Mr. Charlton Goes Back to School

So, for the longest time, I couldn’t really pick a theme for this blog or this site. Which led me to writing about a weird variety of subjects, from raging wildfires, to politics, with a sprinkling of pop culture thrown in the mix. While this was a good exercise, it meant that my site was lacking direction. Not only did this make it harder to write, it also made it harder to follow and read as well. When you, the reader, visited the site, what were getting? Were you going to get a rant about the current state of American politics? Was I going to rant about an odd sporting event? Or was I going to babble about who would win in a fight, Wonder Woman or Green Lantern? I was struggling to find things to write, because my life has been somewhat unremarkable for the last few years. That’s going to change starting September 4th. I’m going back to school.

I just celebrated my 35th birthday, and I’m going back to college.

I graduate from the SAIT Polytechnic back in 2005, after successfully completing their Engineering Drafting and Design program. And the truth is, I was pretty immature at the time. I was 20 when I enrolled, and I spent a good chunk of my college days partying and playing video games (I actually took a week off of school when Halo 2 was released). Needless to say, I certainly didn’t live up to my potential.

With age comes a certain amount of wisdom. You get a sense of perspective, and if you’ve been lucky enough, hopefully you’ve picked up some humility as well. There’s gray in my beard, my metabolism is slowing down, hangovers last longer, and I look forward to getting up earlier rather than staying up late. And I love it! I look great with a little salt and pepper in my beard, I don’t need to eat four hamburgers in a sitting to feel satisfied, alcohol is expensive and overrated, and I get way more accomplished in the morning than I do at night. So even though I’m a little nervous about hitting the books again, I’m optimistic that I’ll enjoy the experience far more the second time around.

It’s going to be an odd experience, though. The oldest person in my class back at SAIT was 37, so there’s a chance I might be the oldest person in the class. I remember one of my classmates was 27, and he seemed like a paragon of wisdom. Looking back on it now, his advice wasn’t always the best and he wasn’t really that old. He still had the emotional tension that comes with youth. Soon though, I’ll be surrounded by a bunch of sprouts who’s eyes are wide open and whose bellies are full of fire, and even though I’m not sure I’ll be up to the task, there’s a chance I might be mentoring a few of them on life stuff, simply on the grounds that I’ve got more life under my belt. Not a whole lot more life, mind you. In the most extreme cases, 15 years if they just left high school. But fifteen years is still a considerable amount of time, and I’ve made enough mistakes to at least give out brilliant examples of failure.

And if I do befriend a bunch of youngsters, then there’s a good chance I might earn a ridiculous nicknames based on my age, like “Old Man C”, or “Gray Beard the Wise”, or “Papa Smurf”, or some likely variation of these names. I’m looking particularly forward to this.

So how do I feel right now? Tomorrow is the first day, and I start at 8:30 in the morning. I’m nervous. I’ve got butterflies in my stomach. I paced around the house for a good portion of the day. I made a bunch of food to prepare for the week. My new backpack (a birthday gift from my lovely fiancee, Kat) is teeming with new school supplies, ready to be used. But I’m terrified. What if it’s been too long? What if I fail? What if I don’t enjoy my program at all, and realize I’m throwing both money and time into something I hate?

This could be the case, but like everything in life, it’s smarter to tackle these sorts of things head on. I’m hoping I do well enough to garner some financial support from scholarships, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll just have to work a little bit more next year. And although I might not ace every test, the likelihood of failure is pretty far off. There would have to be some sort of major life change, like a death in the family, or getting addicted to bath salts in order for me to drop my studies.

Still though, the last time I stepped in a classroom was over thirteen years ago. And if I’m calculating things correctly, it’ll be another five years before I finally get an engineering degree. I’ll be forty when I’m done school.

What I’m trying to say is this; Buckle up folks, because it’s about to get weird over here.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’ve got maybe an hour left before I go to bed and wake up a student. I think I’ll spend this time wisely by quietly panicking.

Happy (Belated) Mother’s Day

Dear Mom,

Note: Never once have I called my mom anything other than mom. Not mother, not mum (which sounds utterly preposterous in my head, as well as out loud), not mumsy, nothing weird. I’ve referred to her in the third person to other people, but always in the vein of “Oh, you know my mom, (insert full name here)”. I feel that, for this Mother’s day, I should point out the particular language I use when referring to my mom.

by now you should have received a package that I sent to you for Mother’s day. And, being the astute person that you are, you may have noticed that it is no longer Mother’s Day. In fact, this posting comes exactly twelve days after the day in question.

