Thursday, September 25, 2014

5 Things I Learned Watching Big Brother 16

Whelp, this year's relatively boring edition of Big Brother is over, and I've got a whole bunch of things I want to talk about. When I say boring, I'm speaking more in terms of the gameplay that went on. Derrick pretty much ruled the roost from day one, and nobody had the intelligence or foresight to stop him. That being said, it was still entertaining to watch everything go down. Ok, I'll stop my blathering, here's the stereotypical list!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

5 Reasons Why Frankie Grande Is Unbearable To Watch

If you've watched Big Brother at all this summer, then you're probably familiar with Frankie Grande. As he would assuredly want you to know, he's related to Ariana Grande (they're siblings). After watching this jerk run around as if he were high on thirty shots of espresso these past few months, I thought I'd try and knock him down a peg or two. So, why exactly is this guy unbearable to watch? Read on...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

iPhone 6 Barely Faster Than iPhone 5S

According to, at least. Of course, BGR dresses it up nicely by saying that the iPhone 6 is "significantly" faster, but the numbers say otherwise. The benchmark program Geekbench 3 rated the iPhone 6's multi-core performance at 2920, while the 5S scored 2540. To put that in layman's terms, you'll notice practically zero difference when switching from one to the other in terms of performance.

Gaming is another matter. 3D intensive applications will run probably run better on the 6, though still, I wouldn't expect anything mind blowing. As I've been saying for years now, it just seems like smartphones have hit a wall in terms of technological development. They're getting more feature-filled, to be sure, but companies seem to be struggling to find ways to draw more power out of the silicon microchips they're equipping them with.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

8 Ways To Read Faster Than You Do Now

Hey all, I really enjoyed writing the following article for Lifehack and figured I'd share it here since my audiences are a bit split:

Contained in that little (huge) article are eight things I learned in college about how to both read faster and remember what you read.

The basic point to take away, I think, is that you don't have to read books in their entirety to understand what they're about and their overall significance.

Hopefully after reading that you'll be blazing through books much more rapidly than you did before!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia Review

Sorry I've been gone so long; I've been focusing most of my efforts recently on writing articles for (which is going pretty well I'd say).

Right now I thought I'd post a quick little blurb about a little (read: big) encyclopedia about Star War: The Old Republic.

I received it in the mail yesterday, and I've gotta say, it's one of the best things ever if you're a fan of Star War's old republic era, which, as you know, I am!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Optimizing iOS7 On Your iPhone 4S

An example of iOS7 on the iPhone 5.

When I bought my iPhone 4S, I was astounded by its speed. Coming from the absolutely horrendous Samsung Galaxy S Continuum, though, I suppose anything would have felt zippy in comparison. That being said, even compared to my Nexus 7 (2012), my iPhone felt more polished, snappier, and above all else, easier to use (as much as I love my tablet, there's no question Apple has a talent for making intuitive mobile operating systems).

As time wore on, the phone began slowing down. It wasn't noticeable at first, but became progressively worse over time. The first culprit was iOS7. Despite adding some much needed functionality to the operating system, it made my 4S perform a bit below my standards (though it still felt faster than nearly every budget Android handset on the market), with lag popping up in the text interface, safari, and even while doing simple things like opening up new apps. It was still a decent phone, though it was nowhere near how fluid it used to be under iOS6, and I started wishing I'd splurged on the iPhone 5 when I had my upgrade a year and a half ago (for more on the 4S versus it's two younger brothers, click here).

Friday, August 8, 2014

Loreal Txt It 02 Hyper Fix Putty Review

My hair is a daily problem. I have cowlicks in the front, back, sides, pretty much everywhere on my scalp. In fact, my hairstyle often is a cowlick. Without some kind of product in my hair, I usually look ridiculous, with strands flopping around every which way in a supremely nonsensical manner.

So I've turned to numerous hair gels, putties, creams, and the like over the years. Recently I've been using Loreal's Txt It 02 Hyper Fix Putty, which from here on out I'll refer to as HFP because BOY is that a mouthful!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hotel Charges Extra for Bad Service

"Oh you didn't like your stay here? That'll be another five hundred dollars please."

Yep, you read that title right.

According to, one hotel recently decided to charge guests who post negative reviews online (to sites like Yelp).

Can you imagine the decision making process that went into that? The enraged, middle-aged, pot-bellied owner of that hotel staying up all night, thinking of ways to get back at the people criticizing their business. Burning the midnight oil, they developed a devious plan to charge guests who were displeased with their hotel experience. The magic number they came up with? Five. Hundred. Dollars. In their maniacal stupor, they forgot two important things: one is that all of that rage-fueled effort could have probably been better spent fixing their hotel's terrible service. Two, that their passive aggressive laziness is only going lead to more flack from the internet. Much, much more.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Wine Tasting at Ledge Rock Hill

Let me begin by saying that I have yet to give a real endorsement on this site, at least one that was paid for or anything like that. I start this article with that disclaimer because I don't want anyone to think that this winery paid me off. Trust me, it'd take at least twenty dollars to convince me to write something blatantly untrue, and these guys didn't pay me a dime!

