Welcome to Help

I updated the Welcome to Help web page, for what it’s worth. It had been basically blank, but then something corrupted in the MySQL database it used, so it threw an error instead. Unsightly. The reason it might be of interest is the biographical aspect. The business for all practical purposes never existed. I did odds and ends that could be said to have been that, but without using the business name. I did work through OnForce (does that even exist anymore?), with the business name and site being tied to my account. That was about as close as I got.

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Farewell to a Sweet Lady

At least, that was always my impression of Nancy Pimentel, who went on to be Nancy Tracy in a 27 year second marriage.

This is a bit of a strange memorial to write, as I can’t precisely say that she was the awesome mother of a friend from school. She was actually the mother of my ninth grade crush. In more modern terms, you might even say that I was, for a time, her daughter’s stalker. Since I was 14 and had no clue, except that I was head over heels, I wouldn’t put it that negatively.

When I eventually got to know the poor girl in question, a few years later, I decided it wouldn’t have worked out. The cruel thing was that as soon as I provoked an interested response, after lurking around long enough, I fled in terrified confusion. I was nothing if not shy. No surprise I got married at 42, to someone met online, and hardly dated in the interim.

Her mother and sister, though… they didn’t scare me. I wasn’t crushing on them. To what extent I got to know Nancy, and from the impression I developed, she was every bit as wonderful as her obituary describes. She was mutual friends with a close friend of my sister-in-law’s, so I had some insight before we ever met. It’s even possible we had “met.” I had gone to a Tupperware party held by my sister-in-law’s friend, and it’s possible Nancy was there. Weird how that works.

Weirder, though, is that I’d been thinking of her recently. Out of the blue. No special reason. I don’t often think much about her or her daughters from most of a lifetime ago. Then she’s dead. It struck me harder than it ought to for someone I barely knew, so deep in the past. The parents of friends are starting to drop, as will mine, inevitably. Most of them I never met, though I sympathize. Perhaps that’s the difference.

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Lacking Sympathy

There is an imbalance of single college graduate women to men in the dating pool, leaving an increasing number of women in the lurch. The way colleges have been treating men versus women, the imbalance isn’t going to change soon. The way society and family law treat men versus women in familial relationships and, particularly, breakups, there’s less incentive to marry. I was 42 and well on my way to never marrying or having kids, before I met my wife online.

The above things beneficial to women contribute to my reduced sympathy. Personal experience does the rest. I was never exactly Mr. Social (Read: Painfully Shy), but still. It was made crystal clear to me that I was not welcome in the dating pool. If there was such a thing, and there had to be, since I sometimes saw evidence of it. It was clear to me that I was a vile human if I was interested in women. For some reason that was just wrong, even if other guys were OK with them.

I wanted nothing more than to marry someone special and have kids, as many as I could afford. I was left in the lurch, for no good reason I could ever discern. Lack of boldness? Being too nice? Sheer terror on my part? I have the best kids in the world, but I should not have had to wait until I was 43 for my first one to arrive.

I guess I timed my twenties and early thirties wrong. With an imbalance this big, perhaps I’d have had a chance. Or perhaps not.

Posted in Economics, Education, History, Kids, Money, Personal, Psychology | Leave a comment


Since I’ve setted on the status quo of part time work that I enjoy with a side of writing and web site work, and since I could use more money if I can generate some from it, I have been working on a coherent set of blogs under one umbrella. This, ironically, is not one of them. It could be, since it would fill an area that won’t be under the purview of others. It just seems odd to do that with a “my name” blog/web site. I’ve owned Elhide forever, at least in web years, and decided to use it as a name and umbrella for lack of any better ideas.

Not that I absolutely wouldn’t accept some kind of job or other opportunity that presented itself. It’s just that my going Galt seems to have gone hand-in-hand with an increased lack of seriousness on the part of potential employers. I may be out of date and all, but when something like tech support converges in pay on what I make at my stable, long-term, same-town job, but offers temporary employment with no benefits, that’s crazy. It’s crazy even at significantly higher pay. I digress. Perhaps I’ll talk about what I’d consider accepting in some other post.

