Sunday, March 6, 2011


....and this is why no one likes you publishers.  I sit in a lawn chair with a pair of cargo shorts and a loud Hawaiian shirt on waving a giant foam middle finder while sucking beer through a plastic hose attached to my beer hat, gleefully cheering on the day your stranglehold over book publication comes to an end.

Bring out the digital pitchforks and torches.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ignite the Light

We walk around as regular people.  One person among billions.  Never noticed by the strangers next to us. Drifting like a plastic bag in the wind.  

We scream silently to be noticed by someone.  Anyone.  But we are perfectly ordinary.  The world continues to pass us by.

Inside us all we have a light that can burst forth and shine so bright.  With a light like that, others cannot help but take notice.  All we have to do is have the courage to ignite that light.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Faith of the Fallen

I chased a girl for a year and she broke my heart.

     This is not a new story.  Hearts have been broken since the beginning of time and they will continue to be broken long after you and I are dust.  What makes this story unique is God's role.
     I rediscovered my faith when I returned to Florida.  I sat down with a spiritual man I highly respect and got answers to some of the major questions I had.  I began attending church again.
     I chased a girl for a year.  During that year I prayed constantly.  I didn't pray for the girl to like me in return, that would negate free will.  I prayed for guidance.  I begged God to show me the right path.  I begged him to send me a sign.  I was falling for this girl and I was falling hard.  If it wasn't meant to be, I wanted to know so I could get out and spare myself as much pain as possible.  If it was meant to be, I wanted to know so I could keep chasing her.
     He sent me signs I asked for.  Every time I would despair, He would send me a sign that would hearten me and keep me going.  He keep me going for a year.  When the girl finally told me: "I've even thought of dating you again.", I rejoiced.  I thanked God for answering my prayers.
     Two weeks later, she broke my heart.  The words she said were wiped away and in their place was a firm declaration of "I don't feel anything for you."  I am still recovering from the wounds inflicted.
     Why?  Why would He do that to me?  Why keep pushing me on only to tear me down in the end?  What kind of creature does that?  At any point He could have spared my feelings.  He could have sent me a sign and had me turn away from the path I was on.  Instead, He chose to keep egging me on.
     I believe that God exists.  I believe he created this universe and everything in it.  What I am having trouble understanding is why I should worship Him?  Why would I worship a being that would be that cruel?

It doesn't make sense to me.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ah Myspace

Does anyone remember a little site called Myspace?  You know, the first big social network?  In it's prime, Myspace was plagued by spammers.  It was usually a fake account that had some chick with big boobs as the default picture hawking some sleazy porn site.

I would have thought all the spammers would have tried to game Facebook now that it has far surpassed Myspace, but apparently not.  Here is a little exchange I had with a Myspace spammer today.

First off, this is the picture I get from the account that tried to friend me.  Needless to say, I ignore the request.  Later on, I get this message:

Hey, how's it going? Thanks for accepting the add, I apologize if the request seemed out of the blue, but you seem like a cool guy, and I was just curious if you'd like to be friends? I just moved out here a year ago and really have not had a chance to check this place out. I am always looking to have a great time with some really cool friends. I'm the girl next door type  Well, maybe we can hook up soon.

Oh yea, Do you happen to have a e-mail address? I was hoping to send you some more pictures of me that I took.

Hey, not bad!  This is much better than your average Nigerian spam.  The grammar is good and everything is spelled right.  Some one put some thought into this.  

Here was my response:

A couple of things:

Your message was good.  Very good.  It was the most convincing piece of spam I've gotten so far.  However, it has a few problems.

1) No one on social networks who look like the girl in the picture just randomly friends people.

2) The whole "I just moved here" bit has been done to death.  Come up with a new line.

3) No one, and I mean absolutely no one, offers "more pictures of me" in the first e-mail.  That line is not even subtle.  It's blatant and, frankly, slightly insulting.  Does anyone actually fall for that?

So in closing: drop dead spammer.  You do know no ones uses Myspace anymore, right?  Facebook is where it's at now.


I friended the account after I got the gem from above.  I eagerly await the reply.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

eBook Pricing

When an old brick and mortar industry is suddenly faced with it's customers wanting goods digitally, why does every industry throw up it's hands and run in circles yelling "The sky is falling!" at the top of it's lungs? We saw it happen with the music industry. We are watching it now with the movie and television industry. Even the video game industry is dealing with online distribution woes.

Customers are going to get the content they want on the device they want to view it on. They did it with mp3s, they are doing it now with movies and tv shows, and they are going to do it with ebooks very soon. You cannot stop the signal.

I recently got my hands on an iPad. I had been eyeing ereaders for some time now, and Apple's newest device was at the top of my list of potential ereaders. I'll spare you my review of the device, just know that it is a very good ereader. (The primary reason I would get one.)

Imagine my surprise when I browsed Apple's ebook store to find most books between 9.99 and 14.99. Really publishing industry? Really?? I looked up one of my favorite Neil Gaiman novels 'Stardust'. This is not a new novel and can be found in any well-stocked bookstore as a mass market paperback. It's price as an eBook? 9.99. It's price as a paperback on Amazon? 7.99 with free shipping. The price I paid at my local Borders. 7.99.


Selling an eBook for the same price you sell the paperback for is crazy. Selling an eBook for MORE than the paperback is white-jacket-with-no-sleeves insanity. Why would a business even consider doing that? Do they think customers are half-wits?

Do I even need to go into the mydrid of reasons why eBooks are cheaper? The lack of paper, the lack of ink, lack of printing presses, lack of storage needed, lack of distribution. You can, literally, sit at home in a bathrobe and publish an eBook.

Yes, I know that big publishing companies have to hire editors, designers, and various office staff. I understand they all need to get paid. I even expect the publishing house to make a profit. They work and they deserve to grow their business.

However, I do not expect business to deliberately screw customers over to try and scare them back into an old business model. I will not tolerate it. And neither will other customers. Why was music piracy so high? Customers demanded their music in a new format and it wasn't being given to them in the way they wanted. When the industry relented, lo and behold, people started PAYING for music again.

Is that what you want publishers? Do you want customers go pirate your content because of your stupidly high prices? It's going to happen if you keep this trend up.

-Shaun, written solely on an iPad. (So forgive any spelling or grammar mistakes.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Tomb of Horrors

     In 1975 Gary Gygax wrote one of the greatest Dungeons and Dragons adventures of all time, the 'Tomb of Horrors'.  This module was filled with nasty traps and powerful monsters that the players had to fight on their way to the dungeon's final challenge: a demi-lich.  I would guess that more characters have died trying to beat the Tomb of Horrors than any other module in D&D history.

I have never played the Tomb of Horrors.

     To be fair, I only started playing a weekly D&D game less than a year ago.  I've also never run a Shadowrun campaign, a Call of Cthulhu game, or even a Vampire: The Masquerade session.  In gaming years, I am still an infant.

     That will change this week!  Jason, our sadistic DM, is running our group through the Tomb of Horrors.  We shall have to overcome all of the sadistic traps!  Defeat the legions of deadly monsters!  Save the, that's not in this module.  She is in another castle.  I cannot wait for Thursday.

     Jason has determined we are all to play evil monsters from the Monster's Manual.  Except Jim.  Jim has to play a Lawful Good character from the Player's Handbook.  This is because Jim's characters in every other campaign are evil, despite whatever alignment might be printed on his character sheet.  (Killing and stealing from two random NPCs in an inn?  Check.  Threatening to burn down an outpost because they wouldn't give him the information he wanted?  Check.)  This is also because Jason likes messing with his brother.  They have that sort of relationship.

    I did my research for Thursdays game.  I checked out the monster options.  I balanced character stats and thought about what class I would like to try.  My choice?  An Orc Psion with an intelligence score of 8, a charisma of 19, and a strength of 16.  His name is Thunk (Half-brother to Grunk, chief security officer of the Seven-Pillared Hall) and he is very stupid, but very charming.  His alignment?  Chaotic Stupid.

     I have decided to play The Loonie at the table and see how Jason and my fellow players react.  I plan of going Off the Rails as much as possible, setting off every trap I can find, and exploding any magic items I get my hands on.  If I play my cards right, I might even be able to get a Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies out of Jason.

The poor suckers, they have no idea what is coming.

.....unless they read this blog.

-"Captain Insane-o" Shaun

Tuesday, August 17, 2010