Sports and WoW have more in common than I thought

Obviously, there’s been a lot of whining on blogs about poor sportsmanship in PUGs lately.

What I like about the blogging scene, is that this kind of thing is usually followed by metabloggers complaining about bloggers complaining. :)

Let’s swing away from WoW for just a second though, can we?

I promise we’ll still talk about games, and the people that play them.

This last Sunday, in the US, two football teams, the Minnesota Vikings fought the Dallas Cowboys in a hotly contested match.

As an aside, I wish I lived in a world where, if I told you I saw the Vikings slaughter the Cowboys last Sunday, we’d be talking about guys on horses, bang bang six shooters, getting massacred by guys with axes wearing furry hats with horns on. Moving along….

Anyway, listening to the sports journalists and armchair quarterbacks in the week leading up to this game, the expectation was that this was either going to be one close, brutal hard fought game that could go either way, or it was going to be a stunning Cowboys victory.

The Cowboys themselves seemed to think it was going to be a Cowboys victory, but the Vikings quarterback talked a little trash too. Just a teeny bit.

However you slice it, one thing was certain; with the Superbowl game coming up, everyone expected the teams to bring their “A” game.

So yesterday, they played.

The end score last night?

Vikings destroyed the Cowboys, 34 to 3.

Now remember, when you see a score like that, we’re not talking about some kind of unfair matchup, Harlem Globetrotters against your Kindergarten class Little Dribblers.

We’re not even talking about The Vikings against the Jets. (I kid, I kid).

We’re talking about two teams both at the top of their game, both with not just a winning season but a dominant season… and the Cowboys were widely favored because, as one reporter put it, “Having had two powerful wins in a row, the Cowboys are very hot right now. The Vikings have home field advantage, but the Cowboys are the team to beat.”

This is NOT a bully stealing a little kids lunch money. This is not even regular season, this was a game to see who was going to appear in the NFC Championship game next week.

That other team going to the NFC Championship with the Vikings? Yeah, the New Orlean Saints, who ALSO destroyed their competition last weekend, shellacking the Arizona Cardinals, 45-14.

Why am I even talking about this?

Because this morning, every headline about the game that I can find has, as some form of it’s title, mention of Cowboys player Keith Brooking, who is enraged, ENRAGED, that in the last minutes of the game yesterday, instead of the Vikings giving up and pussyfooting around, or taking a knee and handing over the ball so the Cowboys could have a chance too, or whatever, that the Vikings continued to fight hard on their drive, went for and made a last touchdown, a touchdown clearly unnecessary to win, a touchdown being characterized as poor sportsmanship.

It’s being called “running up the score”. It’s being called “poor sportsmanship”.

Or, as Keith Brooking said, “I thought it was totally classless and disrespectful. This is the NFL, that’s not what this is about.”

Oh, sorry, Keith… I thought the point was to give 110% of yourself, every minute you’re out there on that field. I thought that the point was to never give up, to never back down, to fight, and win, never counting your victory until they’re spraying champagne on your car in front of the cameras.

I had no idea that, in the NFL, in a game to decide who goes to the NFC Championship, professional athletes making millions of dollars to play a game most of us play for fun would have the balls to throw a temper tantrum and scream “It’s not fair!”

Maybe I’m naive, but I had no idea that the Cowboys were a special needs team that we needed to coddle, and make sure they left with their self-esteem intact, no matter HOW they performed.

You know what? You don’t like getting crushed? Then how about you bring that outrage onto the field, and translate that into a WIN.

So Keith Brookings is pissed off that the Vikings didn’t give up… apparently, when the Cowboys quit trying and gave up, the Vikings failed to get the memo.

Oops!

I don’t even follow sports that much, but this kind of whiny bullshit is ridiculous.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but if you’re getting paid millions of dollars to play a game in front of thousands of fans, most of them hard working people who had to pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege of seeing you play live…

You bring your “A” game.

And not just for the first half, until you see who the clear winner is, and then give up and coast so you don’t risk an injury.

You give your “A” game the entire freaking game. Right up until that last second, you fight.

You fight, damn you.

And if you lose, you do not get up in the winner’s face and complain that they fought harder than you!

Keith Brooking, you’re an asshat. We see them in the game WE play all the time, we know what they’re like, and that’s you, babe. All over.

Thanks to your sense of entitlement, the Vikings don’t get headlines focusing on two teams coming from powerful victories over the weekend heading for an NFC Championship confrontation.

No, we get “Were the Vikings poor sports?”, “Did the Vikes run up the score”, “Vikings throw late TD in blowout, Brooking goes after Favre“, “Cowboys star calls Favre, Vikes ‘Classless'”

Classless? Yeah, I think I’ve got a handle on who is classless here.

