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Paranoia or Where Does This Crap Come From?!

I have an impressive imagination and an significant ability to connect dissimilar things including concepts. These two skills are not exactly always helpful especially when you combine them with a low self esteem and perfectionist nature. And not the cool OCD everything is always ‘just so’ kind of perfectionism, but the kind that says “hey you’re never going to do that right so don’t even start” kind. That kind sucks.

Anyway, these skills and flaws combine themselves in manners that produce paranoia or something akin to paranoia in me. Combined with my recovery from depression over the last year or two, and I’m looking back on my – everything – career, life, relationships with friends – everything, and I say to myself, “Shit. You f’ked up buddy. I bet people are pissed with you.” Then my imagination starts up my fuzzy logic module, takes some data from that, and presents it’s findings as “Yes sir. You’re f’ked.”

Well my low self esteem then kicks in and says, “It’s not like those people you’ve pissed off or let down ever really cared for you THAT much.” And the perfectionist says, “Yup. And you’re just going to screw up again in the future, so you might as well not even try to fix things.”

Well f’k.

Nah … I’ll spell that one out. Fuck.

So lately I’ve been wondering what to do. Should I take my family and flee everything that I know … or be brave and face the music of life? Honestly that would not be a difficult decision except my daughter has some close friends that we’d be leaving behind so – sigh – I think I’m stuck trying to “improve” my life.

The upside is that I’m learning all new ways of being miserable and none of them are nearly as horrible as the misery I was experiencing when I was in the middle of my depression and didn’t realize how miserable I was. I think that sentence is correctly structured. If not, you get what I mean. Or you should. You’re intelligent people. Probably.

So yeah. Paranoia. Yet another thing I wouldn’t wish on anyone else, and mine is exceedingly minor. I couldn’t imagine what this must be like for people who have lost the ability to distinguish between reality and imagination.

Hopefully I never will.

State of the Ass July, 2017

WTF have I been doing for seven months?

Really. What the F**k have I been doing?! I sure as hell haven’t been posting to, my flagship website. Nor have I really been posting to, my author site. So what HAVE I been doing?

Well I’ll tell you. Not that you asked.

At the beginning of the year, I ended up in charge of my team at work when our lead went into labor some two months early. Yeah I wans’t prepared. Not emotionally at least. I mean it isn’t as if I hadn’t been a team lead before, and I’ve been pretty good at it – I thought at least. But apparently I was … sufficient but not exemplary at my tenure of replacing my team lead. And you know what? I agreed with that assessment. I was nervous and angry and overworked the entire time, and then JUST as I was starting to feel comfortable (some 3 months later), my boss returns and … then I had nothing to do. A big pile of NOTHING. It was a stinking pile of nothing too. I was seriously down for a whole week. That sucked.

About a month later I went to see my doctor to get checked out for ADD or maybe anxiety because I’ve known something was up for years, but most recently I’ve found it terribly difficult to concentrate. And then when I’d get home, I wouldn’t work on my writing or anything … I’d just play video games until way too late and then drag myself to bed only to dread getting up in the morning. I knew I was avoiding work, but I didn’t know why. I mean I love my job, still do even after the rotten day I’ve had and a certain realization that’s led me to believe I need to go somewhere else. I love my job. Anyway, the doc sent me to a psychiatrist because as he said, he could give me something that day, but since many mental illnesses have very similar symptoms, it was probably best for a specialist to take a look under the hood. I agreed.

I’m not one to flee from mental health issues. Your brain chemistry is very specific and fragile. An iron will cannot help you out when you have certain illnesses any more than it would help you walk with a broken leg. Sure maybe if you were a big strong man you COULD walk with that bone sticking out of your leg, but it is probably best you don’t, at least for a while. So I went.

Good news everyone. I have depression!

So I got meds.