Anyway, I have a food blog, tech/geek blog, snarky link blog, business/economics blog, and new review blog. They still need work, and more regular posts. I actually bought a refurbished laptop as a dedicated business computer to post and work on them, and any client site work I may have, with less distraction and greater portability. I just haven’t made space and gotten accessories to set it up fully yet. What’s missing most is a politics blog. That would also tend to be a philosophy blog, though I could write some of that here. It would also tend, unfortunately, to overlap economics and business. I say unfortunately because in an ideal world, politics would have little to do with those things.

That would leave personal blogging for here. Some culture stuff. Maybe some commentary on books that wouldn’t fit at the review blog. Moveis. My interests that don’t fit elsewhere. But then, I could also see putting some of that at a dedicated blog under one “publisher.”

I certainly don’t plan, for now, to use this place for self-promotion of the job seeking variety. I may leave in place my incomplete series of posts formerly toward that end, but I won’t be pushing that content.

And yet… this post is part of that, no? It’s “here’s what I’m working on now.” Go figure.

Posted in Blogging, Business, Interests, Politics | Leave a comment

Atlas Shrugged Part 3

I finally got around to watching Atlas Shrugged Part 3.

For Part 1, I had to travel a bit to get to a theater screening it. It was not the best, but that was overshadowed somewhat by the excitement of that book being brought to film. Dagny didn’t look (or seem enough) like Dagny. Francisco absolutely wasn’t Francisco. It was fascinating to see the science fictional aspect of the book rendered more so by extrapolating it into the future, rather than depicting a fictional past as it didn’t happen.

For Part 2, I was able to see it locally. That made it all the more disappointing that the travel required for the final part turned out to be too much to bother. Dagny still wasn’t Dagny. Francisco was perfect. I was intrigued by D.B. Sweeney as Galt, except we really didn’t get more than a voice. The effects were substantial. Definitely science fiction. I thought at the time that it was a step up.

Part 3 I never saw in the theater, as mentioned. I was expecting it to be horrible, based on the reception it got. Instead, it was very well done, I’d say my favorite of the three parts. That could be because of when in the books it took place. It doesn’t hurt that, while still not looking like Dagny, this was the best Dagny of the three. Or perhaps I just thought she was that attractive. Galt was not my vision of Galt, but I am not sure he could ever be depicted as described in the book. He grew on me and will probably be my mental image from now on. Even if he didn’t match my visual, he did well in tone and bearing. Francisco appeared to old compared to the other two. Ellis Wyatt (always loved that name) was arguably closer than the first one, while still not being right. And yet, the first one has now become my mental image. He clearly did something right.

I did have minor quibbles. Why bother with license plates on cars in Galt’s Gulch? I dismissed that as being so they could take them outside without jumping through hoops. Why was there a road in Galt’s Gulch that had clearly been paved and lined by government? The special government project was not the torture device! That was just a torture device. The special project was up there with nukes in terms of secretly developed super weapons, but aimed more internally. I was hoping to see the culmination of that, however abbreviated, as the cause of the Taggart Bridge collapse. Finally, I missed the epilogue.

I thought “this is John Galt speaking” was handled extremely well. The philosophy was more prevalent in this one, which may have been a reason I liked it better than the others. Even in the book it was never clear why we had “head of state” and not President. This film made it clear that the very structure and name of the nation had changed. The entire last third of the book was condensed pretty well for this movie, considering the challenge that represents.

Atlas Shrugged the book is special to me. It can be a slog to read. I’ve only ever read all of John Galt’s broadcast once in multiple rereads. I was living in my first apartment, late 1981, when I read 1984. That book gave me nightmares and threw me into a depressed state of mind. Reading Atlas Shrugged was what snapped me out of it. The whole episode had the side effect of making me question where I was headed and deciding to attend college, three years out of high school. That whole thing could have gone better, but it was a net positive.

At the same time, I can think of at least one book, Terry Goodkind’s Faith of the Fallen, that is Atlas Shrugged philosophically, done better and shorter, in a fantasy setting to boot. Faith of the Fallen is part of a series that starts with Wizard’s First Rule. In that one, it turns out that the sixth rule is: “The only sovereign you can allow to rule you is reason.” It doesn’t get much more concise than that.