First and foremost, let it be known that I did not forget Mother’s day. Even though I was unsuccessful in calling you that day (I made the attempt at 10:34 pm Mountain Time), I still made the attempt. We did have a conversation the following day, in which I congratulated you for being a mother. To me. Which is important, seeing as how if this were not the case, you would not have received a package and you would not be reading these words here.

I should also state that this package is not late. Well, I mean it is late, it’s no longer Mother’s day after all. I should clarify and mention that this package isn’t late in the sense that I didn’t send it before Mother’s day. Although a cowardly man would allow the post office to take the blame for the delay, you certainly raised no coward. The delay was the fault of my own, and seeing as how you raised a man with integrity, I have no choice but to accept my own shortcomings. Truth be told, I could have sent the package priority and it would have arrived sooner, but that was like another $4, and it still would have been late anyways. So, seeing as how you also raised your boy to be fiscally prudent as well, I feel that I’ve made a choice that you would approve of.

Now, part of the reason I have written this letter is to clarify the nature of the gifts that you have been provided. By me, your eldest, courageous, and fiscally prudent son. Now, you will remark that there is some coffee, some tea, and some chocolates included in the parcel. The tea and coffee are both from Murchies, which is located in downtown Victoria. The chocolates are from Rogers Chocolates, which is also located in downtown Victoria. In fact, they are on the same street, and are roughly a block away from each other. You may have made the assumption that I went to Murchies, and then went straight to Rogers immediately afterwards. I assure you, this is not the case! It needs to be stated that I took two trips to downtown Victoria in order to procure your gifts. A thoughtless man would have snagged all three presents in a single trip, and you did not raise a thoughtless man.

Which leaves us to another reason I have written this letter. The matter of the chocolates. Rogers only crafts the finest chocolates, and the tin they were packaged in was exquisite, so I purchased it before a shift at work. This was a smart move, as I was able to acquire the chocolates and walk to work at the same time. Which only goes to show you that you raised a son with excellent time management skills. Once I arrived at work, I stored them in my locker and got on with my day. What I didn’t realize was the temperature of the locker storage room would well exceed the climate required to properly store chocolate. I’m quite afraid that the tin of chocolates may no longer be an assortment of pralines, creams, caramels, and truffles, but rather large brick of chocolate that tastes of pralines, creams, caramels, and truffles, depending on which part of the brick you bite into. This fault is mine and mine alone.

Anyways mom, I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s day, and I hope you enjoy your coffee, tea, and chocolate brick. I love you, and I’m looking forward to spending some time with you in the summer when I return out to more easternly pastures.

Sincerely,

your son,

The Illsutrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I absolutely swear I took two trips. But to be fair, had I known there was a chocolate place so close to Murchies, I probably would have made one trip. Again, you raised a son with excellent time management skills.

Mayweather Vs. McGregor – Dumbest Sports Spectacle in the History of Combat Sports

People are hyped about the Mayweather / McGregor fight taking place on August 26th.

If you’re not familiar with the world of combat sports, I’ll break it down for you. Floyd “Money” Mayweather (49 – 0), one of the greatest boxers in the history of boxing, is stepping into the boxing ring with Connor “The Notorious” McGregor (Debut), the current UFC Lightweight champion. An undefeated boxing genius is stepping into a boxing ring with someone who’s never professionally stepped into a boxing ring. I couldn’t think of a more concise way to state this.

Sure, people seem to be loving the trash talk, and if there’s one thing both of these fighters are good at, it’s trash talking. The whole press junket’s been a insane spectacle. It’s been entertaining, to say the least.

I’m not an expert on combat sports, neither boxing or MMA. I’m a fan by proxy only, having a few good friends of mine who either enjoy the sport of boxing or mixed martial arts. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the whole debate between boxing and MMA, it’s that MMA fans really don’t understand the sport of boxing.

This fight is not a contest. There’s 0% chance of McGregor winning this fight. Not 5%, like some MMA experts are throwing out. Not even 1%. This is a show being put on by both Mayweather and McGregor. Their purses for the fight are absolutely massive. The fans are being taken for a ride. It’s not a competition, it’s a spectacle.

Connor McGregor is out of his element. He’s a fish out of water. He’s a great fighter in the Octogon. But this ain’t a cage, and there’s no sweeping legs, no arm bars, no holds, no takedowns. McGregor is considered one of the heaviest hitters in MMA, with phenomenal striking power. That’s in the MMA though. That’s in a sport where the contestants have a multitude of options at their disposal. McGregor’s stepping into a place where striking is the only option available.

