12 September 2001

The World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists. The Pentagon was also attacked. Four airplanes were hijacked to do this destruction.
Sounds like some hot new action flick starring Arnold or Sylvester or even Wesley. But it’s not. It’s real.
I told some friends yesterday that I kept blinking my eyes, like I was trying to wipe away the last remnants of a bad dream. And it was true. I spent the entire day in utter disbelief that this could be happening.
There have been other attacks on the U.S. by terrorists in the past. But each of those existed in a world of “isolated incidents”. Yesterday was a concerted, organized, deliberate effort to end lives. No kid with a truck of fertilizer parking next to a building, but hijacked airplanes diving down at the world below that no amount of security or protection could avoid, let alone stop.
Terrorism has existed for a long time. But to us in the United States, except for “isolated incidents”, it was a news story, a movie, a book, a television show. It was on the other side of the glass, over the fence, in the neighborhood down the street. It was second hand, rumor. Yesterday it became real.
For thousands of people yesterday, life came to a sudden and final halt. Minutes before they were probably looking, like most of us who exist in a corporate world, forward to the weekend, even though one had just ended. They joked. They gossipped. They smiled. They laughed. They stressed. They loved. They died.
For millions of people yesterday, life as they knew it came to a sudden and final halt. The world crashed down around their ears. Some of them ran. Some of them stayed. Some of them charged into the discord to see if perhaps they could calm the storm, or perhaps just drag one life from the jaws of death and into the world of tomorrow.
For billions of people yesterday, a dream came to a sudden and final halt. The United States has for 200 years been the beakon of freedom and hope for those both within and outside her borders. The dream of the perfect life in the land of plenty is something that people from all over the world think about. Even if they never work toward it themselves, they knew it existed and that people actually lived there in safety and peace.
There is a dream that is America. It still exists, but for most that dream now seems further away than ever. Where it used to be just out of reach, within our grasp, it is now a few paces away, easier to see than to touch. And in seeing the dream, we see that it is tarnished.
We will recover. America will be strong. Woe be to those who have for the second time in a century tempted fates and awoken the sleeping giant.
Life will go on. People will work. People will live, and love, and hate, and laugh, and cry, and die. People will fly in airplanes, although perhaps giving a second glance to all those passengers who made it through the new security checks. People will visit tall buildings to look out and the beautiful skylines of cities all over the world.
But these people are not the same people from last week. They are more like those of 1941. The people of the United States today have been touched by something that leaves no thing unchanged. Its a message. “Time is short. Life is precious. Live.”
Me? I’m off to get a job. Life goes on, there are bills to pay, and I’ve spent too much of my short precious time here on this Earth doing nothing waiting for life to take me along for the ride.
It’s well past time I put both hands on the wheel.
I’m driving from now on.

21 March 2001

Examination of a quote
“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A quote often misquoted, and I think often misunderstood. Or maybe Johann was just wrong.
Most people, I think, would say that it means that surviving adversity makes you stronger in your faith, you convictions, and yourself. That when you emerge from the trial by fire, you are yourself, as before, only better, more powerful, to use the word from the quote, stronger.
I think this is wrong. A better thing to say would be, ‘What does not kill me, changes me.’
Whenever you are given a trial in life, a challenge, a joy, a pain, anything, you are never the same. Not neccessarily better or stronger, but different. At least you should be. If you are not changed by the events of your life, then you learned nothing from having lived it.
This leads me to a thought I had once and that I still hold on to today.
I have often been a part of a conversation that most people have with friends at some point. Its the “If you could go back and do anything one thing in your life different, what would it be?” conversation.
This can bring out very important information about someone. If they tell you about a missed job opportunity (not a money one, but a whole carreer change) there is a good chance that person is not happy in their job and would be happier if they took the risk and pursued the once missed path. Or they might tell you about a lost love, usually showing that when they get into relationships they don’t fully open up and because they once missed out on love, they’ll probably miss out on more because they don’t want that regret a second time in life. Or they do the opposite and open their hearts to every person to come even remotely close because the thought of missing another chance at love is too much, and so they convince themselves they love people that they don’t. There are more examples, but I’m not going through them all…
My point of this sidetrack, the thought that I had once and still hold: If you are happy with the life that you have and the person that you are, you cannot have regrets. Not real regrets, not the kind that would fit in with the above conversation. You can regret having hurt someone by leaving, but you cannot regret the leaving itself. And you cannot regret opportunities you didn’t take or the ones that you did. You can’t because each and every thing that you have done has shaped and molded you into the person that you are, and if you regret a choice in your past, then you also regret being you and are lying to yourself about being happy.
Am I happy?
For the most part. I regret nothing of my past, its made me who I am. I am a little disappointed in my present, but only when it comes to my job, and I’m working on that.
And my future?
Looks pretty good from here. I’ll let you know when I get there.
So back to the main point. If it doesn’t kill you, you learn, you adapt, you change, you grow… or at least I hope you do.

