Monday, July 16, 2018

Chapter 3. The Gods Have Smiled On Me

Originally written May 3, 2016

The site that once was
Peaches Records & Tapes
One of the first places I ever went to buy records (I’m old, we didn’t have CDs) with my family was a record store called Peaches Records and Tapes. The location closest to my house was in a shopping center with two separate buildings. There was a shopping strip with a couple restaurants (one of those will feature prominently in this memoir later on), a drug store, and a place that I would later learn was a convenience store (It was called Treasure Island, or Isle, I can’t remember now). The other building on the lot had a dance club, some other businesses that I can’t remember, and Peaches.

Peaches was the main business and took up the most room. The building used to be a department store. It had a large rectangular tower with the bright and colorful Peaches Records sign on both of the wide sides. It stood towering over the area like a beacon on the hill or the Tower of Sauron. Below the main sign was a light up signboard that advertised upcoming albums, concerts, and events. Running along the lower facade were outdoor posters of the month’s top albums. The only one I remember clearly was Abacab by Genesis.

It was the biggest record store in the area and upon walking in, the racks and racks of records stretched as far as the eye could see. It wouldn’t be until many years later that I would find out that Peaches was a nationwide chain, but I recall the workers there knowing the customers, if not by name, by musical taste. They were willing to order any hard-to-find item and take the time to look for whatever the customer was looking for. I really wouldn’t appreciate this until many years later when only the electronics stores were selling large volumes of music.

Most of my music was purchased there early on. This was before CDs and digital downloads, when the most durable medium for music was the vinyl album. This was before I discovered the mail-order services that sold eight, eleven, or twenty albums for a penny. This was my musical Mecca, but there was one item that could not be purchased anywhere except for Peaches. Maybe there were cheap, off-brand replicas sold elsewhere, but none of them compared. I am, of course, talking about…the record crate.

A simple wooden crate, about twelve inches across and deep, and two feet long, the Peaches crate was more than just a storage box for albums, it was a rite of passage. My mom would eventually end up with six crates full before she finally allowed my brother and I to pillage and plunder her collection. I had a tiny record collection made up primarily of Kiss albums, but it was growing by the week. I was being exposed to more and more music and I wanted a place that would be strictly for all of the new albums I would be getting (especially when I discovered the aforementioned mail-order services). This crate was my birthright and I wanted to earn mine.

I know, hyperbole much? But at this time, I felt that record crate meant that I truly appreciated music and that simple wooden structure was the symbol of that commitment. When that day finally arrived and my dad assembled it for me and put it in my room, I placed all of my albums into it, except for the children’s albums. Those stayed on the bookshelf since I did not see them as worthy to sit in the same area with Kiss and Cheap Trick (more on that later).

Thursday, July 12, 2018

SGMR Industries, Inc. Data Breach

Yes, I'm back to doing SGMR Industries, Inc. posts. 

Good news, folks, we've found a way to direct media attention away from our President & CEO's latest drunken tirade, and we get mentioned in the same paragraph as Sears, Kmart, Whole Foods, Panera Bread, and other fine companies. This is truly a shot in the arm for our bottom line. We will be having a celebratory press conference this afternoon and all employees are required to attend an can make up the four hours this weekend.

So what happened? There was a minor data breach in our server room and a few names and email addresses got stolen. And physical addresses. And social security numbers. And credit card numbers. And banking details. And security questions and answers. But that's all. The data was encrypted using the always-dependable A1Z26 Encryption Protocol. The number of records stolen could have quite possibly been as few as 15, but most likely it was in the neighborhood of 1.5 billion. We will be taking steps to recover the data before it's decrypted and sold to…oh, right, it was decrypted immediately and sold off to the highest bidder. Well, for all of those people looking for a fresh start, now is your chance.

More good news is that the President & CEO's data was not involved in the breach, nor were any of the executives of the company as their data is kept on separate servers in the Cayman Islands for "tax purposes". While we would take some of the blame for this issue, it should be noted that nobody thought that anyone would ever want to break into our computer systems since they are probably riddled with viruses due to the President & CEO's penchant for web surfing while intoxicated (and without pants). It also comes as a surprise to us that anyone would take our privacy policy seriously anymore and trust that their data is safe with us. I guess we can blame the victims.