I'm not an alcoholic by any means. I don't really like beer. Whiskey is alright but I'm not necessarily a fan of it, and wine never tasted too swell to me. My opinion on wine, at least, may have changed with my visit to the Ledge Rock Hill Winery and Vineyard, nestled in the Adirondacks near the Sacandaga.

To get there is a journey in itself. From what I could tell, you take a bunch of backwoods roads, and eventually, if you're lucky, you see a small sign sticking up out of the ground saying "winery next right" or something like that. Then you take a right (or left depending on your direction) onto 41 Stewart Dam Road, follow it past the neat little antique shop (which you should also visit, by the way), and drive up to the left into the quaint little winery parking lot.

Dachshunds are Cool!

My Dachshunds, Sally and Chester, doing their best impersonation of CatDog.

Every Dachshund owner probably knows these few things about their feisty little pet: they're stubborn (and stubby), sweet (and vicious), clever, lazy, and capable of making facial expressions that range from "aww" to "uh oh." Indeed, for that last one, I've seen the transition happen within a matter of seconds!

Let's start with their stubbornness. If you have a Dachshund, and take him/her on walks, you've probably experienced what I like to call the miraculous transformation of your pet from animal to living boulder. You know what I mean! It's when your Dachshund has had enough of that whole "exercising" thing and plants their fat butt on the ground, focusing all of their canine energy into becoming, quite literally, the mythical immovable object. You tug on their leash, you throw treats in front of their face (which they promptly eat before once more becoming stationary), and when all else fails you wave your hands around like a mad man, pleading with your dog (while scaring onlookers), saying stuff like "come on, just a little farther and we'll be home!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Predictions for the Millennial Generation

Space...the final frontier.

I haven't written an article in list form in a while, so here it goes. Forgive me if it's boring or hard to read; I tried!. Each bullet point represents an individual prediction:

  • Cable Television will die out. My generation is already transitioning to Netflix and other online media sources. There's no way standard cable TV as we know it survives the cut. It costs too damn much and you don't watch ninety percent of the channels.

  • Unless the Republicans remake themselves, we'll be voting in a long line of Democratic Presidents based solely on social issues.

  • Years of being told that every other country under the sun outpaces us in terms of education/economic output will make us hyper-competitive, ushering in a new Golden Age for the United States (I'm hopeful). 

  • Our generation will give up our privacy for the sake of perceived boosts to security, as well as easier integration into whatever replaces the internet. 

  • Airplanes will be replaced by more cost efficient methods of travel, like automated cars and hyper-fast trains.

  • Contrary to popular belief, paper books will survive. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Surviving The Feast

Everyone in this picture is related to me. Probably.

It's a little known fact to some, but I happen to be half Italian. My whole life I've had to reiterate that point to thousands of people, mainly due to my darker complexion and last name. More on that in a second, or not, sometimes I start my articles with random diatribes.

Every year, a small town known as Shenandoah Pennsylvania hosts an Italian-tastic event known as The Feast, which brings in Sylvester Stallone and James Gandolfini look-alikes from across the region for the sole purpose of celebrating their shared boot shaped origins. It's here that I get to celebrate my Italian-ness amongst my brethren; where everyone accepts my racial origins with glee (well, almost everybody, apparently during The Feast's parade/procession people on the sidelines were calling me Bruno Mars...then again based on that whole Shenandoah documentary this isn't too surprising...though at least this bit of micro-racism is mildly flattering).

Let me summarize what The Feast is for anybody who doesn't already know: a bunch of Italians show up to Shenandoah, PA, go to mass, parade around town with religious symbols/statues, then go home and eat tons of good food with their families. This started exactly a century ago as a result of all the Catholic Italian immigrants that settled in that town. Hopefully that's enough exposition...on with the main event.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cleaning my Grandparent's Attic

Imagine this, but with boxes, mouse crap, and dust stacked high to the ceiling.

This summer I received a job, if it could be called that, to clean my Grandparent's attic. Full disclosure, I'm not even completely finished with it yet. That being said, I figure I've hauled down enough boxes and potentially cursed 1960s baby doll figurines to write about my experience!

So it all started on a humid, oppressive Monday during the month of July. The middle of summer. My Grandpa had been kind enough to provide me with gloves, a mask, and a little bit of an incentive to work hard (read: I got partly paid in advance, also I didn't really get gloves I had to steal my Uncle's). I trekked up the steep, creaky steps of his house, into the black and white picture laden bedroom of my grandmother, through the attic door, and up the crumbling steps into the land of dust and hornet's nests.

Immediately I thought to myself, "what have I gotten myself into..."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rocky (The Play) Review

Sylvester Stallone on stage with the actors portraying Adrian and Rocky in the Broadway play.

Rocky. The movie that perfectly encapsulated the quintessential underdog story nearly forty years ago. The movie that launched Sly's career, and influenced the lives of countless baby boomers.

How do you recapture that magic? At least, in a minor sense? You release a version of the story on Broadway, of course. Now, I know what you're thinking..."how in the hell do you take a movie like Rocky and transplant it onto the stage?"

