Life is good

That look in people’s eyes.
The look that says “empty”,
”scared”,
“alone”,
and “lonely”.

That look in people’s eyes
Is not a look at all–It is simply a reflection.

reflection, projection, attention, and retention.
reflection projection laugh and retention
attention…detention,
projection…deception,
deception…rejection,
rejection…pretention.

When you see that look,
That look in people’s eyes,
Think again.
Smile for no reason and bid them “Good day”.

Good day? who’s to say
There could be another Katrina happenin’ today.
But you never know what to say,
And who’s to say it won’t.

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Beautiful and sad

It’s that feeling you get
As an ambulance with it’s lights on passes you.

It’s that feeling you get
When you see the flag half-mast.

It’s that feeling you get
When you turn on the news at 6.

It’s that feeling,
Where for a brief moment,
You experience a myriad of emotions.
It’s that fear, that hope, and that memory,
And they all hit you at the same moment.

And that moment passes;
It passes as fast as the ambulance,
The flutter of the wind,
And the change of a channel.

It’s that single moment,
That is so gloriously sad and the passing of something beautiful.

Writing

I enjoy writing. I find the whole process to be therapeutic. However, I feel that I do not write enough. The truth is that I do not write much at all, and sadly, I’ve noticed that while I often fell like sitting down and writing, I never do. And whenever the inspiration strikes, and I have an idea for something—anything really—it always seems to happen when I am exhausted and feel like doing nothing else but sleeping.

Right now, for example, I feel like writing. I am tired.

Late night
Dark room
Loud neighbors
No sleep

Toss and turn
As soon as I reposition myself, I feel uncomfortable
I glance at my clock, it reads close to 4 AM
I contemplate asking my neighbors to keep it down,
But I throw that idea out.

What could it be?
Why can’t I sleep?
Is it the heat? The sound? The stress?
What could it be?

I decide to take a walk.
The destination does not matter,
The beginning does not matter,
The trip does not matter,
The clarity of mind that comes, now that is what matters.

I put on my slippers,
Grab my wallet and phone,
I groggily walk towards my door,
The sound of a television from down the hall now even more clear

I step out into the hallway,
Surprised, I see that the hallway is adorned with confetti.
I venture a few steps further and I see a trashcan knocked over,
The contents of which have spilled out onto the floor.

I step over the trash, and navigate through the confetti,
I open the heavy suite door and walk out into the common area,
Again, surprised at what I see.
Chairs, knocked over. Lamps, on the floor.

I shake my head and continue down the stairs,
I can feel the draft from the front door now,
The cold air trying to breach the bulwark of this simple dorm.
I purchase a water from the machine, and step outside.

There is something magical about the air at 4 in the morning.
It is fresh, clean, and feels as if each breath is new.
It is as if the air that you are breathing has never touched another soul.
It is almost as if the air is telling you, “Forget it, just breath.”

Well, that’s what I did, that night.
I took a break from worrying,
I took a break from caring,
I took a break from my life,
I walked around at 4 in the morning
Wearing only pajamas and slippers
And it was the most calming experience of my life.

 

In the words of Chaplan, we think to much and feel to little. See, there is a whole amazing, fabulous world out there. And there are so many amazing and truly unique people out there. There’s been much ado about the meaning to life, and the meaning to lots of things, but screw that. Life has a meaning because we give it a meaning. A joke is funny because we give it a laugh. A cake is tasty because we take a bite. This world is meant to be seen, heard, touched, smelled, and tasted.

Take a drive down to the shore. Walk on the beach at night. Stop, stare up at the moon and the stars. Listen to the sea breeze, smell the sea air, hear the waves crashing upon the shore. Think, that for this moment, nothing really matters. The world will keep spinning, people will continue doing what it is that they have always done, and none of this can be reasonably changed. What can be changed, is our perspective.

Drop the bias, drop the negativity, drop prior conceptions of certain ideals, hear everything as if for the first time. Smile, be happy, be spontaneous, live for the moment because the moment lives for you.

 

This is the kind of shit that I like to write when I feel tired. I do not think it important, and I do not think it worth sharing, but what I do think is that it helps me work out what’s going on in my head. The stream of consciousness is like a gurgling brook, sometimes outside forces interfere and make this brook diverge from it’s normal pathway. Sometimes heavy rain falls and make this brook overflow and rush like an avalanche rolling down a mountainside. Sometimes the cold air cuts and chills the brook until it has lost some of it’s will to move.

Sometimes, others come and see the brook, and sometimes, these others are thirsty and they drink up the brook.

Winter

It’s winter, and I like winter.

I like the cold, the wind, the snow, the ice, the air, and the overall atmosphere. I like the time off from school to spend with friends and family, and I had intended to write more during my free time. I thought of things I wanted to say, topics I wanted to discuss, but in the end I never wrote anything.

