those times when the thumb drive is not big enough, you gotta crank out THE BIG GUNS. This sweet baby holds a whopping 500GB and has a pretty cool design on it. Plus, it’s on sale for only $49.99! HUZZAH!

TOOL OF THE TRADE 3: CD Carrying Case

But sometimes you just need a CD-DVD, like you’re re-installing or upgrading Windows. You never know when you might need one of them, so it’s best to carry them all! And my, oh my, look at this stylish carrying case here!

And it’s only a mere $28.99! SHAZAM! You can’t go wrong with that!

“But Stephen,” you’re asking “how will you carry all of this? You only have a mere two arms!” ALL IS NOT LOST!

TOOLS OF THE TRADE 4: Sweet Carrying Bag

And its military surplus! HOW VERY PATRIOTIC FOR AMERICA!

So yeah, I need this stuff for work, and yet I have no money. Sad ain’t it? So by CLICKING THIS MAGICAL LINK FULL OF UNICORNS AND PONIES AND RAINBOW KISSES you can not just buy an item, but help me become a better American.

Written by MrZissman

03/28/2011 at 11:01 PM

What St. Patty’s Means to Me

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It would make a pretty sweet tattoo

Ah yes, Saint Patrick’s Day. To some it’s a celebration of Saint Patrick and to others it’s an excuse to get absolutely smashed while listening to the Dropkick Murphy’s or some other Irish band. To me, it was little more than another day to ignore or rather a day to wear green, lest I get pinched by over zealous people. I never really considered much of the Holiday, even with my Irish blood. (My great-grandfather, on my Mom’s side, had immigrated to the USA from Ireland.)

Now two halves make a whole and every person comes from two different families: in this case my Mom’s Side and my Dad’s Side. Growing up I was never really close to Mom’s Side, besides a handful of relatives. Instead my “family” was just Dad’s Side, with Mom’s Side almost like strangers I was close to. Very rarely did I ever spend time with my maternal grandparents and when I did, it was usually a quick “oh hey how are you, only doing this so I don’t feel guilty” type of thing. When Grandpa was dying, it never really struck me till the day of his death, though he was in a long hospital stretch leading up to this. It was the first time I can really remember death hitting me hard.

Years went by and Grandma trudged on, as tough as nails as she ever was, and our relationship never changed, though it was clear she adored and loved me. Every time she saw me, I was always greeted with a “And who is this handsome guy!” followed by a nicotine kiss on the forehead. I always received birthday and Christmas cards from her, though those holidays were never really celebrated with her. It didn’t stop her from showing her love, though.

The years flew by and eventually Grandma had to be moved to a home, where I still continued to visit her. This was a struggle for me because I find nursing homes to be a tad creepy, if not somewhat depressing. Surrounded by people pushing towards the end of their lines, some needing oxygen masks just to survive to see the next day or even hour. I felt as if my very life force essence was being drained from me, just by setting foot in that place.

But it didn’t slow her down, no sir. She still smoked (had a particular brand she had to smoke and nothing else.), still loved her old polka tapes and more. Her mind was starting to slip and it was becoming painfully obvious each time I visited her she was getting worse. Still, even with her mind foggy from the ravages of old age, she still greeted me with that same nicotine kiss and “And who is this handsome man!”

It’s me, Grandma. It was always me.

Eventually the days came and went and her earthly body gave out on her and she passed on to merge with the infinite and holy. Her death hit me deep but not as hard as Grandpa’s passing had been, mostly because I had been mentally preparing myself for The Worst for years now. I, regrettably, could not attend the actual funeral due to my work schedule, but I did attend a special post-funeral ceremony in her honor. It was beautiful, to say the least. My Mom’s family has never been…shall we say, as solidified as my Dad’s, and to see everyone putting aside any differences, qualms or woes they may have in order to simply honor this woman was inspiring.

In the end, I did contribute to her memorial by downloading and burning a mix CD contained of songs she loved. I’ve always felt a deep connection with music so listening to these songs helped me develop a new appreciation for who she was and what she stood for.

Now looking back, I’m nearly thirty years old as I sit here in a new chapter in my life, looking back at the pages I have already written. I feel a fathomless remorse knowing that I could have done more to connect with her. She never wavered nor faltered in her devotion for me, however.

To some St. Patrick’s Day is a train wreck of drunken debauchery, celebrated by a loud, boisterous clique of popped collars and Forever 21 apparel. To others, it’s a time of celebrating St. Patrick himself and what he accomplished in his life. To me it’s a time for me to sit back and remember this woman to whom I played a big part in her life, even if she never played a big one in mine. She had her flaws, sure, but who among us doesn’t? In a sense, we can learn a lot from her love from me. She never stopped loving me, regardless if I gave her a moment of my time or not. And to me, her love is what St. Patrick’s Day is all about.