Hold the pitchforks, please

I’ve had a lot of emails recently that ask very intelligent questions, mostly relating to helping folks with their tanking, gear choices, how to gather threat, etc.

I’m at the point where I’ve got three hours of work, all after hours when I’ve got internet access during family time, just to research and answer emails.

If you haven’t had an answer, please just be patient.

Thanks!

Harping on party politics

I’ve been playing my Paladin a little more the last few days. I really do love Ret, and I decided to see how much trouble I could get into if I just pretended I only had the one spec.

I ended up, two nights ago, getting invited into this wildly successful group that pounded three heroics one right after another, and let me buy the Emblem of Conquest neckpiece for Ret. MmmmMMmm, yummy! This might have had a hand in getting me a little excited too, not that I got an upgrade, but that I got to play! And not in right field, either.

Okay, the prejudice, it felt like it was still there. I was prepared to expect not to get groups as a Ret Paladin.

A group was advertising in Trade channel that they were looking for one DPS for Azjol-Nerub, and it was NOT the daily.

I immediately offered to come DPS… and I got a long, long, long pause before an “okay” and an invite.

Were they throwing down some Pally Ret prejudice? Omigod, should I be all offended?

Nah, I don’t think so, but judge for yourself.

When I joined the group and arrived at Azjol-Nerub, I found out that three of the other four were all from the same guild, the fourth it turned out was a real life friend, and they were all in their own vent. A group that were going to be tight together.

AND…

It was a healing Priest, a Death Knight tank, a feral cat Druid and a Fury Warrior.

That’s right, they already had all melee DPS. So, by inviting me, they had to have discussed if they wanted to deal with all melee DPS in Azjol-Nerub before saying “let’s go for it.”

I think that’s a good lesson in not reading too much into a situation, or looking for reasons to be pissy or get offended. I know some folks that would have been so irritated at not being quickly invited they would have gotten on their high horse and refused the group.

But flip it around… have you ever needed one more for an instance or a raid, and used the current composition of your group to decide that some classes would be preferred for the challenge than others?

I know I have. Heroic ToC, forming a PuG, already have a healer, tank and two melee DPS? Sure, I’ll take a ranged DPS from LFG before a third melee, thinking ahead to the Faction Champion’s warrior whirlwind and rogue poison. I’ll still take whoever happens to be in there, but if given a choice, I’ll have a preference, and act on it.

I was invited to group, and we went into heroic AN. I like that instance, btw. Very fun encounters. :) The scope of the encounters always feels like a good balance between all out fury, and fast response and movement.

The second thing I did after beng invited, was to scope out my team. Inspecting them, I found that, as to be expected, Warrior is sporting the Edge of Ruin, everyone has solid epics in the 200 – 226 range, the tank has the Onyxia tanking weapon, everyone is very well geared.

And then there’s me, still in mostly blues. Sigh.

The results?

Well, first, everyone knew the fights, and there was no discussion. It was pull, fight, win, next, but the tactics used clearly showed that everyone else did indeed know about Skirmisher priorities, poison and Pound and all the rest. They started by using marks, but by the time we were at the first boss, that stopped. We knew who to go after and why. 

So it all came down to doing your job, to the best of your ability, with what you had.

I pulled down a consistent 2.3k DPS on every fight… and I came in third behind the tank and warrior. A very, very close third. I was chasing the warrior every step of the way. And I came in way over the Druid, who was running at about 1.7k dps.

We got the achievement for killing the last boss in under 4 minutes (Gotta Go), had a perfect fast clear, and afterwards went and blazed through Nexus and VH, too.

I know I’ve been told that Retribution DPS sucks compared to other classes, and the reason for it is to compensate for a Paladin’s survivability in PvP. I’ve been told that I should just accept that people aren’t going to want a Ret Paladin in their runs, because we don’t, ahem, “put out”.

Well, can I throw out there that, if you decide in advance how a player is going to perform based on looking at their spec and gear, you deserve exactly what you get. 

It just keeps getting driven home for me, over and over. Gear and spec, even achievements do not mean a player WILL perform to a certain level, it only means that it is possible that they CAN perform at a certain level.

Skill and knowledge still matter. At least, reading expert advice from other people, and trying to implement it in your own gameplay matters.

Attitude also pays a key part.

I wanted to do the best I could. I was trying to get my flow smooth and respond fast.

Did everyone else who was there have the same attitude? Was everyone else trying to kick ass, or were some of them phoning it in? Could the Druid have put out far higher damage, and been a more vital part of the run by off-tanking or using stuns or Innervate when possible, but was actually on his cell phone for most of the night and just going through the motions?

