Streaming!

I have a had a blast picking up the hobby of streaming video games online.

A while back, Ashley and I decided to open up the stuff we do on the internet to more content. For me, it didn’t feel right for that content to all be labeled Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. Our show has a certain brand of humor and style that didn’t feel like it should encapsulate all the stuff we wanted to do. That’s where 2Dorks came from. Stephanie proposed the title when Ashley and I were discussing a creative writing project. Now we have a pretty decent little following over on twitch.tv/2dorkstv where we broadcast all the fun stuff we do. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is over there, along with anytime we want to stream a video game.

It’s been pretty fun so far and we’ve been really happy to welcome Jacob into the fold for creating fun stuff. He and I started doing Diablo streams on Mondays and that’s been super fun. Now we’re talking about running dungeons in WoW as well. Stephanie actually came up with that idea when she got the itch to play it a few days ago.

I’m also officially doing The Adventures of Stephen on twitch every Tuesday night at 8:30pm. I’m going to be playing nothing but point-and-click adventure games, both old and new. I played Full Throttle already and tonight I’m starting a full franchise playthrough of the Monkey Island series. It’s easily one of my favorite series’ of all time. Up there with Mario for sure. I’ve always loved those games for the humor and really smart puzzles. I’m excited to dive back into this one because it’s  been a long time since I’ve played it. I have tried to fire this up once before and found that I got frustrated a littel early on, but I think I’m in the right mindset this time around.

  • The Secret of Monkey Island
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
  • The Curse of Monkey Island
  • Escape from Monkey Island
  • Tales of Monkey Island

I’m doing all of those above games in a row first. Then I’m going to break out into some new stuff. I just figured, why not start with one of the best adventure games of all time and then move on. After that, I might give Toonstruck a shot. I haven’t played that in years and it deserves another look for sure.

Anyway, I’m excited about all this and pumped to get started. Can’t wait to see where it all goes!

The Bottom of the Barrel

It’s been a couple days since the infamous night that Trump managed to take the election. I’ve had some time to think this over, and I’ve had some time to consider what this all means.

Democracy worked and the country got what they wanted. Say what you will about popular vote vs. electoral vote, this is what happened. In all of it’s beauty, sometimes democracy works against the vision of some.

The thing that keeps me disheartened isn’t necessarily the fact that Trump will be the president. I honestly hope for the best and I hope that he’s able to speak to the people in the country that feel forgotten or betrayed by their government. There were plenty of things that President Obama did that I know a lot of the country was unhappy about, and left a lot of folks feeling uncared for. That being said, in regard to all of those hateful things that incited violence and fear around the country, I hope he fails miserably with those campaigns. I hope his wall is never constructed, I hope his deportation of millions of illegals can’t go through, I hope his ban on muslims entering the country is completely overruled by the supreme court as unconstitutional, and I hope that he is quick to quell the rampant and open hatred of non-whites that has emerged.

Honestly, not all of trumps policies are bad. I’ve looked at the stuff he wants to do. He has some decent ideas. Granted I’m not knowledgeable enough in it to speak to the details, but overall, there are some things that I think we will be nice to see. I’m not on board at all with his dismissal of evidence or fact in the case of environmental issues, and I’m definitely not on board with his views on the tech industry and how they should support the NSA in their spying efforts. That platform will never fly with me.

I just wish that in all of his campaigning he hadn’t stirred the pot of frustration and anger with so many in this country. There are already non-white, non-straight people being openly persecuted by many of those who support Trump. He calls for healing and unity, but he spent a year making sure that those people were given a microphone and given a kind of acceptance in their views. These are folks that are generally good people, but when they sit around with their friends and family at Sunday picnics or BBQs in their backyard, they were talking about the Muslim problem, or the black people in town that were causing problems. I know this is the case because I’ve seen this kind of stuff first hand. I’ve watched these conversations and always figured, “well, that’s just water cooler talk for these people. They live in it every day and they only act like this around each other.” Well, now they feel that the country agrees with them and are much happier to act out and let their group of choice know that they aren’t welcome here.

I can’t validate every story, but there are tons of tweets out there of minorities that are already feeling the results of this Trump win. It has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with a man that said we need to get these people out of here. The weird thing is, Trump didn’t openly say that blacks are a problem, but the message he sent about Muslims and Mexicans resonated with a group that thinks they are. He didn’t understand the power of his words. History is littered with men who stood from a pulpit and said something that caused a reaction. Sometimes the reaction they wanted, and sometimes people took it further than they had hoped.

The important thing here is that it’s up to the ones who care about people as a whole to take in those that feel like they aren’t welcome. We need to show them that there are people who care, and we want them to know they’re safe with us. I also ask that if you voted for Trump, for economic and american dream reason, you realize that there are people that voted because he would get rid of brown people. It’s as important for you to not ignore what’s going on, and make sure that those people are told this is not what America is about. I’m all for you voting for him. You believe he has a plan to restore some kind of greatness that you feel is lost, but don’t let his ‘bad’ supporters demolish all that is good in America.

Same goes for the democrats who lost. Don’t set things on fire. Don’t chant “Not my president.” This isn’t productive. Instead, show love to those who voted for either side. Don’t lower yourself to the level of those who oppose you just to make a point that you don’t support our president. Be better than that.

In Shock – Election 2016

I don’t really know what to think this morning. It’s the day after the election in the US and we’re staring down the barrel of a Trump presidency.

I’m shocked and confused how somebody as divisive as this man could garner enough support to become the 45th president of the United States. He’s ran a campaign based on fear and hate. He’s told masses of people that they are something to be feared because of the color of their skin, their country of origin, or their religion of choice. Somehow he ignited a part of this country that I think a lot of us kind of wanted to forget existed. We’d spent most of this election season choosing to believe that there was no way he could walk away with this.

I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I think parties are a problem in American politics. It breeds a culture of divisiveness in our political system. John Adams said this way back in the day when our country was brand new:

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

He’s right. This has been one of the ugliest battles I’ve ever seen in my life when it comes to the presidency. Sure, people were upset when their candidate lost before. Though I think that all in all, we knew we were going to be okay. We knew that mistakes would be made, decisions would leave us confused and concerned, but most of our presidents have been “good” people. I put that in quotes because there are varying degrees of good. At least they seemed to have the best interest of all Americans in mind. Trump doesn’t. If you are white, non-Muslim, you are “American.” He hasn’t said that directly, but his actions and collections of words and deeds speak to it.

I think President Obama has done a lot of stuff I don’t agree with. He has, however, been one of the classiest presidents in recent memory. He stood in front of the UN when being pushed to do something about the hate speech in America by saying:

“Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. As president of our country, and commander-in-chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.”

That’s the opposite of the way Trump has carried himself during this campaign. He’s threatened the media with lawsuits because they said mean things about him, or even simply used his quotes in ads. That’s not how I think someone who is leading our country should behave. We need a leader who will defend our rights and liberties even when they disagree with them personally. I’m afraid that Trump will be way to sensitive to carry the power that we’ve just appointed him with.

At the end of the day, my goal and my family’s goal is to love others. I may not be able to control what happens in the higher tiers of our government, but I can control what goes on in my small corner of this planet.

“…But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15

One last thing. Trump’s platform in many aspects involved cleaning things up and getting rid of the immigration problem. We did this to the Irish as well back during the civil war. They were treated as trash, and many forced to fight for the Union as soon as they got off the boat. We would call that disgusting behavior as we look back at it, but we’re willing to do the same thing to a new set of people and call that “patriotism.”

Let’s not forget that this poem by Emma Lazarus is engraved on the Statue of Liberty, one of the most recognizable symbols of American freedom.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Crash FIX

I don’t normally post this kind of thing on the blog, but I had such a hard time finding the fix for this that I felt compelled to put it up here.

I started up The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition for the first time in a long time the other day. Much to my dismay, it crashed on startup. I tried again. Crash! Nothing seemed to work. Googling the problem revealed that it is an issue that arose after Nvidia released the version 369 driver. I’m on 373 or something and I just didn’t want to have to roll back.

If you are running into this problem, there is a really simple fix.

Download the d3d9.dll file and drop it in <SteamLibrary>/steamapps/common/The Secret of Monkey Island or whever your game directory is

That’s all it takes! It fired up and worked like a charm. The file is used for better performance in Skyrim but it does the trick for this issue as well.

Here’s a link to the file hosted on curse.com: https://mods.curse.com/mods/skyrim/skyrim-better-performance

Wounded Knee

I haven’t posted anything to this blog in a really long time. A lot in life has changed, but I’m not really going to concern myself with too much of it. Here are the high points:

  • I’m now working at Red Hat. (Yay!)
  • Sam is 16 months old.
  • I finally pulled up all the ivy in my yard.
  • I’m learning to code with python and being somewhat successful with it.

Good! Now that we have all of that out of the way, it’s time to cover the real subject of today’s blog. Stephanie broke her kneecap.

You read that right. She broke her knee cap right in half. It may have been the most terrifying event of the year, and I have a sixteen month old that scares me nearly every day.

The day started normal enough. I kissed my beautiful wife and son goodbye and headed off to work in downtown Raleigh. Speaking of, it’s only twenty minutes away from me which is amazing. I got a call about an hour after I got the office with Stephanie on the other end. It wasn’t a cheerful or happy call that you would want to receive. It was that terrifying call that you never want to get as a husband. She was on the verge of tears and quickly told me, “I need help. I think I broke my knee.”

Well then. Holy crap.

I booked it home faster than I think I’ve ever gone. I broke all the speed limits I could break as long as the cars in front of me would allow. I wouldn’t advise this. I learned along the way that you can easily get a stress ulcer from trying desperately to spot all the police that might be on your path. Just don’t do it. I don’t know how people drive that way all the time and call it fun. It was awful. Maybe it was also crappy because I knew my wife was in the middle of the woods with my son and a broken knee.

Stephanie is tough as nails. I would have passed out if I had a knee cap that was broken in half, especially when it was so easy to tell what had happened. I got to her and found her and Sam watching cartoons on her phone. I have to hand it to the little guy. He was really good for a kid that had no idea what was going on and was sitting in the woods for nearly forty-five minutes.

Stephanie’s parents arrived about ten minutes after I did and we all worked together to hand out some tasks. I called 911, which was great because it gave me something to do. Doc check on her leg, and Stephanie’s mom took care of Sam for us. Ashley also helped bring some levity to the whole situation, which she’s awesome at. I had an awesome conversation with the 911 dispatcher and before we knew it, we had a ride to the hospital.

I had never ridden in an ambulance before. It wasn’t much different than riding in the cab of a U-Haul, but there were more needles, lights, and seats. The two EMTs that helped Stephanie were amazing and super helpful. I wish we didn’t need the ambulance, but there was no way of getting her out of there with her leg in the shape it was in. We could build a splint, but we had no way of getting some wheels.

The rest of the day was spent finding out that she had a broken patella and would likely need surgery to correct the damage. The weird part about all these shenanigans is that they won’t even see her at the orthopedist until Tuesday. How can you walk around with a broken patella for nearly a week? That just doesn’t make sense to me. I guess they know more about knees than I do though, so we’ll take it.

Stephanie’s spirits have been really high and I hope we can both stay that way. Not being able to walk is a super bummer. We have an amazing support system from everywhere though, and even though taking care of her and Sam will be a challenge, I think we can pull it off. I just hope these next couple months go by quickly so she can get back to doing normal things.

Huge thanks to all the well wishers today. It was a challenging and long day, but I’m glad we had wonderful people around to help us get through it. I’m also incredibly grateful to my boss at Red Hat for being understanding. I’ve only been there for three weeks and have already had to take time for a couple things that were out of my control. I like this job and definitely want to keep it!

Here’s to healing fast. Later!

Stuck In Neutral – Part 2

I turned around to see two more people standing up, frothing at the mouth. They ran past me and out the door of the operating room. They flung their hands wildly like they didn’t have control over them. I wasn’t very surprised considering I know wasn’t in the shell of a body that ran past me and out into the wild blue. What was even more disconcerting was that whatever I seemed to have was contagious. I was patient zero. I was the plague. I very well could be the end times. If I was going to be one of the four horsemen of the apocolypse, I should have had a horse.

I walked out of the door of the operating room and looked left and right down the hallways of the hospital. There was blood everywhere. The walls and floors were painted red with the stuff and people were screaming. Whatever was happening, it was happening fast, and I was going to need some way to stop it. I ran over to a nearby phone to call for help. I tried to grip it but my hand just went through the reciever. I tried again and again but nothing worked. I was Patrick Swayze in Ghost. As a matter of fact it had finally occured to me that I was a ghost. This wasn’t going well.

Down the hall I noticed a bright light. It looked a lot like the bright light that I saw when I initially collapsed in Wal-Mart. There was an impressive contrast against the blood everywhere, but I tried to reign in my aww since people died to create this particular “art piece.” I ran over to it and was quickly teleported to the same white room that I had found when I first died. It was crowded.

There were people everywhere and more popping in every few seconds. Whatever was going on down there, was not good. I saw Peter talking to a couple other guys with badges by the door. I shoved my way through the crowd of lost souls. Peter and I had a thing since we talked earlier. He would definitely know what to do to fix the problem.

“Pete!” I yelled over the crowd of people. He looked over to me with a very stern face.

“That’s the one. Get him. Bring him to my office.” Pete’s words were muffled, but I knew what he said. The two guys in white came over to me. They looked more concerned than I felt like angels should look.

“You Dave?” One asked.

“Yeah, I’m Dave. I was here earlier.”

“We know. Why don’t you come with us.”

They walked me over to the white wall and a door appeared. It was solid white but it had a nice glowy border to it. It must be hidden until someone needs to get into it. I walked through and I was in what looked like a standard office. There were some trophies on a bookshelf in the corner that said things like “Employee of the Month,” “Excellence Award AD 100,” and some crayon art pictures I’m assuming were drawn by kids who liked him.

Peter was sitting at a huge mahogany desk. It looked like something Winston Churchill would have in his office.

“Nice desk, Pete,” I said trying to break the ice.

“You like it? Winston Churchill made it for me,” he rubbed the surface and smiled as he said it.

“Would have never guessed,” I lied.

“Yes you would have. Don’t like to me, Dave.”

I coughed and looked around. I was clearly in the presence of a professional.

“Here’s the thing, Dave,” he started. “Do you see all those people out there? Those people aren’t supposed to be here today. Well, most of them aren’t. Do you know who they’re here?”

I figured I shouldn’t try to make anything up again. “Yeah. My body got up in a hospital and started attacking people. I don’t know why. I was hoping you could tell me.”

Peter sighed, “That’s what I was afraid of.”

He got up from his desk and walked over to his book shelf. He pulled down a huge volume that said, “Rules and Regulations for Admittance into Heaven.” He slammed the book down on his desk and started rifling through the pages.

“There is an appendix in the rulebook regarding these types of events. We don’t deal with them very often. Most people who die are supposed to be here, but occasionally we have people that haven’t finished their job. We fill their memory with weird stuff and send them home.”

“Is that why people think Heaven is some kind of spacey white place?”

“Yeah. We don’t want people going back thinking that it’s some bland office building. Trust me though, it’s way more fun once you get through the gate. We handle rejections here too so we have to be pretty standard with everything.”

“Makes sense.”

Peter appeared to find the page he was looking for.

“Here it is! Necromancy. Close enough, right?” He seemed to be asking me.

“Sure. I guess raising from the dead is almost the same.”
“Undead, Dave. You’re not raised from the dead until the boss says so. Bodies that get started up without souls in them, that’s a whole different animal. You people keep finding new ways to confuse me.”

“Well, if it makes you feel better, I didn’t set out to watch my body go on a rampage without me.” I thought about how that sounded as soon as it came out of my mouth. “I mean, I wouldn’t want to see it go on a rampage with me either, just so we’re clear.”

“It’s fine, Dave.” He kept his head down in the pages. “Aha! Here’s what you have to do.”

“Me?” I asked concerned. “You don’t have some sort of angel clean up crew that handles this kind of thing?”

“Budget cuts,” he said dryly. “We only bring out those guys when really bad things happen.”

“Is this not a really bad thing?”

“It’s pretty bad, but it only gets really bad if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.”

“What am I supposed to do?”

Peter looked at me seriously, “You need to go get your body back.”

“It wouldn’t let me in! I tried that, then it went crazy. Some shield was keeping me out.”

“That’s because it wasn’t yours anymore,” Peter sat back down in the chair behind his desk. “You can’t just inhabit something that doesn’t belong to you. At least not when you work for us. You need this,” he pulled a badge out of his drawer and sat it on his desk. It looked like a sherrif’s badge blended with the star of David.

I picked it up, “What is this?”

“It’s a license to possess, Dave. You have a job to do and you’re not going to be able to do it without getting your hands on some stuff. That badge will let you inhabit most people for a temporary time, as well as move stuff around and interact with real world objects.”

“So I’m a poltergeist now?”

“Well, you’re a sanctioned poltergeist. Consider yourself one of our agents. At least while you clean up this mess. You need to go find your body and repossess it. Once you’re back in, the rest of the situation should clear itself back up. It’ll cause a chain reaction that will cause the rest of the bodies out there to drop and all of these people in my waiting room can go back. Since you were the first one, it all lands on you to handle it.”

“But most of those bodies have hole and bite marks in them. Won’t it hurt?”

“Geez, you are just full of questions,” Peter was visibly irritated. “They’ll forget the whole thing and their bodies will be whole again. We can handle it. You do your job and we’ll do ours. Now get out there and fix it.”

I looked down at the star in my hand and then pinned it to my shirt. I didn’t feel any different, but it may at least make things easier when I get back down to earth. I did feel a little bit more sure of myself, but I think that was just the badge. Dudes with badges are cool. I was now a cool dude. I started to leave Peter’s office.

“Oh, and Dave,” he said not looking up, “Don’t trust anybody, okay?”

“Okay,” I said. Not sure who I was going to run into, but that was good enough advice for me.

I walked back to the lobby, through the larger crowd of people, and back down the stairs the same way that I had come the first time.

I Wrote a Thing!

I wrote this. I’m incredibly proud of it, and would love some feedback. It’s just part one of a story I’m working on. It’s completely unedited and is definitely a first draft, but it may be one of the most fun starts to a story I’ve ever done. 😀

Stuck in Neutral   <- working title

Dying was uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable like sitting in the backseat of a Chevy Camaro. More like hearing your dad tell a racist joke in front of your one black friend. That kind of uncomfortable.

I mean, imagine yourself just hanging out, doing whatever it is you do. Now insert a sharp pain somewhere, and a sudden realization that you’re staring at your cold dead self on the ground. No one is around and you’re definitely not looking at a mirror. You’re dead. You might try to get back into that shell of a thing you just got unceremoniously kicked out of, but it’s just not working.

My name is Dave. I died just a few minutes ago. It was uncomfortable.

I stood over the lifeless meatbag that I used to call home wondering where my flurry of lights and flashbacks were. I was only thirty, but somehow I expected there to be some awesome movie that gets played where I watch myself at Christmas, or see my parents, or even the first time I kissed a girl. None of that happened. I just got to stand up and look at the mess of a person I left behind. I mean, I wasn’t that much of a mess. I had nice hair, and I was only slightly overweight. Speaking of, why wasn’t I glamorous now that I’d reached the afterlife? Looking down at my small gut, I realized that my spirit self looked just like my physical self. Now I’d like to have a discussion with all the pastors who said I’d get a “glorified body.” What gives?

While standing around being mopey, a light glowed in front of me. Finally, I thought to myself. I’d been standing there for a good five minutes and nobody had come to get me yet. I was starting to worry whether I’d be able to go anywhere, or if I’d be stuck staring at myself on the floor of Wal-Mart for all eterinity. I guess by now a lot of people had seen the thirty year old, somewhat healthy man fall down and die. I’m sure the ambulance will be here soon and maybe they’ll let me get back in. For now, I better just go to the light. It worked in Poltergeist, so maybe it was what I was supposed to do.

I stepped over myself and went through the glowing portal. It had no defined edges to speak of, but I call it a portal nonetheless. It took me into another world, completely white. As far as I could tell, there was nothing. Just a big white room. There was hardly a sound either. I tried tapping my feet, but despite my hope for a huge echo and glorious tapping sound, there was nothing. I may as well have been tapping my feet on a cloud.

Dave Johnson!” A loud voice bellowed all around me.

God?” I asked, hopefully. I had a ton of questions and I was seriously hoping this was my opportunity to have them all answered.

No, this is Peter. Turn around.”

I spun around to see a small double panel white door in the wall. Or at least seemed to be a wall. It was really hard to tell in a place with no shadows. There was a man sitting at a desk near the wall, clothed in white. He had a badge on though, so he was probably important. I’m guessing this was the Saint Peter that everyone is supposed to meet. I was hoping he had some good news and I would get to wander through those doors. I’d always wondered what heaven looked like, and I was finally going to get a peak.

Hey, man,” I said awkwardly, not knowing how to address him. He just looked at me with squinty eyes. “So, what’s next?”

You’re not supposed to be here.” He said, no humor in his eyes at all.

Wait, what?” I was shocked. “Please tell me I don’t have to go downstairs! I did all the stuff and things!”

What?” His eyes got wide. “Oh no! No, it’s not that you’re not supposed to be here at all. You’re just not supposed to be here now.” He smiled a bit. “Sorry. I hope I didn’t give you a heart attack. It’s been a long day.”

I immediately let out a sigh of relief. “Oh good! That was awful, Pete. You need to work on your delivery.”

I know. It’s in my performance improvement plan every year. I’m working on it,” Peter said as his grimace returned.

So how do I go where I’m supposed to go if I’m not supposed to be here.”

Give me your hand.”

I reached out my hand as Peter dug through his desk. He pulled out a large stamp and pushed it onto the back of my hand.

Rescheduled,” I read the stamp aloud. “Okay, so when am I supposed to be here.”

That’s classified, Dave. No one gets to know that information.” Peter pointed to the right, “Head out that door and you’ll find yourself back where we found you. Just get back in your body and everything will be fine. We’ll see you in a while.”

I started walking over to the door then looked back to Peter, “So, I guess I’ll see you in about forty years then?”

Nice try. Goodbye, Dave.”

It was clear to me I was going to get nothing out of him, so I went toward the exit door and down the stairs. Another white portal met me a few flights down. I was convinced at this point that this must all be a big joke. If I was going to walk through a portal anyway, why make me go down any stairs at all. I guess the folks in Heaven were Zeppelin fans. It’s the only thing that made sense. It kind of made me curious to know if the maintenance people in Hell were fans of AC/DC. That would all make perfect sense to me.

After my short jaunt in the afterlife, I found myself. Literally. I was back in front of my body, but this time I was in a hospital. The nurses and doctors were all poking me with instruments. I thought for a second about actually getting back into the body. I mean, I didn’t want to wake up with them jabbing me with sharp utensils. I’m not into the pain thing like some folks. I watched myself for a minute before I felt the sudden need to go ahead and just take my body back over.

I went over to my body to touch it and my hand was zapped. A red shieldy looking thing covered my body. It faded as quickly as it appeared. Must have done something wrong, so I tried again. ZAP! It hit me again. There was some sort of forcefield on my body not letting me in. Peter didn’t say anything about it. He didnt’ send me off with a guidebook or instructions on how to get back in. Panic started to set in.

