Hiatus and Blogging

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This post is going to be fairly short, but that’s all right.

Anyway, if you saw the title, you’re probably thinking “uh-oh! No more blog posts for me!” And you’re partially right. It’s been almost a month since my last post. So actually, you were probably already thinking that. Anyway, yeah.

This blog is, more or less, dying.

But why is that? Well, I am a human. A fairly young human who has a lot of stuff on his plate and wants to accomplish most of it. When I started this blog, I had an awful lot of free time on my hands, and making blog posts was as easy as making a sandwich. But now, I actually have to make real sandwiches. So there’s that. But I also have to learn stuff in order to stop making sandwiches and start doing more stuff like this.

Let’s face it. There’s only one reason I would blog. That reason is to share my thoughts with the world.

But I’m running out of thoughts, and the world…never really cared.

So with that in mind, is there any reason I should keep blogging? Finding the time is difficult. Not many people read it. It’s difficult (very difficult) to come up with an original topic and talk about it for a while, week after week after week. Which is part of the reason why I don’t.

Right now, you’re probably worried that I won’t post anymore. The fact is, I haven’t been posting because I haven’t had a good reason to. Or, at least, I have had something else to do that’s more important (even if it’s not, it’s something I’d rather do). This blog is a way to spend free time. It’s a good way to spend free time, too.

So, with all that in mind, here’s a good ol’ fashioned list of what will happen to this blog.

  • I WILL keep making posts. I don’t know what the frequency of said posts will be, but I WILL make them. Don’t expect much.
  • Due to certain circumstances, I will NOT be making comics anymore. Sorry if you were looking forward to those and stuff. Basically, I’m a big doof when it comes to finding a (free) program that works with my tablet because I’m super poor and can’t afford $600-ish drawing programs for a few funnies that make me $0.
  • I will NOT be adhering to any specific schedule. If I did, it would end in both me and you being disappointed. See my first point, though.
  • I WILL continue to avoid throwing politics or religion into my posts. No opinions on anything IMPORTANT. Because everybody has varying opinions, and if you want someone who agrees or disagrees with you, find someone else. I can’t please everyone with my stance on religion or the election or gay marriage or whatever. What I can try to please everyone with is my sense of humor about trees and stuff. So I’ll be doing that.
  • I will NOT blog about personal stuff, like “I saw a butterfly and it was cute.” I MAY blog about fun injury stories, because violence is funny. I COULD POSSIBLY blog about food, because food is delicious. I DEFINITELY WON’T blog about boring school stuff, because it’s boring.
  • I will do National Novel Writing Month this November. And I intend to win it.

So yeah. That about covers it. Anyway, I should have a post in the next week or so. Probably. Hopefully this post sort of clears things up. If not, here is a quick summary:

I’m busy now. Deal with it.

 

 

 

 

 

Brief Shorts: Message

Hey, everybody! So I’m going to be doing something a little different with my short stories from now on. They’re going to be called “Brief Shorts” because I’m never one to pass up multiple underwear jokes when given the chance, and because they’re, well, brief short stories. But since the word stories at the end kind of ruins the pun, I decided to cut it.

Also, since I missed posting this yesterday, expect something on Saturday (probably a comic). Without further ado, let the Brief Shorts begin!

