Sorry I burned your house down


(This is a repost of a page I wrote for HH2B, which is being transitioned to a comic-only site).

When I was a kid, we lived all over the place. From birth to the day I got married (at age 22), I lived in two or three houses in Virginia; two houses in Kennewick, Washington; a house in Keshena, Wisconsin; another place in Green Bay, Wisconsin; and a third place in Shawano, Wisconsin; Boise, Idaho (we lived in Boise for 3 months), then to Fresno, California and San Joaquin Valley, with four houses in Fresno, a house in Clovis, and a house in Orange Cove. I moved out of my parents’ house and lived briefly in Eagle Rock, CA, Sunland, CA, another house in Sunland, and Las Vegas (also briefly). So that’s what?  Eighteen to twenty homes in a 20-22-year period. Not too shabby. Sometimes, when I moved to a new school district, I’d tell folks it was because my father was a fugitive from the law, and we were in the witness protection plan, but not as very important witnesses, because we got to keep our names.

991You know how traumatic it was for Lindsay Lohan to be the new girl at her school in Mean Girls?
I was the new kid at five different school districts.


I told my family that I appreciated them moving around a lot, because I believed I was a fugitive of a war-like race from deep in space, and I had only my faithful protector to keep me safe of this planet while I slummed in exile in a fragile human body designed to throw my assassins off the trail (yes… when I was 5 years old, I fully believed I was living a life nearly identical to what the book I Am Number Four ended up being like. How weird, right?) But the secret truth that I knew was the real reason we moved had to be with me. I was wrong in ways that couldn’t be explained by being an alien refugee. I was distorted in ways people don’t normally distort without becoming serial killers or talk show hosts.

When I was five years old, I burned down my best friend’s house.



I expected to end up like this. I think a lot of other people expected this too.

Let me explain. No, that would take too long. Let me sum up.

We lived in a two story home in Kennewick. At least, I think it was two story. Either that, or I lived in a finished attic. It’s possible. I was five, and my memory’s pretty fuzzy. I know that I was upstairs, though, and my room had a serious draft in it that would cause a rush of wind to fly into the house whenever you opened the window.

It was cool. Like, seriously cool. Total dead air, out there in the deserts of eastern Washington, with nothing for miles in any direction except ominous Mt. Ranier glowering down at us mortals moving across the world like ants. But when I opened my window, WOOSH! Air would suck into the house like it was pushed in a blacksmith’s bellows. I had never seen anything more awesome.

Except fire. Dang I liked fire. My parents smoked. Their friends smoked. It was the early 70s: EVERYONE smoked. To smoke, you had to make fire. So through the course of however many 3 packs of cigarettes is (Does anyone still smoke? How many smokes in a pack?) my parents would show me something mind blowing every time they lit up. Fire. Fire! My dad could tear off a little piece of paper with a funny head from a small square of similar papers, smack that paper — a match, they called it — and FAROOM! Fire! You could use that match to light anything. The hibatchi, the fire place, a camp fire, even that cigarette dangling from his lips.

strike-a-match1AWESOME, right? RIGHT? I’m creeping you out, huh? Dangit.

My best friend was Pat Owens. I don’t think he went to Fruitland Elementary with me, but he might have. I remember my best friend at Fruitland being the ignobly named Frank Baloney. No, I think Pat Owens was my best friend because my parents and his were best friends. They did Amway together, or some such. They were all going to be rich. Pat was diabetic. His dad was gruff. Pat never had fun at his house. But we had great fun at mine. Remind me to tell you about the time I left a poop-filled pair of underwear in the framework of a new house being built with Pat once. If you live in Kennewick, near Fruitland Elementary, and your house smells funny in the summertime, I’m sorry about that.

One day I told Pat he had to see something so awesome, he wouldn’t be able to believe it. I had found a pack of my dad’s matches. I had figured out how to light them. I had discovered that my window could create a blast of wind so strong, it would blow out the match I had just lit. Pat and I climbed the stairs to my room, and I showed him, like a master magician. With all the showmanship a five-year-old can muster, I lit the match, let it burn just a second, then threw the window open and FROOSH! It went out.

Pat wanted to try. He had trouble lighting the match — noob! — but once he had it lit, I threw open the window again, and out the match went, unable to withstand the sudden onrush of air. We went through that whole pack of matches before the day was over, but by the end of it, we were old hands at lighting them. We were possessors of forbidden knowledge, wielders of the secret fire of Udun. We were Prometheus.

