Monday, September 15, 2014

FEED THE RUSH! (Surge Is Back)

Mondays generally represent the worst day of each week for me, much like they generally do for everyone. However, this week, Monday will only be surpassed in greatness by Wednesday, when I will enjoy a nice, refreshing Surge for the first time in at least 13 very sad, very long, very frustrating years. I expect this to be one of the most glorious moments I have experienced in a long time. Hopefully, I can find a way to pair it with playing a little Crash Bandicoot or Final Fantasy VII while jamming to Weezer's Pinkerton.

Yes, Surge has returned after a very long absence. I hope that it is going to be around a lot longer than just a short limited time promotion. Coca-Cola seems to indicate that, as with all things capitalistic, the livelihood of Surge will depend on the amount of the beverage Coca-Cola is able to sell. The Coca-Cola press release is here.

The re-release has caught national media attention (here, here, and here). #SURGEisback was also a top trending topic on Twitter this morning. Early demand seems to be solid. Currently it is sold out on Amazon ( for the second third time today. (Thankfully, more Surge can be seen leaving the factory in this video.) Surely that means good things for the future. We'll see.

I think that in the age of soda bans and the overall nanny-state mindset, the ability for me to give my dollars to purchase what is arguably one of most nutritionally devoid substances ever created can only be seen as a victory for liberty.

To keep up with all things Surge, you can follow @Surge on Twitter, or visit

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thirteen Years Ago

Thirteen years ago America lost, among other things, a bit of naivety. We lost that sense of security, that belief that we were untouchable. 

We weren't prepared then, but we were strong, and generally speaking, at least a little more united. If we were in our current state thirteen years ago, I can't imagine the chaos. Let's not kid ourselves, the bad guys won that day. 

America woke up a day later with fear and with hate. When that didn't work, or when we grew weary, whichever way you want to look at it, we started trying tolerance. That, too, has failed.

Simply stated, our world changed thirteen years ago, and that change is lasting. How we adapt and respond in the long term is still to be determined, but I'm not sure we're doing it right. I hope we figure it out before my kids have to deal with the consequences.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kids will be kids... Or will they?

I've been thinking a lot about how my childhood differs from the one my children have. It seems like we're always rushed. There's seemingly always somewhere to be or something to do. With rare occasions (read: soccer offseason) even Saturdays are packed. The saddest part is that  even when the schedule on Saturday isn't hectic, they spend their time trying to think of something to "do." I know I was a huge culprit as a kid of complaining about being bored, but Saturdays weren't that way for me as a kid. I woke up every weekend absolutely stoked for my cartoons. It started with Thundercats, then I moved on to watching GI Joe and Ninja Turtles. Later, Animaniacs would become a favorite. However, the best times were watching Spider-Man and especially X-Men. I would watch it every. single. time. Even if it was a rerun.

I still love that intro music...

 Kids don't have things like that anymore, or rather, they have so many of them that none of them attain such a level of devotion. There are 27 different Nick channels, 86 Disney's and they all have 241-598 shows. By the time they get into one, there are 7,226 more to take its place.* Maybe that's not sad, but it seems like it to me. I feel like they are living in a world where nothing is cherished or highly valued. All entertainment is basically just a disposable commodity to them.

Does that bother anyone else, or am I just mad that there aren't any great comic book cartoons anymore?

*rough estimates

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Google says you'll be riding in an autonomous car within 5 years

Sergey Brin - Google co-founder - believes "You can count on one hand the number of years until people can experience this."  He said that almost exactly one year ago.  The clock is ticking.

I'm really excited about this kind of technology. It's world altering. Autonomous cars don't get distracted by the kids in the back seat, they don't text while driving, are always paying attention and won't drive home hammered after a night of drinking.

There are still a lot of issues to overcome. The Eno Center for Transportation has compiled a paper on the hurdles this fledgling technology still has to sort out.

How an automated car sees the world
Among the issues cited in the report: Cost. The suite of sensors on Google's automated vehicles costs around $70,000.  Add the car itself, and the rest of the supporting technology and the first automated cars will easily head north of $100,000 a pop.

Other obstacles include complex legal issues. If two automated vehicles collide, which one is at fault? Then who do you blame? the 'driver' or the company whose software is in control of the vehicle?  Who pays for the insurance? Can someone hack my car?