Were the other four chatting and joking and doing a nice, relaxed run, while I was trying to prove I could contribute my fair share towards our joint success? I still had fun, darn skippy, but I was definitely trying to step up and do my best.

Doesn’t really matter. We played, we had fun, we won. I got to practise various things in the real world, and found a few things that were stupid mistakes.

Like, oh, having my Taunt button next to my most used attack button. That was simply brilliant.

Nothing is quite as much fun as thinking I’m the Druid tanking badass, and having to apologise to someone for pulling aggro because I taunted off the tank. 

And now, to move from that simple story of an evening’s fun, and on into the true topic of discussion.

It’s funny, but it seems like I see more people using Gear Scores these days, while I want to go in the exact opposite direction. 

What do Gear Scores and other related websites or addons really do?

In nuts and bolts terms, they provide someone with a means to judge the potential of a complete stranger, to determine if they will be an asset to your group. 

They serve as a replacement for judgment and personal experience with other people.

What you really want to know when you are trying to build a group, is “Does this player have the gear, knowledge and skill to help us win, or will they be ignorant and full of fail?”

You cannot accurately measure someone’s knowledge or skill from spec, gear scores, or achievements. You can’t tell what their attitude is like, or how focused and driven they will be to help the group succeed.

You can demand that people have certain achievements, in the hopes that this will prove they know the fight already and are good enough to have earned it. But all that really proves is that their character was there when it happened.

As an example, what if they were there as a DPS spec the last time, know the fight from that point of view and only that point of view, and now you’re bringing them into your pug as a healer?  Sure, they have the achievement, but they might still know nothing about the healing aspects of the fight.

You can also demand that a player’s gear reach a certain value to prove that they have the potential raw brute power necessary to overwhelm the content. That’s not going to tell you if the person knows to get the hell out of the fire, or that they’re concentrating on your raid instead of splitting their attention watching an episode of Bleach on the TV in their dorm room. No matter how precise the algorithm used to determine gear value against class and spec, you can’t get into the player’s head.

 And I think that’s why I, along with most of the people I play with, think that raid leaders who keep lists of who has been good in pugs, and who wasn’t, and try to only reinvite the players that they know from personal experience can play with skill and determination will always eventually enjoy greater success than random pugs. 

But that doesn’t stop them forming, all the time.

I still think it’s funny, but also a little sad. There will always, it seems, be people that want to win or to succeed, or get their raid on, but don’t want to have to put forth personal effort. People that want to shut their brain off and let something else make the decisions for them, even an automated addon, so they don’t have to take the time or make an effort to do it the right way. 

I wonder… how many of these people then bitch, piss and moan when the raid isn’t successful?

Unexpected moments of awesome

A non-game related post, bear with me for a moment if you will.

Some of you that have been following the blog for a while may be aware that I was laid off from my previous position back in, what, January of this year.

I was fortunate enough to find, not only a new job, but a position doing what I love, for a company that is really moving forward and kicking ass.

In my position managing a maintenance department, I spend a lot of time dealing directly with suppliers and contractors on projects I’m sourcing. And one of the most common questions I get, that I never heard before this year, is “So, how’s business for you guys? You busy?”

And I can truthfully answer, “If I have a machine go down, I’ve got trouble, because we’ve almost got more work than we can handle… and as soon as we find more capacity, we get more work. We’re busier than heck, and going strong.”

Realistically… we don’t have more work than we can handle, because we’re expanding capacity at a rate that feels just right. We are carefully analyzing requirements and sales and improving our processes. In some places, saying that would be a snow job, but yes, we really are. It’s crazy, I’m not used to working with management teams that really DO care to improve and get things right the first time. Usually, you deal with people that say they are commited to process improvement and quality improvement… but really stopped thinking the day they got their MBA, because they knew it all at that point.

It’s not like that here. It’s kinda wierd, actually. You’re not supposed to look forward to getting to work to get cracking on the days projects.

The company I am with is in the flexible materials industry. What that means, is that we work with raw flexible materials and create beautiful, functional containers for the end user to fill with their product for the consumer market.

Okay, pushing aside the sales-speak… we buy huge rolls of plastic and foil films, print them using a roto-gravure press method that is capable of beautiful color graphics, laminate those layers of film to form complex combinations of materials with varying color and pliability indexes and UV resistance, then slice/chop, cut and seal them to form… pouches. With or without zippers, pull open tops, spouts to pour or drink from, you name it.

You ever see Spam in the supermarket these days? Well, if you look, you’ll see they sell Spam by the Slice, and it comes in a sealed foil pouch rather than a metal can.

