Par the norm, I don’t understand how people think. Doing my “It’s almost 1 a.m. and I don’t feel like going to bed so let’s read some news” reading, and I come across a speech Paul Ryan gave recently, and a chunk of it echoes what Romney keeps saying, the concept that: “America needs to have a military so strong that no one will ever thing of attacking us.”
It’s a philosophy that’s been around for at least as long as I’ve been alive, and I just don’t get it.
Not knocking having a decent military. Having a strong military is good. It’s self-assuring, It makes sure the jerk next door doesn’t come over and take your stuff. It’s the “So no one will ever even think of attacking us,” that makes no sense.
Have the people that believe this philosophy ever met… people? America has a military stronger, larger and more powerful than any that has ever existed on this planet. We have both the largest and fifth largest navies in the world (That’s right, the Coast Guard comes it at number five). Our military is so advanced it developed GPS. It is hard to conceive of having a stronger military without changing our society into some weird pseudo-fascist Sci-fi military dictatorship.
Yet has that stopped people from attacking us? No. Because it’s all based on a flawed idea, that it’s better to be feared than loved.
I could go on and on trying to get this out of my head, but as stated earlier, it’s nearing one in the a.m. so I’ll simply ask those that believe the fear is a better defense than love argument to sit back and think about the old west.Think about cowboys, riding horses , saloon girls and revolvers.
Now, have you ever heard, whether in reality or the movies, of a gun fighter that was so good, so fast on the draw that everyone left him alone, and no one ever tried to out draw him?
Sorry, this is a bit on the political side, but I spent a good chunk of this week pissed off. And not pissed off in a good way.
Yes, there’s a good way to be pissed. There’s several. The first would be the one that follows a night of liquid social lubrication and an understanding of British slang. Another is that anger that stirs the “we’ll I’ll show them,” response, and ends with you having outperformed everyone at your job or dating that red head that has a PhD and is way out of your league in the looks category.
But I wasn’t one of those pissed. I was the kind of upset that just makes you angry and not want to deal with anything. And it was all due to that magic 47% number that’s been in the news of late.
Here’s how it went down for me: On Monday, while doing my daily news surfing, I read about the video of Romney’s comments on the 47% of American’s that don’t pay federal income tax, and how they are a moochers and won’t take personal responsibility for themselves. Romney also explains how this 47% is dependent on government handouts. I had my first thought of, “Wow, that was a stupid thing to say,” and then I looked up the numbers.
Turns out that the 47% is composed of people that pay payroll taxes, coincidently at a higher percentage of their income than Romney’s total tax burden (61% of the 47% paying an average of 15.5% of their income in taxes while Romney in 2010 paid 13.9% of his income in taxes.), the elderly (22%) and then the “other” category (17%). The “others” include students, people with disabilities, and people in the military that are stationed in a tax free zone. (Yah, I like numbers a little too much)
After looking at the numbers, I went on with my life. I had a paper to write and the day was getting on with itself. Then came Tuesday, where we talked about the comment in a class. Nothing really came of it, other than just bringing the subject back to the front of my brain.
Then came Wednesday. A lax day. Did some work, studied, and after dinner I sat down and watched some Batman. And right as Batman ended, something raddled loose in my head and things connected. I sat there and realized “wait a second, he was talking about me? Romney called me a moocher that won’t take personal responsibility for himself? That….” And then I went into a lot of words that probably shouldn’t be written down. The letter “F” was used a lot and I believe there was mention of a “hole” a few times.
I’m a student, but the only way I can afford to be a student is because I’m a vet. I don’t like to go into that much, as it feels like it cheapens it, (and I was a bloody journalist in the Navy, not like I worked in the engine room or had people shooting at me) but it’s relevant to my line of thought. Because I was in the Navy, I’m now able to attend the University of Miami through a combination of the post 9/11 GI Bill and a Yellow Ribbon Grant. All my school is paid for, I get an allowance for books, and a monthly living allowance. This is nice, but I certainly don’t get enough of a living allowance to pay income tax on it.
