Monday, June 5, 2017

Hike with Mike: Grousing in the Rough

The Strange Forest Chicken


While descending the slopes of the extended Hatch Run Conservancy trail in Warren, Pennsylvania, I had a chance encounter. Going through a particularly wild area, I was startled by a loud hiss and a sudden aggressive movement! That's right: I had encountered the fabled hissing chicken of the forest! Fortunately, I had my trusty GoPro with me, so now you get to relive this deadly encounter too!

Well, all right... I may be overselling it a bit. It was the official bird of Pennsylvania, the ruffed grouse. I had never seen one up close before, nor one so eager to get my attention. Like a lot of bird species, the entire show as to lead me away from her nesting area (which I looked for briefly but didn't find -- she may not have laid her eggs yet, I don't know). The funny thing is I wouldn't have even seen her if she hadn't bolted right in front of me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Unemployed? Beware of Vultures In Sheep's Clothing!

Yes, it's angry rant time again




Before you ask, yes: this experience made me angry. The parts you need to know are:
  • These people found me via one of the job boards I'm posted on.
  • They invited me to a "free webinar."
  • It was an hour (60 minutes) long.
  • She spent 20 minutes talking about herself.
  • Worthless (readily available) career advice was doled out for 15 minutes.
  • The last 25 minutes or so (I left early) were used to "fluff" the audience to sign up for her career counseling service.
  • This service cost nearly $2000.00.
  • I have $0.52 in the bank.

Now, you might get the impression from the video that these people aren't legitimate. Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, I'm 100% certain that these people have spent a great deal of time and money being legal and legitimate... In the same way that Donald Trump's presidency is legitimate (in law only).

Not my first rodeo


Please understand that I've been through this sort of scam before. They offer actual, real advice, but it is advice that is easily obtainable elsewhere for free or for a nominal fee. Their shtick is that the woman who runs the "Limitless Career Lab" (which I will not link to, to defy their site even that shred of search engine legitimacy) is pretty, peppy, well-spoken, and by the persona that she's manufactured on the web, successful. This is the veneer on the treasure chest, if you will. Except that when you open the treasure chest, it's filled with nothing, or even worse a dwarf who will pop out and rob you of what treasure you have on you.

Beyond where the rubber meets the road


So I'm passing a moral judgment on the "Limitless Career Lab." While what they do is perfectly legal, and I'm sure that some would argue, beneficial, for the most part they are just targeting desperate people with no hope of ever getting that dream job and bilking them out of (at least) $2000.00 for what is essentially the content of a very thin book or a very thick pamphlet.

Steer clear, fellow job seekers!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Check out One Punch Man, if you can!

Hell no! Anime Go!


I have a confession to make: I detest -- nay, HATE anime. Oh, I like cartoons, but I have a palpable contempt for the Japanese variety. I find the character models boring. I find the incessant prattling of the protagonists too much to stomach. I find the insipid, recycled episodic scripts unbearable. I rage at the anime heroes who are always just "too cool" or "too unbeatable" to be interesting at all. I roll my eyes at the slow pacing. I can't even count how many times I've seen a storyline about cool robots or dragons having epic battles devolve into gag-inducing whiny diatribes about how "our feelings drive war," or some other stupid nonsense. It's to the point where even anime that doesn't follow these trends directly (like Cowboy Bebop) grates on my nerves to the point where I can't watch it anymore.

Think I'm joking? I tried watching the original Ghost in the Shell the other night, and only made it about 45 minutes in before I was done. I will never watch it again, and that's a movie I remember liking. Anime and I are Splitsville... or so I thought...

For literally no reason at all I began watching an anime on Netflix last night. And as of today, I've watched the entire first season. I don't normally binge-watch shows, and as my previous statements should have convinced you, I don't watch anime anymore. But I can say the following with conviction:

One Punch Man is one of the greatest shows I've ever watched.

