May 2010


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Archive for May, 2010

Expanding horizons

Posted in Life, Proof! on May 23rd, 2010

– Or –

Where Da Wolfe learns what he is


Me, at 11
BigFish – my older brother, 3 years my senior
Trucker – my father
Gloria – his 2nd wife
Brat – her daughter, one year younger than me (and another Gemini)
Jock – her younger son, one year older than me (and another Gemini)
TheBrain – her oldest son, 5 years older than me

Dig if you will, a picture: one average, American boy, age 11, growing up in small-town Oregon. He has no real clue who he is at this point.

He has moved in with his father in order to follow his older brother, as BigFish and Ma are nearly at each other’s throats at this point in the game. My father is married to Wife#2 Gloria, and she has talked him into starting his own business and basing it on her Mexican heritage – only the Universe knows why the hell he thought it would be a good idea to do this in Klamath Falls, but there you have it.

Trucker and the brood lifted sticks and went over the hill, and I visited a few times while living with Ma and her 2nd husband, but I eventually got sick of the stepfather scene and tired of being an only child, so I opted to move back in with Trucker. Klamath Falls had around the same population as Grants Pass at the time, but has always felt bigger to me for some reason. This is my first experience with an honest-to-$diety suburb – prior to this, I had never seen a town that decided “you know, we need an organized housing tract right about here.” It probably has to do with K.Falls being home to a military base.

By the time I move in, BigFish has already been there for about 3 or 4 months, and is fairly acclimatized. When I get there, however, it’s a whole new ball game for me. Suddenly I’m next-to-last in the pecking order instead of the trusty Lieutenant to Bigfish, and I’m sharing a bedroom with three other boys ranging in age from 11 (me) to 16 (TheBrain). Two sets of bunk beds with maybe a foot and a half of clearance between them. I think I was allotted about a square foot of closet space to go with it.

Compared to this adjustment, going to a new school was nothing – in fact, this would make the 5th school I had gone to, but they threw a twist at me there as well. I was in the 5th grade, and at my last school the next step was middle school. In K.Falls, however, gradeschool went to 6th grade, so I was knocked back one on the seniority ladder there as well. That first couple of weeks, I was really wondering if it was going to be worth it.

I did stay, however, and I have to admit, TheBrain’s best friend ThePunk had a lot to do with it. ThePunk found us through school, and he was extremely glad when he did. K.Falls, for those that have never been there, is primarily populated with two kinds of people: Cowboys and Indians. I mean that literally – the Klamath Indian reservation is right outside town, and the biggest industry in the area is cattle ranching.

You can just guess the average IQ of the place, I bet. For most people there, it’s the same as their inseam. Anyone who has ever been to Albuquerque knows what I’m talking about.

Anyway, ThePunk was at a disadvantage in this environment, for he was (gasp!) intelligent, and had a bad habit of speaking his mind, which often got his ass kicked. He figured if he was going to be an outcast, he might as well go whole hog and dove headfirst into the Punk lifestyle. He had a well-kept short mohawk when I met him, and a pocket full of mix tapes of stuff I had never heard before. He was also the only Punker in all of Klamath Falls and surrounds. He was the definition of outcast at this point and this town. The only thing worse for him would have been being gay.

Needless to say, when he had the good fortune to find a bunch of kids that didn’t want to kick his ass on sight, he latched on tight and damn near moved in with us. Two weeks after I moved in, I came home to find ThePunk shaving TheBrain’s hair into a mohawk.

Up to this point, I had really just followed BigFish’s lead, and hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to be like. With this move, however, I suddenly found myself with many examples to choose from. The Brat was, well, a brat – she was the baby and always being a bitch about it. I avoided her as often as possible. The jock is pretty self-explanatory as well, but he was every bit as much of a dick as his little sister was a brat. We casually hated each other.

BigFish could be a consummate asshole, but he was my brother and I knew how to deal with that. TheBrain and ThePunk, however, were both cool. I think the biggest moment of revelation for me, however, was riding on the bus one day and someone was playing Rodney Dangerfield’s comedy song “Rappin’ Rodney”, and my brothers were laughing along with a bunch of other kids and I thought to myself “oh, it’s ok to like this, the other guys do too.”

This immediately brought me up short. I had to examine that thought pretty hard for a couple of days. I borrowed a bunch of tapes from ThePunk and snuck off with BigFish’s Walkman for who knows how much time listening to all kinds of stuff – The Clash, China White, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Peter Gabriel, XTC, the list goes on. (I still haven’t figured out how ThePunk got all those great records, the stores in KF suck).