So yes, according to Romney, I, a veteran, am a moocher that won’t take responsibility for himself. Needless to say, I suddenly took Romney’s comments a little personal. It went from “well that was a stupid thing to say,” to “what did you just call me?”
I’ve had people tell me that Romney wasn’t talking about me, or referring to people like me, but in an attempt to be polite, screw that. The man pre-judged a group based on their economic standings, without looking at the numbers or facts. The fact that I’m part of that judged group just makes it personal. The outrage gets a little more heated for me, if less personal, when you consider who else is in that group.
I use to work at Walter Reed. Great place to work, if for no other reason that it humbles the hell out of you. Almost every day, just by walking down the hallways to get a cup of tea (yah, I drink green tea, not coffee. Don’t hate) you see men and women that are working harder to recover from their wounds than should be humanly possible. Men and women missing legs and arms, that work harder than I’ve ever seen anyone work, just to learn to walk again. And this is a group that Romney, whether on purpose or accident, referred to as unwilling to take personal responsibility for themselves. Never mind all the other people that are just trying to make a better life for themselves.
To me, it doesn’t matter if Romney didn’t know he was referring to me or Soldiers that had lost limbs defending their country. Such ignorance isn’t an excuse for a major candidate in a presidential election. Just as a raciest comment isn’t excused because “oh, I didn’t mean you.”
Once upon a time, in a distant land, my brother was going through a divorce. An ugly thing, but everything turned out for the best in the end.
During this time I has just gotten out of the Navy, so I decided to take some time off to hang out with my brother. I figured he could use a friendly face while going through a rough process. So has I was getting ready to go visit my brother, my mother makes the following comment:
“It’s good that you’re going to visit your brother. He’s not an @$$hole like you.”
I was a little taken aback for a second. After all, I’m a freaking nice guy. If you don’t believe me, just ask anyone that isn’t wrong. But then I got the complement behind the words.
I may be a nice guy, but compared to my brother, I’m a jerk. He is the reason the phrase “nice to a fault,” exists. In high school, a girl once broke up with him because “he was too nice to everybody.” My brother is the guy that you get slightly annoyed with when he tries to make everyone happy, and then you get slightly more annoyed with him because you realize he genuinely cares.
I, on the other hand, am a polite, well intentioned socially awkward man that hits a point where my metaphoric hands go into the air and my brain declares, “screw you, I’ve had enough of your bull-$#!^.”
It’s not that I easily lose my patience. I got over that issue when I was 12. It’s that by the time my brother loses his I, as well as most of the world, has already lost theirs, gone out for a bite to eat, hit the gym, took in a movie, and gotten back to see him lose his patience.
In the end, it was a rather nice complement. So thanks Mom. Thanks for calling me an @$$hole.
For the most part people are very well intentioned, and want to do what’s right. But they get it wrong so much. (Granted they could be getting it right and I’m getting it wrong. It’s always possible, but I’m going to assume I’m right. Not because I’m super smart, but because I really don’t want to deal with the rabbit hole you get the minute you start assuming you’re wrong. Thinking you could be wrong, that works. Thinking that you are wrong, while still holding said wrong belief, that’s a freaking headache that will crash super computers)
Anyhoo, in particular I learned that back in 1993, (you know, back in the day, before you were born) there was a campaign called, “Don’t! Buy! Thai!” It was a well-meaning boycott, to try and stop child prostitution in Thailand.
Everyone agrees that child prostitution should be ended. At least everyone with a moral compass that points in any direction. It’s one of the things we can all agree with, like “Hitler was bad,” and “Jar Jar Binks was a horrible idea.” The problem is, they weren’t calling for the boycott of the sex industry, they wanted to boycott the other jobs from that region.
It would be like boycotting local shops until the government put an end a city-wide drug trade. The shops would go out of business, so everyone that worked for them would need some form of income, possible gained from a thriving local drug trade.
