Monday, June 12, 2017

Jared vs. The Universe.

Despite all of the positive events taking place in my life as of late, the universe has also tried its hardest to make me give up.

Not today, bud-day!

First of all, I had to deal with bronchitis for over two and a half weeks. That was no cake walk, rest assured. Between all of the hacking, coughing and garbled vocalizations, I nearly lost my head in a freak explosion. I'm sure my liver didn't appreciate all of the medication I was pumping through my system, either. I'm just now feeling somewhat better and can breathe almost normally. When you have asthma like I do, bronchitis is practically a death sentence. Imagine how difficult it was not to cough like a rabid hyena at my new job; to stifle and silence a gooey rumble trying to escape my lungs. But wait, there's more!

Towards the end of my second week of coughing up alien slime globules, my coccyx (aka the 'tail' bone) began aching.


The pain started as a dull, almost unnoticeable ache. Steadily, it grew more sharp and acute. Whenever I sat down, if not in the proper angle, my coccyx would feel as if it were caught in a vice clamp. I've acquired a special pillow to help ease the pain (I'm sitting on it right now, actually), but the pain has yet to subside. It's not like it could get any worse, am I right?

Wrong.

I woke up yesterday morning with an extremely agonizing pain in my neck. For those of us that grew up in the South, this sort of pain is called a 'crick'. This is no ordinary crick in the neck, though. This tends to happen to me a few times a year. The pain is nearly debilitating. Only through sheer will and determination am I able to function. My right arm has shooting pain, radiating from my right shoulder down to my fingertips. This fluctuates with numbness and eerie tingling. I can't turn my head. To look to my left and right, I have to do what I refer to as a Batman* turn. The base of my skull must have a dozen razor blades lodged securely in it, because that's exactly what it feels like!

My neck! My back! At this point, I better register for a Life Alert system before I take a spill in the floor and can't get up.

You know what, though? I'm not going to just give up. I'm determined to enjoy my new position and work through the pain. I will show up every day, pain or not. I will inch ever closer to being a librarian. Fate, the universe, god, whatever you want to call it... it can't keep me down.

Now I'm just waiting for the next roadblock or injury to occur. I've never broken a bone (that I know of), so I'm most certainly overdue.

*A Batman turn refers to the 1989 film starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader. Because of the way his suit was designed, the cowl he wore during filming was extremely stiff. As such, Keaton couldn't turn his neck. Instead, he had to turn his whole body when looking around. This actually added to the off-kilter demeanor of Batman, making him more mysterious and creepy in the process.



Friday, June 2, 2017

You Can Find Me at the End of the (Reading) Rainbow.

What a long, strange trip it has been.

When I left you in 2016, I had ceased daily publication to Jared Unzipped. Having completed my original challenge of writing one article every day for an entire year, my goal was fulfilled. In fact, I continued on with my task long after I’d completed it; I published something new daily for over a year and a half! I finally reached a point where I felt satisfied with my body of work. One day, I simply decided enough was enough. Having proven to myself that I could complete such an arduous challenge, I abruptly stopped. Writing was in my blood, that much I knew for certain.


Leap ahead to today. As I begin to write this article, I’m sitting behind a desk at the Gibsonville Public Library. Not as a patron, but as a library assistant. A few weeks ago, I began working here. Much to my enjoyment, the position has been wonderful so far. My fellow library staff members have been nothing but welcoming and kind. It’s genuinely a dream job for me, having always desired to be a librarian since a young age (amongst other dream jobs: comic book artist, archaeologist, paleontologist). I didn’t accept this position solely for monetary gain, though. My at-home business as a collectibles dealer shall continue, largely running on auto-pilot.

I begin classes at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro in the fall in an effort to complete a Masters of Library Science degree. It’s about time I reached a major career milestone in my life and became a librarian.

As you can imagine, this position at the public library is a valuable learning experience for me. From my youth, I have spent a large amount of time in libraries, both public and within academic settings. I worked as a volunteer library assistant all throughout my middle and high school years. That was seventeen years ago, though. Times have changed. Libraries have stepped into the twenty-first century. That’s where I have room to grow and learn. My understanding of how libraries function is a bit… antiquated. Card catalogues have left their dusty old storage shelves behind and become completely digitized. Books have taken a backseat to more immediate forms of media. The internet dominates every aspect of social interaction. Children simply don’t read as many books as they used to. And yet, that’s not to say that they have stopped learning. The method by which the majority of people absorb information has merely changed. Libraries still fulfill a necessary role within the community.

A public library provides for the common good.

Classes will begin in August for me. I hope to have the course regimen completed within a few years time. I have no plans to leave this library any time soon. The experience I aim to gain here shall surely last me a lifetime. I am already comfortable with using a digital catalogue to transact items with patrons. Thankfully, I’ve also found my first real niche opportunity to contribute to the library itself. I’ve begun analyzing the history section and looking for worthwhile additions to add to our book collection. This is a small, but growing library. I hope to expand my knowledge just as this library expands its collection.

