An open letter to Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson

An Open Letter to Alderman Patrick D. Thompson​
Alderman Thompson-

I am sure by now you’ve seen the announcement by Google that Chicago is on the short list of Google Fiber, an ultra-highspeed broadband connection that would significantly disrupt current broadband providers. if not, I highly recommend this article: http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/12/google-fiber-talking-to-chicago-and-la-about-gigabit-depoyments/

I am writing to strongly encourage your support of this measure.

Comcast, WoW, RCN and AT&T have strangleholds on Chicago’s broadband, and while their service is adequate, there is not enough competition to make true change. I am not alone in this assessment. PBS agrees with this statement: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/internet-u-s-compare-globally-hint-slower-expensive/

The 11th ward needs better, cheaper, faster internet services. If google fiber can deliver these changes in other markets, the benefit they can bring to the residents of our ward are immense. Children will have better access to educational services. Entrepreneurs can access markets more efficiently (significantly cheaper and faster). Government agencies will have more flexibility in negotiating their internet contracts–which will improve service, speed and quality of service.

I am a fan of Google and their services. I also have a Masters Degree in Information Services from DePaul University, and can attest to how this new service can be a huge boon to the residents of our ward.

I would love to talk to you about this issue in person, if you have any questions or comments.

Best regards-

Marty Gleason

She’s a Pretty Big Fucking Deal

https://i1.wp.com/24.media.tumblr.com/938d891b739050b434afbc814d161a67/tumblr_mx3zzpvLsl1r1woo2o2_500.jpg?resize=500%2C335

This is from the last issue of Kelly Sue’s first run. I’m not spoiling anything.

I’m dusting off this old blog to share my enthusiasm about the recently released news about the  Captain Marvel–Carol Danvers!–movie.

I fell in love with Carol about two years ago, when Shannon and I were talking about supporting women in comics. Not just female characters, but artists (line and colorists), writers and editors. It does not matter how far the comics community has come in welcoming women into the hobby. What matters is that there is so much more to do, and using my money to support women is the very least I can do to help bring about change.

The night Shannon and I talked about women in comics, I came across Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run of Captain Marvel. There was also a sale on ComiXology. I spent $0.99 on my first digital comic to see what the big deal was. I ended upstanding $6 to read all the digital issues, and I was immediately hooked on the character. Carol reintroduced me to all of the Marvel Universe.

Carol is a big fucking deal to me. She’s someone I can show to my goddaughter (and her sister) and say “you can be whatever you want.” She is someone I can point out to my nephew and say, “Girls rule.” She is a fictional character that punches holes in the sky. I get the appeal of Wonder Woman. I love that she’s part of DC’s Trinity. I prefer Carol. She has the more identifiable background (working class woman from Boston who goes to the Air Force because her family chooses to send their sons to college instead of her). She’s becomes an ace pilot, works in intelligence, gets super powers and becomes a reporter. She is also emblematic of the bullshit that some writers put their female characters through.

Giving Carol her own title–and working on it for so damn long–says that we’ve made just a bit more progress in one of my communities. Now all we need is for Carol to punch a whole in the sky for the next wave of women artists, writers and characters.

Perfect

Yesterday, Hill posted a note about “The Perfect Song.” Her rules make a certain degree of sense:  The songs have to played on the Radio and there must be a balance to the lyrics, music and quality of the singer’s voice.

It’s a combination of catchy melody, a great singer, a balance between vocals and music, and lyrics.”

Given these rules, I have to argue that NPR, KEXP and college radio stations cannot be used to justify a songs level of perfection. While these radio stations–or programs–do have a significant audience, I am not sure that the level of significance approaches the criteria that Hill established. Sadly, radio markets are saturated with crappy commercial radio, so we do not get a wide variety of artists.

The rules provide boundaries for finding awesome songs, so it is not worth challenging the rules (even though I want to soo badly). What I want to do is provide a few ideas on how to recognize if the song is Perfect. Let me be clear: Just one of these criterion does not make a song perfect. The more criteria the song connects with, the chances that a song is perfect increase.

