12/5/15

Could Star Wars: The Force Awakens be the biggest act of US terrorism since 9/11?

If you are new here (and let's face it, you are; there aren't that many regular readers to my blog, considering that I hardly post anymore) I invite you to read through my previous posts so that you know, without a doubt, that I am NOT a conspiracy theorist of any type.

I am also not someone who uses news items or horrible tragedies to promote a political agenda. Families in San Bernardino have been traumatized and shattered, and my heart goes out to them.

I am interested in something else that caught my attention today that I haven't heard much else about, and I'm a little afraid. I don't even like thinking about it, but I can't help it. It's a nagging feeling. You see, back when the Olympics were in Atlanta in 1996, I remember having a conversation with my then-boss that if there was ever an opportunity for an attack in the US of some type, that would be the place to do it. His response to me was along the lines of "Are you kidding me? With all the extra security they've got going on there? No way!"  Unfortunately, as you know, just a few days later he said to me "I guess you were right".

If I'm right this time, I certainly hope law enforcement is already thinking about this and working towards preventing this, though they say that they have "zero evidence" that the shootings and a possible movie theater incident I'm going to talk about below are connected. I guess I'm posting this just in hopes to get this idea out there even more, and for you to watch out and be safe. But I really, really hope I'm wrong. And I don't just mean I hope I'm wrong about my theory being about an act of terrorism, either -- we certainly don't need a re-do of the "Dark Knight Rises" shooting on a domestic terrorism/nutball shooter level, either.

Here's my theory/fear: ( call it a "feary" then)

Earlier Friday afternoon I was watching TV when the special report broke in on the network stations with a news conference from law authorities stating the latest developments, and declaring (at that time) that they were possibly considering linking the shooting to being tied to terrorism.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan also went out of his way before taking questions of mentioning that a security guard at a movie theater contacted authorities out of a suspicion Monday night/Tuesday morning regarding a man of apparent Middle Eastern descent who had been asking him some questions about films showing and their show times. Burguan also mentioned that this security guard also later saw what he thought was another man of possible Middle Eastern descent taking photographs of the theater from the car he was in.

Does this mean anything in and of itself? I hope not. But, one of the questions I keep hearing the talking heads on TV and radio asking regarding the couple who carried out the shooting on Wednesday is "What was their original plan?"  With as much ammo and explosives they reportedly had in their home, they clearly were not using it all on the rampage that ultimately ended their lives. Something bigger was clearly going on. So what was it? Did Farook and his wife plan something bigger on their own, or were they part of some larger plan involving others, and because Farook's patience apparently snapped at the holiday party, he decided to go all "loose cannon" and do his own thing? Which, honestly, if the original plan was for something bigger or involved others, maybe it's a good thing this guy snapped. It may have saved a lot more lives, or caused any larger cell to change/cancel plans.

But back to the question: What was their original plan? Well, when I heard the police chief talking about the movie theater issue, it suddenly dawned on me. Regardless of whether these two shooters have anything to do with my theory, I suddenly realized -- wouldn't Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the most anticipated movie release for at least a decade (possibly even since The Phantom Menace came out in 1999), be a perfect event for who-the-hell-knows to take advantage of if they decide they want to inflict some harm on the masses?

It's completely obvious if you think about it. This is going to be bigger than The Dark Knight by leaps and bounds. EVERYONE is going to see this new Star Wars movie. Theaters will have it playing on as many of their screens as possible, and don't you deny it! Theaters will be PACKED that first weekend with people on a high that only the Star Wars fans can get. There will also be families there. This would be a perfect time for someone who doesn't know you and doesn't care about you, a person - whether mentally disturbed or a terrorist on a mission - or even a group of people, to come in and start causing havoc. They could kill and injure the most people at one time, therefore getting the most result for their cause. And they don't care if they die as well because it's part of deal. They will die but they will try to take as many others with them as they can. There seems like no better moment to do so than what is coming up in a few weeks.

And to make this all the worse, this is an event occurring around the country (the world, really, but let's just assume that we, the hated American, are the intended target). I can only assume an organized group could easily coordinate their efforts to time this for the same moment at theaters around the nation.

I hope I am wrong about this. Wrong, wrong, wrong. NEVER have I ever wished for me to be more wrong. But I want others to think about it. I don't want you or me to live in fear. I don't want you to think you should stay away from a movie premiere because of this. I don't think I would go during the first weekend, but I wasn't planning on it anyway; I've never cared about a movie that much where I had to be "one of the first" to see it. But I know many, many people are, and they are super excited about this event.

My biggest hope, and purpose of posting my thoughts, horrible as even I think they are, is for people to be vigilant and careful, and that law enforcement and security forces do a lot of extra prep around theaters that weekend, much like security measures in the US were heightened after the Paris attacks. I'd even go so far as to say that metal detectors and such be brought to as many theaters in their cities as possible, and extra patrols show their presence. No measure of safety could be "overboard".

