Friday, February 28, 2014


It was my birthday this past week. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I recently began seeing a new woman, after being dumped in early December by the last one. The new woman's name is Jennifer, and she lives in a town about 70 miles from here. She decided to surprise me by taking a vacation day from work without telling me, drove to my area, and then called me to tell me to meet her at 3 o'clock.

She then took me on a date and paid for everything. We didn't do anything fancy: we played mini golf, got some dinner, and then went to a movie. We were out for eight hours. It was one of the best times that anyone has ever shown me for my birthday. Let me explain:

In 2013, my girlfriend at the time and I went to a steak restaurant and got dinner, then we went bowling. Total cost for the night? $124. I paid for it all.
In 2012, I got nothing. I was in Grad school, and we had a party for all of the people in the class who had a February birthday, but that was it.
In 2011, I was informed by my wife at the time, just five days before my birthday, that I was getting a divorce, because I wouldn't give her money to get another college degree, when she wasn't doing anything with the one that she had just gotten the year before.

That's as far back as I can remember. Birthdays (and women) have never been that good for me. This year was a major improvement.

She gave me a card, and told me that she had spent hours looking for one that said exactly what she wanted it to say. The card talked about my qualities as a man, and said that the world needs more men like me. She then texted me when I got home, and explained that while she isn't good at expressing her feelings, she wanted me to know that she is happy to be on life's journey with me.

While in the movie, Jennifer flipped up the armrest, placed her head on my shoulder, and stayed there cuddled up against me for the entire movie. I spent the entire movie intoxicated by the smell of her. Her perfume, the smell of her shampoo. I didn't watch most of the movie, because I was busy looking at the curve of her neck and enjoying the feel of her against me. It was one of the most intensely erotic and enchanting experiences that I have ever had.

All of this, and we have only been dating for four weeks. I don't know if this woman has read "The Art of Seduction" or some other similar book, but she could not be doing a better job of enthralling me.

I feel like I am chasing her and earning her affection, but at the same time, it seems like she is orchestrating the entire thing. I'm thinking that if this is what it is like to date an intelligent, stable, independent woman who knows what she wants, I am going to be a happy, happy man.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Biochemistry of attraction and substance abuse

This post will contain a bit of science geekery. I want to get into a bit of neurochemistry as it relates to drug use and romantic relationships. First, a small lesson in neurochemistry:

The pleasure center of our brain is a small area known as the amygdala. The amygdala is the area of the brain that is associated with pleasure. It is the hedonistic influence of our brain, and it rewards us with the secretion of neurotransmitters that cause us to feel euphoric and stimulated by stimulating the cells of the VTA section of the brain, which causes those cells to secrete the neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are chiefly dopamine, seratonin, and norepinephrine. These substances are responsible for every pleasurable feeling that we have. This reward system is crucial for individual and support elementary processes such as drinking, eating and reproduction. It also plays a key role in behavior and memory.

The counterbalance to this is the inhibitory center of the brain, the frontal lobe. This area of the brain inhibits the release of the aforementioned neurotransmitters. This area is the part of your brain that tells you, "I know that this sounds like a good idea, but I wouldn't do that if I were you." This area of the brain is not fully developed in most people until they are in their mid 20's, and is less developed in men than it is in women, which is why young men tend to do the stupid things you see in the Jackass movies.The cortex does this by causing the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin, instead of controlling behavior with that "rush" of excitement and euphoria, regulates behavior with a long term feeling of contentment and happiness.

What does this have to do with relationships and with drugs? When we take certain drugs, opiates for example, the opiate bypasses the amygdala, and directly causes the cells of the VTA to release their dopamine. (other drugs have different mechanisms, but they all have the same end result: increased levels of one or more of those three neurotransmitters) This has several profound effects on the body: the rush, the feelings of pleasure, flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and other effects. In other words, couples in this stage of love focus intently on the relationship and often on little else, very much similar to drug addicts.

When we are attracted to a person, the brain responds by rewarding us with all three neurotransmitters at the same time, just in smaller doses than drugs do. Now what this does is that it causes the same feelings that the drugs do, just with less intensity. The advantage to this, is that the effect lasts much longer, which is why the "honeymoon phase" of relationships lasts about 6 to 8 months.