Yeah, we make those. Those exact ones. You buy Spam by the Slice, you bought our pouch.

You know Friskies cat food in the stand up pouches, and Mighty Dog dog food?

Yeah, we make those pouches, too.

We also make the sealed pouches that the 2pam chloride/atropine injectors come in for the military.

This isn’t a small time operation, is what I’m saying. We run strictly by AIB food procedures as well as medical standards in all areas of production, which means we are very, very clean and careful. We’ve got HVAC clean room requirements and food grade materials requirements that add interesting challenges to maintenance. We just had our AIB plant wide audit a month ago or so (which I had a massive share in pre-auditing) and passed with flying colors.

I’m in charge of the maintenance and facilities engineering department.

I couldn’t be happier.

I don’t mind saying, when I see the trend in the commerical products industry to move from cans to pouches, it fills me with a warm, contented glow of job security. :)

But nothing, nothing could compare to the feeling of awesome I had this morning.

I was walking through the plant, checking on areas of maintenance responsibility, making sure that assigned work was being done, and I saw our latest customer’s product in the assembly line for the sealing stage.

I just stopped dead in my tracks.

I knew that color. Anyone that had ever been in the military would know that color.

And the material we work with, that this particular product comes in… omigod. No, it couldn’t be…

I moved closer, and looked at the printing…

Granola.

Granola pouches.

US Armed Forces MRE Granola pouches.

We’ve started making pouches to hold MRE food for our armed forces.

OMIGOD.

I swear, I couldn’t be happier. The thought that we’re going to be contributing to something that so fundamentally affects the folks in the service is just freaking awesome.

I just HAD to go find the production manager, an old Navy dog that I get along with very, very well… and just point to the rolls, and make “Wha” noises.

He nodded and said, “How freaking awesome is that.”

Yep, that really says it all. How freaking awesome is that.

There is a potential downside, though, that only occured to me later.

Please… please don’t make us print pouches for Chicken A La King. I don’t think I could stand knowing that I was the cause of that much pain and suffering.

Resume Writing Advice Part II: The Moron Years

All right, listen up knuckleheads, it’s time to take out my frustrations again by pretending to help people.

This stuff I’m gonna share with you is the real deal, the good stuff. I hope you’re paying attention.

I’m hiring someone. Have a posting out, collecting resumes, and I’m personally going through every single one and sending the names of folks I deem worthy to our HR to arrange the phone pre-screening interviews.

I am seeing all these resumes, looking for someone to get the job done, and nothing is filtered out. I’m seeing every one that is sent in applying for the position.

I’ll be up front here; you people scare the shit out of me.

Okay, you know the rules. I won’t use any names, I won’t quote any examples, I won’t even tell you what the job posting or description is, or what company it’s for.

But there are trends here that baffle the hell out of me.

Here’s the setup. I have a job opening. I need to find someone with the skills, dedication, and attention to detail required to get the job done safely and reliably.

These resumes are ridiculous!

Here, let’s hit the high points.

1) Make a damn cover letter!

I look at your response to my posting, and yes I’m going to look at your list of skills, your list of previous work experience, your education, your past accomplishments, etc.

At the very top, before I dig down into all that, I want to see your cover letter.

I want to see your personal little memo to me, introducing yourself, telling me who you are (professionally), what you’ve done in general, what you enjoy doing (PROFESSIONALLY), what strong skills THAT DIRECTLY APPLY TO THE POSITION you bring to the table, and what about the job you’re applying for that appeals to you the most.

I know folks are dedperate for work out there. Everyone knows it.

But I have a responsibility to hire someone that has the skills we need, someone that will stay here, dedicated, committed to making this company a long term place to continue your career. I’m looking for, in essence, someone looking for a long term home, and not just some short term source of income while they continue looking for what they REALLY want.

If I get the feel that we’re just a pit stop on your road to what you’d rather be doing, screw that.

So I WANT to know who you are a little bit.

A paragraph, two at the most. That’s all. But if you give me that, then instead of being a list of cold stats off the back of a baseball card, you become a PERSON that I can get a feel for.

Now, if you do include a cover letter, do me a favor. Just for me.

Make sure you take the time to tailor it to the job you’re applying for, make sure it reflects your attention to detail, and is clean and professional and perfect.

That means, if you use a form letter you are copying/pasting over and over, that I can’t tell it’s a coldly impersonal form letter very easily… and that if you happened to leave spaces for filling in the name of the job you are applying for, the company you are submitting your resume to, the name of the website you found the posting… YOU FILL IN THE DAMN BLANKS BEFORE SENDING IT!!!

Also, of course, please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check.

Oh, and punctuation is not a suggestion, it is the law. Mister Period is your friend.