Till we meet again, Jean McCune-Wagner.

Written by MrZissman

03/17/2011 at 1:00 PM

Posted in Religion

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Lent Me A Hand: Day 4 – Highway to the Manger Zone

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MEAT. MEAT. MEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTT.

Okay, sorry, had to get that off of my chest. Geez, you would think I have never gone a day without eating non-fish meat before. Don’t get me wrong, I like fish. I love fish, actually. I’ll eat pretty much anything that swims, but I have always gotten by knowing that I COULD eat meat if I wanted to. Yet here I was on Ash Wednesday, fasting till dinner time in which I could FINALLY enjoy food.

I’m not gonna lie, by 11 AM my tummy was mad rumbling. The Hunger was coming at me full force and I could feel my stomach loudly demanding why I had yet to fill it full of delicious meats. I may be a Catholic-In-Training, but my gut is an atheist.

By the time dinner was ready, I had inhaled two pieces of fried fish and was working on polishing off my rice before Hilary had even made a dent in her food. I devoured my dinner was such fervor and intensity that it was almost as if I had become the mighty T-Rex, stalking a lawyer as he cowardly huddles on the toilet on Isle Nublar.

Dinner was finished and after changing into some nicer clothes (wasn’t fully ready to wear a Batman tee-shirt to church just yet.) we walked down to St. Pancras for the service. It was beautiful, to say the least. Though it disheartened me to see the mass (no pun intended) of people who received their ashes and immediately high-tailed it out of there.

As of now it’s Day 4 and I think the first adjustment period is over. I decided I’m giving up “brown soda” for Lent, even if it’s diet. So that just leaves stuff like Sprite, 7-Up, ginger ale and more. As for the fish on Fridays, that’s proving to be the easiest transition now that the fasting phase is over.

So far I’m enjoying these last few weeks before my jump to the U.S.S. Catholic is complete. I often struggle with the perception of the Church from those outside it, as compared to how I feel. It does sting a bit when I hear the usual arguments against it, mostly because I was an intense anti-Catholic myself several years ago.

Basically, my stance is this: the Catholic church is far from perfect, this I willingly agree to. Has it made mistakes? Absolutely. In no way can I sit here and type this and claim that the Church has not made mistakes, even some of the most grave matters. But to me, it’s never been an issue of “EVERYTHING THEY DO IS JUST AND HOLY AND HUGHAHAAHHHUHALLAUHUH.” but rather it’s the message of the Church that entices me, not the people behind the message, if that makes sense.

To put it another way, here’s an example I heard just the other day. It sums up rather well how I feel. If we compare my last church/religion with this current one as if they were swimming pools, we see that being a Free Will Baptist is like being in a swimming pool a mile wide, but only two inches deep. Being a Catholic is a pool a mile wide and endlessly deep.

And baby, I am ready to swim.

Written by MrZissman

03/12/2011 at 12:15 PM

Lent Me A Hand: Day 1 – Hail to the King

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HAPPY ASH WEDNESDAY!

Hail to the king, baby

Wait, this is the wrong King for Ash Wednesday

Wait, time-out…that’s the not the Ash I meant. Wait a second…

...dust to dust.

…okay, there we go. That’s better.

So this is my “first” Ash Wednesday, so to speak. By this I mean it’s not the first one I’ve lived through, but it’s the first one I’m actively participating in. For my non-Catholic homies, lemme drop some knowledge on you:

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered after the palms or Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned. After the ceremonial burning of the remains of the palms, the ash is mixed with a small amount of water to create a more adhesive substance.

Now at my old church, a Free Will Baptist one, we never did anything of the sort. The only real religious ceremony we observed was the time we had a quasi-Eucharist with saltine crackers and small plastic shot glasses of grape juice. At the time I didn’t know if this was a religious ceremony or a preschooler’s snack time before sitting down to watch Wonder Pets.

Now, years later, I’ve found myself falling away from my Baptist/Protestant upbringing to the point where I never really considered myself a Free Will Baptist at all. To me the Baptists were too fragmented, with too much infighting and cliques about which particular strain was the best. (Off the top of my head, I can think of Free Will Baptists, Independent Baptists, Southern Baptists, Hard Shell Baptists, etc.)

It wasn’t till I attended my first Catholic Mass that I felt I had finally found what I had looked for. It’s hard to describe exactly how I felt, but it was something like a mix of awe and bliss. There was no ranting about demonic haircuts, the satanic values of Pokemon or the insidious homosexual agenda of Bob the Builder. (All real things I had heard preached at one point or another at my old church.) Rather, it was about coming closer to God, of peace, understanding and it was awesome.

So that’s where I’m at right now. This is a huge step for me because I come from a long line of Protestants and I’m not exactly comfortable with sticking out. Still, in my heart, I feel I made the right decision. As Lent goes on, I hope to grow stronger in my new faith.