I thought I was doing good after a month. I’d had a string of “up” days. So many in a row that I thought I was starting to feel the effects of the drugs. I was wrong. I was just having some comparatively good days. After two months I really started to see a change. My appetite was decreasing. I was starting to be able to focus. And the best thing ya’ll, the best thing was that I didn’t feel like I was walking around wearing a lead coat all the time. In fact, I could FEEL more emotions than just the extremes or nothing. My days started to balance out. I could enjoy just sitting and not doing anything but breathing. After what must have been years of a slow and steady decent into depression, a depression that happened so slowly that I didn’t really notice that my lows were getting lower every time and my highs were not quite as high as before, I was myself again. After having a pretty bad day at work about a month ago, I realized that the day didn’t end with me spiraling into a darker and darker place. I just went home and decompressed. That’s when I finally realized that my prior depression filled good days, were actually worse than my normal bad days. How the fuck does that happen?

Yeah, I don’t know. But it can and it does. So if you ever suspect you aren’t yourself, and it’s lasted for more than two weeks, go to the doctor and say something. Don’t try walking on that compound fracture. That’s just silly.

So what else happened?

Oh yeah, during this time I finished the rough draft of my novel.

Yeah I know, bury the lead.

So I’m doing revisions now, and I’ve got to say, I’m fucking terrified again. I mean everyone KNOWS that rough drafts are shit, but a revision is supposed to be better. At some point (maybe revision four or forty, I’m not sure) this thing is supposed to start to verge on good. Considering that I haven’t ever actually done that on a novel level, this is new fucking territory.


Fucking shit.

I mean, damn. What the flying fuck?


Like … really.


So somewhere in the past several months I’ve also started drawing again. I’ve read a few books (audio books mostly since I have a 30-45 min commute one way). I cut my hair. It had grown for about a year and was starting to get in my mouth. Ew. I’ve started crafting dungeon terrain. (Think 3D dungeon tiles for DnD if you know what I’m talking about). The family went to PAX South early in the year, and my daughter and one of her best friends got to meet one of their heroes, TheOdd1sOut. He seems like a cool d00d. I visited my family and my wife’s family, and I feel like there’s something really cool that we did but I can’t quite think of it right now.

Lack of preparation for the win, yo!

I’ve also recently started a new routine to build good habits. I think they failed in the past largely due to the depression combining with my natural laziness. My will power has often been strong enough to get me over one of those two at a time, but rarely both. So now that I’m on drugs (YEAH!) I will have to give up that excuse. I’ll just be lazy if I don’t do my stuff, I guess. Yay. It could be worse. I could be forcing myself to learn better grammar.

Anyway, that’s my past several months. You’re caught up now.

Go away.

Just not forever.


New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions (NYRs), I don’t make them. I resolved, fifteen or twenty years ago to make no more NYRs, and I’ve kept up with that single resolution ever since. I’ve had a pretty good run.

Why don’t I make NYR? The list is long, and I’ll probably forget many of them. If I had to choose a single reason why I no longer make NYRs (other than I’m lazy), is this; New Year’s Resolutions fail. Almost every time.

I don’t like being a failure, and I don’t like feeling like a failure early in the year when most resolutions putter out and fail. I mean damn, who wants to realize mid-February that just as ole St. Valentine comes a knocking, you’re off the wagon once again? What kind of unnecessary, and undeserved stigma does that put on Valentine’s Day? The day already has a ton of stigma all on its own. Leave Valentines day alone.

Maybe mid-February isn’t your failure point. Maybe it’s mid April. I think that’s why so many people get depressed when it rains. Did you know that April is the month with the highest number of suicides? No? Well that’s probably because I just made that statistic up for the sake of this post. I have no idea what month is the worst because I’m too lazy to do that Google search.

Maybe your failure point is early January. Yeah, we’ve all been there a few times. Gym membership purchased and new work out clothes laundered … and man it’s just too cold to get out all of a sudden. Granted we’re having the warmest January in a decade or more, but who saw that coming? Stupid weather getting in the way of our conveniently planned excuses. Well that’s not stopping me! It’s too cold! I had that planned, and I’m still using it, damn it!

If you fail your resolutions past July, fuck you. I mean really? You made it that far and then you fumble the ball? You had a solid trend going, a habit even, and you screwed it up because what? You had a bad day at the office? Bah! We First Monthers can’t stand the sight of you. Get over yourselves.

