A Letter to Senator Thom Tillis

Senator Tillis,

I’ve left several voicemails with your Washington, D.C., office over the past couple of weeks, but I also wanted to submit my comments and concerns on recent proceedings in writing. They are as follows.

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The election party I went to felt wrong from the moment I walked in.

There was a band playing music that sounded like nothing, and there was popcorn with the character of styrofoam. The beer was good at least, but the TV screens felt small for the crowd.

Some friends and I walked up shortly after the polls closed in NC (except for Durham county), and there was already a hint of bad news. It didn’t look good for Deborah Ross in the US Senate race.

The biggest cheer came when they called the Wake county transit referendum in favor of the For vote. Others were false alarms as we saw the percents and compared them to the number of ballots counted.

Continue reading “Muddle”

Heap (Politics Edition)

Vote Raleigh Sticker Jedidiah Gant.jpg
Image: Jedidiah Gant / New Raleigh

Early voting ended on Saturday. The election takes place on Tuesday. My mother called me the other day and told me that she went and cast her ballot. These are the circumstances in which I’m finally writing down my thoughts on the election, the campaign, the state of things. You know, stuff I should have written down weeks ago when it meant something.

This is going to be disjointed, but I think that’s the only way to get it done at this point.


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Buckethead would have you believe he was raised by chickens and grew up in a chicken coop.

That he’s the proprietor of a fictional “abusement” park named after himself.

That he has a nightmare nemesis, a direct negative wearing a black chrome mask, who chases him through dreams.

Those are hearsay and rumors.

Reality is subjective when dealing with Buckethead, but it’s more than likely he’s a robot, an android of some kind. Made to look like one of us, but perhaps by someone who doesn’t know what human beings look like or how they act. He’s simulacrum from a time or place where we may be gone or where we never existed.

Whatever his origin, there is music there, of a sort.

Continue reading “Slunk.exe”


We follow the script.

Black Ribbon of MourningWhen you wake up the morning after a mass shooting, you find out when you check Facebook, or Twitter, or a news channel. There’s an email in your inbox urging action. An investigation is ongoing into who the shooter is, how he was armed, what his motivation was. There are thoughts/prayers.

The next day, or maybe late that afternoon if the shooting happened over night, someone will say “Don’t talk about the shooter, talk about the victims.” They’re not wrong.

You don’t need to wait for that article, though. I can tell you about who was shot in Orlando.

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Heap II

I feel fortunate that I don’t have to have long conversations about what I do for work. Whenever someone asks and I tell them “I work at a digital marketing company,” their eyes tend to glaze over and the subject changes shortly thereafter.

The only people I really talk to about work are people at work, and even then, sometimes I have to say, “Guys, we’re at lunch, can we just not for half an hour?” The answer is usually no, but that’s the nature of conversation when standing on a limited amount of common ground.

Some people say that the mark of true politeness is to never talk about yourself, but if that’s true, doesn’t it set up one person to be impolite? I guess the solution is to only talk about other things. Maybe that’s why sports make some of the best small talk.

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Obey the Sign


If you live in North Carolina, you’ve probably noticed a lot of people driving slower this week. Frustrating, no doubt. Suddenly you’re showing up to work five minutes late because you got stuck in traffic that wasn’t a thing yesterday.

But it’s not really traffic. There aren’t more cars on the road. It’s the same people, just driving slower.

Turns out Pat McCrory has decided our state needs to crack down on speeding. Under the direction of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, law enforcement and highway patrols will be pulling people over for speeding as much as 1 mile-per-hour over the posted speed limit.

You’ve heard plenty of cutesy safety campaigns over the years. “Click It or Ticket.” “Booze It and Lose it.” Well the new thing is “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.”

This new initiative officially goes into effect today, Thursday March 24. My coworker said on his two-mile commute this morning he passed five people who had been pulled over. And there were more speed traps in that space that hadn’t been sprung.

According to the poll in that WRAL article, 81% of respondents drive somewhere between 1 and 9 mph over the speed limit, so I guess we all need to be careful now. Ol’ Pat’s got our priorities set, and they’re serious about it.

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Save Scum

XCOM 2 Skyranger loading screen screenshot.jpg

There are two kinds of loading screen in XCOM 2. The first is diegetic, and it appears when loading into or out of a mission. You’re shown an interior view of the dropship carrying the squad you’re sending into battle. When deploying, there’s a mission briefing projected on the wall of the cargo bay, including the code name, objective, and an image representing the terrain of the area of operation. Upon extraction, combat stats are displayed instead, giving you a qualitative indication of how successful your tactics were.

More important than the brief and debrief is the view you get of your troops. Flying out, you can see them shift in their seats, a mix of anticipation and determination on their faces. When returning to base, the mood within the Skyranger will depend on the results of the mission.

This loading screen is necessary to give the game time to load in alien combatants and procedurally generate the battlefield, but it also gives you valuable face-to-face time with the men and women under your command. It endears them to you, and it can give extra weight to any seat that might end up empty.

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Forever Game

Destiny Vault of Glass concept art.jpg

Destiny was a promise. Made by Bungie, a studio known for creating the Halo franchise (a.k.a. the reason to buy the first Xbox) and funded from the deep pockets of Activision, it was supposed to change the way I played video games. And for a while, it did.

They called it a shared-world shooter. They said there would be guns (lots of guns) and space magic and discovery. There were other hooks laid out, too, baited well with tasty tropes. Warring factions. Alien gods. Undead warriors chosen by a mystical force. Whispered lore about the golden age of humanity, and the dark age that followed.

It was the promise of Bungie itself that sold me most of all, though. Halo was a game I experienced in fleeting measures through middle school and high school. Dragged along to a LAN party with my older brother, feeling out of place. Playing all-night on a summer visit to my cousins’ house. Watching Let’s Plays of the main campaign on a dull weekend.

They said that Destiny was the game they had always wanted to make, and I don’t doubt them. To me, it was my chance to own Halo’s rightful successor, to play to my heart’s content.

But contentment is a hard-fought achievement in Destiny, and it is hardly preordained.

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Theory: The better you know someone, the fewer manners are required to engage with them.

Here “manners” are defined as the rules and customs your parents taught you so that you wouldn’t embarrass them in front of their parents and friends (Your parents were taught manners by your grandparents for the exact same reason).

Corollary: Presenting the above theory to family, no matter how well you know them, will not be accepted as an excuse for lack of manners.

Praxis: When I sneeze in public and a stranger says “Bless you,” I say “Thank you.” When I sneeze in the company of friends and someone says “Bless you,” I say nothing. My soul is not leaving my body, and I don’t have the plague. There.

Another: a haircut is not worth commenting on unless it fundamentally changes a person’s appearance. If someone gets a haircut merely to trim back or shorten their existing hair style, nothing needs to be said. This kind of haircut is upkeep, basically an act of hygiene. We don’t routinely compliment people for taking a shower or clipping their toenails.

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