That’s when I saw my eyes pop open.

They weren’t my eyes though. They were bloodshot beyond anything I’d ever seen. It would be safe to say that they were just entirely red. My body started moving and all the nurses and doctors looked to be relieved as they began setting their stuff down. How could they be relieved if I was still standing here very much dead? I reached out to touch the now awake body again. ZAP! Still no way to get in. I picked my foot up and kicked myself in the head. ZAP! Again and again. ZAP! ZAP! ZAP! Nothing. I had a feeling I was about to have a very rough day.

Then my body did something that I know I would never do. It lashed out maniacally at the doctor standing over it checking its heart. It grabbed him and pulled him close biting a giant hole in his neck. Blood went everywhere. I tried to throw up and quickly learned that ghosts can’t throw up. Good to know.

My body hurled itself off the table lunging at everyone nearby biting and swinging at them. There was blood everywhere and people screaming. It was awful. I tried to tackle myself to make the whole thing stop, but it just kept blocking me. Whatever shell was on this thing was powerful. I wanted my body back to stop all the crazy that was going on. Likely I would spend a lifetime in jail for killing an operating room full of nurses and doctors, but at least I would stop it.

I watched helplessly as my body peered around the room at the carnage it had just inflicted. I crouched down and slowly leaned into one of the nurses still convulsing on the floor. I watched in horror as my body started eating her. Just gnawing on her like a hungry guy eats a steak. I had to look away. I mean, I had tried to save these people, but there was nothing I could do. I had to find some way to remove this weird shield off of this guy. I quickly decided I couldn’t refer to this beast as “me” or “mine.” Whatever accountability I had for this needed to be removed quickly.

I heard shouting outside of the operating room, and so did the thing I used to drive around in. The monster wheeled around to face the door and ran full tilt at it. It burst out the door and out into the world. I stood in shock at what I had just seen and considered what I was going to do about it. I couldn’t go to Heaven, and I couldn’t get back in my own body. I was stuck. Nothing to do now but figure out what was going on and how to set things right.

Then I heard the growling noises behind me. Oh crap.

 

State of the Stephen – 2015

Hello, blog! Long time, no see.

I have no idea what to write or what to say or what to talk about in this blog post. It’s been a long time since I wrote anything and I think it’s part of my failing relationship with the written word. This year has been a lot different than past ones, mainly because I became a dad and I have a beautiful baby boy taking up a lot of the time I used to have. There’s also a lot of evolutionary stuff I’ve gone through that just won’t ever leave my brain, let alone be talked about in a blog. Maybe one day, but today is not that day. I guess we can start with the recent stuff and highlights.

My incredible wife and I had a baby, and it’s been easily the most challenging thing I have ever had to face in my life. I’m super happy, and I would never take it back, but it’s been a tough run for sure. He started out pretty sick and had a hard time with a lot of digestive stuff early on, but he’s totally leveling out now. He’s sleeping better at night, but still waking up super early. He’s eating food well and playing with stuff. It’s really cool to watch him grow and do stuff. I can’t wait til I can take him places and go on adventures. It kind of allows me to be a kid myself and engage in all the things I actually really want to do again. We’re going to have so much fun, but I have to get him through bottles and diapers first.

I moved on to a new job this year as well. Back in July I took a job with Duke Cancer Institute. It’s been pretty good. ….Well that’s enough of that.

Podcasting has fallen severely on the back burner this year. Primarily due to having a baby and just not having the time that I used to have. If anything has been the hardest this year, it’s been missing out on that huge aspect of my life. Podcasting and entertaining on the internet is just built into my DNA. The best analogy I have for how that feels is related to the game Grim Fandango. There’s a dude named Glottis who is a speed demon. His entire purpose for existing is to go fast, but the powers that be took his license away so he can’t drive. He works on cars and soups them up in order to fulfill his destiny, but it doesn’t quite do it for him. It’s just enough to keep him alive. You see, speed demons will die if they don’t have go fast after a certain period of time. Once unleashed by the game’s protagonist, he can be his full self and is happier than he’s ever been. Podcasting is that for me.

Podcasting is what I’m good at. It’s what I do. I’ve been working on stuff in the background in order to get past the issues I have with not being able to do it with any regularity. I’m working with Ashley and Jacob to build a network of stuff that we want to produce. We’ve got a few things that we’re working on but not much has actually come to fruition. I’ve been doing a solo show called “The Stephen Show” that I’m actually really enjoying, but I don’t do that as often as I should either. It’s really a blog of sorts, so if you want some real me, you can listen to that and get filled in on some of the stuff I haven’t put on the blog. I really want to get back to Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, but at this point, I just can’t put a date on it. Having babies kind of puts things on the back burner for everything but going to work and coming home. That’s the tough part.