I’m not here to talk about Mayweather’s character, I’m here to talk about his boxing prowess. He’s literally a boxing genius. Simply put, he might be the greatest boxer to have ever lived. Trying to hit him is like trying to smack a greased shadow. He comes from a family of boxing superstars. He’s been boxing his entire life.

Therein lies the problem with this match. It’s not a fight, it’s a boxing match. Most of the discussion ends up devolving into the argument that “In a real fight, in the streets, McGregor would win” or “McGregor would thrash Mayweather in the Octogon”. And sure, I could agree with both statements. But this isn’t a fight in the streets, and both competitors aren’t stepping into the Octogon. They’re stepping into a place where one of them has been the undefeated champion of that space for the last two decades.

Here’s an analogy. Let’s take a great billiards player, someone who’s got no issue putting balls into pockets. Now let’s strip him of his weird billiards outfit (usually a vest and tie) and put him in an equally weird golf outfit (khakis and a polo shirt). Set him up with some clubs and stick him on a golf course with Tiger Woods. Who do you think is going to win? I’m mean, hey, you’re putting small balls into holes with sticks, can’t be all that different, right? Tiger Woods might be the greatest golfer on the planet, but you never know about Billiards guy, right? He might be able pull it off? Sure, it’s not exactly the same, but Billiards guy is a champ with a stick on his turf.

Does that sound ridiculous? Does that sound like something you’d bet against?

Why are people excited for this? It’s a mismatch. It has as much value as a sporting contest as a WWE wrestling event. I’m not even close to be an expert on either combat sport, but I can safely say this is going to be a garbage fight.

Don’t pay money for this. Don’t stream this illegally. Don’t watch this, period. The only thing you’re going to miss is the most lopsided fight in the history of boxing.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m going to call it right now. Mayweather will put McGregor down in the 6th.

p.s.s. People are hyped though, which gives me an idea. Here’s a pitch for a reality show. “Wheels on Ice”. We’ll take young formula 1 drivers, and strap them to skis and send ’em down a giant slalom course. I mean, racing is racing, right?

 

 

Mr. Charlton Celebrates Two Years

Every once and a while, I’ll end up talking to someone about their new relationship. You start asking questions, and they’ll end up saying something stupid, something along the lines of “We’ve got the same taste in movies” or “They’ve got great taste in music” or even “Our Netflix playlist is almost identical”. I’ll laugh, and I’ll place my hand on their shoulder, and, looking them firmly in the eye, I’ll say these words, and let the words dance in the air before they sashay into their ears.

“You are complete knob if you think that’s how love works. I don’t care if you both like dogs, or salami, or reading thrillers. I guarantee that, if you’re lucky, you’ll be complaining to me about your new fling in less than three months. If you’re not so fortunate, you’ll be complaining to me about them in 5 years, after you’ve gotten married and had a bunch of babies. But if you’re idea of compatibility is based on what kind of cocktail you both drink or some other inane bullshit, you are going to have a really tough go of it.”

Now, I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an expert on love or compatibility (I firmly hold to the theory that attraction works WAY more by smells and pheromones than it does by any other factor), but what I do know is that even though having stuff in common can be a great ice breaker, having opposite interests can make the heart grow fonder.

You see, me and my girlfriend Kat don’t actually have a whole lot in common. We have one or two things in common, but for the most part, our hobbies and interests are wildly different. She loves the outdoors and camping, I love the inner city and the urban jungle. I’m engaged in computers and electronics, she spouts facts about prehistoric animals and dinosaurs. If I could, I would spend most of my time in front of a screen or a book. She’s rather be in a kayak or underwater scuba-diving. I’m a city-slicker, and she’s invested in nature and the outdoors.

Here the thing, though. You don’t grow as a person if you’re constantly in your comfort zone bubble. In order to thrive as a human being, you have to be willing to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. Not only will it make you a more well-rounded person, but it’ll give you a broader scope of the world in general. If you spend all your life in front of a machine in the city, you’ll end up a yuppie idiot. If you spend it outdoors all the time away from the hustle, you’ll have a really hard time being in crowded places and accepting people who aren’t like yourself.

Kat’s incredibly special to me, not because she’s anything like me, but because she’s often the polar opposite. Having someone drag me away from the screen and putting a fishing rod in my hand is a good things, just like when I drag her to a festival where we’re surrounded by thousands of people. I’m not a fan of getting up in a tent, but I can safely say that I like going camping now. Kat still isn’t a fan of crowds, but has a blast when we spend a few hours hiking around a busy city.

I often hear words about compatibility, and I might have something to add to that. Love is about wanting to grow outside of yourself into someone else. It’s about wanting to step outside of your little world circle and into theirs for a bit. It’s not static, but rather it’s dynamic. It changes and grows. And I’m lucky enough to have found someone who wants to change and grow with me.