Legislation allowing these cars on the road is another huge roadblock.  Currently only three states, Nevada, Florida and California, have laws establishing the legality of, and defining rules for motor vehicles that drive themselves. Given the pace at which our legislative bodies move this is likely to be the biggest problem with a 5 year time table.

As of today, Google spokesmen say their autonomous vehicles have driven over 500,000 miles. The tech is out there, and it's getting better all the time. One day we be zipping around at high speeds on roads clustered with automated vehicles. I think it's coming sooner than some people think, but I believe Mr. Brin's timetable is a bit ambitious - at least for widespread consumer use.

The change is going to be gradual.  We're already seeing automobiles offer options like automatic parallel parking, lane departure warning systems, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot radar.  These technologies are slowly creeping into our daily lives.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Unsung Heroes

I won't even lie. This is shamelessly copied from a Google+ post I made almost a year ago, but I wanted to post it here.

After watching Star Wars 100's of times, literally, I think it is time we show our respect to the characters who saved the galaxy, albeit unknowingly. Who are those characters? Jawas. Had they not abducted R2-D2, then the little astromech droid would have never been in Luke Skywalker's hands, and furthermore, never in Obi-Wan Kenobi's hands.  If the old Jedi hermit had not obtained possession of the plans Leia hid within R2-D2, then the rebellion would've never had Luke Skywalker as a member, he would've never received Jedi training, and no X-Wing pilot would've been able to destroy the Death Star and bring about the beginning of the end of the Empire.  Another pilot, using the targeting system of the X-Wing, was unsuccessful in his attempt to deploy the torpedoes into the exhaust port of the Death Star. It was only Luke Skywalker, through the use of the force, who could accomplish that feat. If Luke never met Obi-Wan, he wouldn't have learned how to use the force, if R2 wasn't bought by Luke's uncle, Luke would've never met Obi-Wan, and if the Jawas didn't capture R2, Luke's uncle would've never bought him.  Sure, C-3PO deserves some credit for suggesting they purchase R2 after the first astromech droid broke down upon purchase, but nobody likes C-3PO. Nobody. Since all of this took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, then it's possible that without Jawas, we would be under the rule of the tyrannical Galactic Empire as their thirst for control would have surely expanded to other galaxies. On behalf of all the galaxies, Jawas, we thank you for your black market shady business dealings.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Less Than 12 Parsecs gets a new contributor

"The Dude" joins the Kessel run

For years my good friend +Joshua Sutton and I have gone back and forth about starting something creative. Something we can point to and say "this added value; this we can put our names on." Less Than 12 Parsecs has become the start of that adventure. There is no formula, no road map, no telling what you're going to get from week to week.

I'm looking forward to collaborating with one of my best friends.  The two of us have very different skill sets and life experiences:  Josh has a lovely family and two kids, I have a carry-on that is never unpacked.  I love to cook, and I'm pretty sure he could burn water.

We have plenty of shared interests in tech, sports, politics - though our opinions sometimes differ - and a vast array of 'nerdy' things.  I mean the blog is called Less Than 12 Parsecs; a not exactly subtle nod to the Star Wars universe. I hope you'll find what we post here informative, uplifting, and well written. If it's not, Josh probably wrote it.

It's sure to be a Michael Jackson sized Thriller.  Sit down, grab some popcorn, and enjoy.

Friday, September 13, 2013

If the zombie outbreak happens, I don't want my son to have to see his dad asking his mom how to survive.

I was born, brought up, and still live in central Mississippi. Yet, I had a "Yankee" dad, and as such, I never went camping, or hunting, or fishing, or shooting, or anything like that. Rich has never owned a vehicle larger than a 6-cylinder that I know about, and if there was manual labor more intensive than cutting the grass that needed to be done, let's just say it was outsourced.

Throughout my adolescence I generally laughed at jacked up trucks, people who wore camouflage to school, the word "y'all", and things generally used to describe "rednecks." I always figured rednecks, for lack of a better term, were not very bright individuals. In high school, admittedly, some of the girls I dated would probably have stood a much greater chance of surviving a zombie apocalypse, or any other situation where they had to survive on their own without electricity, pre-packaged groceries, and the like than myself. Ok, so that last sentence shouldn't say "probably," more like "definitely," but whatever.

From my earliest memories through college, I was always far more intrigued by Star Wars, technology, comic books, the future - things that fascinated me and kept my active imagination occupied.  While everyone else thought football was the best thing ever, I liked that Euro-commie version of football just as much as NFL, even though I sucked at both.

Fast forward a few years. I have kids, first a daughter, then a son. I bought a house, and as a result, I no longer had a maintenance guy that I could call and ask to fix things that weren't working. I started developing friendships with people that weren't the "normal" kind of people for me to hang out with. A lot of times these friendships included trading and bartering. Example: My used-to-be neighbor helped build my fence at my house. The trade-off was that I was always fixing his computers, setting up his home network, and teaching him the intricacies of file-formatting and converting different types of digital media. See, Tony knew what a nail gun was and how it worked, and he knew how to build a straight and level fence. I didn't. Another friend of mine has helped do vehicle repairs for my vehicles. A guitarist in my old punk band is an electrician. One of my best buddies is a tow-truck driver who I don't think is afraid to at least try to fix anything. My neighbor, despite liking LSU, is a great guy who is always willing to help. All of these guys have helped and continue to help me learn some of the stuff I wish I knew a long time ago. Obviously, I still call them when things break, because I'm not where I should be. Still though, I'm glad I'm making progress. I no longer hide in fear of grease, dirt, and calloused hands. I actually like it now. My first instinct when something breaks used to be to Google for whatever type of business fixes it, now I at least look at it and try to decide if it's within my capabilities. Of course I do that by Googling the repair process and looking for how-to videos on YouTube.

My wife's family has land in the middle of nowhere Mississippi, more middle of nowhere than the rest of Mississippi.We go there frequently and ride 4-wheelers. I've been trying to find time to schedule a camp out there lately. She and her brother would often shoot firearms and target practice while there as well. Being around often enough, I started shooting from time to time. That led to me wanting to have my own firearm. Maybe AMC's The Walking Dead had a little bit to do with it, too. Speaking of that, I STILL need a crossbow. Initially, I just wanted one for practical self-defense purposes. Then, I wanted different types. A shotgun, a rifle, handguns, etc. They serve different purposes. I've always been like that, just like I always wanted to read not only X-Men or Green Lantern comics, but had to grab Batman, Superman, and whatever else. They're different. I don't even like some of those titles that much, but I read them anyway. I also had to have not just one Luke Skywalker action figure, but I needed the one from Tattooine, the X-Wing pilot, the Jedi Knight, etc. Again, all the same guy, but for different purposes. I won't even get into the socio-political side of the gun ownership thing, other than to say I don't think I'll regret purchasing any. Or learning how to use them.

I think part of what's been shaping me is the global, national, and economic climate. I won't lie, I listen to Coast to Coast AM. I don't think I am ready for a tinfoil hat just yet, but some stuff that's happening is really weird. Mega corporations owning most of the food throughout the world, GMO food at that, an ever-present national attitude of thinking giving up freedoms for security is a good idea, and all the other events and activities that could have a negative impact have had me doing a lot of thinking these last few years. I don't want myself or my family to be unprepared if the wheel stops turning. I feel like I have a responsibility as a dad to show my kids the way forward in an uncertain world as well. A year and a half ago, my car was totaled. The vehicle I bought to replace it? A Z71. I'll probably never need to really go off-road, but at least I know I can. The gas mileage sucks, but it's nice having the space to throw thing in when necessary. Also, I'm really hoping the next house my family buys will be outside of city limits, surrounded by some land. I just want that freedom and space to do what I want. I want to start growing at least some of the food that my family eats. People I work with do that, and aside from just gaining that knowledge, it sounds really cool to say that you provided it yourself. I need to go hunting too, and bring home some dinner. Isn't that what dads used to do? Go out and kill animals and grow food for the family to eat?

 I guess I never really took the time to think about things in "real" life when I was younger. Maybe it bored me. Maybe I was too fascinated by lightsabers and blasters (both of which I still incessantly wish would become real). Maybe I just didn't want to face the fact that, eventually, people might have to live on their own, if even for a short time. Who knows. Anyway, the idea that I would ever want or need a truck, a firearm, or even a set of tools, was the furthest thing from my mind just a few short years ago. I'm still the biggest Star Wars nerd that I know, and I'm not sure how long I'd comfortably survive without a strong Wi-Fi connection, but it's almost like I'm on my way to becoming the redneck that I never wanted to be. Either that, or if the zombie outbreak happens, I don't want my son to have to see his dad asking his mom how to survive.