Message

I don’t hate my job. I really don’t. Sometimes, I wish I had a different job, but I think almost every hardworking American wished for that at some point. I sighed, and continued sorting through the absolute mess of mail.
“Hey, Jim! What’s with the long face? You a horse?” called out Steve. I like Steve — I really do. But he can be a bit…tactless at times.
“Nothing,” I said. “Just thinking about what could’ve been.”
I wasn’t always a post office worker. Before this job, I had a pretty nice job as a freelance photographer. The pay was nice, and I enjoyed taking pictures, but sometimes, something at the shoot would feel…off. Like some major catastrophe was about to happen.
In fact, my sixth sense has saved my life. On my last shoot as a freelance photographer, I decided to go out to eat instead of eating my packed lunch. I just felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there. And — wouldn’t you know — the building caught on fire within the hour. It’s crazy, but I think sometimes, when the time is right, I can predict the future.
“Jim! You’re zoning out!” cried Steve. “Focus, pal, or I’m gonna have to give you a slap on the wrist. I’ve been working on my wrist-slapping technique, ya know.”
“Right. Right, sorry,” I muttered. I continued to sort mail, when I came across something interesting. It would be a normal letter to anyone that wasn’t in my 8th grade class. But I would recognize that handwriting anywhere — Suzy McLoon. In fact, everybody in my class recognized her handwriting. Suzy McLoon wasn’t just the top of her class — she was at the top of our track team, the top of the social ladder, everything. To many, she was perfect. I thought about asking her out on a date once, but my sixth sense pricked up again. I decided against it, and the next day, something happened and Suzy had to move away.
I decided to memorize the return address on the envelope. Well, not really — I took a picture of it with my phone. But it’s the same thing, more or less. But this way, I could at least pay her a visit sometime. That would be a nice surprise.
When I got home, I looked up her address on the internet. I had tomorrow off, and Suzy didn’t live more than 20 minutes away from me. But, I figured that simply showing up to her house uninvited was a bad idea. I didn’t have her phone number or e-mail address, so those methods weren’t an option. I supposed I would have to send her a letter. I wrote up a quick one, explaining who I am, and that I’d like to get back in touch with her again. I sealed it in an envelope and stuck it in my mailbox.
Two more uneventful days passed. I had a nice, relaxing day off, and then it was back to the old grind. When I got back home at the end of the day, I saw that there was a response from Suzy. I took her letter and opened it up.
“Dear Jim,
How have you been? I’m surprised you decided to send me a snail mail letter instead of sending me an e-mail address. I’ve included mine at the bottom of this letter. Anyway, I wouldn’t mind catching up with you. Perhaps you could e-mail me on your off day?
Nothing but the best,
Suzy McLoon
loonysuzy@guggle.net”
That was a real nice letter, I thought to myself. I sent her an e-mail with my next off day — Sunday — and she responded, saying she would like to meet in the park, on the bench in front of the pond. It sounded like a nice date. Was it a date? I wasn’t sure. I still haven’t seen Suzy in person. I suppose I would just have to wait and see what the day would look like.
But over the next few days, the strangest thing happened. I started to get that sixth sense that I always get. And it just got stronger, and stronger, and stronger. But this time, I couldn’t ignore it. I had run away too much in my lifetime. I decided that I was going to take a stand.
Sunday rolled around, and I went to the park bench that Suzy told me about. I didn’t see her anywhere, but I decided to stick around for a little while. Maybe she got caught in traffic. Or maybe she had forgotten about me.
Neither of those were true. Suzy was just grabbing a water bottle from a vending machine. I looked at her, and she was just as beautiful as I remember her being. Perhaps even more so. She had muted blue eyes and fiery red hair, and was wearing a jogger’s outfit.
“Suzy?” I asked. “Suzy McLoon?”
“Is that…it is! You’re Jim, right?” Suzy smiled. “I have to say, I wasn’t expecting a letter from one of my 8th grade classmates.”
The two of us hit it off right away. We had a great day, and by the end of it, we had planned another one. I went home, took a shower, and crawled into bed.
The sixth sense I had was wrong. Not only that, but it was the most powerful one I had ever had. And it was wrong. I wasn’t sure what to do. But at the same time, I was.
My sixth sense wasn’t a sixth sense at all. Every time it had been triggered, it was because there was danger. But sometimes, it would’ve been better to face the danger head-on. I could’ve had a terrible time with Suzy, but I ended up having a great time. That fire that ended my photography career didn’t have to do that — I decided to end it based on a feeling.
After thinking about it for a while, I knew what I had to do.
When I woke up in the morning, instead of putting on my uniform, I grabbed my camera. And I decided to enjoy yet another beautiful day.

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Civil War and Reviews

If there is one thing that is certain about Captain America: Civil War, it’s that a lot of people were excited for it. And, consequently, a lot of people went to go see it. Myself included. But was it good? (Spoilers: yeah.) Anyway, it’s review time! You probably know the drill by now, but just for good measure: I measure Story, Characters, Sound, Production Value, and Enjoyment on a scale from 1 to 10. I also average them all out for a final, overall score, followed by a few personal words.
Now…LET’S
GETCIVIL

Story: The story for Civil War, as far as superhero movie stories go, is pretty average. Actually, if this is your first Marvel movie (how, I can’t fathom why, but whatever), it’s a pretty terrible one to watch for coherence. At the absolute minimum, you need to watch The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which I actually reviewed), Iron Man, and Iron Man 3. It also probably wouldn’t hurt to watch Thor (for a better understanding of the first Avengers movie) and Ant-Man (I reviewed this one, too!). That is a LONG list of movies to watch to get the full experience of the story. If you’ve seen at least most of those, then you’ll have a better time with Civil War. If you haven’t, the story might seem like a hot mess. And really, it kind of is all over the place. Basically, the Avengers are too powerful and abuse their power to go and/or do whatever they want. Obviously, since they’re heroes, they save a lot of good guys and take down a lot of bad guys. However, they don’t always save everybody, which leads the United Nations to impose a few limits on the Avengers’ mobility — a system of checks and balances. Captain America is against the document (because it would limit their freedom and they would save fewer good people), and Iron Man is for it (because by limiting their freedom, fewer innocent people will die at the hands of the heroes). Overall, it’s not a bad plot, but the movie really relies on the strength of its characters to bring it to life. I give the Story a 6 out of 10.

Characters: All right, here we go. There are an awful lot of characters in this movie. On Cap’s side of the war, we’ve got Cap himself (obviously), Ant-Man (the secret ace), The Winter Soldier (close friend), Falcon (normal guy with fancy suit), Scarlet Witch (inhuman powers), and Hawkeye (pretty much just normal). On Iron Man’s side, we’ve got Iron man (obviously), Spiderman (the secret ace), War Machine (close friend), Black Panther (normal guy with fancy suit), Vision (inhuman powers), and Black Widow (pretty much just normal). As you can see, the sides are pretty much evenly balanced. The actual fights are cool, but that’s not the interesting part. I would argue that most of the interesting bits of character development happen with Iron Man (which is odd, given that this is technically a Captain America movie). We see Tony Stark — Iron Man — donating a buttload of money to MIT students. Almost immediately after, somebody tells him that “generosity has a close correlation to guilt.” Which is right on the money for Stark: he is plagued with guilt. As he’s fighting, you can slowly see him ripping himself to shreds because deep down, he really doesn’t want to sign the papers — he just doesn’t want any more innocent people to die, and thinks that the government is the best way. I don’t have a lot of time to talk about the rest of the characters, but I’d like to bring up Spiderman for a second. I applaud Marvel for putting him in the movie. He didn’t get a whole lot of screentime, but it was all great. The other “new” character — Black Panther — is also really cool. The villain is a pretty spoiler-y character, but he is probably the most human villain that Marvel has made. He’s also fantastically well-done. The rest of the characters are pretty true to their previous movie selves (save the Winter Soldier, who has gotten his stuff together by this point). Overall, I’d give the characters an 8 out of 10.