2) On your resume, holy shit, please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check.

3) When you are writing your resume, I appreciate your including previous accomplishments you are proud of, those things that you feel went outside the normal scope of your assigned responsibilities, and shows you can step up and kick ass.

What I don’t need, is for you to tell me, in your resume, about your personal interests. I most particularly do not need to know you enjoy four wheeling in the mud during Autumn, hunting with rifle and bow, and that you love taking a 6 point buck in deer season and dressing it out with your son. I’m glad you are a family man, but why exactly should I be giving a shit about that?

Letting me know that you were the captain of your high school football team also does not need to be listed. Not unless you think your new job will include being able to call plays on the production floor, anyway. Or you graduated high school yesterday.

In fact, on your resume itself, let’s just keep ALL that crap to yourself, okay?

If you feel the need to share something personal about yourself, follow this simple rule; does it tell me something about your professional work ethic, or your integrity? Does it relate in some way to the duties or position you are applying for? If not, dump it.

If you are active in charitable work, by all means add that, if you really want to. It is nice to know that you are committed to being a positive force within your community.

If you are a member of professional associations related to the position, such as the Surface Mount Technology Association for designers and builders of printed circuit boards, adding those activities and associations shows that you are serious about making this field a career, not just a temporary stepping stone to something else. It helps an employer know that you are serious about what you do. It is the single biggest thing you can tell me, outswide of your skills and experience. If you have taken the time to pursue more information and networking within the field outside of work, then I can at least hope you are serious about staying within the field.

If you are applying for a leadership or management position, maybe you think being captain of your high school football team is a relevant display of your leadership skills. I’d agree, if you are only two years out of high school. Once you’re in the real world, though, we want to know about real world experience.

Knowing that you married the captain of the cheerleading team, while very interesting, is also not exactly what I consider to be relevant information.

4) Make sure that your resume is not bloated with crap that in no way relates to the position you are applying for.

More is NOT better. Far better to be clear and complete in describing how what you DO know relates to the position, than to throw in a ton of crap in the hopes that you’ll baffle them with bullshit.

If you are applying for a job using power tools to fix stuff, please do not list your skills in blowing glass at the rennaisance festival. Please.

Be clear. Look at the job position you are applying for. Take the time to GET THE IDEA that what you are sending is YOU, it’s all we can possibly know about you, and the game is simple; there is one job opening, and you want to WIN!

Someone reading your resume is, and I guarantee this, reading a hundred other resumes. You want yours to be super clean, super clear, you want it to say “Hey, this is me, this is why I’d be perfect for you, and why I want to work for you, no bullshit. Now, here are my skills, hitting the high points, emphasizing my experience and can-do attitude, my positive approach, my focus on being a pleasant customer service happy-happy person and a team player, here’s my relevant education, and now I’m outta here.”

Make it a single page. Fight the bloat.

I do NOT need a detailed list of every piece of test equipment you know how to use. If you’ve told me already you’ve got 15 years experience doing wrok that requires test equipment all the time, then all you really need to do, if you feel you HAVE to, is state that you are extremely proficient and current in using the majority of test equipment relevant to the industry. Period. A shopping list of every kind of test equipment, oscilloscopes and multimeters etc etc is a distraction and indicates to me you’re scared of your lack of experience and are trying to make your resume look ‘heavy’.

If the job you are applying for listed specific brands of equipment they would like you to have experience with, then YES, say you have experience with that brand of manufacturer if you do, but make it clear that you are a very fast learner if you don’t, and list any relevant experience that might help you to learn their brand faster. If no particular brand is specified, then don’t specify.

I thought I knew what people were doing for resumes out there, but holy shit. This stuff is insane.

Oh, and one last thing. You know those columns the idiots write in the Business section of your newspaper? The ones that list the 10 most used questions in interviews or phone screenings, and tells you how to properly answer them?

Think about it.

Yes, that’s right…. WE KNOW THEM TOO!

Seriously, think about that. How do you think I react when I ask a question and get some trite, previously worked out safe sanitized bullshit run past me?

Don’t try to bullshit, or run a song and dance by people. You want to lose your shot? Give nothing but safe answers, be ambivalent, or use crap language when asked those questions that are designed to find out what you really think or how you’d respond.

I personally phrase my questions to find out how you would respond to a real, actual situation in the position. A question that requires you to use your judgment to make a decision. If you are scared of commiting yourself to answering it honestly, that tells me a lot right there.

I think it’s safe to say that the people who are asking the questions are well aware of all the “here is how to cheat the system” articles out there… and if they still use the questions, they are now asking them to see how you’ll react to them. Are you being honest, or are you trying to find ways to game the system?