It's a good question, and one I am prepared to answer seeing as I saw the play yesterday. Basically, they stayed true to the movie script, using a brilliant assortment of shifting dynamic sets and clever illusions to keep nearly the same atmosphere and pace as the film. Mixed into dialogue pulled directly from the 1976 blockbuster was a bundle of musical-esque songs that fleshed out some of the plot points previously left to the viewers imagination, such as Adrian's secret adoration of Rocky.

How I Ruined my Championship Team in NBA 2K14

Goran Dragic, a name that will live on in least in my NBA 2K14 association.

I was at the top of my game. I had led my ragtag team composed of Goran Dragic, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Blake Griffin to the NBA Finals. It was a tough road, with three seven game series, including the Finals. All this despite the face that, at the beginning of the year, we were pegged as a borderline playoff team at best, and a lottery squad at worst.

What allowed us to make it so far? My "big three," so to speak, composed of Dragic, Thompson, and Griffin, played out of their goddamn minds. All three were in the top ten in terms of playoff statistics for PER and Efficiency ratings, and the trio combined for over seventy points a game. They were nowhere near that amazing during the season. While Blake beasted down low, Dragic and Thompson rained down threes from outside, shooting at such a high percentage that I'm sure my competition thought I was playing with cheats.

With these three firing on all cylinders, I won the 2015 NBA Championship. It was touch and go for a while, but it was almost an inevitability that I would win due to both my mad 2K skills and the ridiculous performances of the D/T/G trifecta.

The offseason went spectacularly, to say the least. I retained my coach, all my key players, and had enough cap room to sign an impact player: none other than Kobe freaking Bryant. Now 37 years old, the Black Mamba could still average a cool 20/5/5 without breaking a sweat, and I'd inked him to a multi-year deal at a very reasonable rate.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Shenandoah (Documentary) Review

Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

When you think of "Shenandoah," you probably think of that valley in Virginia. Or anything really, besides the sleepy, deteriorating town nestled in the forested, formerly coal-rich hills of Pennsylvania.

What happened that made this town worthy of being documented in a, uh, documentary? A hate crime occurred there, and as you know, those attract filmmakers much like the IRS and late tax payments. Members of the town's lauded football team, the Shenandoah Blue Devils, killed a man of Latino descent late one summer night in a drunken fit of gory blood-lust that ended with their target convulsing on the pavement, choking on his own fluids.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Tale of Jack Martin - Part 5

Part 4:

The wave of energy threw all four of them back several feet. The demon stood there, his bulging arms at his hips, cackling maniacally.

"There is no hope...submit to my power and I shall make your deaths as painless as possible."

Jack felt nothing besides his heart beating in his chest.

Ugh...I think I broke a rib...

He glanced up, squinting his eyes as he did so. He saw the leader, standing above him, facing the demon. Locke and Dean lay in crumpled heaps besides Jack, blood dripping from their mouths. The leader himself was breathing heavily, barely able to stand. He looked hunched over, the confidence etched upon his face earlier gone. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Capsizing in a Canoe

This is what I looked like today, except less grizzled and far more bruised and wet.

Today I find myself thousands of miles from my typical habitat, otherwise known as the parched, dry, hellish inferno known as Southern California. I'm in upstate New York (or at least I am for the sake of this story, I could be elsewhere, one can never be sure), and with all the water around these parts my family decided to go out boating on the Hudson river.

I decided to take a canoe, with one other person. Let me set the scene up for you.

It was hot and slightly humid. On top of all that there were suspicious looking backwoods people driving by in their strange vehicles, speaking in accents that I didn't even know were possible in the English language. Bugs of indescribable composition and size buzzed around my face, vigorously attempting to suck out my life essence every few seconds. For a moment, I yearned for my nice Southern California oven. Then again, everyone likes to pretend that their home is better than it actually is when they're away from it, so whatever.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Tale of Jack Martin - Part 4

Part 3:

Jack awoke in a daze upon what appeared to be a flimsy looking cot; simple canvas stretched between two aluminum tubes.

The room he was in was large, to say the least. His cot, along with several others, lined its edges, while the majority of the space was devoted to a large concrete floor, bare of anything besides certain markers denoting some arcane instructions that Jack could not decipher.

He noticed on the far end of the room that there was a woman staring at him. Before he could get out of bed and investigate, a voice reverberated throughout his skull.

There is no need for such effort, child. Allow me.

Jack watched as the women raised her right palm, closing her eyes, seeming to focus in on him. With a start, he noticed that he was rising from his cot, floating in mid-air.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Tale of Jack Martin - Part 3

Part 2:

What the...where am I?

Jack awoke, groggy and disorientated, still in the van with Dean. His captor's head, topped with an acorn colored crew cut, bobbed to the rhythm of an AC/DC song playing loudly over the speakers.

"So the kid finally woke up? Guess I don't know my own strength!"

Dean grinned, flashing nearly-perfect teeth at Jack, then focused once more on the road.

"We'll be at the compound any minute. Don't worry, our leader has great things in store for you. I know that sounds contrived but in this case, it's just a tiny bit true so bear with me."