I truly hope to be proven wrong, though, and everything will be perfectly alright.

9/18/15

The solar system built to scale in the desert of Nevada

What a very cool video, showing some folks creating a scale model of our solar system in as "true proportion" as they can. I have one big gripe, though. When they stop to show the planets orbiting around the sun, they have them all orbiting in the wrong direction. This is quite surprisingly disappointing from people who have gone to so much trouble to get everything else as accurate as possible.


8/8/15

Earth photobombed by the moon

This is so cool. These pictures were taken by the DSCOVR satellite, one million miles above the Earth. The moon is approximately 250,000 miles from the Earth, just to put perspective on this.

 

7/28/15

The Chase (4K)





Amazing. Stormchasers always get the coolest time-lapse material.

7/6/15

The Confederate flag issue: A Yankee in the South's take



Now that South Carolina has voted to take the Confederate flag down from the state capitol, let's see how far this path will continue.

I have NEVER understood why the flag still existed, nor why people were proud of it. There are many reasons for my confusion:

A) THE SOUTH LOST

NEVER have I seen a losing side of any type of engagement celebrate their loss so much. They celebrate their generals who lost the war. They celebrate their leaders who lost the war. They do Civil War re-enactments, in which, yes, they still lose the war. I don't recall anywhere in the North doing re-enactments, even though they earned the right to, cuz they WON. England doesn't do re-enactments of losing the States during the Revolution, right? (Okay, that's a little far fetched)

B) IT'S A SYMBOL OF "BEING SOUTHERN"?

I saw quite a few vehicles waving their Confederate flags this past Independence Day weekend. Okay, when I say vehicles I mean dirty pickup trucks, but that's beside the point. (Oh, sorry, when I write "vehicle", y'all damn well better sound it out it in yer heads southern stahyle, lahk thayis: Vee-hickle.

The reason there even is a "South" is because your ancestors 150+ years ago decided to go the wrong direction of civility. You are showing pride in a backward, racist mentality by using that flag as a symbol. You claim "It's heritage, not hate". The Nazi flag is, unfortunately, German heritage, too, I regret to tell you. But Germans dropped any icons of discrimination. The US South still hangs onto their old flag like a cherished heirloom from a disturbed, murderous great-grandfather. Like a snotty hanky from Charles Manson.


C) IT REPRESENTS PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED SLAVERY

Do you proud southerners remember the biggest reason that split the country? Slavery. And don't argue about state's rights versus nation's rights, because the "state's rights" the South wanted had to do with slave ownership. The Bible itself states how to treat and punish your slaves (yes, it does, read it - this is one of those things they neglected to teach you in Bible school), and therefore the South's Bible-thumpers of yore supported that ideal.

In Germany, the Nazi flag is illegal to display. Nobody there really goes around waving the Nazi flag with pride, and the only people who DO are racist Neo-Nazis. The Confederate flag is a symbol of a racist society:


No one would think of proudly displaying the Nazi flag anywhere in the WORLD because of what it symbolizes. Why do southerners think their flag gets a break? It's a holdover from stubborn sore losers in a war they've lost who insist "Y'all ain't gonna change mah mahnd." The Confederate flag is not about "southern pride". If that's what you truly feel, then you are actually celebrating "slavery pride".


Please, South (and Tennessee, where I live, no, you're not the Deep South, but you're still the South and you know you got your statues and your monuments and your dumb-ass hillbilly rednecks who can't let go), please give this one up. This WHOLE, united-under-one-flag nation has been, and will continue to be, moving forward and you need to stop holding onto symbols of a shameful past.

7/3/15

Dear iOS 8.4, WTF are you doing to my music?



I downloaded both new Apple updates on 7/1: iTunes 12.2 and iOS 8.4 for my iPhone 5S.

As usual, the new bits and baubles take some getting used to. The iOS update is mostly for Apple's new streaming service, Apple Music.

I don't give a rat's ass about streaming music because over the years I have amassed a cubic shitload of music. My iPod is currently just shy of 10,000 songs, so I have plenty of my own music to listen to; no need to pay ten bucks a month to listen to more.

My iPhone currently has 1900 of my favorite songs loaded onto it. It's basically a second iPod to me, which was one of the big draws for me in choosing the iPhone over another smartphone -- I could easily load up my tunes onto it and plug the phone into my car, rather than what I had been doing before which was bringing along my non-smartphone as well as my iPod to listen to music while I  drive. The iPhone combined them both into one. This was back in the day when Apple actually used to be convenient. Then Steve Jobs died and it all went to hell.

But moving on....

