Wise Words on Job Hunting

“All these jobs are racist against people who don’t have skills.”

-Luanne Platter, King of the Hill (created by Mike Judge)

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I Need Your Opinion On Something…

Calling All Readers!

 

There’s a particular story that has haunted me for over a year now, and I’ve been dying to get it out. The problem is that my time is at a premium right now, so I have to prioritize everything, and I need to be sure that most of what I’m writing holds the highest value. As much as I love this story, it spans across a huge amount of time, and is actually two different series that combine into one big plot, so once I get started on this one I’m going to have to roll with it pretty steadily.

I’ve taken a moment to write the prologue, which explains the time period and generally sets the scene, but the story itself expands away from that significantly over time, so much so that it becomes almost unrecognizable in comparison. Because this story has my dream character in it I’ve drawn up big plans for it, and currently it’s looking to be my Harry Potter series (I’m not saying my books will do that well, just that it’s an intricate, highly detailed line that’s going to take me years to complete).

So, if you could take a quick moment to read the prologue and let me know what you think of it I would be eternally grateful. Every bit of feedback I get helps me immensely. Even if you only have enough time to say “your story sucks” it’ll still help me in the end. If you want me to scratch your back in return for your review and check out some of your samples/excerpts/early drafts I’d be happy to do so. If that’s the case then drop me a line either through email or the comments and I’ll get on it.

 

The Variformer Series

Book One: First the Crash

Prologue

 

In the second half of the 21st century it became painfully clear that humankind had outgrown its birthplace. The population continued to grow with gaining speed as the number of newborn babies per day increased every week. Though some had anticipated the looming trouble ahead of time they were unable to convince others of the imminent issues our immense population would create. When the problem was finally acknowledged by enough people for it to be actively combated it was too late; the snowball effect of our compulsive expansion had quickly stretched beyond our control. The peaceful, democratic nature of the Centralized World Government meant that any solution that involved innocent deaths was off the table, and regulations preventing couples from having as many children as they wanted also didn’t sit with them very well, either. The best course of action was obvious: colonization. It was unanimously voted by the world’s leaders and scientists to boost the current space program and seed new planets as soon as possible.

Once our fate was decided, the immediacy of mankind’s plight spurred the greatest minds on Earth to action. Just as the threat of complete societal and ecological collapse crescendoed, a small group of intellectuals discovered a method that allowed them to construct ship engines that were efficient enough to power vessels large enough for mass migrations. Since other task forces had already pinpointed potential planets for colonization, it was only a matter of building the impressively huge ships and loading them with the supplies and people needed for their voyages. As the construction crews scrambled to build the ships a selection process was initiated to determine who would be lucky enough to escape the decaying Earth.

Dozens of colony ships were dispatched, spreading out in every direction conceivable, but only a small fraction of them were able to reach and successfully establish themselves at new planets. Many colonists lived their entire lives, from birth to an old-aged death, on their ship because of the relatively slow progression, but the knowledge needed for surviving on a planet was passed from generation to generation so the venture wouldn’t fail during its final step. There were no guarantees that every colonist would thrive on their new planet, but the ones who did were sufficient to perpetuate the human species.

Centuries later, people have both regained and surpassed the previous glory they had enjoyed on Earth, and the flourishing technological and scientific understanding of those who survived the emigration into space has inspired a sophisticated, advanced civilization that spans the vast stretches of the Milky Way. In the midst of such a changed society, some traditions and cultural aspects from the ‘old world’ were retained and adapted. It was just such a practice that resulted in Variformers: performers who are skilled in a wide range of traditional and contemporary arts, such as dancing, singing, acrobatics, gymnastics, and other physical forms of expression. Only the most skilled of performers can aspire to become a Variformer, which requires a wide knowledge of various types of entertainment and an extreme level of physical prowess. They must be strong and adaptable enough to handle complex motions and vocalizations. Variformers have become the superstars of the modern world, and are more revered than most planetary officials.

In the process of obtaining the abilities needed to keep up with the ever-increasing difficulty involved, many Variformers have turned to medical science for help. Among the popular adaptations are joint supports, stabilizers and assists for heart and lungs, pain reduction procedures, skeletal reinforcements, sight enhancements, vocal augmentations, and cosmetic adjustments. The popularity of appealing to surgeons has grown so much that just about everyone who earns the status of Variformer had to seek their help to do so. Bodily upgrades have become so common that most view them as inconsequential, but some, a select few of the Variformers, don’t feel the need to partake in the practice. When one such ‘purist’ arises their unusual status always causes them to become a major focus for the public, which typically causes consternation for the enhanced humans and creates tense working relationships between them.