A few weeks later, my mom told me that Pat’s house had burned to the ground. He had been playing with matches. He’d tried to light the match, open the window and… his house didn’t have the same draft. No rush of wind came to blow out the match, and when the flame reached his fingers, he panicked and lost it in the carpet. It smouldered, and eventually the carpet caught fire. By the time the fire department came, it was too late. Pat and his family escaped unharmed, but they lost everything.

fire1It probably looked exactly like this.

My mom asked me if I ever played with matches. I told her the only thing I could tell her. “Of course not!” I imagine Pat had already told his parents where he had learned to play with matches. I imagine he had broken under the indescribable power of having your home destroyed in front of your face. I don’t remember ever seeing Pat again. We moved to a new location — this might have even been when we moved clear from Washington to Shawano, Wisconsin. No one ever said why we moved. Maybe it was for a better job, like Dad said. I think it was because I had destroyed my friend’s house, destroyed his entire family’s life. Maybe it wasn’t my dad who was a fugitive from the law. Maybe it was me.

If you’re reading this, and you know Pat Owens, please tell him I’m sorry. I have done so very many things in my life that I am ashamed of that if I’m ever going absolve myself into a position where I feel like I can die without regret, I need to start making amends today. I’m sorry I burned your house down, Pat. I hope that day hasn’t haunted you as often as it has haunted me.

And kids? Don’t play with matches. I mean, seriously. Adults tell you this stuff not because they don’t want you to have fun. They say it because sometimes they’ve seen shit you would not believe — and they’d like to spare you from having to ever see that shit yourself.


The Boy Who Cried Ebola

I am VERY happy to announce the publication of my new book, “The Boy Who Cried Ebola!”

It’s a chilling morality tale that evokes the spirit of the ancient children’s fable, brought to life with new, modern settings and experiences. By updating the setting and the threat, this story teaches children to be truthful and teaches adults to take their kids seriously all the time.


You can find it at here.


My Newest Bad Idea: Ibola.

The newest craze in smart disease technology, iBola!



The Top Seven Sequels of 2015 (In Sequel # Order)

I don’t know about you, but 2015 is shaping up to be one of the greatest tentpole movie years of all time. It’s as though every studio on the planet thought “Shit. 2014 was an undead movie-hating zombie. We better unload both barrels into that bitch next year.”

What’s amazing about 2015, though, is that there are going to be a (record, maybe?) 26 sequels on the plate, and at least ten “reboots” (new movie versions of movies that didn’t need to be remade). With that many sequels on the table, most film critics have already penciled in “Complain about all those god damn sequels” into their blog schedules, but not me. I think some of these movies will be not only amazing, not only the biggest, highest-grossing films of the year — but some of the best films of the decade. Let’s look at the top ten, in order of their sequel number (for no other reason than that’s a cool gimmick, IMO).

7. Star Wars 7: The Unbalanced Galaxy


Let’s face it. There are really only two contenders for King of All Movies in 2015. The first film on this list, and the last one. My money’s on this one. I have a bitter taste in my mouth from the three soul-sucking-childhood-violating prequels, but everything about this film evokes my fanboy O-face.

Some folks may (rightfully) say that JJ Abrams misstepped with the Star Trek reboots, especially so with how he handled the script and the “secret reveal” of the second one. There is so much more at stake here, though. There has never been a film franchise as big as Star Wars. There is no better a filmmaking team than the crew at Bad Robot. There has never been a film-studio with the Fanboy Goodwill Critical Mass that Disney/Marvel/Lucasfilm enjoys right now. Knowing absolutely nothing about this film, I know this:  I want to see this film desperately and will be at the first showing possible. So will hundreds of thousands of other people. If it’s any good at all, and JJ hits the right notes perfectly? then we’ll all see it again, and maybe another time after that.

Star Wars is an addiction, and the last three movies were cut with some bad shit. If JJ Abrams gives me a pure blast of Star Wars? Shut up and take my money. (Also, what do you think of my proposed subtitle?)

