Out Of Africa


funny ramen noodles

My blog has one reader from Burundi. She’s not a regular, but she reads maybe once a week. I have no way of knowing if it’s the same person every week or not, but I like to imagine that it is.
Even though I won the geography bee in seventh grade, I knew very little about Burundi, so when I was looking over my blog statistics, and I saw that I had a semi-regular reader from Burundi, I had to go look it up.
I learned that Burundi was one of the poorest countries in East Africa, and had suffered a series of genocides and civil wars that devastated the local population and economy. It’s been the focus of a UN rebuilding process since 2006, but it’s slow going.
My computer broke soon thereafter, and I wasn’t able to read any more.
I have a habit of never throwing away expensive pieces of technology, or at least always having one backup. I have all the iPhones I’ve ever owned scattered in boxes about my apartment, and I have a rats nest of power cables that would probably be better at bludgeoning intruders to death that charging any device. It only took a few minutes of rummaging through my bedroom closet.
I knew I had an extra computer some where, I just had to find it. It only took me a few minutes of rummaging to unearth the treasure I was searching for: my white, plastic Macbook from 2008.
The memories.
This little workhorse carried me through the end of high school and all the way through undergrad. Its documents folder is full of classics papers, Latin translations, and German workbooks. There’s a whole section of poorly-crafted stories from my early days, malnourished and deformed creatures who flinch and hiss at the light when you open the folder.
And the pictures. It’s like stepping back into high school. To undergrad, back to Birmingham, Alabama.
It was magical. Like opening an old box and finding treasure from when you were a kid.
When I was younger, the decree would sometimes come down from on high that we needed to clean the house. Invariably, my dad would go clean the master bedroom, and the rest of us would have to do the whole house by ourselves. It wasn’t big, but it was the principle that upset us.
At some point, though, we’d all find our selves in the red bedroom, huddled on the floor around several old shoeboxes. There were pictures in the shoeboxes. Thousands of them. We’d look through, and I’d see my dad’s navy friends I always heard stories about, or vacations I couldn’t remember, or family members I only met once.
It’s weird to think that your parents had lives before you were around.
I wonder if old computers are going to be my generations shoe boxes. Old pictures, old homework assignments, old dreams and fantasies, old games and videos. We’ll clean out our closets and stumble across these heavy pieces of plastic, and our kids will go “wow, that thing rested on your lap? Did it cut off your circulation?”
We’ll show them it didn’t, though it did singe the hair off.
Eight years. It seemed like forever.
It seemed even longer when I tried to get on word press. My computer was running browsers that were too old to use the word press web app. Worse still, my operating system was too old to upgrade the browsers. Worse still, I couldn’t upgrade my OS without paying for it.
Shit.
I felt like I was trying to use a brick as a flashlight. No matter how hard I tried to flip a switch, it was just a brick.
I didn’t have Final Draft. I didn’t have Scrivener. I was crippled.
You build your life around a profession. You spend every waking moment thinking about it, you sacrifice good paying jobs to give your dreams a try, you lay it all out on the line, and then your tool breaks. My computer. The one thing I needed, and it’s gone.
It was such a betrayal, like finding a spider in the shower. What was once safe and comforting now has poisonous things in it. Using this old computer felt weird. It felt dirty, too much like I was stepping back into my past, turning into something I used to be and loosing all forward progress. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to have to write in Microsoft word again.
And then I thought about my reader in Burundi. I wonder what she uses to read my blog, or the lengths she went to to even get access to a computer.
I thought about her, and the civil wars, and the ethnic cleansing. I wonder if she lost any family members. I thought about the rampant starvation, and I wondered if she was hungry. I thought about disease, and wondered if she was well.
My friend works for a company that, among other things, repairs macs for studios and production companies. He’s taking a look at the computer tomorrow. He thinks it’s just a corrupted disk image.
Until then, I’m back in 2008.
I’m using a plastic computer held together by duct tape that can’t even access my favorite websites, but I’m going to soldier through it.
If my reader from Burundi can do it, then I owe it to her to try.
It’s probably not as bad as all that, though. I like to imagine a leisurely afternoon stroll through Bujumbura, the streets alive with insects, the humidity oppressive. Spices waft on the breeze that blows across lake Tanganyika. Dogs bark in the distance, but not in a frightening way. No, it’s comforting.
She wears an orange dress and sandals, and she waves at everyone she passes. They all smile and wave back.
She gets to the café and sits down with a cup of coffee, and loads my blog.
I hope I don’t disappoint her.

p.s.

i wrote this on my phone. I hope it turned out okay.

