Monthly Archives: April 2014

When a Birthday Just Doesn’t Feel Like a Birthday

   For as long as I can remember, certain traditions have announced my birthday. 
    I have an uncle who sends me a birthday card with a dollar in it to this day.
    My grandfather wrote me a letter until he passed away.
    My grandmother called to sing happy birthday.
   I am down to just my uncle’s card.  Grandma has left this world since my last birthday.  She was an amazing woman.  She raised 5 children of her own in addition to the unofficial adoptees.  She taught english for decades.  She co-founded her local EMS.  She was always ready to help however she was able.  I miss her birthday call.
   It is time to establish new traditions.  Free Comic Book Day has become one.  Any ideas on more?


Free Comic Book Day Is Coming Soon

I love the first Saturday of May.  Why?  It’s Free Comic Book Day!

Never heard of it?  Free Comic Book Day is where various comic book publishers get together to increase overall comics readership by printing promotional issues and sending them to participating stores to be given away for free.  The terms and conditions are up to the stores, but they can’t require purchase.  There is a handy store locator on their site to help you find participating locations.

My local store is JC Comics and Cards.  They let me get one of everything.  And there is a lot of variety.  Reprints, samples, special one-shots just for that day, upcoming #1 issues, stuff for the tots, for kids, for teens, for adults, pretty much the whole gamut.

It has gotten crazy in recent years.  Used to be, I’d pop in any old time and get what I wanted.  Now I have to arrive about an hour before opening and get in line.  JC even sends issues down to the Cuyahoga Falls Library as a secondary giveaway site.

Provided I can still get my hands on some, I’ll try to post reviews here.  Also, DC Comics has announced that participating stores will also be giving away a free Batman comic in July as part of their 75 years of Batman celebration.

Sliding Scale of Physical Laws

Well now, there’s an odd title. Allow me to elaborate. First, I must begin with the fact that I am neither a scientist of any kind nor am I employing the scientific method. I am an artist performing a thought exercise. Allow the scientific community to explore, test, refine, and prove/disprove my hypothesis. As the son of an engineer raised on great science fiction, I love exploring the what ifs of what I find in the news regarding scientific discoveries.

I once read about the discovery of a planet in a different solar system which had a density roughly akin to that of styrofoam. This was considered unusual due to the total mass of the object. Simply put, it is believed that the gravitational pressure upon the mass of the object should have compacted the matter. This led to another blogger to point out that the physical laws of nature may vary within different regions of the universe. Sounds like chaos, doesn’t it?

But there could be order in this concept after all. What if there was some sort of overriding law that governed how the laws of nature worked in other areas of the universe? That by knowing how one physical law was affected, one could predict in what ways the others would be?

Let us begin the exploration of this idea with a few definitions and base concepts. The term void in this context would refer to the theoretically infinite amount of space out there that an object could occupy within the realm of matter and energy. The term universe would then be defined as the expanding debris of matter spreading out from a single point as is currently believed. You know, galaxies and the like. The origin would be the single point from which the universe expands. The edge would refer to the rapidly moving edge of the universe out into the void. Get the picture? If not, you’ll only get lost from here. Try one of my other articles instead. If you follow me so far, we can now describe my concept.

Genesis describes God as stretching out the heavens, a point made by Ken Ham in how creationism explains the expansion of the universe while debating Bill Nye. For the evolutionists within the readership, please refer to the base concept of the Big Bang. In either case. The universe is expanding. If I am not mistaken, as one stretches out a piece of rubber, tension is greater in the center and the material becomes thin. The rubber is thickest along the edges. Now let’s apply this concept to the universe stretching out into the void. There are only two differences. One must invert the distribution of density. The universe would be denser toward the center, I think. Also, the rubber model is two dimensional and the universal model is in three dimensions. It would be reasonable to postulate that the differences in the laws of physics, assuming that there are any, would follow a similar pattern.

We could divide the regions of the universe into spherical layers, like the atmosphere. Perhaps the laws concerning mass and pressure would vary in accordance to these spheres and their distance from the center. It could then take less pressure to compact the same matter at the center sphere than it would at the edge sphere. Then all of our current formulas would simply need a new factor, the sphere in which an object is located. Light behaves as both a particle and a wave, putting it on the border of matter and energy. Since the discovery of the planet that sparked the idea would be located in a different sphere, it stands to reason that matter and energy can travel between the spheres.

While it would be possible that matter would be governed by the laws of the sphere from which it came, it is far more likely that it would be governed by the laws of the sphere in which it is located. That is, less pressure would be required to crush us as we traveled to more central spheres. Questions still remain. Would the spheres expand along with the universe? Or would additional spheres be created along the edge? What other physical laws are affected? Would they change the same way, or would they require separate theories? Am I off my rocker? That last one has been asked before. I think the answer is yes.