Sound: Hey, it’s a Marvel movie. It sounds great. The more somber parts of the movie are complemented surprisingly well, and the action scene soundtracks will almost always get you pumped up for the fight. It’s pretty great, and I give sound an 8 out of 10.

Production Value: Again, it’s a Marvel movie. The production value never stops improving. Honorable mentions go to Vision and Scarlet Witch for looking…what’s the word…TOTALLY RAD, and whoever set up that one shot where Iron Man fires his repuslor ray things at Cap’s shield and there is a perfect split of light between the two characters. It just looked so COOL, and pretty much perfectly summed up the dichotomy of the two characters. Production Value gets a 9 out of 10. The only reason it isn’t perfect is because there were quite a few shots during fights that were either too shaky or too short, which is a pretty common thing during superhero movies.

Enjoyment: Well, here we are. Did I like the movie? Yeah. Yeah, I did. There are certainly plot holes, but overall, it was a movie worth money. Honestly, I could talk about Iron Man, Ant-Man, Spiderman, and Black Panther until the sun goes down, and after that, I could talk about Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Vision until the sun comes back up again. So yeah — it was a good movie. And really, one worth watching again. My enjoyment for this movie was an 8 out of 10.

Overall, Captain America: Civil War gets a 7.8 out of 10. The story falls a little short, but what it lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in characters and production. If you like Marvel, you’ve probably already seen this movie. If you like Marvel and you still haven’t seen this movie, then go see this movie; you won’t be disappointed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a train to catch.

A hype train.

Headed straight toward the Doctor Strange movie.

 

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Blankets and Life

Welcome to the week! Hopefully it’s been a good one so far. After all, I’m sure you’ve been doing nothing but getting all hyped up for all the new CONTENT I’m making for you! Yeah? Yeah.

Anyway, first up is a Fillosophy. I thought I had more of these written than I actually do, so I figured I might as well make one for you. Today, we’re gonna be talking about blankets, and how they can improve your life — and I don’t just mean by providing warmth and snuggles. Actually, blankets are a little more complex than you think. Don’t take anything for granted, ladies and gentlemen.

Blankets are, of course, usually warm and/or fuzzy, as blankets should be. There are all sorts of blankets out there: throw blankets, wet blankets (don’t be one of these), soft blankets, blankies, and so on. Do not confine your blankets to one specific subset of cloth.

In that way, blankets are a lot like people. Certainly, there are all sorts of different styles, colors, shapes, and sizes, but in the end, they’re all serving the same purpose, more or less. If not the same, then at least they serve some purpose. Some are meant to take care of children. Others are meant to keep someone warm at night. And then there are those who just want to bring comfort to those who need it.

Either way, we as people can certainly learn a thing or two from blankets. You probably have one in your bed, and you’ve also probably never thought about it. Not even once. Except maybe when you bought it. Which is another point: why would you buy the blanket you did? Is it because it was the cheapest? Softest? Most expensive? Or just the first one you see?

Single gentlemen (and ladies), listen up. The way that somebody buys something is often indicative of his/her character. Some people have a keen eye for value and want to make sure they won’t get screwed over. Others would rather not get screwed over, but often get screwed over anyway because they don’t want to cause a fuss. And then, of course, there are those who are doing the screwing over in the first place. Either way, all of these can be applicable to the way somebody buys anything, blanket or not. But since we’re talking about blankets here, assume that that is what said person is buying. Moving on!

Many times, we will often get caught up in the moment and forget what it is that we are really supposed to be doing. We get tangled up in the excess materialism of life, and place our wants before our needs. This has happened to me many a time before, and I’d wager it happens to you, as well. When I want to sleep, I sometimes get so tangled up in my blanket that it can become uncomfortable, and it makes sleeping a little more difficult. Even though a blanket is supposed to help with one’s slumber, they can hinder it, as well. Take caution, and make sure you never lose sight of what’s important.

Finally, there are going to be all sorts of people in your life. There is also a good chance that there will be many blankets in your life. In both cases, it’s best to keep things neat and clean. Keep track of your friend’s birthdays. Keep track of your friends in general, as a start. Certainly, when not in use, a blanket should be folded up and stored in a dry place. I’m not suggesting you do this to your friends, but at least try to treat them with respect. After all, if you don’t treat your blankets with respect, then they will stay dirty and wrinkled. If you don’t treat me with respect, well…well, I won’t become dirty or wrinkled, but I might not want to be friends with you anymore. And then, like a blanket-less slumberer, you will be cold and alone.

Don’t be cold and alone. Find your blanket.

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Carpets and Usefulness

Pretty much everybody has a carpet, or at the very least has been around one at some point in their lives. I, personally, rather enjoy carpets. But sometimes, I think carpeting is a terrible, terrible idea.

Think about it for a second. Unlike a regular floor, when something is spilled on a carpet (such as wine or Coke or blood), it is rather difficult to get out. Well, there’s an easy fix to that. Simply put carpets in rooms where it is unlikely to have things spilled on them. Unfortunately, wherever there are people (or animals), there is blood. Which, especially in the case of humans, means that there’s a chance it will be spilled all over the carpet, and the owner of said carpet will likely say something along the lines of “Aw, come on!” when really that nosebleed you just had was out of your control and you were simply a victim of circumstance.

