Friday, December 29, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's what you DO that really counts

I've said it before and I'll surely say it again: I have no interest in religion, and my life's experience tells me most so-called "religious" folks are selfish, sadistic assholes.

Now that I have said that, consider this: Most of the people who did kind things for me while I traveled are vocal Christians. They are awesome people who honestly care for their fellow human. They gave me rides, they gave me food, they gave me money, and they gave me things I cannot possibly put into words.

However, thousands and thousands of other Christians (and non-Christians, to be fair) passed me by without even thinking about picking me up or even checking to see if I'd died of hypothermia or anything else like that. They just didn't care.

My point is that the majority of them were Christians, and as Christians they take comfort in their belief that their sins will be forgiven. They rest assured that believing in a god and being a Christian somehow makes them better, more deserving, more important than some guy freezing his ass off next to the on-ramp.

Meanwhile, someone else--maybe a Christian, maybe an Atheist--is just around the corner or 30 minutes from encountering the shivering, exhausted vagabond. They have no idea what's going to happen in the coming minutes, but when it does happen, they stop and find out how they can help the poor soul. It's not because they believe in a god or because they don't believe in a god; it's because they have a kind heart.

It's not what you believe that makes you a good person or a bad person. It's not what you say that makes you a good person or a bad person. That stuff doesn't mean shit. It's what you do that counts. And when you do good things for people, it makes you a good person.

I've always tried to do good things for people, but now I know how I can do even more good things for people, so I will. And if I fail, it's on me, and I'll have to seek forgiveness from myself, not some invisible man up in the sky.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A reasonably heavy load

I just weighed myself, both with and without the stuff I've been carrying around for the last six weeks, to see how much weight I've been lugging. Without the bags, I weigh about 167 lbs. And with the bags, I weigh about 211 lbs. So it looks like I've been carrying about 44 pounds of stuff on my shoulders.

The extra weight really did not affect me much except in the beginning, when my body just wasn't used to it. And most of the weight was in a duffle bag slung over only one shoulder, which made it much tougher to carry than if I'd had a more ergonomic backpack that distributes the weight over more areas of my body. That's cool for a couple reasons: 1) Because I had too many shirts, adding a lot of unnecessary weight, and 2) Because I most certainly will use a more ergonomic backpack and better shoes when I head out again in a few months.

There won't be any hitchhiking, motel rooms, or emergency credit cards the next time, either, which will make things considerably more difficult than the trip I just finished. However, the weather will be warmer, so I will be able to sleep outside whenever I have nowhere to stay. I can't wait.

I have learned so much, in so many different ways, over the last six weeks. I can't even begin to explain, but I'll try once I start writing about my experiences.

Message boards

I think I am going to just get rid of the Aimless Forums. No one reads them or participates, and spammers have found their way to them, so I just spent a while deleting a bunch of spam posts.

Screw that.

Back in Ohio

I am home. Wow, what an adventure!!!

I made my way from southern California all the way to Nashville before taking a bus from Nashville to Cincinnati, arriving in Cincinnati at about 5:30 AM on Christmas morning. My brother picked me up at the Greyhound station in Cinci, then let me get a few hours of sleep on his couch before we headed to Grandma & Grandpa's house near Dayton, where no one expected to see me. Needless to say, my presence was a huge surprise to everyone.

I have pages and pages to write about the last leg of my journey--from California to Ohio--and I also have to make some major changes to the rest of the Aimless web site, so keep an eye out. I really want to edit and post some video stuff soon, but I have over 20 hours of video from my trip across the country and back. It will likely take a while to watch all the video, classify everything, edit things, and a whole bunch of other stuff, but I'll be working on it. I hope y'all will enjoy it.

I cannot possibly describe how much pain and joy I've experienced over the last several weeks, but I now know I'm doing the right thing. I can't wait to get out and do it for real, maybe beginning in the spring of 2007 (perhaps March or April).

So much to say. Check back soon.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Heading east

Jeff and I went to Los Angeles a couple nights ago. Didn't really do anything, though. We just spent a couple hours at a Fry's Electronics Megazoo about 20 miles east of LA, then drove into downtown LA on I-10. From there we took the 101 into Hollywood, getting off on Santa Monica Boulevard. We followed Santa Monica Boulevard all the way to Santa Monica, then turned right on Ocean Avenue for a couple blocks before heading back east via I-10, I-405, and I-210.

More to say about that later, maybe. Actually, there may not be anything to say because I've already described everything pretty thoroughly. Yeah, I didn't see much. Didn't even get out of the car. Even though I was only feet from the Pacific Ocean, I never saw it or even heard it. Not exactly what I would have done, had I been driving or navigating.

Oh well, I'll be back someday.

I am now getting ready to leave California. Was planning to leave no later than Wednesday, but that just didn't happen. My sincere thanks go out to Jeff, Don, and Dave for putting me up, feeding me, and showing me around the last couple weeks. You guys are awesome!


Monday, December 11, 2006

Otis Gunn

I talked to my buddy Otis yesterday. Otis is an interesting, eccentric individual. I believe he is about 56 years old. I met him a little over two years ago at the New York Pizza Show.

Otis spends winters in Quartzsite, Arizona. After at least a couple years of planning, he has recently finished equipping his pizza trailer, which I believe he calls "The Pizza Wheel." He keeps it stationed near the flea market in Quartzsite, and he sells slices and pies to the flea market's visitors. Like me, Otis taught himself everything he knows about pizza.

You don't think that is very interesting, huh? Well, dig this.

If you met Otis, you'd likely think he is poor or not very well off because he is a very humble kind of person. He is a regular dude with a heavy Macon, Georgia accent. You'd never suspect that Otis is a millionaire. At least that is the best description I can come up with. All I know is that Otis has more money than he needs. I suspect he is a multimillionaire, but I have not asked him about the specifics. In fact, I know more than I ever wanted to know. Y'see, when Otis came to Columbus earlier this year, we went to Mac's Cafe for dinner and some beers. Well, the beers really opened Otis up, and he started talking about things that confirmed my suspicions. While we chatted, he casually mentioned how he could hypothetically buy some shopping center for a couple million and try to attract this store and that store.

That was more information than I ever needed to know. That kind of knowledge is not good for friendships. And I think shortly after that event, I started seeing Otis as OTI$, even though I tried very hard not to see him that way. I think Otis felt the change, too. Consequently, our communication has been very limited the last 10 months.

I think I am over all that. Although I sure would like for Otis to invest in one of my visions--either Aimless or "Ryan's Imaginary Pizzeria"--I don't see the dollar signs anymore when I think of Otis. The fact is, I thought of Otis as a buddy--a like mind--long before I knew he was loaded. I thought of Otis as a pal even when I thought he was essentially poor.

Well, I'll be leaving California in a couple days. Once I find a ride, I'll be in Quartzsite within a few hours, as it is a couple hundred miles east of here. I plan to stop and see Otis and his pizza trailer; maybe spend the night in Quartzsite. Also, I think maybe I'd like to come back out this way in January and work for Otis, if possible.

I'd also like to spend some time with Otis in the warmer months, if he ends up doing what I think he wants to do. I think Otis plans to hit the road with the pizza trailer, working festivals and just finding towns in which he might sell some pizzas for a day or two. Otis is my Aimless kin, and I really expect him to end up as a very present character in the ultimate product.

Otis is one of the interesting people. You don't know anyone like Otis, which will be evident once you "meet" him.

Surely I will have more to say about Otis before long, and you can bet I will post some footage of him when I get home.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blood Diamond

"Those Guys" took me to see Blood Diamond tonight. It was good.

I will never buy a diamond for anyone. That has nothing to do with my having seen Blood Diamond, but it is related to the things that inspired Blood Diamond. So if there is anyone out there thinking you might want to marry me someday or something like that, I won't buy you a diamond, OK. My conscience won't allow me, just as my conscience won't allow me to EVER shop at Wal-Mart.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Centralia, Missouri

While looking at some of my video footage last night, I was disappointed to realize I missed something that may have made for some good viewing. It occurred in Centralia, Missouri, before I'd split from Patrick and Co. (I'll call them "The Truck Crew" for now on).

We were at a Seventh Day Adventist boarding school in the middle of nowhere, watching their boys' basketball team play a game against a team of home-school kids. Sometime in about the middle of the game, the home-school coach was given a double technical foul for being a dick, I guess. Then, with only about 2:00 left in the game and the home team up 57-30, he threw another fit. He ended up stomping off the court like a little bitch and forfeiting the game.

What a terrific role model!!!

Unfortunately I missed it. Even though I had the camera rolling, I was unaware of what was going on, so I just wasn't taping his outburst. Too bad, because it would have been pretty good stuff.