Posted in 1981, 1982, Books, Movies, Philosophy, Psychology | Leave a comment

Standing Corrected

Previously in writing about Alone, I was critical of Sam’t shelter, mainly the way the outer tarp flapped noisily. Sam himself has posted a deconstruction of his shelter, including pictures of it at various stages of construction, showing how well-constructed and carefully considered it was. I obviously missed some of the details. It might not be exactly what I’d have come up with, and I still think I’d have been more likely to go into the woods some, but it was well made and did the job well. Further, it was roomy. I could picture myself doing something more like Alan’s, but that wasn’t so roomy, and required serendipity to make it possible.

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Alone Again, Naturally

This seems to be my place for posting my thoughts on History Channel’s Alone, which completed its first season Thursday. There will be SPOILERS in this post. You have been warned. I have restrained myself from posting sooner and from blaring at the top of the post that yay, so-and-so won.

I also fully admit that I have not done the things these guys are practiced in doing, and would have a lot to learn, on paper and even more so in hands-on, before I could hope to put my money where my mouth is. No amount of interest can substitute for experience. Though I do believe, and the wife agrees, that I would be almost unnaturally good at the isolation that provides the psychological challenge inherent in the show’s name.

To recap, in the ninth episode, local guy Mitch went home in third place. I had rooted for him to win, and actually assumed he would, but I lacked the knowledge of his mother’s health being on his mind. Luca went home in fourth place, abruptly deciding he had nothing more to prove – which he surely doesn’t – despite clearly being in as good a position as anyone to remain indefinitely. He wasn’t obviously starving as Sam was. He had decent conditions, as these things go. For him it was entirely a mind game, rather than a survival skills game.

Sam rocked, but was always curiously deficient in terms of shelter. I always wondered why he didn’t build something better, or at least secure the flapping tarp. While he appeared to have food issues, the shelter, the flapping tarp specifically, did him in. Anyone could be driven to leave after three days of no sleep due to the noise of the tarp flapping in high winds.

Alan‘s shelter was partly luck, finding that exact spot, but was also skillfully constructed for dryness and warmth. You could criticize it as little more than an emergency survival shelter, but it’s not like it was an emergency debris shelter, either. Some of what the guys did depended on found items. It would be interesting to see more of the footage, since very little of what they filmed went into the episodes. The episodes necessarily had to be edited for maximum audience interest and drama, while also telling the story of who did what when over the course of time.

Anyway, I didn’t expect Sam to win, given his apparent condition compared to Alan’s, once it was down to those two for the finale. Sure enough, Sam caved at 54 days. Fifty-four days! That’s amazing! I wasn’t sure what to make of him at the beginning, though I can relate to the goofy side. I became a fan and would have been perfectly satisfied had he won. He and his wife were absolutely adorable, and it was nice that he got home in time for the baby to arrive. The weigh-in was jaw-dropping. Going from 245 to 160 at his size isn’t healthy. I’m 5′ 11″ and once dropped from 233 to 178 in eight months. At 178 I looked almost anorexic. Once I got back up into the 200-210 range, though, I sustained it for years. Then I got a desk job doing tech support (after being unemployed for a year) and had my first experience being on blood pressure pills (ironic for those to turn you into a sluggish weigh-gaining machine). After that it was all over! Until I got another physical job, which I hesitate to give up because of how it makes me feel. But I digress.

I wondered, once Sam was gone, how they would approached informing and extracting Alan. Day 56 he was ready to stay indefinitely! Their trick of calling him to say they were coming to do a routine medical checkup begged the question of how often they did such a thing for all the contestants throughout the show. It also begged the question of how much they called to give direction, came out to replace depleted batteries (they each had enough batteries for perhaps a month, from what I understand), or otherwise checked in, and what effect that had on the “alone” psychology. There’s just plain a lot we don’t know about how things were run and orchestrated.