19 March 2001

Just Talking
Sometimes it just feels good to put things on paper, so to speak.
When I write here, even though I am fairly sure that no one is reading it, it still feels better once I put things here. Get them said, in a manner of speaking.
It’s almost 8 AM here in the city of Atlanta.. Nope, not up early.. up late. 🙂
Finally reached a goal last night that I have had for a long time. Over a year in fact. I made 50th level in EverQuest with my first character.
Of course, its largely meaningless now since Verant made the level cap 60 a while back.
On a good note though, I just sent out an email for a job that I would like to have. Not going to jinx it by talking too much about it. Just, if you read this page, think good thoughts for me.

14 March 2001

If you can’t say something intelligent, SHUT UP!
The title is sound advice.
Previously I wrote about playing the Devil’s Advocate, the good and bad of it. Well, now I’m going to hit on another subject that has come forward thanks to an email I received about the website.
Paul Jaschke, paulj@powersurfr.com, writes:
This is a terrible website.
Insightful words.
You see, I don’t deny that some may find my website terrible. I know I find other people’s sites to be such. But I would never send an email to the site admin about the webpage unless I could point out errors in code, suggestions to help reach his audience, and so on.
Paul here chose instead to do a drive-by “YOU SUCK!” and go about his business, not bothering to offer any insight with his words as to specifics of why the website is terrible.
He did help me out though. I was having a semi-rough night at work and I saw his email and nearly pissed in my pants laughing. What can I say? Morons make me laugh.
I will be emailing Paul later when I can read his email without laughing anymore so that I can write a clear and thoughtful responce.
Or maybe I’ll just respond with:
This is a terrible email.

13 March 2001

The First Step
I did something good today. Something hard.
One of the toughest things I have found in life to do is to take the first step toward anything. The first step is the most painful, and the reason people generally avoid taking them. It is change. Leaving the comfort of what is and stepping toward unfamiliar ground.
I cleaned my bathroom.
Yeah, laugh. Go on.
Now let me explain.
I used to live in a damn near immaculate apartment. I have for quite a while. My mother was always shocked considering the number of years I refused to clean my room. But the first time I moved out on my own, it was a, pun intended, clean slate. I started off putting things away, vacuuming regularly, and so on. And I had a roommate that was also fairly clean. My roommate’s cleanliness, however, turned out to be tied directly to his mood. When we moved to the next apartment, he changed jobs and stopped seeing the girl that he was, and he stopped cleaning. Happy.. clean. Unhappy.. not clean. But it was okay as there was me and our third who kept this tidy. Then I moved back home. My parents had a new house that I had never lived in. I had one room, and I felt like a guest. So I moved out again with a friend who bought a house. It was clean, but he preferred to have a “cleaning day” once a month instead of cleaning along the way. It was his house, so I went along with it. Then decided to get my own place. Ahhh… Freedom. 🙂 This place I cleaned, kept my own schedule, and it was good. Of course, time came that I decided I needed more money, so I moved and took on two roommates. We are slobs now. Well, not totally. We clean enough so that its not filth, but there are stack of books, boxed sitting around, and more.
But today I took the first step, and cleaned the bathroom.
See, the trick I have found is that often it looks more daunting than it is because you look at “cleaning the apartment”, when its actually more managable if you look at “cleaing the bathroom”, “cleaning the living room”, “cleaning the bedroom”, and so on. Making the large task smaller, and less painful steps to take.
Baby steps.