1) Does it get stuck in your head?
If you hate a song, but it is catchy enough to stay in your head, the song may be perfect. Just because something is catchy (like the flu, a cold or an STI) does not mean it is good. However, when it comes o music, a catchy tune implies that there is something to be said for the music.

2) Does a good cover exist?
For just about every successful band, there is a less-than-successful cover band. Additionally, for every brilliant cover of a song, there is a shitty cover of the song. Being “covered” does not cut it. Sometimes, a cover out shines the original. Don’t believe me? I trump your disbelief with Johnny Cash and Sinead O’Connor:

and

3) Does the song end up on a lot of playlists/Mix CDs
If you consistently add a song to a playlist or for a Mix CD, that song probably has enough qualities to warrant a consideration. For example, I added Nightswimming by REM it to a number of playlists and Mix CDs over the years. After a number of deliberations, I have concluded that Nightswimming hits the all of the rules Hill listed: the music, Michael Stipe’s vocals and the bands lyrics synthesize into a beautiful song.

4) You heard the song on a REAL Jukebox
Prior to the 21st century, juke boxes were full of records or CDs. Given the physical constraints of the Jukebox, each one was filled with music that the patrons of a given establishment might enjoy. Today’s flash Internet Streaming Rigs do not have the same level of carefully selected artists. Real ones, while hard to find, might just be some of the Greatest Mix Albums Ever.

5) Music Snobs use the phrase, “that band used to be cool…” or “I liked that band when…” when describing the song.
I admit, I do that frequently. I typically talk about how I used to “love band X” when I was “In highschool/college/before they made it mainstream.” Sometimes the songs were overplayed (like Led Zepplin).    Sometimes the songs were contextual (like my love of the Doors–it lasted until the third week of college). Sometimes, it is straight out petty bullshit (like my early love of BNL). Again, this doesn’t make a song perfect–but if a Music Snob has moved “past” the song, the song may be perfect.

The love of music is subjective. I have been trying–albeit with varying degrees of success–to just respect that a person loves music. The world has enough troubles of its own, it doesn’t need me being an asshole about music.

That being said, you have go to hear this song….

Time

One of my many, thought-invading worries is the use of my time. I still want to do so many different things, and I am constantly confounded by Time and Motivation. The latter seems to be easier to deal with: Breaking things down, doing a little bit at a time and rewarding myself for accomplishing tasks seems to help combat my motivation. Dealing with time management, however, is significantly different.

I have: three different calendar apps, alarms, email reminders, friends and family calling and reminding me and my white sheet at work. These are either methods to keep track of time, plan my time or remind me of time I have planned. This is neither efficient nor a guarantee that I will remember any one particular thing to do. Therefore, it is time to rethink scheduling and try something different.

I cannot eliminate the calendar apps. They are a part of a number of services I belong to, and even if I don’t use them, they show up in side bars or in other panels that I look at. Theoretically, I can combine these calendars into one perfect SUPER calendar. This has been on my “To do List” since I started using Google Calendar. I need to streamline this so I can stop worrying about which calendar is the right one.

While this will help with tracking some of my daily events, it won’t help with my to-do lists. Again, I have far too many options at hand. My iPhone has an app, my mac has an app, Google has an app…. I also have dozens of sticky notes, documents and scribblings on scrap paper that are my attempts to stay ahead of the game. Again, there is a better way.

Right now, I have the time–and the motivation–to develop a new system to keep myself organized. That’s easy. The trick is going to be to stick with the system when I no longer have the time.

Crossing the Nerd Wall: Seriously, Keep Reading

Since setting up WTTRP, I’ve tried to keep a wall between WoW Nerd stuff and Old Fashioned Nerd stuff. I planned on changing that in the near future, as I’ve planned to put up some fiction I’ve been working on. I’m breaking the wall early to show how to stick up for someone via the internets.