Two years has flown by. Soon we’re going to be packing up our things and moving to Victoria. It means changes, challenges, and choices, but it’s a new adventure, and it’s one we’re both excited to embark on.

Thanks for being there, Kat. I love you a ton, and here’s to many more years to come.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on the ol’ blog scape here. I’ve been busy.

p.s.s. Busy moving.

p.s.s.s. I did a tally of how many times I’ve moved in my life, and it’s an astounding number. It’s well over twenty five moves.

p.s.s.s.s. As a side note, I’m really excited about fresh seafood on the coast. Can’t wait to grill up some fish steaks!

p.s.s.s.s.s Also, my brother lives there. I guess.

Only the Good Die Young

My cousin, Richard Pruden, passed away in his sleep peacefully on May 18th, 2017. The people who knew Richard had this to say about the news.

“Richard Pruden? Died peacefully in his sleep? You must be mistaken. What you meant to say is Richard died trying to pull a double back flip on a dirt bike, while being set on fire, after a few tall ones. I’m certain his last words were ‘hold my beer’. That sounds more like Richard.”

Richard-and-Kori

About to go for a rip with his son Kori

Richard was a loud, boisterous, friendly, life of the party kind of guy. He wasn’t shy, wishy washy, or indirect. The few times I’ve met him he was usually handing me a beer, smiling a ridiculously large ear to ear grin, and telling me to lighten up. And even a sourpuss like me would have no choice but to lighten and smile right back. Richard oozed this positive energy that was infectious. It was impossible to have a bad time when he was around.

He’s the only person on Facebook who seemed to use it completely earnestly. He didn’t badger everyone with his political views, he wasn’t sharing memes, he wasn’t posting selfies; he was sharing what was going on in his life, and it was always hilarious. Camp stories, where he’s having to deal with neighbors who are masturbating too loudly, to tales of him and his children Kori and Kiyah (aka Chopper) fixing his bikes and getting into hijinks.

Richard-and-Chopper

Richard and Kiyah (aka Chopper)

Unfortunately for me, the only reason I knew Richard at all is because of Facebook. Besides that, I could probably count the number of times I actually hung out with the man on my hands. Yet he was so generous and open about his life that even though we only saw each other at weddings, I still felt I got to know him a little bit. And that’s a whole lot better than not knowing him at all.

When I found out the news, I didn’t really know how to react. The only thing I could do at the time was try to live like Richard did, and I did so by eating four burritos in one sitting. Still didn’t feel right. So after two and a half weeks of sitting on it, I finally got the nerve to right about a guy I hardly knew, but will still greatly miss.

The only consolation I can provide is that maybe, just maybe, you only get so much actual ‘life’ on this crazy ride, and when you live as passionately and earnestly as Richard did, you’ll end up using it all up. It’s not fair and it still hurts, but that’s the only explanation I can come up with from losing someone as great as Richard Pruden.

He was only 41 years old, and he’s survived by wife (Joann), son (Kori), daughter (Kiyah), father (Richard Sr), mother (Linda) and step father (Rene). Richard also has two paternal half brothers (Mark and Mike), and a maternal half brother and sister (Derek and Ashley). My heart goes out to each and every one of them.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. If you can use up life by having a good time, then I’m going to live forever.

p.s.s. Heaven is probably going to have to tap a few more kegs.

Mr. Charlton – Yoga Master

Besides the fact that I tend to walk everywhere, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve actually done any exercise. Every once and a while I’ll get the inkling to do some pull ups or some crunches, but it’s been, shucks, it’s been over a decade since I actually had a workout routine. I’m what a lot of fitness buffs would call ‘skinny fat’, but these days it’s leaning a little more to the fat side than the skinny.

So, with Kat’s help, I’ve been slimming down with a better diet. Thankfully, my speedy metabolism is still firing and kicking, so the pounds are already starting to shed. I’ve parked the car, and once again, I’m walking around and getting some air. There’s one thing that’s been missing; stretching.

Most of my free time is spent sitting in front of a computer screen. It’s where I like to work, and it’s where I like to play. I sit, on average, for about 90% of the time I’m not moving from one area or working. This has wreaked havoc on my hips. My weasel-like ability to bend and flex has all but disappeared. My cat-like reflexes are now only apparent in online death-matches.

Me and Kat have been looking for an activity we could both do. The only issue is our schedules. My schedule isn’t evening friendly, and there’s little chance I can commit to a program later in the night. If we’re going to do an activity together, then it has to be something we can do at home.

