Sunday, November 20, 2011


Busy expanding the Zazzle store...lots of new items, mostly Dungeons and Dragons flavored. Check it out.

The Aaron's Obs and Ops Zazzle Store

Also, don't forget to check out Dustin's work...

House of Pancakes

'Tis quite good...

And please stay tuned for more new stuff coming soon!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Goodbye, Facebook...

Dear Facebook,

This is a very hard, but also very necessary letter to write.

We've both done a lot of changing over the past four years, both for better and for worse. Sure, we had some good times playing Mafia Wars and Castle Age, but you and I both know that it takes more than fleeting fun to build a solid relationship.

I can honestly say that you are the biggest cause of stress in my life. At first, I thought the fact that you could put me in touch with people I had lost contact with was amazing. As it turns out, I lost contact with most of those people for a reason: they're idiots. Now I'm constantly inundated with status updates of my "friends" complaining about how poor they are and how much their life sucks. (Hint: If you have access to Facebook, you're already better off than a lot of people on this planet.)

I need to end this relationship, before I drive myself crazy. I would say the normal bullshit of how I'd like to remain friends, but I don't mean that. I want you out of my life, and off of my iPod, for good.

F@*$ you,


Friday, November 11, 2011

Math, Society, and You...

Like many of you, I often get sucked into Facebook. Also like many of you, I end up taking silly quizzes and polls because, let's face it, sometimes I have absolutely nothing better to do. The most recent poll I took was a simple, straight-forward math problem:


The answer is 15. Not 0. 15. No, there are not different ways to do this problem. I also don't care what your calculator says (yes, it's wrong). The answer is 15.

"But anything times zero equals zero!" according to many people in the comments section. Which is true. But only the last 5 is being multiplied by zero. What happens to all the other stuff? It becomes 15.

At first, I was sad at the number of people who answered zero. Seriously, this is a very basic math problem that a ten year old (or younger) should be able to do. I'm sure there are many people don't remember the most basic math skills, but I feel that this goes deeper than that. I very much felt like arguing with these people, until I came to the realization that this isn't really a math problem.

This is a social statement, and not about how many of us forgot the Order of Operations (PEMDAS ring any bells?) This problem is a statement about how we, as humans, tend to focus on the one part of the problem we recognize and solve it, rather than looking at the problem as a whole. Most people will see "x0" and think "anything times 0 is 0, so the answer is 0."

This is a wonderful statement on seeing the big picture. Do me a favor: Next time you're faced with a problem that you think has a simple answer...STOP! Look harder, because it might not be so simple.

Votes at the time of writing this:
0: 585,787
15: 415,075

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I Don't Want Any Magazines, and I Love My Vacuum

Author's Note: The topic of religion is briefly addressed in this post. In no way am I attempting to demean or belittle any particular faith or denomination.

As I have said, my family and I have recently moved into a new house. It's a bigger house, with an actual yard, in a much better neighborhood. I never thought there would be anything that I missed about the old house. But, after only a couple of months, I found it.

This neighborhood has a ridiculous amount of solicitors.

At the old house, which was located in an alley, we would get two or three salespeople per year. Now, it's two or three per week. It's starting to get out of hand. Last night at around 8:00, a guy rang the doorbell and tried to sell us siding for our house. The same guy woke me up at 8:30 this morning to try again. No means no, mister.

I thought about putting a “NO SOLICITING” sign under my doorbell, but realized that's a bad idea. From the salesperson's viewpoint, a sign like that means one of two things: either a) a challenge, or b) a sucker.

I'll admit, I used to be a sucker. That's what happens when you try to be nice and polite. Most of the time, you need to be downright rude and just shut the door in their face to get them to leave you alone. Then there are the religious people, who don't believe they are “soliciting.”

Please don't get me wrong. I have nothing against religious people. At least, not until they knock on my door and tell me that everything I believe is wrong. I can guarantee that I am just as set in my beliefs as they are in theirs, and neither of us is likely to change any time soon.

So, I've decided to follow the only available course of action. I am going to give my house a reputation amongst the door-to-door sales community. (For some reason, I can see all the salespeople gathering in the back of a dimly lit warehouse, swapping stories of their time “on the road.”) I want salespeople to walk by my house and say to themselves, “I've heard about that house...”