Earlier, during the game, I was kind of checking out some lady I assumed was the mother of a player. After the coach's outburst, I realized that the youngish mom was the brat coach's wife (as well as the mother of a 7th grader who played for the home-school girls' team).

I had the feeling Mommy was checking me out, too. And judging by the maturity level of her husband, I suspect she would have been willing to get down and dirty with me if the circumstances had allowed the possibility for such an event. Normally I wouldn't even think about messing around with a married woman or a seriously involved woman, mostly out of respect for the person she's with, but I think this lady could have talked me into fucking her for a couple days straight, particularly because her husband was such a dickwad.

Anyway, I probably will never post any footage of this event because I just didn't get the good stuff. However, I might post a few seconds of the coach's wife, if there is any clear footage of her.


Friday, December 08, 2006

The Rainforest Cafe

The Sugar Daddies took me to some mall/outlet mall in Ontario yesterday, where we ate at a joint called The Rainforest Cafe. Apparently there are about 30 of these restaurants in various cities around the country, so you may have been to one before.

Anyway, what a ripoff. Subpar food at very high prices. Basically it is snack bar food ranging from about $12 to $20 per entree. There are no extras in this restaurant to justify its outrageous prices, either. Just a stupid, expensive, fake jungle with annoying animatronic apes making a bunch of noise every 10 or 15 minutes. I have a feeling this company's shareholders are going to realize in about five or ten years that they've made a completely stupid investment. There just is nothing in this overpriced concept that would make the average customer return after their initial curiosity visit.

I certainly won't be back. But I'd love to be the guy to help them fix their doomed operation when it starts collapsing. So if there are any Rainforest Cafe execs out there reading this, puzzled about why your company's profits are declining (which may not be happening yet, but will), give me a call. I'll fix it for you. I'll fix it before it starts happening. What do you have to lose?


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Third strike

My mom called me yesterday to find out where I am, what I'm planning, and stuff like that. My response was that I'm still at Jeff's house in Beaumont, California and I have no plans. (Remember, I am aimless.) I asked her if I've received any mail that looks like it might have a check inside. She said no. All I've received is something from the folks at NAPICS (a pizza trade show in Columbus).

Well, I'll tell y'all something: This is the third time I've been fucked over by someone--that is, not paid for my work--after going way out of my way to do someone a huge favor that no one else would do for them.

I hope you're reading this, Patrick Johnson, because I don't want to sic the IRS on you. But if you don't pay me $250 for the 30-50 hours I worked for you a few weeks ago, you're gonna pay a much heavier price in some other way. Y'see, you haven't obeyed labor laws or tax laws or safety laws or probably dozens of other laws I can't even think of, and you don't have enough power to get away with it. So Patrick Johnson, even though I have nothing against you personally, I am about to report your actions to every agency that matters unless I get a check from you really fucking soon. And maybe you don't believe me, but it will end up costing you a lot more than the $250 I have demanded for my work. You might think of yourself as a republican or libertarian, Patrick, but only real businesspeople receive the kind of unregulated freedom you apparently expect with your illegal business ventures. Conversely, nobodies like yourself must live within reality and face consequences after breaking the law. So do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way? It's your choice. I'm not fucking around here.

And John Hetrick of Columbus, Ohio: You owe me for the work I did for you this past summer at your drive-thru (Arcade Drive-Thru on Snouffer Road, near Sawmill). Originally I calculated the wages you owe me at about $250, but that was several months ago. So after interest and some other reasonable adjustments, John Hetrick, I figure you owe me about $450. And if I don't receive it soon after I send you a letter about it, I will sic the dogs on you, too.

Same thing goes for you, Stella Royce and Todd Royce of Sonny's Pizza in North Charleston, South Carolina. You fucked me over real good, and I want what's mine. Nothing more, nothing less. You owe me $500, after interest and inflation, Stella. And yes, I still expect it after nearly a year and a half. You can find my mailing address on the Aimless contact page.

I have a good heart and it's in my nature to try to help people who need my help, but I've learned a lot from my experiences with these three parties. Principally I've learned that most people in these situations put themselves in these situations. They did it by being greedy and fucking people over, and they never learn from their mistakes. Well, when you fuck me over, you're not just going to get away with it, folks. And although my current status with you three entities is "fucked over," I've learned a lot from the experience. Mainly I've learned not to try to help people like you, so I simply won't do it again. The experiences have empowered me, even if I never see the money I'm owed.

What was that? Learning from mistakes? Yeah, I do it all the time. Y'all should give it a try, too.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thai cuisine in Palm Springs

The Boys and I went to Palm Springs this evening. They took me to a Thai restaurant, which kind of scared me because I had never eaten Thai before. I was afraid I wouldn't like anything on the menu. Well, I tried the stuff and I liked it; I really liked it.

Normally I don't like sweet stuff on meat, like barbecue sauce or any of the other sweet sauces or goops some people use to contaminate their once-delicious beef or chicken or whatever. This was different, though. The sauces at this Thai restaurant were kind of sweet but not overpowering. I could taste the sauce, but I could still taste the flavor of the meat. Additionally, the kitchen staff obviously knows how to cook the various meats, because the meats were juicy and flavorful, with the sauces adding a new dimension to the flavor.

Tonight's episode is one of the many reasons I need to do Aimless. Not only am I gaining immense emotional wealth through this journey, but I am also being forced to open myself to so many new things, like Thai cuisine. Even if I never make a cent from this project, I will have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams because Aimless is helping me become the person I need to be. I am free, and I'm only getting freer. I only wish y'all could experience this feeling.

Oh yeah, and I shaved my beard a couple days ago. I'm still not used to seeing my face and the new shape of my face. I look so funny now, but it's so much easier not having a big, fluffy, ragged beard.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Shakey's Pizza

Jeff and Co. treated me to Shakey's Pizza last night, which I'd only had once previously, in about 1999. I was hoping to eat at Shakey's sometime during my journey for a couple reasons: 1) I wanted to try it again to see if it is as good as I remember it; and 2) I received an e-mail not long ago from a visitor to the Aimless Pizza Page who wanted to know if I knew how to replicate Shakey's Pizza. So now that I have tasted Shakey's again, I have some ideas about how I might replicate it. However, I have not had a chance to try yet.

After dinner at Shakey's, we all headed to the movies to see Casino Royale. I'm not really what you'd call a James Bond fan, but I guess it was a good movie.

That's all for now. I'm sure I have a million things to say, and they'll probably all come out at the same time, so keep an eye out for the next entry.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Short entry

I've been sick for a few days. Fortunately I've been able to stay at Jeff's house during that time.

I have a fat, thick beard. It will be gone later today.

I think Michigan is probably a better team than Florida, but Michigan already had their chance against the Buckeyes, and they didn't win. So even though I really don't like Florida, I think they belong in the national championship game ahead of Michigan because they haven't already had a shot at the Buckeyes. We'll see how it turns out in a few hours.

Don't know when I'll start heading back east. I'm out of my medication, but I'm dealing with it OK.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Some people and stuff

I want to mention a few people who have helped me so far or who have been interesting enough to get the camera rolling.

First I want to mention Dennis Cox, who is the first person to ever pick me up while hitchhiking. He stopped to pick me up in Richfield, Utah, and gave me a ride to Cedar City, where he lives. We had some interesting conversations during the ride. He said it was his first time picking up a hitchhiker, and that he actually passed me by before circling around to pick me up. Thanks, Dennis.

Next up is Tony Parra. Tony is the truck driver based out of Cedar City, Utah who took me to Vegas. He was heading to Los Angeles when he picked me up. In his Mexican accent (and my paraphrasing), he told me he stopped because he thought I was a chick. He told me I was welcome to accompany him all the way to LA if I wanted to, that he would be heading back through Vegas that night. I thought about going all the way to LA, but I ended up having him drop me off on I-15, underneath the Tropicana overpass. I then walked from I-15 & Trop to UNLV/Maryland Parkway. Thanks, Tony.

One interesting person I met in Vegas is Joe Sacco. Joe is an activist for the homeless. Not only does he do things to help the homeless, but he also lives a simple life, not unlike the homeless. I got some some really good footage of him as he did some dumpster diving behind Einstein's Bagels near UNLV. He is one of many people who knows Einstein's dumps two bags of perfectly edible bagels every day. And like the others, he took what he needed and left the rest of it in good condition. Keep an eye out for some of this footage.