If you fail your resolutions in November or December, that’s just stupid. Unless of course what you are doing is setting yourself up for a renewal of the same resolution for the next year in which case you’re just a liar. Either way you are stupid or pathetic. Or both. Yeah both. First Quarter failures around the globe look to you in disgust.

There I said it. You now know why everyone hates you.

You’re welcome.

So yeah. As you can see from all that judgmental shit people throw around, I’d really rather not be the target of such slander and vitriol. So no more NYRs for me.

I do make resolutions on my birthday however. A new year of life should bring with it a new set of goals. There’s nothing there to be worried about. Now the fact that my birthday is 4 days before New Years day … well that’s coincidence and nothing more.

Editor’s Note:This post is the first to have with it an audio component. Listen to Joe read the entire post in his voice with very few errors, because we edited them out. If you find any errors – except for that one we know about already – please let us know so that we can fire the Editorial Staff. Wait, that’s me. Ok. Don’t tell us after all. It’s better that way.

Birthdays – A Rated ‘R’ Post


Birthdays. Man I suck at them. I mean really suck. I have dozens of people that I love in my life and more that I like, and yet I remember like four birthdays. Five tops.

I have my reasons. Mostly that my birthday was never treated particularly special. It is two days after Christmas, and do you know who wants to party two days after Christmas? Fucking no one. Ever. And if they do or did, then they are never in town.

Christmas birthdays suck. If you know someone with one, go out of your way to make the day special. Or get used to those people not giving a flying shit about your middle of the year super well placed birthday.

Oh and fuck you for your luck.

I might be a little bitter.

Today’s one of the birthdays I remember, and I always will.

Happy Birthday, Love.

Oh and the ‘Fuck you’ doesn’t apply to you even though you have a good placement. There are always exceptions. I hope I can remember to make each of your birthdays as special as you are.

<3 ∞ +1

Image courtesy of Meredith Bell (, used under a Creative Commons license

Bad Days

Today was a good day, generally. I performed well enough at work. I was generally awake and well fed. I got along with my friends and family. I had some fun and created some stuff.

It was a good day.

But it wasn’t.

It was a bad day.

Today I couldn’t shake the feeling that I am out of place. I don’t belong. I’m not doing as well at my job as I should. I should be doing better. I haven’t written anything since Sunday, a week ago. I am not a good friend. I haven’t been a good husband. I made my daughter cry.

Yet those are all lies, and I know it. I do belong. Maybe I could be a better worker, friend, husband, and father. Yes I could be more dedicated to my writing. But in all honesty, I’m not doing so poorly at any one of those things that I should feel bad about it.

But I do.


Well today the feeling was pretty constant. I went to console my daughter for making her cry. But I didn’t really make her cry. She was crying because I told her the ugly truth of what happens when she doesn’t do her homework. She gets behind, and then she loses privileges until she gets caught up, including possibly losing her electronics for the entire weekend. I didn’t hit her. I didn’t scream or threaten her. I simply told her the truth, a truth she knew but did not want to face. And she cried some more.

Then I asked her if she wanted me to hold her like a baby and rock her. To my surprise she said, “yes.”

So I did.

And then we talked for thirty minutes about how we were going to 1) keep her from getting further behind 2) get caught up and 3) not fall behind again. This plan includes me writing while she does her homework. It also includes contingencies for what happens when we get behind. Then we had a plan. It was a simple plan, and it was good. That moment, that simple wonderful moment of knowing what was the problem and how we were going to fix it was a good thing. It was a single beautiful good thing, in a day that wasn’t bad, wasn’t ugly at all. Yet it made all the difference.

Today was a good day.

Drunk Destiny

I may not be the first person to play a video game while inebriated, but I can say that man, I’m having a ton of fun playing Destiny while drunk as shit.

I got progressively more and more drunk as I played the Trials of Osiris with my wife Raesmom05 and friend Chairslayer42. Both of these people are stand-up individuals for whom I’d give at least a kidney … maybe more … idk … it depends really.