9 March 2001

The Question
When anyone mentions the specific phrase “The Question” it only means one thing. It is the most important question that any person can ask another person in the life. Not because of the question itself, but of all it implies, and all it brings with.
But before I get to that question, I’m going to speak a bit about the second most important question there is, only second to “The Question” but because it is a question that you can ask yourself, there are times when it is THE most important question.
“What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”
I personally have asked myself that question every single day for a long time. As long as I can remember. Most of the time, I had no answer to it. Sometime, the answer started out fine, but whittled itself down to a “sure I can do this for a while” kind of answer.
So I go to Mardi Gras. Did I not mention that? Oh yes. Took a group of 6 down to New Orleans for the Fat Tuesday celebration. Myself, my two roommates, my girlfriend, and 2 of her roommates from England where she goes to school. Had a pretty damn good time too.
Anyway, we are at Mardi Gras and basically everyday I find myself not caring much for the holiday. Just a bunch of drunken people, mostly college frat boy losers, some of whom get naked, and beads. Lots of beads. If you ever go to Mardi Gras, never, ever, under any circumstances buy beads, there will be plenty (more than plenty) thrown off the parade floats at you. And sometimes, thrown HARD. 🙂
Back to it… so I’m not caring much for the holiday, but I am enjoying the city. I need to go back when its not overwhelmed with retards. The shops, the streets, its a very cool little town.
On Fat Tuesday itself, my girlfriend and I break off from the pack and just go wandering around the city after dark. A nice fog settles in over the town giving it that last touch it needed to complete its look of old European streets. We are away from the crowds and walking near the river. We happen upon and bench and sit down just to take in the sights and sounds of the city around us and to talk and hold hands.
Well, before long she heads off find a bathroom, and I’m left there just staring out at the river and listening to the sounds of the party a few blocks behind me and watching a ferry churn the waters of the river. A few stars had managed to peak through the fog and I was trying to figure out which ones they were. Giving up on the stars I go back to staring at the river. And smiling. And my mind just starts to wander around about the usual stuff: my job, bills, my friends, is my car safe in the parking deck, my family, did I leave the stove on in Atlanta, what are the others up to, and more.
And I ask myself that question…
“What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”
… and for the first time in my life I had an answer. Not some half assed answer. No “pretty sure”s. No “for a while”s. An honest to God “This is what I want to do”.
And it felt good. To finally know. To have figured out something for once instead of guessing. And I kept on smiling.
Before long, my girlfriend returned, and sat down beside me. We talked a little, but it was all heading to one point. I wanted to share with her my answer. I wanted to tell her what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And I did. The only way that I knew how.
And I asked her “The Question”.
“Will you marry me?”
She said yes.

23 February 2001

The Devil’s Advocate
In this world, there lies a place for the devil and his advocate.
In my own life I have often played the part of the devil’s advocate in discussions. Sometimes it is done to point someone at a flaw that they do not see. Other times it is done just to force the person to show that they have actually thought of everything.
There are people who are good at being the devil’s advocate. They know when their job is done, or when they simply just aren’t getting through and further arguing is pointless.
Some, however, are not good at it. They turn simple flaw exposing into nay-saying. They extend the argument and drag it out if only to say “It’s not going to work. Can’t you see that?”, even when they no longer can show exactly why.
My patience for nay-sayers is thin.
I admit that sometimes I can be blinded when someone is telling me, and more importantly showing me where my ideas won’t work. But when someone who doesn’t know me at all, and has not bothered to speak to me about the issue goes out in public shouting at the top of his lungs that I am going to fail, it hurts. And when they refuse to listen to me and keep shouting that I will fail, not that I might fail but that failure is a forgone conclusion, I get angry. And as Dr. Banner said to Mr. McGee, “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
The specific case here is with EverQuest, game that I love. I am finally stepping up and leading a raid of one of the Alternate Planes, The Plane of Air (or Sky). I have spoken to a great many people about this zone, and of all the ways to do it. But in the end I decided that while I would keep their advice in mind, I wanted to actually try the zone from front to back and maybe incorporate a little winging it. See, the major thing is, Verant, the game designers, intended this zone to be done with a team of 24 people. this is evident by the fact that when you clear any part of the zone, you get 24 keys to the next part. Now, people have found ways around this, and it is how most people do their raids. I decided that the first rule of my raids would be to limit it to 24 people. One thing I did require was that I wanted 4 clerics, one for each group. Beyond that, I didn’t care who came, I would just build the groups as best I could and we would give it a wack.
One of the people who signed up then proceeded to tell me that we should cancel it, or kick people out and get other people (people who couldn’t be bothered to volunteer and sign up). I told him no, explained my goals with the raid and invited him not to come should he have problems with those goals.
At this point, I would have expected him to either shut up and come along, or shut up and walk away. Instead he continued to explain to me how I would fail if I didn’t listen to him, all the while neither saying if he was still coming, or leaving. He hinted with a “Maybe I won’t go” kind of line but didn’t say he wouldn’t go.
I’ll be the first to admit, my first responce to him was harsh, but only because instead of talking to me in private, he posted all of his doubts in public (I find this to be a cowardly tactic). But the continued nay-saying, insisting that we would fail pushed.
I hate losing my cool.
In the end, all I can say is that people play this game for many reasons. And there are hundreds of ways to achieve even very similar goals. I acknowledge that in others, and I take offence when they refuse to acknowledge that in me.
As for EQ in general. Comments from a good friend today coupled with some feelings of my own have lead me to a long awaited decision…
No, I’m not quitting. As long as its fun, I won’t quit. But the time has come to focus both my time inside EQ and without. I’ll pick a few days a week that will be EQ days, and everything else will be up for grabs.
I leave you with this… This Time of Year by Better Than Ezra.
Well, there’s a feeling in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon.
Yeah, you can go there if you want
Though it fades too soon.
So go on, let it be.
If there’s a feeling coming over me,
Seems like it’s always understood this time of year.
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.
Well, there’s a football in the air,
Across a leaf blown field.
Yeah, and there’s your first car on the road,
And the girl you’d steal.
So go on with yourself
If there’s a feeling that there’s something else.
Seems like it’s always understood
This time of year.
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.
Well, there’s a feeling in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon.
Yeah, you can go there if you want
Though it fades too soon.
So go on, let it be.
If there’s a feeling coming over me,
Seems like it’s always understood this time of year.
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.

14 February 2001

Does she think of me,
when I think of her
all the time
Does she dream of me,
when I dream of her
every night
And does she smile
And does she laugh
She does
I do
You’ll pardon the poetic, but today’s that day. You know the one. The roses, the candies, the cards, the hearts. Valentine’s Day.
While this day is often thought of as the romantic’s domain, I think its also important to remember family and friends. There is all kinds of love in the world, and none of it is any more important than any other. Today should be a celebration of all love, not just romantic love.
That said…
You know who you are.
I love you.

13 February 2001

Been thinking alot lately about jobs.
Been thinking alot lately about jobs.
I just started a new one and, well, I’ve already decided that I don’t “like” this job. I don’t mind going, and it fills the space of the day and makes my money to pay my bills, but its just doesn’t make me smile.
Everyone should find a job they enjoy. I used to think it was enough to enjoy the people who worked with if nothing else, but I just don’t see that anymore because even if you like the people, the little tasks that make the day will slowly drive you insane.
And here I am, slowly being driven insane.
So, how to find a job that I like, that I enjoy.
Well, I often think that I would enjoy working in the computer gaming industry, but to get in the door I have to make one of two sacrifices. Either I scale back my life alot and take a much lower paying job, or I scale back my social life and spend time learning something useful to get a better job in the industry. I like my life outside of work, and making that sacrifice is hard.
Then there is writing, but as with the above, I like my social life and just can’t seem to get myself in a frame of mind to sit and write instead of going out or hanging with friends.
So what do I do?
I’m open to suggestions.

25 January 2001

Not The End
Where do I begin?
I no longer work at Norfolk Southern. I got while the gettin’ was good. And good riddance. I will certainly miss the people that I worked with, but I will not miss the work that we were doing. You can only slam your head into a brick wall so many times before people can no longer convince you that its a GOOD idea.
I don’t know what I am doing with my life, but I’m not worried.
Love doesn’t suck. Complete reversal from my last plan update, although I still want out of this city.
And I am still addicted to EverQuest.
I was asked to write again. To write anything. So this is something.
I’ll do more later. I promise.