We will be live streaming our press conference for free at 5pm, Cayman Island time (we don't know time zones). You must register with your social security number and valid credit card in order to view the conference.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Chapter 2. Kissin' Time

Originally written April 26, 2016

Thinking back, I figured that the Lovin’ Spoonful album was probably a gift that my parents didn’t entirely care for but didn’t want to get rid of, so they added it into the kids’ music collection. I’m pretty sure if mom and dad didn’t much care for the album before they gave it to us, they were probably sick and tired of “Summer in the City” after that. I don’t think I ever listened to anything else off of that album except for that one song, and that was because that song had a sound that I liked. Of course, I would eventually get past that song and onto bigger and better. You might even say, “The hottest band in the world."

Kiss had already been around longer than I had been alive, but by the time I was old enough to have heard of them they would come out with the album that would redirect the rest of my life. Destroyer put Kiss on the map. I could go off on a tangent of how Bob Ezrin produced this album and would follow it up by producing Pink Floyd’s The Wall album, but hell, I was three and a half years old and didn’t really care much for that. All I knew was that the band looked cool in their black and white makeup, the giant boots, and their music appealed to me. Lyrically, I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t understand many of the double entendres that they were using, it was just cool. Just this moment, I realized that “Strutter” was about a stripper, and I’m 42. I just never thought about it (that is a conversation for another day).

Let me pause here and discuss a little something that I still read about to this day. Back in that magical time of the seventies, many young people latched onto Kiss as a band of rebellion from their parents’ music and what society as a whole deemed as acceptable. Many of those parents My parents understood that music was music and that by allowing us to own and listen to Kiss, they weren’t turning it into “forbidden fruit”. This would continue on with Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and Dio. All of these acts were permitted in my parents’ house because they recognized that music is music.

Anyway, we were friends with the kids down the street, the older two were our ages and also Kiss fans. We used to play on the neighbor’s swing set and sing Kiss songs and just have fun. I know it sounds silly now, but when you’re a kid, that was the height of fun. Growing up, there was a vast cast of characters that I will eventually run through as I write this. Some of them have faded away completely and others simply moved into the periphery for a time. They will be introduced in due time and as the story requires.

Eventually, my brother and I would get the solo albums, Kiss puzzles, Kiss dolls, and the remote control Kiss van. Yes, Kiss was all about merchandising (say it like Mel Brooks in Spaceballs, it’s funnier) and Eric and I fell for it completely. We were even allowed to stay up past our bedtime to watch Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, which was the greatest movie of all time (at age three or four, the taste centers of the brain are severely undeveloped). I would watch this piece of sh…film many years later thanks to a friend and I really can’t remember much of it except that members of the band were in it and there was an amusement park. These days, I’m amazed that that movie isn’t listed as directed by Alan Smithee.

Kiss will come up again. And again. And again. This is because I ended up seeing the band three times, though one could be listed as unofficial since it was before their return to the makeup. For now, though, I’m going to go back to listening to their debut album and remember some of those smaller details of my early life.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

My NaNo 2018 Plans

NaNoWriMo is still off in the future a few months. Currently it's in the mid-90s and it's the 4th of July. However, I've been thinking a lot about this year's project which is in the advanced planning stages. I've thought about how I'm going to undertake the challenge this year and have decided to shake things up a bit.

While the spirit of the month is quantity over quality (50,000 words in 30 days), I have decided that I'm not going to incessantly pore over my word count. My plan is to check it and update it once a week, and maybe a couple times in the last week for verification.

I will not be writing in Scrivener, but in OneNote, which what I've taken to doing since it's readily synced up with all of my computing devices (I'm writing this in OneNote on my phone, for example). Don’t get me wrong, Scrivener is possibly the best novel-writing software on the market, but I want to switch things up this year.

I will write every day, but some days may be more productive than others. I’ve found that forcing myself to write at least 1,667 words per day makes me less productive overall. I have a tendency to want to keep going forward on my story idea rather forward on word count. That is, I don’t like to go back to an earlier point in the story and start writing from there again. I tend to want to pick up from the last events that I wrote, whether they’re good or not. I will be thinking more about the story this year since I am more productive when I have fresh ideas in my head.