Anyway, the level of enjoyment I received as a part of playing this FPS game with them was superior to the enjoyment that 300 ml (give or take) of Texas’s fines bourbon could give. Now when you add roughly 300 ml of Texas’s finest bourbon to an evening of FPS fun … well you have something really fine. And that’s what I enjoyed tonight.

So than you Chuck and wife for a fine evening of killing foo’s and getting killed ourselves because we certainly soaked up some bullets ourselves didn’t we?

~Drunk Joe … same as the regular Joe, just drunker.

You Take The Good With The Bad

During a recent conversation with my wife, I called and still contend, that the dormitory run by Ms. Garret in The Facts of Life was a half-way house for young girls. My wife was incredulous, but I think it is obvious. This is why.

In the dormitory run by Ms. Garret, you had four young women, all from different backgrounds, living under the same roof with a single parent figure. One of the young women was a rich socialite. Another young lady was a motorcycle riding, leather clad badass. The third was a spunky African American loud mouth from the tough side of middle-class America.  The final young lady was Natalie. The four had NOTHING in common. NOTHING! Except uteruses of which they had 3 between them which they swapped out on date night.

Hahahha… not really. After Season 1 Episode 2 their cycles would be synced so swapping uteruses was impractical Plus it was the 80’s and Uterine Swapping Technology had not been invented by Nichole Richie and Paris Hilton.

So why were these ladies living together? They were forced to live there. It was a half-way house. Blair was obviously a coke head. Jo beat a man to death with his own helmet, but he totally deserved it. Tuttie dealt weed. She didn’t use, she was way too smart for that, but she did invent vaping which increased her penetration into the college markets. Finally Natalie was a computer hacker in the vein of Matthew Broderick’s character in War Games. Either that or she ate her younger brother after being left alone with the tyke for three hours because the Twinkies were on a shelf higher than she could reach. Or something. Regardless they all ended up at Ms. Garrets for reprogramming rehabilitation.

Ms. Garret was an ex-Madam. She was caught, tried, and convicted, but since she had the goods on several highly-placed political figures, her time was reduced to community service. Twenty-three years of community service. Who better than an ex-Madam to “manage” four rambunctious teen girls with various issues? She knew how to keep a B. in line after all.

Now of course I’m sure that the original TV show didn’t support much of this, but I assume that was simply the network execs bowing down to the most conservative factions of our society. In this day and age however, I think my version of the show rocks socks. The New Facts of Life should be a Showtime or HBO production. The show would be like HBO’s Girls … but good. And it would have characters that are smarter than a four pound bag of bricks. You know, real girls who you can root for. Girls you don’t hope get hit by a random bus. Or maybe The New Facts of Life could be done like Game of Thrones. Ms Garret could be the Queen Regent, and each of the girls could be from different Houses vying for favor. Or maybe the show could have a Sucker Punch like ending where you find out that the entire show is Blair’s mental retreat into her own mind where she’s a rich socialite helping her friends overcome normal teenage problems while in reality she is a poor teenage runaway prostitute on Death Row for killing abusive johns.

If Hollywood is interested in any of my ideas, they are feel free to use them. Just mention me in the credits and pay to get me to the set a few times. I’ll take the good or the bad. Maybe I’ll take ’em both, and then I’ll have … umm … something. I’ll have something. Wouldn’t you know I’d forget what I was going to say. Now that is a fact of life!

Under Pressure

In my life, I have been lied to. Granted there’s nothing special about that as we’ve all be lied to at some point. But to me there seems to be one group of people for whom lying is just a matter of everyday business. And here’s the thing, I’m NOT talking about politicians! This group is large, diverse, and all seem to think they know what is best for you. Yup. I promise. I’m still NOT talking about politicians.

I’m talking doctors and their ilk. I swear they must all take the same class on the subject. It is probably something like, “Advanced Truth Telling 403” or some such.