Do I really have a choice? Asshole. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Edge of the Galaxy

Commander Ridge peered over his rectangular screen, out into the black abyss of space. His face furrowed.

"Captain, sensors indicate we have breached the plane of the Milky Way. We are now in intergalactic space."

The Captain, usually quite stoic, let a slight grin briefly color his worn visage of a face.

"Very good Commander. Computer, this is the Captain, enter log, year 2614: we've done it. Man has left the Milky Way. A momentous occasion indeed."

With little fanfare, the Captain returned to his seat, positioned centrally on the bridge.

The alarms began to blare.

"Commander, what is that?"

Ridge punched a few commands into his computer, analyzing the data flashing on the screen. His mechanically enhanced eyes took in the data far faster than any normal human. The nano-modifications to his brain allowed him to process the information he received in seconds.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Julius Randle: Buff Bringer-of-Death

Ah, Julius Randle. Just picked two days ago with the 7th pick of the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. What makes Mr. Randle an intriguing prospect? His ability to dominate the post? The barrel-like muscles that encase his herculean chest and arms? The slightly bulging eyes and intense attitude that would scare most children (and adults)? All of the above?

If you watched his post-selection interview, you would see why a guy like Kobe, and your average Lakers fan, likes him. He's angry. Angry that he was skipped over by so many teams, and chomping at the bit to show everyone what he's made of.

Don't be surprised if he wins rookie of the year. He's buff, he's tough, he'll blow your house in. He's the relentless wrecker of all that is holy on God's green Earth. He'll take the NBA by the horns, rip them off, crack them in two, dip them in some boiling water, and gulp down the resulting steaming bone marrow stew faster than you can say "Mitch Kupchak wants his cups back."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Haircuts are Awkward and Annoying

"I said only cut the sides....THE SIDES...NO...STOP....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Besides going to the Dentist's for a nauseating cleaning where I have to listen to the smarmy hygienist rave about her son's accomplishments, or the Doctor's where I have to go through the overly embarrassing experience that is a "physical," getting my haircut it probably the most traumatic thing I do on a regular basis.

You know what it's like. You walk in, immediately noticing all of the bright and beautiful faces plastering the walls, all affixed with perfect hairstyles. You think to yourself, "that's going to be me!" Of course, it never is.

Then, the sullen and usually unkempt barber slithers up to you, a deep sense of disdain hidden behind the glassy orbs they have for eyes. If they're young, they're probably wishing they were out bar hopping with friends, and generally treat you like dirt, or worse (seriously, cheer up, at least you're making money, moron). If they're old, they look at you like you're intruding on their territory, waiting for you to slip up in your speech so they can make some jackass-y comment that only somebody with years of wisdom and life experience can make.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Gordon Ramsay and the Food Network

Note: This article is not to be taken too seriously...

Ah, Gordon Ramsay. Why do we love him? Is it the way he styles his platinum blonde hair? The Grand Canyon-esque creases in his forehead? The way he says "bollocks"? I could go on, probably for a couple paragraphs. In the end, the fact of the matter is that Mr. Ramsay is one of the coolest food-related dudes on TV; so awesome, in fact, that he makes watching the Food Network a dull and practically painful affair.

I mean, I do give the Food Network points for hiring their own Ramsay-lite in the form of Robert Irvine. Still, you can't just throw another hot-tempered British dude in my face and think he'll have the same wondrous affect as the steely blonde maven pictured above.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Think *You're* Insane? Well, Meet Doubleagent...

World of Warcraft. Some people play it as a game, others use it to demonstrate their inherent soullessness.

What do insane people do? Lots of things. They talk to their dogs, fumble their words in a hopeless attempt to appear socially normal, and run websites that are viewed by so few people that they might as well not bother. Wait...that describes me. Yes I am insane. However, there are a few who go beyond me, and reach a level so ridiculous that I question if they are actually homo-sapiens, or some ghoulish demon spawn from Mars, sent to deliver us all to our doom!

One person I came across definitely deserves the "ghoulish demon spawn from Mars" title. I do not know their real name, but, I do know the name of their World of Warcraft character: Doubleagent. Whoever this guy is, he is veritably, absolutely, existentially, and unbelievably downright kooky and off-kilter.

Improving Your iPhone's Battery Life

Every year, iPhone owners viciously throw their devices at walls, shattering souls and killing dreams, all thanks to poor battery life. Let's fix that!

As great of an update as iOS7 was, there's no question that it uses more battery than previous versions of Apple's mobile operating system.

So instead of banging your head against your ketchup encrusted, crumb-composed desk, wishing that you made better life choices, read this article instead!

The key to better battery life is simple: tell your stupid iPhone to quit worrying so much about things it shouldn't have to worry about! Or, in geeky tech lingo, turn off the background processes that are consuming your phone's precious computing power.

iPhone 4S vs. iPhone 5C vs. iPhone 5S

I'm writing this mainly because comparisons I've read on other websites are boring, tech-based, and filled with meaningless charts more than actual paragraphs. Though as I've found earlier, people writing for tech websites aren't necessarily all that great in terms of their command of the English language, so it's probably for the best that they steer clear of stringing together multiple sentences.