I seem jump way out ahead of daily goals in the first week and then slow down after that. That’s because the idea is fresh and there are infinitely many directions I could go with the story, but that quickly narrows down to only a few directions and I rarely, if ever, choose wisely. Thinking about this, I could write a Choose Your Own Adventure style of story this year and keep going back to the beginning. Or, I could start writing thirty different stories, that way I get the day one momentum every day of November.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Chapter 1. This is Where It All Starts

Originally written April 21, 2016

A few years ago, I attempted write my memoir. As I started to write it, I felt that much of my life was way too boring as a whole. So I decided instead to pick out specific events, certain nuggets of interest and write about those instead. That would be far more interesting than my David Copperfield (the book, not the magician) life, as described by Brad Pitt’s Louis in Interview With the Vampire, “I was born. I grew up. I died.” No, nobody would want to hear the pathetic tales of a grade school kid trying to be accepted and failing at every turn. So, I turned to the events and wrote about those with little if any foreshadowing. How did I come to be declared dead by the student body of a high school that didn’t even know me? What happened before that, and that, and even before that? These are the stories that nobody would want to read, but they are the stories I want to tell.

I had gotten turned onto a blogger, music writer, and photographer named James Stafford, who was writing and posting a new chapter of his memoir, Why It Matters, weekly. There was something there that I needed to read. As a skeptic, I don’t believe that things are meant to be, but I definitely found something to connect me to this life being played out before me. Each chapter (most of them, at least) was titled with a lyric to a relevant song to that chapter for the most part (something I will not be doing). It was life affected by music that he discovered in his earliest years after he rescued his aunt’s record and 45 records from certain doom (DOOOOOOOOOM!). While his story is far more interesting than mine could ever be, I notice some parallels, and I pull some inspiration from his words. I look back at my earliest memories of childhood, to the house where I grew up, and instantly there is music…

“What kind of music do you like?” This is a question that has haunted and harassed me for most of my life. It’s a question that, when asked, sends my mind into a vortex looking for an answer. It’s a question that makes me think that the asker is convinced that it is only conceivable for a person to like one kind of music. Depending on my mood, I may choose to answer with a “yes”, or simply by saying, “all kinds." I don't only like one kind of music, but all kinds, from all genres. I've been told that one cannot like Pink Floyd and punk music because the latter hated the former. I guess then that I am violating some artificial construct of the social order because I will listen to Dark Side of the Moon followed by Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death just to spite the people who say it can't be done. I suppose I could blame my upbringing.

I was born nine months after what I will simply refer to as the greatest album of all time was released (don’t read anything into that, please). I was born into a family that loved their music. Nobody played any instruments, mind you, but I grew up with stories of my grandmother dancing around to Elvis Presley (this was at a time when parents weren’t supposed to like Elvis and even find him immoral and corrupting). I feel like there was some form of music playing in the house at every waking hour, whether it was mom playing the latest music of the day by The Eagles, The Bee Gees, ABBA (gag!), or dad was listening to a new batch of oldies 45s that he picked up at one of the record conventions, including Elvis, The Beatles, Buddy Holly, or the oddball "The Flying Saucer," by Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman, which was story of alien invasion told using song lyrics. I would dance around the living room as a little kid in my own, weird way, just soaking up all of the music around me.

The stereo was kept in the living room, the main room of the house, which points to the importance of music to us. My brother and I shared two rooms, a bedroom and a playroom, and in the latter was a record player with a small collection of records, mostly children’s records. I say mostly because one of those records, it would turn out, was a grown-up record, The Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful. I only remember ever playing one song off of this album, and while it might be way too overplayed to this day, especially on oldies stations, I still love “Summer in the City” and it still transports me back to those earliest days in the gold-carpeted, yellow and white checked walls, and that black, plastic record player. I think it was a GE Wildcat, thanks to Google, and I recall seeing the GE logo on the speakers, but then I also remember the Berenstain Bears being spelled with an “EI” instead of the “AI”, so don’t take my word for it.