My most recent pair of liars was my dentist and his assistant. I recently had a wisdom tooth extracted and like the fool I am I assumed I was man enough to experience the ordeal awake. Such a silly man I sometimes am. And apparently occasionally Yoda like in my speech patterns. Anyway, I digress. The lie I was told is one that I think most of you have been told. It was, “Now you’re going to feel a little pressure”. I didn’t feel pressure. I felt the sharp intrusion of a red hot needle being jabbed in and out of my jaw repeatedly. I should have paid for the anesthesia, but I’m cheap and would have felt the pressure in my pocket book instead. *Shudder*

Google tells me that “pressure” is:

  1. the continuous physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it. “The slight extra pressure he applied to her hand”
  2. the use of persuasion, influence, or intimidation to make someone do something. “The proposals put pressure on Britain to drop its demand”

Neither of the above definitions is ever what someone means when they tell you that you might experience some pressure. What they mean to say is, “Now you’re going to feel a little pain”. For completeness, and to allow you, dear reader, the chance to compare and contrast the two definitions, here is Google’s definition of pain:

  1. physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury. “She’s in great pain”. synonyms: suffering, agony, torture, torment, discomfort

Discomfort. That’s the real word that should be used in the majority of these situations. But as you can see above, discomfort is a synonym of pain. Looking again and I see that pressure is NOT. Why? Because nobody really wants to admit that in order to make you feel better, you are going to have to experience something worse first. I think this is because many people seem to feel more pain and discomfort if they know it is coming. But if this is the case, all that is really happening is that we are instead making people afraid of the word “pressure”. People will then start to expect actual pain and discomfort at the use of the word “pressure”. The pain I felt as the dentist extracted my tooth was completely different than the pressure I felt as his assistant took my blood pressure. The blood pressure cuff applied actual pressure to the arm. Ripping a tooth out of someone’s head causes pain or at the very least discomfort. Ya know, come to think of it, I didn’t get “pressure pills” prescribed to me, I got “pain pills“.

Of course there is the chance that our society is merging the two meanings, like we have LITERALLY done with the word literal. Some literal dumb asses have decided that so many people have used literal incorrectly to exaggerate a point that literal now has a new meaning on top of its literal meaning. And I’m literally not exaggerating.

This can be seen in Google’s “informal” definition of literal:

  1. formal: Taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory. “Dreadful in its literal sense, full of dread”
    • informal: absolute (used to emphasize that a strong expression is deliberately chosen to convey one’s feelings). “Fifteen years of literal hell”

I’ll avoid digging into the bastardization of the word “absolute” as used in the example of the informal definition above. Let’s just say I hate the English language. Too bad I’m too lazy to learn a better one.

Thinking along these lines, I start to consider what happens if we start to misconstrue all uses of pressure to mean only pain or discomfort. If you suggest that you are feeling a lot of pressure at work, people might wonder about the type of work you do. Queen’s Under Pressure changes context. And high and low pressure fronts really start to make the weather report a lot more interesting.

Regardless I think doctors should say what they mean. Be frank! We can take it. I have yet to have one doctor tell me that I’m a fat ass and I need to diet. WTF people? We all know this! It should be talking point number one right after taking care of the emergency that drove me to your door. “So Niassne. I see you are bleeding profusely. While we are taking care of that, you should know that you are a giant fat ass. If you don’t lose weight we are going to start charging you more and demanding you come in for more frequent visits. If that doesn’t work, we’re going to start applying some ‘pressure’. We’ll start with the scrotum”.

Maybe the rest of us should start using the word “dollars” in place of the word “rocks”. That way when we pay a bill for a procedure that included some “pressure” we can pay with “dollars”.

I don’t know though. Following the rule of Unintended Consequences, if we started doing that I think in the long run we’d just be hurting strippers. (They’d start to feel a lot more “pressure” during their performances as “dollars” were thrown their way – if you didn’t follow).

Love in a Time of Zombies #1

The following is my first few pages of what I’m doing for NaNoWriMo. I’m six days behind now and it is only day eight. I hope to catch up some on the weekend. I probably won’t, but that said I’ll do something.

