ConTroll Yourself

I recently watched a video about internet trolls that was made by Shane Koyczan. He does a really good job of calling them out and expressing his years of being bullied.

I know it’s impossible to ignore them, because posting anything on the internet is like stepping on an anthill. No matter what you post, someone is going to bash it for whatever reason their twisted minds believe is justifiable.

I’ve been fortunate with my blog so far. Probably because I average about 3 viewers a day. I’m not exactly topping the results on search engines. lol

I know my day is coming, but I also know that it won’t bother me. I grew up with the internet. As is matured, so did I. I remember having to wait ten minutes for pages to load. Kids these days would go crazy if they had to wait that long just to see one picture of a giraffe. Online videos were only dreams.

But I digress.

As I was saying, I grew up with the internet. I learned how to survive the world wide web via chat rooms and forums. I know what to expect and who to pay attention to. Trolls are on my list of “Nice try, but I’ll continue on.” They are simply words on a screen.

With that said, however, I also know that the younger generation is finding more and more of its identity online. I heard of a rehabilitation center in China for teens who are addicted to the internet. One kid said he spent three days at an internet cafe! I know that’s an extreme case, but it goes to show how kids are depending on the internet more and more to give them their emotional fulfillment.

Add all that together, and you get a perfect storm for trolls. They know their words mean something to this generation. They know their words are desired as much as they are hated. They are wanted, yet feared. Most of all, they are hidden, separated from those they hurt. Nothing ties them to their victims except a keyboard and pixels.

The part of that video that struck me most was when Shane mentioned that trolls have been responsible for people’s deaths. I didn’t even know how to react to that. The most prominent feeling I had in reaction to that was worry.

I worried because I have two kids. The oldest is 7.  She’s going to be using the internet and social media in just a few short years, and I worry that she will be overwhelmed and broken down.

I know that building her self-esteem and confidence will help, but I also know how easy it is to succumb to the pressures and mysteries of the internet. She doesn’t have the experience to know that the people trying to hurt her are only doing it for their own sick entertainment. She doesn’t know that investing her emotions into their words is a trap that not only hurts, but can kill.

Luckily, she doesn’t have much desire to use the computer yet. She has a couple educational games on it, but it doesn’t hold her attention. I just hope it continues until she’s old enough to make wise online decisions.

When all that is said and done, we have a son six years younger than her. That means we get to run the whole gambit one more time.

If you are reading this and you are a troll, please stop. It’s not funny and it ruins lives.

If you are reading this and you are NOT a troll, thank you. Feel free to leave thoughtful comments. :-)

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Adderall, Perhaps

Lately, I’ve been finding it harder and harder to stay on task and focus. Perhaps it’s due to my new job, which is mostly desk work. I have a lot to do, but I get distracted by the littlest things. I think I do alright, but I know I could be a much better worker if I wasn’t so easily distracted. I know there are mental exercises that can help, but I can’t stay focused long enough to do them. And physical exercise is out of the question with my schedule. Eating right would be good for me. I have no excuse for that one.

Every day, for about two weeks now, I’ve been contemplating whether or not to talk to my doctor about starting Adderall again. Last time I tried it, I didn’t notice any major benefits, and it made me feel funny. At that time, though, my job didn’t demand so much focus. The jobs were straightforward and easy to finish.

Now that the demand has increased, I’m wondering if I would be able to see a bigger difference. I’m not sure if I want to, but I also don’t want to risk my position. I enjoy what I do here, and I don’t want to go back to my old duties. They weren’t bad, but they also weren’t my ideal conditions (cold, wet and windy). Inside the building is much better for me.

So what do I do? I don’t know yet. I’ll talk to my wife and see if it’s viable. She might have some valuable insight for me. She usually does.

What do you think?

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Short and Steep

Apparently today is National Coffee Day…and I forgot to bring coffee. But, I have backup! Thanks to my foresight, and laziness, I decided to stock my desk with different kinds of tea, so I wouldn’t have to decide between tea or coffee at 4am. I figured I could postpone my second major decision of the day (after deciding whether or not to get up) until I get to work.

So I raise my mug to you, National Coffee Day…even though it’s full of tea.

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My Son Knows [Almost] Nothing

It’s been a week since my last post and so far I’ve written a total of…zero stories. I haven’t even started a post until now (12:30pm). I can’t seem to accomplish anything without there being a deadline, so I’m going to self-impose a deadline: I want to have at least one post by midnight (Pacific) every Friday.

What should I talk about today? I’m not sure I could finish a story. They usually take about 1-2 hours to write, and I don’t have that much free time left in the day. I’ll talk about something that’s been on my mind the past couple of weeks. It’s something that’s fascinated me about my son.