You want to try it too? Here's the plan:

1) Whenever possible, answer the door completely naked. This shocks the salesperson and immediately gives you the upper hand.

2) Keep a spray bottle full of liquor (I recommend cheap whiskey) near the front door. Before answering the door, spray yourself a few times and put on your drunk face. When you answer the door, keep yourself propped up on the door frame, as if you can't stand by yourself. Also, belch as much as possible. (This one is much more effective before noon.)

3) Make your own religious pamphlets. Being agnostic, this one is really easy for me. I just need to draw a question mark on a blank piece of paper, then fold it in thirds.

4) Let your small child answer the door, and pretend like they own the house.

5) If you speak a foreign language, convince them that you don't speak English.

If you follow all these steps, solicitors might start leaving you alone. Even if they don't, at least it will be a LOT more fun when one comes to the door.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Second Chances

Author's Note: I've already touched on this topic briefly, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Read the original post here.

I'll be the first to admit, I've made a lot of mistakes in my life.

I can also say that I have learned a very important lesson from each and every major mistake I've made. (I got my first set of dentures a week after I turned 27. Lesson: Don't do meth.)

My life now is pretty damn good. There is an amazing woman who (for some unknown reason) loves me, and we have the best little boy two parents could ask for. We bought a house, and I'm going to school so I can get one of those "real jobs."

Now that I'm halfway to my degree, I've been thinking about applying for a job in my field. I'm already dreading the interviews.

My most recent experience with job interviews has not been pleasant. Last summer, I had quite a few of them. Unlike most people, I have a horrible habit of being honest during an interview. For example:

Interviewer: Why did you leave your last job?

Usual Answer: I felt that it was time to move on to something new/expand my skill set.

My Answer: Because I had developed a drinking problem and could no longer deal with stress in a reasonable way. I have since stopped drinking heavily, though I do still have a beer or two occasionally. I have also been diagnosed with a brain disorder, and have been on medication for the last (insert time period here).

Most potential employers will at least finish the interview, but I did have one gentleman stop right there. He asked me why I told him all that, and I couldn't help but look at him like he was crazy.


He proceeded to tell me that I wouldn't be getting the job, and he encouraged me to lie at my next interview. I told him that I wouldn't. It's not fair to myself or my potential employer. I've done my share of lying, from the little white ones to the giant ones, and it's brought me nothing but trouble.

I shouldn't have to lie about who I am to get a job. Like I said, I've learned something valuable from every mistake I've made. I've apologized to the people I hurt. I've tried to make amends the best that I can. My only hope is that I will someday find an employer who will be impressed by my honesty, not offended by it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How I Spent My Summer (So Far...)

Author's Note: I got home from taking my last final about half an hour ago, and summer school is officially over. All I want to do is sit on my couch, maybe have a beer (even though it's only 10:30 am), and watch TV and movies while I forget everything I learned this summer. Needless to say, I'm feeling rather uninspired at the moment. I've decided to take this opportunity to share with you one of the essays I wrote this summer. This is much more serious writing than you're used to me doing, but I hope you enjoy it.

As we go through life, it seems that the only constant is change. Living in Missoula for nearly twenty years, I have seen open space become urban sprawl. I have seen buildings get demolished and new ones constructed. I have seen businesses close and new ones move in to replace them. My own life has changed in more ways than I could ever have imagined. Everything around us is constantly evolving. However, if you look hard enough, you can almost always find a spot that seems untouched by time. For me, that place is the Western Montana Fairgrounds.

It's always the smell that brings my mind back to my childhood experiences at the fairgrounds. It's a very unusual smell, a combination of cigarette smoke and fried food, a fragrant bouquet of unhealthy decisions. The smell triggers my other senses. I can see the bright lights of the carnival rides and hear the sounds of a demolition derby in the distance. I can even feel hot asphalt under my feet, sticky from someone's dropped soda or beer.

I spent most of my early childhood in Butte, less than two hours drive from Missoula. I had a lot of extended family in Missoula, and my family would make the drive every August to attend the annual fair and visit family. We relocated to Missoula when I was eleven years old, and the tradition of yearly carnival rides and animal exhibits continued. I went to the fair every year that I can remember up until I graduated from high school. There were also countless other events to go see at the fairgrounds, such as circuses, monster truck shows, and horse races. Needless to say, the fairgrounds hold a multitude of childhood memories for me.