I’ve had a lot of time alone to think, and it’s dawned on me that I’m not very happy. When I came home from college the first time, my room had been completely changed, and while this house is still my home, it felt so different. More so, I miss my dog…I miss him so much. He would sit by me while I read, napped, watched TV, and sometimes I’d just lie on the couch thinking and he’d always be at my side. Baggins8

He passed away over the summer. We had gone out to visit a college that was a long ways away. We left early, and had asked a friend to look in on Baggins while we were gone. On the ride back, our friend called us to say that he was acting strangely and seemed ill. We were still an hour away. It was a sickeningly silent drive. When we pulled into the driveway I got out of the car before it had stopped moving and ran inside.  I found him laying on the kitchen floor, breathing slowly, obviously struggling.

Baggins4Baggins3

It was so painful to see this creature that I loved incapable of walking, he was always so…noble. Now he was a big dog, a good 170 lbs or so, and we got a towel to use as a sling. As we helped him up, he seemed eager to walk. We went on one last walk, slowly through the kitchen, through the sun room, through the garage, and to the car. We made room for him in the back and he climbed in. My dad drove us strait to the vet, and we helped him out of the car. People from the vet saw us and came to help, they took him back and we were told to wait.

I stepped outside. It wasn’t very cold, maybe 70 degrees with a slight breeze. I sat down on the curb. Cars were driving by and it was dark now. Looking up, I could see a clear sky and many stars. I don’t know how long I sat there, but eventually my parents came out and said that the vet was going to keep him there overnight and see if he got any better.

The next morning, I woke up early to go see him, but the news was not good. He had a heart condition that many big dogs get, and his heart was just too weak to keep going. The choice was either a) spend a lot of money on medication that would only help him live a little longer, and in not much more comfort at all, or b) put him down. We had to choose b.

Still to this day I can remember the touch of his fur, how my hand would pet his head and scratch right behind his ears. I can still remember how tall he was, and how he loved chasing the water from a hose. I can still remember how we drove down to Virginia to pick him up, and how we stayed at a hotel that night before driving back up. I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag and he curled up right next to me. On the ride back, he sat next to me the whole ride. I grew up with him. I remember a song my friend had showed me from something related to Lord of the Rings. It was a silly song…but it fit Baggins perfectly (who, we had actually named after Biblo Baggins from the Lord of the Rings). It was actually sung by Leonard Nimoy and it was…attrocious, so I’m not going to add it here, if you want to find it, here’s part of the lyrics:

Bilbo, Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins
Greatest little Hobbit of them all…

I guess it’s true, dogs really are a man’s best friend. I miss Baggins, but there’s more to this story.

My mother couldn’t stand the thought of the house being so empty when I was off at college and Baggins gone, and she rescued a dog from a shelter. Tristan, his name is. He loves her, follows her around everywhere, but he seems scarred of me and my father. Maybe it’s our height, size, or maybe he was abused before, whatever, but it hurts me when I see him scarred of me. I’m alone in this house a lot, and he’s scarred of me. When I sit down, sometimes he’ll come up to me, but if I get up he scurries off somewhere. I understand that he may have had a tough life, but it hurts, man. It hurts.

 

Wow, I had wanted to write about the winter…

A little about myself

Sometimes I don’t feel like getting out of bed. Sometimes I just feel like I’d rather lie there all day just thinking, lapsing in and out of sleep. I could watch the shadows creep along the ceiling. I could listen to the cars drive by. I could write poems in my head, think about where I am now and how I got here. I can imagine what the future may hold. I can dream of where I want to be. But most of all, I can take time to just think.

It seems that too often nowadays, people ask questions and want an answer right away. In school we seem to be asked to regurgitate facts as if it were nothing but a simple call and response where everything is predetermined. In our free time, we turn on the TV and watching something, if it is not interesting, we switch the channel—this continues endlessly until the TV is turned off.

When I was young, people around me would ask “What is it that you would like to be when you grow up?” I told them that I didn’t know. I didn’t know, I hadn’t put in the time to actually think about my life. It was not until around the middle of eleventh grade when I really took the time to think. Before then, I had been failing classes and not giving a care at all. I believed that I would be nothing, that I would fail at anything I tried, I just found all my classes boring. Then, almost as if a light was turned on, I started thinking.

I started evaluating what I liked, what I didn’t, and what that all meant. It started simply: I liked videogames. Then I thought to myself, ”What about videogames do I like?” and that brought me to some other realizations. First and foremost, I liked the idea of cooperation in tasks that otherwise would be quite difficult. Secondly, I thought it was truly amazing that I could play with someone from Ohio, Massachusetts, Maine, California, Canada, the UK, and all around the world all at once.

So I first looked into videogame design, and found that I didn’t like it at all. Now, to jump back a little, I first got into online gaming with an MMO (Runescape) but then moved on to Halo 2 on Xbox LIVE. I joined a forum, and met some really nice people, all of whom had come because they loved Halo and wanted to talk about it. This got me into the video gaming community so to speak, I talked briefly with some members of Bungie (creators of Halo), and my gamertag actually comes from a talk with, at the time, Bungie’s community manager, KP.