In any event, I thought surprising him was clever. In retrospect, the two day delay post-Sam accomplished two things: It gave time for Sam to be processed and it gave time for Alan’s wife to be brought there. I loved the touch of bringing her for the extraction and surprising him with her walking out of the woods at the approrpiate time.

Rooting for Mitch or not, Alan was so good, I am not sure it could ever have been anyone else. The man is a natural entertainer, or so the edits make it seem. Besides skill, he was able to keep himself entertained. He was able to maintain a level perspective. Lucas didn’t have that, though he did have projects to occupy himself, which had to have helped the angst.

Alan’s kids were adorable in his homecoming, and so familiar to me. The oldest, shocked when she saw him. The apparent youngest, still focused on “I want I want.” The driving had to have been incredibly strange, as he noted. I’ve gone far shorter times not driving and felt completely alien behind the wheel. Despite my love of driving. To go months… Wow!

I’d love to see more footage/features from the season while we await season 2. I for one look forward to it, and wonder just where they will dump the contestants. Vancouver was a great, brutal location. Apparently closer to civilization than it might have appeared on screen, but still. For people from eastern North America or the souther US, is was pretty alien. Reusing the same area would have the drawback of now contestants have a better idea of what they face. Thus I assume it’ll be somewhere else, perhaps even a different time of year. Heat and dry instead of cold and wet? Edible flora but not so much fauna (or seafod, anyway, since fauna didn’t play much of a role, mice notwithstanding)? Water was relatively easy. Maybe make it harder? Guess we’ll find out!

That about covers it. If not, I can always post again. Congratualtions Alan! And all four top contenders!

Posted in Camping, Food, History, Interests, Kids, Medical, People, Personal, Psychology, Survival, TV | Leave a comment

Incomplete Data

Makes for imprefect predictions.

As I posted previously, I had predicted and rooted for Mitch to win Alone. And he could have! But how could we have known about his mother weighing on his mind the entire time? I am proud of the local guy regardless. 43 Days!

Lucas was more of a departure of choice, leaving at 40 days, the seventh to go, when he was arguably the best off of all the guys to remain indefinitely. He’s right, though; he has nothing to prove any longer. He was just astonishing. All four who didn’t leave the first week are, but Lucas was a bundle of energy. I understand he lucked out, getting the most random stuff washing ashore of all of them. Luck didn’t give him those skills, though.

I had predicted Sam next, but he’s in the final two, though he appears to be starving and not well off, whatever bravado he exhibits. He could win by Alan deciding he’s done first, but I still see him as most likely to be ninth and Alan as most likely to win.

Alan is looking a bit gaunt, finally, as Sam has been. It is interesting that the final two are big guys with some meat on their bones, while the two to leave before them are the skinny guys. Yet the skinny guys never looked obviously affected by hunger.

I would be proud of either of the remaining guys for winning, but I predict Alan and root for him. Though I have Sam’s goofiness, I relate more closely to Alan.

I just hope the episode isn’t mixed up this week. I come home from work Friday morning, ready to watch the Thursday night episode and nothing’s there! As far as I could tell, they were skipping a week. Then the episode was there Saturday and I was spoiled as to who left prior to seeing it.

On another note, if I am going to post random stuff like this here and not on a blog meant for the topic, I need to change my categories. They all relate to job hunting! One way or another – jobs and projects I’ve done, that sort of thing. Since I don’t intend for a my-name blog to be part of the group of blogs I am creating/revamping on various topics, perhaps if I write about TV, culture, camping, bushcraft, survivalism, or whatnot, it should be on a blog intended for those things. Not sure what that leaves for here, though…

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Go Mitch!

Another week of Alone and Mitch remains… but so do the other three! I thought I might have written it in the prior post, but I don’t see that I thought Sam had a good chance of being next to tap out. Well, this episode clinched that sense. He was done. Except they ended the episode with no departures, and with only two episodes to go! Not counting the pseudo-episode they have online, in which they do an episode length thing with the guys who left before, and preview what’s next. I didn’t watch that yet. Looks like it was there prior to episode 8.