He knows nothing…almost.

I can’t remember exactly when it hit me, but I remember looking at him and thinking that his whole world right now is sleep, food, and a little interaction. He can’t talk, walk, or even gesture. The most he can do at this point is smile and coo.

But what really got me, was the fact that he doesn’t know anything about air. His life depends on it, but he has no concept of what it is or how it keeps him alive. Think about it: the keys I’m using to type this very post mean absolutely nothing to him. Basic movements like kicking or opening his hands are beyond his conscious control.

The only emotions he’s been able to portray so far are pain, frustration, and happiness. He feels pain when he has gas or acid reflux, frustration when he’s hungry, and happiness when certain people or activities are in his presence.

I know this is a short post, and I don’t even have a profound life lesson. It’s really more of a rant of my befuddlement. I just can’t get over the fact that ideas and objects we pass off as common–if we even give them that much thought—aren’t even within his scope of comprehension.

Wow.

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Personal Challenge #1: Short Stories (Final Day)

It’s the final day of my Personal Challenge, and I’m as excited as I am sad. I’ve had a lot of fun writing these stories for you to enjoy, and I truly hope you have. For that reason, I will continue to write these short stories, but on more of a weekly basis. I might write more or less, but I’ll try to publish one per week.

My wife made a good point, yesterday, when I was talking to her about how much fun this challenge is. She said it’s perfect for my ADHD because they’re short stories, which require minimal commitment (other than consistently writing them), and the topics are always different.

So, with a mix of emotions, I will write you my final story…this week:

Screenshot_2014-09-18-20-09-45[1]Screenshot_2014-09-18-20-09-54[1]

Mr. White bound down the street, dodging people and traffic alike. He always hated big cities. They reminded him of the impossible maze back home. Today, though, he could not hate the big cities. His watch was broke, and he only knew of one place that could fix it.

He found the door he was looking for and nearly knocked it off its hinges when he burst through. When he entered the shop, he was less than surprised to find the shopkeeper attempting to build a fountain out of sugar cubes.

“While I understand that you have a need to build a completely pointless contraption that will never work, I am in dire need of your help.”

“It no longer works, does it, Mr. White?” the shopkeeper said without turning.

“Indeed, but how did you know?”

“I fixed it last time, yes?”

“You did. Not very well, obviously.”

“Well, you see, I may have been using information from a book that I ‘borrowed’ to fix your watch. I now realize that the information was incorrect, which is very sad for you,” the shopkeeper let out a chuckle.

“I don’t find this humorous in any way. Fix it, or I’ll go to your brother,” White threatened.

The shopkeeper set down his box of sugar cubes and hurried over to Mr. White, balancing on the countertop the whole way, “I’ll fix it! You don’t need to go to him. His work is garbage! Come on, give it here!”

White pulled out an ornate pocket watch and handed it over, “How long will it take you?”

“It shouldn’t take me more than seventy rotations of the Globe,” he replied as he nodded toward a motorized globe spinning in the corner.

Mr. White started to grow impatient, “I don’t need your ambiguous comments. I need a precise amount of time given in the standard measure of hours, minutes and seconds.”

“Your standard time is far less accurate than my globe, but I’ll give you my best approximation,” he set down the watch and pulled out a piece of paper. He found a key in his pocket, but quickly discarded it after discovering that it was a terrible writing instrument. He reached in the other pocket and pulled out a flower pen. Then he began scribbling numbers on the counter top.

“What are you doing?” asked White.

“You wanted an approximation, so I’m doing some conversion calculations. I can’t give you an inaccurate number if I don’t do the math wrong!”

“Just fix it please,” Mr. White sighed, “Quickly if you can.”

“Did you want it fixed or done quickly? I cannot do both.”

“Do the best you can in as little time as possible.”

“Again, I can only do one of those options proficiently.”

“Okay, fix it, so I never have to come back here,” White said impatiently.

“You don’t have to be so rude about it!” replied the shopkeeper. He dramatically picked up the watch and stomped to the back room to further emphasize his frustration.

~~~~~~~~~~

After what seemed like an hour, the shopkeeper finally emerged. He set the watch down on the counter and smiled, “Here you go, Mr. White.”

“Thank y—” White looked down and saw a rusty, dented watch on the counter, “This isn’t my watch! Where’s my watch?”

“Indeed, you are very observant!” he playfully replied, “This is, in fact, my watch. But it works! And since yours does not, I figured you would want this one instead.”

“Have you lost your mind?” Mr. White yelled, “You’ve been back there for nearly an hour, and this is all you have to show for it?”

“If you are that good at gauging time without a watch, why do you need one?”

“Just fix my watch!”

“Fine, fine,” the shopkeeper retreated to the back room for a few minutes before returning with Mr. White’s watch, “Here you go. Good as new.”

He picked up the watch and turned it over in his hand, making sure everything looked proper. Satisfied, he opened it to check its functions. The hands were moving as they should, so he closed it, placed it in his pocket and forced a smile, “Thank you. For fixing my watch and making this one of the worst shopping experiences ever.”

“My pleasure!” the shopkeeper grinned, “I aim to please. Now that will be one hundred gold pieces.”

“What!” White exclaimed, “You’re a crook! You should be paying me!” He turned and stormed toward the door.

“Very well,” the shopkeeper said, “but don’t expect me to fix anything else of yours!”

Mr. White slammed the door behind him.