Jaidelyn Costin is considered a purist Variformer, and our story starts with her.

 

So, What Do You Think?

 

Please keep in mind that this is a very early draft (the first, actually). Does this sound like a story that would intrigue you, or does it seem like a snooze fest? If you’d like a quicker method for speaking your mind then please feel free to use the poll below.

Thank you!

 

 

 

Boundless Sarcasm – Pharming, Animal Dumping, and Stereotyping

Free at Last (Sort of)

 

Honestly, no one is every truly free, but my stint of jury duty is over and I finally have the time needed to pick up the pace here. And I have a lot of catching up to do. I know it’s a big ‘no no’ to post more than two articles in one day, but I’m just bursting with built up ideas, so today I’m gonna go against my nature and break the rules a little. I plan to finish up the series that started from the last Daily Prompt I participated in, but before I do that I’d like to go ahead and pound out the new one posted this morning.

 

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Game of Groans

Think about an object, an activity, or a cultural phenomenon you really don’t like. Now write a post (tongue in cheek or not – your call!) about why it’s the best thing ever.

 

A Little History

 

Before I get started I’d like to point out that I’m frequently sarcastic, as well as a pessimist, so I have a lot of grievances with the world. There’s so many things I could write about on this topic that I could actually create a series that lasted months (and I might, at that). That’s why I’ve chosen to use three actions that anger me, rather than one. Now, those of you that have read some of my previous posts know that when I expand beyond a single point it tends to backfire on me, causing  the discussion to stretch into way too many installments rather than the single article it should be, but I’m working on training myself against that habit, and today is my first attempt in controlling myself. Wish me luck!

 

Awesomeness!

 

Alright, first I’ll detail the ‘cons’ for each topic:

Pharming

Pharming is a euphemism used by teens in reference to abusing prescription drugs in an attempt to get high, and usually the practice involves drinking alcohol or combining more than one drug. ‘Pharming Parties‘ are secretive gatherings of teens where each attendee brings pills they’ve either stolen from family and/or friends, purchased from dealers, or obtained from doctors after skillfully faking symptoms. In some cases, they trade with each other directly, but there have been occasions where a large salad bowl or container will be placed in the middle of the room so that everyone can deposit their contributions into it. The dangerous larder is then mixed thoroughly so that everyone can randomly select a few pills to take, usually having no clue exactly what they’ve grabbed or what kind of interactions they might experience.

Some claim that the media coverage on this issue have blown the threat out of proportion, saying that these parties aren’t the epidemic some might think they are, but, regardless of their frequency, they are still extremely perilous, and they still take place from time to time. However, there is an upside to all of this:

  • If you’re a geek, nerd, or outcast attending Pharming Parties could boost you up the social ladder, especially if you’re amusing when you’re high. It’s a great way to make real friends.
  • If you have ADD or ADHD chances are you’ll end up grabbing some Ritalin or Adderall, which are frequently used at the parties, and are the best medications for Attention Deficit. So you’ll actually be doing yourself some good.
  • Most of the people who show up know more about the pills they have than the doctors that prescribe them, and if something bad happens you can be sure that they’ll know how to save your life. They’ve spent hours studying the medical field online, after all. You can always partake in confidence.
  • If the cops show up you’ll be so high that you won’t care at all when they handcuff you, toss you into the uncomfortable back seat of their cruiser, and take you to jail. Popping pills is totally worth destroying your future, and since you’re under 18 the judge and prosecuting attorney will probably go easy on you, especially if you blame peer pressure.
  • If you do die at least you won’t have to worry about turning in your math homework on Monday.
  • Pills are harmless, and using them is a lot safer than taking street drugs, like heroine and meth.