My comparison is based not on benchmarks and numbers but on real-world observations, since those mean way more when dealing with technology. (I mean really, you'd be hard pressed to find a normal human who can tell the difference in performance between the A6 processor in the 5C and the A7 in the 5S).

Friday, June 20, 2014

NBA 2K: Crushing the 7'6" Monster

I'm a huge fan of 2K sports' NBA series. It's probably the game I play the most. Despite my better judgement, I've owned every version since 2K7 (except 2K14).

What's so fun about it? Well, for me it's the association mode. If you have an imagination it can be quite the enjoyable experience.

You think that the Heat are a super team? Their big three is nothing compared to some of the trios assembled in 2K's association mode. It's fun seeing squads composed of the likes of Chris Paul, John Wall, and Serge Ibaka, and trying to go against them with your crippled ragtag group of terrible players...led by a 77 overall rated shooting guard no less!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Are Millennials the Next "Great" Generation?

This is in part a response to Rob Flaherty's piece on Millennials, written earlier today.

When you think of the greatest generation in recent memory, your mind probably conjures up images of those who served in World War II, and built America into the superpower that it is today. You'd be correct of course. Generations after them have had a lot to live up to, and by and large they've failed to meet the same high standards as their forebears.

WoW Addictions and Your Stupid Brain

Let's face it everyone, life can be a drag sometimes. Traffic, the sun, smog, other humans, and cat dander are all things that can lead to a miserable existence. So, why go through all of that when you can escape to a game like World of Warcraft?

In that magical land of procrastination and false glory, you commandeer an avatar far cooler than yourself, a hero who fights for the freedom of all the denizens of Azeroth. You can run epic dungeons, explore a vast world, mine computerized ore, chat to other deprived individuals, and even just run around, jumping on random objects (the last one was a favorite of mine)!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Clear Channel and the Decline of Radio

Clear Channel. A name you are probably familiar with, at least in passing. What if I told you, however, that this corporation was responsible for shaping radio into what it is today? When you tune into AM or FM, chances are you will hear either the voice of some crotchety conservative talking head or one of those migraine inducing songs played over mall speakers ad infinitum. While it can be easy to assume that it has always been like this, the truth of the matter is that radio as we know it today was molded by corporations, like the aforementioned Clear Channel, who dominated the industry for decades. In this essay, I will lay out why I believe Clear Channel had a deleterious effect on the radio industry as a whole, not only because it contributed to the rise of conservative talk radio, but because its management techniques and vertically integrated nature led to corrupt business practices like payola and poor treatment of workers, which lowered the overall standard and quality of radio across the United States.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Horror in the Woods of Santa Cruz

In 1909 a man disappeared within the forests of Santa Cruz, California. In 2014, a group of hikers found his journal and submitted it to the police. Its contents were well-preserved, with its owner's name, "James Booth," written in neat script on the inner cover. Unable to connect it to any existing missing persons cases, they released its contents to the public in the hopes that somebody somewhere might know more. A typewritten reproduction of the journal's fading script is provided below:   

Entry 1, December 9th, 1909

President Roosevelt wants Roland and I to explore the woods surrounding Santa Cruz. This mission is ranked difficulty level "S," meaning there's a higher chance for failure than usual. I'll be updating this journal as part of the standard contingency procedure.  

Entry 2, December 10th, 1909

We made camp near the edge of the forest. Nothing extraordinary so far, just a few deer. Roland said he saw a bobcat, but I didn't see anything. It's been raining for several days.   

Entry 3, December 11th, 1909

Roland shot and killed a bobcat. He never misses with his Winchester repeater. I prefer my Colt revolver, but to each his own. We are getting deeper into the forest now and have begun searching for our target. Roland's eyes look icier than usual. He says he isn't afraid, but I don't believe him.

Entry 4, December 12th, 1909

Still no activity. Our orders were to explore and report on what we found. They don't expect us to neutralize the target, but we will make an attempt if given the opportunity. Our superiors were intentionally vague about what our target is, other than emphasizing the danger it poses to the surrounding community. Roland and I are always given the difficult missions...

Entry 5, December 13th, 1909

The days grow shorter. It feels like we are going in circles.

Entry 6, December 14th, 1909

It is unseasonably cold, at least for what we expected of this region. Luckily Roland had the foresight to pack heavier clothes, else we would have had to retreat into town. We built a small encampment nestled against a hillside, and take turns scanning our surroundings for movement. Nothing yet. 

Entry 7, December 15th, 1909

Roland woke up with a rash on his right arm. He scratches at it every few minutes. I made a poultice out of some local herbs, but it isn't helping. Later we found a small hut nestled between two trees. It's abandoned; webs lace it top to bottom. We thought it would make for suitable shelter, but the inside was too cold to bear (for no readily explainable reason).

Entry 8, December 16th, 1909

Found another hut. This one doesn't look abandoned. Nonetheless, Roland took it apart for firewood. 

 Entry 9, December 17th, 1909

Roland's rash is getting worse. May have to send him back into town to get it looked at, but I'd prefer not to work this case alone. So far still no sign of the target. 