I’m going to go out on this year saying it was awesome though. I have never had more happy moments or sad moments in a single year than I’ve had this year. It’s been an absolute emotional roller coaster, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I watched a TED talk a while back that was a study on happiness. They determined that people without kids have a fairly consistent happiness level and it tends to level out somewhere in their 20s. On the contrary, people WITH kids have a constantly fluctuating happiness level. The big difference here is that the fluctuations in happiness for people with kids show that they have greater moments of happiness, but deeper levels of sadness as well. Personally, I’ll take those mountains of happiness and valleys of sad over a lifetime of ‘meh’ happiness.

All in all, some good decisions and some bad decisions were made this year. A lot of challenges were faced, and some were overcome. If there is anything I need to learn and work on in the coming year is that maybe sometimes I don’t need the rest and chill time I think I need. Maybe I’d be happier if I just busted my butt more. I need more sleep. I need to take care of myself better. If I take better care of myself, I can take better care of my family. That’s really what matters. I need to learn to overcome the fears that hold me back, of which there are MANY of them. Sometimes I just can’t do the safe thing because there’s no guarantee anything will necessarily work out better for me.

Goal for 2016: Conquer the fear. That should help everything else fall in to place. Let’s give it a try, shall we?

Fatherhood

WOW.

This will be the first of many posts in which I try to pull together the wave of emotions that fall over you when you become a dad. Sam was born by C-Section on March 9, 2015 at 10:02 pm. He weighed 7 lbs 6 oz and was 20.5″ long. When I first saw him he looked like a little alien, all purple and covered in … stuff. The whole process is hard to even put into words because it all happened so fast. Just so we all get to remember it, I’ll write it down.

Stephanie and I went into the hospital to have a baby on Sunday, March 8 around 8pm. We got the call at 7 that they were ready for us to check in and we immediately sprung into action. We threw our bags together and drove to the hospital, ready to roll and hopefully having a baby sometime on Monday. If I had my way it would be Monday afternoon. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go that way.

We spent all of Monday dealing with different kinds of pains, monitors, pregnancy balls (those sitting ones you can use,) decisions, and all kinds of other wildly difficult things. Stephanie decided to get an epidural about halfway through the whole process, sometime around 5pm or 6 after they manually broke her water. That was intense. They let us know that he wasn’t low enough for them to break her water earlier in the day, and they were worried that if they tried, there could be some major complications. Like the cord being pulled out first, or the baby turning and sending his foot or arm out before his body. They ended up waiting just a little bit and finally got to where they could do it without worrying about anything bad happening. Around 4 pm, they said he was on his way but it would take some more time.

Five hours later, homeboy hadn’t done anything. He hadn’t dropped and Stephanie hadn’t dilated anymore. It was decision time, but there really wasn’t any decision to be made. If we wanted to have a baby, we would have to have it by c-section. I remember feeling sort of terrified, but relieved all at the same time. We were going to be having a baby in an hour, and our lives were going to change.

They started prepping Stephanie for her C-section while I started putting the ridiculous amount of bags into a pile so that the hospital staff could bring the stuff to our post-partem room. By the way, if you ever have a baby, just bring essentials. I brought all kinds of stuff that I thought I would use while Stephanie was laboring and I don’t think I looked at anything. I didn’t pull out an iPad to look at comics, or use my laptop to do anything. My entire day was spent texting on my iPhone to let people know how Stephanie was doing and whether we had a baby yet.

They wheeled Stephanie out of her room and had me sitting around in a waiting room, watching Better Call Saul and putting on scrubs. We had only slept about 3 hours by this point so we were both kind of loopy, and I was dreaming. I really didn’t know where I was or how I got there. It all seems like such a blur looking back, and I still remember being fairly calm about the whole thing. C-sections are pretty common and I figured that everything would go just fine. I really didn’t know what to expect either so there wasn’t any sense in worrying about it.

Then the nurse came to get me. That was terrifying. Things got real very quickly. I remember following the nurse into the operating room. She threw the doors open and I was all of the sudden in a massive room with peach walls. It kind of reminded me of an auto garage, but I really didn’t take much time to take it all in. They pointed me straight to this little stool over by Stephanie’s head. There was a big sheet up so that she and I couldn’t see anything on the other side. I really didn’t want to see my wife’s guts, no matter how much I tell her I love her for the inside. I’d like the inside to stay inside. I sat there talking to her and reassuring her, and within two minutes we heard our baby cry for the first time.