Carpets do have their benefits, though. I mean, they’re soft, and often can provide something nice to look at when you’ve hit an awkward moment in a conversation and need to look down at your feet for a second. They can also generate static electricity, which can be painful at times, but is almost always fun.

So how can we find a compromise? Well, one solution that some art museums have come up with is to hang the carpet on a wall, which is incredibly stupid and somewhat narrow-minded. After all, when hermetically sealed on a wall, a carpet’s softness, nor its static electricity, nor even its help in awkward situations are useful here. Really, there is absolutely no benefit to hanging a carpet on a wall in such a manner. I get that they’re preserving a piece of history, but still — if you ever get a carpet of your own, then please, do not hang it on the wall. That’s what curtains are for.

Since hanging it on the wall won’t work, then we have to find something else to do with it. Many people decide to put furniture on top of their carpets. This is usually because carpets, like furniture, go on the floor, and there is only so much floor space that can be used before you have to start putting things on the wall, and I’ve already gone over this. Anyway, this certainly lessens the possibility of spillage, due to the fact that there is less carpet to spill on, but this is often outweighed by the fact that the carpet’s softness and beauty is also covered up, making this the easy way out. Don’t forget, however, that there can be a symbiotic relationship between furniture and carpet: if the furniture in question is going to slide around and scuff up the floor, a carpet can make an excellent buffer to prevent said scuffing.

One could argue that such a simple compromise would not be the best. And to that, I simply beg you to consider your possibilities. You can’t have your carpet and eat it, too, although I can’t fathom why you’d want to do that. It’d likely taste like feet (until you get to that wine stain). So simply contrast and compare. Carpets are soft. So are couches. So if you get a couch and put it on top of your carpet, you can have a little bit of carpet, and a whole couch. But if you get, say, a wooden chair, then you’ve lost your carpet’s softness and beauty and only gained a place to sit. If you get a coffee table and fill it with large books with fancy covers (do NOT fill it with coffee; that will also leave a stain), then you can still look down in awkward moments.

Carpets are lovely, and can be appreciated almost anywhere. Except on a wall. By me. So whatever suits your needs, there is a good chance that you can engineer a carpet into your decorating plan. I don’t do decorating, and have no plans to, but if I did, I’d probably recommend at least something that resembles a carpet somewhere in the building.

Just not on the wall.

Words and Power

Hey, everybody! How are you doing? It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Almost a month since my last post. Which is really sad. But I’m gonna try and make things a little bit happier now. During that month, I was pretty busy. There were a lot of things that needed doing, and I was going to be the one to do them.

Or, at least, that’s what I told myself to get out of writing.

See, here’s the thing: I actually enjoy writing these posts. A lot. But I don’t write them as often as I used to, in part because the times that I used to write have been occupied by work and/or late night study sessions. Or I’m just tired from staying up too late studying and/or getting up too early to work. Either way, I haven’t been writing a lot. And here’s the thing: It’s not because I don’t want to write. It’s not because I have more important things to do.

It’s because I told myself that I shouldn’t write.
That it isn’t necessary.
That it won’t accomplish anything.

But the truth is, none of those things are true. In actuality, writing helps me out quite a bit. And I like to fancy myself a fairly decent writer. Are you ready? Here’s the ironic part:

In my head, I wrote my way out of writing.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Literally nobody else in the history of ever has told me I should not write. Except for me. Because OF COURSE my opinion will shatter the many others people in my life have about me. OF COURSE I know what’s best for myself and don’t have to take any crap from anybody.

And of course, that information is wrong. (I have become a big fan of using line breaks for dramatic effect on this blog and I really need to stop, but it looks so NICE…)

Anyway, the main point that I’m trying to make is that words — my words, your words, all words — hold an immeasurable power. There is not a single word in existence that is useless. Even if you make up a word like “Figgledorf” and say that it doesn’t have power, you’ve already (1) used it to prove a point and (2) dug yourself a hole in the ground. Now, you could go on a rant and say “Oh, well, I don’t care what other people think about me.” But if you say something to someone and they don’t respond, chances are good somebody else will hear you and judge not only the person you were talking to, but you yourself. Double judgement! (Note: blah blah, nobody can judge others, blah blah. We all still do it anyway. It’s human nature. And it’s beside the point I’m trying to make anyway.)

And words have power when you don’t even realize it. You may not do anything about what somebody says to you about your hair, but you’re going to stop at a stop sign. The computer you’re reading this on is using code, which is a form of language, which has words. They may be unfamiliar words, but they are words with power nonetheless. What would a computer do without code? Not much, really. Just sort of sit there.

And when you think of words in terms of code, you have to understand that code is delivered through electrical signals. These signals come from a circuit board, which is a physical thing. Sounds that you hear make physical vibrations in the air, and those vibrations travel through your ear, which is full of bone and wax, make it to your brain, and through some miracle you can get offended by it. Honestly, anytime somebody says anything and you manage to make sense of it, you should congratulate the both of you. (Disclaimer: don’t do this, it’d be really stupid.)

But I always like to think of words on the metaphysical plane. It doesn’t really make sense, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that words are more than just vibrations or circuit boards or ink or anything else. For example, love isn’t tangible, which, to me, makes love metaphysical. But love is channeled through actions, chemical reactions in the brain, and the like. Which makes it real. Ink fades over time, stone etchings wear down, and circuit boards break. But Shakespeare wrote a bunch of plays in ink and somehow they made their way to the Internet, which is powered by lots and lots of circuit boards — which weren’t even a fever dream for anyone when Bill wrote his stuff. But they transcended ink and paper because they were understood.