 Entry 10, December 18th, 1909

Roland collapsed today while scouting the edges of our camp. His rash is getting worse, and I think he has a fever. Made him some soup using water from a nearby stream, herbs, and some squirrel meat. He ate slowly, but some life returned to his eyes.

Entry 11, December 19th, 1909

Roland is gone. I found a note saying "gone back to town to get medicine, will return by the 25th." However, it doesn't look like Roland's handwriting.

Entry 12, December 20th, 1909 

I forged deeper into the forest, making sure to make my trail conspicuous for Roland. Thought I saw some figures in the shadows, but found no evidence of Roland or anything else. The nights are getting darker. 

Entry 13, December 21st, 1909

A beautiful day. The sun shined through the pine trees, and I managed to bring down a deer with my revolver. Around dusk I thought I saw Roland off in the distance, moving through the brush. I shouted after him, but he didn't reply. I decided to stay up deep into the night to see if Roland would find my camp, but he never arrived. 

Entry 14, December 22nd, 1909

I woke up drenched in sweat. In my dream, a shadowy figure with glowing eyes stared down at me, a grin on its face. It felt real. Was this my target? I decided to fortify my camp, setting traps along the perimeter. Beyond those I constructed a barrier of dry leaves and twigs carefully placed along obvious approach routes. I'll know if something is coming. 

Entry 15, December 23rd, 1909

I barely slept. Usually I am not one to be afraid of anything, but fear of seeing what I saw the previous night kept me up. There is no movement along the perimeter of the camp; the forest is silent. 

Entry 16, December 24th, 1909

I remain in my fortified camp, only leaving to gather firewood. I plan to wait here until tomorrow to see if Roland returns. 

Entry 17, December 25th, 1909

Christmas. Roland doesn't show.  

Entry 18, December 26th, 1909

I left camp to search for Roland. After several hours of combing the forest, I found his body. He's pinned to a tree, a branch protruding from his chest, his lifeless eyes peering out into the expanse of redwoods. He gripped his rifle tightly, finger on the trigger. I burned his body per standard procedures and took his rifle. As I was about to leave, I noticed a red "X" drawn on the tree where Roland was once pinned. This must have been the work of my target. 

Entry 19, December 27th, 1909

I followed a trail leading from the scene of Roland's demise. It led me to a dark, inky sector of the woods. Black streams flow through the hills, and several still, reflective ponds dot the landscape. I found more of the webbed huts we came across when we began our journey. I made camp in an easily defensible position, against a rocky outcrop atop a shallow cliff's edge, looking out onto a grassy meadow. If anyone comes for me, I'll be ready. 

Entry 20, December 28th, 1909

Nobody came in the night. With Roland dead and my situation growing worse by the day, I decided to call in backup. We were provided with rudimentary flares in the case of severe emergency. They are meant to alert our men stationed in Santa Cruz that our mission has gone terribly wrong. I used a flare. I am unsure if I made the right decision, if this target is beyond the capabilities of Roland and I, then these rescuers might be going to their deaths.

Entry 21, December 29th, 1909

I managed to sleep for a couple of hours. My thoughts are muddled. No sign of rescuers yet. I remain in my camp against the cliffside.

Entry 22, December 30th, 1909

I dreamt of the horrific figure once more. It grinned at me in a...loving manner. I tried to draw my pistol but my hands were paralyzed. I woke up just as it reached out to touch me, blood dripping from ashen claw like appendages. 

Entry 23, December 31st, 1909

New Year's Eve. On the edge of the meadow my camp overlooks, I saw several figures. They stood there, motionless. I fired my pistol in the air as a warning, but they remained still. I fired at them, and they remained still. 

Entry 24, January 1st, 1910

The figures are gone. Hours later I heard rustling in the trees, but to my joy the three figures who emerged wore military uniforms. Their leader, a Sergeant in rank by the looks of it, briefed me. He warned Washington D.C. that the flares were used, and said that more help is on the way. When I asked him why we couldn't leave now, he stared at me blankly. "It's a miracle we were able to get to you, the forests are infested, all we can do now is hold out as long as we can."

Entry 25, January 2nd, 1910

The Sergeant's men established a perimeter to our camp, setting up trenches, barriers, and makeshift pillboxes. I told the Sergeant my story, to which he replied with a grimace and several sympathetic nods. When I asked him what his men are preparing for, he shook his head and said, "those who call this forest home." He refused to answer more questions, clearly shaken by the ordeal of getting to me. To pass the time, I cleaned my revolver and Roland's repeater. 

Entry 26, January 3rd, 1910

I woke up to gunshots. The Sergeant's men had fired several rounds into the forest. I joined them, but I couldn't see what they were shooting at. One of them even threw a grenade. Desperation colored their faces. When I asked what they saw, they shook their heads and refused to reply. Later, the Sergeant asked me about a red X that suddenly appeared on one of the boulders near camp. I had no explanation, and neither did he. 

Entry 27, January 4th, 1910

Several pale figures emerged from the forest. They were people, but they looked rabid, their clothes tattered. They walked, arm's entwined and in a parallel line towards our camp. They moved at a deliberate pace, never speeding up, even when we opened fire. I took down at least six. My comrades killed the rest. Their ashen, sinewy bodies quickly moldered within the meadow, infecting it.