The effect of meeting a woman is more pronounced and occurs faster in men than it women, both because of the less developed male frontal cortex, and because of the visually oriented nature of men. This is why men tend to fall faster and then spend their time trying to impress the woman that is the subject of their desire: They are being compelled by the chemicals in their blood to please their intended mate, and will do nearly anything to maintain that dopamine induced high.

 As is well known, falling in love often leads to emotional and physiological instability. You bounce between exhilaration, euphoria, increased energy, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, trembling, a racing heart and accelerated breathing, as well as anxiety, panic and feelings of despair when your relationship suffers even the smallest setback. These mood swings parallel the behavior of drug addicts, and are caused by the frontal cortex and amygdala doing their thing. And indeed, when in-love people are shown pictures of their loved ones, it fires up the same regions of the brain that activate when a drug addict takes a hit. Being in love, researchers say, is a form of addiction.

When we are not with the object of our desire, the frontal cortex is suppressed, serotonin levels drop, and we find ourselves obsessing  over them. People who are in love report that they spend, on average, more than 85 percent of their waking hours musing over their "love object." Intrusive thinking, as this form of obsessive behavior is called, is a sign of reduced serotonin levels. This reduced serotonin level causes emotional dependency, resulting in feelings of possessiveness, jealousy, fear of rejection, and separation anxiety.

Unfortunately, the feelings of being in love usually don't last forever. It's an impermanent state that either evolves into a long-term, codependent relationship that psychologists call "attachment," or it dissipates, and the relationship dissolves. This is the result of neurotransmitter levels returning to normal.

Now you know.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Data Breach, Part Deux

I had a couple of data breaches last month.Of course, I just went through a nasty breakup, where my supposedly Christian girlfriend was sleeping around and, according to at least one of her friends, was only with me because she found out that I am worth a pile of money. Now the data breaches may have been pure coincidence, and I cannot prove who was responsible, but I have had more data loss issues in the three months since she left than I have had since 2000, when my identity was stolen by the employee of a car dealership.

Annie Mouse advised me to change all of my bank accounts, and I did not. Instead, I simply got all new credit cards. That turns out to be a bad move on my part. It turns out that someone went on an online shopping spree after they gave the routing and account numbers from the MICR on the bottom of my checks to a Nevada credit card processing company. I lost well over a thousand dollars.

So I will spend the day tomorrow ordering checks, changing all of my direct deposit information, and other steps to secure the rest of my finances and data.

In other news, the woman that I met earlier this month is looking to be everything that the last one wasn't. She is well educated, smart, and well established in her career. She has a Master's Degree, and is in a professional occupation. She tries to insist on paying for half of everything, even though I have far more money than she does. Most of the time I win that battle, because I think that men should pay on dates, at least until you are a solidly exclusive couple. We have only been dating for three weeks, so who can say where this is going, but she certainly shows promise. The one thing that I enjoy the most is that this woman has it all together, and there is not a speck of drama in her life. She doesn't need me in her life, she wants me in her life. There is a difference, and that is all the difference there needs to be.


So because I am single and looking for the first time in about a decade, I have been wondering how we are supposed to act. This is normal, because technology like texting has greatly influenced how we interact with our potential mates.
I stumbled upon a study of US relationship norms, and I wanted to share with all of you some interesting factoids:

There are 86 eligible males for every 100 single females.
This one sort of surprised me. I actually thought that the numbers would be the other way around.

48% of all breakups are done over the telephone or by email. 7% are done by text, and only 35% are done face to face.
So me being dumped a few months ago by telephone was not abnormal. I still feel that there are certain things that should be done face to face: The first time you tell someone "I love you" and breaking up with someone come to mind. I guess I am just old fashioned that way.

For every $5000 that a woman earns more than her husband, their chance of divorce increases by 4%.

This one surprised me as well. I wonder if this is because the men feel threatened, or the women feel more independent.

On average, men know if they are falling for a woman by the 3rd date, but women do not know until the 14th date.

Yet women think that men are either moving too fast or are heartless. I think men are just better at knowing what they want and making up their minds. For example: Have you ever watched a woman shop for shoes?