Honorable Mention: Fast and Furious 7

A local newspaper described Furious 6 as “Comic book superhero move for guys who like fast cars instead of comic books” and it’s true. The film may have had its roots in street racing and young, virile, attractive humans grinding against each other between races, but it has since evolved into something where laws of physics are really just suggestions, dead people come back (looking sexier than ever) and even 30-ton mechanized armor can get in on the street-racing shenanigans. Teasing Jason Statham as the villain of Fast and Furious 7 at the end of the last film guaranteed I’d buy a ticket for it, because who else do you want to take on the world’s best driving team, than the world’s best driver PERIOD?

fast_and_furious_7___jason_statham_by_bijit69-d6kfs7g[1]Poster by the immensely talented bijit69

Paul Walker’s death was a terrible, unfortunate accident, and changes that had to be made as a result of it may break this movie, but I’ll see it at once, just to find out how they recovered from that, and what kind of crazy wire-fu they figure out how to put a Subaru through this time.

5. Mission Impossible 5

No one runs like Tom Cruise. No one. 

Tom Cruise has been churning out action films like he knows he’s almost at the end of his action film career. Edge of Tomorrow was an especially good one, and I thoroughly enjoyed the previous Mission Impossible. You have to ask yourself, though… just what kind of crazy “Falling off impossibly high shit” stunt is left in Ethan’s bucket list?

“Ok, so we sneak onto the space shuttle, disable the evil laser, and then I’ll jump to safety before it explodes.”

“Ethan! You can’t base-jump from outer space! That’s crazy!”

“It’s not crazy, Luther. It’s Impossible. And that’s exactly what we’ve been trained to do.”

4. Jurassic World

MAN! The 4-spot was hard to pick. You’ve got the 4th Daniel Craig James Bond film (the filmmakers are so sure it will be a hit they haven’t even named it yet), the 4th Hunger Games film (which should dominate the angsty-but-fiesty chick-flick market), and, oh yeah… Chris Pratt’s THIRD gold medal film in a row.

Chris Pratt. You remember him, right? Emmett from the best animated film of 2013 — The Lego Movie. Peter Quill from the best film of 2014 — Guardians of the Galaxy. And now starring in the newest edition of the best movie franchise Steven Spielberg ever did that didn’t feature Nazis: Jurassic World.

I have no idea what this movie is about, except it has Chris Pratt, Steven Spielberg, and Dinosaurs. Done. Sold. Here’s my Regal Card, I hope I get a free popcorn.


3. Taken 3


A lot of people have seen the barrel of this gun. Just sayin’.

I almost chose Kung Fu Panda 3 over Taken 3, because, frankly, Liam Neeson is running out of people to kill, I think. He has almost reached the point where he needs to just have his name changed to Ebola, because he kills 50-70% of the people he meets in his films anymore. That said, Kung Fu Panda 3 is up against seriously stiff competition from Disney, Pixar, and others. I liked how they introduced the concept of the ept kung fu pandas at the end of KFP2 (ept… the opposite of inept, amiright?), and I’m interested in seeing my favorite anthropomorphic martial artists not-named-Usagi-Yojimbo back on the silver screen… I just think I’m going to like Liam Neeson slaughtering hundreds of deserving thugs more.

(Honorable Mention) The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Just had to throw this one out there. Four old Brits make an art-house film, and it’s so wonderful it actually gets a sequel? I loved the first Marigold Hotel film. It made me think about my life’s direction and impending mortality more than I expected. I think this one is well-deserved, and I hope it does well too. Given its budget is probably 1/100th of the other films on this list? They’ll probably have the best profit margin of the seven.


I’m going to put my cards on the table right now: Avengers 2/Captain American 4/Iron Man 5/Thor 4/Hulk 3/Black Widow 2/Hawkeye 2 is going to make more money than every other film with the number 2 in it… combined. Marvel has been hitting on all cylinders, and there’s nothing that suggests they’re slowing down any time soon. Will Star Wars take the #1 spot for the year or Avengers? I don’t know. My heart says Star Wars. My gut says Avengers. My soul says if this is the kind of dilemma we’re going to have next year? It’s going to be a fantastic fucking year for cinema.

(What, you thought I was going to say “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2?”)


#TSQL2SDAY: My Heroes

Today I posted the story of my favorite hero over at Not terribly surprising who it turns out to be. He’s been my hero my whole life.


What if the Zombie Apocalypse Comes – With No Zombies?