I went to the fairgrounds recently after not having been there in several years. This is a place that truly seems frozen in time. The buildings appear to be in the same state of disrepair they've always been in, but I'm sure it's just my mind playing tricks on me. The paint on the buildings is trying to escape, slowly peeling away; the green colored trim is incredibly dated. The grandstands have a very deceiving appearance about them. They look as if they're about to topple like poorly stacked blocks, but walking on them reveals them to be quite sturdy and dependable. Strangely, that's exactly how I remember them.

Other than this one little time capsule in the middle of town, everything else about Missoula has changed. Even the streets that run right next to the fairgrounds have been reconfigured. This town has grown so much, and it seems to take up more and more of this valley's footprint every day.

Everyone who lives here tells the story differently, the “I remember when Missoula was this small” story. Most in my generation tell the story of North Reserve Street. Two decades ago, it was mostly empty space. Now, it is a true monument to consumerism, with strip malls and chain stores as far as the eye can see. Just as my hometown is evolving, my life is changing as well.

The place I'm in right now is truly a place of transition. My wife and I recently bought our first house together. Other than having a child, this is the biggest change either of us has ever experienced. I absolutely despised most everything about the last place we lived, but it was still home. This house is new and unfamiliar. It's not home. I have a piece of paper with my name on it that says the house belongs to me, but it's not home.

It still feels like my family and I are staying in the house of a stranger, but for some reason this stranger's house happens to have all of our stuff in it. It smells like someone else, it sounds like someone else, and it feels like someone else. Yet I've come to realize that the smells, sounds, and feelings aren't going to change. My perception of them is what is going to change. Today's changes are tomorrow's constants.

While we were in the process of moving in to our new house, I found myself imagining how this place would become a part of who my son is. He turned three years old the week we moved in, and he will, in all likelihood, live here until he graduates from high school. He will probably identify this house as his first real home. It doesn't quite feel like home to me yet. To him, home is wherever Mommy and Daddy are, and I think he may be on the right track.

After spending all this time thinking about my sense of place, I came to the realization that my actual physical location has very little to do with my place. The people I surround myself with are a much better indicator of my place than land, buildings, or trees ever could be. My physical house may not feel like home yet, but my family is with me, and that's what makes it my place. Wherever my wife and son are, that's where my true home, my place, happens to be at that moment.

Thinking back to my recent revisiting of the fairgrounds, I wonder again if my mind was playing tricks on me. Was I looking at reality, or was my mind resurrecting my memories and showing them to me? Could it be possible that the past and present were somehow combined into one? I doubt it, but it really made me think not only about where I fit, but how I fit there. It also made me realize that things are always moving, always changing. It is the things that stay the same, whether in reality or just in our memories, that are the important things to hold on to.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seriously, I have a mental illness...

For those of you who might not know, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a little over a year ago. I'm currently taking a writing class at my local university. My current assignment is to write a personal essay. It was a no-brainer to write my paper on bipolar disorder, being that it's something that constantly affects me and those who love me.

I'm not about to say that I know everything there is to know about this illness just because I have it, and there is really no such thing as too much information (well, reliable information). This morning, I went to the bookstore to find a couple of books on the subject. I immediately headed to the "Health/Medicine" section. Most of the books were "Look Like Me!" by Sally Celebrity, or "Crazy Fad Diet" by Dr. Quack.

I asked the woman at the counter were I could find a book on bipolar disorder. She directed me to the "Self Help" section. For someone with bipolar disorder, this was like a slap in the face. It's like telling me that my illness isn't legitimate, or that it's my fault I'm sick.

So, a book titled "Bikini Bootcamp: Two Weeks to Your Ultimate Beach Body" is in the Health and Medicine section and books relating to mental illness are in the Self Help section.

Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Be Nicer, Damn It...

Common courtesy is a large part of what makes us civilized people. Unfortunately, it seems to me that it is becoming less and less common. Working in a customer service position, some people's behavior can drive me insane. It boggles my mind that so many people seem to think that they're better than me because I sell ice cream out of a truck (trust me, it's a lot less creepy than it sounds).

Whenever I'm dealing with a less than ideal customer, I repeat a simple mantra over and over inside my head: “Smile and and and nod...” It works for most of them, but some of these customers really get under my skin. That's why I have a I can bitch to all of you about them.

Don't get me wrong...there are still some decent human beings out there. I love hearing the words “please” and “thank you,” especially out of the mouths of children. Being polite is not a difficult thing to do, particularly if you make a habit out of it. Then you won't even realize you're doing it. Unfortunately, these good customers are heavily outnumbered by the butt-nuggets (excuse my language).

I've decided to spend this time to discuss some principles of basic human interaction. Apparently, some people out there need a refresher course on how to be human. I am discussing these principles in the customer/employee context, but they can also apply to just about any interaction between two people.

When I'm working, I greet every customer the same way: “Hi there! How are you doing today?” The rule states that there are only a select few appropriate answers to this question. They all include a vague, yet positive adjective (good, fine, well, etc.) followed by the reciprocation “and you?” At this point, I would even be content to drop the “and you?” entirely and just get and answer to the question.

Here are some of my favorite inappropriate responses to the question “How are you doing today?”

-Silence: Not only does it make you look rude, it makes you look like an idiot.

-Chocolate!: (Again, I sell ice cream.) The mere fact that I have acknowledged your presence does not give you the go ahead to yell your order at me.

-Gassy: I don't really care how you're doing. I was only being polite, expecting the same in return. How silly of me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The College Experience

Well, I'm almost officially halfway done with college. I've really learned a lot in the past year, especially in regards to how ridiculous some people can be. In honor of these individuals, I'm creating a short list of rules that no one covered at orientation.

1. “Is this going to be on the test?” should not be a question that is asked in a college classroom. If the professor is taking the time to talk about it, you should probably pay attention.

2. If you want to take a nap, just go home. Although the library may seem like a nice, quiet place to snooze, your snoring makes it hard to study.

3. Don't pick a fight with the professor. Is it really worth repeating the class? Especially if he/she is the only one who teaches it?

4. Don't complain about how you got a D on a test because you were hungover when you took it. That's nobody's fault but your own.

5. Don't get hammered the night before a test.

6. Don't be the smartest person in class. Or if you are, don't let anyone know about it. They won't leave you alone.

7. Don't be the dumbest person in class. You probably won't be in college for long.

Seven simple rules to follow to make the college experience better for everyone.

Oh, and don't forget to visit the new store!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Double Standards and Self-Contradictions

The summer blockbuster season is upon us! With Thor opening this weekend, I've been doing my research, reading reviews to see if it's worth the ridiculous price to go see it in the theater. While reading reviews, I stumbled across one that just plain made me mad. It's not often that a review of a comic book movie makes you think about racism. Unless, of course, that review comes from Clay Cane over at

Cane begins his review by saying that Thor is the worst Marvel movie ever, next to Iron Man 2. He's obviously never seen the Nick Fury movie starring David Hasselhoff, or the Ang Lee fiasco known simply as “Hulk.” I'm already doubting his qualifications to write this review. Furthermore, Cane bases his judgment of this film solely on two criteria, one of which really has nothing to do with the film.

The first of Cane's problems with this movie is that there just aren't enough black people in it. Imagine that! Norse mythology isn't chock full of black people! Should I be offended that there aren't any white gods in the Hindu pantheon? I don't think so. The fact that Marvel Studios actually did make one of the Norse gods black makes his argument that much more ridiculous. Or maybe I'm being ridiculous in looking for historical accuracy (fictional or otherwise) in a comic book movie. Also, I think Mr. Cane should take a hard look at the BET website before he comments on how a race is missing from something. The whitest person I found was Mariah Carey.

Cane's only other problem with this film is that there's too much CGI. “Nearly every scene is a green screen, leaving little authenticity, especially in 3D, an overused fad that Hollywood needs to retire.” Yet somehow, he gave Avatar (a.k.a. Pocahontas in Space) a B+. Now, I'm really confused...

The only conclusion that we can draw from this review is that Clay Cane didn't like this movie simply because there are too many white people in it. Is it just me, or is that racist? I'll be the first to admit that I don't like Tyler Perry movies, but it has nothing to do with the amount of black people in them. It's just that they're horrible, horrible movies.