Animal Dumping

The term ‘Animal Dumping’ is pretty self-explanatory, but it can take many forms. Some people end up in a dire situation where they have no choice but move to a new home that doesn’t allow pets, so they leave them behind at their previous residence. Others don’t consider the responsibility when adopting pets, find out their in way over their head, and release them some place far from home so they can’t find their way home. An unplanned pregnancy can put a lot of strain on a family, and most turn to abandoning the babies as soon as they’re done weaning. Everyone has their own reasons for doing this, but a lot of the time it comes down to avoiding the perceived shame and embarrassment associated with turning the animals over to shelter staff. Some are so desperate to end ‘the problem’ quietly that they even gather the kittens, puppies, whatever, into a sack and throw them out the window of their car as they drive down the road. Dumping a pet is unnecessary and cruel, but there are major advantages to both humans and animals when they are let loose to fend for themselves:

  • Finding a new owner for your pets can take months. Throwing your pet outside only takes moments.
  • Studies show that cats who have owners are more likely to be obese and develop other diseases as a result of the imbalance between exercise and readily available food, which humans cause through pampering and protection. Living ‘in the wild’ ensures that they don’t eat too much, and the high amounts of energy required to catch their own sustenance keeps them in shape and at the proper weight.
  • When a cat or dog lives past the age that they’d normally die around if they were feral they usually end up in a lot of pain from diseases like arthritis, organ failure, and dental decay. The constant danger they face on their own ensures that they’re unlikely to live long enough to suffer. It’s more humane, if you really think about it.

Stereotyping

Being stereotyped or discriminated against simply because of your personal attributes is one of the worst experiences a person could have, and it’s certainly unacceptable behavior in some cases, but it has its uses and it’s not as evil as some make it seem.

  • Let’s face it: most stereotypes have been proven to be true most of the time. If you’re in a bad neighborhood and you see someone dressed like a gang member chances are they are one. They probably have a gun, too, or at the least a can of spray paint. If you see a bunch of cars parked on someone’s lawn they probably drink a lot, and there’s a good chance they live on welfare or have a very low-paying job. If someone says they’re Mormon they probably have 10 kids at home. If you see a teen dressed in nothing but black clothes, with their hair all spiked up and crazy, their face covered in piercings and weird makeup, they’re probably suicidal and hate everyone.
  • Using stereotypes to judge people at first glance is a major time-saver. Before they say a single word you’ll already know if they’re the kind of person you want to associate with. This cuts down on the wasteful conversations you’d have to go through just to get to know someone. Why bother when the clothes they’re wearing say everything already. Am I right?
  • Stereotyping allows law officials to pick out potential criminals and trouble makers from crowds efficiently. It assists them in protecting good, law-abiding citizens and makes paying taxes more tolerable since you know they’re doing everything possible to actually earn the money we pay them. So when you see a cop ‘harassing’ someone because of preconceived notions you should thank him, not shun him.

 

In Reality

 

If I do turn this into a series of articles this will be the time when I reveal any relevant facts against my fake arguments, as well as how I really feel about what I’ve previously said. I’m not going to do this today because this post is already too long. But if you plan on leaving a comment please, please, please keep in mind that everything I’ve said is the exact opposite of my own views (well, except the opening paragraphs for each topic). While a few of the facts I’ve stated are true that doesn’t mean I actually support the actions those points are defending. I just wanted to make that perfectly clear.

 

Thank you for stopping by!

Reason to Believe: Part Two

This article is a continuation to a previous discussion for a Daily Prompt. While it isn’t required to read the first part I would appreciate it if you did. The first part can be found here.

 

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Reason to Believe

In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day, people find some reason to believe. What’s your reason to believe?

 

Verse by Verse

As I said before, I think the best way to present my answers is by going through each verse. Remember, these are just my own interpretations of these lyrics. The beauty of music is that everyone hears something different.

Verse One

Seen a man standin’ over a dead dog lyin’ by the highway in a ditch 
He’s lookin’ down kinda puzzled pokin’ that dog with a stick 
Got his car door flung open he’s standin’ out on highway 31 
Like if he stood there long enough that dog’d get up and run 
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me 
Still at the end of every hard day people find some reason to believe 

This verse demonstrates how some can have faith in the impossible being accomplished, or hoping for a miracle even when observing death. We know, without a doubt, that death is final, but there’s always that lurking anticipation that maybe a higher power could negate it. This verse makes me think of something in my life that isn’t entirely impossible, but the odds are stacked against me. I’ve dedicated a huge amount of time and energy to growing my career, so much so that I work seven days a week, and sometimes spend 16 hours of the day on my computer. My goals are high, eventually culminating in a company I’ve dreamed of establishing that will take a stand against the dirty business practices so many giant corporations have used to make an extra buck.