I know: It's weird, right? But One Punch Man is a simple, one-note show that has wormed its way into my heart and I hope that I'll see more of it in the future. And I love it because it makes fun of every single thing that the culture and medium that spawned it introduced into the zeitgeist. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The basics


The show follows a recently laid-off telemarketer named Saitama, who happens upon a monster on his way home. He saves a child from the monster, beating it in the process. He then decides he wants to be a hero "for fun," and begins a training regimen (which is hilarious, but I'll leave that as a spoiler). Three years later, he has trained "so hard that (his) hair fell out." Now he has the unique problem that being a hero isn't fun for him anymore, and for one simple reason: He's so powerful that he beats any foe he meets with one single punch. What's worse, nobody recognizes him as a hero and they frequently make fun of his bald head.

It's such a unique and fun take on the whole Superman problem: When you have a hero who is all-powerful, what motivates him? Saitama is stuck in a constant state of ennui. He's in over his head because he isn't particularly bright, which makes his frustrations even more entertaining. His biggest concerns when he's fighting are that his costume will get ruined (and he's not rich enough to replace it) and that he might not make it to the supermarket before it closes. His round, vacant face in the heat of battle is just so entertaining it defies logic.

The show pokes fun at anime, superheroes, fighting games, Japanese culture, action movies, and really too much else to mention. The supporting cast includes a cool-looking cyborg who becomes Saitama's unwanted disciple, a bloodthirsty ninja with serious inadequacy issues, a dangerous young telepath who could give the Phoenix force a run for its money, and my favorite, Mumen Rider (which literally translates to "No-license Rider"), a sting at the Japanese superhero staple Kamen Rider (Masked Rider) who has no superpowers and rides a pretty crappy bicycle (and he doesn't even ride it particularly well, either). The funny thing is, you can find yourself starting to care about these characters, despite the show's ridiculous premise.

In conclusion


CAUTION: Be aware that this is a Japanese program, so there are a few characters who are skirting the edge of being offensive and racist (and that's putting it kindly). While not as bloody as some anime, it can still be a little gruesome at times, so avoid watching with kids. This show is in Japanese and is subtitled (on Netflix, anyway), so if that's not your thing you might want to give it a "pass." Side effects may include holding poses for way too long and power levels above 5,000.

Anyway, other than those minor gripes I had a genuinely fun time watching it. The episodes are short, the pacing is mostly fast, and even when it's slow it seems more like an episode of Seinfeld than an anime. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cleaning Stove Glass Doors (the extra-dirty version)

Innuendo Away!

Okay, so this video was originally shot for my former employer, but while writing the script and filming the video, I noticed... Well, you'll see.

I felt that it was funny, and made sure to layer it on even thicker during the editing, but my bosses weren't impressed, so a newer, cleaner version was put on the site instead. A shame really, as I think this would have gotten FAR MORE views had it stayed up.

Here's the video with disclaimers intact:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vote for Hillary!

Ah, once again into the breach...

I guess that it's no secret that I despise Hillary Clinton. I find her record appalling, her demeanor off-putting, and her complete and utter lack of anything even remotely representing honesty about as unappealing as you can get.

Yes, I am voting for her.

There's no secret sauce here: I don't think that the country (or the world for that matter) can survive another idiotic Republican presidency. Only this time, the idiot is orange, a probable rapist, a definite con-man, and whatever a successful businessman is, he's the opposite of that.

Why not vote Green Party instead?

Because they are a joke party. Don't get me wrong, I like Jill Stein. I think that on humanity alone she's far more qualified than any of the corporate and conservative candidates running right now. But c'mon: They've been around for twenty years (two friggin' decades) and have yet to develop a ground game, instead competing in the circus that is the presidential race rather than build a grassroots infrastructure that could be making people's lives better in the meantime. That's what we need, that's what Bernie Sanders is proposing, but that isn't what the Green Party is trying to do, and their incompetence is sickening.

So with that, I'm swallowing my pride and voting for the only candidate that has a chance to stop the "Orangining" of America once and for all. I am voting for Hillary Clinton, but I will NEVER support or trust this woman. I hope that she wins in 2016, and I hope that the pneumonia wins in 2017.

With that, I leave you with these campaign posters:


And alternatively: