Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Last Blog Post Ever (Maybe)

Hurry up and read this, my final blog post of all time. Maybe.

If you’re reading this on December 22, 2012, it means it won’t be my last blog. At least, as long I don’t go through my longest-ever bout of writer’s block.

So if the world DID end on December 21, 2012, my last blog post is dedicated to all the awesome things I did in my life that I was scared shitless to do at the time:
  • Like becoming a dad. Twice.
  • Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Twice.
  • Feeding sharks at the aquarium at the Mall of America.
  • Climbing a mountain along the Continental Divide in Colorado with my two of my brothers/college buddies on the Fourth of July, and sharing a beer at the top.
  • Performing as a member of an improvisational comedy troupe in Iowa City.
  • Starting a newspaper from scratch while in graduate school.
  • Getting a piece published in the New York Times.
  • Parasailing over shark-infested waters in Mexico. (Okay, maybe they weren’t shark-infested, but I was too scared to find out.)
  • Swimming for a few miles with a stingray off the coast of West Palm Beach, Florida, while there for winter swim training as a freshman at Grinnell College.
  • Zip-lining over waterfalls in a Mexican rain forest.
  • Rolling my car (granted, I didn’t do this intentionally, but it’s still pretty cool to have walked away from it, and in fact to have continued to drive my car after it was pulled out of the ditch).
  • Living in Europe for a semester in college, when I had never lived outside my home state of Iowa prior to that.
  • Doing prank phone calls for the KRNA morning show in the late ’90s as “Hank the Crank.”
Yeah, I think that’s a pretty nice list to go out on. But I’m going to change my mind and keep adding to it if I wake up on December 22, 2012.

Feel free to share the favorite things you’ve done in your life before we go out in a blaze of glory tomorrow. Tootles! I’m off to go BASE jump off the IDS Tower.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Will This Be Enough?

At what point will we wake up and realize we need to do something differently?

After the tragic and indescribable horror that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, today, I don't know how anyone can say our system works and doesn't need fixing.

As you're likely aware, 27 people, including 20 school children, just kindergarten students at that, were gunned down today, before the gunman likely took his own life. In a close-knit, well-to-do suburb near New York City, did we finally meet the point where the extremists on both sides of the gun control debate, as well as the mental health community, can come together and find some solutions to the problem? 

That problem would be guns getting in the hands of people who are not mentally stable. People who would slaughter five-year-old children in their classroom, their safe haven, where they should be taking naps on cots, and learning to read, not meeting their maker while staring at the barrel of a gun.

I don't know the details of the shootings, other than the general story. I've been working all day, and have had barely any access to news reports. But as any of you who are parents know, it's hard for this to not cut you to the bone with pain. We've all dropped our children off at school or the bus stop, and not once does it cross our minds that it could be the last time we ever see them. But in modern American society, sadly, it possibly could be.

I don't have strong opinions on gun control. I fully respect the right to bear arms in principle. But I also know from living in the U.K. in the early 90s, in a city of 6 million people, that the lack of guns there made violent crime less of a reality than most cities in the U.S. I also am aware that the weapons used today were purchased legally by the shooter's mother.

I do have strong opinions on mental health care in this country. Namely how difficult it is for those who need help to obtain it. And how we're still a society who treats mental health issues as if it is something only weak people need. Mental health care is a vital component of health care, and we need to provide resources to every single person in this country who needs it. And we need to remove the stigma that goes with people seeking mental health help.

I don't purport to have any solutions. Any answers. I'm not an expert on either gun control or mental health issues. But I do know this much: our society has allowed something to go wrong for too long when it takes an event like today to wake us up. We've become inure to mass shootings at high schools, at malls, at crowded movie theaters. It took a classroom full of children who didn't even know how to spell "assault weapon" to get our attention again.

But let's at least take advantage of this opportunity to do something this time. Be proactive, not reactive. Find a way to prevent this tragedy from ever being repeated, politics be damned, to paraphrase President Obama from this afternoon. Again, I don't know what the solution looks like. That's not my job. But it is clear that the systems we have in place today do NOT work. So let's do something about it. Not in the next congressional cycle. Not next year. Now.

Will this be enough? I pray to God it is. Please, let it be enough.

Monday, December 10, 2012


So, here's the thing, MNDOT.

I criticize you constantly for your poorly designed roads that aren't meant to handle the traffic loads they do. And it is no secret that I loathe pretty much everything about you. From the fact that former Gov. Tim Pawlenty thought you were so unimportant that he assigned his Lt. Governor to be in charge of you rather than making it a full time position, to the fact that well, you have bridges collapse.

But if you REALLY want to get me going on your shortcomings, let's talk about the (at least on paper) essential job of snow removal in a state that is known for, well, snow.

I spent enough time in my car today to drive to Des Moines, IA and back. Or to Chicago. Or to Mitchell, South Dakota. But I went about 60 miles round trip. And I realize I knew what I was in for when I agreed to move to this state when my ex-wife told me she thought it would save our marriage.  But the one thing I wasn't ready for was stupid Scandinavian/Norwegian pride.

Growing up in Iowa, if we were hit with 16 inches of snow, we would look forward to a snow day. You know, stay home from school, drink hot chocolate, make a snow man to guard your snow fort. Go sledding. Have a snow ball fight. The things that normal people do in snow storms.

But here, in the Tundra, well things go on as status quo in a snow storm, because that's how they do. No delayed start for schools, unless you live in the rural areas. No snow days (my sons have never once experienced one - they were beyond irate after they switched school districts last year and their old school district had their first snow day in 20 some years). No closed businesses. No road closures. It's just another day.

That's in part because the first white people who settled this land intentionally picked a climate that was horse shit. "Hey Sven, if we build our house here, nobody will bother us, dontchaknow?" Even famous Minnesotan Prince knows this: "The cold keeps the bad people away."

And then over time, or perhaps just genetically, they got a giant chip on their shoulders about the weather. "Oh this is nothing. Remember that one time when we had 18 feet of snow and we still had to do our chores on the farm, oh yeah wasn't that crazy?"

In modern day Minnesota culture, it's a sign of weakness to admit defeat to Mother Nature. God forbid you change your daily routine because the roads are treacherous. "Just get your butt to work, Ole. Or someone else will take your job."