Another great person I met is Adam, the overnight bartender at Cheers. I don't know Adam's last name, even though he has e-mailed me, but Adam is also a professor or an instructor at, I believe, the UNLV Department of Film. He showed me some important things about the camera I am using and was generally a friendly guy. In his e-mail to me, he said he'd like me to make him some pizza. I said it would not be possible at this time but that I'd like to do it maybe next time I get to Vegas. Thanks for the help and great service, Adam.

The last person I want to mention right now is Hamilton Chase Titus. Hamilton was kind enough to let me crash on his couch the first night I was in Vegas, even though he just met me that night. He kind of drove me nuts for a few hours because he was really, really drunk, but he is a good guy and I appreciate his kindness. I have some interesting footage of Hamilton drunk. Maybe it will make the cut for the Aimless Trial Run. Thanks, Hamilton.

Thanks, everyone. I hope you're all keeping up with Aimless.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Boy I need a laptop

There is so much to talk about right now because I have had such an incredible, exhausting experience the last couple weeks. However, because I am borrowing a computer, I'll keep it pretty short.

I intended to spend maybe a couple days in Vegas before heading back toward Ohio, but I ended up staying there for about 9 days, I think. During my stay, there were a couple nights that I didn't have anywhere to sleep and didn't want to waste energy or money on getting a hotel/motel room, so I hung out at Cheers (bar) all night. I want to thank the bartender, Quincy, for putting up with me and letting me get a little nap one of those nights.

I ran out of money in Vegas (don't ask), but a couple people were kind enough to give me some before I headed back out on the road. First a bartender at the Freak'n Frog, Bonnie, gave me five dollars from her night's tips. Then Eric Johnson, a guy I used to know when I lived in Vegas (but not very well), slipped two twenties into my bag after he gave me a ride to Tropicana and 95, where I tried to find a ride out of town. Now that's just kindness beyond what anyone could expect, and I appreciate it immensely.

After Eric dropped me off near the Tropicana on-ramp, I waited four and a half hours for a ride before finally realizing I wasn't going to get a ride there, so I started walking south (off the highway). I figured Tropicana was a horrible place to get a ride because it's all local traffic. After a couple miles of walking, I made it to Sunset Road, where I caught a bus to Sunset Station hotel & casino and got a room for the night.

I ended up staying at Sunset Station for three nights before finally getting back on the road. (That will never happen with the real Aimless.) When I finally tried to catch a ride away from there two days ago, it was cold and very windy--cold and windy enough to keep me from standing on the on-ramp for very long. So I got me some food at In-N-Out Burger and warmed up. I then went back out to the on-ramp to try again, but after about 15 minutes of cold, heavy wind in my face, I walked to the Chevron station and kept from loitering by putting a buck into the penny poker machine. I'd hoped I might find a ride from the gas station, but it didn't happen.

Then it occurred to me: I'd seen a bus turning from Sunset onto 95 while I was trying to get a ride. The bus said "402" on it. So I asked the Chevron employee if they had any bus information. They did. I found the page with the 402 information and learned that the 402 bus goes to Boulder City, so I was out the door, looking to catch me a 402 bus.

The bus was late, but it arrived. It took me to Boulder City and I found an overpriced cheap motel room. I walked down the street to a retaurant/bar called Tony's, where I ordered some food and talked to my buddy Jeff on the phone. See, Jeff was coming back west from Maine, and he was in Arizona at the time. Jeff and his friend Don ended up meeting me at Tony's, where we hung out for a bit and got some more video footage of stuff. Then we all went to my motel room and shot the shit for a while.

Eventually Jeff and Don headed out, back toward California, but they were back within ten minutes. They were tired, and they thought I'd offered to let them stay in my room, so they decided to come back and check about it. I said no problem, and they stayed with me two nights ago. We all left my motel room together for some breakfast/lunch before deciding where Jeff and Don might take me.

I knew it was coming. I knew I was going to end up in California with Jeff and Don, instead of Hoover Dam or Kingman, Arizona, where I would look for a ride eastward. So here I am in Beaumont, California. We got here yesterday afternoon and haven't really done anything yet. I don't know how long I'll be here, and I don't really care. I am just about out of my medication and I was supposed to see the doctor three days ago, but I'm doing all right. I didn't take any pills yesterday and I haven't taken any today, but I think it's easier than some of the other stuff I've put myself through so far.

One thing I've learned is that I really need a laptop before I set out to do the real Aimless. If I can't update this blog more frequently, then I'll lose people's interest. So I think I might find a part-time, temporary job whenever I get home, to save up for things like a laptop.

Well, I guess that is it for now.

Until next time... Ryan

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'm onto something good

Hey y'all,

This is fucking awesome. I've been in Vegas for about 5 days now. For those of you who don't already know, I lived in Vegas for four years. This is the first time I have been here in five and a half years, and not everyone has forgotten me. In fact, I am using Josh Ellis's laptop to write this entry.

This journey is really tough; probably tougher than I expected. It involves a lot of pain, both physically and emotionally. However, the pain is one of the best feelings I've ever experienced. I can't explain it, but somehow this experience has proven to me that I was meant for Aimless and Aimless was meant for me.

I have an abundance of really great video footage already, without really trying. I intend to put some of it up on the web site shortly after I return home to Ohio. I can't wait to watch it and work on it, and I can't wait for you to see it.

I hitchhiked from Richfield, Utah to Cedar City, Utah several days ago, then I hitchhiked from Cedar City to Vegas. It was liberating or something. It's fun and scary and interesting. Certainly a new experience.

I think I'm going to head out of Vegas on Sunday. Gonna make a b-line to Ohio so I can see the doc. I have so much to say, but I hear a beer calling my name right now. You can be assured I will have pages and pages to write when I get back home. I'd love to get some phone calls from anyone lurking. 614-738-3867.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Let's get this started

I think I'm going to break some of my Aimless rules during this unexpected prototypical Aimless trial run. It just wouldn't make any sense to play by the rules right now because I am not properly equipped. For one thing, I am wearing horrible walking shoes and my stuff is packed in two bags, instead of one large hiking backpack. Also, I am in the middle of one of America's most desolate and unforgiving regions (Richfield, Utah), so it would be stupid to head out on foot.

Here's what I think I'll do: First I'll get some stuff I need at K-Mart, like videotapes and water. Then I will head to the westbound I-70 on-ramp, where I'll write "Aimless" with a Sharpie on a page of my notebook. I'll then hold up the notebook for passing motorists to see. Maybe one of them will pick me up.

Why westbound I-70, instead of Ohio-bound I-70?

I've decided to go to Vegas, where I will try to bump into some people I knew when I lived there. Maybe I can get some lodging with an old friend for a night or two. Can't stay long, though, because I have to get back home for a doctor's appointment in 9 days.

If anyone I know in Vegas sees this and would like to meet up with me somewhere, give me a call at 614-738-3867.

I gotta get going.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Aimless is for real!

So much to say, yet so much other stuff to do...

I am alone in Richfield, Utah right now, in a Travelodge motel, after becoming entirely fed up with the bullshit I've been dealing with for the last few days.

Long story. Where to start?

I left my travel partners a few hours ago because I just don't need the shit I've been dealing with. In fact, that's exactly what I said to 1eyeJack (who I'll refer to as Patrick from now on). When he asked me what was up, I said, "I don't need this shit," and I walked off to begin Aimless. I'll explain in further detail whenever I get back home.

So tomorrow I'm going to start walking. Should I continue going west or should I head back toward home? Keep in mind, I am in a desert in the middle of nowhere right now, so I have to make some wise choices.

Wow, this is awesome, but it is scary as hell, too.

I have so much to say right now, but my mind is too swamped to spit it out. Plus I'm tired as hell. Maybe I'll get back to this computer tomorrow after I check out. Besides, I'm in no hurry to go anywhere.

One last thing: Way to go, Buckeyes!!! I only got to see the fourth quarter (which really pisses me off), but I'll be able to watch it on tape when I get home.

If anyone has any ideas about where I should go from here, call me at 614-738-3867 because I probably won't have access to any of my e-mail accounts for a while.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Goin' to California...

...with an achin'... in my heart.

Actually, I'm just going to California. No aching.

I just got a call from 1eyeJack in Cedarville. He needs someone to help him drive to California and Texas to pick up some stuff. And he needs to leave like NOW, so I have no time to write about it. Hopefully I'll have some computer access along the way, so I can update and stuff. Gonna try to take a camcorder and get some interesting footage.

See y'all soon...


You should read this

This is really good. You should read it. That's all.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm starting to feel some momentum again

A little over a month ago, I received an e-mail from Chris Weaver, who ended up on the Aimless web site via some web surfing. Chris was kind enough to provide some feedback about Aimless, which I appreciate immensely. Some of his feedback is actually very similar to some of the discussions I've had with Jay on this blog. (You are a guy, right, Chris?) But he also said some things that I haven't heard from anyone else, some things that really impressed me.