That is as far as I have explored the idea. Let us see what discoveries are made in the future.

Dad Stories – The Pastor Sensei at Bethel


One of my father’s first sermons as a head pastor of a church is so memorable, that those who attended will probably still talk about it from time to time.

From the other anecdotes on this blog, one will see that my family was still involved in martial arts as a christian ministry. Before the service, dad had hidden the self-same sword from The Broadsword Incident behind the pulpit. No one knew, yet.

One of our black belts, Jeff Stissel, agreed to be dad’s accomplice. Dressed in a black gi, black halloween hood with the black one-way mesh hiding his face, and his customary black tabi boots, Jeff entered the church grounds well into the service but before the sermon. He waited patiently beside the sanctuary doors, looking in the window for his cue.

Dad preached a sermon about being constantly on your guard against sin, for Satan looks for any opportunity to tempt. As dad reached the climax of his sermon on the importance of spiritual vigilance, Jeff burst through the double doors screaming like a banshee, bokken (a wooden practice sword) raised overhead. The congregation jumped. In the mere seconds Jeff charged down like the main aisle, everyone looked to the front left pew where we were sitting. Dad’s behind the pulpit while mom, Lauren, Rachel, and I were still seated up front. Who was this madman!?!

Dad pulled the huge sword from the pulpit with a yell and blocks the oncoming wooden blade. If I recall correctly, the bokken was broken. The mock stage battle ensues, with dad as the victor. As Jeff crawls away to symbolize the fact that the battle against temptation is never finished in life, dad calmly walks back up to the pulpit to wrap up his sermon and carry on with the service in the usual manner.

I have never seen a congregation sit more bolt upright at attention, nor with so wide of eyes.

Recommended Podcast: The Arkham Sessions

If you are of my generation, one cartoon stood above the rest.  Batman: The Animated Series.  It brought back action cartoons and took them seriously.  Production values were high, and the writing was top notch.  Almost two decades later, they still hold up.
But what if?  What if we were to put the series and its characters under the microscope, psychologically speaking?  That’s exactly what the Arkham Sessions does.  Armed with a licensed psychologist and a writer’s bible, the Arkham Sessions peels back the layers episode by episode.
What is really going on under the character masks?



The internet isn’t nearly as untamed as it once was, but there are still standards that can go a long way online. Properly observed, these simple rules can prevent escalation.

      1. Know the difference between private and public. – Court rulings have set the precedent that there is no expectation of privacy on the internet. That being said, email is more private than Facebook, regardless of your privacy settings. Never hash out an argument on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media. If the other party refuses to keep it private, block them. After all, the only reason to go public with an argument is to feed on the drama. If the other party truly has a legitimate grievance, and desires a real resolution of the problem, they will be satisfied with email, text, phone call, video chat, or face-to face. There is no reason to air dirty laundry in public.

      2. Remember the concept of digital permanence. – I don’t care how bad it gets, your feelings now are temporary. Once something is online, it gets posted and spread around. You will not be able to track down and delete every copy, nor do you have the right to. You posted it in a public forum (the entire internet is a public forum whether we like it or not), therefore the public will consume it as they wish. Post with caution. You will never live down those nude selfies you put on Twitter or Instagram when you were drunk. That picture of your buddy from that epic party you put on Facebook? Yeah, you just damaged his future career for all time. How lucky he is to have a friend like you. Which of course leads to #3.

      3. Employers will see it. – No matter what settings, no matter what site, employers and potential employers can and will see what you put out online and they will use it in their hiring/promotion decisions. There are many ways that they can find out what you don’t want them to see, and most of them are legal.

      4. Employers, this is for you! – In spite of #3, it is ENTIRELY unethical to ask for Facebook passwords and passwords to other social media! The Terms of Service for Facebook and other social media sites often prohibit users from giving out their passwords. These Terms of Service can constitute a legal contract. It is unethical at best to require an applicant to violate a contract into which they’ve entered with another entity. Zuckerburg even considered suing employers using said practice. I wish I could find out how that went. I get that employers are trying to see the private posts to see if an applicant is putting up a false front, but there are better ways to do it. No employer EVER needs administrator access to an applicant or employee’s personal social media account. NO employer needs the power to edit an applicant’s nor employee’s personal social media account, nor the power to post as the applicant/employee, nor the power to change the password, nor in any way hack the account. It DOES NOT matter if these things are the intent of the company or not. These are the only things that a password can give you that other, more ethical means cannot. It is inappropriate, unprofessional, unethical, and ought to be illegal. Take it from someone who knows, it is better to be unemployed than to hand over the keys to your online identity. If you do hand over your password to an employer, prospective or otherwise, you would’ve been better of to hand over your house and car keys, wallet, checkbook, and credit cards! Any employer who engages in the practice has earned my disgust and utmost ire. There just simply isn’t ANY call for it.

