bias

short and sweet tonight

my social media policy is as follows: you can say whatever stupid shit you want to on your own page and as long as you don’t come onto my side of the yard with nonsense, i won’t come onto your page and tell you you’re full of shit.

I had to fight hard tonight to not break that policy.

In an age of deeply divided partisan politics there has been a lot of mudslinging on both sides and with Facebook and twitter our political beliefs are on display like never before (coincidence that recent studies show we are more divided then ever?). This means people can find their echo chamber and live very comfortably inside with their like-minded friends. That doesn’t change the fact that facts are facts and when you get frothed up over something facts can dispute the rest of us look at you like you’re crazy.

just never let facts get in the way of a good bias or age getting in the way of acting like a child.

spread love and understanding, not blind hate and unchecked ignorance

jeffro

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thoughts on quitting smoking

i had to quit smoking after my heart attack a few years ago and i can offer some advice…

quick background: i loved to smoke. when i quit i was hovering around a pack and a half a day. If i didn’t have a full time job keeping me inside it would have been 2 packs no prob. I was dealing with stress, depression, anxiety and uncertainty about my future at my job, life with my girlfriend and my parents dealing with serious health issues. Smoking was a way i could escape all that, in some small way, for a few minutes. I take xanax from time to time and as wonderful as that chemical is, it’s nothing like the quick, nerve calming hit of nicotine as you take your first drag…even typing this is making me really want one. (and i still live with a smoker…makes everyday its own little struggle). I toyed around constantly with the idea of quitting because i wasn’t naive to the horrible effects of a lifetime of smoking but could never bring myself to it. Hindsight being 20/20, it was going to take something major to get me to quit.

that out of the way, on we go…

First: really think about your ‘triggers’ – when do you want to smoke the most? when are the times or situations where you tend to smoke? Figuring out what those are can be very helpful in helping to curb the habit portion of the addiction. Mine were driving, sitting at the computer at home, talking on the phone, 10min breaks at work, after meals…these are the times when i was almost sure to be smoking. Kaiser sent me a Smoking Cessation Coach to my room while i was still in the hospital to talk about smoking and i was surprised down the road how just being aware of when you know you want to smoke will get your mind in a place where it can start fighting and you can go for your snack/distraction.

the chemicals will be out of your system in a few days and i can’t really speak about the uncomfortableness of that situation because i was still in the hospital and had other stuff/chemicals to occupy my mind. The real fight is going to be the next few months.

and there’s no way to sugar coat it: the first 1-3 months will suck ass but the first few weeks are critical.

You HAVE to be strong. This is why Day 1 or the day before you quit, wash anything that might smell like smoke (especially drapes, bed coverings, pillows) and toss out all your smoking accessories (ashtrays, lighters, etc). Go to the store and get a few diff kinds of hard candy and suckers. Gum too. I like candy more than gum but gum can be easier sometimes. I liked Blow Pops (or the ‘gourmet suckers’ from Save Mart), Wurthers Originals, cherry jolly ranchers. you get the idea – hard candy – not something thats going to melt away right away.

Keeping your mind off the addiction or at least distract from it for a bit is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL. Even after the nicotine is out of your system those receptors in your brain are going to keep screaming for the chemical. Your body has been smoking for so long it’s not even something you think about…you just light up when you’re body says ‘go’. If you can head those off before they occur, or get ahead of them a little, you can curb the craving a bit. A lot of it is habit. After those receptors stop screaming it’s all habit. The candy is something to take the place of the physical activity of the cigarette. suckers/blow pops are great for this.

Keep some all over the place. At work, in the car, in your purse…when you start to feel those first quivers of addiction grab a sucker. I liked those the best because of the stick – it keeps your mouth and hands busy and comes closest to the feeling of a smoke in your hand. The candy won’t take the place of what you really want – it’s not magic – but it WILL help. It will give you something physical to focus on and give your hands/mouth something to do. Eat as many as you need to. Don’t worry about the sugar or calories or any of that shit. the amounts of sugar you will be taking in is nothing compared to what your cig was putting in your body.*

*obviously if you have other health issues that keeps you from sugar for god sakes find sugarless!

throw yourself into any hobbies you have that didn’t involve smoking. You HAVE to keep busy. If you find yourself sitting around a lot, you will start smoking again before too long. I did a LOT of smoking when i was bored and whenever i had a free moment while i was quitting i would think about smoking. Had i not had a girlfriend who was super supportive quitting would have been way harder and the closest i came to starting again is when i destroyed our relationship a few months later. Spend time with your friends and family. Keep yourself busy. Take up gardening (wrong time of the year tho). The busier you keep your hands AND your mind the easier of a time you will have quitting – you can’t sit around and watch tv/use the computer all day and expect to successfully quit. Consider videogames tho: you have your hands and mind busy and can get lost in the story, forgetting all about having a cigarette for hours at a time. This didn’t work for me because i would smoke at the computer for the most part.