Chris's letter follows:

I just stumbled upon your website. I have had very similar ideas for making a documentary. I'd be happy to help out. But I must say after reading the whole site, you are putting way too much emphasis on the gear. You can shoot a film like this with a 200 dollar dv camera and get the exact same impact from the story as you would if the pixilation was a tad better. Its a story you are after not production values, plus I can tell you from years of experiance dragging gear all over the world that you will get so sick of all that stuff after the first week. That is, if it is not stolen from you or you end up having to pawn it for survival funds.

Anyhow I'd be happy to work with you on the project if you need it. I would make sure you really want to do it and are not just putting up walls (in the form of unnessisary expensive gear) to prevent it from happening. Also you might think about going at it half=way. Just spend a week or two documenting your city or state via the methods you propose. See if it yields something worthy of editing. I find that these sorts of stories are a million times easier to cover when you are in a completely foreign culture because people are much more willing to invite you into their lives but if it is in your own culture you are much less of a novelty and people are eager to pass you buy. Have you thought of maybe going to an english speaking country like Belize or Guyana and trying this?


The thing that really impressed me was his comment about putting up walls. I even replied specifically to that comment, saying, "I like your psychological insight about putting up walls. The question here is: Could a psychologist or psychiatrist have seen so deep? (That is, assuming you are not a psychologist or psychiatrist.)"

But here's what really impressed me about the comment: He was right. Not completely right, but very close to dead center. Even before receiving Chris's e-mail, I knew something was holding me back, keeping me from going out and making Aimless. But I also knew exactly what was holding me back. It was Pinky.

Even though Pinky seemed pretty healthy this past summer when I launched the web site, I still would have had a very difficult time leaving home for who knows how long, had I received adequate sponsorship. Even though it seemed that Pinky might end up living for several more years, I don't think I would have been able to leave him behind, because I've too often witnessed how quickly feline leukemia takes them away.

I didn't feel any kind of obligation to Pinky; I just loved him so much that I couldn't have left him, knowing I may never see him again. That may sound kind of corny, but I know that cat loved me way the hell more than any person has ever loved me. And I'm not worried if anyone thinks I'm some kind of weirdo for loving a cat so much. The fact is that Pinky's love helped me through some of the toughest times of my life. That kind of love is more important than what people think of me.

Anyway, Pinky is gone now, and there is nothing else holding me back.

Well, winter is holding me back right now. I know I could do it in winter just as well as I could do it in spring or summer, but I don't want to start in winter because I don't want the opening scenes of Aimless to be colorless and lifeless. I don't want to start in winter because that would require heavier clothes, thus more stuff to carry. I don't want to start in winter because I haven't learned to beg yet; I haven't learned how to convince people to open up their homes to me and feed me. And if I can't go out and consistently find warm places to spend my nights, then Aimless might just kill me. So I plan to wait until perhaps March or April. And once that time of year comes around, there will be nothing holding me back because Pinky now lives in my heart and my mind.

Getting back to what Chris said...

Both Chris and Jay have said that I should just go out there with a cheapo digital camera instead of holding out for someone to donate funding or a $2,000 to $3,000 camcorder. (Betty, did you say I should do it that way, too?) While I've certainly considered using a cheap camera, both before this web site existed and during its existence, I have been very hesitant to commit to that idea.

Not anymore. I think I've made up my mind to go ahead and use a cheap camera. I honestly don't know if Jay or Chris or Betty influenced this decision, but y'all may have. I really can't identify what has turned me in this direction, other than the emotional and intellectual roller coaster called life. If there is any particular thing I can point to as a catalyst for this decision, I think it's that I feel much simpler right now. Maybe Aimless is supposed to be made on a cheapo camcorder. Maybe that's what will ultimately make it attractive to viewers.

So I guess my budget has shrunk quite a bit now. Let's see what I'll need:

A cheapo camcorder;
At least 200 hours' worth of videotape;
Maybe a laptop;
A good hikers' backpack;
Good walking shoes;
Sleeping bag?
Compact tent?
A few changes of clothes.

I've surely omitted some important stuff, but probably nothing very expensive. Besides, I already have some of the things on the list. So basically what I'll need is a camera, the tape, and maybe $500 worth of other stuff. The laptop probably is not a necessity, but it would be nice to have one. So I guess I'm looking at about $2,000 to $2,500 worth of stuff (including the laptop).

I'm no longer worried about sponsorship. If people don't want to sponsor Aimless right now, then fuck 'em; that's their loss. I can easily get what I need. But when sponsors come knocking on my door after I hit the road or begin post-production, like I know they will, I won't be shy about demanding big money. I won't be in a rush to make deals with anyone, either. OK, I'm digressing in a direction I don't want to go right now.

Chris, I'm curious to know which Chris Weaver you are. Are you the Chris Weaver who works for a television station in North Carolina? Are you the Chris Weaver who had something to do with Independence Day (aka ID4)? Neither? Both?

Hey, if you're actually someone important, I respect that. I won't start nagging you or anything. All I know is that you seem to know a lot about some of the stuff I need to know about. If so, I hope you maintain an interest in Aimless. And I hope that if I ever require your expertise, I'll be able to provide something equally valuable in return for that expertise.

I think I intended to say a whole bunch of other stuff, but it's not coming to me right now, so I gues I'll sign off for now and write about the other stuff whenever it comes back to me. I wish I could let y'all plug into my brain and experience my thoughts and stuff. The thoughts just never stop, and I have such a hard time keeping up with them.

OK, I may be back soon.


Mai's America

I just finished watching an awesome documentary called Mai's America on Free Speech TV (which is only available on Dish Network). It's about a Vietnamese girl named Mai who came to the United States to spend her final year of high school as an exchange student in (or near) Meridian, Mississippi.

Mai begins her American experience with a host family you might call, uhh, rednecks. (That's what they call themselves, anyway.) Both of the parents are unemployed and the teenage daughter seems to have raised herself. The home is not a happy place to be; it just blows my mind that this family could have been deemed worthy of hosting an exchange student. Not that the hosts are bad people or anything; the household is just clearly not a healthy environment for anyone, let alone an exchange student. Mai agrees.

Before I get in very deep, let me describe Mai a little bit.

Mai is a beautiful person. I'm not just talking about her physical appearance; I'm mostly talking about her energy and the gleam in her eyes and her heartwarming smile and the empathy she shows for all varieties of people. She is caring and curious. She sees the world through everyone's eyes, while those around her seem only capable of seeing through their own eyes. She is the kind of person you just want to be near.

In the beginning of the film, it's easy for the viewer to think of Mai as naive or uneducated because she has just dived head first into an alien culture. But right away, as she is shown interacting with her host family and at school and with new acquaintances, it is clear that Mai possesses a simple wisdom that somehow eludes almost all Americans. All the people she meets are so narrow-minded and judgmental, but Mai is genuinely friendly to everyone. She treats everyone with so much respect, and she is such a positive soul, yet it seems like everyone makes her feel like a misfit.

Except for one person. Early in her American experience, Mai begins a friendship with a gay drag queen named Chris, I believe. He adores her and treats her very well. I think they can both relate to each other because they both know how it feels to be a total outsider.

After several months of living with the redneck family, Mai decides she needs a change, so she moves in with a new host family. Her new host family is a young black couple who immediately provide a much more positive environment. But even though she has found a much better place to live, she ends up frustrated once again after the couple's relationship tenses and the wife starts preaching about how Mai's gay friend made the decision to be gay. It was not a preachy kind of preaching, but Mai was clearly frustrated by the host mother's refusal to step into the shoes of a gay person.

Mai also becomes frustrated when her school friends, who don't know she has a gay friend, begin speaking judgmentally about gay people. So even though she had already asked her gay friend Chris to be her prom date, she ends up going to prom with a Spanish exchange student instead. Although the film does not show her breaking the news to Chris, I think he understood why she changed her mind. Interestingly, though, Chris later reveals that he has torched all his drag queen gear and may have chosen to stop being gay. (Don't ask me how that's possible.)

Eventually Mai gets accepted to Tulane University and earns a scholarship that takes care of about half of her expenses. To help pay her tuition, she busts her ass as a waitress, yet she still feels like she's not living up to her end of "the deal." Soon enough she has to drop out of school because she can't afford it. Then her mother lets her know she can't come home to Vietnam because she has shamed her family or something.


In time Mai ends up in Detroit, painting fingernails and toenails, being a genius slave for stupid people, before going back to Vietnam.