Enter yoga. Good for the body, good for the brain, and good for the soul if you have one. Kat’s done yoga in the past, and was super excited that I was on board to sit on a mat and do a bunch of stretching. Last weekend, we went to the store and I picked up a yoga mat. With a rubbery piece of foam, some shorts, and my willingness to do anything twice, I started doing yoga a few days ago.

Yoga is totally kicking my ass, by the way.

Right off the bat, the shorts I picked aren’t really sports wear. I figured, ‘Hey, shorts. I can work out in these’. I was wrong. The first lesson taught me that doing the kind of stretching I was doing was something I haven’t prepared for. Like, I don’t own any active wear. I thought shorts were active wear, and I was wrong.

Now, rather than put off yoga until I got some proper attire, I decide to step up to the mat and dress down a little. Needless to say, I’ve been doing yoga in my underwear. So here I am, almost halfway through thirty, sitting on a yoga mat, bending in way I haven’t bent since I was about eight, in my skivvies. Oh, and I’m working up a sweat, too.

I just want that mental image implanted in your brain. A slightly pudgy, grunting, perspiring, greasy Mr. Charlton rolling around on a cheap mat I got from some conglomerate chain store. Hopefully you are now paying attention.

But here’s the thing. Even though I’ve only sat through two 30 minutes sessions so far, I’m already starting to feel a little better. My arms and legs are a little bendier. Sitting at the computer here mashing at the keyboard doesn’t feel so rough on my hips. I’m a little more focused. And tonight, before I go to bed, I plan on hitting the mat once again.

Yoga gets Mr. Charlton’s seal of approval. If you are a desk jockey like me, if you spend your days as a keyboard warrior, typing your typpie types into the type pad, then I fully recommend yoga. In fact, if I were a large firm, I’d make 20 minutes of yoga almost mandatory.

It might seem a little presumptuous to make bold claims like this after only two sessions, but I’m the kind of guy who make bold claims all the time. And honestly, after being an arm chair cowboy for over a decade, having a big old stretch in the morning is a great way to start the day.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Alright, so I’m baiting people with the headline “Yoga Master”. Sue me.

p.s..s. Seriously, it’s a pretty good workout. You find yourself doing a lot of planking. Good for the core!

p.s.s.s. I’m digging doing yoga in the raw, by the way. Sure, I could go buy some stretchy pants, but doing it in the ol’ underoos makes me feel like a tough hombre.

Mr. Charlton Hates Driving

It’s not unusual for a young man to be interested in cars and trucks. Even in the 21st century, boys are still the primary market for hot wheels and Tonka trucks. These boys grow up into men (at least physically) and targeted still with slogans about owning a vehicle. Freedom! Speed! Sex! These things come with a car. So again, it ain’t unusual for guys to be interested in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and that sort of thing. It’s kinda weird if they didn’t.

Mr. Charlton is most certainly a strange duck.

I’ve never been into cars. I only owned a vehicle from the ages of 17 to 19, then promptly got rid of the thing. Part of the reason was the fact that I enjoy walking. Strolling around kept my body lean and fit. Part of the reason was the car is the only place I got angry. Not being in a car was saving my hair from going grey. The biggest reason was I just moved to the city.

I’m a city boy. I was raised in a small town, but at heart, was someone who loved the urban jungle. I loved the density, the towers, the different foods, the people. And the closer you are to the heart of the city, the less it makes sense to own a vehicle. A car’s usefulness decreases drastically as the towers above you rise. What was originally a means of freedom is now a burden. Parking is expensive. The Stop-Go of city driving is hard on a vehicle. You no longer have to get a week’s worth of groceries and stockpile your pantry, you can just stop at the market on the way home. The only reason you would have a vehicle is because you lived in the suburbs, and I’d rather pull teeth than live in the damn suburbs.

Long story short, there hasn’t been a whole lot of times I missed having a car. But that’s when I was living in the city. And right now, Mr. Charlton isn’t living in the city.

Now, if you’re in a small town, you don’t really need a vehicle either. There’s really only one municipality that requires a car. If you live in a large town / small city, then it’s going to be a hassle to get around.

Enter Lethbridge. That’s where I’m living right now. It’s not a bad little city, but it’s a little city. The bus only runs until 6:00pm on Sunday. The town is split in two; The city on the east side of the valley, the university and a bunch of burbs on the west side. And I happen to be lodging on the west side. Getting around is tougher.

If I were single, I’d suck it up and walk or take the bus. Kat has a vehicle though, and she’d (her own words) would rather have me borrow the car and be home sooner. I’ve been driving a lot more than I normally do.

This is bad news, ’cause it’s making me fat.