Before I knew it, I would end up with my own music and that would start me down a road that I would never veer away from. I would find myself on a quest for more music. It's a journey that lasted...well, frankly, as I write this in my forty-second year of life, I am still on that journey. It all started with a crate that was, to me, more than a crate. It was a symbol of this journey and, while the crate sits idle, the journey continues...

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Back To Writing

A postcard and bookmarks
James Stafford
I haven't written a whole lot for quite a while. I'm going to say that it was probably a much needed break, or something, to help me get my thoughts in order. Or it's a lot more complicated and I have an overabundance of ideas flowing through my head and would love to get them all out, except that some of these ideas I'm just slightly fearful of.

The idea that I have is a satirical look at a serious topic that some people might take the totally wrong way or read something into it that isn't there. That's not what I'm frightened of. It's very topical to the current time and very much "in the headlines," and I don't want to put my energy into something that I read about too regularly. No, I think it's time to get back to basics and continue a project I started more than two years ago and has since disappeared from the web.

My blog was on Squarespace for many years and I loved it. Unfortunately, an unlimited account was a bit pricey for my lack of readers (and later, listeners). So, about two weeks before it was set to renew, I downloaded my database and decided to start sort of anew on Blogger, which was free (and hosted my podcasts on Everything has been just fine, except that the project I mentioned above is no longer available for my adoring fans to read.

That project was/is The Crate Gods, which is a memoir of sorts, inspired by James Stafford over at Why It Matters, a musical memoir and more. I'm sure I mention this in the first chapter, but it never hurts to repeat it, after all, words are free. I started writing it and got seven chapters in and, for some reason or another, just stopped. I might have gotten sidetracked with another project, or I just lost interest in writing it at the time. Well, I decided that it's time to pick up where I left off. However, I need a little time to write it, so I am going to post the first seven chapters over the same number of weeks. Hopefully nothing will distract me this time. I will start reposting on Monday and I am looking forward to continuing this long overdue project.

Friday, June 29, 2018

SGMR Classic: Worst. Idea. Ever

I saw something today that really made me think.  While driving to work this morning, I saw a guy driving and, at the same time, shaving with a cordless electric shaver.  I'm pretty sure that the inventor of the cordless electric shaver was not thinking of this as a possible use and I don't really know why we need such an invention.  I will admit that I do own one of these devices.  I got it as a Christmas gift one year and I do like it, but I do use it while plugged in.

1.  Well, I have to travel overseas and I don't have a 220AC to 110AC adapter.  Nope.  If you travel overseas you will either have a few days to prepare and be able to get an adapter or you will already have one.

2.  I travel for a living for meetings and have to look my best.  Sorry.  If you simply fly in to an airport, the bathrooms have outlets for just such and emergency.  If you stay at a hotel, I have yet to find one that doesn't have outlets in the bathroom.

3.  I go camping and don't take a generator with me.  If you're camping in a tent or a cabin Grizzly Adams style then you should play the part.  You're suppose to be roughing it, either grow a beard or use a straight blade.

4.  I often run late for work and I find myself having to shave while driving.  If you find yourself having to shave while driving then you should really wake up earlier.

5.  If the power goes out I still want to be able to shave.  If the power goes out long enough for you to need a shave then you are probably going to be more pissed off about the food spoiling in your refrigerator.

I just can't seem to find a practical reason for the cordless electric shaver.  It sounds like it might be a good idea, but then again, there are a lot of things that sound like good ideas at the time.  OK, I'm stepping off of my soap box right now.  I have more questions during the week.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Greatest Lie Of Human Resources

Employment has evaded me. I had two interviews and they both went well, so I thought. I was even the leading candidate for one of those jobs, but in the end, I was tossed aside like yesterday's non-recyclable trash. At least I got a phone call to tell me that I wouldn't be working; the other one just sent me email with the great HR lie of all time:

Our team has had a chance to discuss your qualifications, and unfortunately, we have decided to pursue other candidates. We will keep your resume on file for six months and if another position arises...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
To prove I'm fine, here's cats in a basket.
LIES!!!! They will keep my resume on file until the janitorial staff comes around and empties the trash cans. If it is kept, it's kept in an old, rusty file cabinet, in a folder marked with the month and the year. At the end of each month, a temp worker who is paid a couple dollars above minimum wage is instructed to pull the files from six months earlier and recycle them. At least my resume will be going to make one of those coffee cup trays so that it might see the inside of a conference room within the company.