I wish I could explain clearly how this film made me feel. For an hour and twenty minutes I had a smile on my face because Mai is such an amazing person. She's pure goodness in every way. She's so insightful and thoughtful and amazing, but no one seems to recognize how much she has to offer her world and the world.

But it damn near breaks my heart, too, for a couple reasons. First of all, I can't understand how people fail to see the incredible person in Mai. Second, I guess I know how it feels. I believe that I, like Mai, have so much to offer the world, but no one else sees it. And I'm just puzzled for both of us.

I want to give Mai a big hug, the kind of hug that really lets someone know you care. I sincerely hope she has found a place where she can fit in, and I hope she's doing well. And if she ever happens to stumble upon this entry, I hope she contacts me because I really feel the need to know her.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lonely pizza

I just mixed up some pizza dough for the first time in almost a couple weeks. I guess I haven't had much interest in pizza lately because I used to share my pizzas with Pinky just about every day. He loved it.

Now that he's gone, something special will be missing every time I make a pizza. I could start sharing pizza with Homer or Twerk (T-werk), but it will never be the same as pizza with Pinky. That's one of the many unique bonds I had with my little man.


A very big game

Let the shit-talking begin.

As we enter the week leading to the biggest Ohio State/Michigan game ever, I think it's funny that no one seems to realize Ohio State has been beating everyone with their "C" game this year. We haven't seen shit from them yet, offensively, because they haven't needed to show anything. While other contenders have used the second half of games to purposely run up scores to impress pollsters (or to hang in there against crappy teams), Ohio State has spent their second halves trying to improve. Usually they end up scoring a lot anyway, but that's not their objective. That's why Jim Tressel is 4-1 vs. Michigan and 4-1 in bowl games (3-0 in BCS games), with most of those bowl wins being blowouts.

Next Saturday at 3:30, Michigan comes to the Shoe. Regardless of the teams' records, it should be a great game because it is Ohio State versus Michigan. But we all know this meeting will be a little different than every other meeting. This one is special.

Ohio State could end up winning a close one. Conversely, Michigan could end up winning a close one. Personally, I don't expect either of those possible outcomes because Ohio State is loaded with phenomenal players who also happen to be team players. Ohio State doesn't fear Michigan anymore, nor do they drown themselves in unnecessary anxiety in the days leading up to the third Saturday in November. Unlike the Cooper years, this is just another game for OSU. But don't get me wrong; it's still "The Game." (And don't believe anyone from either state who EVER tries to tell you otherwise.)

My Prediction: A welcome back to reality for the team from the state up north. Buckeyes will lead 38-14 in the third quarter, then allow the Wolverines (who, by the way, taste like chicken) another 10 desperation points as Ohio State runs out the clock instead of running up the score. Final score: 38-24 Buckeyes.

But that is not the end of it. Later Saturday night, celebrations on High Street will become minor rioting, but only AFTER the asshole cops start shooting tear gas at everyone. Of course, the media will never mention the cops' provocation in their sensationalist stories. Consequently, the nation will continue believing the myth that all OSU fans are violent arsonists.

They'll be comin' to my citay...

Go Bucks!


Friday, November 10, 2006

You lost me, CBJ

Wow, you guys really suck. Is it the players? I don't think so. Is it the coach? I don't know. Is it the organization? Probably.

For whatever reason, the Columbus Blue Jackets blow ass, and I have no interest in watching their shitty games anymore. And Fox Sports, you suck too. Because of your shitty coverage, the games suck even when the team doesn't suck.

So I should go to the games to avoid such shitty coverage, you say? Yeah, right. If I don't want to watch them on TV, why would I want to pay to see them live? Besides, the owners made my decision for me when their greedy asses locked out the players and forced them to take pay cuts just so the owners could make a profit without having to do their jobs right.

Fuck you, NHL owners. Even though I like the game, I hope you all go out of business.

In case you might be wondering how this fits into my beliefs about treating people how I wish to be treated: If I was one these rich motherfuckers, getting even richer by ripping people off, I would expect and deserve this sort of hostility from regular folks like the real me. So there ya go.


Jesus died, Part II

Because I added the content of this post to Jesus died for my sins, I no longer need it here. If you're interested, the post is about why I want to know a particular Christian college student better. I think it is a very good read.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Jesus died for my sins

OK, so I was standing in front of Dino's last night (in Yellow Springs), smoking a cigarette, when an attractive young lady approached me and asked if I wouldn't mind answering some questions. She warned me that it was kind of personal stuff, in case that would make a difference. I told her to go ahead.

The girl introduced herself as Carissa, I believe, at which point I introduced myself as Ryan. After the introduction, she said she and her male companion (who was still inside Dino's at this point) were from Cedarville University. By now I pretty much knew what was coming because Cedarville is a Christian school (Baptist, I believe).

Carissa asked me if I had any strong beliefs regarding God and spirituality and whatnot, to which I answered, "Yeah, I have very strong beliefs, but I'm always open to the possibility that I may be wrong, and my beliefs may change if I see evidence suggesting I am wrong." She then asked me to reveal my beliefs. Like usual, when confronted with such a task, I was not exactly prepared to explain my beliefs because I don't think about it a lot. That is, I don't go around trying to convince people to believe what I believe, so I don't keep all the justification for my beliefs hovering around in the easy-access zones of my brain.

I guess it's kind of like trying to explain my bedroom or something. My bedroom is what it is, and I don't have to think about it much, nor do I have to memorize things about it or have faith in it; I just sleep in it. And if someone asked me to describe why I don't feel my bedroom is some kind of mystical place, I wouldn't know where to start. Similarly, my beliefs regarding God and spirituality come from what I see, what I experience, and also what I don't see or experience. In other words, there is absolutely no evidence pointing toward the existence of a god, so I don't think about it much, nor do I spend any time trying to rationalize my clearly rational stance. So, unprepared to explain why I don't believe there is a god, I told Carissa something to the effect of, "I just don't see it (God)."

I told her I do my best to treat people right. Not because someone told me to or because some book told me to, but because I believe that's the right way to live. I figured that out on my own, and I think that's a lot better than doing it only because you've been ordered to do it. I know I don't always succeed, but I honestly try to treat everyone how I would like to be treated. And when I fail, it's in my nature to punish myself pretty harshly. The best part about my way of living is that it's inherently sincere. (This paragraph alone makes God meaningless, whether he exists or not.)

But that is not the point of this entry. It was just the introduction--an establishing shot.

During my conversation with Carissa, she asked me some questions regarding how I feel about gifts and giving. For example, when someone gives me a gift (which doesn't necessarily need to be a physical thing), do I feel obligated to reciprocate the gesture or repay the gift giver? Or when I give someone a gift, do I tend to expect something in return for what I've given them?

I told her that when I receive gifts or favors, I do feel somewhat obligated to reciprocate the gesture, but I don't believe the gift giver should automatically expect anything in return. I mean, they had a choice: Either give a gift or don't give a gift. No one made them do it, and no one made them not do it. Similarly, I told her that if I choose to give someone a gift or do them a favor, I have no reason to expect anything in return. If I have chosen to give someone a gift, I have done it according to my own free will, out of the goodness of my heart, and I would be an asshole to expect any kind of repayment in return for my gesture. If that doesn't make sense to you, please ask me to elaborate.

Soon enough she got to the "Jesus died for your sins" spiel. Yeah, I've heard it a million times. Whatever. However, unlike everyone who has ever said "Jesus died for your sins" in my presence, she actually made some sense of it. For once, it was not just a meaningless, parroted talking point.

How did she make sense of it?

She likened Jesus's life to the gift question. She said Jesus led a perfect life, a life without sin, specifically for people like us. As a gift to us, he paid for our inevitable sins with his life. If we accept his gift by letting him into our hearts and by repenting (or something like that), then our inherent sins will be forgiven and we will receive another gift: eternal life in heaven with God. But if we don't accept his gift, forget about it.

Now, I know I have not recapped her explanation very well, so this may not all add up. In fact, it's not even adding up to me right now, although last night I felt like I had a pretty good grasp of the point she was trying to make. (I can hang with the idea that Jesus gave me a gift, but I don't see how acceptance of that gift is grounds for another gift. Is Jesus expecting a return on the gift I didn't ask for or what?) Hopefully I'll remember some of the details and revise this so it does make sense.

Until then, let's just pretend it all makes sense.

So why shouldn't I give my heart to Jesus? Why shouldn't I believe in a god? Why shouldn't I believe it's impossible for me not to sin? Why shouldn't I change my mind and join her religion?