It goes without saying but avoid stressful situations as best you can and avoid those smoking triggers wherever you can. For example stay out of bars: if you like drinking, try to quit or cut waaay back: Smoking and drinking are like peanut butter and jelly. If you used to go out on breaks with other people to smoke at work; don’t. Go take a 15min walk around the block instead. Try to replace smoking with exercise or yoga. You want something that will occupy your mind as well as your body. I really cant stress this enough. When i got out of the hospital i was kept out of work for a month…yeah. that was fun. The desire to smoke was pretty strong at that point and with nothing to do having a cig was all i could think of….and you will think of smoking a LOT. I’m one of those people who NEVER remember my dreams but when i was quitting i would have and remember dreams where i was just going about my daily business but smoking. Thats it. Nothing special. Driving to work, pulling on a Marlboro.

I would try candy and other stuff before eCigs. i had one myself but ended up giving it to Anthony when i quit so i couldn’t be tempted. In the long run it will be easier to just rip that band-aid off in one quick pull then drag it out with a replacement chemical and risk going back to the real thing. Even the  zero mg nicotine refills are only addressing the chemical addiction. you are still physically and mentally hooked. Most places are banning eCigs anyway (unfairly i think) so you’re really not much better off. If you are already going to take something like Wellbutrin (i did not) try cold turkey/no eCig first and if you just cant do it, get the best eCig you can afford. Dont get a cheap one. Use this as a last resort, tho.

Pat yourself on the back each night you get in bed and didn’t smoke. If you think of a reward you can give yourself for days or milestones, do so. You will have more money due to not buying them so get yourself something you have been wanting. Or, if you are a visual person, put $5 a day in a jar so you can see your progress. At the end of the week/month buy something fun.

Each day will be slightly easier than the day before but there’s a catch and i’m going to use caps because it’s important to hear and hearing it makes it easier…

YOU ARE ALWAYS GOING TO WANT TO SMOKE*

*you may or may not always want to smoke

Quitting isn’t going to change that. At least not for a very long time. My dad said it best a bunch of years ago when he just up and quit one day – “I will always be a smoker, i just don’t smoke anymore” and it’s the truth. I still want one everyday. I still get pangs when i see someone light up (if you watch Mad Men, stop for a while). I feel those receptors in my brain burn when i smell the tang of cigarette smoke in the air. I’m always going to want to smoke. Living with a smoker still has made it harder but i decided early on a simple truth: if i don’t pick one up, i can’t put one in my mouth.

Eventually you will reach a point where you find yourself thinking “hey, i didn’t think about smoking hardly at all today!” and at that point you are well on your way, all the hard stuff is in the rear view mirror.

Also quick P.S. for when you have a few weeks under your belt: Depending on how much you smoked some of the stuff in your lungs will work its way out in the form of congestion and coughing in the morning. Ive heard it doesn’t happen to everyone but it sure did/does for me. Each morning when i wake up and brush my teeth it’s a horrible symphony of coughing and hacking. Ive read it takes about 7 years for your lungs to completely work the stuff back up the respiratory track but i’m sure everyone is different, there are no constants and there is NO undoing all the damage done.

I hope this helps. If you are quitting, Good Luck! It’s worth the struggle.

jeff

update for a cold January

Just thought I’d throw a quick update together because it’s been a while.