Oh, one last thing… please, just one last thing…

Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check. Please use spell check.

For God’s sake, people. Why do you want me to cry? Do you really like the salty taste of my tears?

Some things just make my eyes bleed

Welcome to my non-WoW rant of the day!

 I don’t know if you’ve read this, if you’re aware of it, or even if you care.

According to a news story in USA Today from last Friday, a recent study by the Institute of Medicine, a study specifically requested by the VA and the Pentagon, recommends that there be a complete ban on all tobacco use for the United States Military, to ban it’s use on military property, and to ban it’s sale on Military property.

Okay, you can read the article yourself. It’s available online, and it all boils down to banning tobacco use by any military personnel… and it’s use on base as well, which would by extension mean no smoking bans would be enforced on all military property… any bets on if that would include on-base housing where the civilian families of active duty military members live?

Now, before I share my thoughts on this, let me give you my perspective on smoking.

I started smoking cigarettes in my first year or two in the US Marines. I smoked quite heavily by my personal standards, perhaps as much as a pack, pack and a half a day. I would sometimes, when on deployment and not expecting to spend much time in the field, take my pipe and some cans of tobacco with me because it would last longer and be cheaper than cartons of cigarettes.

When I spent a year in Okinawa, I switched to smoking clove cigarettes in a black paper wrapper with a gold foil ring, just because it was different. About 9 months in I heard that they could make your lungs bleed, so I quit that and went back to cigarettes. Spent most of my time in Okinawa running every day, there’s a very old Marine saying that when stationed in Okinawa, and single, there’s two ways you could go; drinking like a fish, or running like a gazelle. I ain’t much of a drinker. I got my time in the bars in, but they were mostly in a few quiet places off-street that played Jazz and catered to the local sake drinkers… and I loved sitting in a quiet bar drinking warm sake and listenening to the Yellowjackets or Shadowfax on a Saturday afternoon. But for the most part, I ran, and my lungs seemed healthy… but bleeding? Ick, better give that shit a wide berth, my friend.

During one particularly long deplyment in the desert, I ran out of tobacco, both cigarettes and pipe tobacco, and my buddy happened to still have quite a few ‘logs’ of spearmint Skoal long cut in his pack, so he handed some over… and I happily switched my tobacco use to Skoal smokeless tobacco. I figured it might help my run time anyway, if I stopped putting crap in my lungs. 

I continued to use Skoal, and smoke the occasional cigar with Manny, for a long time. By the time I got close to being married to Cassie, I’d been using tobacco in one form or another full time for 15 years. And, hey, I’ll be honest here; I loved it. I never found a single thing not to like.

Cassie told me early on that she did not like my using tobacco. She thought my chewing tobacco was nasty, the spit cans were disgusting, and the thought of kissing me after having that stuff in my mouth was nauseating.

I’ll blame it on the tobacco. :)

So I quit. And no, I don’t mean I chased around with patches and gum and whatever, I just mean I quit. I stopped using it, buying it, or having anything to do with it.

I guess it’s been a little over 8 years now, and aside from having a cigar once or twice with Manny when listening to the Tim Malloys play locally in a bar (The Half Time Rec Center), I haven’t gone back. I don’t have secret stashes, I don’t sneak cigarettes around. I just stopped. And, since Manny moved to the east coast, I haven’t even had a cigar in years, damnit. How am I supposed to cultivate a reputation for drunken debouchery if my only drinkin’ and smokin’ buddy moves to Virginia?

So I am a former Marine Corps veteran, heavy tobacco user that has quit tobacco use, and has been clean for 8 years.

This is still, the whole military smoking ban, in my opinion, utter bullshit.

Why? It’s healthier, right?

It’s bullshit, because it comes down to control. Legislators that apparently want to control the activity of as many people as possible. I truly believe that.

There seem to be certain people that look around for someone else that they can control, someone whose lives they can tweak and jerk around on a whim as though they were slaves, and their eyes settle on the ignorant myrmidons, the active duty military, and a piggish gleam shines in their eyes.

“Hey”, they say, “We own them, we can make them do whatever we want. They have to do what we say, or get thrown in jail. Cool. ”

And so, hey, let’s ban cigarette use for active duty military. Let’s take away their choice. We’ll save money, and that’s a good thing!

I assure you, if they could take away the ability for military personnel to vote, they would. I ain’t kidding, either.

Military personnel, so long as we continue to have an armed force consisting strictly of volunteers, so long as there remains no active draft, are free to join willingly, understanding what they’re getting in for. There are damn few people I served with that would have ever said, “Oh hell, if I serve my country they won’t let me smoke? Hell no, man, I’m gonna go to Canada instaid. Take away my right to light up, hell no.”