Because even though this explanation may make sense, it's all based on premises that don't make sense. For me to believe her story, I must first believe that a god exists, even though there is absolutely no evidence. I must first believe that Jesus actually was the son of that god. I must ignore the reality of the life I've lived for almost 33 years and blindly choose to believe that all the ridiculous stories about Jesus could have actually happened. I must ignore the reality that most of the stories about Jesus were written by people who weren't there to witness his life, supposing he actually ever lived.

It all comes down to this: To believe her explanation, I must ignore reality and believe fantasy. Sorry, not interested.

During our conversation, Carissa said some other things that caught my interest. One was the belief that all humans sin, that we're all imperfect and there is no way to avoid sinning. Sometimes we just can't help it, yet other times we do it even though we know it's wrong. If we accept Jesus into our lives, however, all our sins will be forgiven, regardless of whether we knew our actions were wrong.

Um, I don't buy it. Like I said, I try my best to be a decent human being, and I don't always succeed. No matter how hard I try, I know I will still occasionally fail to meet my own self-defined standards of decency. Would I say it's impossible, though?



I don't know. But I don't pretend to know, either.

Aside from not buying into the automatic forgiveness thing, I also think it is dangerous, stupid, and irresponsible to believe all your sins will be forgiven. If you believe in that bullshit, it just opens the door for you to do whatever you want. You know your sins will be forgiven, just because you accepted Jesus's mysterious gift, so why even bother trying not to sin?

The scary thing about that question: That's exactly the kind of behavior I see from almost all so-called Christians. They have no conscience because their religion allows them to have no conscience. They have no conscience because their religion encourages them to have no conscience.

Well, my "no religion" doesn't allow me to live without a conscience, nor does my No God. In fact, my conscience punishes me a million times harsher than any religion or god ever could, and my sincerity punishes me a million times harsher than any religion or god ever could. Furthermore, I pay penalties for smaller things that most people would never even consider sins, like that one time when I didn't wave or smile at the old lady walking down the street as I turned out of my driveway. Yeah, I felt real shitty about that one, even though she probably never thought twice about it. I felt shitty immediately following the missed opportunity for a random act of kindness because I hold myself to some pretty lofty standards, and I'll never get over the fact that I can't go back and redo it. And no one ever forced me (or even suggested to me) that I should lead this kind of life. I figured it out on my own.

After thinking about this stuff (and lots of related stuff) for many hours both last night and today, an idea has come to me. Now before I reveal this idea, I want to make it very clear that I do not necessarily intend to act on the idea. In fact, I do not expect to act on the idea, either. It is simply a hypothetical situation relating to the differences and similarities between my life's guiding principles and Carissa's guiding principles.

So what's my idea?

I should try to get Carissa in the sack with me. Yeah, I should try to get me some of that.

Now before you go getting pissed off at me or accusing me of trying to take advantage of the girl, consider a few things. First of all, I'm not that kind of dude. Even if I wanted to take advantage of her, I probably couldn't allow myself to do it because I respect her both as a person and as a woman. I'm not going to lie; I think about pussy nonstop, just like every other heterosexual guy does. But there is a HUGE difference between thinking about pussy all the time (which is completely natural) and actively pursuing women solely for the purpose of "conning" them into unwanted sex.

Here's why I should try to get Carissa nekkid:

First of all, her rules are more permissive than mine. She knows it would be a sin for her to have sex with me, but she also knows her sins will be forgiven. She already told me there have been times in her life where she has consciously chosen to commit acts she knew were sins, although she was not specific about what those sins were. I'd imagine a few of them are pretty easy to guess: She has probably allowed herself to hate; she has probably lusted; she has probably been jealous; she has probably killed bugs or other pests. She may have even had [pre-marital] sex; I won't speculate. But regardless of whether she has had sex or not, and even though she knows it would be a sin for her to have sex before marriage, she can do it if she wants because she will be forgiven.

Now consider some of the principles I've chosen to live by. I'll try to keep it short.

Dating back to my teenage years, promiscuity has been a major turn-off for me. I don't think promiscuity is inherently wrong or a sin or anything like that; it's just not what I seek in a prospective partner because it is indicative of a personality that does not consider consequences. Conversely, unforced non-promiscuous sexual behavior (or abstinence or celibacy) indicates a personality that does consider consequences. It indicates a thoughtful, trustworthy personality. It says, "You can rest assured that this person will never cheat on you, either sexually or emotionally, because she (or he) has been true to you even before she (or he) ever knew you existed." I happen to find that attractive in a prospective mate. (And no, I am not bisexual.)

Now, if I want to find someone who leads that kind of life, shouldn't I lead that kind of life myself?

Yes, I should. So I have.

Needless to say, my dick has spent most of its life in my pants. I don't care if people think I'm a total wuss for living that way or admitting it; I happen to respect myself immensely for showing such restraint and for not stealing anyone else's self-respect. And I know my actions have made me a good catch. Too bad no one else seems to realize it.

But you know what? I'll be 33 next month and I'm way overdue for some fucking pussy!!! There comes a time when you start realizing that maybe your honorable actions never meant shit. Maybe I'm just stupid. Maybe all it means is that I'm a fucking loser who hasn't had any pussy for years and, as a result, I have no idea how to get it. Or maybe it means I'm just days or months from being rewarded for my patience, my good behavior, and all the other stuff. Maybe I'm about to meet my soul mate. Maybe I met her Wednesday. Or maybe I met her on 11/2/2004. How the fuck would I know?!?

But that is not the point. My point is that I should try to get me some of that because her guiding principles allow it and my principles seem to have been proven pointless or wrong. I have been a very good boy for way too long, and I think I deserve something for it, on the condition that I don't hurt anyone. And I just may give it a try.

Maybe there is something else to be learned from this hypothetical experiment. Maybe I should try it because it will ultimately end up showing that I am too decent to go through with it. Or maybe she'll end up putting the moves on me. Maybe by trying it I'll end up finding a good friend in her, or a soul mate. Who knows?

All I know is that if Carissa walked up to me right now and indicated that she wanted to do me, I would fuck her fucking brains out. And I wouldn't regret it, either, because I deserve it.

Jesus died for Aimless's sins.

Another one gone

My dad just got back from the vet's, where he picked up Homer after having him fixed. He told me that before he left he accidentally ran over one of the outdoor cats. (I don't think I've ever mentioned this here, but we have kind of a "cat colony," with most of the cats living outside.) It was Mickey, or as I called him, Fart. Dad said he died pretty quickly.

He was a sweet little guy, a little over a year old. Kind of annoying sometimes because he would always get on my lap and sneeze when I tried to smoke in peace, but a sweet dude nontheless.

Like most of the other outdoor cats, I made it a point not to get too close to him emotionally because I've seen too many cats come and go over the years. It's a defense mechanism I use because I have a hard time dealing with animal deaths. But I still loved him and I'll still miss him. Poor little guy.

I love you, Fart. Goodbye.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gonna try being social

Last Tuesday I mentioned that the vision in my right eye seemed to be getting better. Well, I was wrong. After Tuesday my vision went downhill once again, giving me double vision, headaches, and nausea all the way through Sunday.

I tried a couple new things Monday--some logical things most people would probably never think of in this age of worthless miracle pills. The first thing I did was make a conscious decision to keep my glasses off as much as possible. I figured my lens might be part of the problem, especially because the symptoms seem to worsen as each day progresses. Then, later in the day, I made a conscious effort to drink as much water as possible. For all I know, my problem might just be dehydration. To gauge how much water I was drinking, I filled one of those old rectangular orange juice jugs.

Since Monday my vision has been better. I don't know if it's good yet, but so far it is better. I don't know if it has anything to do with drinking more water or wearing my glasses less. I don't know if it has anything to do with the toxic batch of dextroamphetamine I stopped taking a week ago. All I know is that my vision seems to be better the last couple days, and I hope I'll continue in that direction.

So I think I'm going to head Yellow Springs ways today for the first time in almost two months. Gonna look for Arianna Huffington's new book, On Becoming Fearless.... in Love, Work, and Life, before heading to Dino's. Maybe I'll finally meet Dave or something.

In a comment regarding my medication, on I'm not dead yet, Jay said:

The "zombie" feeling has to be your body chemistry, which your meds would play a huge factor in. You need to get adjusted to meds, and sometimes it takes several weeks to get adjusted.

My response: Dexedrine and Adderall don't work like that; they are not mood altering mindfuck drugs like Zoloft and all the other anti-depressants. These two drugs are SPEED, and they start working from the moment you take them. (Yes, I take speed every day. I take it because it's good for my brain.) Then, eight hours later, they start wearing off. Kinda like smoking a doobie, but nothing like smoking a doobie.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I have a voice

I went out and voted just after noon today. Took a small camcorder with me, to document any potential shenanigans, but I can't say I saw anything that stood out as unusual or unlawful. Additionally, I only had to wait about ten minutes, probably because I am a white person in a white precinct (or district or whatever).