It's possible that my resume and application sit on a server within the company somewhere. Maybe when they're desperate to drum up business, they'll pull the addresses from those applications and add them to their mailing lists. Then, when I get email, or regular mail, from the company I can momentarily have my faith in humanity restored before it's crushed under the wait of a catalog. No, I don't want to buy your products because I'm still not working and can't afford anything, cold-hearted bastards.

Anyway, here I sit, not bitter at all. Not seething with fury and waiting for the first telemarketer to call so I can unleash my wrath. No, I'm calm and cool and collected. I eagerly await the next prospective employer to email me to tell me that my skills are impressive, and I exactly what they are looking for, but for reasons, they have to choose someone else. No, I'm fine, really.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Ethics of Time Travel

After thinking so much about time travel while working on the only three chapters, I began to seriously consider the concept and what would happen if time travel were possible.

Unfortunately, the idea of time travel is possible in the realm of physics. It's a fascinating idea that should not be taken lightly by anyone regardless of how absurd it sounds. If it came to pass that a time machine was built and it found its way into the wrong hands, it could be more dangerous than any weapons of mass destruction we could ever dream up. What if a rogue nation were to possess this power and go back in time to prevent the foundation of another country such as The United States? We would never know the difference, theoretically, since we could only have the knowledge of what was and is.

Time travel is still pretty abstract at the present time and only possible in the realm of theoretical physics. While the idea of traveling back in time and seeing the world as it was or traveling into the future (if possible, see my last post) to see what things will be like, there are some serious moral and ethical issues to look at. This technology could quite possibly be more dangerous than any nuclear weapon we could create. Think about it, what would stop a rogue nation from going back to the mid-1700's to stop our founding fathers and preventing the formation of the United States? Nobody would know because the course of history would be changed and we would all know it instead of what we know now.

What about the idea of going back and changing things only in one's life? Surely there can't be any harm in that. There can be though, especially if it involves life-changing decisions that would ultimately affect key moments in life such as marriage or children. If one chose to pursue a college education rather than taking a factory job right out of high school, then he/she may not have met that special someone. I would love to determine at least one possible path of events that would result from altering the past. Even if it was meant as a noble deed, it could seriously alter history.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Handbook of Time Travel: Chapter 3

This was the final real chapter that I wrote of this. I partially ran out of steam, but I also couldn't reconcile time travel to the future in my brain. It got to be so full of contradictions. At some point I will write out the issues I was having.

Coming Home

Once the weary time traveler has had his/her fill of the past it's time to come back to the present. It is important that the time machine is put back in the same spot where it came to rest. It cannot be stated enough, but coming home after the initial departure time is imperative. It is also critical that only approved souvenirs are brought back from the past. These can be found in the back of the monthly TTA magazine.

Placing the time machine in the same spot where it came to rest in the past insures that it will return to the present in that very same spot. Failure to do this could cause embedding in a wall. Experienced time travelers know how much leeway they have in the room from which they left. If the doors were locked prior to initial departure as discussed in Chapter 1, then the time machine will not come to rest on top of household pets or children.

Coming home after departure time is critical to survival and not ruining the vacation. It would be inconvenient to land directly upon one's present self prior to leaving as it would ruin the trip and it is untested, but could also cause an implosion of the brain. There is also that matter of possibly ripping a hole in the space-time continuum. This would be very inconvenient for everybody.

The TTA has set up a list of approved items that one may bring back to the present. There are somethings that are permanently banned such as people of the time, bugs, extinct animals and other creatures, diseases, germs, viruses and anything else that could affect the present world. One must always get the proper vaccinations before going back in time and fully sanitize before coming back.