Zombies are big right now. Almost jumped-the-shark big. There’s zombie films in theaters, more than one set of zombies on TV, and zombies in popular media like never before. Zombies are, in the 10s, what vampires were in the 90s. Cracked Magazine (my go-to source for deep, insightful science and social commentary) already showed evidence of nature’s ability to create zombies.

There’s a very compelling image that shows up in zombie apocalypse movies. A quick and easy way to show how fast zombies are spreading, and how quickly mankind is dying.  It looks like this:

The spread of Limon in the great Sprite Zombie Invasion of 2008

What if, though… what if we have a virus that kills people quickly, spreads quicker, and can’t be stopped, except through extreme measures like walling people off and whatever else weird stuff they do on The Walking Dead? What if it did everything we expect a zombie apocalypse to do…

except create zombies?

That’s what I keep seeing when I watch the ebola virus spread. When I see a graph like this, there’s no evidence whatsoever that the virus is slowing down. This is scary on a “we are all going to die” level… but like, on day one.

On day one of the zombie apocalypse, no one does anything. No one cares. It’s just a weird disease. A sickness somewhere that unclean, uncivilized people in Africa get. It’s only killed 100 people — a pittance, compared to the billions and billions of people on the planet.

Then you look at a graph like this:

In every single nation it’s hit, the ebola virus continues to graph its infection and body count upward. And you don’t have to know math to understand this graph, but it really fucking helps. Just look at Liberia. Two months ago, the infection rate was .01% — with a population of four million people, that meant the disease was infecting (math here) 400 people.

Flash forward one month. The infection rate is up to .04%. Sixteen hundred people infected. Flash forward another month. Last month it hit an infection rate of .09%.  The rate of increase, using basic trending techniques (draw a line in the direction of the trend) looks like this, if the infection rate is not slowed:


By my birthday in January, the infection rate will be .25% of the population — 10,000 people.

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh shut up. You’re just fear mongering. 10,000 people, while tragic, still isn’t zombie apocalypse-worthy.

Right. That would be true if infections followed linear graphs like this. But they don’t. They follow sharper curves. If one person infections one person, that’s a flat graph. But what if the second person infects 2 people, and those two people infect 2 people? then it’s doubling. And what if the infection rate doubles every month?


That leaves us with .75% infection rate by Christmas – 30,000 infected. And it gets scarier and scarier from there. If the virus doubles its infection rate every month? The entire nation of Liberia is infected… before the 4th of July.

Remember this: Ebola kills half the people it infects. It disastrously sickens the ones it doesn’t kill. The survivors will be weak, tired, and surrounded by dead bodies. Infectious dead bodies. Who will be farming crops? Getting those crops to cities? Who will be running cities full of corpses? Who will be manufacturing clothing, producing fuel, chopping down lumber, making plastics?

What happens when we are left with a world just like the zombie movies predicted: derelict, crumbling, and only a shattered human remnant holding on for dear life?

This is why I don’t like math. It’s terrifying.



The Four Worst Jobs You’ll Find on Freelancer.Com

I use to supplement my income. It is a fantastic marketplace of tech (and other skilled) contractors and businesses who need small-to-medium (and sometimes larger) short-term work done. It’s like the eBay of jobs. Employers post an ad, contractors bid for the work, and once the employer picks someone, that person does the job for the negotiated rate.  It’s the free market in action and it’s pretty awesome.

And yet, there are just a lot of jobs out there that seem sketchy at best. You probably want to be careful when you run across these. I’ve compiled the four that you should be wary of when you start hunting for work in the wild, wild west internet.

Students Needing Homework Help

Computer Science classes are somewhat more difficult than, say, American History to cheat on. You can’t just copy Wikipedia or find an essay online to plagiarize  when Professor Obernolte tells you to architect a student enrollment database and design the procedures and constraints needed to make it work.

So what’s an enterprising student (who doesn’t want to actually do any of that work) to do?

You ask Freelancers to do it for you. 


Look at the requirements. That’s not a business need. That’s a “Due on Thursday, Extra Credit if it’s in by Wednesday” Freshman-level CS class assignment. And how do we know it’s a student making this request?


budget2 budget3That’s right. Froshy McFroshfrosh has a big party on Friday, and there’s a good chance that smoking hot cheerleader’s going to be there and Danny’s bringing a bag of the weed he bought in Denver so there’s not a whole lot of room left in the ole wallet for collegiate fraud.