Something interesting did happen, though. After an election official led me to the new touchscreen voting machine and set it up for me to vote, she began the process for me, skipping past a page I assume was instructions on how to do everything correctly. I immediately told her I would like to see the page because it was meant for my eyes and because I prefer to read instructions before beginning important tasks that depend on such instructions, but apparently it was impossible to return to the page. After she tried for about 20 seconds, I told her not to worry about it.

Although this probably was not a very significant issue, I wish I'd had the camera rolling at that moment because, in reality, something like that could cause major problems. I mean, there are surely a lot of voters who need to see that page. It's there for a reason, and I know she should not have done what she did. I know that if she was properly trained, she was not trained to skip that page without my consent. The scary thing is that I have no reason to believe she was properly trained. But if she was, we have some real problems aside from voter irregularities, voter suppression, rigged machines, and all the other real (and documented) threats to the integrity of our elections that most people still don't seem to know about.

I started touching the names of my preferred candidates when it occurred to me that I should videotape everything I do. I then took the camera out of my jacket pocket and turned it on before continuing with the remainder of my votes. I did this because I'd heard enough stories about people touching one candidate's name and subsequently watching their vote jump to the opponent's name. Having a rational distrust of our government and our elections, I felt the need to keep a record of anything strange that may have happened with my vote.

As far as I know, nothing strange happened to my votes. And in case you're wondering, here's how I voted: I voted for the Democrat in every race; I voted Yes to raise Ohio's minimum wage; I voted Yes on the Smoke Less Ohio issue; I voted No on the Smoke Free issue; and I voted No for the Southwestern City Schools' income tax proposal.

Normally I believe it is irresponsible and stupid when people vote "across the page" for either party, but we're living in strange days right now. I'm no fan of Democrats, OK. In fact, I'm no fan of any politician I know of. But the Republicans are just blatantly fucking corrupt, and we need to fire as many of those assholes as we can today because they are tearing apart the United States of America in every way possible. They've proven it over and over, and it's time for them to face the consequences. Enough said.

So while I was voting, one of the election officials asked me if I wouldn't mind stepping aside to talk to her when I was finished voting (obviously because I was taping everything I did). I had no problem with that. So when I was done, she asked me what the camera was for. I said something to the effect of, "I've heard plenty of stories about how people's votes have changed right in front of their eyes on these touchscreen machines, and I brought the camera as a sort of insurance. I don't trust these machines, and if it had happened to me, I would have evidence." She then asked me if I was associated with any group or anything. I said, "I'm an American citizen. This is all me; it has nothing to do with anyone else. I'm just a regular guy."

Moments after I left the polling place, it occurred to me that I should have taped my short conversation with her. I had the camera in my hand as I participated in a potentially important and meaningful exchange of information, but I chose to leave the power off. And I learned something from it, just like I learned something from not taping the earlier incident.

By voting today, I learned some valuable lessons about making a documentary. Lessons I really needed to learn. Lessons that will help me avoid making the same mistakes when I hit the road to make Aimless. Lessons that will someday help me recognize good stuff in time to capture it on tape. It also showed me how uncomfortable I may become at times when I finally do begin making Aimless, and it should prepare me to handle these situations better in the future.

I have a lot to learn. I know that much. I never tried to pretend I'm an expert or anything like that. But little things like going out to vote can be valuable learning tools; a lot more valuable than school. This is real-world school, and I can't wait to start using my education to create Aimless.

Let the healing begin

It's been three days since my best little buddy Pinky went away forever, and it's beginning to hurt a little less. Not that it will ever stop hurting, but I have to accept the reality that he has moved out of my physical life and now resides in my heart and my memory.

We buried Pinky Sunday afternoon in a special place. I put a few things in his box that belong with him, including a bottle of cat treats, his feeding dish, and a little note. I sure do miss him.

There is so much I want to say about Pinky, and I may do it soon enough (mostly for myself), but it's not very easy to do right now.

I love you, Pinky.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sorrow in my heart

My best buddy Pinky is gone. He died at about 5:00 this morning, peacefully. I've shed many tears in the last five hours, and I'll shed many more in the days and weeks to come because I have so much love for the beautiful boy. So much love.

I love you so much, Pinky, and I'll never forget you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Good workers are easy to find

Last night my mom said something about how hard it is to find good workers, echoing what one might expect to hear from a hiring manager or a failing small business owner. As always, when I hear such completely ridiculous statements, I speak my mind.

I said, defensively, "No, it's NOT hard to find good workers." I then repeated her statement, adding some of the conditions that her ilk so often forget to consider when making such ignorant claims: "It's hard to find good workers who allow you to rip them off. It's hard to find good workers when you only pay $6 or $7 an hour." I continued, "If it is so hard to find good workers, then I should be getting at least a hundred calls a day from people looking for good workers."

As someone who would like to be (and should be) the owner of a small, independent pizzeria, I am 100 percent confident that I would have no problem finding, hiring, and keeping good workers. How do I know? Because I understand economics.

Now, I'm not necessarily talking about money when I say economics. When I say economics, I'm talking about the relationship between what one gives and what one receives in return. It can be money, but it can also be labor, information, services, love, or a million other things.

From now on, let's just pretend I already own a small pizzeria, which I expect to open in the coming month.

As the owner of a new pizzeria, I must invest in a lot of different things, with no guarantee of a return, before I can even think about opening the doors for business. I must develop a pizza that people will want to eat. I must offer edible side items, salads, subs, drinks, desserts, and other menu items. I must purchase adequate equipment. I must think of effective marketing strategies and spend quite a bit of money to impliment these strategies.

I must ask myself countless questions (with the first two from the target customers' perspective):

1) Why should I try your pizzeria instead of my usual pizzeria?
2) What do you offer that I can't get from my usual place?
3) How do I get people in the door for the first time?
4) How do I get people to come back?

There are hundreds more questions I must ask myself, but I'll stop here.

And the answers?

1) You should try "Ryan's Imaginary Pizzeria" because I'll make it easy for you. I am so confident that you will love our pizza, I offer a money-back guarantee. If our pizza is not the best pizza you've ever had, or if we are unable to replace your pizza with the best pizza you've ever had, I'll give you your money back. Every cent. Furthermore, if we fail to provide the best service you've ever experienced, I'll give you your money back. Every cent. Our goal is to provide every customer the most incredible dining experience possible, and I want to prove it to you by putting my money where my mouth is. You should not expect anything less from anyone. (**See explanation below.)

2) As I already said, we offer the best pizza on the planet. Now, anyone can make that claim, but do you know of any other pizzeria that offers a money-back guarantee if their pizza is not the best on the planet? Didn't think so. But here's what else we offer: A clean dining room; friendly people and great service; genuine smiles; fantastic subs, sides, salads, and desserts; community support; reasonable prices; passion for making the best food; safe delivery drivers; a wide open kitchen that shows you how much care we put into preparing your meal (as opposed to hiding behind a wall and using less-than-sanitary practices like you've grown accustomed to with other pizza places). Is that enough, because I can go on if you need more reasons to try us?

3) I get people to try us, first of all, by implimenting Risk Reversal marketing strategies such as the money-back guarantee. Of course, we must distribute thousands of pieces of our marketing materials before we can expect anyone to know we even exist. Another way to get people in the door is by sending out some free pizza postcards. If it costs me $3 in food cost to attract a family of four and convert them into lifetime customers, I'd say I'm making out pretty good. Additionally, these strategies create extensive word-of-mouth marketing.

4) Here's how I get people to come back: I serve them the best pizza they've ever tasted and I treat them like they rule because they do rule! They don't need "Ryan's Imaginary Pizzeria;" "Ryan's Imaginary Pizzeria" needs them. Same thing with employees.

These are not complete answers, but they are rational answers and they are the right answers. If you want to critique what I've said, don't look at it from a prospective pizzeria owner's point of view. Instead, look at it from a prospective customer's point of view. If you do, you should start to get it. But if you just keep thinking what people have always told you, then you will never understand. Similarly, you'll also never understand why more than 90 percent of new restaurants fail within a couple years of opening.

**If you doubt that a money-back guarantee would be effective, you're simply wrong. You think everyone will just come in and eat their meal, then ask for their money back, right? Wrong. It doesn't happen. Here's what does happen, though: People try your pizzeria instead of their usual pizzeria because you have made it easy for them. How do I know? Case studies. If you want to find out more about it, look up Kamron Karington.

Pretty long digression, eh? What was I talking about? Oh yeah, how to find good workers and keep them. So how is it done?