For those of you wondering, history is the 900’s within the Dewey Decimal System. See, you learned something today after all!

I’d like to write about my experience as a library staffer, as well as my upcoming classes. This looks to be a memorable period in my life, one that I wish to permanently record and share with others. Look for new articles periodically about random library-related topics. What authors are popular? James Patterson, or whoever is ghost-writing for him these days. What are kids reading these days? It’s all about Big Nate. What do most people use the library for anymore? Duh, the internet. What’s the best part about working in a library? Helping people learn new information. What’s the worst part about working in a library? More people don’t come by. What’s the most surprising aspect so far? Libraries have taken over the role of video rental stores.

Thanks for sticking with me and I look forward to answering your questions about my progress!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hillary Clinton's "Basket of Deplorables" or: The Shame of Judging Our Fellow Americans.

This is an editorial on the recent "Basket of Deplorables" comment made by Hillary Clinton referencing supporters of Donald Trump. This isn't intended as an explanation of what happened in detail. If you're not aware of the situation, you can read about it here and here.



A great number of left wing commentators and pundits are saying that Hillary Clinton's "Basket of Deplorables" remark didn't go far enough. In essence, these mouthpieces and Clinton surrogates believe that MORE than half of Trump's supporters are racists and villainous miscreants.
I'm a moderate independent with zero love for either the Democrats or Republicans, so I have no problems with calling it like I see it.
Hillary Clinton is full of fluffy, glitter-laced unicorn crap.
You know who supports Trump? People that don't trust the federal government (and rightfully so). People that don't want to give a corrupt criminal organization more of their hard-earned money. People that are tired of being told what they can and can't do within the bounds of their own home and with their own property. People that don't want to be taken advantage of by Uncle Sam. These people have every reason to feel the way they do. It has nothing to do with hating people of different skin tones. It has nothing to do with xenophobic nationalism. It definitely has nothing to do with wanting to spread hate and fear.
Most importantly, there are people like me that flat-out refuse to support a dishonest, untrustworthy war criminal like Hillary Clinton... no matter how 'progressive' and 'thoughtful' she claims to be. Trump is the only viable agent of change to a large number of our fellow Americans. Not because he's likable or altruistic, but because he's simply an alternative to the status quo -- more corruption, more death, more greed, more destruction of the American dream.
Sure, I'll be the first to admit that Trump can be a blustering, egotistical, inarticulate jerk. And yet, at least Trump isn't Hillary Clinton. For many of our fellow Americans, that's the 'lesser of two evils' in this election cycle. Shame on you (and those big-mouthed pundits) for looking down on that decision. Shame on you for judging our fellow citizens who are just trying to make the best of a bad situation. Most of all, shame on you for ignoring reality. Hillary Clinton is perhaps the most slippery and nefarious politician I've known in my lifetime. I'd say her husband Bill is worse, but Hillary actually took steps to cover up the crimes he committed and silence the women he violated. She's revolting in every capacity. Hillary Clinton is a traitor to humanity, all in the pursuit of money and power.
Trump might be a pompous braggart, but at least he hasn't made direct decisions that have gotten people slaughtered. As far as I'm concerned, the American men and women in that "Basket of Deplorables" have made the right call.

Monday, August 29, 2016

My Journey To Losing 100 Pounds.

When we last spoke, I left you with a cliffhanger concerning watermelons. And then, like a fleeting phantom in the night...

I was gone.

It's been approximately two and a half months since I published a blog article. Many of my dedicated readers probably wondered where I got off to. What happened? Well, here's the story.

Nearly all of my life, I have been overweight. Food became a coping mechanism for stress early in my youth. When I was sad, I ate. When I was angry, I ate. When I was depressed, I ate even more! Entering first grade as a child, I ballooned up and got husky (a term that just oozes 1980's nostalgia). During my middle school years, I weighed in the ballpark of 250 pounds. I started high school at 275 pounds. By the time I graduated in June of 2000, I was a whopping 303 pounds.

Over the course of the following decade, I continued to eat myself to death. Between 2011 and 2012, I topped out at an astounding 343 pounds. My late teens and twenties were an emotionally tumultuous period, and it showed in a very tangible way. I wore my emotions on my sleeve... and on my gut, back, shoulders, arms, legs and ass.


In August of 2013, I decided enough was enough and began a journey to better health. There's no coincidence that my physical health began to improve parallel with my mental health. I started writing this blog to heal emotionally and spiritually. As I let go of the internal baggage holding me back, so too did I relinquish the very physical baggage weighing me down.

Over the past three years, I've transformed myself on the inside and on the outside. Today, I write to you a healthier man, a happier man...

a man that weighs 100 pounds lighter.

When I first started my weight loss, I never even imagined I'd lose this much weight. I thought I'd get twenty or thirty pounds off and call it a day. I just assumed I was meant to be a big guy the rest of my life. Just getting to 300 pounds was an achievement in my book.