My original story was a super hero style story set in a fictional land that was part Russia, part USA, and part East Germany. I scrapped the whole thing because while I KNOW what I want to do, I don’t have a road map for it yet, and I want to treat it right. So instead I figured I’d write something funny, something in the line of my Zombie News Now posts. So what follows is that, the first (short) draft of the first short chapter of Love in a Time of Zombies. 


Rene cursed his parents for giving him a woman’s name, at least his middle name was manly, damn manly. His middle name was Sioux like the Native American tribe. For some reason however people always snickered when they found out his last name, snickered and beat the unholy bajeebus out of him. Nowadays Rene kept his middle name secret as it seemed the world was filled with racists.

“Rene August,” announced a bland administrative female voice over the installation’s PA system after a brief ear biting chirp, “please report to General Whoremonger”.

Geesh. What a great name, Whoremonger. Now THAT was a manly name. Rene secretly believed that as soon as they saw the name Whoremonger on an enlistment form, the Army gave the applicant the rank of General on the spot. Too bad General Whoremonger was a woman. Such a great name to be wasted on a woman.

Rene was no sexist really. He just thought that Whoremonger was an excellent man’s name. Occasionally he’d admit to himself that there would have to be SOME Whoremongers who were woman, namely those married to barrel chested mammoth men named Whoremonger. Said women would give many Whoremonger sons to their Whoremonger spouses to allow for more men to have such a terrific manly name. See? Rene was no sexist at all.

The General always hated to be left waiting so Rene stood from his desk chair in such haste, his right leg pushed his chair backward causing it to quickly roll back. The chair quickly stuck Rene’s foot locker with a thump, then bounced back violent to collide once again with Rene’s leg. Cursing his luck, Rene turned to see the chair tipping over and about to spill on the plan painted concrete floor. Rene bent over to grab the chair but took a bad step while shifting his weight and fell over the chair planting his face squarely into the floor.

Blood poured from Rene’s nose. It wasn’t the first time. It seemed to Rene that every time he met the General he somehow got a bloody nose, so while the fall was unexpected, the nose was not. Taking a clean but blood stained handkerchief from his pocket, Rene pressed it to his nose as he extracted himself from the tangle of chair, floor, and legs. He grabbed his lab coat from a hook on the wall next to the door and swapped the hand holding the handkerchief in place while getting the coat in place and buttoning it up.

The door to Rene’ incredibly small office/bunk opened inward. This forced Rene back against his desk turned slightly with handkerchief held to his face. Stepping out into the hall, pulling the door shut behind him, Rene collided with Special Agent Kifah Ruben. Knowing Rene’s timing, the special agent was prepared for the collision and held them both in place as Rene caught his balance. Rene finally realized Special Agent Kifah held him upright, his eyes met hers. They were olive drab with flecks of orange and brown around the iris. The fluorescent lights sparkled within those organic spheroids. Why if Rene were to look long enough, he was certain he could see his own reflection. Yes. There it was. He smiled.

“Find your reflection again Mr. August,” asked the Special Agent. Rene finally realized he was in the arms of a woman and tried to step back. The Special Agent still had hold of Rene.

“Sorry about that Special Agent,” Rene stammered as he dabbed his nose, checking to see if the blood had yet abated. It had not.

“Don’t worry about it Rene,” Kifah purred, “I walk on this side of the hall for a reason”. Only then did Rene realize that in a twenty foot wide hallway, the Special Agent walked within inches of the wall and against the flow of normal traffic. Perhaps, he reasoned, she did that to get a different perspective of the people she was protecting and investigating.

When she finally did release Rene she made a quiet sound that was something between a sign and groan, but Rene was so focused on his bloody nose he didn’t notice. “Going to see the General as well?”

“Yes,” Kifah replied, “I received a text a minute or so ago”.

“Well your timing is impeccable. You kept be from falling for the second time today”.

Kifah stifled a laugh, “Three times it seems”.

“What?” Rene asked with a brief squint, “I must have missed one. Sorry. Thank you anyway. Will you accompany me to the General’s office?”