When people understand something, I feel like they tend to hang on to that thing. It’s part of the reason why change can be scary. “I don’t like living with a monster in my closet, but at least I understand that if I wear my tinfoil hat he’ll leave me alone.” Tangents, tangents, tangents. I’m going to go get back to my main point now.

Words have power. That’s my main point. Words are what convinced me to stop writing for a month, and they’re what convinced me to start writing again. The two most diametrically opposed actions — writing words and not writing words — were both performed by, you guessed it, words.

Surprise! This was actually an update post all along! FOOLED YA! Well, kind of. Hopefully, by reading this, you’ve learned something. I certainly learned something by writing it.

I’ve kind of missed a few deadlines with the schedule recently. Remember the whole month-long absence thing? Yeah, chances are good that’ll happen again. Not immediately, though! Because starting this Monday, I’m going to write five posts. One every weekday, ending on Friday. One fillosphy, one review, one comic, one short story (been a while), and one entirely new shiny thing that I want to try. So look forward to that. In the meantime, expect a post this Friday as well.

Peace! And remember to think before you speak.

Or, perhaps more importantly, remember to think after listening.

God and Evolution

All right, so I’m going to throw up a disclaimer here just so we’re clear on everything and anything.

First things first, I am absolutely not a scientist. Curious? Absolutely. But certainly not a scientist. Second, my opinion is based on what I’ve found in my research of this topic. Third, I’m a Catholic. I’ll try not to let this add bias to this post, but hey – every word has bias in it. Deal. Fourth, this is a layman’s viewpoint. I couldn’t hope to simply sum up the discussion that’s been going on for decades. But it works for me, and if it works for you as well, then that’s cool. I guess.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, this is going to be a test run. I just want to put something out there that’s more…substantial than my usual fare. I don’t want this blog to turn into a political newsy garbage-tier blog. This blog is meant to do two things to its readers: cause them to laugh, and cause them to become inspired. Both things, I think, are elements severely lacking on news blogs, Facebook, and just about any other place on the internet that involves politics en masse. What I post here isn’t meant to change your mind about anything. I’m simply offering my perspective to you, allowing you a brief glimpse into my brain. I also want you to look at the world – as a whole – in a better light. To make you wonder “What a beautiful and astounding world we live in.” Because I think, deep down, that’s really true. Some people don’t care. Others care too much. But I just think that as long as we can appreciate the beauty of life, the beauty of change, and the beauty of faith, then that’s really all you need to get yourself through another day. Disclaimer out.

All right, so now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to take a minute to tell you what I think about Darwin’s theory of evolution. In my own words. In one sentence.

Eh…

That’s it, really. “Eh.” Not like the Canadian “eh” that goes on the end of a stereotype, but the “eh” that is usually after the “m” in “meh.” In other words, I don’t really have a strong opinion on it. Anyway, Darwin figured that animals can change over time. A long time. A REALLY long time. Like, older than your great-great-great-great granddaddy time. Like MILLIONS OF YEARS. That’s quite a few generations. 20 million years = 1 million generation-ish things. For humans, at least.

Which brings me to my first point: How could an animal evolve from a deer to a rhinoceros when an ape only evolved into a human? Well, I get the feeling that deer don’t live as long as humans do. Humans usually have babies at an average age of 20 (-ish). Let’s be generous and say deer live 20 years, at best. Now, that’s the absolute top age. That is one old deer. He’s got grand-deers by now, most likely. So in one generation of humans, we’ve burned through 3 generations of deer. That means, more or less, that deer evolve thrice as fast as humans do. Now, I don’t think that a deer actually evolved into a rhinoceros (more on that later), but at least the example gets my point across. The same is true for single-celled organisms – I’d imagine that’s how you’d get such diverse life. But what do I know.

Here’s a fun question – if we evolved from single-celled organisms, why are there single-celled organisms? That’s taking up the “why are there still monkeys” question up a notch or two. Or a few million. But it’s a good question. Again, I’m going to play my “not a scientist” card here. When I think of single-celled organisms, I think of bacteria. Now, bacteria suck for us humans because they make us barf and get sick and die, which really sucks for us. But if we die, the bacteria’s environment goes more or less stagnant. If we don’t, we develop antibodies and perform bactericide, killing every single bacterium in us. Can’t evolve if they’re all dead. So that’s how that works, I guess. Single-celled organisms are in a tight spot where they can’t evolve without dying out completely for trying or dying out over time due to weather. Cells are fragile, yo.

So if cells are so fragile, then how did they survive the galactic bombardment the Earth received over countless eons? Well, most of them didn’t. But a few did, and that was enough, I suppose. Actually, the whole “common ancestor” thing could be a lost cause, if our ancestor evolved a few times and then died out. I mean, what’s the point of looking for a common ancestor if they’ve all vanished? The clue to look for is common descendant, I think – and that seems to fall in line with DNA.

There’s this idea floating around called “irreducible complexity.” Basically, what it means is that something is complex enough that if you take out one part, the whole thing doesn’t work anymore. A bike doesn’t work without a chain. Or wheels. Or pedals. A car doesn’t work without gas. Basically, anything that only works when all the pieces of the puzzle mesh together is irreducibly complex. Things that are not irreducibly complex include paper, bags, knives, and so on. Now, you can add things to these to make them more complex – hilts for the knives, for instance – but since you could also take those things away and the object would still function, they aren’t irreducibly complex.