As with departing, location is everything when returning. It is important to know where the time machine will come to rest in the present. It's also helpful to not bring it to rest on any pets or kids, so make sure the door is locked. As always, time is everything and returning early could cause some serious problems for both the time traveler and the whole universe. Bring back only approved souvenirs so as not to affect the present and future.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Handbook of Time Travel: Chapter 2

Going on Vacation

It's now time to take off for the past and a fabulous vacation. It's hard to know exactly what one might encounter, but preparation is key. Make sure the time machine is locked up securely and out of sight of any curious third parties. Remember where it's parked, though, as it is necessary to returning home. Keep in mind, what happens in the past does not mean it stays in the past. Aging is a concern, too, because the human body continues to age no matter where in time it happens to be. Finally, when coming home it is important not to get back earlier than the initial departure time because if one person talks to him/herself it could spoil the whole trip.

Things were different in the past, so it's difficult to tell what one will encounter when arriving in the past. Some times may be easier than others. Coming in during the late-1600's have pitfalls due to the superstitions of the time. Arriving in the middle of a war could result in death. Prehistoric man could go one of two ways, either the cave-persons will get scared and kill the time travelers or or revere them as gods (which may not be all bad). Pretty much, it's hit or miss on the people (or other beings), but it makes for an exciting trip.

Remember to stow the time machine in an inconspicuous location and don't forget to lock it up. The last thing history needs is a rogue figure changing things around. It also would not be be good to lose the time machine as it makes it much more difficult, though not impossible, to get back to the present. Communication from one time period to another is under investigation, the current technology means it is only possible to find another time traveler in the past and hitch a ride home. This is, however, a rare occurrence so keeping tabs on the time machine is a wise move. Being prepared and keeping the time machine safe are important, but there are some more important things to keep in mind.

One must keep in mind not to touch anything when traveling backward in time. Any action in the past can affect the present. It could also stand to reason that further back one travels in time, the smaller actions could impact the present more. It would also be a good idea to keep far away from relatives as any contact may affect present and future generations (no offense). This means that anything that happens in the past does not necessarily stay in the past (this isn't Vegas). If the time traveler meets an unfortunate end in the past, then he/she will not be returning to the present. This is, of course, a matter of debate if time traveling with another person since it would be easy enough for the non-dead member of the party to return to a minute or two prior to initial departure to warn the soon-to-be-dead party. It is thought that the instance of the same person appearing twice in the same plane of existence could cause the fabric of space and time to collapse. Because the idea has never been tested (for obvious reasons) it is only deemed, "NOT RECOMMENDED," by the TTA.

Aging is a consideration to keep in mind. Five years in the past will cause five years of aging on the time traveler. This would definitely be something to remember, especially if trying to hide a trip in time from somebody, but this will have to wait for the ethics guide. Aging cannot be halted in time. The TTA has tried to research the idea, but a solution has yet to be found.

The time traveler must be ready for anything as the people of the past may not be so welcoming to mysterious newcomers. One must keep the time machine safe and secure as it is the only realistic means of returning to the present. Touching things in the past may (and most likely, will) affect the present and future. This goes especially for people of the past. Death is a definite possibility and reversing it is difficult if not impossible. Aging is always a concern for the time traveler as the human body will age no matter what time it is. The most important thing is, though, have fun in the past.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Handbook of Time Travel: Chapter 1

I wrote a series of posts back in May 2009 that was supposed to be a larger project. I only wrote the intro, three chapters, and a semi-serious essay on the ethics of time travel. Going forward in time was far more difficult.

Before Leaving

Going backward in time seems simple enough, go back in time, see stuff, take pictures, buy ancient Egyptian souvenirs and return to the present. Well, hold it right there, Millennium Man (or woman), it's not that easy. As with any trip it helps to have a plan before one leaves. First and foremost, choosing a time period is a good place to start. Most people wouldn't wait until the last minute to plan a conventional trip, why do so for time travel? It would also make sense to find out if anything of interest took place around the starting location. Starting location is very important for many other reasons, as well.