~~~~~~~~~~

After setting his watch to the clock on the street corner, Mr. White immediately rushed to the train station. He only had a few minutes to catch the next train.

He arrived at the station just in time to hop on board. He found a seat and, for the first time that afternoon, he allowed himself to relax.

The train ride was only about half an hour—his destination was just outside the city, among the estates in the outlying countryside. By the time the train doors were fully open, he was already across the platform racing down the path.

He rushed down a dirt road until he found the large white mansion with the hedges under the windows and a clover patch on the side. His path took him around the side, to the back where he found a large party of people. No one saw him, as they were all engaged in conversations.

A little blonde girl seemed to notice him, but he didn’t have time to find out. He checked his watch as he ran toward the big tree.

He gasped, “I’m late!” and disappeared into the rabbit hole.

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Personal Challenge #1: Short Stories (Day 4)

Well, it’s day 4. I don’t want to stop writing these stories, so I might start another blog page dedicated to writing. Ill let you know by next week.

In the meantime, we have a story to enjoy!

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“What a night,” said the ostrich, Mr. Gray. He stretched his neck and slowly sat up in his bed, “I feel like I’ve been hit over the head with a rock.”

“Close,” said a voice from the other side of the room, “It was actually a coconut.”

Startled, Mr. Gray didn’t immediately notice his surroundings, “What are you doing in my room?”

“The correct question, Mr. Gray, would be, ‘Where am I?’ to which I would reply, ‘Why, you are in a desert island of course!'”

The ostrich looked around and saw that he was indeed in some sort of cave. As his vision came into focus, he could see that his room was furnished with only the basic luxuries—a small desk and chair, a small bathroom stall, a sink, and the bed he was on.

He looked around for the source of the voice, but there was only an intercom in the corner. “Who are you?” he asked.

“Who I am is of little importance.”

“Okay, why am I here?”

“You are here for a competition of sorts. It’s a simple game, really. It just has severe consequences if you fail.”

“What do you mean? I didn’t sign up for this. I don’t want to be in any competition,” Gray protested.

“That’s unfortunate for you. You’re here now, so you should probably start wanting to be here. It’ll give you a much better chance at success.”

“Okay,” Gray forced a smile and sarcastically replied, “I am so excited to be here. How can I use this opportunity to become a success?”

“Better. Still not that great, but it’ll work,” said the voice, “As far as the competition is concerned, I’ll fill you in on the rules:

First, the door opposite you will open in about five minutes, so I would use that time to prepare.

Second, you will have one minute to exit and make your way to the Arena. If you get lost on the way, you don’t deserve to win in the first place.

Third, arrive at the Arena ready for anything. And I mean anything. I don’t even know what they’re going to ask you to do.

Finally…Win.

“Any questions?” asked the voice.

“Um, yes. I do—”

“Good! Enjoy your next couple of minutes. Like I said, I’d get ready for anything. This is so exciting!”

“Excuse me. I said I have questions,” the ostrich objected, but he was only answered with silence. Confused and groggy, Mr. Gray stood up and headed over to the sink. He gazed at the tired ostrich in the mirror, “What have you gotten yourself into?”

A buzzer sounded and the room was suddenly bathed in a purple glow. “Curious,” said Gray, “I would have expected red or no light at all.”

“Our last red light bulb burned out on the last contestant,” the voice announced, “We thought about the darkness thing, but the insurance on that is ridiculously expensive. Purple was all we had. It was left over from a party last year.”

“Hey! I thought—“

“And that’s where you should stop,” the voice laughed, “Don’t think. Just go.”

The door slid open to reveal a hallway that led straight to another door about twenty paces away. Gray followed the voice’s command and walked through the door. It immediately slid shut behind him.

“I guess I’m in it ‘til the end now,” said the ostrich. He walked toward the next door. It opened when he was a few steps away. On the other side was a large triangular room with a table and chair in the center and an empty swimming pool to the left.