So I made the plan in my head to use the vehicle a lot less. I had to whip over to Kamloops  a few weekends ago, and Kat was gracious enough to let me borrow Skylar (the name of the car). This ain’t my car, so I needed to take really, really good care of it. But after this, I was done. After this last 1600 kilometer journey, I was parking Skylar and getting my walk on.

It was almost halfway through April, so spring is well on it’s way. Unless, of course, you’re living in Canada. Then we’re getting the last spitting of winter. For the first leg of my journey, I encountered sleet, snow and wind. Nothing I couldn’t handle though.

There was a lot of wind, more than usual. This is important, because halfway to Kamloops, right outside of my hometown of Golden BC, there’s a particularly treacherous span of road. For about 10 kilometers, there’s only a two lane highway, and it twists through a rocky canyon. I’ve driven through here hundreds of times before. Never much paid attention to the signs in the area, mostly the ones saying “Watch for falling rock”. And for the first time in my life, I saw what these signs were warning travelers about. In front of me, the road was getting pounded by rocks the size of baseballs.

These rocks weren’t rolling down a hill, they were falling from heights. Suddenly I had flashbacks of stories about people getting hit by rocks in the canyon. People who’s windshield got destroyed. Some folks even died. This is all passing through my brain, and I now have a decision to make; Do I stop, and risk getting rear ended? Or do I speed up, and go for broke, hoping that with an increased velocity, I avoid getting hit altogether?

Bravely, I did neither.

“DONK!”

That’s the noise the rock made when it hit the side of Skylar. The noise I made was ten minutes of swearing. And I mean, straight up cussing. Some of the best cussing I’ve ever done was right after this tragedy. Then there was sadness, as  the reality sunk in that when I arrived to my destination, I’d have to call Kat and let her know Skylar got hit by a rock from the sky.

Finally, when I showed up to Golden, I was able to assess the damage. Thankfully, there was a slight bit of dirt, but there was no dent. Not even a scratch, really. The rock was all bark, no bite.

Still, with everything said and done, if I had to do it again, I’d hop on the bus or catch a flight. Instead of 18 hours of driving this weekend, I would have simply had 30 hours of reading.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. The joke is that a bus ride is usually way longer than taking your own vehicle.

p.s.s. I’d still rather take the bus.

p.s.s.s. Kat was totally cool, just FYI. She was far more worried about me than her car.

Quality Over Quantity

Sometimes, you get yourself into a rut. Happens to everyone. Whether you’re producing comic strips or the cure to cancer, you’re going to have days when you’re on fire, and there will be days when you’d like to set yourself on fire. Lately, for me, I’ve been definitely leaning more towards self-immolation rather than self-congratulatory.

But that’s okay.

Usually after a life changing event, especially in regards to the loss of a loved one, you can be faced with some pretty challenging questions staring you in the face. Questions liked;

“What am I doing with my life?”

“Am I happy?”

“Am I living up to my potential?”

All of these questions may seem selfish, but when backed up against the death of a family member, especially a parent, then you’re only getting half the question.

“What am I doing with my life?” – in comparison to how they were doing.

“Am I happy?” – the way they seemed to be happy.

“Am I living up to my potential?” – would they expect more of me?

After my uncle’s funeral, I took a bit of a break from a lot of things. Sat back and had a good think about stuff. Walked the dog a little more often. Put the hustle aside for a second, and spent some time with my girlfriend. Read books. Played some video games.

Here’s what I’m getting at. Everyone expects something out of you, even if it’s small or seems like common sense. Most most people expect from you, though, is usually pretty understandable, and what they expect if for most other to respect their boundaries. But some people want you to behave a certain way, or dress a certain way, or even live a certain way. And this isn’t a bad thing either, I mean, I’m in a library and it’s quiet. That’s because people here expect you to be quiet.

Disappointment comes from an expectation gone awry. You went for burgers and expected a good meal. It was terrible, so you were disappointed. You went on a date, expecting this young man to be a charmer. He smelled badly and wasn’t interesting, so you were disappointed. You write a song on your guitar, and you decide to play it at a party. You get booed, so you were disappointed.

In every case, you’re banking on other people to perform to your level of satisfaction. No problem there, but what I’ve noticed is the most anxious people also seem to have the highest levels of expectation. I could be convinced there is an entire mental disorder that stems from a group of people who have their expectation of reality quite outside the boundaries of reality.

This brings me back to the questions I asked earlier; What am I doing with my life, am I living up to my potential? Most of my fears, worries and anxiety stemmed from the perception, in my own mind, that I wasn’t living up to the expectations of others. Here I was, getting worked up over expectations from other people, who truthfully never expected anything from me in the first place. My parents weren’t concerned that I wasn’t an engineer, or a doctor, or married. They just wanted me to be happy.

Here’s what I want you to understand. If someone truly loves you, they’re not going to be concerned whether you’re a star athlete, a successful business owner, or a best-selling novelist. They’ll certainly be proud of you if you are, but their love won’t be based on your achievements. Once you realize that, once that weight is off your shoulders, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to live up to your own expectations.

At the very end of the day, your expectation of yourself is the only one that matters.

Let me get to the point of the title of my blog. Quality Over Quantity. On the crazy plains of the internet, in the digital realm, quantity wins over quality every time. I’ve toyed around with the idea of monetizing this site, and I’ve backed away from the idea because that path seems fraught with compromise on the quality to push quantity. Even today, I’m not always happy with the work I produce. For a while, I was a lot more concerned about keeping a schedule than putting out quality posts.

It’s been a year since I started renting the domain name, and it’s been about four years of me typing on the internet in the first place. This webzone is going to continue, but I’m going to be a lot less concerned about a schedule than I was before. Life is too short to worry about making up a fake deadline for a website I write my brain thoughts on.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Eventually, I plan on making a website that’s a bit more encompassing. Right now it’s just my scribbling.

p.s.s. See? You’re expecting a joke and now you’re disappointed. I’m like the Zen Master of flipping people’s expectations on their heads.

Mr. Charlton Builds a Computer

I received my computer Tuesday and after work, chores, making dinner, and a bunch of tasks needing to be accomplished, I finally had time at about 10:30 pm to sit down and put together a massive box of computer pieces. By 2:00 am Wednesday morning, I finally had the damn thing together and running with an operating system. Ran into a couple snags, though…

  • I bought a CPU fan, thinking the CPU wouldn’t come with a fan. It did. So I have two CPU fans. Now, the extra one I bought is most certainly an upgrade, but Christ, never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine attaching such a massive and ugly piece of hardware to a CPU. It looks like my processor is being molested by a silver monster.
  • I also bought an extra tube of thermal paste. That’s only because I didn’t expect the extra fan to have some. It did. Now I’m capable of attaching a ton of processors to heatsinks and fans. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
  • I installed the mother board first, which turned out to be a mistake. You see, that crazy monster CPU fan needs to fastened to the BACK of the motherboard as well as the front. I had to take off the sucker and attach this beast of a fan before I could put the motherboard back in.
  • I was going to return the fan, once I realized what a pain in the ass it was. As I was looking up the return policy, I spilled coffee on the instructions for this fan. After a lot of swearing (sorry Kat!), I decided to keep the fan.
  • If you haven’t noticed, basically every problem I had was with this fan. But damn, does it push some heat!
  • Once everything was installed, I went to go install my operating system. Except I didn’t actually buy one. After some digging, I found my old copy of Windows 7. Brand new machine, and it’s running an operating system that’s over 7 years old. I’m off to a great start.

It might seem like two and a half hours is a long time to setup a computer, but remember, this is the first computer I’ve bought in 8 years. I was taking my sweet time, occasionally smelling the cords as I was putting it together. They had that new cord smell. Delicious.

I’ve been slowly adding software to the machine. Slowly. I’ve starting with some basics I use a bunch. Which brings me to a new problem. Because right now I’m satisfied that everything that NEEDS to be installed finally is, and I’m writing this blog at 3:00 pm on Friday. From the time of unboxing to the moment I can finally sit down and feel comfortable using my computer, it has been three days. 2 and a half hours ain’t bad, but 3 days is a goddamn long time to be waiting to use your new toy.

You see, you can’t just start mucking about on the computer the second you have it plugged in. No sir. You have to make sure everything is updated first. You have to update all the drivers for the hardware; the motherboard (you should do this first), the video card, the LAN, the audio. You have to install the latest service pack for Windows. You then have to update Windows. Now you’re going to want to install all the cool software you use on a regular basis; A good internet browser, Skype, Steam, a slew of design program I tell myself I’m going to learn but never do. Once that’s all done, once all of that was setup, I finally installed Skyrim to see how well this computer would run.

It runs at 60 FPS on the highest settings. I mean, it’s a game that’s also 8 years old, but damn, it still looks pretty good.

I’ve been going on such a downloading spree that I had to call my service provider and have them bump me up to their platinum program. If I hadn’t done that, I would still be installing Visual Studio’s 2017 (this program happens to clock in at over 50 Gbs with all the bells at whistles. No joke). I’ve only had this computer for a couple days and I’ve already downloaded well over a hundred gigs of sweet data, and from how it’s going so far, that ain’t going to stop any time soon.

