Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Trades are an option

I recently had a discussion for the Hangover Haze Show with a good friend of mine who has worked extensively in the trades for years.  He has installed solar, done carpentry and achieved his Construction Supervisor's License, has gone to Electrical school and will eventually have his Journeyman's License in Electrical.  So it would be fair to say that he's well-versed.

We spoke about the trades as a viable option instead of going to college for Computer Science, or an English degree, or god forbid, an advanced degree in Gender Studies (haha).

There's a glut of trade work available currently due to the fact that the baby boomers are retiring or dying off and for many years in the late 80s through the early 2000s the emphasis was on going to college.  There was a negative stigma placed on people who were trades workers.  They were viewed as beer drinking, large gutted, moronic plebeians without the capacity for complex thought or decision making.

Those folks are the ones who are currently having the last laugh though.  While it's true, if you're a prodigy in Software Engineering who teams up with someone that can effectively market your app, chances are you'll make a bundle of money and be able to retire early, or re-invest and move up the entrepreneur ladder, much like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. 

But the truth of the matter is, you're most likely to end up as a mid-level programmer for a larger company.  Just another cog in their massive machine.  A faceless entity who draws a decent weekly paycheck without the trappings of fame and glory.

And generally, in both instances, you'll be hiring tradespeople to do the work on your house, property, and car because you lack the necessary skills to do so yourself effectively.  Not to mention negotiating the depth of red tape local governments provide when trying to permit certain projects.

I've worked in solar and construction and also have my Construction Supervisor's License and I've operated a good deal of heavy machinery that would seem foreign and daunting to most people.  I participated in various masonry and landscape projects.  I grew up in my father's auto mechanic shop and some of the earliest photos of me are in my godfather's junkyard and around hardcore grease monkey's.  I've swapped engines in my car twice as well as other more advanced mechanical projects.  Over my years I've attained at least an intermediate skill level in electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. 

In other words, not only am I extremely well read (humble too!), but I can also build and provide the maintenance of a house as well as the property it sits on and if I were so inclined, could maintain my vehicle as well and fix it in most instances of it breaking down. 

There's a great deal of money to made in the trades and I've often considered opening my own construction company and pursuing that route, but I also find that while I do enjoy the somewhat mental challenges and physical strain of that type of work, my happiness lies in the cerebral pursuits of the highest levels.  Namely, Psychology and Philosophy. 

But, I urge those who are thinking that perhaps college isn't for them and that they'd like to make a successful life for themselves otherwise, to consider one of the many skilled labor trades.  There will be plenty of work for you once you're licensed and I know many people who make more money per year than high-level IT professionals.

I was one of them.

Take care of yourselves.
-Phil

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Schedule going forward

I originally started this blog as an attempt to write a post every day.  I was able to do so, for the most part, except when I would get busy with other things, run out of ideas to write, or just got plain old lazy.  Then I would make up for it by writing 2 the following day.

This was all fine and dandy when I was unemployed, which has changed recently.  So, between a full-time job, the Thirsty Thursday episodes, and trying to get people on for the weekly Hangover Haze Show episodes, I don't have a wealth of time to commit to blogging every day.

I also found there were days that I would be struggling to find topics to write about and I would much rather write posts of substance, rather than crank out anything that pops in my head just to live up to the daily deadline that was self-imposed.

So, this is my official announcement that I won't be writing a blog post every day.  I'll be writing them whenever I'm struck by the writing bug and I feel I have something worthwhile to share.  Sometimes that might be many within a day and then other times it may be nothing at all for multiple days on end.

I'm sure this will inconvenience absolutely no one at all, but I figured that I may as well be honest and let people know what's going on.

As always, please feel free to send emails directly to HangoverHaze@gmail.com and now you can even leave a voicemail at 774-243-2181.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

My own Arrogance

Why am I so fucking arrogant?  It's something I've been for a long time and it's been detrimental to my interactions with a lot of different people throughout my life.  Including the ladies, as it were. 

As far back as I can remember...well, that's not totally true...I recall being a very young age and my demeanor was rather pleasant.  I was known in the neighborhood for walking right up to the perfect stranger and introducing myself with a smile.  Dangerous practices to be sure, but still, there was something at one point in me that lacked the arrogance that drips off of me now.

Somewhere along the line of life I transitioned to an overly self-assured prick.  Combined with my constant judgment of everyone and the selfish bent of my character and frankly you've got a terrible human being.  I'm not really sure why people even call me "friend".

I think the arrogance started to rear it's humble head (haha!) as I tore through literature, which gave me a different understanding of life itself, and after going through being locked away for "anger management" problems with a bunch of hormonal teens, followed by a stint in the foster system, and finally being bullied consistently by my friends.