As usual I’ve been steadily adding comics to the collection and it’s actually starting to grow rather nicely.

my collection as of Jan 2014

my collection as of Jan 2014

I’ve had to expand my Image section quite a bit because they keep putting out such high-quality books. Right now I can think of at least six that are worth checking out. For now here are a few that are on my reading list at the moment just on the Image side of things. Later ill expand on these but for now, the highlights in list form:

1 – Saga
2 – Morning Glories
3 – Sex Criminals
4 – East of West
5 – Manifest Destiny
6 – Rocket Girl
7 – Pretty Deadly
8 – Alex + Ada
9 – Black Science
10 – Ten Grand

I’ve also picked up a few cool autographs that ill be posting about soon. Ive been putting off that post i the hops that one or two i have on order would show up but patience is a virtue when dealing with pre-order deals 🙂

Non-comics wise, things march ever on: work is long, tiring, stressful and not at all what i want to be doing with my life. not that its a bad job, far from it. its a very nice working environment, nice people, nice owner, nice pay…it’s just not where i need to be and that’s causing me some stress/anxiety problems. Thankfully nothing as bad as it has been.

rebels

A few friends and i have been playing weekly games of Star Wars X-Wing and we have really come to love it – its a table-top, miniatures based ‘dog-fighting’ game featuring ships from Star Wars. Its a lot of fun and it helps that the little ships are ultra-detailed and have inspired a bunch of players to repaint their ships with their own team colors or just a different color scheme all together: it’s something i would like to try but i have never done any kind of painting like that before. it would be a challenge but fun nonetheless.

i really need a car. i miss being able to take day trips out of town from time to time. i haven’t been to Magic Mountain in years and i really need a trip…soon. I miss rollercoasters badly. That’s my therapy and after my heart attack i wasn’t sure if i would be allowed on them again. I’d kind of like to ride a few more before i have another and i’m REALLY not going to be able to ride one.

And now its time to enjoy whats left of my weekend. I really need to be doing some cleaning but i just feel like being lazy and reading while on the couch. Ive been putting off giving the dog a bath – if nothing else i should do that today. Mabey is not a big fan of the bath and she’s a powerful little doggy so when she doesn’t want to be somewhere, she lets you know. I think both of us will be getting a bath.

Maeby

Maeby

some thoughts on iOS 7

I dont want to spend too much time on it but i did want to get down a few thoughts about iOS 7, Apple’s newest mobile operating system. Overall i like it quite a bit: they have added a number of features that i have been waiting for and they have cleaned up the whole UI and gotten some semblance of visual consistency across the OS. the result is an iPhone that looks pretty different from what people are used to, and i can tell that’s turning some people off, but the core usability is still there and much improved in some respects.

First off, when Apple turned the reins of the software design to the same man who has been winning award after award for Apples industrial design, Jonathon Ive, i actually got a little excited: after all, this is the guy who has been designing beautiful pieces or consumer electronics for a decade now so i was anxious to see what he would bring to the software / user interface table.

First on the chopping block: skeuomorphism. or, that annoying (to some) design technique where you make OS elements resemble real life objects to aid the user in interacting with tech. For example, the Calendar app in iOS6 resembles a real desk calendar, complete with little leftover bits of pages in the corners where the old pages were ‘tore out’. Even more antiquated was the Podcast app that simulated a reel-to-reel when you were advancing or rewinding the track. Design elements like this were completely thrown out in favor of a more unified look for the whole OS.

There are quite a few new features that have been covered better elsewhere in more detail, but i will mention a few that i really like:

first, the popular jailbreak tweak SBSettings allowed you to quickly access several system toggles quickly without having you dig down into menu settings to get to them. Among there are Airplane Mode, Wifi and Bluetooth on and off,  and controls like volume and brightness settings. The new control center slides up from the bottom of the screen and allows you access to these common controls. It’s not a perfect copy of SBS (since you can’t add additional toggles, for example) but it still makes a good addition to the OS and it can only get better (see below).

Another nice feature is the ability to add however many items you want to folders. Before there was a limit and your icons were limited to one ‘page’. Now you can add a ton of apps to a folder and don’t have to worry about having to create a Games 1 and Games 2 just because you hit your limit on folder items.

Speaking of folders, you can now add any Apple apps you want to their own folder: i’m looking at you, Newsstand…in iOS 6 you could not hide some icons or put them into a folder to get them out of the way if you never used them so they were always stuck on your homepage somewhere. Now you can put these never used apps in a folder and forget about them if you never use them. I wish Apple would let you just get rid of it but since that’s not an option, at least you can now get it out of sight.

There is now a flashlight built in! it’s a simple thing, easily done, but it was left for 3rd parties to take care of. Now in your slide-up control center there is a button for a flashlight. i tend to use mine quite a bit so to have Apple build it in is nice. Granted it should have been there sooner but hey, important things first…

One other cool feature that was added is the application switcher. now when you double click the home button, you are greeted with a full page with not only the app icon but a larger icon of the last thing the app was displaying when you left it. It makes it easy to find the app you were using and also looks really nice.

my big takeaway from this version of the iPhone operation system is that to me it feels like a new starting point. Much like OS X replaced OS 9 on the Mac and laid a foundation for the Mac OS to build on for the next 10 years, i get a similar feeling from this revision of iOS. We have a few major changes in Apple and the iPhone division now. Besides giving Jon Ive a larger role in software design we now are fully into the post-Jobs Apple and the next few years will be interesting for a longtime Apple watcher. Despite the competition from Android, iOS will continue to evolve and adapt and iOS 7 feels like a wiping of the blackboard and looking at new ways to do things. Apple changes every market they enter and to write them off as done just because Google is seemingly dominating the market (those numbers don’t tell the whole story, though) is underestimating a very crafty, very innovative company that happens to have a shit-ton of cash in it’s coffers.

So like it or hate it, iOS 7 is the future of your iPhone for the next few generations and really can only get better going forward. Losing the inconsistent look and feel of the skeuomorphism and trying to unify the UI under a single designer and design theory makes for better looking, better designed software and a better user experience.

the future will be interesting…

collection update: autographs

ok i think it’s time for an update…

i’ve added a TON of cool stuff to the collection over the last few months and there are definitely a few highlights i want to show off.

I wish i knew more people that read comics. i used to be friends with quite a few comic readers but not so much anymore; shit, i took 15 years off myself. Online communities are not the same – i cant seem to enjoy any of them. its not the same as being in the same room with someone showing them the latest cool art or messed up story line.

but i digress…

Lets talk about autographs…

ive taken to collecting signed comics when i can find good deals. The more popular the artist, the more the autograph will go for. Stan Lee for example – no less than $300. Get that shit graded and you’re looking at closer to $500.

Besides getting a comic graded and ‘encapsulated’ by a company like CGC, the other aspect of improving a signed comics value is to have a certificate of authenticity

Mark Millar is a name that is well regarded in the comics industry. He created the very popular series Kick-Ass and had a very memorable run on The New X-Men. Recently he was tapped to be a consultant on the X-Men movies for Fox (Fox owns the movie rights to Marvels Mutant population) which should make for better X-Men movies (let’s not mention X-3).

He recently launched a new series for Image called Jupiter’s Legacy which sees what happens when the 2nd generation of superheroes are the same spoiled, narcissistic bastards that populate the real world. At least that’s the set up. It’s only 3 issues in and it looks like the direction the comic is going isn’t completely clear yet. Issue 3 had a big shocker that kinda changed the dynamic of the story.

Jupiter's Legacy 1, Midtown Comics variant, signed by Mark Millar

Jupiter’s Legacy 1, Midtown Comics variant, signed by Mark Millar

Midtown recently had a special to benefit one of Mr Millar’s School Funds selling Jupiter’s Legacy Midtown Comics variant cover signed by Millar. I had ordered it but had to send it back due to the excessive damage it had when i got it. Luckily Midtown is a really cool company and they sent me a new one when i sent them photos of the damage.

Dynamic Forces, another really cool company, recently had a sale of some signed X-Factor comics by writer Peter David that i had to get 2 of because the price was right and it included numbered COA’s.

X-Factor 200 signed

X-Factor 200 signed

X-Factor 200 - signed by writer Peter David

X-Factor 200 – signed by writer Peter David

Mr. David just finished a well regarded run on the current X-Factor series and it sounds like he will be writing the new Marvel Now version that being relaunched soon. He knows these characters like no one else and fans are very happy he is sticking around.

Another Dynamic Forces find is an Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake cover that was ‘remarked’ (or drawn on) by artist Ken Haeser. I love both the cover and the sketch he did. I had to wait a few months for this one to be delivered.

Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake #1 w/ sketch by Ken Haeser

Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake #1 w/ sketch by Ken Haeser

A lot of specials from DF are advance orders and this one took months to finally be delivered. i have several more that im waiting to be delivered too. Hopefully soon cause i have some very cool stuff i’d like to get my hands on.

Next up, one of my favorite series right now, Morning Glories. I was able to get signed copies of an issue that was recalled due to a printing error. There was no COA with this set, but since the price was right i decided to grab it up especially since there were 2 issues included in the sale – the error version and the corrected version both signed by the artist, Joe Eisma.

Morning Glories 26, error and corrected version, signed by the writer.

Morning Glories 26, error and corrected version, signed by the artist.

i really like this series. It’s one of the titles i’m trying to get a complete run of and i’m actually dangerously close to doing so. I recently acquired issue #1 and that was the biggest roadblock – i was sure when i got it, i would have to pay upwards of $50 and i ended up paying half that.

Morning Glories #1!

Morning Glories #1!

Ten Grand is another new series from Image (they are on fire right now) that is only a few issues in but has a lot of promise. Mainly this is due to the writer, J Michael Straczynski, who has a long history writing in just about every medium in pop culture.

IMG_2835

It’s a series like Jupiter’s Legacy that’s only a few issues in but shows promise. The story goes a mob enforce gets taken out and gets a new deal. Kill for the underworld and get 5 minutes with his slain love. The first few issues are out and so far so good…

Finally for the autographs are my newest additions, and ones i was most happy to add to my collection: 2 Marvel Now Skottie Young covers signed by Mr. Young with COA’s for both. It worked out that the X-Men cover in particular is one of my favorites so i was more than happy to get a certified signature on a copy. A poster exists of the cover and i wouldn’t mind having it on my wall. it’s worth framing.

skottie young sigs

skottie young sigs

If you don’t know, Skottie is a great artist/writer with a very distinctive style and has been doing ‘baby’ variant covers for all the Marvel Now titles. It’s taken me a while but i finally got all of the first wave covers and have a good jump on the 2nd wave.

complete Young Marvel now covers

complete Young Marvel now covers

next time we’ll talk about some of the new, stand-out series that are on the shelves currently. I keep telling anyone who will listen that some really excellent fiction is going down in the comics world currently and shouldn’t be looked down upon as a realm of children or geeks; especially since some of those new titles includes a superhero who gets is powers from large amounts of drugs or alcohol, a world where the Gods of old return, and one where a couple who can stop time with their orgasms use that ability to rob banks…

…good stuff 🙂

small update and a goodbye…

no update in a long time but i felt the need to put something down even tho know there are not would i would call regular readers to this blog.

After a nice upswing, things are settling down nicely into a funk again. Work, home…there is no real escape or release; just an attempt to get through the day and get to the next one.

i did get a little puppy recently; she’s a sweetheart but still a very active puppy so we have a lot of training still to do. ill have to post some pics and videos because she is really cute 🙂

i’ve had many cool additions to the comic collection and i will eventually get around to another post. Besides friday night game night with my friends, my comic collection is the only other thing that brings me any joy. it’s very transparent that it something that i can focus on and control so i cling to it. Sometimes i wish i didn’t know anything about psychology…sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

also, i’ve recently fallen in love with Bob’s Burger’s…it didn’t click when i watched it when it premiered but now i’m hooked.

finally, i lost a dear friend last week. When i first moved to Fresno in 1989 i didn’t know anyone. the two people i spent the most time with Joe and Brice became my best friends and are still 2 people i’ve known’ longer than most. Brice moved across country a while back and we lost touch but he would always pop in every so often just to let us know he was still alive; he always called my mom Mom Two and we treated him like the member of the family he was.

Brice’s car ran off the road around 4 in the morning and since he was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the car and killed. A friend sent me a link to the story and it was the first thing i got to read monday morning. I then got to try to fake care about car dealers and their inability to print their god damned loan documents all week.

I’m going to miss you, Brice. I’m sorry i wasn’t a better friend.

as always, thanks for reading.

jeff stiefer
Aug 31, 2013

System repairs.

The system has been undergoing some massive upgrades.

Years of running bad software and letting the hardware go to hell was causing countless problems. However after long last hard and soft is slowly but surely being replaced and upgraded. New and upgraded software means new features and new new projects will be possible that were not before. Additional anti-viral additions shunned for years are now incorporated successfully which should improve system stability significantly.

Hardware upgrades are slow coming as is their nature but they proceed accordingly. Better software will allow for a faster, easier hardware upgrade cycle. New tools and new methods will make the upgrades more pleasant and easier to implement and maintain.

The system was compromised to the point of being near a total crash. Abused, misused, poisoned, broken and hastily repaired there was a breaking point being quickly approached. Time will tell as the repairs are, as always, ongoing and uncertain but things are promising and I have help in ways I didn’t before.