Kifah’s smile was so genuine that Rene seemed to notice her beauty for the first time. “I would be delighted,” she replied taking his arm and sliding hers into and around it.

Rene looked as if he knew he was missing something but wasn’t quite sure what. Regardless, “Is it proper for a Special Agent to be so, um, familiar with others?”

Seven steps, Kifah thought, I was happy for seven steps.

“Perhaps not,” Kifah replied, “but I’ve never been one for convention”. This reply gave Rene a few more seconds of confused thought.

“I would hate for you to lose face Special Agent. I think it best we walk at least ten inches apart. In this manner no one might get the wrong impression”.

Kifah sighed and separated from Rene. Sixteen more steps, she thought. Twenty three in all. A new record.

The two walked in silence save for the hollow echo of their steps in the massive hallway which disappeared in the distance behind and in front of them. Soon the whine of an electric motor and the occasional squeak of rubber could be heard. Kifah and Rene turned to look behind them and saw a Corporal in a golf cart. He pulled up beside the two.

“General is anxious. Get in.”

Kifah greeted the Corporal with an unamused tone as she took the seat behind the Corporal and hoping that Rene would take the other rear seat, “Nice to see you too Corporal Frank.”

Rene took the front seat and checked his bloody nose. It was a fountain again. “Aww.” Rene complained, “It had just stopped and now it is flowing again like it just happened”.

Corporal James Franklin glanced sideways at Rene, “Are you a hemophiliac, Mr. August?”

“No. I have never had an issue with bloody noses until working here,” Rene answered.

Corporal Franklin considered some more. “Perhaps it’s too dry here. Get yourself a humidifier”.

“Ha!” Rene barked, “And keep it where? My bunk is a shoe box barely large enough to be a bunk, AND I have to use it as my office too! I simply have no additional space. Besides I’m from Arizona and the temperature and humidity are both regulated tightly. Finally, this bloody nose is a result of …” Rene trailed off. He wasn’t entirely sure he wanted the general populace to know he tripped over his own chair and struck the floor – WITH HIS FACE all within the confines of his ridiculously small bunk slash office space. “Well this nose is the result of other circumstances”.

The Corporal was aware enough what kind of circumstances might give the lanky scientist a bloody nose. The first came from the General herself after she punched Rene after he first showed her the results of Project Fellhammer. For some reason the General denies it ever happened. Another time Rene, Kifah, and the Corporal were waiting for the General when a steam value burst thirty feet from where the trio stood striking Rene in the face. He awoke to the General staring down at him, his face a wreck of broken nose and blood. Another time the General was the last person to a meeting of egg heads which Rene was the eggiest. Rene had gotten up to open the door for the General when he noticed that the door knob was refusing to cooperate with her. She managed to force the door open just as Rene got his nose within range. Finally there was lunch two weeks ago. The Corporal just sat on the opposite side of the table as Rene in the mess hall when his nose began to bleed. The Corporal looked up to see the General enter the mess looking for Rene.

“Perhaps you are simply allergic to women,” the corporal suggested.

Kifah gave a short bark of a laugh from the back row of seats.

“No,” Rene replied. “Special Agent Ruben is a woman and I feel quite good around her,” he finished unaware of the significance of what he just said.

The Corporal uncharacteristically took his eyes from the road long enough to turn to look at the Special Agent who looked simply stunned. A slow smile spread between the two. The Corporal whistled and turned back to look straight ahead as regulations demanded. Kifah slid over in her seat to sit more directly behind Rene. Reaching up to take the bloody rag from Rene, she swatted his hands away and applied light pressure to sides of his nose.

“Let me do this. Despite being the most intelligent person I’ve ever met, you seem to have no idea what you are doing. Now just tilt your head back and we’ll get you presentable.”

Rene sighed and reclined his head backward. He admitted to himself that the Special Agent was more effective at stopping his bleeding. After a minute, Rene realized the cart was stopped and the Special Agent was wiping his face with a clean wet portion of his handkerchief.