In my current situation it will take several more years of near-constant struggle to get there, and there’s no certainty that I’ll see a return on my efforts. I own nothing of value and can’t even get a micro-loan, so there’s a lot of factors against me. The same goes for my writing career. I’d love to someday attain the type of prestige authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have achieved, but the chances are slim. Every day I face failures and discouraging results as the ‘fruit of my labors’, but I still keep trying. However, it isn’t any sort of faith that urges me to open my laptop every morning, especially not in myself.

I’ve dealt with poverty since my earliest memories. I know that the only way I can dig myself out of this hole is to work, work, work, so that’s what I do. But it isn’t just myself that I want to help. Because of my direct experience with many of the darker aspects of life I’ve always wanted to help others to overcome their past. If my only concern was bettering my life I’m sure I’d never reach my goals, but thinking of the thousand, even millions, of people and animals that also yearn for a brighter future pushes me to carry on more than any enticement or daydream of glory every could.

Verse Two

Now Mary Lou loved Johnny with a love mean and true 
She said baby I’ll work for you everyday and bring my money home to you 
One day he up and left her and ever since that 
She waits down at the end of that dirt road for young Johnny to come back 
Struck me kinda funny funny yea indeed how at the end of every hard earned day you can find some reason to believe 

This verse shows how love can be blind, how affection can hide the truth from you despite the clear evidence that you’ve been used and abandoned. I’ve been in a similar situation, but with a different ending. I feel in love with my third boyfriend very quickly, partly because I was young and naïve, but after a few months a mutual friend delivered some distressing news: another girl that he’d shown interest in for some time had moved back into town and he was trying to convince her to start a relationship with him. He didn’t even have enough respect for me to tell me to my face, and avoided me for the two weeks that this took place. All he told me was that he needed time to think and he’d let me know.

Over the time that we were apart I never got angry; I only fell into a depression at the thought of losing him. When he later returned to me he insinuated through a vague explanation that he’d chosen me over the other girl, but I soon found out from another source that that had been a lie. The reason he stayed with me was actually because the other girl had turned him down, telling him that she had no interest in him, but even after hearing that I still wanted to be with him.

With the assistance of a previous ex-boyfriend, I later realized that I deserved better than someone who could leave me so easily, so I ended the relationship, but at the time of our discourse my love-induced delusions about him made me willing to do anything to get him back. That’s what made me believe that he would choose me and be faithful once we resumed our relationship. I was wrong, of course, since he cheated on me after that, but perceived love can be very strong. My proof is the scar that runs down my arm, a result of my broken mind turning to pain in an attempt to distract itself from the emotional anguish I was going through.

 Verse Three

Take a baby to the river Kyle William they called him 
Wash the baby in the water take away little Kyle’s sin 
In a whitewash shotgun shack an old man passes away take the body to the graveyard and over him they pray Lord won’t you tell us, 
Tell us what does it mean 
At the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe 

I found this verse very interesting since, to me, it talks about people keeping their faith in their god even after said god has taken someone they love from them. It’s also a fantastic description of the cycle we must all follow and how people can continue living their lives even thought they realize death will come for them some day. I’ve actually struggled with this one a bit, but eventually the will of someone I cared about helped me soldier on.

The bond I had with my mother was so strong that even as a child I couldn’t imagine my life without her. Psychiatrists call it enmeshment and say it’s unhealthy (which I can understand now), but there were a lot of upsides to such a relationship. She was my best friend and greatest confidant. She happened to be a heavy smoker and was diagnosed with emphysema when she was in her 40’s. As she came into her 50’s the disease tore her apart, and smoking two packs a day certainly didn’t help. I knew her death was imminent, but I had no clue how I was going to live without her, so suicide became even more appealing than it already had been (see The Value of Stupidity). I couldn’t lie to her, so I never hid my intentions, and it was my blatant behavior that stopped me.

Any time I hurt my mom it destroyed me, even if it was an accident, so when she responded exactly as a loving mother would by telling me how much she didn’t want me to die with her it penetrated my fear of being without her. I’d always held her needs above my own, even to the point of stalling my career so I could care for her and spend time with her, so her resistance to my plan is what prevented me from following her the day she died. It was her belief in me, that I could function, even thrive, without her that kept me alive.