As we used to say, USMC, “U Signed the Muthaf&*#in Contract”. If you couldn’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined up.

Once in, service members are serving under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the rules and regulations that they live under are not the same as civilian citizens of the United States. It’s perfectly acceptable for the rules to change so it’s not allowed for service personnel to be forbidden from smoking.

Why a UCMJ? This state of affairs exists because a combat situation is no place for the rule of committee. Period. A clearly defined chain of command, top down, with specific rules of behavior, strict discipline, is critical to the continued success of our armed forces.

Do you really think this situation was put in place so that a group of legislators could decide what is best for other people, and then take steps to ban an activity… which, once banned, would mean that a violation of that ban could cause loss of rank, privilidges, and even up to or including time in the brig depending on how strict a hard ass the officer overseeing the incident chooses to be?

Personally, I don’t like smoking in my presence anymore. My home is smoke free, and Cassie and I only go to places where there is no smoking, because being around smoke makes me feel… dirty. Gets in the hair, gets in the clothes, I smell it lingering hours later, get back from the club and if there was smoking, I need to take a shower before going to bed.

That does not mean that I think that other people should have their right to choose what they want to do taken away from them.

“Oh, but it’s dangerous! They could die!”

Yes, that’s true. But in my world view, that is not a compelling argument.

Driving a car is also dangerous. Other people driving their cars around me is dangerous to me. (Especially since I’ve seen those people, and they should not be allowed to drive a golf cart, let alone an SUV. And get off the damn phone, moron! If your speed and lane stability varies once you’re on the phone, then you are too stupid to control a motor vehicle at 60 mph and talk at the same time! Shut it the *(^% off!)

Should everyone be banned from driving because they may get in an accident and die? Should you be forbidden from driving because you could get behind the wheel, get in an accident and kill someone else?

It’s regulated here, we have tests, we have laws for whats safe and whats not… but in the end, the choice of whether or not to drive is left in the hands of the citizen.

Ice skating is dangerous, skiing is dangerous, surfing and playing football and sunbathing are dangerous.

Heck, should we forbid people from going out in the sun with exposed skin because they are risking skin cancer?

No, in my opinion there is no difference in degree. It comes down to whether you think people have the right to make certain life altering decisions for themselves, or if you feel that they are cattle that need to be told what to do, whether they like it or not.

I am solidly on the side of folks having the right to do what they want, so long as what they choose to do does not harm or endanger the lives of anyone else.

If the concern is that people will smoke in enclosed areas that endanger others with second hand smoke, than regulate it, have tests, and make sure people have to be educated about smoking in well ventilated areas so as not to endanger others.

You ban it outright, and you’re showing that your only concern is control of behavior, without regard for personal choice.

I already said we don’t like second hand smoke. For us, not so much for health as for the smell and lingering odor. For Alex, we just don’t want it around him. When my mom came to visit us a few years ago, and she smokes like a chimney, she spent a lot of time out on the patio, smoking. She had the choice of staying at our house and respecting our wishes on smoking, or getting a hotel room. She stayed at the house, and she didn’t smoke in the house, because we didn’t want it in the house near our son.

Choice. We didn’t tell her she couldn’t smoke, we said she couldn’t smoke in our house. And we made damn sure there were alternatives available (like a comfy patio with chairs, umbrella, swing, coffee pot, etc.)

It’s what freedom is all about. The freedom to choose for yourself… and it seems to be the one thing that politicians truly delight in taking away from those they can.

Will it happen? It’s probably inevitable.

Will life as we know it end? No, no it won’t.

Will the Marines move on and switch to downing Monster and Red Bull (until that gets banned)? Probably. Hell, I would.

The fact of it happening isn’t all that important in the long run. You already aren’t allowed to smoke in uniform in garrison, at least you weren’t when I was in the Marines, on most bases. It looks unprofessional. You don’t do things in uniform that look unprofessional.

But this goes deeper than that, down to a desire to control the bahavior of people that enlist in the armed forces, because they can. 

It’s not mentioned as being done out of consideration for the health of the service personnel, out of kindness or human decency, it’s described as the recommendations of a study looking at whether banning tobacco use would save money in future health care costs. It would, so go do it.

Well, how much money is wasted in hospital stays due to car accidents? Maybe we should ban the use of personal automobile transportation, and switch to light rail, trains and busses for everything. It would save money in future health care costs!

In fact, let’s have a panel to examine every aspect of our lives, and if there is a potential for health care costs as the result of an activity, it should be banned… for our own good, of course.