40% of men report being scared of their potential mate during the early stages of a relationship.

This is because men have fragile egos, and we fear rejection.

52% of all breakups occur on a Monday. 

Mine did. Don't answer the phone on Monday.

84% of all breakups are either initiated by the woman, or the woman purposely makes life so difficult on the man that he breaks up with her.
 So, contrary to popular culture, men are not the heartless unfaithful ones.
57% of women say that their sexual fantasy is having sex outside. Only 14% say it is having a threesome. 35% have fantasized about having an affair, but only half of those have actually done so.

So men, if you want to live your woman's fantasy, find a place to do the deed that is outside, but out of sight. It will have just enough of an element of danger to excite her.

48% of women claim to have faked an orgasm with their current partner. 25% of women are incapable of having an orgasm through sexual intercourse alone.

Wow, a quarter. Men need to polish up on their "other" skills.

54% of women report that they are more attracted to men who wear blue on the first date.

48% of women and 38% of men research a person or perform a background check on the internet before dating them.

I usually do. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The other guy was supposed to pay for that

Some of the Gator's Dockside locations, a chain of restaurants in Florida, have announced that they will be passing the cost of the ACA (Obamacare) on to customers in the form of a surcharge added to every bill. The howls of indignation were immediate. Commenters on the article had things to say like this:

Did not know that was legal

Go ahead and put that on my bill. I would deduct that straight from any tip I was going to give.

I will never eat there again.

So what did you morons think was going to happen? You vote for giving government the power to force your employer to give you an added benefit at his expense. Did you think he was going to just chalk it up as a loss? He has to find a way to pay for this, just as anyone must. This leaves him with one of two choices: Cut costs by cutting hours or staff, or pass that cost on to the consumer.

At least Gator's is being transparent about it, instead of just raising prices without telling you why.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

You don't need a gun

You do not need a gun. If you get attacked, all you have to do is call the cops. If your attacker will allow it, that is:
Tomlin tried to call for help, but Perkins knocked her desk phone onto the floor and later slapped her cellphone out of her hand, officials said.
 Now there are people who will claim that a gun would be taken away just as easily as a phone, but remember that it takes much longer to complete a call for help than it does to shoot someone in self defense. It's pretty difficult to wrestle my gun away from me while you are struggling with that sucking chest wound that I just gave you.

Just ask Trayvon Martin.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I Repeat

This is a post that I put up three years ago, and I repeat it now:

What if the shoe were on the other foot?

Let's imagine that the government signs a contract with Boeing, where the company will provide 500 military aircraft over a ten year period. The contract is structured so that Boeing gets $10 million for each unit, payable on delivery, and another $5 billion at the end of the 10 year contract, as a bonus for completing all aircraft on time, bringing the total of the contract to $10 billion.

Nine years into the project, 450 aircraft have been delivered, and the company is well positioned to deliver the remaining aircraft before the expiration of the contract and collect the bonus. The Air Force decides that they cannot afford to pay the bonus, and unilaterally alters the contract to eliminate the bonus, and decides that the original price of $10 million per copy is sufficient. The military also announces that while other contracts with defense contractors are unaffected by this contract change, budgetary constraints may cause them to alter other contracts in the future.

Boeing protests, saying that each aircraft costs the company more than $10 million to build, and the company stands to lose money on this contract if the previously promised bonus is not paid. Boeing further states that had the bonus not been a part of the contract, they would have signed other, more lucrative deals with other parties, and that the bonus was the reason the deal was agreed to in the first place. Boeing petitions their congressman to reinstate the original conditions of the contract. Instead, the Democrat-controlled congress threatens to pass a law preventing corporations who receive money from military contracts from negotiating the terms of those contracts.

1. At this point, is Boeing justified in refusing to deliver any more aircraft?
2. Should the government be able to force them to deliver them anyway?
3. Is the law preventing defense contractors from contacting their representatives constitutional or fair?

Most would say that the Air Force and Congress are out of line. Sure, $20 million per aircraft seems steep, but the Air Force still made the deal, and should have considered that prior to having the work done.

