(Rants and raves that didn't fit elsewhere)
Here's all the other stuff that really didn't fit anywhere else.
I once worked for a time at the local Service Merchandise store, and I would always go over to the jewelry department to bug a couple of people I knew there. After I left to devote my energy to my computer career, I stopped back in to pick up my last paycheck. I saw one of my friends there, Dezi, and she told me I couldn't leave before I got her a Christmas present. I asked her what she wanted. "Something big and shiny!!", she said. Well, I'm not one to disappoint a cute girl, so I went out and got her the perfect present.
From what I hear, the 8-inch ball of aluminum foil went over great.
Cops are, without a doubt, pigs. All of them. Actually, I can't quite say that. I would actually enjoy having a pet pig... they are intelligent, clean, and quiet. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of "law enforcement" types. Why, you may ask, do I dislike these so-called keepers of the peace? Well, let's see.
November 1991. I get stabbed in the parking lot of my college dormitory during a mugging. The Georgia Tech Police Dept. comes by and takes a report. Three days later, I get a call from a certain officer about going down to make a composite drawing. They can't see me for another two days. Two days later, I miss a class (right before a test, too) for my appointment. The officer is not there. Not only did they never try to catch my attacker, I never did even get them to make a drawing. Later that year, several other students in my dorm had similar attacks happen to them, one including a 9mm automatic pistol, with similar results.
Fall 1992. A girl I knew and had dated for a short time got attacked on the steps of her dorm. She very narrowly escaped from her would-be rapist, but not before getting beaten to the point of having to spend the night in the hospital. A good four days later, she gets called to go to that wonderful Georgia Tech PD (you know, the ones hosting the Olympics. There WILL be a horrible massacre at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games. Trust me, with them in charge, it's inevitable. But I digress...) Well, same guy that bailed on me. This time, he didn't have drawing supplies. Strike two. They never did catch the guy, despite having a good description and much publicity (sans drawing). She eventually decided she had to leave school.
Shortly thereafter, I kicked myself for not having a camcorder after witnessing a homeless man get attacked by an Atlanta cop at the Varsity restaurant. Just for being there.
The Melbourne Beach Police Department provides over 50% of the revenue for the town of Melbourne Beach, FL (population about 3500) via speeding fines on A1A... a 55 mph road marked down to 40. This is in a neighborhood where the average home ranges from a low of $80,000 for a fixer-upper to $400,000 for many beach front homes.
On a related note, the neighboring town of Indialantic not only makes about half of its income from beach parking tickets (YOUR beach, Mr. or Mrs. Taxpayer!) but also has prosecuted 90-year old shut-ins for nonpayment, after they went up north for the summer and fell ill. I'm talking arrest warrants here, for a $15 fine. I guess Indialantic gets the anal-retentive award for also having a list of approved colors you can paint your home. Oh yeah, not to mention the time I got pulled over for driving 17 in a 10 zone... the only reason I didn't get a ticket is that my mom used to work there and they knew I wasn't a northerner who wouldn't stick around to fight it. (My mom quit in large part over things like prosecuting bedridden grannies for being 5 minutes over on the parking meter.)
Moving north among the swine-infested beach towns of Brevard county, I give the Barney Fife award jointly to the towns of ("cities??" NOT!!!!) Satellite Beach and Cape Canaveral. Satellite pulled me over for having a minorly cracked windshield (the replacement cost exceeded the value of the car), and Cape Canaveral has banned parking after 9pm north of... guess what... where the parking meters end!!!!!!!!! That's about 3 miles of "illegal" parking on the (public) beach, among the best public launch viewing sites in Brevard.
Funny state of affairs: I once took my telescope out to a radio-controlled flying field owned by a club I was a member of, in an effort to find a dark spot to do some astronomical observations. The site is near the county service complex, and within two minutes of arriving, I had a deputy damn near run over me, with all the bright lights he had, to make sure I wasn't doing anything out there all alone in an open field with a large telescope! My night vision was pretty well shot, so I broke camp and went to the beach park at Patrick AFB... which come to find out, is on Federal property and off-limits after dark. (Shouldn't be, again, but it is.) I could have been out there with a bazooka shooting at the planes on the ramp for all they cared, it took the Air Force MPs over 3 hours to come by and run me off. At least they were polite about it... hope Mr. Joe-Schmoe-watch-that-bomber-blow gets the same treatment.