Written by MrZissman

03/09/2011 at 3:06 PM

Brother, can you Lent me a hand?

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Lent starts tomorrow and for the first time in my life I’m actually going to “celebrate” (for lack of a better term) it as I study and grow in my new faith. With that being said, I thought it might be a nice idea to share some of my thoughts as I go on this forty day journey on a (mostly) day-by-day basis. They won’t all be massive, deep monologues and some may just be a paragraph or two. But they’d be honest, cause that’s what I strive for.

So yeah, tomorrow should have my Day 1 entry up and then the other 39 on a daily basis, give or take an entry here or there. NOW BRING ON THE FISH!

Written by MrZissman

03/08/2011 at 9:17 PM

The time has come to incept Jimmie Johnson

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Enough is enough! Jimmie Johnson has to be stopped.

For those of you who don’t know, allow me to provide a bit of back story.

This is Jimmie Johnson. He’s a NASCAR driver.

Look at that smug beard on his face

This is Jimmie Johnson’s car. It’s the #48 Lowe’s car

VROOM VROOM

And these are the championships Jimmie Johnson has won with that car. Oh and I forgot to mention he’s won those consecutively. Yes, he is the NASCAR champion for five years running now and it’s time for him to stop.

DURRRRR LOOK AT MUH CUPS A-HYUCK

How do you do this?

HIS DREAMS.

See, the idea came to me via watching the movie Inception for the umpteenth time. In it, Leo DiCaprio leads a team of experts who infiltrate the dreams of a business man to implant an idea of their own doing. This got me to thinking that such a technique could be possible and, if so, we would need the perfect team to invade the dreams of Jimmie Johnson and convince him he needs to retire.

Now in the movie, you need experts in certain abilities to perform inception and implant an idea into the subconscious of your target.

  • THE LEADER – This is the person calling the shots, the head honcho. Everyone listens to this person’s plan.
  • THE CHEMIST – Usually the person who concocts a sedative powerful enough to keep the target asleep and assures that they stay in a dream. If the target wakes up before the job is over, the team has to escape the rapidly collapsing dream lest they stay stuck in Limbo forever.
  • THE ARCHITECT – The designer of the artificial reality of the dream and all its levels. Environments, backgrounds, settings, all of these are created by the Architect to make sure the labyrinth of the dreamscape is created to allow for perfect execution of the plan.
  • THE FORGER – This person possesses a unique talent to alter their physical appearance and voice while in the dream. This is usually done to trick the dreamer into a false sense of security and making them comfortable with their surroundings. The key for inception is to make sure the dreamer never realizes they are actually in a dream.

So now we have our roles, but who will fill them? The Leader part is obvious and that would be me. I mean, why not? This whole scheme is my idea and I am, by far, the most qualified to lead it.

THE CHEMIST – My first thought was Charlie Sheen, because I am sure he would be an expert in all kinds of mind altering chemicals. But considering tiger blood would have the exact opposite effect of what I want, I am going to hire someone who is an expert in all things SCIENCE.

SCIENCE RULES, BITCH

That’s right, Bill Nye the Science Guy. Think about it, this guy is a pimp and science is his hoe. He just pimp slaps science and is all like “DO WHAT I WANT, SCIENCE!” and science is like “OH NO, DON’T HIT ME AGAIN!” and it just works, ok?

THE ARCHITECT – For this role we’re going to need someone very creative, who is capable of thinking outside the box, but yet is an intelligent enough to know when to go big and when to keep things small.

Polka your eyes out

Yes, Weird Al. Dude has survived for years now and still stays just as fresh and relevant as he was when he first debuted. He has the intellectual credentials (he graduated from high school top of his class and a year early) AND graduated from college with a degree in architecture. Weird Al is perfect for this job.

THE FORGER – This one is going to be tough. You need someone who can cleverly disguise themselves and seemingly ‘become’ whatever role they are assigned. Now I thought about this long and hard and then it finally hit me. Johnny Depp.

He could make a man gay just by his stare. He's that sexy

This man has played everything from a talking lizard, a pirate, a legendary B-movie director, and that’s just scratching the surface.

Okay, now we have our team assembled. Now comes the hard part: getting inside the mind of Jimmie Johnson. Here is how the job goes down…

THE JOB: We wait till after a race, probably one he has won. Right before the drive to the next track, we sneak on the bus pretending to be members of his crew. Obviously fatigued after a grueling race, we’d offer Jimmie a drink. Except the drink we offer would be spiked with the powerful sedative created by Bill Nye, thereby luring Jimmie into a deep, deep sleep and allowing us to enter his dreams.