Location is everything in time travel for numerous reasons. Most time machines only travel through the time dimension, but getting one equipped to travel in the space dimension at the same time is possible. These machines are usually expensive and are still wrought with problems that can be deadly. The best idea is to find a portable model and take it to wherever seems interesting. If a portable time machine is out of the question, check out what happened around the current area and use that as a starting point. This helps to make a vacation much more affordable. If the time machine was built in a sixth floor apartment, there may be an issue if traveling back further than the age of the building. One may also want to research what was on the starting location in the past will also be necessary. Many time travelers have expressed a lack of desire to be embedded in a tree 600 years prior. Taking measurements of the room one is leaving from and noting the positions of specific items in the room is also good planning. Locking the door to the room will prevent unwanted results from occurring, like accidently smooshing the family dog, cat or curious child. Following these guidelines will help make it a safer trip, but there plenty of other things to consider. It's helpful to consider the weather and atmosphere of the past.

When traveling in time, different eras may have some different weather to worry about. There is, of course, the ice age which is quite cold and does require a warm jacket. The very first days of the earth were quite warm, so short, a tank-top and flip-flops are definitely recommended. The atmosphere is also a factor to consider since the days of the dinosaurs saw high levels of ammonia which may make a bit difficult to breathe. The smart time traveler may want to pack some oxygen for the trip. Packing the right clothes doesn't stop at the weather, they may also keep one alive in the past.

Not only are functional clothes needed when going back in time, but clothing suitable for the era to which one is traveling. Looking like an out of place tourist may be fine for Florida in winter, but the Civil War in the summer could be fatal. It would be wise to brush up on fashion for the specific time, after all, dressing like a Yankee while in Georgia is a sure way to make it a very quick trip. This works in the opposite direction, too. Clothes can definitely save a life in more ways than one, but it also helps to brush up on the language and customs of the era one is visiting.

Things have always changed throughout history, like language and vocabulary. It would be very wise to study the changes in meanings of words between then and now as many words do not yet exist in the past and many others did not mean the same thing as they do now. It is incredibly useful if one knows the customs of the day that he/she is visiting. It pays to not insult the people of the past and possibly end up either jailed or executed. Leave all electronic devices, computers, mp3 players, cell phones, in the present. Cell phones will not work, even in the recent past of the 1980's and other electronics may be seen as tools of the devil in colonial America. This could result in the holder being accused of witchcraft. Information on what happens to witches can be found in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. It helps to know the culture of the period one is going to, however, all of this preparation may just be for naught if the word isn't there.

There are limitations to time traveling backwards when it comes to the era. The earth is about 4.5 billion years old and, frankly, the first billion or so years were pretty boring for the average time tourist. The first 10 billion years of the universe were quite volatile and unsafe and it is not recommended according to the TTA (Time Travel Association). Stay safe and keep the time travel to a point when the planet is actually there. Luckily, most time machines are equipped with safeties to keep from going back too far in time and prevent "Big Bangin'" as it is referred to by teenagers.

It is always helpful to have a plan when it comes to time travel. Keep in mind the starting location and the history contained there, it could make for an unexpectedly pleasant vacation. Remember to start off at ground level and find out what on that particular spot to prevent any catastrophic events. The clothes make the trip, dress for warmth, safety and survival (also, not looking like a tourist helps). Making sure that the planet is actually present helps make for an enjoyable trip since 98% of time travelers find that floating in an empty void does not make for the ideal vacation. Now it's time to buckle up and go back in time.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Handbook of Time Travel: Introduction

The following was written back in May 2009 and was on the original version of the SGMR blog. Luckily, I saved all the old posts. The rest will be posted throughout the following week.

Time travel is an excellent way to spend a family vacation whether it's to witness the past or see what is possible for the future*. It's a good idea if one is looking for a way to spend an infinite amount of time to travel. Of course, infinite only means as long as a person is able to live. More on this a little later. First, some important logistical business must be tended to.

Before one can consider a time traveling vacation, one must obtain or construct a machine with which to travel through time. This device is known as a, "Time Machine" and there are several different styles to choose from.This concept may seem a bit difficult to grasp at first, but by the end of this volume, it will be simple. It is also recommended that one get in touch with the TTA (Time Travelers Association) and join. The fees and dues may seem a bit steep, but it's worth it for all of the benefits. Membership includes free time machine inspections.

One thing to note: This book does not explain the principles of time travel. Anybody wishing to know that might want to refer to Time Travel for the Inexperienced by Dr. Melvin X. Louis.He does an exceptional job of explaining it in only about 2500 pages. This is the shortest book on this topic to date.