Hey, and while we’re at it… let’s institute some controls on how much food people are allowed to eat per meal per day. We need some rationing cards. People in this country are getting too damn obese, and clearly the solution is to decide for them when they are allowed to eat, what they’re allowed to eat, and how much. That should cut down a lot of future health care costs, right?

Yeah, after all, thats’ the principle this country was founded on… the right to control or ban any behavior that might lead to increased health care costs for the government, on the average, further down the road. 

/Sigh.

Endrant, endrant, endrant.

Agree with me or not, it’s just another thing that when I read it, it makes my eyes bleed.

A rational response to an insane situation

Okay, so first the Governor of South Carolina is all over the news in what has to be the most publicized case of epic fail I’ve ever seen.  And yes, even above the Governor of Illinois. Or is that former Gov of Illinois? So many scandals, so little time.

Anyway, the media is all over this flaming jackass and his pile of epic fail, and bravo to them I say.

Man, I love seeing it shoved up his ass. Sideways. I forgive the media on this one. Go get ’em.

But wait, there’s more!

Farrah Fawcett is dead. Farrah Fawcett-Majors, for us oldtimers.

She’ll always be Buck Roger’s ex-wife to me.

And this is on the heels of the legendary Ed McMahon’s death, so we’re reeling in the media… what drama to cover? We’re only given so much time to mourn before the news is stale, so who to cover?

Before we even get a chance to absorb this, BOOM!

Mr. Michael Jackson is dead…

I could make a rude comment, but quite frankly he is beloved by many people, and all I’ll ever know about him is what the media has said, so who the heck am I to know what’s been up with him? 

With all of this, you’d think the media has a lot to discuss.

“But wait!” I hear you cry, “This is all tabloid bullshit, what about the very real, very intense struggle going on in Iran at this very moment, as a people who believe in the freedom of a democratic vote protest in the streets against what they feel is an unjust election… and they are being beaten and killed in the streets, every effort made to stop their protests, to silence them, to shut them down, and to close off all forms of communication in and out of the country so that the world may never know.”

“What about all of that?!?!”

“Isn’t that possibly enough for the media to talk about for one freaking day?”

No.

Oh how I wish it was, but no.

Because everywhere you turn, there is one other topic that somehow is under discussion.

Jon and f’ing Kate plus Eight.

/cry.

O. M. G.

/facepalm.

I can’t deal with it. He’s a sack of shit. His only job was to be a dad. That’s it. His career was to be a good, loving father to eight children, and a supportive and loving husband.

The quotes roll out, the drama rolls out, and I can’t deal with it. I’ve turned off every possible news agency I know to block out any more of this.

I’ve got my fingers stuck in my virtual ears. Somebody whisper me when this shitstorm of mediocrity and selfishness and worthless crap is OVER!

Tell me when the flaming bus runs over those two pricks, the kids get placed in kind and loving foster homes (Hey, I can dream… and the clouds in my dream are pink and fluffy, too.)

Just tell me when they are gone. When the world has moved on. And the words Jon and Kate plus 8 are no longer uttered.

Please.

Until that time, as I sing “lalalalala” to myself to shut out the madness, I shall respond in the only way I know how.

MUSIC MIX MADNESS!!!!!

It is now time for me to fix a mix to restore equilibrium.

And I’m dragging you poor bastards (and fine ladies) along for the ride.

First, to mellow out. To try and prepare. Gotta get in the right mindset to flip a halfhearted finger at the world.

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Thank you very much. Swap “Prozac” with “Beer”, and that’s about right.

Now, to my friends amongst the US Marines, the next singer should be quite familiar to you. If you don’t know “Goodnight Saigon”, then shame on you. 

But that’s not this song. Oh no, to get this twisted party going, we gotta have something a little more appropriate.

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Okay, that’s a good start.

Yes, yes I’ll include Goodnight Saigon. This is my party, and while it’s wildly inappropriate to put it here, what the heck.

Did you think I wouldn’t?

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Okay, that’s pretty awesome. I can almost feel the stupidity draining away.

Now to take it towards a faster edge… let’s go with some Blue Oyster Cult. Moar cowbell, damnit!

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Is nice?

Da, is nice.

Wow, that does wonders for my equilibrium.

But wait.

I am da Bear. I must have something at a right angle to normal reality to remind myself where I live… on the edge of “What the hell was that?!?!”

I gots just da thing…

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Ah yes…. okay, just about there…

Now to bring it on home… a capper of a song that always helps to relax me, a great song to sit back, pop a beer to, and tune out the rest of the world as you drift in fond memories of times both good and bad…

A nice little song that may mean something entirely different for someone else, but for me reminds me that what goes around, comes around, shit happens, and karma can be a stone bitch.

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Ahhh…. peace out.