Now the key to a proper inception is leaving no trace behind. The mind works a lot like the rest of the body and is programmed to reject anything foreign that has been put into it. For example, if I tell you to not think about elephants, what are you going to think about? Exactly, you’re going to think about elephants. So this job would need us to go deep into the subconscious, to essentially go within a dream that is within a dream that is within a dream. At that layer, the mind is easily susceptible to suggestion.

1ST DREAM: Now that we are in Jimmie’s dream, we will use Weird Al’s creative talents to create a dreamscape. In this dream, Jimmie has just won a race, thereby securing his sixth consecutive championship. As he climbs his car to look into the stands, he sees his legions of fans cheering for him, except a good chunk of them have very sour expressions on their faces. It’s far from the usual waves of applauding fans he is used to, that’s for sure.

Now slightly confused, he would walk his way back to his bus, when he would “accidentally” get hit by a massive tool box, thereby severely injuring him, but not killing him. (If you die in a dream, you wake up, so we have to avoid that for now.) Now our team, this time disguised as EMTs, rush in to take him in for medical services. Except instead of medical services, he’s sedated (less powerful this time, a weaker mix) and hooked up to a dream generated by Weird Al.

2nd DREAM: Now within a dream within a dream, we’re back at the same racetrack and Jimmie has just won his seventeenth championship in a row. By this time his fans are few and far in between, most of them looking depressed and withdrawn. The fans that are in the stands continue to boo him with heated displeasure, throwing cans, hotdogs, rocks, popcorn and other debris at him. It’s at this time his team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr (actually a disguised Johnny Depp) convinces Jimmie to blow off some steam and come with him to the press box to answer a few questions. Along the way, Depp-Junior makes casual conversation about how Jimmie’s fans are dwindling in number and how they don’t seem to be as supportive as they usually are.

“You…you really think so?” Jimmie would say.

“Yeah, I do,” Depp-Junior would reply. “Ever since you started winning all those races, your fans really got bored, ya know? They didn’t seem to mind you winning as long as it was entertaining, but when you kept up those championship runs, people just got kinda bored, man.”

Jimmie wouldn’t say anything initially, just sort of nod quietly as he stepped on to the press trailer. Once in there, he would be told by a reporter, in reality Bill Nye, that this interview is a streaming webcast, so we need to hook up to brand new Web 2.0 technology to live-cast the interview. In reality, the technology is not for web-casting, but actually another device for dreaming. This time the dream is generated by me, so Jimmie has now entered the third and final dream. This one is crucial as everything we’ve been building up to hinges on this.

3rd DREAM – This time it’s even further in the future, at Jimmie’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Dale Earnhardt III is presenting the induction, giving a passionate speech about how Jimmie would go on to win twenty-one consecutive championships, yet lost almost his entire fan base. By the time he won his last championship, his sponsor Lowe’s had dropped him, so his sponsor was reduced to Big Joe’s Bait and Tackle of Grass Lakes, Iowa. His wife left him, he was broke and penniless and only managed to pay for his car by being Bill Elliot’s butler. He died miserable, depressed and alone and all because he won so many championships.

Devastated, Jimmie would fall to his knees heartbroken as Depp, this time disguised as the Ghost of Daryl Waltrip, approaches him to offer some advice.

“Tough luck, ain’t it?” Depp-W would say.

“Why? Oh god, why?” Jimmie would cry. Depp-W would just shake his head.

“It’s a shame, JJ. To think, all of this could have been prevented if you just gave up. If you had retired and stopped at five, this would have never happened. Guess it’s too late now, huh?”

Now at this point we have to wake everyone up, and this is done with a “kick.” In the world of Inception, a “kick” is a method to wake someone up from a dream. It could be as simple as jolting the sleeping person, dunking them in a tub of water, or actually killing them in the dream. In this case, we would wake Jimmie up from the third dream by having a crazed Dick Trickle fan, actually Weird Al, running up to him while screaming “You killed his career!” and planting a well-timed .45 slug in Jimmie’s forehead. Instantly Jimmie would wake up to find himself on the press bus, of which a heart-broken fan kicks down the door yelling “You ruined me! I used to love you!” and swings a mighty axe at Jimmie, “killing” him in the second dream, causing him to wake up in the first dream. Now in the ER, the doctor pulls off his scrubs to show a Jeff Gordon shirt and smothers the injured Jimmie with a pillow, waking him up to the real world.

Jimmie would startle in a mess of confusion, now on his bus as it runs down a dark and lonely road.  He would vividly remember all three dreams, feeling the tug on his heart-strings about what he had experienced. Dejected, he would call the President of NASCAR the next morning and announce he is retiring from racing forever.

And that, my friends, is how we make sure Jimmie Johnson never wins another NASCAR championship again. I know it sounds far-fetched, and I don’t blame you for being skeptical. But I believe this can be done. Racing may be his life, but if Inception has taught me anything, it’s that life is but a dream.

Written by MrZissman

03/06/2011 at 10:29 PM

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