How is this any different from what is being done to those who provide labor as their product? The employees have delivered the product (their labor), and now that the work is done 25 years later, there are attempts to alter the agreement by eliminating the pension that they were promised. The very pension that caused them to stay when there were more lucrative jobs available.

If the state thinks that the pension is unaffordable, they should cut other projects, instead of screwing over the people that already performed their part of the bargain. For example, in the state of Florida, the entire public pension system costs about 3% of the state's budget. Medicaid represents nearly 30% of the state budget. The people who are on Medicaid did nothing to earn that money, besides have children that they cannot afford. Why not cut that?

The answer is simple: Vote pandering.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fallen hero

Staff Sgt. Walter Ehlers, the last Medal of Honor recipient from the D-Day invasion in 1944, has died at the age of 92. Our nation is that much less, now that we have lost a man of his caliber.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Update on me

I know that posting here has been sporadic at best, and the quality of my posts has been down. All of the regular readers of this blog know the reason. I have spent the past two weeks putting my life back in perspective, and getting myself back to the person that I used to be.

I have made quite a bit of progress. My friends tell me that I am back to the old me, the person that I was two years ago: confident, fun, and active. I met someone, and she is wonderful. I have not told her anything about what happened, and I doubt that I ever will. We have had some spectacular dates, and all I have to do is take this one day, one date, at a time.

That is hard to do, because you have to remember that you were hurt not to long ago, meaning that you are vulnerable. At the same time, you have to forget what happened so you can let it go, to prevent what happened from causing your baggage to poison the next relationship.

I have been so busy with that, pressure washing the house, updating my SCUBA equipment, and dating this new woman, that blogging has been taking back seat.

Still, I am happier than I have been in months, and she is certainly fun to hang out with.

Bank Douchebaggery

From Capital One:
Their new credit card contract grants the bank to send people over to your home or workplace to convince you to pay, and they also reserve the right to spoof you into answering the door or phone through the use of deceptive means.

When banks pull stuff like this, they eventually get the public angry enough that they spur Congress to act. This is pure doucebaggery. There is a legal process for a creditor to get paid, and using mafia style harassment is not a part of that.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


During the winter in Florida, the ocean becomes unpredictable. One weekend, the waves are 1-2 feet, and two days later, they are 15 feet. Every time a cold front comes through, the ocean gets a bit bumpy. For that reason, I usually use winter as a time for getting maintenance done on my SCUBA gear, and for making upgrades.

One of this year's upgrades is that I am becoming redundant. 

SCUBA gear is life support equipment. When you are 100 feet underwater and your life support fails, life can get interesting. This is one of the reasons why divers are supposed to use the buddy system. Your buddy is your emergency backup life support. A SCUBA regulator is what reduces the (usually air) pressure from whatever is in your tank, to a pressure that is the same as the surrounding water pressure, so that you can breathe. The first stage, mounted on the tank, lowers the pressure to about 100 psi, and sends it through a hose to the second stage, located in the diver's mouth. Many divers carry two second stage regulators, so that their buddy can use it in an emergency. This alternate is called an "octopus."

If a regulator has a one in a thousand chance of failing, then two regulators have a one in a million chance of failing, as long as they are completely independent of each other. So I have mounted a second (smaller) tank (called a pony bottle) and regulator to my system for emergency use. That enables me to have a completely redundant life support system: The air, tanks, and regulators in my primary and backup system are completely independent of each other. That way, I don't have to worry about contaminated air, a malfunctioning regulator, or a dive buddy that swims too far away for me to reach him in an emergency. I am my own backup. Self reliance is a good thing.

Since I am working as an underwater tour guide, I mounted the system on a quick release bracket, which enables me to hand my backup to another diver. All I have to do is pull the pins, and the tank comes free of the bracket.