It couldn’t stayed buried forever forever


I have been terribly busy of late practicing battle of the bands, trying to keep up with school work and thinking about how i should be working on a 12 page paper due at the end of the month and have completely forgotten about posting on my blog.  I had horrendous writers block last weekend, and this weekend will be packed with the 48 hour film festival, so i dont know if ill get anything done.  But i do feel bad about not posting anything in two weeks, so here is another “classic” from my old blog.  Hope you re-enjoy it.

oh and here’s a funny picture of something impossible

How come no one has ever won more than 1 best picture award at once?

As I posted links to my now (nearly) world famous blog on Facebook, I was plagued by the personification of annoying: Security Questions. That is the facebook term. Most other people would call them worthless bullshit. The security questions are pictures of two words that have been morphed and stretched beyond recognition and then placed in front of shapes. You are meant to decode this fragmented mess and type the “words” into a separate box to prove that you are a human being who can read and, I assume, has a degree in cryptology. They exists to make sure that people do not create programs that spam posts on forums, facebook, twitter or what have you. I have no degree in cryptology but I can read better than (most) 5th graders, so I was able to post my blog successfully after a mere 10 or so tries. Per person. And each time I failed, they gave me new words to decipher. Great. 

While I was doing this, a thought occurred to me. In the right context, some of these “security” phrases could be cracker-jack movie titles! They are always so nonsensical and weird that I think the company that makes them must have a secret cadre of word slaves who thumb through dictionaries and come up with endless supply of the most bizarre combinations of adjectives and nouns imaginable, which are then inserted into these security questions. So while I was posting on somebody’s facebook page, I decided to click “give me new words” 10 times and write the phrases down. I then turned these into the best movie ideas the world has every seen, and all I can say is that at the next acadamy awards

James Cameron better watch out!
About erosion:
An artsy film about a family in Nevada who return to their home only to find it has been completely eroded. By erosion. Now homeless, they head to vegas to seek their fortunes as an all-family band, but the erosion follows them wherever they go. Can they escape the evil machinations of nature or will they themselves become…ERODED? 

Three senator:
A feel good romp for the whole family! A senator from California finds out that he has 2 identical twin brothers who he has never met because they were sent away to avoid being killed by pharaoh, or so his mom says, but she has gone completely mad in her old age. The brothers become great friends and decide to take turns going to senate so they can have more time off for fun. Hilarity ensues 

The tanked:
A college party goes horribly awry when a large quantity of mysterious beer that no one remembers bringing shows up and is consumed, turning frat boys into Hideous drunken zombies. Can’t the cure be discovered in time? 

The reposed:
A family man finds himself awake after spending the last 40 years in a coma. He is now 73 and has an incredible hospital bill to pay and only one way to pay it off: he has to find and capture Osama Bin Laden. 

From Buntings:
A British man from the town of Buntings 120 years in the future travels back in time to a mid 80’s Chicago to meet his great grandfather and warn him about a few things so their family will be insanely rich in the future. He ends up learning a thing or two about himself and decides his family is fine just the way it is. 

Cozily these:
The epic sci-fi trilogy of an old cat-lady (an old woman with no friends but her cats) who ends up being kidnapped by aliens from modern day earth and forced into slavery on some far away planet. She escapes and later accidentally rescues the galaxy from some sort of ancient evil and or phantom menace. 

Automate May:
The world has grown fed up with the month of May and has created a device that makes everyone fast forward through may. They essentially fall asleep on April 30th, live on autopilot for the whole month of May, and wake up in June! Of course, hilarity ensues when they find out that things weren’t as they left them! Why do we now have a giraffe honey? When did all these robots show up? Where are the kids? Find out next May! 