The song that mattered the most, however, was “Grey Matter” by Oingo Boingo. Right here was a song pointed at me, and I was listening. This was followed up by “Who do you want to be today?” Yeah, they were talking to me alright. Thankfully, I was ready to listen.

By the end of that set of batteries, I had decided that from here on out, I would be doing my own thinking and not just blindly following along with what the others thought. TheBrain would go on to be a big influence on me in later years, but it was ThePunk who handed me that Boingo tape and said “check this out”.

Texans re-writing history

Posted in Politics on May 16th, 2010

Okay boys and girls, time to pay attention: the Fundies are doing their damndest to rewrite the schoolbooks that our children will be reading for the next ten years. See this post from February and this newer post for more details, but here’s the gist:

The two states that buy the most textbooks are California and Texas. The California school board can’t put a majority together due to their own diversity, so they don’t really have much of a say in the big picture.

In Texas, on the other hand, the fundamentalist religious groups have managed to secure a majority of positions on the state Board of Education, and have an almost free reign on what they want to put in the curriculum. Since Texas buys so many books, the publishers like to limit their own work and so will endeavor to just publish one version of their textbooks – built to meet the Texas guidelines.

Yes, this is the part where you get scared.

And this is where you go to contact your local State Representative to say something about it. Speak loud and speak often my friends, or your children may have some very different views of the world.

More car maintenance

Posted in Life on May 15th, 2010

Had a bit of a worry today – Pookie and I had been out running around avoiding the bridal shower The WBGF was throwing for a friend of ours, and I figured it was time for an oil change. I pull up to the bay, and right then steam starts pouring out from under the hood. Pop the hood up, and sure enough, somebody has sprung a leak in the coolant-return hose.

Yes, little miss Golightly, I’m talking about you.

So, borrow some duct tape from the boys in the bay, and off down the road to the nearest parts store – which has recently been bought out by another company. Lo and behold, guess who doesn’t stock the hose I need, and can’t remember if they even sell duct tape (I wanted a new roll) or know where it would be in the store. We’re outta there!

Out in the car, I call over to the Autozone on Cully, and the lady on the other end says she has the hose in stock. Trusting to the many wonderous powers of duct tape, I wheel it for that store and hope. Arriving, the lady spends about fifteen minutes dilligently searching, but is unable to find the hose we need in the stacks – apparently they are changing their inventory system around, and currently the hoses are in some disarray.

Knowing I will need to get a hose on Holly before Monday, I go out to the car and take a picture of the hose in question, and tell the clerks to wing it – just find something basically like this, and I’ll make it work from there. They do, and I buy a few other things to go with – like brake pads. We’ve started squeaking in the past few days, and I figure since I’m already here… turns out one of the guys behind the counter used to work in a Kia dealership shop, and got me just the right parts, saving me about $20 in the bargain.

I guess I know what I’m doing next Saturday.

Retro Gaming and security

Posted in Geekery on May 11th, 2010

As a good many of you should already know, has been given the go-ahead to release Mechwarrior4: Mercenaries as a free game (!!) to go with the enhancements that they have cooked up over the years. All of this is in preparation for the upcoming reboot of the Mechwarrior franchise, which looks to be very awesome indeed.

This is great news, because I’ve missed playing Mechwarrior, but haven’t wanted to go through all the trouble to re-install the damn thing. It’s a 2-hour process, once you take into account the multiple patches for the original game, adding in the supplements that I’ve bought over the years, all of their patches, and then the MekTek stuff, which is just too cool to pass up. I honestly wasn’t sure it would even install onto a 64-bit Windows7 box, so I was reluctant to use the two hours I could maybe scrape together for playing a game trying to install it.

Luckily, though, MekTek has put together an installer that works and manages to shoehorn the whole thing together without much fuss and bother… unless you happen to be running Norton 360 antivirus.

Once again, Symantec proves how thoroughly they suck. While it only takes moments for someone to submit a false positive, and maybe another hour before Norton distributes an updated signature file that deletes the effing executable to the game, it will take them probably 2 weeks to clean things up and ‘certify’ the files in question.

Gee, Symantec. Thanks.

Luckily for us, Da Roomie and I have avoided Symantec products for years now, and had no problem at all getting it installed on just about every computer in the house. We are thoroughly prepared for LAN gaming possibilities, as this is old enough it will even run on our laptops without dragging the video settings down.

Tonight, we took some Assault-class ‘Mechs for a run around a couple of maps, and Greyduck has found his favorite weapon at long last: a Large Continuous-Beam Laser. Two of those paired with Gauss rifles, and he’s giggling like mad. Especially when we both manage to lock an Annihilator into our sights and knock it over with 2 Gauss hits and one round of my railgun all at once.

Good times :)