This book is for folks who want to know what happens once they find themselves cruising along in the space-time continuum. It will teach such useful concepts as "Don't Touch Anything" and "Make Sure You Remember Where You Parked." The concepts taught will keep the amateur time traveler from erasing him/herself from existence or getting stuck in the late Cretaceous period. It will also keep one from accidently traveling too far into the future and accidently imploding in the possible singularity**.

Now that the formalities are out of the way, it's time to look at some of the useful concepts. First of all, it is possible to use a minute of free time to spend a year in Medieval England. A person could leave at 8:00am on May 19, go spend a year saving faire maidens and slaying dragons and come back at 8:01am on May 19. Coming home at the same time one left or earlier is discouraged as there is always a possibility of seeing oneself prior to leaving and it could ruin the whole trip, but it can also result in two occurences of the same person in the same instance of time. Time travel can also be useful for the kids with their history lessons. Imagine being able to go back in time and see the Civil War. It is recommended that one not interfere with history as it may affect countless lives that are seemingly unrelated. Imagine distracting a Union general and finding out that it was possibly that moment that allowed the Confederacy to win the war.

*It is possible to alter future events by traveling to the future. More on this in Part 2.
**According to many cosmologists, the universe will eventually collapse in on itself resulting in the singularity.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Superseded Science

I love science. Science is the current, best explanations for how things work in the universe stated through theory (scientific theory, which are well-established bodies of work supported through evidence, experiment, and constant testing, as opposed to Cletus' theory that moonshine makes him smarter). I, personally, have quit using the word "theory" in the colloquial sense because what I think is not scientific necessarily (OK, some things are, but most of it is me talking out of my ass). While writing a more serious blog post on scientific fact, I stumbled into the Wikipedia page on Superseded Scientific Theories. This is leading me down the Wikipedia hole from which I may never escape. Let me discuss with you some of my favorite superseded theories (I'm not going to shoot fish in a barrel, so the flat earth and geocentrism are both disqualified for being overqualified).

The Island of California
Apparently, early Spanish cartographers believed that California was an island separated by the Gulf of California. It was still believed to be an island and was drawn that way on maps despite the fact that explorers actually disproved it with their own eyes. It even took on mythical status as a paradise. I personally do not subscribe to this theory…I think California is a completely different planet.

The Heliocentric Universe
I know I said that I wouldn't discuss geocentrism here, but I will talk about heliocentrism. After the former was disproven by Copernicus, he came up with the latter. Of course, the sun was still the center of the universe, which meant the earth was not too far away. The theory didn't really take off until Galileo had something to say about because he probably had more Twitter followers. Today we realize that there is no center of the universe.

Luminiferous Aether Theory
The earth is moving through goo or some shit. I have no idea what the hell anyone is talking about here. Thank the gods that a couple smart guys from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH would fail to detect it, and Einstein didn't listen to any of this and disproved it straightaway.

Phlogiston Theory
Apparently, people 500 years ago or so believed that things that burned had a substance in them that caused them to burn (also known as the fifth element [not that weird ass Bruce Willis movie]). From Wikipedia:

"Phlogiston theory states that phlogisticated substances are substances that contain phlogiston and dephlogisticate when burned. Dephlogisticating is when the substance simply releases the phlogiston inside of it and that phlogiston is absorbed by the air.
Growing plants then absorb this phlogiston, which is why air does not spontaneously combust and also why plant matter burns as well as it does."

My new favorite word is Dephlogisticating. Luckily, we now know about oxidation.

The Four Humors
Black Bile, Yellow Bile, Blood, and Phlegm (appetizing, no?) were at one time believed to be the four bodily fluids that must be balanced to maintain health. Today, we have science-based medicine which disproves all of this. Of course, like other theories that have been disproven, there are people out there who can't let go and still believe this bunk.

Tooth Worm
Oh thank the gods that this is not a thing. Yes, people believed that cavities and other mouth diseases were caused by "tooth worms".  Today, we know these things are caused by not brushing, flossing, and going regularly to the dentist (not a humoralist). AUTHOR'S NOTE: Do not click on Image Search after entering the words "tooth worm" into Google.