My pony bottle holds 30 cubic feet of gas. Gas consumption, due to Boyle's law, varies with depth, but this is enough for me to breathe for about seven minutes at 100 feet of depth. In comparison, the full sized tanks I normally use hold between 80 and 120 cubic feet of gas. (I say gas, because many times, divers do not use air. I do not use air, but that is a post for another day.)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sing it Harry

Being from New Orleans, I have always loved Harry Connick Jr. Here is a song that I have liked for a long time. Given my current circumstances, I feel a personal connection to it. Nothing connects with us better than song:

If your whole life somehow
Wasn't much till now
And you've almost lost
Your will to live
No matter what you've been through
Long as there's breath in you
There is always one more time

If your dreams go bad
Every one that you had
Don't you think that your dreams
Will no, not ever come true, who you
Because it's funny about dreams
Just as strange, just strange as it seems
Because there is always one more time

Turnin' corners
Turnin' corners
Is only a state of mind
Only a state of mind
Keepin' your eyes closed
Keepin' your eyes closed
Is worse than being blind
Worse as being blind

So if there's a heart out there
If there's a heart out there
Lookin' for someone to share
Lookin' for someone to share
I don't care
I don't care
If it's been turned down time and again
Time again

And if we meet some day
Yeah, and if we meet some day
Please don't walk away
No, no don't walk away
'Cause there is always one more time
One more time
Cause there is always one more time

Missing the point

An anonymous commenter stopped by to express this opinion:

If homelessness is a problem that requires any degree of government intervention (care under EMTALA, for example, or EBT cards, or 'workforce skills' classes), then it behooves the government to address the problem with as much efficiency as possible. If giving people an apartment keeps them out of the hospital for a hundred nights, that's a net win for the system. Where's the beef? 

 Of course, he misses the entire point: Who says that someone's problems require a government solution? Why is it my responsibility to pay for your EBT cards, your workforce training, or require a doctor to treat you under EMTALA?

The point of the post that you were commenting on is this:
If you are worried about homelessness, how much of your own money have you given to the homeless? If you work in the health field, how many hours per week do you work for free, so that the poor can be treated without cost?

If you don't donate your own time and money, how can you have the right to demand that I donate my own? Again, that is the liberal answer to every problem: solve it by stealing someone else's money and giving it to someone else.

Monday, February 10, 2014

EMS worker attacks

Back on Halloween, I reported on the epidemic of violence against this nation's EMS workers. It came as no surprise to me when I saw this article about the nurse that was beaten unconscious by her patient.

This ties in with comments I recently made on a local story about the 'popcorn' theater shooting. There were commenters on the local version of the story that were blaming the NRA, saying that if all weapons were removed from society, that things like the shooting would not happen. Setting aside for the moment the obvious fact that there is no way to remove firearms from public when anyone can make one with hand tools and supplies bought at a local hardware store, or that the shooter in that case was a retired police officer and would be exempt from such a law, I pointed out that people would still be armed with hands or feet, and that a 45 year old man could easily have killed a 71 year old opponent.

When I pointed this out, I was told that I was wrong, but no facts were cited to back up the claim. This article is proof that a person can kill with only hands and feet. What firearms do is place the 70 year old elderly nurse on an equal footing with the 40 year old deranged attacker. It is a well known fact that predators in nature only attack the weak. If a predator knows that its intended victim is capable of defending itself, the attack never occurs. So I ask you, would a person attack an elderly woman if they knew that the potential victim was capable of killing them? I would say that the odds of such an attack would be decreased dramatically.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Data Security Breach

I have a major problem. All of my data that is in the cloud has been compromised. When the ex and I broke up, I changed the passwords on my social media accounts, financial accounts, and on my email accounts. She had access to them and the passwords for them while she was in my house, so I wanted to make sure I was secure. That, as it turns out, is probably not good enough. I have had a massive data breach.

It all started on Monday, when I noticed that there was a 'recognized device' that was logged into my Facebook account from Atlanta since January 28. The way that Facebook mobile works, is that once the device recognized, it is allowed to log into Facebook, even if the password is changed by the user.

The ex that just broke up with me and was cheating on me is from Georgia. So, I deauthorized the device, and checked to see who had been logged into my email accounts. According to Gmail, there were no logins that were not from my IP. I felt safer, until this morning, that is.

I was looking at the IMAP settings for my Gmail account, when I noticed that someone had set up automatic forwarding, so that every email was being forwarded to a yahoo address, and was also being left as unread in the Gmail inbox. The only way that this could have happened, is if someone with the password set it up. There is only one person that had access to my Gmail password other than me, and I will give you two guesses as to who that was.

That means that she has had the ability to read every email I have gotten up to this morning, and was reading my Facebook until Monday.