Verse Four

Congregation gathers down by the riverside 
Preacher stands with his bible, groom stands waitin’ for his bride 
Congregation gone and the sun sets behind a weepin’ willow tree 
Groom stands alone and watches the river rush on so effortlessly 
Wonderin’ where can his baby be still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Ah, love. Once again, another clear example of how love makes you ignore what could emotionally crush you. Really, it’s more of a survival instinct than anything else. This verse is a little different, though, since there’s no suggestion that the groom has been hurt by his bride before. His devotion to her is so strong that he believes something bad would have happened before the chance that she got cold feet and ran. I’ve never been stranded at the altar (knock on wood), but I have experienced an unexpected break (who hasn’t?)

When I was 15 my family moved to a small town where everyone knew each other and shortly after I started dating my second boyfriend. He had a very bad reputation for breaking hearts and only staying with any one girl for a few weeks at most, but we’d clicked really well (or so I thought). We’d built a friendship beforehand and he’s still one of my friends to this day, so I know we get along well. Everything was progressing nicely and I was deliriously happy, but one day he wouldn’t say a single word to me. Before that he’d always seemed eager to see me, but later that day he broke up with me by handing me a note (why I always ended up with guys that didn’t respect me enough to deliver bad news in person I’ll never know).

Despite my thorough understanding of his distant, promiscuous habits (stories abounded about his exploits, and every one of them had the ring of truth to them) that note was the last thing I’d expected from him.

 

What do you see when you read these lyrics?

Lyrics found at AZLyrics.com.

I Don’t Have Beliefs, But I Do Have Ideas

Because this article became unruly by the time I finished it I’ve decided to break it into two parts. If you’re interested in reading my interpretation of the lyrics of Reason to Believe there will be a link to it at the bottom of this post.

My Brain Hurts!

I have to say, whoever wrote today’s Daily Prompt kind of stumped me for a bit. Of course, trying to figure out a viable answer to such a strong, open question when you haven’t even had coffee yet gets a little tedious, but I think I’ve got my answer figured out. I took a moment to look up the lyrics for the song mentioned in the question (I’m not a huge Springsteen fan, but my mom loved him), and noticed that he speaks of a few different aspects of life to believe in, so I figure I’ll give a quick example and answer for each verse. But before I do that (and before some people mistake me as an atheist) I’d like to explain the title I chose for today’s article.

Religion Means More Than Following a Set of Rules

If you’ve never seen the movie Dogma then I urge you to track down a copy somehow, but I have to warn you that some who are very serious may end up offended from this film. It was never meant to be an affront to organized religion, merely one man’s take on the behavior of certain religious practitioners. He demonstrates his own idea of Christianity as well. Every scene is rife with comedy, but important points and lessons lay beneath the typically light dialogue. Dogma is one of the best movies I have ever seen, but that doesn’t guarantee  that everyone else will love it, too. The scene from which I’ve derived my title involves a woman on a holy quest who’s asking a man named Rufus (portrayed by Chris Rock), who was once the 13th Apostle and, therefore, knew Jesus first hand, to explain what Jesus was really like. He has many interesting answers for her, but one was absolutely brilliant. Here’s the discussion:

Rufus: He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name – wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it.

Bethany: Having beliefs isn’t good?

Rufus: I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier…

Source: IMDB

There’s nothing wrong with having beliefs, but history has shown us how difficult it can be to adjust them. Everything is always changing around us; our way of life, our ideals about beauty, our views on morals and what constitutes a sin. It only makes sense that eventually those beliefs will have to adapt as well. They don’t need to be completely overhauled and rewritten from scratch, but small tweaks do need to be made. Here’s an example that George Takei posted on Facebook:

An interesting sermon comparing the similarity between divorce and homosexuality in the bible.

An interesting sermon comparing the similarity between divorce and homosexuality in the bible.

I could go on and on about this topic, but it seems I’ve digressed from the question at hand, so let’s move on.

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Reason to Believe

In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day, people find some reason to believe. What’s your reason to believe?

 

 Answer

 

I know this article doesn’t seem to make much sense as an answer to the Daily Prompt (I seem to be thinking like a ferret today), but I couldn’t make myself delete everything. When considering only the content of the question itself it’s very difficult for me to answer. I don’t even know exactly what beliefs they’re talking about. Do they mean religious beliefs? Faith in love? The surety that everything will work out even though the present is horrible? It’s because of this that I decided to break down the song by verse and write out my take on the song itself. So…

 

Be sure to read Reason to Believe: Part Two