Mitch, as I expected, at least made a start toward recovering from the gill net loss. None of the guys are in the best spirits. Even Alan. Sam continues to have the worst food issues, and now seems to have the worst morale. When Mitch grumbled about the cold, I was telling the screen “I’ve seen you cqamp out in a blizzard!” Granted, that didn’t end well and he was able to hoof back out and get home to recover, but it wasn’t the cold or snow that was the big problem then. He did make an excellent point about being less motivated for himself alone than he would be to provide for his family were they also there.

Lucas could have had a bad time, being in between shelters right as the cold hit hard. He is amazing, building a yurt, when he already appeared to have as good a shelter as any. Then building a stringed instrument and making up a song about how it sucks being there now. This on top of the whole canoe thing, which I had worried might be his downfall if there were an accident.

I am assuming the last episode will go heavy on fetching the last contestant and recapping, so effectively we have one episode with heavy tap out action. Can’t wait!

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I grew up in the middle of the woods. Lately I have regretted not taking more advantage of it. In the past year or so, I’ve gotten into some of the survival videos people post on YouTube. This at the same time I’ve done some camping with the kids the past few years.

The guy whose videos I have watched most avidly, Mitch, is on a History Channel show called Alone. Part of the reason I latched on to his videos in particular, besides obvious skill, was that he was obviously local. I kept trying to figure out just how local to me, and where the woods he regularly filmed in might be. They could have been my woods, when I was young. I had the run of something near a square mile that had houses only on parts of the periphery, with our house and one other in the interior.

Sadly, I never learned exactly how to make shelters, start fires without matches (except maybe with a magnifying glass, and despite the presence of a stockpile of chert, which we thought was flint, out past our yard), render water potable, create traps or snares, that sort of thing. If I had exactly the same surroundings now, it would be perfect for taking a backpack and minimal supplies and experimenting with staying out for the night.

Now I take the kids camping and use a ferro rod, with or without magnesium, and don’t break out the matches to start a fire. I wanted to experiment with other methods, with the kids involved, but mostly we were out driving around, and we got rained (deluged) into heading home after two nights.

Anyway, the show… It’s seven episodes in, out of ten. There are four guys left, out of ten, and they are over 30 days into staying out in the wild with minimal equipment, isolated and filming themselves. I had pegged Mitch to win. It’s a combination of rooting for the local guy of whom I have been a fan (though it turns out I had also watched YouTube videos by at least two of the other contestants), knowing his skills, and subtle cues that tell me things might have changed in a way that could reflect having won. Then again, all contestants get paid something, potentially something decent, just for being on a show like that, even without the grand prize.

Thus it’s alarming that in episode 7 things are looking grim for Mitch, as if he is likely to be next to tap out. Then again, that could be dramatic editing. At this point, all four remaining guys are amazing and worthy.

Alan actually seems best off overall, emotionally and resource-wise. Lucas is in good shape for resources, and has done some amazing things, but is an emotional wreck. Sam is starving, the most obviously suffering dramatic weight loss, but has the skills and stability needed. Though spending as much effort as the last episode made it appear on trapping mice to eat seemed like a poor focus. It might be different if he got something bigger, like a squirrel.

Three more episodes, four more to go. Someone has to give soon. It’s been two episodes with no departures and a long elapsed time. You have to figure that part of the final episode is devoted to the winner finding out he has won, and a wrap-up/recap. I would expect that once the ninth person taps out, the producers would not let the last man keep going long without letting him know he outlasted the rest. That would be cruel and not very dramatic. Here’s Mitch. Here’s Mitch some more… Yeah, they’d want to end it.

Almost as interesting as the show itself are video commentaries I came across by The Prepper’s Bunker Outdoors. Once I watch Alone on Friday (on the web morning after it airs – don’t have cable), I keep looking for the commentary video until it’s posted. They sometimes observe things I missed, or have a perspective I wouldn’t. A lot of times they say exactly what I say to the screen while Alone is playing.

But all I know is enough to be an armchair critic, not to do what those guys are doing. Maybe with some practice and learning. I believe I would cope with the “alone” part better than most people. Perhaps I am wrong. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

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