"Cool, Dude!" award for the year goes to Ron Jon's Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach. They got so tired of police harassment over the incredibly high numbers of parking meters set around their shop, they bought all the adjoining property they could and made them into private parking lots, solely to screw the CBPD out of their ill-gotten, biting-the-hands-that-feed-them money. Way to go, Ron Jon's!
A former neighbor of mine had a 12-year old son who got arrested for crossing a VERY busy street in the middle of the block... whereas not only was it about 500 times safer to cross there than at the very congested, dangerous corner, but he was the only kid in the group honest enough not to run away from the worthless swine who stopped them. My neighbor had to pay a fine and the 12-year-old's nonexistent driver's license was suspended for 2 years.
One thing that really pisses me off about living in Brevard county is the dearth of decent broadcast radio. Now, I know that there isn't a station on earth likely to play nothing but King Crimson, older Genesis, and Marillion. But the thing that shocks me is that there is only one station I have EVER heard that will play any of them! That honor goes to what I consider the only truly worthwhile station in Central Florida, possibly the whole state... WMMO 98.9 FM in Orlando. The WMMO web site states: "The 98.9 WMMO Music Promise: No talking over songs; We will tell you the title and artist of every song played; No loud D.J.'s; Music instead of contests; More music mornings." And the part that shocks me is that they really do live up to it! Sure, they have to run some ads once in awhile to pay the bills. But, unlike some stations (WOMX Mix-105 FM is the worst) they don't talk over the intro to the songs or cut off the last five minutes to jam in more crap music between the yakking. And unlike WHTQ 96.5 Rock, WMMO wouldn't dream of telling you that a good song doesn't fit their format so they can't play it. (I called in and requested Genesis's "Supper's Ready", which is 23 minutes long, during WHTQ's "long song special". They wouldn't play it. I sincerely doubt they had ever heard of it!! To be fair, at the end they played "In the Court of the Crimson King", and once I heard Yes's "Yours Is No Disgrace". But I will send $5 to anyone who can prove to me that they have EVER gone more than two hours without playing a Lynyrd Skynyrd redneck-rock song. 90% of their play list is Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and Led Zeppelin.) After I originally wrote this, I discovered that WMMO and WHTQ are owned by the same group... very strange that they'd have one of the worse and one of the best stations in the market!
WMMO is admirable. They've been doing this for something like 6 years now, and I believe they are ranked quite highly. They've never had much fanfare, but I have heard more progressive music there than on all the other stations you can get from the Melbourne area combined, including: WGGD (now WBVD) 95.1 and WAOA 107.1 in Melbourne; WLRQ 99.3 (Cocoa); WZZR 92.7 and WKGR 98.7 in Palm Beach; WHTQ 96.5, WSHE 100.3, WJRR 101.1, 104.1 and WOMX 105.1 in Orlando. That's 10 other stations I listen to regularly, and they all pretty much pale in comparison. Some of the songs I've actually heard on WMMO, compared to the nearest comparison to the garbage from the other stations:
Well, this isn't meant to be an ad, but with all this crappy radio out there and being the lover of good music that I am, I thought I should put in a small plug for the only station I've ever heard with the garbanzo beans to stand up to the evil forces of marketing research and just play something worth hearing. Thanks to Paul Warren (their program director - I've talked to him via E-mail and he has a really good attitude towards the music) and the rest of the crew for a job well done! The other radio stations in town, particularly any station that has ever uttered the following phrases, can just go and bite me.