My friend Anna has two blogs: one for WoW one for Not Wow. She’s helped me with baking, we’ve bounced ideas off each other for writing things (blog posts, fiction, political stuff) and she sent me delicious Christmas cookies. She shared me a link, now deleted, about an event that was supposed to take place in game. In short, this event was going to target people “bad RPers with other RP.”

Folks, this is just bullying other people. If you don’t like something, or someone, on a video game you ignore them. You don’t go around mocking them.

Instead of writing a passive aggressive blog post, kvetching or just letting it lie there, Anna took that post to task. As of this writing, aside from one consistent troll, she’s made a pretty positive impact on the nerd community. She took on the nastiness with a well written post that didn’t devolve into name calling, cursing or spitting. That’s how you defend people on the internets: Passionately and with grace.

The Truth Is Hard To Swallow

I’ve kept this from my friends and family long enough, but with the events of two weeks ago, I can no longer keep it a secret.

A little over a year ago, I took some friends to Three Lakes. I demanded that they follow the traditional Gleason Ritual of Summoning the Yaqi Gods of Wisdom. This is a ritual full of Tequila, Salt and Lime. While everyone helped summon the Gods of Wisdom, three of us went for a walk towards the end of the road.

Something happened. There was a flash of light and we lost fifteen, maybe twenty, minutes of our life. As we walked back to the Cabin, the three of us had no idea how long we were gone. When the rest of the folks in the cabin asked us why we were down at the road for so long, we just said, “We were just appreciating the woods.”

The dreams started that night. They were vivid dreams, where spirits spoke to me in a language I didn’t understand. They weren’t nightmares, because the spirits were kind to me. They taught me their ways–how to see the world, how to read the intentions of people, how to fight, how to speak their language–and they blessed me with strength, but they told me to wait until Yaqi Herself spoke to me. They told me to prepare for her test.

She came to me on the 7/25, a year ago this very day, and told me that there were tasks to be done. My education wasn’t complete until I succeed at my rite of passage. At first, I dismissed her command. I laughed away the whole thing. I went into the field, the far south side of Chicago, visiting my clients. At Noon, when my shadow was just underneath my feet, I was standing in the Starbucks at 71st and Stony Island:

when my world fell away.

There was another man in the Starbucks–he was babbling incoherently and sipping and an iced-tea–but when my world fell away, he snarled at me. He was taller in this no-place, and he no longer looked human. His knees bent backward, and his arms had an extra joint. His hands ended in razor sharp claws. He spoke in the same language the Yaqi did. He held on to the ice tea he was drinking, but not with his hands. He had a tail that wrapped around his body, long enough to still pick up the tea.

The spirit thing rushed at me. I freaked out. I ran out of the Starbucks–away from the monster–and towards my car. It, or he, grabbed me and cut my shoulder. I spun around from the force. I did the unthinkable. I stood my ground and swung at the monster. It blocked my first punch, my second punch and a kick to its chest. It hit me with its palm and knocked me to the ground. It got on top of me and started to claw at my eyes.

I head-butted its mishappen nose. The monster roared back, and I was able to wiggle away from it. While it was on the ground, I ran away again. I didn’t get far. The monster recovered quickly and charged at me. I turned around, and with my back to the car, delivered a right hook to the monster’s face. It crumbled. The monster literally shattered, leaving behind the man it had possessed. I heard the Yaqi speak to me, saying I had survived their test. The police showed up shortly thereafter–not to arrest the guy, but to get their complimentary coffee. They arrested him, took my statement, and then bought me another coffee.

Since then, I’ve been living a double life. Every time I’ve been, “in the field” I’ve been scouring the south side for the nasty spirits that have inhabited the blighted parts of Chicago. The Yaqi gave me the strength and the sight to see these spirits, but their gifts have required me to do more and more. I’ve been able to keep my new superpowers a secret for so long. No one notices fights on the south side. The City itself gets the credit for making my neighborhoods safer and greener, but in truth, it is me and the Yaqi Gods that have kept my part of town safe.

What happened in the park, two weeks ago, was the first time anyone has seen me using the gifts bestowed upon me by the Yaqi. It is time I confessed.