Within the gaming community, there were some prominent podcasts that I had started to listen to (Podtacular, Gamer Andy, Sarcastic Gamer, Achievement Junkies, and most notably Major Nelson Radio). Now the last on there, Major Nelson’s podcast, was hosted by Larry Hyrb, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division. That podcast got me thinking about not being a game developer, but being something else involving video games / video game consoles. I was quite enthused, I became a somewhat active member of the Xbox.com forums, applied for and was accepted to several beta programs for Xbox as well as the Xbox Ambassador program.

Throughout this whole Xbox craze, I continued to listen to Major Nelson’s podcast and a few times he had on a guest named Stephen Toulouse (Stepto). Now I had already been pretty interested in some of the legal aspects of Xbox LIVE, especially the Terms of Use and Code of Conduct and how this affected users of the service, so I was quite interested to hear that he was the head of the Policy and Enforcement team for Xbox LIVE.

So, for a while, that was my goal, work at Microsoft on the Policy and Enforcement team for Xbox LIVE. When the host, Major Nelson, was on vacation, his cohost “e” put out a show with himself and Stepto where they talked about how they got into the industry, and gave some advice to others who wanted to (if you’re interested, the podcast can be found here, jump to around 55 minutes in). I remember playing MW2 at 2 in the morning, just listening to that podcast. It made me start thinking seriously about what I really wanted to do. That podcast, made me stop and think about where my life was going and where I actually wanted it to go. That podcast, and the advice that those two guys gave, helped me make some important choices.

First, I started reading. I read a lot, I read about computers, the internet, and just anything. If I had a question, I went to Wikipedia and read the entire page, and then I’d click some more links and read some more. I started reading the news, daily, and one day I read an interesting article about a virus. It was Stuxnet, and it changed my life. I followed the link from the BBC article to a small German IT Security website called Langner. They had been following and analysis Stuxnet for quite some time and had made a lot of progress. That’s where I was first introduced to the field of computer security. I looked up more security blogs, and I really liked what I read.

One day, when I was wading through the deluge of daily college emails telling me that “You’d be great for _____ college! Take our survey!” or “Here, have this free success kit from _____ college!” and hidden away in all of that was a simple email from Penn State. This email did not try to give me a free success kit, it did not talk down to me, it simply laid out the Information Sciences and Technology majors that they offered. One of these appealed to me, specifically Security and Risk Analysis.

Fast forward two years, and here I am. I am writing this from the dorm at Penn State, I’m on track to graduate in four years with a bachelorette degree in Security and Risk Analysis – Information and Cyber Security. And from there, who knows?

I want to see the world

I want to see the world.

I want to drive across America. I want to pause and take it the view. I want to spend time appreciating the beauty of what is all around us. I want to go to other countries. I want to meet other people. I want to hear other songs, see other films, and eat other food. I want to go places I’ve never been. I want to see China and Japan, Australia and New Zealand, Ireland and Germany, Italy and France.

I want to see the world.

I want to fly over mountains, sail across oceans, trek over hills, and drive all over the place. I want to smell the fresh air. I want to feel the wind on my face. I want to hear birds cry and animals roar that I’ve never heard before in-person. I want to laugh in the rain. I want to sleep in the sun. I want to walk in the night.

I want to see the world.

I want to use different currency. I want to speak different languages. I want to drive on the other side of the road. I want to ski on high mountains and drive along the plains. I want to try skydiving. I want to climb to the top of a mountain and yell as loud as I can.

I want to see the world.

I want to be free.

I want to live.

Gun Shy

This is a movie review I’ve been wanting to write for some time, and it’s actually the movie I had in mind when I even thought of adding a review section to my blog.

Here’s the backstory as to how I found it: We had only recently gotten cable and my father and I were sitting on the couch flipping through the now abundant plethora of channels. We flipped to this movie just as it was starting and it caught our attention right away.

We went into it not knowing what to expect, the description given seemed to call it a dark, gritty, suspenseful…romantic comedy and frankly that’s a little hard to imagine.

It starts with a man on an airplane, who is visibly uncomfortable. The man across the isle from him asks him if he’s afraid of flying and the man just replies saying it is his work that is stressful. Well, it turns out the man across the isle is a psychiatrist and he gives the other man his card. We quickly learn that the main character is an undercover CIA agent tasked with getting inside the mafia and taking them down. He meets with the psychiatrist and starts taking group sessions where the rest of the group is just normal people, all talking about stress in their workplace.

It’s a hilarious and sick clash between the drama of an office environment with that of drug dealing. The movie is all about perspective. We end up seeing the story from one of the top people in the US mob’s point of view to the Columbian brothers who are trying to impress their father—both of whom are reporting to their fathers and hate their jobs. We see the story from our main character, the undercover CIA agent, and we see the story from his friends in the group therapy group—both of whom are reporting to higher-ups and hate their jobs.

I found it enlightening to realize that we all deal with stress and that sometimes the people who seem to be so cool with it all are the people who are stressed out the most. But what I found to be most amazing of all is how it does these things, it both takes a funny approach, almost goofy really, and it also has some pretty serious notes.

All in all, I highly recommend this movie to everyone and it’s one of those films that I go back to when I’m down and watch to make myself feel better.