The new update asked if I wanted to sign up for Apple Music. I didn't, and I found the toggle that allowed me to not see Apple Music anymore in the music app. I also eventually found the option that prevented the phone from showing you your iTunes purchases.  If you leave this toggle on, then every song you have pretty much ever frickin' downloaded from the iTunes store will show up on your phone now, via your Apple ID/iTunes account over your cell connection. There's a reason I have those 1900 songs on my phone; just cuz I buy an album doesn't mean I now want to see EVERY song from that album on my phone. Often an album may have 2 or 3 REALLY great songs that I want to keep on the phone, so THOSE are the ones I specifically load onto the phone.

So as long as I keep that "Show your iTunes purchases" toggle set to "off", everything should be fine, right?

Right?????

Funny thing.....

So today I go to work. I can't have my phone on at work, so I am probably one of the few people in existence who actually turns my phone off on a regular basis. During my break, I grab my phone, turn it on, and open the music app. Immediately I see a screen where "My Music" should be, saying something about "Going off the grid? Load your songs from iTunes and take them anywhere, der-duh-hur-dee-dur-da-hur." There was also a button marked "See all music". So I'm like, whatever, and click on the button. Next thing you know, I've got ONLY my iTunes music showing up on my phone, including the aforementioned "not-so-great" songs I never loaded to my phone in the first place. Oh, and it gets better. It's even loading music onto my phone that I never intended for myself - meaning I bought the songs for other people/children and then deleted them out of iTunes. But I guess because "THE CLOUD" exists, these songs never die, so now I've got a copy of fuckin' "Awesome As I Wanna Be" from the TV show My Little Pony showing up on my damn phone.

Infuriated (cuz, I mean, seriously, a 43-year-old man should NOT have My Little Pony on his phone), I find the toggle for "Show your iTunes Purchases" and see it has been moved back "on". So I turn it off, and WHAM, ALL my music goes away.

WHAT? I now no longer have ANY music on the phone unless I click this toggle back to "on" and revert back to the full iTunes library??? Apple, hello? What gives??

Then I check my "Usage" option in the "General" option in the Settings app, and sure enough, under "Manage Storage", "Music" (which was the item taking up the largest amount of memory on my phone) was GONE. However, the files must still be on the phone because the amount of used phone memory had not changed. So, my loaded music is still there -- I just have no way to access it.

When I got home tonight, I plugged the phone into iTunes, and sure enough, the little memory bar at the bottom of the display now showed the 10 GB of my music files as "Other" rather than "Audio" as it always did before.

However, this story does have a happy ending. So far. After clicking on "Music" under "My Device" in iTunes with the phone plugged in, and seeing all my music still there, I did a sync, and all my loaded music once again became visible on my phone in the music app. I've even turned the phone off and on three times and the music has stayed right where it's supposed to be.

What happened? I don't know. The only thing I'm left to wonder is if being away from my "home cell tower" when I turned my phone on at work (and I get crappy reception there besides) caused the phone to think it had to revert to using my iTunes cloud library??  No idea, and I'm off work for the next two days so won't be able to test this theory out by repeating what happened today. Or, I could always try it at any moment  presently by switching it off and then back on anywhere else I go (non-work-non-home-location) this holiday weekend. However, if the glitch were to happen again and these godforsaken My Little Pony songs load back up while I'm trying to enjoy fireworks....God help whoever is near me at that moment.

Apple, Apple, Apple. I used to love the way you handled music. I know the trend is for kids to stream music these days. And I don't expect technology to remain stagnant. I, for one, haven't bought an actual CD in years - I download music from you guys all the time. But, please don't fuck with the music I've already bought by making it disappear from your product on me.

6/7/15

Ricky Gervais on religion

I love it when Ricky Gervais does bits on religion. Love it, love it, love it.


4/16/15

Gratitude

I attended a seminar on Wednesday called "The Habits of Happy People". Quite a good seminar, and the presenter showed several videos during the lecture. One of these I enjoyed quite a bit. The narrator is a Swedish priest named David Steindl-Rast. Hope you enjoy.


3/11/15

I love a rainy night. And a snowy one. And a windy one....

We've had lots of major weather here in the Nashville area over the past several weeks. Major winter weather (for the south, that is) caused quite a hiccup in this neck of the woods.

Some schools around here had been closed for two weeks in a row. Funny, kids in Boston have missed out on school for up to two weeks, but THEY have had more than 60 inches of snow. We got 3 inches here. But I digress....  Snow and winter weather here in the southern states is a completely different animal. A stupid animal, yes, I'll go ahead and say it.

Currently there is nothing but rain in the forecast every day this week.

