It's been a long time. Much has changed.

I'm honestly not the same person I was when I first started this journal. Oh, the core tennants are still there. I still believe in things like honor and truth, love and friendship...but too much has happened to me. I'm older, dare say wiser (though I'm sure I'll always be doing regretful stupid shit), and a great deal more experienced.

The past year has been an equal mix of hellish and bittersweet.

I lost my hearing and gained it back better than before. I had a crisis of faith and put to rest the old doubts while learning a fundamental truth about God. I flew to Las Vegas and stayed for a week, meeting some cherished friends and having a fantastic time with them, only to see the group nearly fall apart months later over differences in perception. I learned that friendship sometimes requires degrees of dedication that run deeper than understanding or respecting the other party.

I saw a lot of people in the fandom die in horrible ways or undeserving circumstances, including a person who's journal I used to follow.

I discovered new music, I spent more money on others than I did on myself, I started drinking more to distract myself from my implant...

I went mountain hiking with friends.

I did a lot of stuff I never ever thought I'd get to do in 2012. This year I expect to get a house, either buying or renting, so I'll finally have my own place to stay. Beyond that, it's difficult to say what may lie in store for me in the days ahead. Buying a house will take up most of my finances, so I doubt I will be able to travel as much this year, even though there are still a lot of places I'd like to go to, and people I'd like to see.

I will say though, that for perhaps the first time in a long time, my future is actually developing a positive aspect. I feel good about where I am now, and where I am going. I am ready to let go of some of the things holding me back, should they prove a hindrance.  I'm ready to take charge and interact with people in new ways.

2013 is full of promise. The world hasn't ended, and we're doing this.

Of all the weird conditions you can possibly end up with, here is one that makes your scalp look like a brain.

Alcohol affects women differently than men.

Anti-science is a growing problem and not just in America. In Italy, scientists were jailed for "failing to warn" of the massive quake that struck the region last year.
  • Current Music
    "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty
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Effect A Trade 2

I have some more things I'm looking to trade away! I'm hoping to trade these for DVD's, music CD's, books, or video games that you no longer use/need/want, that way we both get the chance to experience something new without having to throw stuff out to make space, and without having to pay more than shipping (which I don't mind covering for you, if needed).

Here's what I've got this round!

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Just post here with an offer if you're interested in one of these. We can make further arrangements through notes if you are offering something that interests me in turn!

Las Vegas

At the end of the week I will be going on the biggest adventure I've ever undertaken. I'm going to be flying across the United States to visit my friends in ceg_lylat in shiny Las Vegas for the hacker convention DEFCon. This is a convention that for years my friends have been trying to get me to attend, and now finally, after everything I've gone through, the time is right.

Listen, I'd also like to make a bit of a confession. I realize that I have been a rather poor friend in regards to my online presence. It is all-but nonexistent in some places and in others I spend more time than I probably should. I haven't been keeping up with my friends here like I should and I didn't realize it chafed some of you but it apparently has! For that I apologize. I am making more of an effort to keep up with the lives of my friends.

To that effect, posts about myself will be coming with less frequency, with the exception of major things going on in my life.

The blogging experience has been interesting. Since I started writing here, my life has gone through a lot of changes. School, college, work, losing my hearing and regaining it...Last week my little brother got married. Yay? I could probably start a music blog, now that I think about it, but I don't think I will. I don't need another thing to pull at my priorities. I'm still writing reviews, even though I've given up hope of ever being paid for them. It's moot now that I have a good job with benefits anyways.

I'm still torn about what I should do about moving out. I wanted to just buy a house, but I really don't know. There isn't much for me here aside from my work, but if I go somewhere else there's no guarantee I'll find another job that will meet my needs as well as this one. Don't really want a condo; I would like a house with some space, but by that same token I can only afford so much here. After I get back from Vegas, my focus is going to turn toward getting out of here. Anyways, next time I post, I'll have tales and pictures from my grand adventure. I still have preparations to make for now. Going to get some new shoes for one. Need to book a hotel in Atlanta so I'm not paying through the nose to keep my car at the airport. Fun stuff!