So, as it turns out, there is an awful lot of stuff in biology that is irreducibly complex. The brain, for instance. Or the eye. Or the stomach. Or…OR…DNA. You see, messing around with DNA is a bad time for the creature getting its DNA messed around with. DNA is a code, and when somebody starts changing what that code means, it becomes very…messy. And usually very crippled. Or dead. Dead works too.

The reason for this, I think, is pretty simple. Probably because I thought of it. It’s because evolution happens over MILLIONS OF YEARS. Trying to take a goat embryo and a sheep embryo and smooshing them together in a lab isn’t evolution. Not really. It’s not natural selection, it’s just…selection. Which, I think, is why we humans haven’t been able to concretely prove evolution yet. We just haven’t had the time. Hey, it’s an excuse that I’ve been using all my life, so I’ll let the scientists get away with using it, too. But just this one time, y’hear? It’s 2016, why aren’t there hoverboards and moon restaurants yet?

All right, so moving on. The title of this post is called “God and Evolution,” but I haven’t really talked about God yet. So allow me to introduce you to our good friend the Creationist! The Creationist believes, from what he tells me, that God created the earth with his beautiful godly hands! And I say, “that’s terrific, that is!” And then he proceeds to tell me that humans have souls, and this separates us from the other animals! “Wow,” I say, “that’s really something!” He moves on to tell me that Adam and Eve really existed! “Cool,” I say, “that’s great. I guess?” But my change in tone doesn’t stop this guy! He then tells me that the Book of Genesis is literal and God created the universe in 7 days! And I say “It takes me that long to make a blog post, at least! How can this cool dude with the godly hands create the entire universe in just one week?!”

You see, the Creationists are great and all, and I really appreciate their use of religion, but unfortunately, their argument just doesn’t hold up. There is no way that the earth I’m standing on is only a few thousand years old. Look it up, there’s all kinds of evidence supporting billions of years of history, and only a few supporting a six-thousand year old earth.

My Creationist buddy gets all defensive now. “But you’re a Catholic!” he says to me. “You have to believe this stuff!”

And to him I say (and all you other Catholics would do well to say it too) is this, which is a direct quote from an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences written by Saint Pope John Paul II:
“There is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points….”

Yup. From what I understand, there are four things a Catholic like me needs to remember concerning this matter:

  • That God created the world all by Himself,
  • God didn’t abandon the world; He is still watching over us,
  • Everybody has a unique soul, and
  • Adam and Eve were real people that really existed.

That’s it. That’s all my faith requires me to believe in. And I do. BUT! That doesn’t make me a creationist. The key thing that I don’t have to believe is that God created the world in 7 days/168 hours/10,080 minutes/604,800 seconds. That’s not a lot of time. I mean, God’s God, and He can take as much time as He pleases to create the world. But I just want to quote 2 Peter 3:8 (Which is a quote from the Bible, the book Mr. Creationist is using to describe how God created everything):
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

Boom. So that’s, what, 7,000 years? That’s a lot of years. I’d be barely a fetus in God’s life. We all would. Not only is this from the Bible, it’s from the first Pope – Peter. You know, the infallible guy? That guy said this.

All right, so I’m going to give you the quick run-down of what I think happened during the first couple billion years of everything.

  • First, God made stuff. That part I get – there isn’t really much recorded history from before the Big Bang, so there you go. God said “Let there be light,” and I can’t think of a more dramatic light to start things off with than the Big Bang. This is “Day 1” in Genesis. God divided light from darkness, stars from space, to-may-to, to-mah-to.
  • Day 2 is water. H2O. Hydrogen and oxygen. Now, boys and girls, it’s time to learn what that whole “you’re stardust” thing people always tell you really means. It means you were basically made from a giant nuclear reactor in space! How’s that for stardust? Anyway, stars are hot enough and heavy enough to perform fusion. Hydrogen turns into helium, and you move on down the line until you get heavier and heavier stuff. Water’s a strong bond, so any nearby hydrogen and oxygen would make steam as soon as it could. When the conditions were right. And remember the whole “God-guided” thing? So yeah. Eventually, conditions were right, God made a bunch of water in space. Done.
  • Day 3 is earth, or ground, or whatever you want to call it. Again, this is fusion. Water is lighter than rocks, so it’s just the natural order of things. Rocks are heavier than water, though, so eventually, space water turns into land water turns into ocean. Pretty simple stuff.
  • Day 4. This is pretty much the “settling down” of everything. It’s still extremely violent, though. We get a big ol’ moon from something crashing into the earth, and that’s that. Stars align into patterns over millions of years. Pretty cool stuff. Everything’s falling into place nicely. Time to pad it out with something. Hmm…
  • Both birds and bees abound. And whales. And trees. And everything else except humans. But it all STARTED with a single-celled organism. I’ll get back to this one, but for now, let’s move on.
  • Day 6, as you might have guessed, is us. People. The final divine creation. And that, my friends, is that. God took a nap after making us. I think. I hope. I’d imagine creating literally everything with zero sleep has gotta be pretty tough on the guy.

So back to day 5 and 6. God created the animals. But since God also created everything, I prefer to think that he shaped the animals. God-guided evolution. God guides us, why not animals?

And there you have it. In a nutshell. God made everything. God guided everything. Natural selection is a guiding process. I don’t see what’s left to argue.

Unless you’re like an atheist or something, and to that I say just omit God if that works. Everything was made. Everything was guided. Natural selection. And if you ever need to ask “What made everything? What guided it?” Well, see the above paragraph.