All the folks I come into contact with on a daily basis all say the same thing: "I can't wait for this weather to be over." "I'm ready for the summer." "Can't wait to see some sun."  This usually comes from women who can't wait for an opportunity to go to the beach (where, ironically, they'll probably fuss over how bad they'll look in a swimsuit, even though the chance at stripping down in the warmer weather is what they're begging for).

All the more evidence that I must be some kind of weirdy little whackjob, cuz, man, I find sunny weather BORING. Always have. Have never understood why so many folks just adore sunny, warm weather. And I'm not talking in a "Duh, you'll freeze to death in the cold" kind of sense. Clearly. I just mean, I could never live in southern California. That's why I couldn't live in Florida. Or in Hawaii. Same sunny, warm weather pretty much all day, every day, most days of the year.

Today it was warm(ish)...low 60's, but considering what the temps have been lately, that's a heat wave. Sure, it felt nice, but it also felt HUMID. I hate humidity. That was my biggest gripe against Florida - how humid it felt all the time.

Back in college, my friend Juli and I had a shared like of overcast days. Not too cold or warm, a nice little breeze, but the sky was a solid grey. We called it "perfectly cloudy".

I cringe at the thought of summer heat waves. Give me autumn all year long, and I'd be a happy camper.


12/15/14

So little to say/Heartbreak in silence

Clearly, based on years past, this has been the year in which I have had the least to say. This is currently just my 10th post for the entire year. I've never considered myself anywhere near to the widely-given idea of a "blogger". My posts have always come few and far between. Much fewer and farrer betweenier, as of late, I'd say.

I find myself in an odd position. I'm struggling to determine if the lack of topics to post about is a good thing or a bad thing. I have tended to only post when moved to, and that hasn't happened much.

Do I post about good things? Bad things? Things that irritate me? Things I like? Do I find there to not be much that stirs me up lately?

Or is it that I'm just feeling more obliged to keep things to myself than to rant about it to the world? Originally I intended this to be a blog where I could anonymously voice whatever I thought, however I thought it, out into the void and see what (if anything) came back. I wanted no one to know me, who I was, what I do for a living, where I am, and that anonymity allowed me to express myself without hesitation, without censoring myself to prevent offending those close to me, etc. To date, only one person knows who I am, and that person is now my ex-wife.

I doubt she even reads this thing, bothering to keep a tab on me in that fashion. But you never know. And why should I let that stand in the way of me expressing myself, really?

The answer is: I don't know. But you can't have an anonymous blog when even one person knows who you are.

The only thing that comes to mind that I ever felt like posting, and I didn't, had to do with a woman. So maybe that's where this all breaks down, huh? Now, my ex is engaged and living with a new guy. She's moving on. So am I, but in a different direction. Remaining single is my goal (I haven't dated much, don't allow myself much time to do so, even though I have done so with a surprisingly [to me!! - I was never a "dater"] decent number of women since separating over two years ago).  So, the complete blind-siding of getting into a situation with someone this year who I found a super-connection with and really wanting to spend much more time with got me a bit thrown off. It truly was brief, a female friend beginning the process of divorce. Our friendship got tighter this summer, and then got intimate just a few times. Then it suddenly ended around Labor Day. "I may have moved too fast, too soon."

Clearly, there is a lot more - this was just the short story. But it was a whirlwind and I felt that maybe I could have written more at the time to help me sort out my feelings? I didn't, and I kept things close to myself. Perhaps I wanted this just for me. That if I posted it, then I was putting my privacy and her privacy out there (though I wouldn't use identifying items). I suppose by keeping the details off this blog, I still am keeping this just for me. I don't know. All I know is that when we kissed, man, it was like we'd been kissing for 20 years. And with both of us wanting to keep things casual, not wanting to get wrapped up into another relationship right away, well, I can't blame her for seeing the signs and putting on the brakes. And I don't have any bad feelings. I'm grateful for what she did, as she was right. I just can't be fooling myself into thinking I want to be alone for the rest of my life. If that was the case, I wouldn't have liked her so damn much.

So why do I think I want to be alone? Probably because I'm not really that great a catch. Sure, I'm nice. I'm sweet. I'm responsible. But I'm pretty boring. And I don't think I've got it in me to put forth effort to want to do more for someone else.

But then SHE came along and made me remember what it was like to WANT to put forth that effort for someone.

AAAAAAAaaaaaaand then "Crash and Burn".



Do I want to be alone? No, not really. I miss the companionship. But companionship by itself is not a good enough reason to be with another human being. So I live alone, sleep alone, eat alone, think alone, and keep my thoughts to myself more now than ever. I have a lot of female friends, though, always have. Can't say that there hasn't been some flirting around the edges of the friendship with each of them to some degree, but I'd rather keep them in my life as a friend than shoo another one away by getting too close.

So I guess I've said what I needed to say for now.