Entry 28, January 5th, 1910

The bodies disappeared overnight. Our food supplies were running low, so I decided to form a small hunting party composed of myself and one of the Sergeant's men. We didn't go far, always keeping camp within sight. We collected several squirrels and a raccoon, which helped to sustain us in the cold.  

Entry 29, January 6th, 1910

Had nightmares again. It was the same shadowy figure, overlooking our camp. When I awoke, there was nothing there. The other three men had the same dream. We decided to break camp. On the move as I write this, have to concentrate.

Entry 30, January 7th, 1910

We made camp after several hours of traveling towards the direction of town. We should have found an exit by now. 

Entry 31, January 8th, 1910

We left camp, moving swiftly. We found the site of Roland's death. The red X is still there. I noticed tracks in the dirt, circling the tree. There were people here within the past few days.

Entry 32, January 9th, 1910

One of the Sergeant's men developed the same rash that afflicted Roland. I told the Sergeant, and he lowered his head in dismay. He then pulled his pistol out and shot the man in the back of the head. We burned the body and continued on. 

Entry 33, January 10th, 1910

The shadowy figure is real. It appeared on the edge of our camp, its face contorted and ghastly. The eyes glowed red and its mouth curved inward, its face looking much like a crimson X foregrounding a portrait of nothingness. Its teeth were jagged, and blood seeped from its claw-like hands. If it had legs, we couldn't tell, it was too dark. We ran into the night, and kept running until we found a small abandoned shack. It has two shattered windows, each facing the inky expanse of redwoods. We stationed ourselves at the windows and waited.

Entry 34, January 11th, 1910

Today the shadowy figure emerged from the forest and stood about twenty feet from the shack. It continued to grin. We tried shooting at it, but it only caused it to recoil slightly. Otherwise it looked unharmed. It took one step forward. Then it waited, and took another step, making deliberate and drawn out movements. Its eyes were locked on mine. It continued making deliberate steps, stopping about five feet from the shack. It outstretched its arms, like a priest would do in church, and looked up to the sky. Then, it waited.

Entry 35, January 12th, 1910

We watched the figure for hours, but it didn't move. Our eyes grew tired. Decided to take turns watching, I slept a few hours, then watched, then slept. The figure never moved, but there's activity in the woods. It appeared to be summoning the ashen forest dwellers we encountered earlier. They encircled the house. 

Entry 36, January 13th, 1910

Last night I passed out. When I awoke, I saw the Sergeant and his man lying on the rotted, moss covered floor. A disgusting mixture of blood, gore, and mucus decorated their bodies. I prodded them. No response. I looked out the windows. The figure, and its minions, were gone. That's when I noticed the blood on my hands. Had I killed these men? The thought, strangely enough, did not disturb me in the least. I grinned, slightly, as I pondered what could have led to this absurd turn of events. Then I remembered my dream. The figure, it spoke to me. I still remember the words. We are one. And we are. I feel complete. Satisfied.

Here the entries stop for several decades. On the final page of the timeworn journal, the date "August 1965" is illegibly scrawled several times in red. There is one other line below that, itself nearly illegible. According to our best graphologists, it reads "They are building a school here. Good." 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How is iOS7 on the iPhone 4S?

Image source:

The simple answer is this: it's very good.

Therefore, as a 4S owner, I am appalled by articles like this one, which makes the following claim:

"At this point, I still think the iPhone 4S is a perfect device for anyone looking to get into the Apple ecosystem for minimal cost as, they do indeed make a great 'iOS starter device' and many folks in the iMore Forums tend to agree with that as well. That being said, it is getting to be a little dated and if you're comparing devices, the age will show."

Maybe it's the fact that I don't like their choice of words. "Starter device" implies that the 4S can't do everything that the 5, 5C, and 5S can do. In other words, that it's limited to the extent that you won't get the full "Apple experience."

Well, that's a load of baloney. I personally chose to buy the 4S over the 5 for the simple reason that when I compared both in an Apple Store, they performed equally well. The 5S, from what I have seen, is a great phone. It does indeed provide a smoother experience than the 4S. However, we're talking seconds, maybe even milliseconds of difference here. So sure, your 5 and 5S are faster than my 4S, but is it really to the extent that the 4S should get downgraded to "starter device" status?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Top Seven Songs in Doctor Who

Murray Gold has released a number of wonderful tracks for Doctor Who. Some are sad, some are inspirational, and others are everything in between. Here's a list of my top seven!

If seven seems arbitrary, deal with it ;)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't expect faster computers any time soon

Intel's Core i7 processor. 99% of you reading this article won't need the kind of power provided by this baby.

I've written here previously about the diminishing returns of smartphones. To summarize what I said there briefly, the processors within smartphones are so good at what they do that each subsequent upgrade feels like less of an improvement over the previous model. Or, in other words, the iPhone 4S felt much faster than the 4, but the iPhone 5S felt minutely faster than the 5.