“We’re here Mr. August,” Corporal Franklin announced. Rene noted that the Corporal had a curious half smile that on anyone wouldn’t qualify as anything more than a smirk. “For once it seems you are actually presentable for once”.

“Good,” Rene replied, “Thank you for your help Special Agent.” Rene then straightened his

Too Stupid To Be Racist

(OK before I start let me just say that the only reason ‘to’ in the title is not lower case is because I couldn’t remember if ‘be’ should be capitalized or not so I just made them all capitalized and said “to Hell With it”).

So a white friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she wasn’t white. She’s Jewish. And I’m all, “?!?”. Really. That was my reaction. I guess somewhere along the way, I was supposed to get a memo or something about race that I missed. That’s very possible, because I grew up in a small town in Mississippi where everyone was either Black or White and someone might have assumed we all “got it” and threw out the memo. The small town I grew up in was about half and half of each. Several people in my class said that they were part Indian (Native American), but they all looked White to me. We didn’t have any interesting races, no Asian, Indian (continental), Middle Eastern, or Inuits. Heck we didn’t get our first Latino until I was in High School. I was jealous of him. He was popular and had a mustache. A mustache in High School! That’s better than a car. No really! At least half of  my senior class could give someone a car ride, but only one guy … well, you fill in the joke.

I’m half Portuguese, a quarter English, and a quarter Scotch Irish. I always thought Scotch Irish meant someone from Scotland met up with someone from Ireland and made little mixed-bloods. In reality though the Scotch Irish were Protestant settlers from Scotland sent to Protestant-ize Ireland by their English rulers (it didn’t work), but they later became persecuted themselves by England and many moved to America. None of that is relevant to my story ramble, but I though it was interesting. Anyway, what I mean to imply is that I’m white … in a swarthy kind of way. That’s important because I kinda see Latinos as like me. Granted I’m not from Latin America, and I don’t have any Native American blood mixed with my Portuguese, but other than speaking funny … they are me. Sorta. Once I was working in a mall and someone that looked a little bit like me came up and started speaking in Spanish at me. (At is the correct word. I could feel the words bouncing off me as the lady spoke them). So I know that at least to one little old Latino lady, until I open my mouth I might pass as Latino. Maybe it was the lighting in the mall, or maybe she knew someone there spoke Spanish and I was standing there, I don’t know.

Now, more than two decades after leaving my little town in Mississippi for college (also in Mississippi), then work (in slightly larger towns in Mississippi), and then a job in a big city (in Texas) I have come in contact with people from all walks of life and from all over the world. And let me tell you something. I can’t tell any of you people apart. I often work with people who’s ancestors originated from India, and if they dress the same as some from Latin America, there’s only about a 25% chance I could tell you they weren’t Latino. And as for most Latinos I have no idea if they are Spanish, Portuguese, Latino, or some generic White-mess. I have the same issue with folks from the Middle East, though I have about a 40% chance to tell they aren’t full on White. I have confused some lighter skinned Black folk with Whites and Latinos as well. When Hollywood casts a bunch of Anglos as Asians, I’m the ONE GUY in the theater going, “Wow. Authentic Asian actors. Finally!”

I’m too stupid to be racist. Or am I too racist that it is stupid? No, I don’t think so. At least I hope not. To me racism should really be intentional. I never really understood why race was important anyway. Honestly I never cared. I had Black friends growing up, and I probably could have had a Latino friend if I were cool enough. Now it seems that we live in an age of hyper sensitivity over who is what, and I kinda feel like people have drawn away from others simply because they look differently from each other. I thought America was a melting pot? Or at the very least a stew pot. Sure before you go in the pot you are a carrot, but when you get to the pot and mix around with the other ingredients you start to become something else, something better. You become stew! Not something called a Carrot-Stewian, but delicious stew.

Since I’m too stupid to be racist, AND since I feel everyone has to have a “thang” to help others define them, I’ve gone Full (Extended) Jingo! I am JINGO UNCHAINED!

USA! (and Mexico and Canada!) USA! (and Mexico and Canada!) USA! (and Mexico and Canada!) USA! (and Mexico and Canada!)