This is where things got fuzzy. I can’t decide if it was adrenaline or confusion, but I really just floated from one space to the next. I was completely overwhelmed by the degree that my life had changed in a matter of seconds. They brought him to the ‘head side’ of Stephanie and let us look at our new son for the first time. He was a wailing purple alien, but he was OUR wailing purple alien. The emotions were incredibly complicated. The crazy thing about c-sections is that everything happens so fast that they don’t really let you get yourself together. By the time I looked at Stephanie and was ready to cry, they got me up to take me into another room where they were cleaning Sam up. They told me to take pictures and then swaddled him up for me to carry back to his mom. I took him back in the room, ignoring the fact that I could see his mom’s guts all over the table, and took him straight over to her. I sat down with this fragile little human and showed him to his mom. Apparently, I wasn’t doing it right becuase moments later, the nurse grabbed him from me and held him straight up to her face. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever witnessed. A mom meeting her little baby face to face for the first time.

After they got her all stitched up, they took me to the recovery room so they could clean him off, check his temperature and all the other things the hospital does. They wheeled Stephanie around about 10 minutes later and it was then that the wave of responsibility hit me. I’m responsible, not only for the well-being of my amazing wife, but also of this brand new baby human. That’s a huge thing to figure out in just a few minutes of time. My whole world was laying on hospital beds and getting worked on. Honestly, it’s a feeling that was beautiful but terrifying. To think that everything that means the most to you is currently in a hospital and in various states of wellness.

All that being said, this was one of the most incredible moments of my life. Surrounded by family and receiving my first child into the world. He’s incredible, and the fact that he exists is a miracle to me. God’s letting Stephanie and I borrow him for a bit and try to raise him right. We’re going to do the very best we can to raise a good man. At the end of the day, that’s the main thing I want for him. I don’t care if he is an astronaut or a janitor, I just want him to be passionate about the things he pursues, resolute in completing the things he sets out to do, and compassionate in his dealings with other people. I think that can make a pretty well rounded guy.

Here’s to the adventure we just started. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Samuel Parker Adams

My first child is coming into the world tomorrow.

Writing that sentence is nuts. It’s still sinking in that tomorrow is the day that my life changes forever. We found out a week ago that we would need to have this pregnancy induced in order for Sam to make his way out into the world. It’s kind of awesome knowing the day we’re going to get him, but it’s also a little terrifying. It’s given me time to be more anxious about the whole thing that I would have if it was a total surprise. I’m currently downstairs on the couch, letting Stephanie rest up for the time we have ahead. We’re going into the hospital tonight to start the process, then tomorrow they’ll really try to get this ball rolling. Praying that everything goes well and she has an easy time delivering the little guy. I still haven’t fully processed everything that is going to happen, but I don’t think anybody is able to predict how they’ll feel or what they’ll do after they have their first kid.

Samuel Parker Adams will be his full name. We’re so proud of that. Some might say we’re setting him up by naming him after a beer, but that’s really not what it’s about. Samuel means “God hears.” It’s based on Hannah’s story from the bible. God blessed her and provided her with a child who she named Samuel. It also happens to be the name of Samuel Adams from American history, as well as a Samuel Adams in my family line who fought in the War of 1812. Stephanie’s revolutionary war ancestor was also named Samuel, so it’s a name that has a lot of history behind it. Parker is a name we both just liked. No real story behind that one other than we think it’s nice. It’s kind of awesome how it blends classic and modern. Sam Adams. I love that!

We’re waiting on the call from the hospital now. They’ll call us, we’ll go in and do this thing. I’m nervous, but also just enjoying some downtime before everything changes. Stephanie and I went out and enjoyed a wonderful date day yesterday, because we know it might be a little while before we get some “us” time. We know good and well that there may be some reduced time for us just to chill, but we’re both super excited about it. We don’t really look at Sam as an end to an era, he’s the beginning of an amazing new journey that we both get to go on together. People have been super awesome at supporting us and letting us know that they are there for us and are at our beckon call if we need anything. That’s been amazing. We’ve also been told a bunch how much sleep we’ll lose, how dirty we’ll always be, how tired we’re going to find ourselves, and how unable we’ll be to spend time together as just the two of us. All of those things are true, but we’re choosing to approach this as a new opportunity to grow closer to each other. We’ve decided to look at it as a tighter union, and a joint effort to raise a young man who can be someone that may do some amazing things.

I’m just excited to discover things with him. I want to take him on adventures and see the world through his eyes. Everything that has become somewhat stale to us is going to be brand new because we get to see him experience it for the first time. Everything he sees is his first time seeing it. That’s incredible to me, and I can’t wait to see what kind of person he is. He might be totally opposite from what Stephanie and I are, and that’s okay. I want him to be who he is. Of course as long as that person is someone with good character. I want him to have integrity, honesty, resolution, drive, and all of those other things any father wants. Those are principles you can build a successful and happy life on. Everything else is up to him. Computers, horses, sports, music, business, and any profession is completely up in the air, and I want him to pursue his passions.

This is super excited to talk about and I could go on forever. I just can’t wait to meet him. Hopefully tomorrow’s events go quickly and easily. He’s got a fantastic family waiting for him to join us. I love him so much already.