A similar trend is occurring in the world of personal computers. If you bought a PC or laptop during or after 2007, you probably still own it to this day. Or, if you don't, it wasn't because it became too slow to perform the tasks you needed it to, but because it broke down.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Doctor Who: Vale Decem vs. Infinite Potential

If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I absolutely love the show Doctor Who. One of my favorite aspects of it, besides all of the zany storylines and fantastic characters, is its music.

The composer for the modern series, Murray Gold, really knows how to ramp up the adrenaline and emotion of what is occurring on screen with his music. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the scores he created for the 10th and 11th Doctor's regenerations, dubbed "Value Decem" and "Infinite Potential," respectively.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

True Detective: starring Bryan Cranston and Jensen Ackles?

The first season of True Detective ended a few weeks ago. Because the series is an anthology, actors Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, pictured above, will not be reprising the roles of Marty and Rust. The show will instead be introducing two new detectives. That leaves us with the question: who should play them?

Not even taking into account what the showrunner is planning as far as the storyline and theme of season two, I think two great options would be Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad fame), and Jensen Ackles (one of the leads of the hit show Supernatural).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trident Vitality Awaken review

I recently picked up a three-pack of this for 99 cents (at the 99 cent store no less). Suffice it to say, I was blown away by how good it is. It easily matches up to more expensive mint gums of similar flavor, like Stride Peppermint, or 5 Cobalt.

Inequality for All Review

Unsurprisingly, income inequality was at its highest in 1928 and 2007, or in other words right before the Great Depression and Great Recession.

Robert Reich's new documentary argues that both the Tea Party and Occupy Movement formed to overcome the same issue: the super rich strangling us and our economy. 

Reich's main evidence is some research that reveals how income inequality has been highest in America right before two major economic disasters: the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Reich argues that America experienced economic growth when there was more of a focus on growing the middle class. This was highlighted by the 90% tax rate on the super rich in the 1950s. (As an aside, I am curious to what research would say about income inequality during the Gilded Age, where America experienced many now forgotten economic disasters.)

Best of all, Reich criticized both Democrats and Republicans. Clinton did not do enough, and Obama has decent rhetoric but never follows through on it, as seen through his inability to raise the income tax on the highest wage earners in America and grow the middle class. Republicans were called out on their faulty logic that cutting taxes creates jobs. 

Reich emphasizes how the rich do not use their money to create jobs. They use it to create more wealth. And, based on what I see going on today in Washington and on Wall Street, that seems to be what is actually going on.

As such, a 35% tax rate on them is far too low, especially given that many of them find a way to weasel themselves out of that rate (see Mitt Romney and capital gains).

Who really creates jobs if it is not the rich? Us. The middle class. We make up the majority of consumers in the United States. If we are healthy economically, so is the rest of the country. 

On the flip side, if a rich person invests all of their wealth in some speculative endeavor, that money is essentially useless in terms of building up society. Whereas, if it were taxed, it would go to improving education, healthcare, etc. So it basically comes down to this: is the excess wealth the one percent has better served making them even richer, or in funding an infrastructure that will make the country as a whole stronger?

I think the answer here is clear. You cannot rely on the charity of billionaires, a common conservative argument. The federal government must delegate funds towards things that benefit all of us. 

Politics aside, I think that most of us, whether on the right or the left, can agree with Reich's primary message: that we need to find some way to help the people who used to be the backbone of America. The easiest solution would be to turn to what we know has worked already in the past: asking the super rich to pay just a little bit more. This should not be seen as a punishment. Only a return to the status quo. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Leave the Galaxy S5 alone

Now that the post-release cacophony of tech articles relating to the S5 is dying down, I'd like to put my two cents in. I'll preface this by saying that I wrote an article a year ago referencing what I saw as severe diminishing returns in the smartphone industry. The Galaxy S5 did nothing to disprove the trend I noted in that article, and yet, I am writing today to defend it. Why? Read on.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kendall Marshall will be a star

Kendall Marshall was a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He was described as a great, albeit non-athletic, playmaker, though never saw much time on the court while on the Phoenix Suns. They got rid of him, and after a brief stint on the Wizards and in the D-League, Marshall was called up to play for the injury-depleted Los Angeles Lakers.

His first few games were nothing special. However, after the Lakers' other guards were assassinated by the Dark Brotherhood (it felt that way at least), he was given a chance to start. And boy has he delivered. During his past few weeks at the helm, Marshall has averaged more assists than anybody else in the NBA. On top of that, he's also shooting the lights out from three point range.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Elder Scrolls Online will be terrible

The Elder Scrolls Online. It is being developed by Zenimax Online Studios, a development team separate from the one that crafts the single player Elder Scrolls series.

This past decade there has really only been one MMO that experienced overwhelming success both critically and monetarily, and that is World of Warcraft. Many have tried to usurp its throne, but all have failed to match its popularity. This year, another contender has risen in an attempt to woo gamers away from Blizzard's panda shaped ATM. I am speaking of course, about The Elder Scrolls Online.

About The Author

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Nicholas Garcia (M.A.) is a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Davis. He is also a Co-Founder of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. Previously, he contributed to and the Davis Humanities Institute.