I had four customers at my store today. Four. Were those four customers worth risking life or limb, let alone wasting more than half of a typical working day commuting in a car, for? I'd argue not.

MNDOT knew for the last few days that a potentially big storm was coming, and would hit on Sunday. They also knew that it would be followed with a cold blast of arctic air, which makes putting salt on the roads useless. They also knew that Monday mornings are already horrible for commuting in the metro area on a good day, let alone when there is any form of precipitation.

Yet the roads in Minnesota tonight are probably worse than they were 24 hours ago, when the snow was actually still falling. Today, on both my drive to AND from work, I was met with roads that were sheets of ice, with ruts resembling what I'd imagine the open prairie looked like with wagon wheel tracks back in the day. This led to the average speed of traffic being somewhere between 10 m.p.h. and paint drying. I'm already planning ahead for the fact that my commute tomorrow will be just as bad, considering there's no way they'll get the frozen layer of crap off the roads in the next 6-8 hours.

So, MNDOT, and fine people of Minnesota, I have one simple solution to this problem. Swallow your damn Nordic pride. Today would have been a perfect day for schools to stay closed, for businesses to not open, for roads to be shut down. Let the fine men and women who make up the MNDOT road crews do their job, and everyone else can stay home and have some quality time with their family.

OR, the alternative would be, get your shitpickle f*ck fart snow plows out on the roads before the Monday morning commute begins and make them cleaner and dryer than a Baptist wedding reception. 

But to allow the roads to be treacherous, and allow people to go about their usual routine in those conditions, is just idiotic. It's not brave. It's not Norwegian machismo. It's plainly and simply stupid. 

And if this is too perplexing for any MNDOT snow plow drivers reading this blog post, then I'd like to ask you one simple favor: Could you please pick me up a job application? Because at least then I might get my snow days off.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Letter to My Teenage Son

Dear N,
First off, I want you to know that you don't know how badly I want to block you from the confusion and stress of life as a freshman in high school. But I can't. Because if I did (which I couldn't anyway, but that's another topic), well, you wouldn't become the man you need to become.

I also want you to know before I say anything that upsets you, please know I'm so proud of who you are as a person. You're sensitive, you're compassionate, you would do anything for anyone. You have an amazing sense of humor, and when you make me laugh, I still see the same smile I saw when you were a chubby little man who pooped himself (with less chubby cheeks, and more curly hair).

And, son, you are amazingly bright. More so than I ever was.Your brain will let you do anything you want to do in life, if you would just let it.

But I know it's not that easy. You've gone through so many changes in the last 6 years. Your parents divorced. You suddenly had two homes, and two beds, and two drawers of socks that somehow always disappear from both places. And two sets of rules. And one house that's mostly empty, yet cramped, which you share with a cat name Rose. And another house that's rarely empty, with a "step" brother and sister, who aren't actually "step" anything, yet you felt pressured to call them that when friends would ask who they were.

Not to mention watching from the front row when my world crumbled apart around me four years ago.

And you also had to deal with a younger brother who sometimes required more attention from both your mom and me, and sometimes we put you in the role of caretaker at an age when it wasn't fair to do so. I see the resentment you have for that, and it pains me. I wish I could erase that resentment. But as I said earlier, it's not something I'm capable of doing, and I wouldn't do it if I was. If there's nothing else I've taught you since your mother and I divorced, I hope I've taught you how to fight through adversity.

Son, being a teenager sucks. I know that from my own youth. But being a teenager in a split home is something I know absolutely nothing about. Nothing. But I do know this. I'm not going to let you slip through the cracks. I'm not going to let you add to the statistics that go under the "broken home" category. I'm not going to give up on you. And I'm not going to let you give up on you either.

And now for the part you're not going to like. You will not be playing X-Box, watching TV, playing on your iPad, or a computer, or your phone for quite some time. You also will have to deal with me suddenly becoming a micromanager. I hate micromanagers. Because I've encountered them often in my life. Because apparently sometimes I need someone to micromanage me. And you have inherited more of my brain than your mother's.

I'm not micromanaging you to be a jerk. I'm doing it to help you. Perhaps if I get to you early enough, you'll realize how sucky micromanaging is and decide instead to self-manage yourself. I learned it too late, so I still occasionally get to deal with someone kicking my butt into shape. I'd prefer you not go that route.

But I promise you that I won't ask you where you want to go to college, or what you want to do when you grow up, or expect you to get straight A's. I want you to be happy, and it's clear to me right now you aren't. I also want you to be successful in whatever you want to do in life. The path toward that success and happiness is all up to you. I'm just looking for the end results. Because that's how micromanagers do.

You and your brother know more than anyone else on this planet that I'm far from perfect. And I don't expect you to be either. I just want you to show me that you have a spark inside you for something worthwhile in life. But I'm not going to force it out of you. 

I love you, N. And I don't expect you to tell me you love me. But I know deep down you do. Or at least you will some day.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Rage Against My Ignorance

Every now and then I'll share a tidbit from my past with a friend, and I'll get a "wait, what?" look from them.

I have to admit I've had some pretty cool moments in my 42 years on this planet. Of course the top ranking moments would be the births of my sons. And yeah being published in The New York Times by the age of 25 also ranks up there.

But without a doubt, one of the coolest things I ever got to do happened quite accidentally. I wanted to be able to see a rap group from SoCal, Cypress Hill, so I agreed to interview the opening band, some group I'd never heard of.

I wasn't enthused about it at all. The concert, yes. The hoops I had to jump through beforehand, no.

But I was pulling strings. Although I was a co-founder of the newspaper I was representing that night, I had never written one concert/music/A&E/entertainment piece up to that point. It didn't matter. I was getting to go see Cypress Hill for free. I'd suck it up and make sure I came across as semi-prepared for the interview. I read some article discussing the bass guitarist's ability to turn his instrument into a turntable. Scratching with a geetar, and such.

I had the hook I needed to do the interview that I didn't care about. I just had to get it over with, and then I got to go watch a controversial rap group perform songs about things like smoking weed and the like. So edgy!

Sadly, I arrived two hours early for the concert. Because that's what journalists do. I checked in with the media representatives, and they took me to a tour bus parked in front of the Iowa Memorial Union. "Tom is the only one available for an interview. The rest of the group is busy warming up with Cypress Hill."

Despite picking up what the media rep was dropping down, I gladly walked on the bus to meet this guy named Tom. I walked in ready to get this over with quickly. "Hi, you must be Steve," Tom said.

"Yes, I am. Hi Tom," I replied. 

"Tom Morello. Nice to meet you Steve."

The next few hours were a blur. I didn't know who Tom Morello was at this point. And, frankly, neither did he. They were an opening act for Cypress Hill on the college circuit. But Morello, in my interview with him, and his band, Rage Against The Machine, through their subsequent performance, were both about to blow me away.

With eloquence and passion, Morello spent at least 45 minutes telling me the inspiration behind the band, their goals, their mission, and why they woke up every morning. He also apologized that the rest of the group was busy "warming up" with Cypress Hill. He told me about his upper class upbringing in the Chicago suburb of Libertyville, and how he was openly rebelling against that. He mentioned that the world wasn't ready for them. And neither was I.

I headed into the concert as this mostly unknown group took the stage. The smell of marijuana permeated the ballroom at the IMU. Nobody in this crowd was in the mood for anything more than "Insane in the Membrane." And, like me, they all were about to get woken the eff up.

I don't recall the details of the concert review I wrote. I do remember the headline read "Rage Against The Machine Steals the Show from Cypress Hill." And I also remember smiling when I saw it in print for the first time. I stepped out of my normal comfort zone - I usually stuck to politics, editing, signing last minute advertising deals, and the occasional political cartoon to fill in empty space. I wrote a concert review. About a group I'd never heard of.

But, soon,  people across the nation, and even worldwide, would know of them. I had nothing to do with that. But they had something to do with me. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

P.S. - Has anyone heard anything about Cypress Hill lately?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Teenage Hateland?

In March, 2010, I was lucky enough to attend the wedding of two of my dearest friends in Iowa City.

It was like any other wedding and reception - the wedding party and guests dressed to the hilt, endured the actual ceremony, so they could enjoy plenty of liquid refreshments while dancing to the standards. 

Like "Celebrate" by Kool and the Gang, "YMCA" by the Village People, and I think even a chicken dance, but I could be wrong. The highlight of the reception was a rousing karaoke version of Vanilla Ice's "Ice, Ice Baby" by the bride. Well one of the brides. See this wedding had two brides. And no groom.

"Kristy" and "Sarah" were, and still are, an amazing couple. They compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses, and are able to work through the stresses of life better than most married couples I know. And I was proud of my home state when I was able to attend a legal wedding for them thanks to what I still consider to be a very well-thought out ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court. You can disagree with me all you want, I'm proud that Iowa was one of the first states in the union to support gay marriage. 

For me, it is common sense that ANYONE who wants to get married, short of cousins (which is legal in more states, for second cousins, anyway, than it is for any GLBT community members to do), should be allowed to. 

The sarcastic/cynical side of me looks at it this way: everyone deserves the right to live miserably for the rest of your life, until death do you part. I kid. Sort of. But seriously, folks.

But in reality I've heard all the anti-gay marriage arguments. Such as "gay marriage will devalue straight marriage." Much like a foreclosed house brings down the home values of the neighborhood, I guess? I don't follow this logic. How does Kristy and Sarah being allowed to make a legal commitment to each other  make it any less valuable for Joe and Jane to do the same? 

And then there's the argument that The Bible says gay marriage, or simply being gay, is a sin. Except that there's this notion by our founding fathers that there should be a separation of church and state. Furthermore, most biblical arguments I've seen have taken modern interpretations of a very old document, and twisted the words to support their cause. Sodomy and homosexuality aren't exclusive. At least not the last time I heard.

Perhaps the biggest irony to me is that most people who argue that the equal marriage movement is bad for the country are the same people espousing a belief in limited government when it comes to their wallets. Since we're on the subject of limited government, I wonder if those people are okay with any and all government intrusions into their bedroom or the altar of marriage. Like they're advocating for others.

Just like things we used to culturally accept as a nation: blacks can't vote or sit at the same table as a whites, women can't vote or legally make any decisions for themselves, Americans as a whole are a slow lot to accept social growth as a country. Which makes sense, if you think about it. In the history of humankind, America is still just a teenager. We're not good at learning from our lessons yet.

But that's no damn excuse. It's time to put our collective childish ways behind us. Enough with trying to single out people for being "different" from us. That's middle school crap. Equal rights should apply to everyone, no matter what your color, your gender, your religion, or who you love.

I have faith that we, as a people, will clear the last major hurdle in the movement toward equality for everyone. And I raise a glass in toast to Kristy and Sarah. I just hope I'm around for their 50th wedding anniversary!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Old Words from an Old Voice

Old words from an old voice. 

The old words themselves don't matter, and really neither does the old voice. The only important thing you need to understand is that when old words are spoken from an old voice, sometimes they evoke old emotions. You tell me enough times that I'm a turtle, and by God I'm a mother effing turtle in my mind. 

But tonight it was different. I heard the old words from the old voice, and it set off something. I was ready to piss fire and drink blood. I don't even really know what that means, but it sounds like something Chuck Norris would do, so I went with it.

Whatever you do, do NOT question my intentions or abilities as a parent. I'm not saying I'm perfect. The fact my sons picked out a "This Beer Is Making Me Awesome" t-shirt for me speaks for itself.  But when the "fit hits the shan," I'm there for my sons. It's why I'm here. And by here I mean the tundra. Please review the name of this blog at this time. Prisoner = held against my will. Tundra = Minnesota. Do the math. Unless you're my freshman in high school, in which case you'll say you did the math, when you really didn't, and then I'll get yelled at for it somehow.

And then I'll get yelled at for suggesting I didn't agree that said son needs to be on anti-depressants because of his recent behavior. He's in 9th grade. Going to be 15 in less than 6 months.  I've talked to countless parents who went through this same stage with their sons. I bring this up, and I'm told I'm wrong. I'm just trying to deny that our son needs medication.

I'm not going to wave a white flag on this issue. This boy is an amazingly smart and sensitive lad. I suspect that the sensitive is overruling the smart at the moment. Here's a kid who not only dealt with his parents divorcing, but then dealt later with his mom moving in with her boyfriend, which brought a second family into the mix. During puberty. While changing school districts. This doesn't excuse his behavior. But it starts to explain it.

Assuming he needs meds is the equivalent of saying "I can't swim, so I want him to wear a lifejacket."

Tonight, this kid sat and finished every last bit of outstanding homework he had. He didn't do it because I yelled and threatened him. He didn't do it because I told him he needed to go on meds if he didn't finish it. He finished it because I told him that was the requirement. And he knows that means it's not an option.

And he did it without me hovering over him. Because one thing I've learned in my life is this: if you need to have someone hover over you to get the job done, you aren't going far.

I'm not the perfect dad. But tonight, I'm going to chalk up a victory for me. He did what he should have done weeks ago. But he did it. Without a word. 

So regardless of what the peanut gallery has to say, I'm victorious tonight. Over a 14 year old. who moved in with his mom's boyfriend, changed school districts, started puberty, and well, at this point we might as well predict he will survive armageddon.

Hey old voices, with old words. I don't much care for you. I think it's time you just take leave now. If only it were that easy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Won't Give Up On Us

"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." _ Albert Einstein

A recent chat with my mom went something like this:

Mom: You should cut your expenses if you're struggling.
Me: You mean I should stop drinking Patron and eating caviar every night?
Mom: Well you spend a lot of money going on dates. You don't need that in your life.
Me: That's pretty easy to say while you're sitting next to the guy you've been married to for 53 years.

If I had a nickel for every time a friend or family member asked me why I still go on dates after all the train wrecks I've had, well, I'd have a shit ton of nickels.

From hickey girl dates to parking lot foibles, from heartbreaking relationship to heartbreaking relationship, I've seen about every nook and cranny in Relationshipville and her twin city, Datesville.

I've taken a few extended breaks from dating and relationships in the six years since my divorce, but never with the assumption that I was done forever. It was usually to focus on my boys, and myself, and to get my own house in order. I never threw in the towel. Just took a little breather.

So when I hear people questioning why I date, it gives me a mild case of GFYitis. Especially when it comes from someone who is happily in a relationship. In case you haven't noticed, I can be quite the attention whore. It's hard to be an attention whore with a mirror, and my blog and Facebook aren't necessarily the best use of my time when looking for said attention, as my father points out to me on a regular basis.

I want a woman by my side who I can laugh with, who can laugh AT me and WITH me. I want a partner who looks at every day as a chance to learn something new about each other. A chance for a new life. A life that involves exploring this crazy ass place we call Earth. The good and the bad. Together. As Hallmark Card as it sounds, I want to have my last first kiss.

And I know with every day that passes, my odds may diminish for finding The One. I still may end up the crabby old man who yells at kids for looking at my lawn, while perusing my postage stamp collection and petting my beloved cat. But given who I am as a person, I think I deserve better than that, and won't let it happen without a fight.

So I'm gonna date like a mofo, and there's not a damn thing any of you can do about it, yo!

A current song riding the airwaves by Jason Mraz creates a schizophrenic reaction in my brain. "I Won't Give Up" tells the story of a patient love between two people. I once thought of a particular person when I heard this song, but I'm evolving to envision a faceless person when it comes on the radio. I know she's out there, and to her I say this: "I won't give up on us. Even if the skies get rough, I'm giving you all my love. I'm still looking up."

I want an "us." I still believe, wherever you are.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Have You Ever?

Have you ever gone without food for days? Not because you're on some "fasting" diet, but because you have only a little food, no money to buy more, and two growing children who need the food more than you do.

Have you ever worried about how your kids would do their homework if the electricity was turned off, hoping you'd be able to pay the bill before the electric company cut you off? So the food you just bought for your kids didn't spoil?

Have you ever had to swallow your pride and ask a non-profit organization to help you pay the deposit for a new apartment, so your kids could have a roof over their heads, and so you didn't lose your parental rights because you're living on the street? Or have you ever had to push back paying your rent so you have gasoline in your car, so you can make it to your job, to avoid being fired, so you can pay your bills and feed your kids? 

Or have you ever had to hide your car at a friend's house until you got a paycheck, to avoid having your car repossessed? Or gone nearly two years with no health benefits, because you can't afford the COBRA payment from the job you lost, and can't afford a private health care plan? Have you then had to hope and pray every day that you didn't have to go to the doctor for an ailment or injury?

I've done all of these things in the last four years. I'm not proud of it. And I sure as hell never thought I'd be in this position. At one point, not that long ago, just a little over six years ago actually, I was living a charmed life not unlike many of my friends. I lived in a $400,000 home with my wife and two kids, enjoying suburban life (as much as my free spirit was able to, anyway), and outside of a rocky marriage, pretty much happy with my life.

I was the upper middle class. In the waining days of my marriage, I was living in a neighborhood surrounded by people who wanted lower taxes, and loathed anything to do with welfare or food stamps, because the people who relied on those things were obviously not working hard enough to better themselves. They expected people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. And at the time, I guess I was too naive to know how close I was to becoming the person who my neighbors saw as the enemy. The sponge to their hard earned liquidity.

And then the spiral happened. I've chronicled this plenty in previous blog entries, so I won't rehash my trip hitting bottom. But I do want to point out that the political climate in this country has gotten more extreme in that six years. We've now become a country of "haves" and "have nots," divided by class more and more as each day goes on. The middle class is disappearing faster than Congress's approval rating.

And on a regular basis, via my online addiction, Facebook, I'm reminded of my situation through such reposts as "If you're on welfare, you should be drug tested, because I'm drug tested to get my job. REPOST if you AGREE." Or "If you can afford cigarettes, beer, and a fancy car, you don't need food stamps or an unemployment check."

Or one that just last month that appeared all over Facebook, seen in the image above, dubbed as "The Five Best Sentences You'll Ever Read." I took personal offense to the image, as it not only stereotyped our "safety net" recipients, but also demonized them as abusers of the system, stealing from the prosperous. I had some tough words with friends, and probably took it too personally. But you see, that's the only way I CAN take it. Because I HAVE been in those shoes.

I have no disdain for anyone gaining prosperity in life. I'd love it if everyone I knew had more money than they knew what to do with. But as our country struggles to recover from the worst economic times since the Great Depression, wealth is just not a reality for most of my friends. In fact, in the two and a half years since my store opened, every single one of my employees has struggled during the last few days of each pay period, sometimes literally having no money to spend. And most of them have two jobs.

What I DO have disdain for is the demonization of poverty. Because poverty is NOT a stereotype. Poverty does not discriminate. Poverty will take down people with important job titles, people who drive fancy SUVs, people that live in large mansions, and even people who attend GOP Fundraisers to support a Tea Party candidate. Poverty is something that can easily happen to ANYONE. I know this firsthand.

Ironically, many of the people who are demonizing those living in poverty espouse their strong Christian faith. Last time I read The Bible, I don't recall Jesus advocating turning your backs on the poor or weary. Yet they wrap themselves in the Scripture, the Flag, and their Stocks and Bonds Portfolio, and point their finger at the poor, condemning them for their laziness, their selfishness, and their ability to steal money from them via our "Socialist" government.

The hatred grows for the poor, yet when there are people who dare take on the "One Percent" through the Occupy Movement, the wealthy portray the protesters as intolerant, violent youth who are too lazy to get jobs. This country is tearing itself at the seams with hatred. And make no mistake, it's happening from both ends of the political and economic spectrum. But me, I'm down here, with the little guys. So that's the perspective I can best relate to. I may have more easily related to those demonizing the poor back in 2005. But time has a way of changing things.

So to my friends, I ask you to do just one thing the next time you want to point the finger at those relying on the Government for assistance. Please find me and point the finger directly at me. 

Please point at me, post your "REPOST" on my wall, whatever it takes. Because my friends, I AM the lower class.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Happy Prisoner

"These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized."

_ Red, from the movie Shawshank Redemption

I've always made it very clear that I'm not living in Minnesota by choice. I moved here with my ex-wife when our oldest son was just a little over one year old, with the promise that life would be better in the Tundra, with her family nearby, and better job opportunities. Indeed, the very name of this blog shows my mindset on my current life.

But this summer, a very funny thing has happened. I'm starting to actually like my life inside these prison walls. Now this could very well just be a temporary thing, only time will tell. But as of now, I think I'd probably request a delay in being released.

Why, after 12 years of living here, am I finally starting to feel this way? I have NO idea. But I have a few theories.

Theory #1: The weather sucked much less, in terms of snow and cold, this year. Our Spring started legitimately in early March, a time when we're usually stuck with deep snow and cold weather. And the mild Spring turned into a hot and mostly dry, sunny Summer. What this has meant that I've been able to enjoy the great outdoors, which is something I refuse to do in the dead of winter. I refuse to become one of those "oh, I'm so bummed out because there isn't enough snow to go cross country skiing" types.

Theory #2: I've gotten to know my fellow inmates better. Both old friends and new friends. I've hung out with so many different people this summer, and it's been so damn nice. My friend, TBass, who I just met last January, and I, have perfected things to the point of labeling this season "The Summer of Slore." I'd try and define what that means to you, but basically it's like turning every day into a Sunday Funday. And I also hung out with old friends like Bob and Mike, doing the same things we've done in the past, but this time with a little more chutzpah.

Theory #3: No more furloughs. Last Summer, I spent nearly every other weekend back in my hometown of Sioux City. This summer, I've left town exactly zero times. It means that I've been forced to explore everything inside my personal prison, from Twins games, to Sunday Fundays, to eating greasy breakfasts at Mickey's Diner in St. Paul with old friends, I've explored more nooks and crannies in the Twin Cities than anytime in my life in the last few months.

Theory #4: Stockholm Syndrome. I give this theory the least amount of credibility, but I have friends who have suggested it, so therefore I must present it, so therefore from Wikipedia:

Stockholm syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, Sweden in which several bank employees were held hostage in a bank vault from August 23 to August 28, 1973. During this situation, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, rejected assistance from government officials at one point and even defended them after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term "Stockholm syndrome" was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast. It was originally defined by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to aid the management of hostage situations.

Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes "strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other."

The reason I discount Theory #4 is that my captors have given me NO reason to ever become emotionally attached to them. Because they are predominantly Norwegian Lutherans. Which means they are incapable of becoming emotionally attached to or from. It's a genetic thing, yo.

Whatever the reason is, the point of it all is that I'm starting to like being in the Tundra, especially when the Tundra months are limited. And when I start liking the fellow prisoners (not in the Boggs-Dufresne way).

And in case you think something is wrong with me, regarding my new found love for the Tundra Prison, make no mistake. Hey MNDOT, GFY!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Letter to an Old Friend

Dear Ted,

I know I haven't seen you in probably 13 years. I estimate this based upon the fact that my oldest son, Nile, was only a bit more than one-year-old when I saw you last. We were at Ty and Tera's house in Osage Beach, Missouri. Enjoying our youth as best we could. And you didn't know how utterly terrified I was on the inside as a new dad.

And here you are, not only facing the new dad thing, but facing it quite unexpectedly alone. When I heard the news about your wife, Jocelyn, this week, I literally felt like I was kicked in the gut.

To lose the mother of your child, your first child, just after she literally labored to bring her into the world, well, that's simply something I refuse to believe God, if he exists, would let happen. But it did happen. And it makes me angry, and sad, and frustrated, and wanting to scream.

I can't possibly begin to understand, and therefore can offer you no advice, on losing the love of your life.  But I decided that the least I could do is pass on a few things I've learned about being a single dad.

First off, don't take it too seriously. Yes, you have to be the disciplinarian. But that doesn't mean you have to do it Stalin-style. Enjoy Emmerson's sassiness when she shows it. Let her freak flag fly. And applaud it. I see my sons as an extension of me. A piece of me. My blood. My mini-me's. I'm going to presume that when you look at your daughter, you're going to see your late wife. But make no mistake, my friend, she is half you, and you are her rock for the foreseeable future. So laugh. Smile. And teach her to do the same.

The second bit of advice I have is this: Take time for her. When we leave this world, that 4 p.m. conference call isn't going to weigh in more decisively than your daughter's first school concert, or ballet recital, or soccer game. She needs you more than most kids need their parents. So make sure you answer that call, and don't let the stuff that doesn't matter get in the way of that.

And unless you think I'm telling you that you need to devote your every minute to her, my third piece of advice is, take time for yourself. You'll have even more parenting demands on you than most, as you are her only parent 24/7/365. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take breaks. You do need to recharge, so rely on your family and friends to be able to do that. Because a burned out dad isn't a very effective one.

Finally, as she gets older, I strongly encourage you to take Emmerson on trips to Jocelyn's roots, and also both of your roots in Grinnell, Iowa City, Cleveland, Kenyon, and Columbus. I remember first meeting Jocelyn when she was attending law school at the University of Iowa, and you were coaching on the football staff in Grinnell. This was where your relationship first bloomed, and while it may not seem like it now, someday your daughter will love to learn about these places where you fell in love with her mother.

I am at a loss for words as I sit here trying to imagine the road you face ahead of you. This moment that was supposed to be pure bliss, the arrival of Emmerson, was marred with this unimaginable tragedy. But know that Jocelyn is looking down now and telling you it's time to buck up. Like when you tell your players there's not time for quitting. She was just as much a fierce competitor in this world as you, my friend, and she certainly wants you to keep fighting your way forward for the most precious gift she ever gave you - your daughter.

And remember that when you're missing Jocelyn, and feeling like you're lost or need to talk, you have an amazing network of friends to rely on, from your college buddies and football teammates at Grinnell, to your staff and players at Kenyon, and every other school you coached at along the way. Even guys who haven't seen in over 13 years are here for you.

You and Emmerson are in my thoughts and prayers. And a lot of other people who you haven't seen in a decade or two. And even people who you've never met. And your wife is looking down upon you with pride, knowing that if there's anyone who can do this, it's you, Ted. May she rest in peace.

God bless,


Thursday, June 7, 2012

From Russia, With No Love

There's no Perestroika goin' on here.

Tatyana and I first started talking over two years ago on a dating site.

She was a Russian immigrant, having moved here 20 years ago, and she still speaks Russian with her children, and works as an interpreter.

At the time, I lived a little further away from her, and our schedules didn't work to meet up for our first date.

Time went on, and we both ended up in relationships that lasted over a year.

Then, last week, we reconnected on the same dating site. We exchanged emails about what we had been up to, and figured out that we should probably meet up since we always got along when we were emailing or texting, both two years ago and now.

We ended up meeting for drinks and appetizers two days ago at a nice little wine bar that was less than ten minutes away from both of us. I was actually excited, but not overly optimistic, that maybe I'd have a great first date with a Minnesota woman for the first time in years.

As we met for the first time in the parking lot, I felt a little buckle in my knees. She was even more beautiful than her pictures portrayed - a rarity in the online dating world. She was tall, thin, blond, with sparkling blue eyes and a single, heart-melting dimple when she smiled hello to me.

Things started off a little awkwardly, as she insisted on lecturing me, in her thick Russian accent, about my late arrival. I had told her I would be 10 minutes later than we planned. But she still insisted on telling me off. "In my culture, you would no longer be a man, but be a boy, for not respecting me enough to show up on time." She finally gave up the lecture when I assured her (not so honestly) that I'm usually on time. 

We had a fantastic conversation about life as a single parent of boys (she has three sons), about dating as a single parent, and about the ups and downs of relationships. I respected her bluntness. "If I don't like someone, or don't want to date them, I just tell them," she said. "I don't have time to waste." Honesty. How I love that. My dating mantra has long been "I'd rather be hurt by the truth than lied to."

We were both flirty with our words and our body language, and the conversation went on comfortably for over two hours. Knowing she appreciated blunt conversation, I finally just said, "I'm really enjoying talking with you, and I think you're beautiful, and I'd like to go on a second date if you'd like to."

She replied in her thick accent, "I find you to be very attractive, and really enjoy conversing with you. I would really love another date." We said goodbye with a nice, long hug, and as she pulled away she smiled and flashed her dimple. Feeling my knees buckle again, I started high-fiving myself in my brain for FINALLY having a decent first date again.

The plan was that we'd have our second date on Monday, the next night we didn't have our kids. And in the meantime, we'd keep texting and talking on the phone to get to know more about each other. Yesterday and today we had some very good conversations that continued to make me think things were going very well.

And then tonight, in less than a 50-word text message exchange, the Cold War was rekindled in full force (see the photo above for the actual exchange). Because she had decided to leave her kids alone tonight and go out, she wanted me to meet her out of the blue. My GMan had a baseball game, and I told her I couldn't do it, unless we met sometime after 9 p.m. when his game would be over.

She would have none of that. She wanted me to meet her right then. I told her no. can read it for yourself. But the bat shit crazy came shooting out like a Yellowstone geyser. Here's a hint to any woman wanting to date me: Don't ever ask me to put my kids behind you in priority. Ever. Because you have as good of a chance of that happening as I do scoring a date with a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model.

So, I said the only thing I could think of to what I had hoped would be my next ex-wife: 

Dear Tatyana,


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Grinnell Experience

I'm giddy with excitement to be returning this weekend to a place that had a more profound effect on me in four years than any other place or period in my life.

Grinnell College. That liberal, hippy, gay-loving school in The Middle Of Nowhere, Iowa.

Only a few close friends know my wishes when I leave this Earth. I want to be cremated, and have my ashes spread in four locations. One of those is the Grinnell College campus.

A common term used at the college, back in my day, was "The Grinnell Experience."

It was a catchy little phrase that was probably thought up by some marketing major from Coe College turned "communications director," but for some damn reason, the phrase actually made sense.

Grinnell College alums have a special bond with one another, no matter when they attended the school. There's an understanding. "Oh, you also were fortunate enough to enjoy one of Iowa's best kept secrets?" Maybe not a best kept secret to nerds and geeks, but to the world-at-large, it was quite invisible.

I knew this because when my high school classmates asked me where I was going to college, I'd tell them, and they'd say "Oh, Cornell?"

It became much easier to just nod, and say, "Sure!"

So how did Grinnell shape who I am, so definitively in just four short years? 

Well there's the obvious. I met the mother of my amazing children there. And I'm fortunate enough that my parents met the love of their life, and parent of their amazing child (I'll let you guess which one of the three of us that is), at Grinnell. So pretty much my mere existence is a result of Grinnell.

And frankly, next to family, I have nobody in my life that understands me better than the group of close friends I made while I attended Grinnell. We don't all see each other as often as we'd like to, but when we do, we always pick up right where we left off. Just like the days when we were hosting keggers on the roof of Cowles, complete with our mini-golf course, hot tub, and water balloon cannon. Those guys are the closest things to brothers I've ever had, next to my actual brothers.
Oh, and that brings me to one of the other amazing things that shaped me while at Grinnell: I never let my classes get in the way of my education. Yet somehow I still made it through. Sometimes, an all-nighter drinking Milwaukee's Best Light and playing SuperNintendo with your "brothers" can teach you more than an all-nighter of studying Constitutional Law and Politics (with apologies to Professor Ira Strauber).

And there's no question that Grinnell shaped me politically. But not the way most people would think. They assume "liberal arts" is code for teaching us to be commies who love to play hacky sack and protest everything. 

But for those of you who haven't been around me consistently the last 20 years, you'd probably be shocked to know that when I graduated from Grinnell, I was still a registered Republican. In fact I worked on a Republican Gubernatorial campaign more than two years after I left Grinnell.

The most common misconception about the school is that it just turns out liberals, and is an institution devoted to brainwashing their students with an agenda toward all things leftist. Au Contraire.

Grinnellians by and large are outspoken. And not shy about sharing their opinions. But it's not because of any leftist agenda. It's because our professors wanted us to leave school and be able to 1) think critically, and make informed decisions, not just following the crowd; 2) communicate effectively. Because no matter how smart you might think you are, if you can't find a way to articulate that with others, you'll never get anywhere in life; and 3) communicate in both directions. Listening, learning, and processing information from people you disagree with isn't a bad thing. It's educational. You might even find some common ground.

And finally, I have to say, another important thing I learned in my four years at Grinnell: How to tap a keg.

I look forward to returning to my roots. My old stomping grounds. The place where I went from being a boy to a slightly older boy. And the place where I perfected the art of face planting into a comfy spot on Mac Field at 2 a.m., and yelling out for help until my friends would somehow find me each time.

The Grinnell Experience means a lot of things to a lot of people. But for me, it means four of the best years of my life. Even if I don't remember every moment.

See you Friday, Grinnell. And if you hear someone yelling for help on Mac Field, please direct me to my dorm room, and make sure to leave the garbage can near my bed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Anatomy of a Blocked Blogger

9:04 p.m: I've been staring at a blank screen for the last 20 minutes.

It's the modern day equivalent of a blank piece of paper. A fresh start. A new beginning.

And yet it is still blank. Out of fear. The fear inside that perhaps I'll write something that people will hate. That my words will be a garbled mess that fall upon an audience wishing me death. I write this blog for myself, but I'd be naive not to think that there are people who read it.

9:07 p.m.: Should I write a "funny" piece, or a "deep" piece? I try to mix it up as much as possible. My favorite thing to do in this World (besides things my mother would rather I not write about on this blog) is to make people laugh. But tonight, I'm not feeling the humor. I'm not sad, or deep, either, tonight. Mostly just numb from long hours of work lately, and some outside stress I'm doing my best to ignore.

9:12 p.m.: I have "The Brothers McMullen" on the TV. I remember a time when I thought Ed Burns was going to be the next great thing. But watching this movie makes me realize that his screenwriting is in fact very cliched, and the acting in this movie is worse than a 1970s made-for-TV movie.

9:17 p.m.: Maybe I should write about my memories of growing up in Sioux City. Wait, I've written about four or five variations of that one. Hmmm. I could write about my college buddies. Did that one already too. Ooooh! I could write something about 

9:23 p.m.: Saved by a text conversation with a friend who is going through a "quasi-break up." I could write an advice column on how to break up with dignity. Except I haven't found a way to do that, whether I'm the dumper or the dumpee, in my 41 years. Love is rough, yo. And so is lust, for that matter.

9:29 p.m.: Now I'm thinking about Jerry's Pizza. My Sioux City peeps know what an awesome thing that pizza is. And a select few friends from elsewhere have been introduced to the purely heavenly pizza that is referred to by my mini mes as "that one guy's pizza." Need to find a paper towel, I'm starting to drool.

9:30 p.m.: And I need a Charlie Boy and a Schooner. And Milwaukee Wiener House. Maybe La Juanitas. Maybe I should find a cloth towel instead of a paper towel. Drooling like Niagara Falls.

9:32 p.m.: I don't have to work tomorrow. Perhaps having one more Summit India Pale Ale would inspire my words to flow onto the blank screen. BRB. Need another brew.

9:36 p.m.: I hate the ending credit song choice for "The Brothers McMullen." Only because the song, "I Will Remember You," has been played so much in the past 10 years since 9/11, I can't enjoy hearing it anymore. It's sensually unpossible.

9:41 p.m.: I've come to the realization that there's no way I'll write a decent blog entry tonight. Too many shiny objects for this guy.

9:45 p.m.: Channel surfing, and I'm pretty sure I'm watching a dragon with Sean Connery's voice right now. 

9:47 p.m.: Got an email on one of the dating web sites I'm on. I'm too tired to read it tonight. In all likelihood, it's a spambot email from some Russian hacker telling me "she" has "nakid pitchers on privut web site. click here to see me in nude!"

9:52 p.m.: Interacting with my dad on Facebook now. I always wonder if it is just my dad, or if my mom is sitting next to him, asking "What does LMAO mean?"

9:55 p.m.: Now I'm searching for an old, but not well known, Beach Boys song. "Been Too Long." I know it was after Brian Wilson's "I'm Lying in Bed" semi-breakdown. And for some reason I can't find it. Oh wait, it's "Can't Wait Too Long," not "Been Too Long."

9:59 p.m.: Found the song. Enjoying it, but it's making me think about things I don't want to. Too bad life doesn't have a delete button.

10:04 p.m.: I've wasted an hour now avoiding writing a blog entry. I think it's time to just admit that this night would be better spent having a few more beers, watching some bad movie on Encore, and pondering subjects for a future blog entry.

10:06 p.m.: Throwing in the towel. Covered in drool.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunday Funday: Take Back Your WHOLE Weekend

Weekend lovers of the World Unite! Take back Sunday, I say!

It no longer needs to be the second worst day of the week behind Monday. You all know what I mean. That dark shadow that begins to set in on Sunday afternoon sometime, and grows darker as the sun goes down. The dread of the impending Monday. The end of another weekend.

But it doesn't HAVE to be that way. Introducing a revolutionary way to stretch your weekend to the limits: Sunday Funday.

What is Sunday Funday, you ask? Well, let me tell you. It's pure awesomeness packed neatly into the twilight of your respite from work. The idea is quite simple, really, and makes me wonder why it didn't exist during my childhood, when Sundays involved a pot roast dinner with the entire family, and sometimes neighbors as well.

Don't get me wrong. I loved those Sunday afternoon/evenings with my family. But since I have the typical nuclear family lifestyle these days, Sundays spent at large family gatherings isn't the norm.

So, a few months ago, I was introduced to the Sunday Funday. And I'm not looking back.

The basic rules of Sunday Funday are simple. There are no rules. Other than you can't talk about work. Or school.

It seems that having a few cocktails on a Sunday afternoon can lead to some benefits. As Tammy, one of the founders of our particular Sunday Funday gang says, the best part is how brutally we honest we all are with each other. Rena, another original member of our group, said that it's not completely different from a family gathering on a Sunday. "We get to hang out and be ourselves with the people we love." 

Or, put in a less delicate by another founding member (who wishes to remain anonymous), "Sex talk." I don't know HOW it happens, but every Sunday Funday the conversation goes into this normally taboo Sunday subject in most Midwestern towns. But with our group, it's just become a chance to share information that may prove useful someday, if any of us ever are lucky enough to get lucky, if you're picking up what I'm dropping down. It's like a support group, really, for sex-deprived drunks.

Yes, if you hang out with MY Sunday Funday gang, you usually end up having conversations that would make your mother blush. Or in my case, send me The Text. Luckily for us, these conversations don't leave the group, other than the wait staff or bartenders in ear shot, and they're usually either laughing, joining in our risque conversation, or both. Many times we even receive a thanks from our servers for making their Sunday at work less boring.

Our group has also become fond of a particular shot as our signature Sunday Funday drink, which was introduced to me by my friend, Jean. Pancakes & Syrup, aka Pancake Batter. For those of you who'd like to play along at home, the shot is 1/2 Jamison, 1/2 Butterscotch Schnapps, with an Orange Juice chaser. Trust me. Try it on a Sunday afternoon. If you want to spice it up a little, add a bacon strip at the end. No that's not a shot. I mean a strip of bacon. You're welcome.

When I miss a Sunday Funday, I always feel bad. And I usually receive a bajillion text messages from the participants asking me where I'm at and when I'll be there. And I'm usually receiving play-by-plays from multiple attendees, which makes for an interesting game of "piece these texts together into a story that makes any sense."

Now I need to remind you...there are no rules. So whether you create a Sunday Funday group that would prefer coffee and board games, or a Sunday Funday group that does Jaegerbombs and goes to the strip club, create whatever it is that makes you happy and find others who want to join you. And stop letting Sunday slowly take your weekend soul away.

Fight back! Find your own version of Sunday Funday!

Because let's face it, most times Monday mornings really suck, so does it really matter if you deal with it hungover? Or, for that matter, with the faint smell of cheap stripper perfume?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interwebzless in Inver Grove Heights

I dare you to shut off your interwebz.

Pull the plug for a day. Or two. Or deal with it like I did for 8 days in a row.

It's hard for me to explain the withdrawal I experienced. Considering the fact that 20 years ago, I didn't even know what email or cell phones were. Ok, well cell phones existed, but they were the size of a small puppy, and caused you to grow tumors the size of grapefuits in your head.

But I digress. The point is, for the last week, I felt like I was forced to not wear underwear, deodorant, or wash my privies. And sport a unibrow.

Life without interwebz, and by interwebz I mean on a machine that is bigger than 3 x 5 inches, is rough, yo. I feel like I just pretty much went through the equivalent, technology-wise, of growing up in Compton, CA with a mom who insisted I wear red, white and blue to school every day.

My battle with Comcast was far from epic, but I won. I refused to pay them for coming out to fix my internal line. Whatever that meant.

When the Comcast technician arrived today, he figured it out within seconds. "You have loose connections to your modem, which led them to put a filter on your line that kept you from accessing the internet."


"They detected a leakage on your line from loose connections, so they put a filter on your line that shut off those leaks, and made it necessary for me to come out and visit you."

My only question was basic. Why didn't the 18 customer service reps I dealt with so far know this fact?

"Sometimes our maintenance guys are bad about logging their work in the system."


So someone at your company didn't follow through on their job, and therefore I got to try and guess for over a week why I didn't have internet access?

There was even a tag on my cable hookup that told the technician that was what happened.

"Why didn't the maintenance guy tell the customer service rep this information, which would have saved me a wasted trip to switch out cable modems?" I asked.

"Um...let's check your connection speed now that I have it set back up," he replied.


I live by it in my daily life. With my sons not doing their homework. With my employees not doing their jobs (which fortunately is much more rare than my sons not doing their homework). With my own self. I do hold myself accountable these days. Wasn't always the case, but something happens when you get over the age of 40, you start to realize you're the one to blame, nobody else.

So, me, the guy who refused to have a cell phone when it was cool, and the guy who still refuses to cave to the notion that the only good TV is a flat one, is now saying quite definitively that living without the interwebz is not a good thing. It's counter-productive.

And it's not just my Facebook addiction saying that. I couldn't manage my bank account like I wanted to. I couldn't reply as easily to important emails. I couldn't easily write a blog, unless it was a haiku.

I was ready to throw my phone against the wall every day for not performing like my laptop, and a home interwebz connection could.

So imagine my delight tonight when I had an awesome Comcast technician finally fix my interwebz.

It was only sullied by the fact that my phone decided to stop taking a power charge from any of my three chargers. Goodbye mobile interwebz, hello real interwebz.

So, while the last week has meant you could easily find me via text message, now you'll have to switch to commenting on my Facebook statii (plural of status, no?) to get my attention. I don't think I'll get another text message for at least 31 days, given my history with corporate technology giants.

So, just remember this when you're trying to contact me. Try text/email/phone/smoke signals. Or else I may just miss your message.

Oh and morse code on telegraph works too.

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