Hey, so I hope you enjoyed this. If not, don’t hesitate to leave a nasty comment or whatever. If you somehow think I’m wrong on something, I wanna know. But if you pretty much agree with everything I’ve said here, then go ahead and tell me that, too. I like hearing that I’m right. Again, this is just to test the waters of deeper concepts. Or pistachios. Whatever floats your boat.

Stitches and Tables

So I got four stitches.

Yup.

Bye.

No, no, of course not. You wish, right? Obviously I’m going to talk about this. Buckle up if you’re unprepared for the consequences of nasty descriptions of nasty cuts. Or one nasty cut. Four stitches isn’t really that many.

So it was just an average night, I was doing some work, and cleaning up the floor. When all of a sudden – BAM! My hand had banged into the back of a metal table, which was very very pointy. The spot where I banged it was rather unfortunate, too; on the outside of my hand just below where the pinky connects to the palm. Not the worst place to get a laceration (I can think of several other spots on the hand alone that would be worse), but certainly not the best, either. If it was on the back of my hand, or on my finger, then it would be fairly easy to keep it out of the way of stuff. But no, it was on the side. My karate-chopping days were over. (Well, since I don’t know karate, they really didn’t ever begin, but you get the idea.)

Anyway, it bled. A lot. All over the floor. I took a knee (for some reason or other – probably shock), very calmly said “ow,” and promptly squeezed the ever-living snot out of my hand. Despite my squeezy efforts, blood still got all over the place. Eventually, I was smart enough to ask for a towel and then hold it over my head for a while. Which, oddly enough, was the most excruciating part – keeping my hand high and applying pressure. The cut itself didn’t hurt one bit. I suppose it happened to be a clean cut.

Not to go on a tangent or anything, but I never understood that phrase. A “clean” cut. As opposed to what, a “jagged” or “uneven” cut? Shouldn’t the opposite of jagged or uneven be “straight?” Oh well. Also, while I’m in this paragraph, I might as well add that clean (sorry – straight) cuts are probably my least favorite method of injury. Some people hate burns. I get that – melting flesh certainly isn’t pleasant. Some people dislike gunshots. I’ve never been shot before, but I can imagine it’s a unpleasant experience (or rather, since the experience of being shot isn’t really very long, the aftereffects of the experience). Still, there’s something about cuts that miss all the nerves that seriously bothers me. Watching yourself bleed while feeling no pain is an odd and slightly disturbing experience. Not only that, but it just looks really bad. A burn can be passed off as slightly redder/blistered skin, but a deep cut always looks bad, especially when you get a good look at it before the blood leaks out and fills up the hole.

My cut in particular was a laceration, which is a fancy schmancy word for “really deep cut.” In other words, it cut through every layer of skin. Not only that, but lacerations are often wider than other cuts. Mine was, oh, let’s say 2 millimeters wide. Which isn’t very much, but it was probably only about 8 millimeters long or so. Again, a small cut, but it still required four stitches, so not that small.

But back to the actual story. I waited for a while, holding my hand over my head and keeping pressure on it. Or trying to, anyway. Coworkers of mine kept coming to see me and asked how bad it was. “Oh, I don’t mind gore,” they said. “Let’s have a look at it,” they said. So I sighed, peeled the towel off of my bloodstained hand, and gave them a glimpse long enough to see what the wound looked like. “Oh, God!” they would exclaim, “that’s horrible!” The would then shudder and leave. And I would re-apply the towel and lift my hand over my head once again, waiting for the next coworker to ask the same question. I have to admit – it was kind of fun to creep them out a little.

I went to the emergency room with my boss, and we waited a while, filled out some paperwork, all that jazz. Finally I got taken to room 2 – which was right outside the empty waiting room. I have a feeling room 2 was reserved for the lazy wound patients that don’t really matter because they can just get up, take 30 or so steps and leave. Anyway, the not-quite-doctor, not-quite-nurse comes in and gives me a numbing agent (which, when applied, did exactly the opposite of numbing – I felt a pretty sharp burning pain there). He cleans up my wound, and then I sit on the bed and watch myself bleed at a drop a minute for 10 minutes until the PA comes in. (That’s Physician’s Assistant, for those who don’t know. I didn’t even need a real doctor. I’m not knocking the guy or anything; a lot of physicians probably need assistants. But me and my stereotypes expected a real doctor. Anyway.)

The PA gives me four stitches. The problem with the numbing agent (at least, I’m guessing) was that it didn’t numb the area around my wound – just the wound itself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful I had it. I’m just saying that when you stitch somebody up, usually the needle and thread enters from outside the wound. So I felt 8 needle pricks. It wasn’t so bad, really. People say things like “Oh! He needed 70 stitches!” but I have a feeling in those cases the patient is unconscious due to the severity of the wound and therefore doesn’t experience much of the stitching process. Fortunately, I didn’t need 70 stitches. Unfortunately, I felt every one that I did need.

And that was that. He tied up the threads now embedded halfway into my flesh, gave me an antibiotic to take for a few days so it didn’t get infected, and I walked on out of there.

So yeah. Let that be a lesson to you. Don’t bang your hands on the table. You’ll freak everybody out and go to the emergency room. You’ll also experience some very discomforting pain. I mean, all pain is discomforting, but I mean…you know what I mean.

Cameras and Photography

Cameras are really neat, aren’t they? I mean, just think – you can take a piece of technology and use it to capture a moment in time forever. It emulates our ability to form memories from our surroundings. Obviously, there aren’t a whole lot of similarities outside of that one, but hey, what are you going to do.