This is just what flew through my head in the first few seconds of reading about “Don’t! Buy! Thai!” So I don’t understand how a group of people can think of and run a campaign like this, putting hundreds of hours into it, without once considering “Hey, by not buying Thai products, could we be depressing the local Thai economy that is providing jobs. And by doing that could we be unintentionally putting individuals into the position where they have to become sex workers in order to survive?”
“Don’t! Buy! Thai!” was never successful and ended in 2000, so I guess no harm no foul. However, it has always boggled my mind that people with nothing but good intentions can miss such a blaringly obvious fault in their solution to a problem. Such as “You don’t boycott the part of the economy that you agree with, you boycott the part that you don’t like!”
But again, I could be wrong… Though, I’m probably not.
This train just went to crazy town.
It’s been a week of orientations at “The U.” That’s what I’m supposed to call the University of Miami. And instead of being the Hurricanes, we’re the “Canes.” This all leads me to believe that my new home has a serious issue with using full names.
But that’s the least of the odd craziness that is my new grad life. It’s more an eccentricity of traditions. After a week of orientations my eyes have been open to the true oddness that is my new life. Here’s a few things that I did not see coming:
- Alcohol at a school event. We had wine and beer at the graduate school social. While it took me off guard, why shouldn’t there be alcohol? Sure, it’s a school event, but it’s for graduate students. If you’re a graduate student chances are you’re over 21. And if you’re a grad student under 21, you deserve a bloody drink. Hell, I’ll buy you a drink, you genius bastard.
- A new student picnic with a live band and catered by six restraints. Who expects to be able to get a Greek Salad, personalized tacos and a burger from Cheeseburger in Paradise, all that a school picnic? I’ve seen town festivals less stacked than this picnic.
- Quidditch. That’s right, the University of Miami has a Quidditch team. You can run around on a field with a broom between your legs trying to catch a snitch.
So college is officially crazy town, and I couldn’t be happier.
I’m a bit paranoid. Depending on how well you know me, that statement has probably convinced you that I like the understatements as well.
But I have valid reasons for being paranoid. Here’s a few of them:
-While a thousand miles away from home and watching my budget, someone put something in my gas tank. I’m not clear on the details but entire sections of my fuel system had to be replaced.
-In the course of working a job that eventually ended badly, I was told that an email explaining what I was doing with a particular project, that was read and approved by my boss, did not count as informing my boss on what I was doing with said project.
-Once upon a time I started the night by walking home from work and ended it with peeing blood. (Mugged)
Three examples is the industrial standard, so moving on… I’m paranoid on certain things. That translates into, “I like to be prepared for every conceivable piece of crap that Murphy can throw at me.”
Considering where I now live, the likelihood of natural disasters in the area, crime rates, and a deadly wildlife, there’s one thing that I believe is the first and foremost thing to be prepared for. So here’s my Zombie Plan:
Step 1: Finding a secure location.
If you’re going up against zombies, shelter is vital. You need someplace safe to sleep, that’s defensible and has the resources for you to survive.
For short term shelter I’ve lucked out. Pretty much every building in the area is made of concrete. And my apartment has bars on the windows. So for the short term period, I’ll have a place to hold up. But the apartment is small and once the idea of water from pipes goes the way of the dinosaurs it’ll be a race to see if starvation or dehydration kill me first. So the apartment will be a good place to gather my wits, but at the first chance I need to make a break for a better hole to crawl into.
Obviously heading anywhere near the central part of the city is out, so going north is out.
The Everglades to my west would be an excellent place to survive, with plenty of resources. I however, have no clue how to harness those resources. I may like camping, but I’m no Survivor Man. Chances are, if I entered the Everglades I’d ether die of some disease, starvation, or get eaten by the local wildlife.
Cross off heading west.
East is also out. There’s nothing but ocean to the east, and though jumping a boat and heading out to sea sounds like a great idea, it’s too risky. The shorelines around Miami are too crowded, and security around marinas will be too heavy. Add to that the chances of rampant piracy; once survivors start to run out of food and water, the sea will be too dangerous.