TLDR; Mr. Charlton got a new computer. Mr. Charlton build his new computer. Mr. Charlton is now treating his new machine like a China vase, and refuses to even browse Facebook with it yet. You’ll know the new shiny has worn off when I start downloading crap I shouldn’t be.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I missed a post ’cause I was enthralled with my new toy. I should be working instead of playing, but I just downloaded Batman: Arkham City and SWEET PEARL it runs at 60 FPS with every damn thing turned on. An old game, but this tells me I can at least play some new games if I choose to.

 

 

Dear 90’s Kids; Your Childhood was Stupid

I was born in 1983, which puts me in the category of Millenial, a term used by dumb people who figure generational differences can be neatly divided into decade-size chunks. At the same time, this generation, who’s formative years was in the late 80’s and early 90’s, for whatever reason, thinks this was clearly winning some sort of lottery. Anyone born from 1980 to about 1990 will rant and rave about their childhood, bragging about their upbringing with anyone they have on their social media list. The reverberation from the rest of the internet echoes right back at them. “Remember this?” Everyone nods in affirmation. Apparently, 1990’s nostalgia is the best nostalgia.

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I try not to.

Mr. Charlton is here to tell you that your memory is pretty terrible. I used to be like you, 90’s kid. I used to say things like “Well, this new computer game is pretty fancy, but it’s not nearly as cool as my Super Nintendo”. I too used to swallow the Kool-Aid of 90’s nostalgia, drinking it in like cheap gin. Reality smacked me back in the face when instead of thinking about memory lane, I took a stroll down it. For the first time in over two decades, I sat down and watched my favorite cartoon from my childhood; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It’s fucking awful.

I’m not saying this lightly. I love cartoons. I watch cartoons all the time. I’m not judging a medium here, people. What I’m saying is that objectively, and I say this with conviction in my heart, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the 1980’s cartoon I cherished as a child, is an utter pile of crap. It sucks. The first season of the show is sort of passable, but then it completely goes off the rails. There’s no real character development, there’s no structure, the plot is stupid, and the whole show reeks of lousy writing.

There’s a reason for this, though. You see, kids are smart, but they’re also pretty dumb. It’s just what kids do. Saturday morning cartoons were designed to do one thing, and one thing only. Sell toys. And it worked. Really, really well.

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Maybe too well.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out in 1987, so I was four years old when I was introduced to the show. That’s young. I mean, that’s brain formative, crazy impressionable young. These shows were so effective, a law had to be put in place to let children know when the show took a break and the advertisements began. It was called the Children’s Television Act.

It wasn’t just TMNT that was trying to sell my childhood to me, there was a number of shows that pulled this kind of trash.

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David Koresh couldn’t get this kind of following.

If you’re part of the earlier generations, the Gen X’s or the Baby Boomers, and you’ve always wondered why our generation was so obsessed with weird pop culture like Transformers and Nintendo, well, it’s because that’s how you inadvertently raised us. You sat us down in front of the television every Saturday morning, and let us watch six hours of programming designed to get us to buy toys. And it was done when our brains were spongy and pliable.

Now I’m not pointing the finger at anyone. I’m also not really writing this for the older generations, or my generation either. I’m writing this for the younger generation, for the kids who were born after the naughts. If you’re wondering why mommy and daddy will have an actual argument about which Pokemon is better, it’s because your parents were brainwashed when they were kids. It’s why the adult neighbors will solemnly nod in agreement when they mention how Micheal Bay destroyed their childhood with the new Transformer movies. The adults you’ll have to work with when you grow to get a job will forever be sitting around the water cooler, discussing which Power Ranger they would have been.

If you’re a 90’s “Kid” reading this, there is still hope. The cartoons being made today are spearheaded by the same generation, and they are way better than anything we ever had. If you’re actually a Ninja Turtles fan, then I suggest you go watch the new 3D remake from Nickelodeon that premiered in 2012. It actually has a plot and is well written for a kid’s show. A lot of other famous franchises are getting reboots, and many of them are pretty good.

The kids growing up today have it better than I did as a kid when it comes to entertainment, and that’s a good thing. Cartoons are more engaging and smart, video games are bigger and brighter, and if all else fails, it’s not like the old stuff vanished. Heck, I was playing the old arcade game ‘Asteroids’ on my computer the other day. It’s nice to look back every now and again. You just have to make should you’re only glancing back at the past, not staring intently.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. The Super Nintendo is still fun and all, but it doesn’t compare with playing online against crazy Russian people in CounterStrike.