State’s stale:
The state of Wisconsin was going great, until they sent Bret Favre away to Minnesota! All of a sudden, the state’s massive quantities of cheese began going stale for no reason! After scientists realize why the cheese is going stale (the absence of Favretrons in the atmosphere), a crack team of cheese factory workers (Sylvester Stallone, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Murray from Flight of the Conchords, Jason Statham and Aziz Ansari) is assembled with one purpose in mind: to get Brett Favre to come back, by any means necessary! 

Defining 65:
Two brothers from south Alabama who hate each other decide to drive the whole extent of I-65 with their dying father, who is also 65, in order to reconnect. On they way they get waylaid by Somali pirates, find bigfoot, and learn a little bit about what it is to be family. Oh, and their father learns he doesn’t actually have cancer, because this is a comedy. 

Executive Ghosts:
Roger Rogers, a newly appointed executive of BP, finds out that his office is haunted by the ghosts of exec’s past, who all collaborate with him to clean up the oil spill, after he does a few quests for them. Rogers learns a valuable lesson about how important it is to FUCKING BUILD STUFF CORRECTLY AND NOT CUT CORNERS, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOUR COMPANY ALREADY MAKES 200 BILLION DOLLARs ANNUAL PROFIT, YOU JACKASS!!!

It couldnt stay buried forever…..


As I might have said before, I used to blog on a website called Blogspot, which I found to be the adolescent form of WordPress: moody and annoying.  This might have been what caused me to stop writing in first place, that and red dead redemption of course.  After i stumbled upon the glittering beauty of wordpress and, as i bean writing again, enchanted by its ease of use, I realized that some of my articles from Blogspot were still good reads… or at least I thought they were and everyone else who read them were too polite to say otherwise or that they didn’t read it at all.  Anyway, I’ve decided to re-post some of my old posts from Blogspot.  here you go.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Pretentious Bag: A Study of Sustainability


I bought a pretentious bag at whole foods several weeks ago. This was a time, of course, when our gulf was being submersed in endless pools of oil, France and Italy were sent off in the knock out rounds of the world cup and the Executives of BP found themselves more hated than the demon offspring of Adolf Hitler and the great Satan himself.

It's evil cant be tamed!

Something had to be done, and evey time i looked out my window, do you want to know what I saw? If not I’m gonna tell you anyway. I saw people driving cars and eating food and throwing away trash and running water. No one was doing shit. It was up to me to make sure that the world would be sustainable for the rest of time, even into and after the apocalypse.

Not pictured: an oil spill

Fortunately I was at whole foods, a chain of stores that specializes in making you feel like you are making a difference, and then charging you for it; a cheap psychiatrist. I was waiting to purchase some authentic Greek yogurt, not Greek granola, and Chilean black cherries when the thought struck me: now, at long last, was my time to take a stand. But how? HOW???? And then I saw it, conveniently located by the self-checkout, which I always use because I fear other people, was a bag. But it was no normal bag. No, not a normal bag in the slightest. This bag was made of 80% recycled… stuff. With this bag, I would never again need use paper bags. Since paper bags are the scourge of the planet, I realized that this would be the perfect way for me to make a difference, to take a stand. I gleefully seized said bag, which proudly proclaimed on it’s side that I am for a sustainable ecosystem, and implied that you aren’t. The bag itself is bright blue and green, depicting landscapes and clouds from the Teletubbies, and looks as if it were stitched together by child slaves who were freed and then put to work somewhere else doing the exact same thing, but now for twice as much.

We love making bags! And forced labor!

My self esteem had never soared so high. I puzzled over exactly how many manatees would be saved by my selflessness, over how many orphans that would find loving families because I opted to not use a paper bag. I finally decided on 5. As I headed home, I knew that the world would soon right itself, due to a little thing called the butterfly effect. Who knows the long lasting ramification of my simple purchase? Someone in Vietnam could have very well encountered a leprechaun, gotten a wish, and snagged his pot of gold because I didn’t use a paper bag!

Ye found me pot o' Gold!

And now look what has happened. Oil spill? Plugged. Dengue Fever? Lived through it. Child slave rebellion? Crushed. So next time the world has a problem give me a call. Ill buy another bag.

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