So south it is. I’m roughly 160 miles from the Key West, which would make an excellent destination. The Keys are all small islands that could be realistically cleared of the undead and defended. Once an island is zombie free, the beaches, providing a clear line of sight should any zombies approach from the ocean, as well as the relatively small sizes of the islands will vastly improve any attempts at fortification and defense. Additionally, the tropical weather will mean a year round growing season and zombies rotting faster.
So the Keys are where I’ll be headed.
Step 2: Egress
The practical side of things, how will I get there and how will I get out of Miami? This will be heavily dependent on where I’m at when the zombies hit the fan, so any plan needs to be flexible.
My main form of transportation will be my bike. It’s not as noisy as a car, and more versatile. No getting trapped in a revenant ridden road block for me. Depending on the conditions a bike ride to the keys should take no more than three days. Should I be nowhere near my apartment or bike when the outbreak starts, I’m on foot to my apartment or one of the bike shops that our on the way out of town.
I’ll only be taking the streets out of town if it’s the early parts of an outbreak, where an aware person can outrun or out-ride any walkers they come across. If it’s past that point, and I’m stuck in a full blown outbreak, I’m taking the Metro.
Miami’s metro system is an elevated train system. Once a zombie outbreak is progressed to the point that the streets aren’t survivable, the trains should be shut down. I can’t imagine the operators continuing to do their jobs as riders try to gnaw on them. This will make the elevated metro a walking path several yards above the zombie horde, which leads out of the city. The only times of concern will be at stations.
I’ll walk my bike along the metro until I’m out of the city, and then take to the roads. On the way, there are three, soon to be four, bike shops that are within a block of the metro line. If it’s safe, these are stops. They will provide a bike should I need one, as well as give me a chance to load up on spare parts. A flat tire is now a life and death concern. Bike shops also have energy snacks. Bars, gels, energy boosting gummy candy. I’m grabbing as much as I can carry. While not a good long term diet, these energy snacks and whatever water I can carry should keep me going until I reach the Keys.
Step 3: Weapons.
You can’t survive the zombies without some self-defense.
I’m staying away from the typical trope. I’m not trained in using a sword, and where would I get one? No, I’m concentrating on running. Should I come across it I will grab a gun, or other suitable weapon, but assuming I’ll have to use what’s at hand: a screwdriver for if something gets too close and a bat otherwise. The bat is light enough that I can use it while on my bike, and its sole purpose will be to knock zombies away, so I can run like a bat out of hell.
Other than that, whatever I find, focusing on durability, ease of use and effectiveness, will be what I grab. Chances are I’d end up dead if I went searching for a weapon, and if I did survive to find one, who among us are actually trained well enough in anything to make consistent head-shots? Not worth the risk. I’m spending my energy getting out of dodge.
Step 4: Supplies
My bike has a rack and bags, so I’ll be stuffing whatever food and water I have, that will survive a lack of refrigeration, my portable hammock and sleeping bag (for sleeping up in the trees) one regular change of clothes and one for foul weather (i.e. rain gear) a liter and my first aid kit. That’s it.
And that’s my zombie plan. With luck I’ll meet up with other survivors in the Keys, roadblock some bridges, zombie clean some islands and make a new life for ourselves.
Now that one concern is out of the way, time to make a disaster plan for hurricanes…
Sad to say, but it looks like I may live in a bad neighborhood. I thought it was a good place to live. Nice and quiet. I only live three or four blocks from downtown South Miami, and I still find it unnerving how quiet my apartment is. And everyone seems nice.
But then, the other shoe dropped. As I was leaving for a morning run, I found this gruesome murder scene right outside my door.
The guy was just cut down, right in front of my apartment. And his attacker was still there, just giving me this cold stare, daring me to do something about it. It was bone chilling, which wasn’t that unpleasant. It’s kind of hot in Florida, so a little bone chilling every now and then helps cool you off. Luckily he wandered off and left me alone. I don’t know what I would have done if he tried to start something with me.