That first day was the scariest day of my life. My powers came to me while I was sipping a venti coffee fortified with two shots of espresso. I became a superhero that day…but it is a power I never really wanted. They are powers that I just have to accept.

His Boom Box Was Named Big Baby

From: Wanted to Trade RP, the WoW blog I contribute to. This was written by Hillary:

I’m going to post a quick story, though, that I may eventually fiction out as an in character exchange, but for the time being, our readers should enjoy the absolute asskickery that is our author Bricu. The Feathermoon folks gathered at a park mid-Seattle. There were burgers, watermelon slices, salads, soda, and all around awesome food. Mid-meal, a gentleman that later identified himself as Grizzly walked up with a boombox propped on his shoulder. It was INCREDIBLY LOUD. One of our attendees had small children about, and respectfully requested that Grizzly lower the volume to not disupt the kids. This was about the time Grizzly’s intoxicated status became evident. We’re pretty sure he wasn’t on booze, but whatever it was, he was pretty fucked up. He began to rant how the park was his domain, we should RESPECT HIM, and then he started standing on picnic tables, his boombox on his shoulder, blazing awesome-tastic radio edited hiphop. Bricu tried to talk him down, but to no avail; Grizzly would have none of it.

After about ten or fifteen minutes of rudeness and disruption with most of our attendees incredibly uncomfortable by this stranger’s presence (he was not very subtle when he scoped out the lady’s purses), we called the Seattle police. Grizzly did not like police. Grizzly was shit out of luck because we’d had enough. As his sour mood and antics escalated, so did our calls to the authorities. He knocked over a trash barrel, started punching lit grills, and then got into people’s faces trying to intimidate them. To his credit, he was successful on the intimidation account. I was one of the folks that he decided to talk shit to, and it wasn’t fun. None of us had any idea who this guy was or what he was capable of. All we knew was he was ON something and hostile.

Thirty minutes passed, then forty, and still no PD. Our calls to 911 revealed that public disruption wasn’t an emergency situation and they’d get there when they could. Well, then Grizzly hit someone. He walked up to the chillest person there, slapped him across the face for absolutely NO REASON and talked a bunch of smack. He then swung on Tarquin, the event’s organizer. Bricu stuck himself between the men, yelled at him to stop. Grizzly took a couple of swings at him, Bricu Matrixed out with a pair of dodges, and then single shot him onto the pavement with a crack to the jaw. The nerd pigpile happened at that point – Bricu sat on his back, another gentleman restrained his arms while yet another sat on his legs. Another 911 call yielded the desired results, and the PD showed up about four or five minutes later.

I think perhaps my favorite part of this whole debaucle was Zalbuu, the Wildfire Rider’s angry priest. He was the guy sitting on Grizzly’s legs as we waited for the police. While he had this dude pinned, his cell phone rang. He picked it up, and all the rest of us can hear?

“Mom, this really isn’t a good time.”

And despite all this–and my right hook–I’m not settled with this. I haven’t hit another person–excluding my brother–since the 7th grade. I do not believe in violence. I really don’t. I cannot for the life of me think of a better way to have handled this. Grizzly got upset when I moved the cherries we had laid out away from him. If we started packing all of the food, he would have gotten more upset. There were kids there when he started (thankfully, before the slap, they were taken to a car so they didn’t have to see this). We called the Police. Hell, I called the police five times.

He could have had a gun or a knife. He could have really hurt someone. I jumped in because I thought I could take a punch better than my friend. I doubt I could have handled a stabbing….

There is another problem here that I am struggling with. I feel pretty good about the punch itself. It was one punch–the pig pile had other restraints and holds involved–and that’s a pretty damn macho thing. The base, reptilian part of my brain thinks that’s really cool. I’m old enough (and mature enough) to know it isn’t. What it means is that despite all of the skills I have developed at working with people, I had to resort to a method that doesn’t sit well.

My Dad always said “You never start a fight, but you always finish one.” I finished one. I still don’t feel good about it.