Catch - Phrases that indicate when a radio station probably sucks
"For now I realize that every one of us has a heaven inside" - Kate Bush
In this age of racially divided rhetoric, politically-fired hate, talk-show morals, and yellow journalism, we should all take a few moments and think about the fact that in the 1960s Doctor King and other Godly, courageous men and women put into action the unstoppable power of love and the idea of nonviolent protest and were able to bring about a real change in an entire society - against a large majority of people who had a vested interest in keeping things as they were. Black people were certainly not the only ones to benefit, nor were Asians or Jews or Hispanics or even whites. All people were benefitted by this new awareness. There is much said today about the divisions between the races and classes, much of which is indeed true. There are many, many difficult issues that can make one wonder if society has really advanced very much at all. But you know, if you CHOOSE to not think about the divisions between you and other groups, and CHOOSE to consider the unchangeable fact that we all have to live together, work together, play together, and get along with each other somehow, then you will inevitably have to realize that people of a heritage different than your own have the same concerns and interests in the subject as you do. So why in the world should we CHOOSE see it as an "Us versus Them" situation when it is really a case of "How can we make this work together"? Notice my emphasis on the word CHOOSE. You CHOOSE to see other groups in a certain way. Are you white, and think of black people as usually living in bad areas of town and more likely to be criminals? Many people CHOOSE to think this. Or are you black, and think that most whites want to keep you from succeeding, and find that they don't trust you simply because you are black? That seems to be common too. But either way, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who CHOOSE to see things that way will find themselves not being disappointed. If you expect the worst, you are only capable of seeing the worst under everyday circumstances. But those who CHOOSE to think of all people as equals, well then it all becomes different. Not perfect to be sure, there will always be people who will not want the best for you. Nothing in life is perfect, at least not anything caused by man, but it can be different.
Are you like me and live in a mostly white middle-class neighborhood? If so (or even if you aren't) then try this. In your mind, examine how a young black man from the ghetto is different from you. Think about not just his living environment, but try to put yourself in his mind. Do you really think he doesn't have the same hopes, dreams, fears, and ideas as you? Do you think because of the location of his home, that he has no morals?? Do you think that any problems he may face because of where he lives or his financial status can never happen to you, because you're "not like that"? Well, it can happen, my friends. Life is like that, you never know what will happen tomorrow. Bad things, as well as good things, happen everywhere. To lump all the bad news into one place is a great mistake... it might make good television but nothing can be further from the truth. I am getting extremely tired of seeing people who think bigoted thoughts and tell them to people as if it was as true as saying the grass is green. They just assume that the bad things they hear about (yet rarely personally experience) are endemic to most or all members of a race other than their own. I am pointing my finger at every race here equally, because there are bigots everywhere. It is easy to see the differences and not look for the truth, especially when problems make for much better news than positive things. But I defy anyone of any race to give me a true reason why we are not all equal. We have different skin, different customs, different cultures and different heritages, to be sure. But were it not for that, the entire world would be so homogeneous, so plain, so boring that I sure wouldn't want to live in it... there would not be much to learn, nor would there be any reason to travel.
God does not mind your asking Him for help on this. God sees what is in your soul, not your skin color. Man, not God, has set up these artificial and selfish earthly barriers to loving all men and women equally as brothers and sisters. God loves all people equally, and for you to try in your heart to get to the point where you are comfortable with loving your fellow man as a brother (or sister as the case may be) is to acknowledge what God is showing us to be right. He knows that we all have our own prejudices and secret mistrusts of people, groups, religions, etc. and wants for us to grow beyond that. Asking Him for help to be more tolerant and to be more understanding is a tangible sign to Him that you want to grow as a person. You don't have to make a big deal out of it, just say a silent little prayer that He will show you something good about someone different than you, something that you may have never experienced before because of those prejudices that we ALL have. If you have a hatred, dislike, or mistrust for any cultural or racial group, make an effort to look for the good things with them. If a member of that group has wronged you, think about all the greater wrongs done to you by your own race and realize that we all are imperfect, regardless of our background. At this point, coming to terms with your prejudices and trying to overcome them is not for anyone else's benefit, it is for yours and yours alone. For only when you begin to grow out of the chains of unjustified prejudice (and it is always unjustified when it is based on race or ethnicity), and learn that you too are in a different racial group to someone else, will you be able to truly love and help people - not as members of another group but as your fellow members of humanity. And then maybe you can teach others to be the same way towards you and those they deal with. Eventually we might even be able to realize Martin Luther King's sacred dream of Peace among the whole world. But it won't just happen, it has to start with you. Good luck and God bless!
"From every village and hamlet, every state, every city we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children -- black men, white men, Jews, Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants -- will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I am free at last." - MLK