“SIT!” a voice, different from the voice he heard earlier, commanded. He quickly walked to the chair and sat. The voice continued, “VERY GOOD! YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THAT YOU ARE—What?…He got the message?…Oh, the volume, yes. Ahem. Sorry about the volume. The last contestant was hard of hearing, which didn’t help her at all. If she had been able to hear the—Sorry, I tend to ramble when I’m excited.

“Anyway, you are about to participate in a competition. It may or may not be easy. It may or may not be fun. BUT! You will most definitely win or lose.”

“That’s not very reassuring,” Mr. Gray mumbled.

“Right you are! It’s not supposed to be reassuring,” the voice laughed, “if you want reassurance, you have already completed three tasks: you made it to the arena, you sat down at the table, and you haven’t stopped breathing.”

Mr. Gray was only slightly reassured, “I have a question.”

“It better be a good one.”

“If this is a competition, where are the other contestants?” Gray asked.

There was an audible sigh, then the voice replied, “Obviously, they failed the first test.”

“So does that mean I’ve won?”

“No.”

“I don’t get it. I made it further than everyone else.”

“Yes, they would have made it more entertaining, but this competition is not about beating others. It’s about completing your own tasks. So here’s your next one: place the object under the table on top of the table.”

Mr. Gray looked under the table and saw a knife taped to the bottom. He grabbed it with his beak and placed it on top of the table.

“Very good! Now answer me this: who was the first Pharaoh of Egypt?”

“Uh…” Gray could only think of one name, “King Tut?”

“Wrong! You lose,” the voice announced, “You must now suffer the consequences of your mistake. Pick up the knife.”

Mr. Gray’s heart was in his throat, “But…please. This doesn’t seem fitting—“

“Silence! You have failed the test. Now you must pay for your mistake. Pick up the knife.”

Gray unsteadily picked up the knife with his beak, thinking about all the different ways he could be commanded to use it. None of them involved him leaving the arena alive. A hidden door to his right opened and a well-dressed lemur stepped out, carrying an object. He quickly bounded over and placed the object on the table.

“That is an onion. You will cut it into little tiny pieces. And when you are done, you will get another. This will continue until you fill the pool.”

Hearing this, Mr. Gray began to cry.

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Personal Challenge #1: Short Stories (Day 3)

It’s Day 3, and I’m still excited to write!

Feel free to start your own challenge with this awesome app!

Without further ado:

Screenshot_2014-09-17-07-55-32[1]Screenshot_2014-09-17-07-55-42[1]

I sat at the workbench in my garage, tinkering with a device. I’d been waiting anxiously for this day to arrive. It had to be today, or the whole plan would fall through.

A cargo door closed on a truck outside.

The postman!

I jumped up and ran to the front door, knocking over a bowl of plastic fruit along the way. I waited by the door, trying to catch my breath, then I heard the glorious rap of knuckles on wood.

Yes! It’s finally here!

After an excruciatingly long minute, I opened the front door and saw a small package sitting on the porch. I picked it up and checked the label, even though there was no doubt it was mine. There, on the label, was my confirmation—the world balanced on the tip of a sword.

I had the box nearly open by the time I reached the garage.

I reached inside, pulled out the final piece, and held it up in the light to admire the beauty of its craftsmanship.

I pulled out my phone and sent a text message to Doug, “Don’t go with her on that date tonight. The event has been moved up to tonight.”

He replied, “Okay. I’ll be there.”

I set down the phone. The piece gleamed in the light, begging to be used. I gingerly installed it in the device.

Finally, it’s finished!

The sun was setting. I quickly placed it in its container, carefully picked it up, and placed it in the trunk of my car. After getting in the car, I realized that I didn’t have my car key. I checked all my pockets, but couldn’t find it anywhere.

I don’t have time for this! Where could it be? The fruit bowl!

I ran to the kitchen and picked up the green apple from the floor. I unscrewed the bottom and pulled out the spare key.

~~~~~~~~~~

“You’re late,” Doug whispered as I met him at the center of Times Square.

“Barely,” I mumbled, “Is everything ready? We only have one shot at this.”

“Yes, everything is ready,” he said, as he nodded toward a coffee shop down the street.

A couple was emerging, while a businessman hurried inside, probably to meet a colleague after a late night at the office. Across the street, a group of tourists was taking photos of themselves and all the lights.

“It’s a busy night. I believe we’re going to make quite an impression,” I said, while I unpacked and prepared the device. A few passers-by gave us suspicious glances, unsure of what was about to happen.

“Ready?” Doug shifted his stance, “Now.”

In unison, we drew our bows across the strings of our violins, releasing a gentle breeze of romantic notes. The couple stopped in front of us to enjoy the song of love as it danced through the air. At the man’s signal, we stopped the music.

He knelt down beside her and changed her life forever.

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