But do you want to know the best part about cameras? It’s that they can do so much more than a memory. You can’t show somebody else what’s inside your head, not really. But you can show them a picture. Not only that, but the integrity of a photo is rarely compromised, while memories are nebulous and change all the time. (I mean, pictures can be photoshopped, but I’m referring to unphotoshopped pictures for now.)

I took a photography class a little while ago. It was a lot of fun. But the best part about it was that since I had to go out and take pictures, I was forced to not only appreciate beauty, but actively seek it out in places I’ve never looked before. You can appreciate a flower, sure. It’s pretty; most flowers are. But when you take a picture of a flower, you see so much more than the flower. Little details that you would have missed when you look closer at the photo. The way the light reflects off of the petals to give them a glow. The way the interior of the flower looks compared to the exterior. And that’s just a flower!

There are three distinct kinds of shots you can take with a camera, for the most part. What I just described was a close-up. Getting close, finding beauty in the little things. Those were my favorite kinds of pictures to take. I think I enjoyed taking them so much because I felt like I had power. I was bigger than the things I was taking pictures of, and that gave me a sense of pride. And again, it made me appreciate the world around me a little bit more.

Then you have medium shots. These are actually pretty boring, for all I care. I mean, they’re useful, but they typically aren’t considered outstanding photography work. Usually when you take a medium photo, you’re more focused on the subject rather than the photography. A selfie, for instance, is typically a medium shot. And they are in fact about the subject – you. Now, you can hear about and strive for “the perfect selfie” all you like, but is any selfie really perfect if the subject isn’t? I mean, I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, moving on to wide shots. These are my favorite shots to look at. Sweeping sunsets, big blue seas, gigantic mountains, twinkling starscapes, and the list goes on. Basically, the opposite of a close-up, but with the same purpose – to appreciate beauty in the world around you. People see sunsets and starry skies all the time. And yes, most people would agree with me when I say that they’re beautiful. But unfortunately, people seem to forget that.

So I’m going to issue a challenge. Everybody’s got a phone somewhere. Most of those phones have little cameras on them. So, what I want you to do is take one good picture with your phone. Or better yet, a real camera. Walk around, find something beautiful to take a picture of.

In the end, it won’t be the picture that you cherish. It’ll be the memory of the picture. And that’s what makes photography so great, I think. Instead of appreciating memories, or appreciating art, or appreciating the subject, you get to appreciate all of it.

And I appreciate that.

Nursery Rhymes and Sheer Terror

We all remember nursery rhymes as small children, don’t we? Ah, yes, the wonderful misadventures of Humpty Dumpty, Jack, Jill, and others. But we aren’t kids anymore. Which means…CRITICAL ANALYSIS TIME!

That’s right! I’m going to be exploring your childhood. And ruining it. Because some of these nursery rhymes are rather horrific. Others are just plain stupid. Let’s start out with Humpty Dumpty.

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.”
Okay, everything’s going well. One thing I should mention: Humpty Dumpty is totally a dude, not an egg. Eggs don’t have butts for wall-sitting. Moving on.”Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.”
Oh. Oh no. The fall was great — maybe a broken leg, or two? Or even worse — head trauma? Either way, things aren’t looking so hot for our boy Humpty.
“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”
Uh-oh.
So, yeah, a dude just fell off a wall and died. Telling this nursery rhyme is like saying “A dude fell off a wall and died. Not when he hit the ground though. He suffered in agony while Dark Age doctors tried to ‘fix’ him.” Very, very unpleasant. Also, I would just like to bring to attention the fact that THE HORSES TRIED TO HEAL A DUDE. Moving on, let’s look at Jack and Jill.

“Jack and Jill went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water.”
Again, pretty normal. Sending kids to do manual labor is the obvious course of action.
“Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.”
So either Jack’s a prince or his brains are currently somewhere on the hill. Outside of his skull. Man, those kids sure are mushy! Oh, and Jack’s sister (girlfriend?) also hurt herself doing this INCREDIBLY EASY task.
“Up Jack got, and home did trot, as fast as he could caper.”
So Jack went home. No mention of Jill. Jack, did you forget about your friend? I mean, I get it, you bumped your head. But if you’re a trauma victim, you do not abandon another trauma victim who is likely your sister. Also, Jack probably isn’t capering very quickly. Just sayin’.”He went to bed to mend his head, with vinegar and brown paper.”
“Hey doctor! We got usselves a twama victum! Whatcha gonna do to ‘im?”
“Eh. Give ‘im summa dat vingur and paper. Not the white paper, the brown stuff! It’ll fix ‘im right up, it will!”
Right. I’m sure this “home remedy” works wonders. The next time I stub my toe, I’ll just splash some vinegar on it and put my foot in a paper bag. Sure. Why not, right?
Oh, and we’ve completely gone and left Jill for dead at this point. She’ll have to get her own vinegar and brown paper. Let’s move on to something a little more cheerful — Hey Diddle Diddle!

“Hey diddle didde, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.”What on EARTH do a cat and a fiddle have to do with the cow accomplishing a rather astonishing feat? No clue. Let’s move on.
“The little dog laughed, to see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.”
Oh great, more context! Exactly what we need! Except nothing in here is at all useful. Here, I’m going to make up my own nursery rhyme, using the macabre of the first, the stupidity of the second, and the phrasing of the third.

“A boy in blue, with nothing to do,
Decided to stab men in the face.
A puppy recorded it, to show to a notebook,
Who laughed and applauded with grace.”

So there you go. A brand new nursery rhyme! Enjoy! Tell your children! It’ll probably be less traumatizing, at any rate.