Ferg The Love of God

The Jet Plane is Leaving, but You Won’t Be On It

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I grew up in Monroe, NY, a town about 50 miles north of NYC. When someone asks me where I’m from, I say “Monroe” and then quickly follow it up with “Woodbury Commons” because everyone seems to know the huge shopping center nearby. One of the pieces of my childhood that I remember fondly is Airplane Park. It was a basic playground with swings and those weird metal animals you’d sit on and rock back and forth. The big attraction though was the F-86L Sabre plane that sat in the middle of the park and had a slide built onto it. This made the playground a landmark and everyone in the area knew it.

Now, after 50 years of sitting there, the mayor of Monroe has decided to get rid of the plane. It’s not because he has a fear of flying or anything. The plane has actually been sitting towards the back of the park for the past 8 years behind a shaky fence. It is falling apart. It has been vandalized. It’s a safety hazard. All of these things and more make it not at all surprising that the mayor is having it removed. According to the article linked above, it would cost between $36,000 and $46,000 to restore the plane and that’s money that Monroe doesn’t have. All of this makes sense, right?

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Wrong. People are freaking the fuck out. I’ve seen at least three people share this link on Facebook talking about how sad it is that this is happening. I highly doubt that any of them have been in or near the park in ages. Yes, it’s a part of our childhoods, but so were wearing diapers and thinking girls were icky, but I’m ok without those things. Additionally, check out the comments on that article. It’s like the mayor of Monroe admitted to being a member of Al Qaeda. It’s being seen as a personal attack on America, veterans, the town, and more. They all seem to be up in arms about this despite not caring that the plane has been a decrepit piece of garbage for the past 8 years.

What makes this even more crazy to me are the thinly veiled anti-semitic comments that people are making in response to this. There’s a town nearby that has a large Hasidic Jewish community. I have never been clear as to the connection between it and Monroe, but anyone from the area is very familiar with their presence. They’re also very opinionated about them. They’ve honestly never really bothered me. Anyway, I’ve seen a bunch of comments talking about how the Hasidic Jews should pony up the cash to fix up the plane. Why should they do it and not everyone else? What makes them more responsible?

If this was really important to people, they’d put together some fundraisers or at least a Kickstarter campaign to save the plane. That’s not going to happen though. Everyone is going to go back to not thinking about Airplane Park tomorrow, myself included. Let that piece of your childhood go. Hold on to your memories and be glad that you or your kids aren’t going to need a tetanus shot after cutting your leg open on a piece of rusty metal sticking out of an old, beat up airplane.

I Think I Hate My Next Door Neighbor

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Monica and I have been living in our house for almost two years. Shortly after we moved in, one of our next door neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves. They’re an elderly couple and seemed nice enough. For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to refer to them as Edith and Archie as the woman sounds like the mother from All in the Family. During the brief initial conversation, Edith not-so-subtly asked what our plans were for the trees that border our property and theirs. At this point most of our possessions were still in boxes. I knew I had a yard but had barely walked around it, let alone made plans for how to take care of it. I had to remember how to use a lawn mower as I hadn’t touched one in maybe 10 years. We told Edith that we hadn’t thought of them yet. She made sure to tell us that the trees were on our property despite the fact that they’re on the other side of the chain link fence that also separates the two areas. It seems that the previous owners of my house had planted the trees and then later put a pool in the back yard that required a fence.

A few months go by and I forget about the trees. I don’t see Edith or Archie for a bit too because they’re old people that don’t have to worry about basic things like getting to work on time or writing blogs about how their neighbors piss them off. The next time I see Edith, she again asks about the trees. By this point, I’ve had a chance to really look at them and they’re pretty ugly. They’re old cedar trees that haven’t been maintained. Additionally, there are these nasty looking vines that have choked most of them. Monica and I make plans with her father to take some of them down when we get a chance. He comes down on some weekends and we start hacking the trees apart. Over the course of the previous spring / summer, we took down about 8 trees. There are still 4 or 5 that we haven’t touched and the stumps of the ones we’ve taken down remain.

Fast forward to last weekend. Edith flags me down while I’m mowing the lawn. Now that the trees are gone, I have a clear view of their perfectly kept lawn and they have a great perspective on the garbage that I throw on the side of my house while waiting for bulk pick up each month. This is stuff like lumber, sheetrock, and old carpet. Edith says that they’re going to have their landscaper plant some new trees and remove the stumps and the remaining trees. They just need my permission to come on to my property to do so. I have no problem with this and everything seems fine but then she throws in a few passive aggressive comments that rub me (and later Monica) the wrong way. She says “It’s expensive but I want to get this done.” and “Tell your father-in-law he owes me a bottle of wine for saving him about four weekends.” Hey, Fuck you, lady. Monica’s response to this last comment was a furious round of anger that started with “My father doesn’t owe her anything…” and continued on for awhile.

It’s clear that Edith wants me to know that she’s paying for this project. I don’t care. I didn’t offer to give her any money for it for that very reason. After discussing it with Monica, we wanted to make it clear that her landscaper can come onto our land to take down the remaining trees and stumps, but under no circumstances should the new trees be planted on our property. They’re her trees and they should be on her property. I don’t want to go through this shit a few years from now when they either move or die. Edith has been using the area just on the other side of the fence as a garden for awhile and I think that’s my property. I joked with Monica that we should let her put in the new trees and then put the fence on the property line. Thanks!

When I explained all this to Edith, she had some pushback. She said that her landscaper was going to put them around where the old trees were. I again explained that I didn’t want them on my land. She said that the trees are very small. I reiterated that I didn’t want them on my property. Then she relented and said that she guessed they’d have to plant them a little farther in. I guess so.

Now I’m going to keep an eye on this project and see where the trees actually end up. I don’t want to get a surveyor out here to verify everything. I have the original survey that was done on the house when it was built in 1957 which I can use if push comes to shove. Hopefully I don’t have to fight an old lady.

James and the Digital Comic Books

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Over the past six months or so I’ve dove head first into digital comics. I gave up on single issues awhile back but I never gave up on the print graphic novel. I still read them and it’s easy to take one off the shelf. This changed as I started playing with the Marvel Comics app on my tablet. Marvel is doing digital right. I’m not talking about giving away a digital copy of a book when you buy the print version. I think that’s silly and a waste. Of course, there’s no data to back up whether or not people are actually redeeming them.

Hulk_MondayAnyway, here’s what Marvel does: Every week they give away 2-4 comics on their app. They change up the books every week, but the free titles are available for two weeks. Once you “buy” them, they’re linked to your account and you can read them whenever you want. The free issues are usually the first issues of a title or a new arc. This is now as a “good jumping on point.” I like to call it “sampling” because that’s what it is. You know that phrase “The first taste is free”? That applies here too. I tried out Avengers Academy and Secret Avengers because Marvel offered the first issues of both books free on their app. I liked them and went out and bought the first trade paperback of Avengers Academy. Then came my watershed moment. They put the first few issues of both series on sale for $0.99 an issue. I jumped in and grabbed the first two arcs of both books digitally. Suddenly I was a digital comics consumer. That was just the beginning. Now I find myself stalking the comiXology site every day looking for sales.

There are some drawbacks to the medium though. I don’t actually own these comics. What I own is a license to read some titles through these apps or on my computer. I can’t make a backup of them to read later or print them out or something. If comiXology goes under, my comics are gone. Sucks, doesn’t it? But fortunately, they’re doing very well.

The pros far outweigh the cons. I can access hundreds of comics whenever I want as long as I have an Internet connection. Why limit myself to a single trade paperback when I can carry around my tablet and read whatever I want? Plus I can read the comics panel-by-panel, giving the art lots of room and allowing me to look at all the little details that make up each one.

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In addition to all this, I signed up for Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited. It’s a service like Netflix but for comics. You can access a library of over 10,000 issues but you can only do it through their site in their flash based viewer. This is great for me because I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab which allows flash and not an iPad because I hate Apple products (I write as I type this on my MacBook, which I also now hate). The viewer is a little wonky and the library can be spotty, missing sporadic issues. What bugs me most is how slow the site can be when browsing through the directory. I can load up a page and it takes forever to load which is a crime in this day and age.

Now that I have access to all of these comics through a single device, I’ve found that I don’t read physical comics all that often. I have a bunch of graphic novels that I haven’t read yet sitting on a shelf in the next room but I can’t bring myself to pick them up. They feel so annoying to go through now. How can I go back to that when I’ve had such a better experience with digital funny books? These are the problems that I find myself facing now.

Egon Raphael Ferguson

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Oh hey, I have a blog. I remember this. I haven’t posted anything in 4 months, though not for lack of trying. I would occasionally come up with an idea for a post but I would either forget it or just never get around to writing it out. I have been a little busy though. Why am I defending myself? It’s my site. I’ll update it when I want.

Anyway, let’s not start this very late blog post aggressively. Happy times are ahead. As of this writing, my wife Monica is 26 weeks pregnant with our first child. It’s a boy…or at least it will be come March 2013. Right now it’s the size of a lettuce or a similarly shaped fruit or vegetable. We held off on telling people until my Mom’s birthday. We went up to take her out to lunch the Sunday before which also happened to be Grandparents Day. We didn’t just blurt it out. Instead we got her a shirt that says “World’s Best YaYa” (Greek for Grandma). She was chatting away while opening the gift. She opened the shirt up and read out loud “World’s Best…” then there was a huge gasp. Her eyes bugged out of her head. “REALLY?!?” Yup. It was great.

I also dropped the news at work the next day at our weekly status meeting. I did it casually. After going over the items I had to discuss I just said “Oh, and the other piece of news I have is that my wife is pregnant.” I didn’t mention that this was a meeting with myself and about a dozen women so everyone started yelling in excitement. Great reaction.

Now the focus is on preparation. I finished priming the walls in the baby’s room — formerly the media library — today. I’m about halfway through Dad’s Pregnant Too, a book written for guys about pregnancy. It’s not bad but it could be a lot better. The writer makes a lot of lame jokes and some of the “tips” he provides seem like common sense. He says more than once throughout the book that you shouldn’t call your wife fat. You shouldn’t do that even if she’s not pregnant. I thought that was obvious. Are guys really that dense that they need a reminder?

We also registered at Babies R Us but we’re still adding stuff as we’re not sure of everything we need. No one really tells you how intimidating registering for a baby is. It’s insane. You know you need a car seat but you didn’t realize there’s about 60 of them on display at the store and another batch available online. So which one do you want? And how many? Yeah, you need more than one. Everything else is the same way. Bottles should be easy, right? There’s about a billion of those. Everyone has an opinion about each of the items too.

I was thinking yesterday that I might attempt to write a blog post a day again. I know that’s laughable after going four months without an update but I think the baby is going to change my priorities. I also think the daily post would be more about him than anything. If you listen closely, that’s the sound of my buddy AR unsubscribing. Seriously, my kid is going to come into a world where it’s incredibly easy to document his life. He’s not going to remember anything that happens for the first couple years of being alive. Why not try to chronicle it in some way, even if it’s just a quick post about something funny he did that day?

The Great Free-Food-A-Thon 2012

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I had this great idea last month. See, I love free food. I just think it tastes better. Each day of my life I’m trying to find a way to get free food. Whether it’s lunch with a vendor or cookies leftover from a meeting, I’m constantly on the lookout for it. My idea was to try to quantify it in some way. I want to keep track of it so that after any given time I can look at the amount of free food I’ve been able to get over the course of a given week, month, quarter, year. I was excited about this prospect but it’s proven very difficult.

The basics for what I’d do was as follows. For each item of free food gained, I’d note what it was, the quantity, and who was responsible for it. If possible, I’d also take a picture of it. Sounds easy enough, right? I tried this out and took a few pictures but I quickly forgot to do it much more. Then I started just forgetting to note anything about the food or if I even got any at all.

I’d like to pick this up again, but I think I need to do it with a starting point. Ideally, this would be something I would start on January 1st but I honestly don’t feel like waiting that long. Maybe I’ll try it out again starting on June 1st or July 1st. I just haven’t been motivated enough to do this.

On further thought, maybe this is something that’s better suited for Pinterest. I started up an account awhile back and I’ve been neglecting it somewhat because I still don’t really see the point of it. I could make a special board on it and that’s where I would post my free food pics. A bit to think about but I’d still like to put this together. I wrote a blog post every day for a year once. You’d think I’d be able to take a few pictures of food and note where it came from.

I Work for a Living

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I don’t write a lot on here about my job and I’m not sure why. Things are actually going pretty well for me at work and there are several things I can talk about but I just don’t. Here are some updates.

I got promoted. That was exciting. My new title is Associate Director of Digital Operations. Fancy, huh? There are two people that report to me now and I promise I won’t abuse my new power. I have to order new business cards. I don’t know what to do with the old ones. I still have a bunch left because they give you a big box full of them so you don’t have to re-order them all that often. What do people do with the old ones? It seems like such a waste to just throw them out.

In related news, I participated in a recruitment video this week. Someone in HR asked if I’d be interested in being a part of it and I figured why not. I was told to wear a vibrant color that I’m comfortable with. “Vibrant” is not a word I would use to describe my vocabulary. I ended up wearing a blue shirt. No one complained. I was the second person to be filmed so I came in as the first person was finishing up. They asked her a question, I don’t remember what, but she gave a great answer to it. You can tell it was great because everyone turned to each other and nodded a lot. One of them wrote something down. I just thought “Crap. There is no way that I’m going to be able to respond to questions like that.” All I wanted to talk about was how I’m the mayor of the office on Foursquare and I get to eat free cookies a lot. The questions I was asked did not pertain to those aspects of my job at all.

I had to sit in this oversized chair for the video. I was already uncomfortable. The camera crew was setting up the shot and they were talking about me. I could only hear mutters of what they were saying but it was stuff like “He needs to move like this.” or “He should move that there.” I finally told them that if they needed me to do something to just tell me and I’ll do it. That started a process of trying to figure out how to get my shirt to not bunch up as I was sitting down. I didn’t notice the bunching but I guess it showed up weird on camera.

The whole experience lasted about 15 minutes. They said I did well but it feels like a blur now. I don’t think I gave that great of an interview, especially when I said that the thing I like the most about where the office is located is that I can eat outside when it’s nice out. I’ll share the final product when it makes it online if I’m in it at all.

The Perils of GameStop Math

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I have had my issues with GameStop in the past but my Black Friday experience takes the cake. I went there to pick up three games: Heavy Rain, Assassin’s Creed II, and Battlefield Bad Company 2. They were on sale for $15, $10, and $10 respectively, all new. It turns out that they were also having a Buy 2, Get 1 Free sale on used games. The place was barren when I walked in and the three associates jumped to help me. I told them the games that I wanted and they suggested that I’d probably get a better deal with the used games. I agreed and they rang them all up and told me the total of $54. Wait. What?

So I could buy these three games brand new for $35 but it costs $20 more if I buy them used? I tell that to the guy and he says “Well, you get one free.” Yes, that’s correct, but if I have to pay an extra 20 bucks to get one free it’s not much of a deal, is it? The cashier and one of the other associates were both holding to their story that I’d get one free and that would be the better deal. Sure, it would be a better deal for them because the markup on used games is ridiculous but it wouldn’t be much of a benefit for me. I left with my three new games while shaking my head.

So That’s What Stress Feels Like

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I’ve never really let stuff get to me. Most things just flows right over me without bugging me too much. I never saw the point in getting stressed out about anything. I would get nervous about some things such as my wedding last year or the purchase of the house this year, but never really stressed. I think back when things were going to shit at SWMX my eye started twitching a little but I didn’t feel any different.

That changed recently. I thought I made a mistake at work the other day. It was a big one. I wasn’t sure of the details yet so I didn’t share it with anyone until I knew for sure because I didn’t want to cause a panic. Fortunately everything was OK but there was a day or two where I was worried and what I’m guessing is stressed out. My stomach was in knots and I felt like I constantly needed to take a deep breath. It was unlike anything I ever experienced. I lost my appetite and I generally did not feel good.

I’m glad I’m able to look back on it now with a sense of relief but also with an appreciation that the feeling was over. It’s also a kick in the ass somewhat to make sure that I’m always doing the best I can possibly do. There’s a lot of great things coming up in the next year and they’re mine to lose. Bring on 2012.

Facebook Marketng Fail

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There’s no question that social media is a big deal now. It’s a great advertising tool but it’s one that needs to be used correctly. It’s also easy to mess up. Check out this ad for the latest Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris I saw in my news feed the other day.

You know...starring Dan Keaton?

I did what every sane Internet user does with a funny picture and uploaded it to the Cheezburger Network.

Are all Film Critics Whiny Douchebags?

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I’ve been reviewing comics, books, and movies for HorrorTalk for a little over a year now. A few months back I started getting invited to a few screenings. They’ve always been in the city so I miss a lot of them, but when I can combine it with a trip down there for work, it ends up fitting together very well. I appreciate that I’ve been added to these distribution lists and try to attend as many as I can.

I was in the city today for the IAB MIXX conference and was hoping I’d be able to hit up a screening afterwards. As of this morning, there was nothing scheduled, but fortunately I got an email during one of the panels about a new one that was just added at 4 PM. Great! I set it up and ended up getting there about a half hour early. There were a few other reviewers there already and most of them seemed to know each other. I busied myself with my phone and a book but I couldn’t help but overhear their complaints. That’s all that was said. These people (mostly older, mind you), just bitched and complained for a good half hour about everything in the film critic business. They were annoyed that a previous screening started late. They were mad that they don’t get screeners for everything. They hated this movie and that movie. They were furious that one company stopped sending guest passes (meaning that they could go see the movie with a friend). It went on and on. The only good thing that I heard was one of them say that they saw the new movie, 50/50 and it was good. Nothing more was said. Just that it was good.

This boggled my mind. These people are getting to see movies for free and [some of them, although I have a feeling most of them] are getting paid to write a quick review of it and they have the audacity to complain about it? Your jobs are cake-walks! If I could review stuff for a living, I would do it in a heartbeat but the fact of the matter is that it just doesn’t pay the bills. I’m grateful that I’m sent things to review or invited to screenings because I genuinely like doing it. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of bad movies, books, and comics, but I still enjoy the whole process. These critics seemed like they didn’t even like movies anymore. They just whined the whole time. I hope I never get that jaded about this. Fortunately for me if that day ever comes I can just stop doing it.

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