Netflix does not offer captions with everything it offers, unfortunately. Thankfully you can go here to see all the films that do have captioning through the service.

Fontbomb! Blow up websites you don't like!

Someone is attempting to do something that's never been done before...crowdsource a next-gen console. The OUYA is slated to run on Android and will be a completely open and hackable system. The developers are actively encouraging anyone to make their own mods and apps for it. The games will be sold through an integrated marketplace (there are no optical drives) and will be free to play or will have some sort of free playability, like demos and stuff. Their goal is to create a game system that can stand on it's own while supporting unprecedented contribution from it's user base and lowering the cost of video gaming.
  • Current Music
    "The Trader" by The Beach Boys
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Things Left Unsaid (part 2)

What else has happened that I haven't been talking about? I went to a (more or less) local anime convention with an old friend of mine from high school, one of my last remaining real world friends. He runs the SC Chapter of Bronies, and organized a meetup at the convention so that everyone could watch the new episode that conveniently aired that day. It was just a two-day con, and I was only there for one day, but it was a pleasant outing and it was great to see my old friend again. I was able to get a nicely drawn Mega-Man art poster from one of the premier Mega-Man fan artists, and I got some really cool DragonBall Z collectable figurine sculptures.

The convention turned out to be the last nail in the coffin in terms of pushing me towards getting an implant. I heard less than jack shit. The one event we went to; a pokemon trivia contest, I had to sit out  because I couldn't tell what was going on. I still had fun though, and I got a lot of pictures of cosplayers, some of whom were really neat! 
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The sun erupted the strongest solar flare of the summer a few days ago. Increased flare activity can disrupt satellites and electricity, so be prepared to experience possible service outages over the next week.

A guy in Russia survives a 393 foot drop, managing to make his fall look just like something you'd see in a Hannah-Barbara cartoon.

They say your eyes are the windows to your soul, but they're also windows into your health. Here are 14 things your eyes say about how healthy you are.

Things Left Unsaid (part 1)

You may remember a while back that I was considering going to a Dream Theater concert. That was...fall of last year, if I remember correctly. It was probably my worst concert experience. Allow me to explain.

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The Real Reason why radio is no longer innovative in what they choose to play.

A man has an awkward conversation with his 12 year old self.

The 10 worst automotive fads of the last 50 years.

1st Mapping

What a difference that first mapping makes! Smile

I went back in to give my audiologist my concerns and she reassured me that this process would take time and that my experience with the implant upon activation was not only normal, but would get better. As if to demonstrate, she mapped me out again, and almost instantly voices sounded much more human.

This time she activated volume control on my implant, turning it up to a point that sounded...really clear.

Don't get me wrong, my audio experience is still far from perfect. I cannot distinguish some sounds from the background noise still...but the background noise itself is incredibly lessened.

Today I was able to hear the radio with some clarity for the first time since before middle school. "Electric Avenue" came on, and after a while I was able to recognize it and then follow along with it...the clarity it came through with was astounding! Unfortunately not every song comes across like that, but I beleive it will improve over time, possibly with subsequent mappings.

It's a lot to take in, not just the actual experience of hearing in a new way, but the material governing how to work the equipment and the things that it is possible to do with them. Maybe a year from now I will be completely comfortable with my implant, plugging it into my cd player or computer speakers and not having problems with anything except for the occasional?

Ate out at Joe's Crab Shack. I definitely recommend it, if just for their drinks. OMG, so good! Was tempted to order more than one just to try out another of their tasty looking offerings!

You might thing video gaming is too new to have many urban legends associated with it, but it does have a few. In the early 1980's, it is said that several arcade cabinets named Polybius started showing up mysteriously in isolated neighborhood arcades. Legend has it that people who played the machine came down with a host of complaints, including memory loss, nausea, headaches, addictive behaviors and the like. The machine was supposedly a government experiment in subliminal messaging, and were only extant for less than a year before suddenly vanishing.