But... I kept going. I'm not sure why, but I just kept going. I developed a sense of willpower which I didn't have ever before. Luckily, I also had a partner in Crystal who supported me at every step of the way. When I was weak, she was there to carry me along. I can't thank her enough.

These past few months, I pushed extra hard to hit my goal -- lose 100 pounds by the end of August. To focus on that goal, I stepped away from writing. Very literally, I needed some me time.

Today, I weigh 243 pounds.



Thankfully, I don't have a lot of extra skin sagging and drooping all over me. I contribute this to losing the weight responsibly and at a reasonable pace. I didn't take any weight loss supplements or magic pills. No surgery was involved, nor any fad diets. I didn't follow the silly rapid weight loss plans that you see on The Biggest Loser (which is why so many of those contestants put the weight right back on).


I feel deflated.

Unfortunately, I still have a big head... but that's something I was blessed with at birth... probably not going anywhere.


I ate right. I controlled my portions. I exercised. I used my willpower to know what not to eat. It's as simple as that.


I know I'm still overweight, but at least I'm able to live a somewhat normal life. I can climb mountains. I can hike trails. I can run without passing out. Heck, I'm moderately cute and attractive (okay, that's a slight stretch). Most importantly, I'm not going to stop. I'd like to get to 220 pounds and see how I look. If I still have some extra pudge, maybe 200 pounds is my finish line. I just don't know yet. Either way, I've done something most people can not say they have ever done. For once, I'm proud of myself.

So what's the takeaway from all of this?

If a schmuck like me can lose a ton of weight, so can you. Just let it go.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Interesting Facts About Watermelon.

A square watermelon? Don't worry, I explain below.

I (not so) graciously consumed a slice of watermelon earlier. It was quite delicious and definitely satisfying. Accordingly, I figured hey... why not drop some watermelon facts on my audience? Nothing hot and heavy here for you to process this evening, just some cool facts about a cool fruit... and a vegetable?

  • Yes, watermelons are both a fruit and a vegetable. They grow from a seed, making them a fruit. And yet, they are within the same family of vegetables as pumpkins, squash and cucumbers. The watermelon is a trans-food substance! How progressive!
  • The wild watermelon, which looks much different than the watermelon we typical eat, originated in southern Africa.
  • A watermelon is 92% water, making it a natural thirst quencher and great for your kidneys.
  • Watermelons also contain high amounts of manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamins B1 and B6, Vitamin A and potassium.
  • Watermelons are also packed with electrolytes, making them a much better choice for consumption over sugar-filled energy and athletic drinks.
  • Most of the world's watermelons are grown in China.
  • In China, the rind of the watermelon is eaten like a stir-fried vegetable.
  • Japan has the strangest watermelons of all. You can purchase higher-end square watermelons, which are seen as fashionable. How do the farmers do it? They grow the watermelons in square glass containers, in which the melons gradually take on the shape. We really need these in the USA!
  • The heaviest watermelon ever recorded was nearly 270 pounds.
  • You can carve a watermelon just like a pumpkin at Halloween. When you light it with a candle, the red interior takes on the spooky appearance of blood! I did this as a child many times and can verify that it works.
And now, for you viewing pleasure (and just because it's my blog and I can do what I want), here is a video of an exploding watermelon!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Draw Something: Chomper Ghost

I'll always give The Real Ghostbusters cartoon from the '80s credit for being inventive with their weekly creatures of fright and terror. Much of the time, the ghosts were meant to be silly or simply visually memorable. In the vein of those classic animated creatures, I decided to doodle a simple ghost design... something just as likely to be released in the accompanying action figure series as well. Just imagine this slimey fella with a button activated biting feature. CHOMP!


Saturday, June 11, 2016

In Plane Site.


I'm pregnant with your child.
Oozing bags of puss are weeping from my fingertips.
D.B. Cooper is my real name.
I own not one, not two, but three magic bullets.
The Bermuda Triangle is where I found Jimmy Hoffa.
My left foot has seven toes.
Oranges make me sneeze official Nickelodeon slime.
When I was seven, I conquered Mars with a pencil.
Green is really a futuristic camouflage to hide two dimensional butt pirates.
I can walk on water, but only when it's really cold.
There's a colony of stranded alien cow-probers in my tool shed.
Stonehenge is just a fancy toilet for druids.
Not only have I found Atlantis, but I sold it to mermaids.
Yes, I know mermaids.
Roswell was a cover up for an all-night rave hosted by DJ Boomin' Truman.
The Lost Roanoke Colony just got bored and went to play golf.
I like to play croquet at Redpath Mansion.
Drive-in theaters were invented by lazy, perverted slashers.
Your mom called; she wants you to meet your real father.
Numbers stations are where I find all of my best recipes.
Once in a lifetime you'll take a road to nowhere and find a psycho killer.
I always tell the truth when I'm lying.