Just like you invested in your store space, your equipment, your marketing materials, your furnishings, your utility bills, etc., you must also INVEST in employees. You get what you pay for, and you only get what you give. If you pay superstars like chumps, they either work like chumps or they quit. It's not them; it's you!

If someone's labor earns me, the pizzeria owner, $50 an hour because they bust their ass, treat customers right (creating customer loyalty), attract new customers, and all that good stuff, why the hell would I pay that person $7 an hour? Why would I pay him or her less than $15 an hour or $20 an hour? Hey don't ask me, because I wouldn't do it.

But just about everyone else does. And when they do, they lose their moneymaker, either to another employer who will pay reasonable wages or to complacency and apathy.

Good workers absolutely are not hard to find. Good bosses are!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A little less dead, perhaps

All of a sudden my right eye seems to be working better. Right now I can see very clearly when I cover my left eye. I'm not sure if both of my eyes are working together yet, but at this moment I can see clearly with my right eye.

I have taken very small dextroamphetamine doses the last three days (Sunday-Tuesday). Coincidentally, my vision was at its poorest Saturday, which is the last day I took a normal dose.

Is it cause and effect? I don't know, but right now I feel it's pretty safe to assume all of my recent problems resulted from a dangerous (if not toxic) batch of dextroamphetamine, manufactured by Barr Pharmaceuticals.

Will my vision be better tomorrow? We'll see.


I'm not dead yet

I went to the head doctor today, like I do every two months, to get a new dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) prescription. Told the doc about all my recent problems, starting off by saying I've been a zombie since the day I opened my most recent prescription, then mentioning the sudden vision problems and the overall disfunction (or dysfunction?) that has accompanied the vision problems. As a result, I learned a little bit about the prescription drug industry and the fuckfaces who regulate it (the FDA, I think).

Perhaps naively, I figured generic drugs must meet the same quality control standards as brand name drugs. Not true. Manufacturers of generic drugs can basically do whatever they want and make prescription drugs that don't work, if that's what they feel like doing. So apparently that's what they do sometimes.

The doc told me lots of patients complain about generic dexedrine not working. The problem is not that all of it is bad stuff; the problem is that it is occasionally bad stuff. Being accustomed to getting what they've paid for (as the law should require), people freak out when their new prescription doesn't work right. Then, like me, they have to figure out whether they want to risk it happening again or if they want to try something new (and probably more expensive).

Can you believe that in the United States of America, in the 21st century, you can't even trust that your prescription drugs are made right?!? And this isn't some new, untested drug, either. It's something that was developed a long, long time ago and has withstood the test of time.

So I should just pay a little more for the brand-name stuff, right? Yeah, I thought so, too. However, they stopped making it in June of this year, and they're never going to make it again.

So today I had two options: 1) Get another generic dexedrine prescription and hope this time it's the real thing; or 2) Try Adderall, which I guess is essentially the same thing as real dexedrine (and for which I could get a free 30-day trial prescription). I chose the Adderall option because the last two months have been a fucking hell for me. I won't take any until tomorrow, and I hope it makes a difference.

One last thing: Fuck you, Barr Pharmaceuticals (aka Barr Laboratories, aka Barr Labs), for manufacturing and distributing drugs you know don't work. You can bet I'll spread the word about your shady business practices because there are consequences when you fuck people over. I may be one seemingly harmless person, but I am also a vengeful motherfucker when I need to be. I assure you that the crusade I'm about to begin will shrink your bottom line, you greedy fucks.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pizza! The Movie now available

After venturing over to the Pizza! The Movie web site yesterday, I noticed that Michael Dorian (aka Cat Price Productions) is now selling copies of the movie. (Betty, you showed some interest in securing a copy a few months ago, so I thought you might want to know about this.) I didn't look closely at the details, but I suspect it's only available on DVD, I believe for $20 plus $3 for shipping.

I'm guessing the movie has not received as much interest from distributors as Michael had hoped for, which is why he has started selling it via the web site. But who knows; I could be wrong.

I intend to say a lot more about the pizza movie in the next day or two, supposing I don't die first (or go blind), so keep an eye out.


Is it my brain?

Right now, even with the brand new prescription lens levitating in front of my right eye, I cannot read this computer screen from less than three feet away using only my right eye. The left eye still works fine, and I could see reasonably clearly with my right eye just two days ago, but I can't see shit with it right now. This is not only frustrating; it's also getting kind of scary.

As I mentioned a couple days ago, the doc says both of my eyes are in fine condition physically. So is the problem in my brain or what? What else could it be if it's not my eyes and it's not my brain?

Aimless and sightless

Friday, October 27, 2006

Animator wanted

It's about time to mention voice-overs again, so here I go.

For anyone not reading this blog on a regular basis, I want to do voice-overs, particularly for cartoons. I talk about it every week or two in hopes of attracting the attention of someone who may be looking for good, new voices with personality, like Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Seth Green, or anyone else looking for the right people to help them put together some kind of kick-ass project requiring extensive voice-overs.

Because I know it is highly unlikely that I will be able to attract the attention of famous cartoon/animation producers such as those listed above, I have been brainstorming to come up with my own cartoon ideas. Having thought about it for a while, I have some very good (and ridiculously funny) plot/theme ideas bouncing around in my head. However, since I am not an animator or a visual artist, I realize it's not likely that I will be able to create a cartoon by myself. So, in addition to pimping myself to these famous cartoon makers, I am also on the lookout for beginning and up-and-coming animators willing to create something for fun or for their portfolios. If you may be interested, contact me.

Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Seth Green: In the unlikely event that you find and read this blog entry, I'd like to contribute a voice or a noise or some kind of vocal effect to one of your shows. I guarantee you'll like what I do, and I'm willing to do it for free to get my foot in the door. I'm not looking for attention, fame, or glory; I'm just looking for an opportunity to do something I'm good at. And a beer. Yeah, I think you'll have to buy me a beer, too. Just not a Sam Adams because The Boston Beer Company is stupid.

I'm living a lie. I'm Aimless.

It's so easy

This sucks. For some reason I have the song "Easy Lover" stuck in my head. You know, that duet by Phil Collins and the dude from Earth, Wind, & Fire.

Don't ask me how it got there. I haven't even heard it since who knows when. It's just there. And I have to deal with it until it chooses to go away.

Aimless like Sunday morning

Who loves pizza?

You do?

That's what I thought.

Well, you're in luck because I have pizza pages for you. If you want to learn how to make the best pizza you've ever tasted, visit the Aimless pizza page. But if you just want to talk about pizza--your favorite pizza place, an unusual pizza experience, or anything else you have on your mind about pizza--please go to the Aimless Forums, where I have just added a pizza category.

Pizza and Aimless... MMMmmmmmmm!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Misdirected hostility

A lot of Americans are fed up with illegal immigration from Mexico. Some view the mass immigration as a threat to their job prospects while others see it as a threat to their job security. They think it is wrong that illegal immigrants are able to come to the United States and secure jobs without surrendering a fair share of their paychecks for income taxes, social security, or any of the other standard deductions. They think it's wrong that Mexicans are able to snatch up the jobs many Americans would like to have, like construction jobs, factory jobs, and other blue collar jobs. They think it's wrong that such immigration continues (and will continue) to threaten the livelihood of the American worker.

And they're right. But they are pissed off at the wrong people.

Illegal immigration is not the problem; it is merely a symptom. The real problem is that the United States government turns a blind eye toward the criminals who hire undocumented aliens.

For those who may be unaware, it is illegal to employ illegal aliens. It is also illegal for employers to pay any of their employees less than minimum wage. And it is illegal for employers to evade payroll taxes by paying employees under the table. There are so many serious labor laws and safety laws that go unenforced in the practice of employing illegal laborers, I can't even begin to paint a reasonably clear picture.

And y'all want to blame illegal immigrants, who are only trying to take advantage of opportunities provided by our corrupt government?!?

If our elected officials would only prosecute and punish the dangerous, treasonous criminals who employ illegal aliens, illegal immigration would cease to be a problem because there would no longer be ANY economic incentive for prospective immigrants to enter the United States illegally. However, due to the fact that these dangerous corporate criminals also happen to be the major funders of political campaigns, such prosecution would be political suicide. (Anyone else see a conflict of interest here?) So rather than addressing the real problem, our elected public officials instead choose to talk about fences and border patrol because we Americans, collectively, are too stupid and bigoted to hold them accountable for their complicity.

And in case you didn't know, complicity to serious crimes is a criminal act itself. (Ironically, with the US government being a representative democracy and everything, this means the American people are just as guilty as the politicians and corporate thieves because we continue to elect criminals who allow other criminals to victimize us.)