If that encounter wasn’t bad enough, this guy was loitering out in front of the apartment one evening when I was taking out the trash.
Obviously he’s part of the local punk community (just look at that spiked hair) and that’s all kosher, but what’s he doing just waiting there. It’s almost as if he was waiting to attack someone.
All these shady characters are unnerving. Especially now that I think there may be a gang forming in the neighborhood. I feel kind of guilty for thinking this, and I hope I don’t come off as a raciest, but these black cats are always hanging out in the area.
And one keeps trying to stare me down, like he’s trying to tell me I don’t belong. Do I live in the ghetto?
Two days of driving, with a slight stop-over in Orlando to visit a friend and sleep, and I made it down to Miami.
I now live in South Miami, which is technically a different city than Miami, but it falls under one of my general rules about cities: “If it’s all connected by a local metro system, it’s one bloody city.”
So I now live in Miami. I’m in a nice little efficiency, with a little patio, in the middle of what appears to be a one block jungle. Driving up to my new place, it’s nothing but your typical city neighborhoods, all in the South Florida style. As soon as you hit my block, you’re suddenly trekking through the jungle. It’s nice. Plenty of shade, and eventually I’ll stop jumping every time a leaping lizard moves through the trees around me.
That’s right, I have leaping lizards in my yard. They’re adorable.
And now for my report on the trip to reach Miami:
I drove… and drove… and drove. It’s a freaking long drive. It’s not like I had ample opportunities to get out of the car. Don’t you judge me!!! But it did have one highlight:
While getting gas, I took a step inside, and in the middle of every peach product known to man, be they canned bottled or other, I found this huge bag of Wasabi Peas. If you’ve never had this wonder of the snacking industry, I feel sad for you. They’re just addictively good.
Also of note, If you ever have to take a long drive, pick up the audio book version of Sleepless by Charlie Huston. It has a little bit of the detective novel, a little bit of the undercover cop falling too deep into his cover and a little bit of the end of the world. And best of all, when on a long drive, you just don’t feel sleepy compared to all the disease and drug induced insomnia victims of the world Huston created.
Time to sign off, but first: Thank you Florida. Thank you for letting me know, on my first stop in your lovely state, that I’m now living in a land where the wildlife wants to kill me.
After several months of planning and preparation, Operation: Dolphins and Tropical Birds, otherwise known as “I’m moving to Miami for grad school” is about to commence.
The bags are packed, the car is stuffed full of most of my worldly possessions (A lot easier than you’d think, thanks to my Kindle. Turns out that the vast majority of my worldly possessions were books and book shelves) audio books are queued up for the drive, and the tank is full of gas.
Just two tasks left, and I’m off for a twelve plus hour drive. First, in order of importance rather than temporality (Holy crap, that’s actually a word? Score!), is to wake up at 4 in the A-M and strap Bella to the back of my car. Bella is my bike. She’s a beautiful Italian lady, and sadly I’ve had to admit that I like her more than a good chunk of people that I’ve met over the years. It’s not a big chunk of people, but giving an inanimate object preference treatment over any number of people, tends to highlight my ability to be a horrible human being. Or at least it should.
Task number two, is to start this blog, The Further Adventures of an Accidental Ninja. I’ll explain the title at some later date. So in a matter of minutes this blog will be officially started, and I will be locked in to reporting on my travels, adventures, and random crap that runs through my life and brain. Or at least as locked in as I can be without someone giving me money or pointing a gun at my head. Then I’ll spend a good hour or five nitpicking over what free theme I want to use until my gray matter figures out how to create my own.
In any case, in less than twelve hours I’ll be strapping a bike to my car, and driving for two days, followed by the joys, panics and paranoia’s of moving into a new city, where the one person you knew moved away to be a flight attendant (thanks a lot Rhonda!!!), starting grad school, and freaking out over money. With any luck, I’ll survive the next two years.
Write at you latter…