She has been trying to contact me by telephone, text message, and email for weeks. She has been contacting my friends and asking them to pass messages on to me. I finally had to pay my cell carrier $5 a month to block phone calls and texts from her number, and from numbers that do not provide their caller ID. I am running out of options, but I don't know what else to do. What she is doing is illegal, but I cannot prove it was her.

Infrastructure vulnerability

Peter posts about the vulnerabilities that the infrastructure of our nation faces from terror attacks. It is much, much worse than he fears. 

When I was in college earning one of my college degrees, I had to take a class titled "Contemporary Issues in Public Safety." One of the assignments for the class was a paper on infrastructure vulnerability. I chose the Memphis area. I found a couple of soft targets whose loss would severely disrupt the economy of the entire nation, and could be destroyed relatively easily, by either a natural disaster or a small group of terrorists.

 The first was the I-40 bridge (the Hernando de Soto Bridge) and I 55 bridges in Memphis. Any event that would drop these bridges into the river would render the Mississippi river impassable to traffic for weeks or months. This means that no supplies would go north, and no finished goods would go south. The Mississippi River carries 60% of U.S grain shipments, 22% of oil and gas shipments, and 20% of coal. The loss of the Mississippi would mean that this cargo would all have to go by road transportation. That would be magnified by the fact that the next river crossing is the Caruthersville Bridge, 75 miles to the North, or the Greenville Bridge, 140 miles to the South.

There are nine natural gas pipelines that stretch from the Texas/Louisiana gas fields to the industrial areas of Chicago and the Ohio valley. Five of these major pipelines carrying natural gas, and two carrying crude oil,  cross the river in Memphis, four of them within ten miles of each other. These pipelines supply nearly half of Illinois' natural gas, and a third of its gasoline.  The loss of them would be devastating to the entire Ohio valley.

Without killing anyone, and only using six truck bombs of the McVeigh variety, a small terror cell could bring down both bridges, and also simultaneously  blow up the four pipelines. This operation would be significantly smaller and less complex than was 9/11, but would have much more devastating effects. The gas line explosions themselves would be large enough that NASA estimates the fireball would cause a visible reflection off the moon. 

Economically, it would be the worst disaster the US has ever faced. It would bring the US economy to its knees. There would be no river traffic between the upper and lower Mississippi river. Road traffic in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Upper Louisiana, and Upper Mississippi would come to a standstill, and nearly 25% of the nation's economy would cease to exist, due to a lack of transportation, fuel, or both. The standstill would last weeks, and the effects would be felt for months.

This is the sort of attack that will keep you up at night with worry, if you are an emergency manager.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Learning to be single again

My next task is to learn to be single again. Even though my last relationship was only a year and half long, I was not interested in dating or anything when I met her, as I was busy with school and career at the time. Before that, I was married and in a long term relationship for about eight years, so I haven't had to do this in about ten years, meaning that I am a bit rusty as far as the dating game goes.

To get myself back out there, I went to a singles event at an upscale bar in Orlando. (The kind of place that serves $25 Martinis. To you people in New York that are used to the $50 variety, a twenty five dollar Martini is pretty pricey for Orlando.) Things went well, and there were games and things to break the ice and give the singles there a chance to mingle and get to know each other a bit. I think

I caught the signals that this woman was throwing my way, but I have never been very good at this sort of thing, and after ten years, I am probably not any better. We talked a bit, she was friendly, leaning into me while touching me on the arm as we were speaking. She was exhibiting all the signs, she touched her hair, made frequent eye contact, and we exchanged numbers.

After the party, some female friends approached her, and I excused myself to leave. That was when she grabbed my arm and asked me not to go just yet. We talked for another 45 minutes. I joked about her possibly giving me a fake number, and she texted me with "See? Real number" We have texted three conversations since, one of them initiated by her.

The only thing I can't seem to do is close the deal to get that first date. She is busy this weekend with work, and next weekend is planning to go with her best friend to visit the best friend's mother in Miami. Still, now I remember why I hate being single.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I discovered this band as a result of the commercial that Budweiser aired during the Superbowl.

Here is Let her Go:

Here is You're on my Mind: