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Series 1 - Episode 1: Preamble to Podfaster


Welcome to podFaster, the official podcast of  My name is Christopher T. Shields and this is Series 1, Episode 1 … the Preamble.

For most of you this is the first time you've ever heard the voice behind which is probably a bit of a shock there for some of you … seeing as how it’s not all great booming thunder coming out of some fiery cloud.  For those of you who don’t know I am the host of this podcast as well as the owner and creator of … but we’ll get to all of that shortly. 

I will assume that you’re here because of my website.  If not then you’ve somehow stumbled onto this podcast by accident and, God help you, you’re about to waste a substantial part of your personal time and a part of your life that you will never be able to get back. 

You might even need therapy afterwards.

Since this is the Preamble to podFASTER, I want to take this time to discuss a few common things about the podcasts, just to set up some groundwork.  This is the first in a series of limited podcasts.  I say that because there is, at this point in time, a finite number of things that I want to talk about and I want to talk, actually talk, about these things rather than just write these things down and put them up on my website for everyone to read.

Right now these podcasts aren’t intended to be any kind of ongoing series … it’s just a project of mine to see what the media offers, what I can do with it and where I can take it.

I may only produce four or five podcasts.

I could be wrong. 

Once I get this project cranked up to speed I may make a lot more podcasts than that.  Who really knows where this whole thing is going, if it will stay on the rails or if it will take on a life of its own?

I’ve got a lot to share, a lot of memories to reminisce with you about but those memories are finite and once I use them up … well … that’s it.  No more memories to share or talk about.

The point is I’m telling you up front … if you like this stuff don’t fall in love with it because there may not be a lot of it and it may not last forever … and I guess that’s pretty much true of most things in life.

Which brings us to the fact that here I am, making a podcast …


The last person who would probably ever consider doing a podcast series finds himself actually doing a podcast series.  The truth is that I’ve been wanting to make a podcast series for a long time now, years in fact, but doing a series of podcasts was always something that was at the low end of my to-do list, something low key for whenever I got time to do it … and I just never had time to prep for a podcast let alone take an hour to sit down and make the podcast then another hour to edit it for time and content.

These first few podcasts will probably have transcripts for me to go by as I’m going to write out what I want to talk about and then basically read it back into the podcast.  After all, it’s kind of hard to free talk all of this groundwork and background while staying focused on the subject matter and avoiding tangents.  After a few podcasts get floating out there I’ll probably free hand it from there, maybe write a few notes or topics down on a 3x5 card, do a little pre-show prep and let it follow its own course.  Think of these first few podcasts as basically having training wheels on them until I learn this whole podcast genre and can tweak it a bit to suit my high expectations.

Now let’s talk about the how long these podcasts are going to be … my website, my rants, my hobbies, my desires, my stories, my explanations … at five foot twelve nothing about me (and I do mean nothing) is short.

Even my short stories are long.

Personally, I like well thought out, well explained things because well thought out, well explained things force your brain to think on its own and when your brain starts to think, when you start to think for yourself then you become a better example of the human race … be that as it may.

It is a rare treat for me to find someone else who goes into the kind of detail and explanation that I do on a particular subject let alone someone who can see what’s missing and extrapolate the missing pieces in a logical way that almost makes it seem like the missing pieces came from the original whole. 

I have to tell you beforehand that these podcasts may be somewhat long. 

Some might be an hour, some might be an hour and a half and sometimes they might be half that long.  There’s no real template here, no mold for me to fill … I’m just going to go at this and see how much you get with each podcast.  I’m not shooting for any specific amount of time or any certain length of podcast … what you get is what you get and I’ll either end the podcast when I think I’ve covered just about everything on the topic or I’ll break the podcast into two or three parts and spread it out.

If you’re even a little familiar with my work and the depth and detail that I go into on some of my projects then here are parts of my work, parts of my life, that are going to be spoken for your entertainment, by me.  Sometimes I will feel like writing out something on my website, other times I’ll just sit back, have a cold glass of sweet tea, maybe a shot of whiskey, throw on the microphone and ramble on about something that I think was both important enough to remember as well as being good enough to share with others.

Once I begin to crank these shows out be sure to download these podcasts, load them up in your Ipod or MP3 player of choice and then listen to them when you can.

Be the first kid on your block to collect the entire series!

Since we’ve talked about podcast length let’s talk about language, especially profanity. 

I’m not against profanity … I’m against profanity for profanity’s sake.

Profanity has a place and a time. 

It’s a tool. 

There is nothing I hate more than listening to a really interesting podcast about something I enjoyed or something that I remember from my childhood and have the seemingly informed caster, just out of the blue, drop an F-bomb for no apparent reason other than they’re now an adult and they somehow feel that they can or should use those types of words in ordinary conversation.


You’re talking about the 12 inch Kenner Six Million Dollar Man action figure from Christmas of 1975 and you’ve got to describe that toy using the F-bomb to your listeners?

That’s not me.

That’s not how I want to share my memories with others.  Nostalgia shouldn’t need a bouncer at the door to decide who gets in and who doesn’t.

Nothing derails a listener’s train of thought on a well-liked pod cast series quicker than dropping the F-bomb or using some other profanity for no other reason than you can’t think of any other way to say what you’re trying to say. 

Language is an art, using it is a skill … at least it used to be and maybe that’s the problem today.  There are way too many unskilled amateurs running around thinking that they’re artists.

Profanity has its uses, mostly to drive points home like a sledgehammer on a thumbtack, but too many people today think that profanity is simply part of their vocabulary and these people use profanity like adjectives, adverbs, nouns and even conjunctions.  I know of some people who, without profanity, their sentences, even their paragraphs would just fall apart.  I even know some people who can’t carry on a decent conversation without using a four letter word or two in each sentence.  Too many people today use profanity like it was air freshener, they just spray it around hoping to cover up their mistakes. 

Profanity is a tool … it’s not duct tape for poor grammar. 

Reading profanity is one thing, listening to it is another, especially in something like a podcast that you find interesting and one that you’re trying to share with your friends, your wife or your kids.

Now, as far as language goes I intend to keep these podcasts pretty family friendly. 

In other words, if you download this podcast and you’re listening to it on your iPod through the stereo in your minivan with your wife next to you and your kids in the backseat, you’re ears and theirs are probably safe.

Personally, I’d rate my podcasts as somewhere between G rated and PG rated, existing in that nebulous gray border that lies in between the two ratings.

I like podcasts …

I like the format …

I like the idea.

Several years ago I started to listen to podcasts and I thought that doing a podcast series was something that I might like to try my hand at, when I got the time.  I like podcasts in the same way that I like listening to talk radio or watching a documentary; it’s a format for people to exchange ideas.  Podcasts are a lot like talking books, in a fashion.  You download a podcast on a topic that you like and listen to it as you can, as you want to.

Podcasts are interesting to me. 

Here you are … listening to me and even though we’ve probably never met in real life, and probably never will, you have nonetheless decided to download this podcast and you have decided to spend some of your God given time listening to an audio file composed entirely of my voice relating memories of my life and talking about the things that I enjoy or feel strongly about.  You do this because you find what interests me to be interesting to you as well and I, in turn, find it interesting that you have taken part of your life and dedicated it to listening to part of my life. 


Thank you!


I say that in a completely non-sarcastic way.

Really, I am grateful that you are listening to me right now. 

I consider the fact that you are giving to me a part of your time, of your life, to pay attention to what I have to say an honor and because I know how precious my own personal time is I’ll make an extra effort to try to make the time you spend here worth your while. 

And … with all of that being said, what you are listening to now are the rather eclectic, sometimes even eccentric musings of my personal life that, like a classic message in a bottle, I am throwing out into the deep waters of the Internet to see where these messages eventually float off to, who, if any, get these messages let alone decide to respond.  If this podcast intrigues you, inspires you, makes you think new and original thoughts, causes you to remember something that you long ago forgot or causes you some other type of emotion (intense or not) then I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do with this podcast. 

As for what we’re actually doing here, well, I’m going to use these podcasts and the time that you and I are spending together as a sort of homemade amateur personal time machine to look back at some of the best years of my life and to share those memories with others who might enjoy those memories or who can relate, through similar memories, to the experience that I have come to know as this vast and wonderful thing we all call “life.”

During these podcasts I’m going to talk about everything from Hasbro’s twelve inch G. I. Joe with Kung-Fu Grip to classic Kenner Star Wars action figures, from Marx Big Wheels to Pontiac Firebird Trans Ams, from Schwinn bicycles with banana seats to liquid cooled Honda V-four Interceptors and from Atari’s black and white Pong to Microsoft’s melt your retinas with color X-Box 360 … and just about anything and everything in between.

I’m going to geek out and nerd out and even rampant fanboy from time to time. 

Who knows? 

I might even go full retard with no apologies.

Now … before you devote a lot of your personal time listening to someone drone on and on about whatever it is that they’ve chosen to entertain you with … you really should know something about the person who is doing the talking.  Let me tell you about myself, just this once, in order to set up some groundwork for this podcast and for any podcasts which may follow it. 

When I have an opinion on something, knowing something about me may help you to understand that opinion as well as where that opinion comes from.  Learning about me may also explain a lot about my website so for a lot of people this first podcast is going to give them some answers that they’ve been asking for a decade and a half now.

The voice you are listening to now is a voice that belongs to a man who has lived a life more fully and used my brain more often than most people.  Doing so hasn’t always led to happiness or wealth or good memories but like the saying goes; nothing ventured, nothing gained or as I like to say, nothing lost, nothing learned. 

As I said at the beginning of this podcast, my name is Christopher T. Shields. 

Online I’m known as Black Echo. 

That’s a handle I’ve had since 1992.  You’ll see a lot of people online using the handle “Black Echo” but I was the first, the original, and I’m still around all these years later. 

Chances are if you see probably someone posting as “Black Echo” on the Internet, it’s not me.  Especially if the posting contains obvious poor grammar, lots of misspelled words and the poster is being an utter retard.

I tend to keep to myself online or as I like to put it … I’m not into social networking, I’m into anti-social networking.

I was born in June of 1969, a few weeks before America put two astronauts on the Moon with the historic Apollo 11 mission, an epic event in human history if ever there was one.  A few weeks after that, Hurricane Camille roared angrily through the Gulf of Mexico, turning the Mississippi Gulf Coast into what looked like a movie set for a documentary on the aftermath of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  A few weeks after Hurricane Camille, a bunch of stinky hippies got together at a little place in New York called Woodstock and made pop culture music history.

Now, I’m not saying that my birth had anything to do with those three historic events but … you’ve got to admit it’s a bit much for just coincidence and happenstance.  Yeah, my birth was something special and my life has been a non-stop roller coaster ever since. 

I’ve been writing for almost four decades now, the last three decades alone devoted to sharing some of the better moments of my life … that’s when I was got my drivers license and started having adventures … that's when I started documenting parts of my life that were interesting or strange or that I’d one day want to remember and tell others and I guess that’s why I’m doing these podcasts now … for pretty much the same reason except that I’m speaking now instead of writing.

I’m telling stories the old fashioned way … by word of mouth.

At the time that I am recording this (but not necessarily the time that you may be listening to this) it is the year of our Lord, 2015 and I am 46.

I am an American by birth, southern by the grace of God and I’ve got Confederate ancestors.  If given the chance or opportunity I wouldn’t change any of those three things.

I live in the small city of Columbia which is in the lower southwest corner of Mississippi, a Southern state in the United States of America.  If you’re listening to this in another country (thank you, majestic spirit of the Internet), and if you want to stick a pin in a map and try to locate me beware that Columbia may not be on every map. 

That’s okay. 

Columbia is a small city.

I like Columbia because Columbia is anything but boring.  In fact, I like to think of Columbia as being “Mayberry” if Quentin Tarrantino had ever written and directed “The Andy Griffith Show” and if David Lynch was the acting mayor.

As far as personal views on religion go, I was raised in the Lutheran church and I’m a Christian, the latter more in theory than actual practice though I do consider myself to have a pretty close relationship with God.

I’m blessed, beyond measure.

I don’t know why I’m blessed beyond measure but I am and I’m grateful for that. 

I have a strong faith, a really strong faith … I’d have to with all that I’ve been through in my life but I’m not a Bible thumping, tambourine shaking, amen spewing, arm waving attention seeker.  I think God takes a dim view on people who show out and dramatize during worship … or as I like to think of it, God really doesn’t like “yes men” and pew jumpers. 

I’ve found that the harder someone claims to be a Christian the less you have to dive too deep to find that they’re really not.

Too many people are all too willing to discard God for science.  I like science but I don’t believe that science is infallible; in fact quite the opposite is true.  I’m a firm believer in science and the more science the better but too many people think that science is a direct replacement for religion, that the more science discovers about the whole of creation that the smaller and less important religion and God should become in the overall human experience.

I find this to be a very ignorant viewpoint.

Too many people believe that God and religion are just superstition and that science will replace religion but that’s not necessarily true.  Science shouldn’t dispel religion, rather science should reinforce religion.  Science isn’t a replacement for God, rather science is only Mankind’s extremely limited understanding of God’s handiwork … science is our barely grasped understanding of God’s engineering.  Too many people say that they can’t see God when they look around …

I look around and I can’t NOT see God. 

God isn’t the absence of science, God is the definition of science.

God is in the details.

God is always in the details and mathematics is about as close as we’ll ever come to hearing and speaking the language of God.

When it comes to religion I have a personal philosophy … 

I don’t ask God for things that I don’t need and God doesn’t give me things that I don’t want. 

In other words, I don’t selfishly ask God to bestow upon me the miracle of this week’s winning lottery numbers and God doesn’t give me surprise ball cancer.

And in that regard we have a gentleman’s agreement, God and me.  It’s simple, direct, and it works … so far.

I’m married; it’s my first and only marriage, which I will soon be celebrating 20 years with the same wonderful woman.  That’s an accomplishment in today’s fragmented society where marriages are more disposable than the wrapper your fast food burger came in.

My wife thinks I’m a good husband.

From 1984 to 1992 my relationships resembled a really scary rollercoaster in an amusement park in hell and after all the trouble I had with women from 1984 to 1992 I never thought I’d ever get married … let alone actually be good at it.

Maybe it wasn’t me after all … maybe it was who I dated … the bad girls … the girls with head problems and the girls with excess emotional baggage.  Girls that I thought I could save or that I thought needed rescuing but who were really just looking for a stepping stone, the kind of girls that if they were drowning and you jumped in to save them they’d climb on top of you and pull you under with them instead of letting you rescue them.

The fact that I’ve been married, to the same woman, for so long, still blows my mind.  As you can imagine, my wife puts up with a lot.  I met her in the fall of 1992, shortly after I graduated from college, and I met her at my first real job, in the way that I usually meet people who matter in my life and that is by the strangest of circumstances.  Once we really started dating in the spring of 1993, my wife came after me like a heat-seeking missile. 

She was relentless, I couldn’t shake her no matter what an egotistical, self-centered SOB I was and when I finally gave in two years later and asked her to marry me I warned her that being married to me would be a non-stop adventure. Little did she know …

Ups and downs and all arounds.

Through sickness and in health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, till death do us part.

I don’t think she took me seriously.

I really don’t.

20 years and still counting and every morning she wakes up and tells me that she loves me more than the day before.  I tell her that she’s either desperate or retarded to stay with me.  She says that I’m her soulmate which means that I’ll probably be stuck with her for all of eternity.  That’s not as bad as it may seem … she’s witty, funny, creative, talented, artistic, attractive, and highly intelligent … she’s also a good judge of character, present company excluded.  Yeah, if I had to spend the rest of eternity with just one woman it would have to be the woman that I married.

As far as education goes, I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and my wife has a Bachelor of Science degree in Education.  She also has a Master’s Degree in Gifted Education (which means that she teaches the really smart kids).  My wife got her Masters Degree a few years after we were married … probably the main reason I picked up an extra job was to pay for her Masters Degree only after she graduated I just never stopped working that extra job because I like money and I don’t mind working for it.  The fact that she got her Master’s Degree while she was pregnant with our first child … and graduated shortly after she gave birth is a testament to just how tough my wife is.  She’s told me that she wants to get her PhD, eventually but hey, time and schedule and life and stuff.

We have two incredible daughters. 

My wife often tells people that she has three children at home. 

That jab is not lost on me.

I’m just a kid. 

I’m just a big kid. 

I know that, I’m comfortable with that and we’ll talk about that in a lot more detail in a little while.

I enjoy life to its fullest … every single day.

I am high speed, low drag.

I’m a morning person. 

I look forward to getting up and getting gone in the morning.

When the alarm goes off I can roll out of bed, be showered, shaved, dressed and on my way to work in about twenty minutes.

Each day is a new adventure for me.

Recently my oldest daughter and I went out one Saturday morning for breakfast together, just daddy daughter time riding on my ’04 Honda CBR600RR and when we came to a stop she put her helmet against mine and told me that she wanted to be like me when she grew up.  When I asked her what she meant by that she said “I want to have fun with my life, all the time, like you do with your life, daddy.”

That’s a good thing to aspire to and I guess I’m doing parenting right if she’s twelve years old and telling me that.

I have fun with my life, I really do. 

Every day is an adventure for me.

Every day has the potential to be a lot of fun for me.

Every day that I wake up I work hard to have fun with my life.  Fun is like a lot of the most important things in life … it won’t come looking for you, no, you have to go and find it yourself.  Sadness and disappointment will find you because they’re always looking for you but happiness … yeah, you’ve got to work hard to find happiness, every single day because happiness is definitely on the run from you in life and it is nothing if it isn’t elusive.

I have an incredible sense of humor … it’s dark sometimes, but it’s an incredible sense of humor nonetheless.

I’ve often said that I have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a warrior and the body of a poet.  Truth be known I don’t take anything seriously in life, not even my own self.  Not only am I the king of self-deprecating humor I’m also my hardest and most brutally honest critic.  That comes when you’re totally comfortable with yourself. 

I have a thick skin.

I have extensive work and career experience in both the information technology or IT sector as well as law enforcement.  I manage several thousand square miles of computers, networks, hardware, software, telecommunications and wireless systems and video surveillance systems.  I’ve both worn a badge on the street and worked as security in an ER for over a decade and a half now.  I even spent a couple of years on a department SWAT team and still work private security for paying customers.

I’ve seen a lot of things.

I’ve got a lot of stories to tell.

I’ve got some scars …

I’ve long said that there are three types of people in the world; there are sheep, there are wolves and there are those who protect the sheep from the wolves.  I’ve never been a sheep but I have tried my hand at being both the wolf and the one that protects the sheep from the wolf.

Stuff that makes other people panic or run away or go to pieces I just smile and stand there and watch. 

I realized a long time ago that the vast majority of people have come to expect other people to take care of them … the lowest common denominator in society relies on other people to protect them, comfort them, lead them and take care of them from the cradle to the grave because that’s the path of least resistance.  That’s the easy way through life when you let others make all your decisions for you … it’s also quite sad and pathetic.

The reason I wear a badge is because someone has to do it … and I can.  Like I said, God and I have a gentleman’s agreement and when I finally meet my maker I really don’t want to stand before Him and tell Him that I spent my entire life wasting the skills, abilities and talents which He so blessed me with.

I have four jobs, one of which is a career, one of which is a calling and two of which are simply a way to earn a large amount of folding money to spend on my many expensive hobbies.

I work a lot, in fact I work a tremendous amount which perplexes those few people who actually do follow my website because my work schedule often prevents me from doing anything other than fulfilling Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; i.e. eat, sleep and shelter myself.  I often find myself pulling 38 hour long shifts, working three jobs, with only one or two hours of sleep to break all of that up.  I get up at 4:30 in the morning, get to work by 6, work to 5 that night, get home after 6, cowboy up to get to work by 7 and then work until 3 in the morning.  I get home at 3:30, crawl into bed, sleep for an hour, get up, shower, shave, dress myself, and get to work by 6 for another 10 hour day.

I am a masochist.

I push myself to the limit of life.

I have to see how tough I am, I have to see what my personal limits are, I have to see how far I can go, I have to see what I can do with what I have and I have to see how quick I can do it.  I’m constantly testing the limits of my endurance both physically and mentally.  I guess I do this because you can’t measure life, or the quality of life, especially your life, with a dipstick. 

You’ve got to test yourself, all the time, in order to know that you’re alive, to remember that you’re alive, and to use and sharpen the skills, talents and abilities that God has given to you.

Use it or lose it.

Everything in life atrophies if you don’t use it … even your imagination.

And speaking of imagination …

The two most important personal abilities that they can ever have in life are patience and imagination.  If you’ve got patience and imagination, your life is so much better than someone who doesn’t.  If you’ve got patience and imagination, almost every situation you will ever find yourself in will never be intolerable.

So much of life is not only your perception of life but how you handle life as well.  I’m getting a bit ahead of myself so I’ll throttle back the afterburners here and we’ll come to that topic soon enough.

For now you just have to understand that my life isn’t boring. 

It’s never boring. 

I am a stoic.

I do what I have to do without complaining because I have willingly assumed responsibilities in life.

I don't like whiners.

I don't like whining.

I don't like people who want to complain about their jobs or their lives.

I don’t like people who need to complain about their jobs or their lives.

I have no time for those people.

Life isn’t easy.

In fact, nothing in life is easy, not even the stuff that’s supposed to be easy.

Life isn’t easy and if life was easy then life really wouldn’t be worth living, now would it.

Life is a struggle, you have to have something to push against in order to judge yourself and determine if you are succeeding or not.  Life is full of variable resistance because life is a challenge and any challenge is also an adventure, if you let it be that way, if you’re of that mindset.

Nothing in life is free.


Everything in life comes with a price. 


If you’re not paying for your stuff then someone else certainly is.  If someone else is paying for your stuff then you had better take care of the stuff they’re buying for you and you had better stay on good terms with them for doing it.

As far as life goes I have a lot that I’d like to do but I just don’t have the time to do it.  What time I do have to myself is precious and few.

I admit that I work way too much but when you’re really good at what you do you will often find yourself in high demand and in the current downer economy of America I’d rather be overworked than unemployed.

Your opinion may vary but your experience probably won’t. 

The downside to that philosophy is that something has to be given up to work in the capacity that I do and in my case what I had to give up was most of my hobbies. 

Responsibility comes before fun and all work and no play makes for … well … ME.

I’m not a nice person. 

People say that I’m a nice person but I’m not.

I’m really not.

It’s not that I’m a bad person … I’m just not a nice person.

One Friday night when I didn’t have to work any of my jobs I felt like throwing my mind into neutral for a few hours so I started watching John Carpenter’s classic action adventure “Escape from New York”.  Halfway through the movie, my youngest daughter came out to my study, crawled up in my lap and sat there watching the movie with me.  After a few minutes she asked me who the guy with the eye patch was.

“That’s Snake Plissken.” I told her.

“Is he the good guy?” she asked.

“Something like that …”

“Oh.” She said as she went back to watching the movie.  A few minutes later she turned back around and put her head on my shoulder.

“You’re a lot like Snake Plissken, daddy.” She said, snuggling up next to me as I put my arms around her and just held her.

I thought about what she had said, really thought about it for a long time afterward.

I mean, if your eight year old daughter sits in your lap and watches “Escape from New York” with you and then turns around and tells you that you’re a lot like Snake Plissken then you’re either doing parenting oh so right … or you’re doing parenting oh so wrong.

What she said to me that night got me to thinking … a fictional character in a movie reminded her of me.  Now, if I was a fictional character … who would I be?  What fictional characters are most like me in temperament and outlook on life?

I feel a close kin to a pair of fictional characters played by that icon of Hollywood film making, Charlton Heston and those two fictional big screen characters would be the misanthropic astronaut Colonel George Taylor from 1969’s “Planet of the Apes” and the last man on Earth, Col. Robert Neville, M.D. from the 1971 movie “The Omega Man”. 

I feel a kind of spiritual kinship with both of Heston’s fictional character roles because both characters, both men, reminisced about what it was like to be human.  Both characters had deep struggles with who and what they were compared to their humanity and both cast a cold eye on the human race as a whole, especially in hindsight.

Both Taylor and Neville were survivors, loners, misanthropes and stoics.

They were, way back then, way back in my childhood, powerful precursors to the kind of man that I’d one day become, to the man that I’ve become today.

Looking back on when I was a lot younger, in my single digit years, I was the boy who was always alone, always watching the sunset and daydreaming of traveling to faraway places, of having epic swashbuckling adventures, of saving the day and getting the girl.

The old adage of “be careful what you wish for because you may just get it” is true as during the mid to late 1980’s that outlook on life changed drastically due to the very adventures that I had so longed for as a child. 

I spent a lot of my childhood daydreaming because as a child, daydreams were free … daydreams were the malleable plans for the future, wishful stuff to mold to my desires and personal wants to try to make come true.  As I got older I realized that daydreams were basically worthless without a whole lot of effort backing them up. 

Even at an early age I realized that there were no guarantees in life and I decided to do something about that, I decided to mold life to me rather than let life to mold me to it and in the process I discovered that the only person in the world who was going to ever make me happy was … me.

Each day was a big pile of potential disappointment and probable sadness that you had to actively work to mold into something you wanted, something that made you happy, and you had to do it yourself because no one else was going to do it for you and the longer you took to do it the less of the day you had to enjoy.

Don’t confuse my personality with my attitude.  My personality is who I am … my attitude depends on who you are.

I’m not a nice person.

At best I’m an anti-hero, if you wanted to try to define me and I’m perfectly comfortable with that.  I’m in this life for me and mine.  If I make a difference along the way, so be it.  If other people benefit while I benefit, then it must be their lucky day.

I’m very mercenary …

Don’t mistake my mercenary curiosity in bettering myself at your expense for genuine interest in your life because you’ll only get your feelings hurt somewhere down the road.  I’m really interested in what you need me to do for you but what’s in it for me?  Whatever it is, you better make it worth my while or I’m going to get bored and do something else.  I’ll be happy to help you with your problems but I’m not going to do it for free …

If I do something for you I expect to be paid for it, one way or another … either money, trade or a favor … sometimes even just the common courtesy of a simple thank you.  If you offer me something and I don't take it then I'm having a good day and I'm being generous.  If I do take it from you in payment then you better hope what you offered me was worth my while.  If I ever do something for you and you take me for granted or take advantage of me and you don't offer anything in return I will never do anything for you again.

There are exceptions to this philosophy; they're few and far between … family and some other rare, exceptional human beings that stand out from the others or work hard to make a difference.

Altruism is all good and well but truth be known altruism doesn’t pay bills and altruism sure won’t buy you any really cool toys.

Life is all about selling yourself, not prostituting yourself, but selling yourself; there’s a difference.

A big difference.

I once heard that you should never give away for free the one thing you have to sell and for me that one thing is the ability to work hard and get results like no one else.  If there’s a job to be done, I’m your man.  If I don’t know how to do it, I’ll learn how to do it, quick.  I like a challenge, it keeps life interesting … just don’t ask me how the job you want me to do is going to get done and have your cash ready for when I get back with outstanding results otherwise we’re going to have a big problem, you and me … a big old problem that you really don’t want to have.

I hate drama.

I hate over the top drama.

I hate drama kings and drama queens.

I hate public drama.

I hate drama for drama’s sake.

It’s so needless and senseless and such a useless waste of perfectly good energy and time.  Drama is a quagmire, you can get pulled in and stuck real quick, especially other people’s drama.

I tend to avoid other people’s drama about like Superman tends to avoid Kryptonite suppositories.

I try not to make my own drama and if I do I certainly try double hard not to share it.  I am a Stoic.  I accept life for what it is.  I change the things that I can and I accept the things that I cannot or as I taught my daughters when they first went to daycare:

“You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

You also might want to write that saying down as it’s a pretty good thing to remember in life.  Remembering it next time something bothers you might just save you a lot of grief and trouble.  In fact, that bit of wisdom in and of itself might just distill down to the very essence, the very definition of stoicism and what it means to be a stoic.

There’s another bit of advice I want to pass on and I learned this when I was 21 years old.  I was working at the university library maintaining an Altos 5 system running Unix and it was just the day from hell.  None of our programs were working, our databases were corrupt and my supervisor, a guy named Scott Salzman, a really cool guy, was about to pull his hair out by the roots because nothing that we were doing was making the situation any better.  It was just Scott and me.  I was doing what Scott was telling me to do and Scott was stomping around the computer center, his footsteps thundering across the elevated floor and he was throwing profanity in every direction like a snow blower throws snow.

I remember that Scott picked up the phone, threatening great bodily harm if he could just be in a locked room for five minutes with the same technicians who had done the latest remote update from somewhere up in Michigan and subsequently set our day and the entire library computer system into chaos.

Scott’s fingers stabbed the numbers out as he continued to blow profanity like an oscillating fan set on high.  I stopped keyboard cowboying and prepared myself to see an epic verbal chewing out given by Scott to the techs on the other end.

The phone rang … and was answered.

“Yes, this is Scott Salzman …”

And like that he was just the nicest person on the phone.  After a few minutes of Scott calmly describing the problems that we were having he nodded then held the phone away from his head.

“They’ve got a pretty cool jazz fusion as hold music.” He said.

My expression told him what I was thinking.

“I thought you were about to tear them a new one for all of these problems …” I said.

And then Scott gave me a bit of advice that I’ve never forgotten.

“Christopher, you have to be nice to the people who fix your stuff.” He said.

And like that a light bulb went off in my head and that was a bit of advice that I’ve kept and lived my life by for the last quarter century.  It was like a piece of the puzzle of life had just fallen into place.

You have to be nice to the people who fix your stuff.

Everyone has problems.

Don’t cause problems for other people.

Don’t willingly add to other people’s grief.

Be patient.

Wait your turn.

Take what life gives you and deal with it.

Everyone has problems.

Don’t add to someone else’s problems just because you can’t deal with your own.

Don’t inconvenience others for your own convenience.

Way too many people do this today.

Way too many people think that life is all about them.

These people are wrong … and they’re annoying.

Way too many people put their problems on public display like their problems were some kind of documentary, some kind of game show or some kind of fund raiser.  Facebook is one of the biggest virtual stages for drama ever created by mankind.  Facebook is like a daytime soap opera for retards and losers, it’s Kickstarter for drama and I love every minute of it.  God help me, I love every breakdown and meltdown and crisis that someone posts because just when I think that my life sucks … just when I think that I’ve got it really bad I just get on Facebook and I’m amazed at how good my life is … compared to all the other people who are posting play by plays of their personal drama and how their life is in meltdown, I realize my life is amazingly great.  Even when my life is full of epic suck it’s still pretty great, at least compared to others, if Facebook is any indicator.

I don’t put my problems on display.

My problems, when I have any, are my own and I work them out, on my own, in private.

I’m not a nice person.

I wasn’t a nice person when I was younger, especially in my mid to late teenage years.  In fact I was egotistical, self-centered and pretty much a self-made SOB (which lets my mom off the hook nicely).

I’m a loner.

I do what I want without having to adjust my schedule or my pace to match the needs, wants, desires or worse, demands, of someone else.  One thing that gripes me more than anything else in the world is to have to wait on someone else, to be inconvenienced by someone else for their own convenience.

Like The Replacements sang way back in 1985 … “Wait on the sons and daughters of no one.”

I live by those words.

I hate people who waste my time.

Don’t waste my time because I have very little, if any, to give to you in the first place. 

When I do something I prefer to do it alone that way I can go where I want, when I want and do what I want when I want and if you’re unlucky enough (or dumb enough) to get in my way you’re going to either get steamrollered or clotheslined by me on my way to my desire and no, I won’t stop to offer you a hand back up or apologize for knocking you down.  If you even shake your head and say “huh?” you’ll be talking to a cloud of dust that’s getting smaller the farther away it gets.

That cloud of dust is me on my way to what I want, getting there in the shortest possible time and in the shortest possible distance.

I'm not a nice person … I’m pretty easy going or like Patrick Swayze once said in the movie “Road House” … “I want you to be nice. I want you to be nice until it's time not to be nice.”

I’m nice.  I’m nice until its time not to be nice and then, well, if you’ve ever heard Nazareth’s old hit “Hair of the Dog” then you know how I can get when it’s time not to be nice.

You don’t want to see that side of me. 


Trust me.

Lately I’ve come to realize that I’ve changed.

Over the years I’ve changed, not much, but I have changed some.

I’m still not a nice person but now that I’m older I’m either getting nicer (which is a scary thought) or I’m simply getting less easy to make mad (which is probably closer to the truth). 

I’m not as caustic as I used to be and the reason I’m not so caustic anymore might not be because I’m mellowing out, no, it’s probably more for the fact that I realize that at this point in my life I just don’t care enough anymore to really get worked up over some idiot and / or their opinion.  A long time ago, over three decades in fact, I told the rest of the world where it could go, what it could do with itself and exactly where it could pucker up and plant its moist, wet lips.

I’m not a victim.

Never have been.

Never will be.

The whole lack of personal responsibility and victim mentality is a philosophy that I believe in and I don’t subscribe to anything that I don’t believe in.

I don’t blame others for how my life is today.

I’m a self-made man.  What I am today is of my own doing.  The choices I made, the paths I followed, the chances I took, the decisions that I chose, the people I kept in my life and the ones I pushed away, the friendships I’ve let go and the relationships I’ve maintained.

I believe in taking personal responsibility for what I do.

Too few people do these days.

We live in a society where everyone has a right but no one has a responsibility.  We live in a society that punishes success, rewards failure and worships mediocrity.

That’s not a blueprint for survival as a nation.

In fact, that’s stupid.

Life is full of stupidity and life is full of stupid people. 

Life isn’t stupid … life is just life. 

Life gets stupid because stupid people make it that way by doing stupid stuff.

That used to annoy me to no end knowing how many stupid people were out there, walking around, breathing, eating, stealing oxygen, using resources they didn’t deserve and generally taking up space they didn’t warrant.

Now it’s different.

It’s easier today, at my age, to just shake my head and chuckle softly to myself at rampant stupidity and get on with my life rather than spend the time and energy to worry about it.

I guess this is, in large part, why my American Angst website isn’t updated as often as it used to be … it isn’t because I don’t get hate mail from Harley owners or because I’ve changed my mind about Harley Davidsons, the company that builds them or the morons that ride them … no, it’s because I just don’t care about the human race anymore.

I really don’t.

I’ve seen too much.

Nothing shocks me anymore.

Nothing surprises me anymore.

I’m jaded.

I cast a cold on the human race in general.

I’ve seen way too much stupidity, too much ambivalence, too much ignorance and too much indifference.  I’ve seen people put their head in the sand and ignore the really important things in life, losing their selves in mediocrity and all by choice.

I’m done.

I’m out. 

I’ve abandoned this erstwhile ship of fools and started paddling on my own in the opposite direction.  Stupidity is its own reward and it usually pays in pop culture dividends and hip-hop stock options.

Some people think that because of the way that I am that I had a bad childhood.  That accusation makes me laugh because I had a great childhood.


Scratch that.

I had a (dirty word used as a descriptive adjective) awesome childhood! 

Given time you’ll learn about that childhood in the podcasts to come. 

Man, did I have a great childhood!  I think it is because I had such a great childhood that I turned out like I did, that I turned out to be who and what I am today.









There are people out there who think I’m some kind of bully or troll. 

I’m not.

I’m really not.

I’m just highly, strongly opinionated and I back that opinion up with facts and examples rather than here-say.  This alone tends to destroy the credit of those who cannot back their arguments up with either provable facts or credible examples and when those people get put in their place or proven wrong then those people tend to get their feelings hurt because they discover that they have been fed lies and taken advantage of. 

I don’t go looking for trouble, I don’t troll other people’s websites to get my jollies and I don’t start arguments with people that I have a different opinion from but I do invariably finish those arguments if and when they’re brought to me.

I have opinions.

Well thought out, well researched opinions.

I keep those opinions on my own personal website.

You have to come to my website in order to read my opinions and when you do, if you choose to pick a fight with me then bring it on.

I stand my ground and defend what I have.

You see, I have my own little corner of the Internet and I’m happy here.  I share what I like and if I get a visitor who wanders in and likes what I’ve shared, then that’s just smurfy.  If someone doesn’t like what I’ve written or what I believe in then it’s no skin or sweat off of my back.  If someone has a different opinion, I’ll listen to it.  If they’re right and I’m wrong, I’m willing to learn.  If they can’t back up their argument or prove me wrong, I’m going to put them in their place.  This invariably hurts their feelings because they find out that they really should have thought for their selves rather than let someone else do their thinking for them.

The scenario repeats and it repeats often … mirth is a spinning wheel.

I’m a loner and a misanthrope. 

I’ve said that already … I’ve said that several times already but I’d like to touch on that part of my life in more detail now.  Growing up I always had a best friend, just one, no matter where I lived.  I’ve had five best friends in my life, one of which I’m still best friends with and he is like the brother that I never had.  I’m averaging about one best friend per decade of my life … even though I’ve had my current best friend since the late 1970’s.

One friend is all I need, in fact, sometimes it’s much more than I need.

I’m a loner.

I prefer being alone.

I like being alone.

I’m not big into friends because friendships require constant upkeep and that takes time away from what I like to spend on myself.  Friendships require compromise and I’m just not the kind of guy that likes to compromise.  I guess when it comes to friends I’m just lazy or selfish or both.  The amount of effort that it takes to maintain a friendship usually isn’t worth what the friendship brings back to me, even in the long run. 

My life has proven this to me over and over again, in spades. 

I give everyone one chance, just one chance, and that’s it.

There are no second chances with me.


Betray me and I’ll cut you out of my life … fast and forever.

There are roughly seven billion people in the world.  If you blow the one chance I give you to mean something to me, to be a part of my life and share my life don’t be surprised if the last word you ever hear from me isn’t “goodbye” but rather “Next!”

There’s seven billion people in the world and once you’ve betrayed my trust in you, once you’ve blown the one chance I give to you then the line to be something important in my life forms behind … you.

You are dismissed.


Life’s too short to give second chances to habitual losers.

I’m a loner.

I don’t like to make waves.

I don’t like people who make waves, especially if they make waves just to get noticed or to get attention or to make trouble.

I don’t cause trouble … but when trouble comes I’m not afraid, I don’t back down and I don’t take anything off of anybody that I don’t have to.  

I stand my ground, I defend what I have with everything that I’ve got and I send the cretinous knuckle dragging Luddites packing with a quickness.

I am an original.

A decade and a half ago, my pastor pulled me aside and said “You know, Shields, there’s just no stereotyping you, at all.”  When I asked him what he meant he rattled off everything that he knew about me and then reaffirmed that there was just no way that anyone could ever put me into some kind of predetermined box and label me.

He had never met anyone like me in all of his years in the clergy.

I took that as a compliment from a man of the cloth.

I am unique. 

If I take pride in anything in my life it’s that I consider myself different from other men.  Maybe not better, certainly no worse, but definitely different … complicated and different.  I’m either part of a new breed to come or maybe the last of an old breed, a soon to be extinct breed … or maybe, like Raoull Duke says in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” …

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

I am eccentric.

I choose to own and drive cars and motorcycles that no one else has because I like to own unique things that no one else has.  It’s my way of being original.

When it comes to what kind of car I’m going to drive on a daily basis I pick something that was cool when I was young, something that is considered rare and special today, something that nobody else has and I take that car, restore it, maintain it, care for it and enjoy it to its fullest. 

When I drive it, people always turn and stare. 

When I park my car people walk up and talk to me about it.

I guess I drive old stuff not just because I’m eccentric but because I’m giving entropy the middle finger.  I refuse to let my past, to let things that I once cherished or yearned for, to be eroded by the years and decades.

My car may not be the fastest on the road today but it was one of the fastest if not the fastest car on the road at one time, a long time ago, and when I’m driving I don’t see another car like mine … ever. 

Life’s too short to drive mediocre cars.

Working on an old car takes some special knowledge.  Since these cars are getting closer to extinction the number of people that can still work on these cars is exactly you and a handful of people most of who probably don’t live anywhere near you.  Being eccentric requires one important sub skill and that sub skill is self-reliance.

One thing that I have discovered is that you can’t be eccentric if you aren’t also self-reliant.  In fact, the two pretty much go hand-in-hand.

I am the self-reliant, self-assured, confident, hard-working, hard playing, be nice until its time not to be nice, get what I want when I want, do what I want when I want, drink whiskey, drive fast, have fun, build things with my own hands and don’t take anything off of anybody kind of breed.

I’m also pretty easy going … unless you get in my way or cause me undue, undeserved grief especially just because you can.

I’m different.

I’m original.

You’ve never met anyone like me.

Chances are you never will, either.

I guess my personality, my charisma and my character are all attractive to a lot of people who are drawn to me for the simple reason that I am different either from what they are or different from the norm that they are used to.

People like me.

People congregate and orbit around me like satellites … they’re drawn to me. 

People want to be part of my life because I am different, because I’m not afraid to live my life like they’re afraid to live theirs.  I find this a great frustration being a loner or like I’ve said in my blog … it’s hard to be a loner and a misanthrope if you’ve got an ever growing fan club. 

Way back in 1990 Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians once had a catchy little song that I really liked.  It got some local airplay and I think even got in the top 40.  That song was called “Circle”.  Some of the lyrics I’ll repeat here …

“I quit.  I give up.  Nothing's good enough for anybody else it seems, and being alone is the best way to be.  When I'm by myself, it's the best way to be.  When I'm all alone it's the best way to be.  When I'm by myself nobody else can say goodbye.”

(insert soundbyte)

I wholeheartedly believe that because those lyrics describe most of my life from 1985 to 1992.

I said that people come into my life that they orbit around me but there’s another side of that story.  People also leave out of my life and history has shown that people leave suddenly and for reasons that are theirs alone.  For all of my misanthropic nature I’ve found that on rare occasions when I do get attached to people that get attached to me that when those people leave it invariably tears a hole in my soul; a hole the size of a mountain.

A long time ago I decided it was just better not to get too close to anyone or let anyone get too close to me.  The price of friendship was too much, at least for me, and it was just better to journey through life alone rather than to have people I cared about come and go at their whim.  It was easier to decide on who shared my life rather than let them make that decision for me.

I like being alone.

I like being self-reliant and independent.

It’s like having everything that’s good in a friendship or relationship without having any of the stuff that’s bad.

I prefer to be alone.

You could send me on a solitary mission into space on a ten year long trip around the solar system or blast me off to Mars to live by myself and I’d be perfectly happy with that.  I’d be the guy who got marooned on an island and when they came to rescue me I’d run and hide … the rescuers would literally have to drag me off of the island and back to the waiting arms of civilization.

I like being alone.

My experience with the human race has shown me that deep social interaction, long term relationships and especially large group activities should all be avoided like getting a swirlie in a public toilet in Seol, Korea during the Olympics.  To put it bluntly I just don’t like people because people are needy … and so am I. 

And in that regard one of my favorite quotes of all time is from Samuel Johnson who said it best when he stated

“I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.”

That’s been my personal philosophy for a long time.

I read that quote as a very young child.

I’ve never forgotten that quote.

That quote has stuck with me for decades now.

I don’t like people.

I just don’t like people.

I really just don’t.

People tend to require me to spend time with them, to pay attention to them, to do things with them, to do things for them, to listen to them, to care about them, to care for what they care about, to like what they like, to give up my time (what little I have) for them and for little or nothing offered in turn.  People want you to stop what you’re doing, to make eye contact with them, all in order to make them feel, wrongly so, that you really care about whatever it is that they’ve brought as some situation into your life.

One of the things that really makes me mad is for someone to come into my life, demand that I stop what I’m doing in order to pay attention to them, demand that I make eye contact with them while they’re talking to me and then for them to completely waste my time with some inane personal drama that means exactly zero to me.

And I’m a bad person when I point this out.

I’m inconsiderate when I point this out.

I’ve found that people are needy and greedy.

People always take and take and take, whether it’s in friendship or a relationship; it’s just what people do … they can’t help doing it because that’s human nature.  Some of them are better at it than others, some don’t even know that they’re doing it and for some of them it's the only way they're ever going to be able to live their lives … the only way they're going to be able to survive is if they find somebody that they can siphon what they need off of or if they find someone to take care of them for the rest of their lives. 

I’ve met a few people like that … even had the misfortune of having a long term relationship with someone like that. 

The problem with the people who try to take everything that they can from you is that they can make you feel pretty special while they’re doing it.

Very few people are givers and those who are usually have limits on what they’re willing to give and what they are willing to give is usually a lot less than they’re willing to take from you.

Like Billy Squier used to sing … “Everybody wants you” but what people want you for may not be what you want people to want you for.  People have a tendency to want you not for what they’re worth to you but for what you are worth to them.

Most people are looking for stepping stones in their lives.

I refuse to be someone else’s stepping stone. 

I’m not your stepping stone, I’m not your life raft, I’m not your life preserver and I’m certainly not your beast of burden or pack mule that you’re going to use to haul around all of your emotional baggage.

It’s not my job to carry you through life rather it’s your job to try and keep up with me.

I find social interaction to be a lot like gambling … if you don’t know what you’re doing then you’re going to lose a lot, fast and there are people out there who are not only way better at it than you are but there are people out there who make it their living to get everything they can from you while giving you the least they can in return.  It’s the base rule of life; the more you can get for the least amount the better.

The trick to winning in life, much like gambling, is that you have to know when know when you have a winning hand, when to hold, when to fold and you’ve got to know when to walk away … you’ve especially got to know when to walk away.

I’ve walked away from several friendships in the last decade … mostly for differences in opinions and outlooks on life.

I'm perfectly accepting of the fact that at my age it's just easier to let go of people who don't believe the same things that I believe at my age.  I've put a lot of thought into how I live my life and what I believe and if your beliefs are contrary to mine or are the exact opposite of what I believe in, if your beliefs go against everything that I believe in then I'm at the point where we just need to part company, amicable or otherwise, but we need to part company.

We really do.

I'm at the point in my life now where I don't need a whole lot of friends and if your views are exactly opposite of mine you and I aren’t going to be friends.  Life is too short to surround yourself with a whole bunch of people who are just going to grate on you, who are going to cause you friction and grief.  

At my age I just don't need the conflict.

Don’t need it.

Don’t want it.

Not going to put up with it.

Society keeps trying to program us to be nice, to get along with everyone but that’s just not something that I believe in.  I don’t know if I ever believed in it before but the more society tries to force that philosophy off on me the more I find myself rebelling against it.

I am in no way politically correct.

I hate people who try to be politically correct.

If there’s a quick way to get me to totally ignore you or forget that you even exist then it is to try to be politically correct in my presence.

I hate compromise.

I hate appeasement.

I’m not a nice guy.

I don't want to be nice.

It’s too much effort for too little reward.

I don't want to try to meet in the middle, arrive at some kind of compromise and / or get along.

I don’t need to get along.

It’s not worth it.

I don't need the conflict.

At my age I just don’t need the conflict and with all that I've been through and how I look at life if you're not on the same wavelength that I am, if you don't believe the same things that I do at this point in my life then I don't care.  Politics, religion, society, it doesn’t matter … if what you believe in is something that I’m totally against then we’re not going to agree to disagree or try to compromise … no, we’re just going to part company.

It really does come down to either you’re with me … or you’re against me.  I don’t mind that you’re different from me or that you have different ideas and values … as long as those ideas and values don’t actively compete with my own or cause friction in our relationship.  I love having in-depth intellectual and enlightening conversations but if your and my beliefs are such that we actively have to avoid talking about certain subjects because it will only cause grief then it’s just best not to hang out with each other.  I’d rather do without a friendship than have a very limited, very restricted one.

The problem with today's society is that nobody takes a stand anymore.  It doesn’t matter if they take a stand for what’s right or not, no one takes a stand for anything anymore.  Everyone's so afraid of hurting someone else's feelings, or getting labeled as mean-spirited, or some other laughable label that they just cower and remain silent.

I'm not scared of that.

I’m not afraid of taking a stand for what I believe in.

I'm not afraid of being labeled because I’m not afraid of labels.

If you want to label me go ahead.

I'm not a nice person so if you call me mean-spirited it's not going to hurt my feelings.

I’ve amputated a lot of people from my life, especially over the last seven years.

And … do you know what?

I haven’t regretted it … I haven’t regretted what I’ve done, not once … not then and not now.  Life is so much nicer with the absence of conflict.  Life is too short to surround yourself with people who cause you grief, physically, mentally or emotionally.

One other decision that I made a long time ago was to amputate myself from the human race.  I willingly amputated myself from the human race and in doing so I found a life I never expected to find.  I found a peace and solace and level of comfort and existence I never knew could exist let alone be obtained.

Yes, there are certain exceptions …

My wife, my daughters, my family, a handful of people that I used to work with or that I still work with, a deep mutual respect given to service or care providers like teachers, EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement and medical staff … and my one best friend.  Those are people who are worth being with, who are worth the effort, who make a difference, who have never let me down or disappointed me or asked for more than their fair share of what I had to offer.

The rest of the human race …?

You’re kidding, right?


The human race has, by and large, been reduced to unthinking drones.  People, by and large, have willingly allowed themselves to devolve into a collective herd mentality; they're shallow thinking, media driven sheep that are easily frightened and even more easily led.  When I was growing up people programmed televisions … now televisions program people.

People, by and large, are useless, unreliable and unremarkable.

Who needs them?

I’m a misanthrope.

I’m self-sufficient.

I’m self-reliant.

I’m independent.

I’m a stoic.

I’m a loner.

And I couldn’t be happier.

After all of that is said and done, yeah, that’s pretty much me.

Your host.

Now, you’re probably curious as to what I’m basing all of this rambling off of … ?

All of the contents of these podcasts are going to be based off of my personal experience and my memories; all taken from the stuff that I’ve learned the hard way. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes. 

I’ve made bad decisions. 

I’ve done questionable things.

I’ve engaged in poor judgment.

I’ve dated some real psychos and losers.

But do you know what’s so great about all of that?

What’s so great about all of that is that I’ve learned!

Oh, man, have I learned!

Every single time that I made a mistake or messed up or did something wrong or dated someone I shouldn’t have or had my dreams smashed and my heart broken I learned and I learned something new, something important, something that I didn’t know before.

I learned it the hard way … each and every single time … but I learned.

Every single time that I made a mistake in life I learned something.

I learned how to do something.

I learned how not to do something.

I learned why something should be done.

I learned why something should not be done.

I learned not to make that particular mistake again.

I learned not to date that kind of person again.

I’m human. 

I’ve made mistakes.

I’ve also not made mistakes.

It’s part of being human.

You live and you learn … or your life is pretty much a whole lot of not happy.

It’s called “The Learning Experience” and it determines, ultimately, who you are as a person as well as what type of person you are.

And do you know what?

I had a lot of fun making those mistakes.

If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here sharing this with you now.  No, I’d be in some self-help group getting sob story therapy listening to a bunch of complete losers complain about how they just can’t figure out life or how life is way too mean to them.

That’s not me.

I’d like to pause here for just a second and offer another bit of advice, and that bit of advice is one of the most important pieces of advice I can offer to you, again based on my own personal experience. I want to throw this bit of advice out there early, just to give it to you because what I’m about to say is really, and I mean, really important. 

What I’m about to say may even be life changing.

Listen close because here is a fundamental piece of truth about what it means to be human and to be part of the human race.

It isn’t important what happens to you in life.  What is important is how you deal with what happens to you in life.

That’s one simple thing to remember and if you live your life by that one piece of advice your life will be a lot better.  If you remember one piece of advice, remember that piece of advice.

Things happen to people.

Good things.

Bad things.

Boring things.

Exciting things.

Happy things.

Sad things.

That’s life.

When something happens to you, deal with it, deal with it quick, deal with it well and move on because once you’ve come to grips with what happened to you … guess what?  Something else is going to happen to you.

That’s life.

Life is short and it’s full of stuff and things.  Lots of stuff and lots of things and it’s not just you that all of this stuff and all of these things are happening to.  The truth is all of this stuff and all of these things are happening to everyone else as well.


Falling down is part of life. 

Getting back up is living.

Not everyone who falls down chooses to get back up.

If you fall down, don’t look for sympathy, instead look for a way back up.  Sympathy is a false comfort; in fact, it’s a lie.

Everyone’s journey through life is different and I’ve found out that there’s no reward in life for taking it easy.


Part of being an individual is walking away from the herd, away from society and its norms and looking for your own space, your own way, your own path through life.  We make our way, our own paths as we go through life; we have to if we’re ever going to become anything, if we’re ever going to make something of ourselves that’s worth noticing by others and it’s the paths that are less travelled that are the most rewarding.

Two of the most important things that you can ever strive for let alone hope to achieve in life are non-conformity and originality.

These two ideals absolutely define individualism.  In fact, you can’t be an individual if you’re not original or if you are a conformist.

Nothing and I guarantee you that nothing great was ever accomplished, invented, or discovered by a conformist or by someone who was just trying to be like everyone else.


Not being original is just another type of conformity.

Conformity is stupid.

John Wayne is credited with saying that “Life is tough.  It’s even tougher if you’re stupid.”

I believe that.

I believe that because I’ve seen that … I’ve seen that philosophy in action way too many times in the work place, on the street and in the ER.  Life is tough, it’s even tougher if you’re stupid and if you actually choose to be stupid because you think that being stupid will make you more likeable then you’ve just made it easy for life and remember, there’s no reward in life for easy.

There are a lot of people who are only famous because they are stupid.

Quit making stupid people famous.

I don’t like stupid.

I don’t like stupid people.

I especially don’t like stupid people who choose to be stupid because stupid has now become both fashionable and trendy in our society which means that being stupid has become popular and glamorous and therefore choosing to be stupid has become something to aspire to just in order to be accepted and liked.

And it’s easy to be stupid.

Choosing to be stupid because it’s the popular thing to do has become the norm for our once great society.  Being stupid is easy, being stupid makes life easy but remember … there’s no reward in life for taking it easy.

Today, it’s so easy to be stupid … just turning on the TV or the radio causes you to start hemorrhaging IQ.  It’s so easy to let someone else tell you what to think, what to wear, what to say, what music to listen to, what car to drive, who to vote for … society tries to hammer you into a slot, it tries to mold you into what it thinks you should be because that’s the easy way.

When you fit a mold, when you fit a stereotype, when you can be cataloged, tagged, labeled and branded then that’s the easy way and there’s no reward in life for taking it easy.

Non-conformity and originality.

Society has made it almost a sin to not conform and businesses get rich selling both non-conformity and originality with the lie that buying their product and being like everyone else who buys their product will somehow set you apart from the consumers who buy the other company’s product.

You can’t buy non-conformity and you can’t buy originality and I have a high disdain for those who think that they can.  If you thought that you bought either non-conformity or originality, you wasted your money because no matter what some business or corporation says, non-conformity and originality are two concepts that can’t be boxed up, put on a shelf and sold for a price.

Too many people are scared to death of not conforming to peer values, are scared to death of what other people might think about them.  Too many people live in tiny little spaces that they make for their selves.  They build tiny little fences around their mind and think that if they like what everyone else does, if they look like everyone else, act like everyone else, and dress like everyone else then everyone else will accept them.

Too many people are scared to death to like something that the majority does not like, to like weird or strange stuff or childhood stuff because they feel that they have to be adult or grown up in order to be accepted and liked.  I’ve seen too many people trying to do the adult thing, trying to act like this mythical adult persona and not only do they not have a clue what they’re doing but they’re doing it badly as well.  It’s as awkward to witness as it is humorous … these people who think that there is this “grown up” meme, this adult persona that they have to adopt and dress in and wear every day … these are people who basically have traded chocolate milk for light beer and then pretend that they’re happy for doing it.  These people have tried to grow up when all they’ve done is become boring because they not only lost sight of what makes life special but they’ve also lost sight of what makes life fun.

I am original.

I am a stoic, a loner, a misanthrope, a cynic, a misogynist, a masochist, and a non-conformist.  There are other adjectives to describe me as well, some of them not very nice or polite, but those are the main ones.

Some people don’t like me because of who I am and what I am.

Those people are completely useless and totally irrelevant.

I don’t care whether you like me or not. 

I don’t need your acceptance to live my life the way I see fit to live my life.  What you think of me doesn’t matter since your opinion hardly dictates, let alone affects, the way that my life is led. 

If you don’t like me that’s your problem because I promise you I won’t lose any sleep over it.  When you start buying me stuff or paying my bills then your opinion of me will start to matter to me.

The end result is that because of who and what I am, I don’t care what you think about me.  I’m going to live my life the way I want to and if that’s a problem for you or causes me to live rent-free inside your head for years or decades to come then that’s your problem not mine. 

Thanks for the invite and the party favors. 

Mind all the confetti, the silly string and the stains in the carpet.

There’s one very important thing that you should know about me …

I never grew up.

I told you that my wife often tells others that she has three children at home and that jab is not lost on me.

I’m a kid … I’m just a kid.

Sure, I got older but I never grew up.

I took on tougher responsibilities in life … I married.  I fathered two children.  I put on a badge.  I work three jobs soon to be four jobs.  I pay bills.  I have a nice, big house in a nice neighborhood, a garage full of fast toys … but even at my age I’m still just the same kid I was when I was ten years old. 

The thought of that blows my mind sometimes … I never grew up.  I am still just a kid.  I’m an old kid … or I’m an older kid … but I’m still just a kid.

I’m still the exact same kid I was way back when I was ten years old, watching sunsets, all wide eyed, wondering about life, the universe and God and girls and sex and everything … only now I’m older.  I’ve got wrinkles, scars, good memories, bad memories, I’ve still got a few dreams left, I’ve got a few regrets, I’ve got a head full of knowledge, a life full of experience and even though I pop and creak a lot more when I get up, even though it takes me longer to get out of bed in the morning than it used to thanks to a life more lived and living that exciting life on the edge, I am still just a kid.

I’m still no closer to figuring any of life’s big mysteries.  I’m still no closer to figuring out those things that really perplexed me when I was ten years old and sitting on the grass staring at purple clouds and orange sunsets at the end of the long school day.

And do you know what?!

I’m grateful for that!

I never grew up.

I saw way too many people grow up.

Those people got boring when they grew up.  It didn’t help that a lot of them were boring when they were kids but when they grew up they really and I mean really got boring.  Some people you just have to look at and you wonder … why did your parents ever have you?  What value are you to your family or to the human race as a whole?  Are you actually worth the air, food and water and space that you take up with your life or are the other members of the human race having to work extra just to subsidize your existence?

I know a lot of people who couldn’t say yes to any of those questions … not one. 

Those people are useless. 

Life is full of useless people.

They serve no purpose other than to take up resources that they don’t deserve.

Most of them are whiners and complainers.

Most of them cause grief above and beyond their fair share in this world.

Most of them aren’t happy unless others around them aren’t happy as well.

I know a lot of useless people in life … people who are running around un-medicated, unsupervised, uneducated and whose sole purpose in life seems to be to constantly get in my way and cause me a great amount of completely undeserved frustration.

I knew a lot of boring kids when I was a kid. 

Kids I didn’t think, even way back then, would ever amount to anything.  I mean, some of the kids I went to school with were either going to wind up trying to sell me a used car at a sales lot or they were going to be interrupting my lunch by screaming across the fast food restaurant at their undisciplined and unruly offspring.  Chances were good that those two people would probably find each other and marry and reproduce and divorce and work really hard to share their collective misery with the rest of the world.

I’ve known a lot of losers in my life and there’s just no other term for them other than calling them what they are; losers.

Yeah, there were some kids I went to school with who showed some promise, some minor radial glint in their eye that seemed to indicate that their IQ went higher than 88 but the vast majority of even those kids stopped being kids when they got older and I think that’s when their lives stopped being fun.  That’s when their lives started to be the day to day routine that everyone always complains about.

That’s not me.

I refused to grow up.

I refused to ever be boring or mundane or mediocre.

I refused to be stereotyped.

I refused to be packaged or labeled or stamped or branded by society.

Looking back on everyone that I ever knew … I can’t think of one person that I was jealous of, envious of or would have been willing to trade my life or lifestyle for theirs.

Everyone else is boring.

I am an individual … but despite everything that I’ve done, everything that I’ve accomplished in life, despite my age, despite being surrounded by people who proudly claim to be adults I still feel like a kid.

I’m just a kid … a big, really old kid but still just a kid.

And … I think that’s the secret there. 

I didn’t grow up.

I never grew up.

Kind of like Peter Pan and the Lost Boys … I never grew up and in not growing up I never got boring.  Life never stopped being an adventure, life never got routine and boring and dull and mundane and mediocre.

Growing old is mandatory. 

Growing up is optional.

I chose not to grow up.

For me it was a choice to be made, not a circumstance to be suffered.

When you grow up, as society defines the term “growing up” you lose what it means to be a kid, you lose the fun in life.  You stop looking at life with wonder and awe and you start looking at life in general like every day was just one more day in a long string of days, like nothing makes a difference, nothing means anything and it’s all just the same slave to the grind repetition.

That’s not me.

When you accept the role that society thinks you should have you surrender what it means to be alive and in doing so you really lose a lot in life.

You lose … yourself.

When you allow life to dictate who and what you’ll be then you stop being yourself, you lose yourself and when you lose yourself then you lose everything that you had to begin with, everything that you would or could ever be and everything that you are or ever will be.

Originality and conformity.

If you’re having to buy originality then it’s not originality that you’re buying; it’s someone else’s idea of conformity and you’re paying for it.

Conformity is a trap.

It’s easy.

It’s so easy to conform.

Don’t do it.

Don’t ever conform.

Don’t ever grow up.

Growing up is not only highly overrated, it’s a trap.

Never stop being a child.

Never let life get dull or boring.

Never let life stop being an adventure!

Never stop watching sunsets or sunrises or asking questions or questioning answers or being yourself.

And all of that … well, I digressed somewhat but that’s also part of who and what I am.  You’ve got a picture of where I come from, who I am, what I am and not only how I live my life but how I have lived my life.

It’s been a good life.

Man, has it been a really and I mean a really good life!

My life wasn’t always easy and my life wasn’t always fun.  I’ll be the first to admit that my life wasn’t always sunshine and whiskey but it’s been a really, really good life because I’ve made it that way and I made it that way because I refused to accept anything other than that particular outcome in my life.

Life just works for me …

Life just … works. 

Sure life has its ups and downs and all arounds but eventually everything settles out, good or bad.  Life just works for me, life always has and I guess life always will.  The greater part of that is my attitude and a lesser part of that is probably my skills, my experience, karma and luck and the fact that I haven’t made God mad enough to make Him really take an interest in how I live my life or what I do with it.

I’ve learned things in life.

I’ve learned a lot of things in life, a whole lot of things and sharing things that you’ve learned in life with others is a form of nostalgia based on personal experience and memories.

Another key aspect of life is that you learn from your mistakes … it’s all part of life’s imperfection or it may just be life’s greatest gift to you.  You live and you learn or you don’t live long.  You can also learn from other people’s mistakes.  Learning from other people’s mistakes is a lot easier than learning from your own mistakes.

There’s less grief.

Trust me on that.

Learning from other people’s mistakes is a lesson that I learned at an early age.  It’s a lesson that I have never forgotten and that in itself has made my life a lot easier and better.  Letting other people be stupid and observing the results of their stupidity along with their punishments is a valuable survival tool.

Life is a non-stop process of learning. 

Learning about yourself, about the world around you, about other people, about things that you didn’t know existed, about your tolerances and your limits … it’s a non-stop process and as you learn you create memories.

Memories are the pure, distilled essence of experience.

My podcasts are going to revolve, mainly, around my personal memories.  These are memories of really good things that once really mattered to me a long time ago, things that influenced the path I took or changed my life or how I saw the world around me.  Chances are these things were and are so powerful that they are still probably influencing my life and how I see the world around me. 

These are good memories.

I know this because I revisit these memories often and the reason I do that is because they’re good memories. 

Really good memories. 

These are memories which exist at the very early years of my life, a time that is now at the periphery of my life, a time that is now almost five decades in the past even though it seems like it was only yesterday. 

Youth is like that, the time you spend in your single digit years is as magical as it is fleeting.

One day you’re a child wondering when you’re ever going to grow up and then you blink and suddenly you’re old and you remember being a child.  Even though it seems that there’s a long climb up from childhood to being an adult … looking back it all happened in an instant. 

That’s the problem with life …

The longer you live the faster it goes and sometimes you live your life so fast that the only way you can enjoy your life is by watching it in the rearview mirror.

My childhood was a turbulent time to be sure, my whole life has been a turbulent time and doing these podcasts has stirred up a bunch of emotions, feelings and memories … it’s been a real trip down memory lane filled with a lot of introspection and self-searching.

We’ve talked about me some already.

By now you might start to think that you know me.

You don’t know me.

You really don’t.

Most people who do know me in real life don’t really know me and they often find this out in ways that make for the best stories to be told and retold.

I said that this podcast was the official podcast of

I have a website. is a dark little corner of the internet, my own private playground. is like a garage sale for the mind of someone with an IQ of 138.

For what it is worth, I am the creator, owner, engineer, caretaker, webmaster, janitor, interior decorator, master crew chief and general all-around BA-MFIC of and subsequently all of the weird, wonderful, strange and eclectic stuff contained therein (and trust me, there’s a whole lot of weird, wonderful, strange and eclectic stuff contained therein).  If you have never been to then you’ve definitely missed out on an experience to say the least.

If you have never been to my website before then I should warn you … be prepared to stay for several hours or even several days.

Most people who visit my site usually do and I know this because I often get email from them telling me so. is over a decade and a half old … in Internet terms, that’s ancient, older than when rocks were soft.  I’ve been on the Internet since 1992, about 23 years as I’m recording this, which makes me ancient as well, a real Neanderthal among the Digital Cowboys.  When the Internet, or the World Wide Web as it used to be known, was first opened up for the public, I was there, bags packed, ready to go.

My scathing wit used to hang out in AOL forums from 1992 to 1995 putting idiots in their place, then in 1995 I made my own website on a local ISP and sometime in the late 1990’s I actually got off my butt and paid for an Internet domain of my own.

Goingfaster dot com … FTW.

My website has gone through a lot of changes over the years … change is good because everything living changes.  However, recently the site has been somewhat stagnant which is bad because stagnant stuff dies. 

I don’t like to think of my website as dead, more like in suspended animation with signs of activity every now and then.  The reality of it is that my website is more like finding buried treasure … it’s a wealth of knowledge and entertainment when you first discover it but if you’re looking for more then its slow going as the content of my website accumulates exactly at the speed of my procrastination.

A recent search by me indicated that my website ranks somewhere around the 3,700,000th something most popular website in the world.  Wow.  I’m in the top 4 million websites in the world.  That’s good to know and that suits me just fine since I’m not after ranks or visitors, fame or fortune. 

One other tiny bit of advice I want to offer here …

That which is popular is not always smart and that which is smart is not always popular. 

I’d rather have one intelligent person a month find my website and leave me a thought provoking comment than a thousand idiots a day find my site each leaving me some idiotic message full of some of the most glaring cardinal sins to ever be carried out against the English language and the basic rules of grammar but then that’s just me … I’m still a quality over quantity kind of guy. 

With me … it’s not how much you get rather it’s how good the stuff was that you got.

And now since we’ve been talking for the better part of an hour and a half and because I’ve said pretty much all I had to say, I think it’s probably time to bring this first podcast to a close.  What I’ve given you is a lot to digest and this first podcast probably needs to be ended here because after you know the basics of who and what I am then anything else is just too much frosting on the cupcake.

In hindsight, this is probably the longest that I’ve ever talked about myself and will probably be the first and last time that I do so but I thought it was important that you understood just who your host was, what I am, how I live my life, to know some of the things that had affected me in my life and thus shaped my life experiences as well as the opinions that I carry with me throughout life.  If nothing else, at least you have an idea of the mindset of the architect of

This first podcast was just to get my feet wet and to give you a little background information on me.  The next podcast will be about my early childhood years, growing up in the early 1970’s.  It was a time that really had to be experienced to be understood and I was there to experience it all as a wide eyed child full of wonder and curiosity.

If any of my podcasts invoke memories in you similar to my own, I’d like to hear from you, good or bad.  Drop me an email at blackecho, that’s b-l-a-c-k-e-c-h-o (all one word) at  You won’t be the first to do so but given the content of this podcast then any email I get because of it might just be some of the better email that I’ve ever received. 

Time will tell. 

Who knows? 

You may spark an idea in me or start a conversation that eventually becomes part of this podcast series, maybe even a long running theme.

Thanks for listening to my rambling and, God willing, I’ll talk to you again in about 30 days, more or less.  Until then … do something with your life and have fun doing it.  Go out and make a difference in life even if it’s just a difference in your life.


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