      5. Tone does not always transfer well in text. – This can include sarcasm. Keep this rule in mind when posting and when reading. Give the other person benefit of the doubt. There are times when tone is obvious, but the obvious intent is not always the right one. Much of the offense caused online is unintentional. Keep your objections calm and reasonable. Keep in mind that not everyone will share your opinion. Given enough time, every person on this planet will offend everyone else. That is just part of the human condition. Also, beware of trolls. Trolls are people who intentionally post shocking things for no other reason that to stir up drama. Which introduces #6.

      6. Don’t be a troll. – No one likes a troll, not online and not in real life. If you wouldn’t say it to the face of someone who could smear you across the pavement, don’t post it online.

      7. Your social media accounts are your online identity. – Treat your username and password like you would your driver’s license, cash, credit cards, checkbook, social security #, etc. Your online identity is yours, DO NOT hand it over to someone else. It’s one thing to have your spouse check your email, it is another to leave it lying around. Also, you have every right to use the tools the social media site gives you. Don’t take any crap from people who get angry because you deleted a post/picture/video, removed your app, shut down your account/page/site, didn’t update, blocked them, deleted their comment on your post/picture/video/app, didn’t reply, etc. It’s YOUR account. Do with it as YOU wish.

      8. Never post about being out of the house until you are back. – This is more security than netiquette, and seems kind of obvious, but it bears stating. How many of your online friends do you really know? How many of them will repost/share/retweet? The truth is, you have absolutely NO idea who is reading what you put out there. Thieves do watch social media to find out when someone won’t be home. There was even a site dedicated to reposting such information, but I won’t post it here.

      9. Don’t sweat small stuff and repair the big deals. – Everyone will eventually offend everyone else given time. It is just part of the human condition. There are too many toes to avoid stepping on when you don’t count the unreasonable people of the world. If you do cause unintended offense, reevaluate what you are putting out there. Is the offending part of the message something you truly believe or intend to say? If the offense is worth causing (i.e. your expression of your pro-life stance offends a pro-choice abortionist), then stand by your message. If your offense is not worth causing (i.e. a joke you thought was funny spreads a misconception you were previously unaware of), then apologize as publicly as the original offense was caused, and remove the offending post. Yes, digital permanence means the damage was done. But consider this: posting an unintentional offense may be innocent, but leaving it up after the problem has been brought to your attention is an indication of apathy. Show you care.

      10. Don’t spam. – This should go without saying, but it still happens all the time. Yes, people are trying to make money on the internet, myself included. But there are times and places where advertising is inappropriate, like the comments section or your friend’s Facebook page. I know what desperate financial straits are like more than most. But that kind of advertising is neither an effective nor decent way to rectify the situation (much like the telemarketing I used to do, blegh!) No one likes spam and it’ll only aggravate people. The site/social media page/email address you’re posting on belongs to someone else, and it is their decision what they will or won’t advertise. Not yours. It’s just plain rude.

      11. Don’t tweet from the toilet. – Do I really need to explain this? Grow up.

      12. Don’t say things online that you never would in real life. – The perceived anonymity of the internet has resulted in rash actions and loudmouths who would cower if they were to meet the object of their rant in the real world. Not all interactions stay on the internet and no one deserves such rash treatment. Rule of thumb, never post angry items right away. Type them up and reread them. Then go get a snack. Reread the item when you return. Chances are, you’ll wind up deleting the angry item. If this is the case, then you can bet you would’ve regretted posting it earlier.

      13. Never use tl;dr. – I’ve ranted about that before.

      14. Read thoroughly before getting up in arms. – Remember Read Through and Thoroughly?

      15. Don’t be online while walking or driving. – Watch where you are going. I’ve been guilty of wandering my local library while riding their wifi, but driving with distraction(s) you are voluntarily adding to the task is unacceptable.

      16. ?

I’m leaving #16 blank for a reason. There are more common courtesies for the online world than I could list. If you can think of any, feel free to add them in the comments below.

The internet was once a wild west where people would run amok under the shield provided by the separation of our online and real lives. But as technology progresses, that gap is narrowing. Many of the common sense rules of the real world now apply to the digital one. When your online life and your physical one are compared side by side, who are you? Make no mistake, we can no longer wear two faces as our virtual and physical worlds become one. Don’t become a hypocrite.