Spammers Who Can’t Afford LexisNexis

For you people who believe in the myth of privacy on the internet, LexisNexis is the overarching evil overlord of every single snippet of data on the planet (and several exoplanets as well, I bet). A good researcher with a LexisNexis account can find out everything there is to know about a person, place, or thing that’s ever been made publicly available, and even a bunch that’s not. With LexisNexis you could instantly (for instance) compile a list of every pharmacy in Hoboken, or the mailing addresses of ever gymastics instructor in Arkansas.

Problem is, they’re expensive. Real expensive? How expensive are they? They’re one of those companies that doesn’t even put a price on their website. “Want to know about our product? Call us.” That’s right. If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it. And what most spammers can’t do is afford shit.

Think about it. If a spammer, whose sole method of earning money is shoving so much garbage onto the internet maybe one person will go fucking insane and buy their shit, had enough money to afford LexisNexis? They would be selling a product people wanted, instead of the “hope someone regurgitates cash onto me” product line they’re currently hawking. Heck, they won’t even pay the more reasonable rates  that corporate email-list providers charge for lists like these.

So that’s why they need Freelancers.



This guy wants one million email addresses. He’s on a budget though, so the best you’re going to get out of him is $30 — or $0.00003 per address. That’s how valued a customer you are to the guy who just sent you that “I want you to make $5,000 an hour selling worthless products on the internet, because I want you to succeed” email.

Speaking of worthless products

Guys Selling Stuff that Fell Off A Truck

I have to admit, I tried doing this one, in the hopes it was a legitimate job. Turns out I was selling counterfeit Beats by Dre from some guy in Serbia. Don’t get me wrong, there may be some folks here selling legitimate products – who have so many products to sell on eBay that they can’t possibly manage the vast and sophisticated selling tools built specifically to do just that, and need to rely on dozens of unsuspecting rubes with perfect eBay reputations instead to sell for them.

And that’s what Freelancers are there for. 


If I had quality products to sell I’d just, I don’t know, sell them. Be very, very wary of jobs like this.

Of course, selling stolen shit is, I guess, not quite as bad as…

Flat Out Hacking, Piracy, and Theft

The criminal element of the world is not above asking Freelancers to help them hack Facebook accounts, Instagram accounts, and anything else they want to get into. They’re willing to pay you a pittance to unlock software that they didn’t want to pay for, such as this fellow here is hoping for.


For the record, he’s willing to pay up to $250 to mitigate the theft of thousands of dollars of software. Perhaps that’s a victimless crime, like some ignorant people like to believe. Maybe if everyone steals a copy of Posture Pro, the company that sells this goes out of business, and the Chiropractic field is without one of its key software diagnostic tools.

All I know is theft is theft, and I steer clear of assholes like this every time I see them on Freelancer.

It bothers me a great deal that they allow jobs like the ones above to be posted. I wish they would police their community more stringently. The marketplace suffers a massive lost of credential when elements like this exist within it. But what can we do? These are the fringe cases. Most of the people posting and bidding on Freelancer are doing so to make money, or make their products better, and I endorse that wholeheartedly.

There’s other bad jobs out there on Freelancer. Writing copy for pittance, voluntary sexual slavery, creating millions of spambots for Twitter and Facebook — the usual Mos Eisley of scum and villainy. But for my money, the ones listed above are what make finding the good jobs even harder. Even for all of that, I rely on Freelancer for a steady stream of supplemental income. If you’ve got skills (or items to sell that fell of a truck, I suppose) you should give them a try.



Lunar Eclipse, 10/8/2014

Someone’s not happy.

Lunar Eclipse

Area Man Has Popular Comment on Huffpo, “Makes His Whole Day”

WP_20141007_001PORTLAND, OR — A local Portland man is enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame after making a particularly witty comment on a Huffington Post article today. Speaking between browser refreshes to watch his Likes accumulate, David Clary said, “I just knew that would be the best comment for that article. This has made my whole day.”

When asked what he plans to do with his new-found fame and respect, Clary indicated he’d like to parlay it into a full-time career as an Internet Messageboard Poster. “Between Huffpo, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter, I hardly have any time for my regular job anyway. It would sure be nice to do what I love professionally, and based on the success of this one comment, I think I’d be really good at it.”

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