Read some hilarious anecdotal stories about Action Park, the most dangerous water park in the world (incidentally, also the first one in the United States! It's located in New Jersey, and still operates, albeit under a different name.)

Rumor has it that Axl Rose has recently banned Slash t-shirts from being worn at his concerts. How childish can you get?
  • Current Music
    "Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant
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Over the past several weeks, my physical condition has steadily improved. I re-gained much of my sense of taste, I no longer have sensations in my teeth or "phantom helmet" feelings in my head, ect. My ear is still numb in the upper part of the lobe, and skin has been peeling terribly, but everything else seems fine.

Today I went in to the audiologist's office for activation of my implant.

 Let me tell you, it was not what I expected.

Upon activation, I was met with an enormous wall of sound. It was just noise. It still hasn't completely gone away. Everything sounds soulless and fake, as if heard through outdated vocaloid equipment filtered through poor speakers. I could not tell a lawnmower from running water or blowing wind. A vaccum cleaner and the air conditioner sound the same. Voices were soulless and robotic, but are starting to get better.

What concerns me most is my music. I realize that this is only day one and that I will need to continue using my implant, but so far I am unhappy on the verge of being upset with how poor my experience with this has been. I could hear better than this before I went in for surgery.

That said, there have been some improvements. Voices, despite no longer sounding human, appear to have more articulation and so, are easier to understand. I can hear things that I could not hear before, such as rustling clothing, blinker lights, clicking ceiling fans, my Nintendo 3DS. Implant puts way too much emphasis on some things. In spite of this, these things do not sound natural or particularly coherent.

It's like wearing a hearing aid that gives different pitches of electronic warbling to represent different sounds. I know I am hearing something when I bash out this post on my keyboard. But the sound effect my implant has chosen to represent this with is incorrect.

I am going to have to keep telling myself to give it time. More time, I need more time.

I refuse to accept this as my final life experience if it does not change. I'd rather die than not be able to hear and appreciate music like I used to. I knew this going into the surgery. I was hopeful, if not entirely optimistic, but damn. I didn't think my experience upon activation would be worse than it was with my hearing aids.

Perhaps I am being too harsh; too hasty in my judgement of the device. I am angry right myself more than anything, but there is another reason I'm writing this, aside from venting and fishing for the opinions and experiences of others...The Audi tells me that over time, things will begin to sound natural, and that I will eventually be getting more use out of the implant.

If she is right, then my view toward my implant should change over time. I want to leave this here, my initial first-take reaction, so that I can gague my progress with making sense of this miasma of suck that my implant is giving me. I want others to be able to see this too, since I had some hearing when I first went in for this surgery, and I know what things are supposed to sound like, and I want people to have this honest look at it from this perspective of my first day active.

There are many overwhelmingly positive experiences from many chochlear implant users across many different websites. It's easy to get a bit taken in by them. Well, here is one that says "Do not expect much from your first day." Here is hoping subsequent months see some improvement, otherwise I probably won't live to see 40.

The 9 biggest "WTF" incidents involving ice-cream trucks.

The most interesting true crime tale you'll ever read.

Janus cat lives for 12 years and becomes the oldest living two-headed/faced cat.
  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated


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Basically I could sum up this post by saying "So far so good. Still got insecurities, still don't know what the future holds, though the entire framework the future was set in seems to have changed somehow; like some rules somewhere that used to be set in stone have been misplaced or altered. New Normal ahead. Still recovering."

Recent years have seen some pretty major disappointments come out of the gaming sector, one of the most visible being the controversy surrounding the end to Mass Effect 3. Interestingly, now more than ever before gamers are raising their voices about their grievances and they are actually making themselves heard; BioWare recently released appending DLC that provides an alternate ending to the game. However, some would say this is indicative of another issue facing the state of gaming; that of consumer entitlement. Do you think this is an issue? I suggest you read the article, it's a good read.

We've sent some probes to Mars before and what they found was a whole lot of nothing....Or did they? According to some new research that applies mathematical algorithms to conditions in Martian soil, some scientists are saying Viking rovers found life on Mars in 1976.

Speaking as someone who's lifelong pipe dream has been to be a superhero, I must say that the ideas of superpowers are pretty cool; but everyone knows by now that such super abilities aren't ever going to be seen in real life...right? Well....there are actually a few examples of some neat 'super powers' that have been made to work in the real world.
  • Current Music
    "After The Fall" by Journey
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For Better or Worse

On May 3rd, I went in for Cochlear Implant surgery and had one installed in my right ear. Everyone I talked to felt it was the right course of action, except for me, right up until the end. However, the alternative, the healing ministry that I was considering going to...Well, I was lead to a place of enlightenment about that by reading the following three articles.

All this time I feel now that God was showing me these things to get me to trust Him in doing this work in my life. It came down to a point where I could only have afforded to do one thing, and I realized with the help of these articles that I didn't need to pay a man $500+ to ask God for healing. Looking back at it now, the whole thing seems rather presumptuous; that he seems to indicate that he knows more than the general church; like he's the only one that can lead you to healing...You can ask God to heal you as much as you want, but if He's going to do it, he's going to do it in His way; and I've seen some very strong evidence that He uses doctors to heal just as well as instant miracles. Maybe Pastor Wright is correct in some of his discoveries. I feel that he very well may be, but the form his ministry has taken doesn't seem right. Plus the guy had a heart attack recently which means that he isn't practicing what he preaches! I'm glad he recovered and all, but needing an emergency double-bypass surgery is pretty far from "100% disease eradication", and if he's promising this is what God offers for us today you would think that he'd be a model of it.

Regarding my surgery...It was a difficult process to go through. I was anesthetized, so I experienced nothing...but the recovery has been long and difficult. My right ear is now dead; even the tinnitus I've dealt with all my life is much reduced. When I first came to after the surgery I heard sounds like a train full of crickets rushing past, but that's not happening any more. My head was wrapped in a huge bandage. It felt...really sore and was mostly numb for many days. Felt strange sensations in my jaws and teeth and my sense of taste was lost on that side of my tongue. The pain actually was pretty tolerable up until yesterday when it got to a point where I couldn't stand it for a moment.

Today things are much better. I can still feel this thing inside my head, but it does not hurt as much. The bandage is gone now and I even have feeling in my ear again. Some of my sense of taste has returned as well; I've been practicing with different flavored candies such as shock tarts and gummy bears, and with a bit of time and concentration I'm getting good results. Did this at the Avengers, which I decided to see in spite of having one ear now, and when the movie let out I was able to taste a free sample of apple juice at I'm making progress there. Solid foods are still giving me a problem, especially meats and breads, but I'm going to continue practicing and try not to think too much about it; I'm sure it'll come back to me without my really noticing.

Today I am going to try going back to work. I have my doctor's orders regarding restrictions; I think I can manage this. Right now it's just steady going for a while as I recover. In a months time the doctors will activate the implant and I will be able to start using it for hearing. I am told that things will not sound natural at first, but in time it will normalize. They think I have a good chance with it since I came into the surgery already being able to hear; my brain knows what things are supposed to sound like, so it will interpret signals from the implant easier once it gets used to it. Really I'm just waiting for the feeling of having this in my head to normalize. I need that to happen first.

Things are going to be different now. I trusted God in doing this; I'm giving it an honest shot.

Experts suggest that mounting damage to the world's oceans could end up costing us $2 Trillion a year to recover from/maintain our current lifestyles. This isn't something you see Congress factoring into their budget now, but if they continue to do nothing about it, it will be.

Here's a look at some of the manliest homes in America. Guys can be pretty great homemakers too, y'know!

A Time Capsule from 1912 was opened by General Electric officials in Cleveland to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their industrial park. Among the usual photographs and newspaper clippings, some original lightbulbs from the era were included, some of which were discovered to still work!

2012, live or die

This has been one hell of a year already, and it is only the end of March.

In mid January my hearing changed. Following a pattern that has been ongoing since (at least) the last two years of college, it got worse over the winter, but the difference this time is that it got worse than it's ever been before. I went to the audiologist to make sure my ears weren't blocked or that my new hearing aids weren't broken and neither of these were the case. An audiological test revealed that I had actually gone deaf in that ear, with 0% speech recognition.

I decided this was the time then, to pursue my last resort options, starting with the one that isn't completely science fiction or fantasy; the cochlear implant.

I determined that if the Implants didn't work for me or if I wasn't satisfied with the quality of sound they gave me then I wasn't interested in continuing to live my life. Shortly after I made this determination, I discovered a book written on spiritual healing by a pastor who had discovered why today's church was unable to heal the masses. Finding truth and scriptural accuracy in this book, I took it as a sign that God could heal me and I made a pact with Him that I would do everything within my power to sanctify myself so that He would. My hearing loss does not fit in any of the book's descriptions of spiritually rooted diseases, but I believe that if I am sincere about myself it can be fixed by a creative miracle, assuming I'm worthy. I don't know if I am.

I did a complete 180 in some areas of my life. I cut back on interaction with some of my friends, I got rid of things I had previously been collecting, I found I had lost some of the respect I had for hard metal music...I debated leaving the furry fandom and quitting roleplaying entirely and even abstaining from video games to try some other hobby. I don't know what God wants from me in this area or if it counts toward the area of scripture that tells you to guard your thoughts. I suspect this may be what is preventing God from meeting me in my time of crisis.

While trying to change my life I developed symptoms similar to those of a panic attack while at work, and came to realize that I was accusing myself before God, something that the book warns not to do. So I got rid of the self guilt and accusation that had been ruling my life and developed a newfound sense of confidence. Also some of my hearing returned!

Today I went in for an appointment to have an evaluation for the cochlear implants. After a very thorough and intensive audiological test, the results came back to show that my formerly deaf ear had returned to hearing that was -better- than what I had in my other ear...but was still poor enough to make me a candidate for the Implants. The doctors now want to put the implant in my poorer ear, the one that ironically, was not the one to suddenly decline to 0%. The doctors also advanced the time scale (ironically, at my request. I was trying to have the implant in and activated before Bronycon, but that was back when I was still essentially deaf in that one ear) so now I'm not sure if I'll be giving God an adequate chance to heal me before turning to man for help ( something the book also warns against).

I'm so conflicted and confused. Both my mortal life and my spiritual life seem to hang in the balance. I don't think I could be satisfied living into my old age without music. I'm only 30, and I need to talk to people. I've already gotten over the idea that cochlear implants will be seen as disfiguring features to some prospective mates; another area of my life in which I was being ruled by negative self-evaluation. I don't need anyone in my life to feel happy as long as I have all the great friends I've made online, who will stick by me even if I go completely deaf.

But then I think about the implications, what my life would be like if something were to go wrong, and I hesitate. I don't think I'd be able to tolerate it for the rest of my life, and I'd rather guzzle pills and end it quickly than possibly get to a point where I psychologically snap and take my frustrations out on others.

So that's where I stand, and I don't know what to do! To complicate matters, recent deaths in the furry fandom have lead me to renew efforts to find a significant other, and to my surprise I'm actually getting bites this time! But even though I shouldn't be, I'm kind of afraid to tell them about my problems, since they're kind of deal breakers between "Let's find out more about you" and "Let's just be friends."

I'm...I'm going crazy, aren't I? So this is what going mad feels like...