Arrogance, for me, comes from a place of being so utterly confident in that moment that I drop all pretense of humility.  After all, humility is really only used as a disguise so as to not embarrass anyone around us who may not be of the same understanding.  I had also spent much of my life being a passive bystander to my abuse, which involved continuous berating, belittling, and beatings, and I no longer allow people to walk all over me anymore.  I refuse to be a victim of anyone else.

There are far better ways for me to stand up for myself and commit to a life where I won't be victimized, but I'm still learning how to process and move forward in a healthy way.  So, if you've been a victim of my arrogance all I can do is say, I'm truly sorry.  I'm working on it and it's going to take a while for me to change.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Remembering 9/11

The night before I had quit my shitty job as a gas station attendant.  It was an overnight gig where I would sit in a booth for 8 hours, get stoned or drunk, and dispense snacks or cigarettes to customers through a drawer from behind bulletproof glass.  

I recall the Assistant Manager of the place practically begging me to cover for the night so she could plan the rest of the week properly while she tried to find a replacement, but I was being stubborn and told her that I'd had enough and couldn't handle it anymore, which was true.  So, I sat with my roommates and got stoned all night before heading off to bed.

When I woke up it was probably 7:30AM or so.  I doddered around the apartment in a bit of a daze, due not only to the stoned sleep I had woken from, but also realizing the reality of what I had done.  I had no plan for a new job whatsoever, yet I had casually bailed on a steady income.  There was a thrill to it, but also a bit of panic.

After eating breakfast I plopped down in front of the computer in my bedroom to start the job search.  In 2001 everyone was still using AOL Instant Messenger, so I made sure to fire mine up to keep communication with friends if they were around.  Most of them would probably be in class as we were 19 years old at the time.

Matt was the first to send me an IM.  It just said, "Turn on the news now!".  This alarmed me a bit as he knew that I wasn't very partial to watching the news.  I walked into the living room and turned on the TV and switched it to one of the major news channels.  I was instantly stunned by what I saw.  One of the Twin Towers of New York City had apparently experienced a major explosion.  

I sat in rapt attention as the reporters struggled to explain what they could only infer was happening.  No one knew for sure, other than there was a massive burning hole in the side of one of the towers.  What happened after that started to alarm more people as cell phone service was quickly being interrupted, not only in New York, but across New England and then the East Coast entirely.  

When the second plane hit, I was watching it happen live.  I can remember the news anchor remarking that there was a large plan coming into view and it seemed to be traveling far too low within the cities limits.  Then in slammed into the side of the second tower and even the people in the news studio couldn't disguise their alarm and horror.

That's when I yelled out myself and ran to Tom's room, slamming on his door to wake him and his companion up.  He groggily answered the door asking what was wrong and I just said, "Someone just flew a plane into the World Trade Center tower."  His eyes widened and he quickly got his robe on and joined me in the living room.  

We sat in stunned silence as we flipped through the various news stations to see each one repeating, from various angles, the footage of the plane hitting the second tower.  Tom's guest, who was a Danish woman that had come to visit him, came out and joined us after a little while.  We all sat around speculating what was happening.

Dan came home from wherever he had been.  If I recall he had been let out of work early as most places were doing.  Matt informed me on IM that classes at Fitchburg State had been let out and cancelled and all buildings over a certain height in New England were to be evacuated.  F-15s were scrambled and were soon circling NYC.

The United States of America's heart and soul had been attacked by radicals from the Middle East.  They had struck directly and purposefully by flying 2 massive 747s into both of the World Trade Center Towers.  

Around 9:30AM or so we all watched as the second tower collapsed down to the streets below.  Massive clouds of smoke swelled through the city streets.  There was footage of hordes of people screaming and running away as quickly as they could.  Then, around 10AM or so, the first tower fell as well.

Thousands of people died that day.  Innocents who were just going about their day.  People on the flights, people in the towers, people on the streets, and then the heroes who did their best to rescue those in need.  So many lives lost because of radical beliefs.  Fanaticism at it's worst.

I remember my friends all meeting up and chatting about it.  We talked about how the country was going to war.  It must be.  This was the first direct foreign attack on the country since Pearl Harbor and it was shaping up to be far worse.

Later in the evening some of the cell service was recovered and I remember Tom's friend called back home to Denmark to talk to her family and assure them she was alright.  While on the phone she started to laugh with whomever she was chatting with in her native tongue.  Meanwhile in the background on the news they were still tallying the death toll.  At one point she even had the gall to say something along the lines of, "Now America understands what the rest of the world deals with."

I understand what she meant by that remark, but there's a time and place to say such criticisms and I definitely disagree with her timing.  I think my anger was very evident because Tom ushered her into his room.  She ended up leaving earlier than she had planned and later on Tom explained that he told her she needed to go because she was being utterly inappropriate.  Good on him for that!

Being jobless, I was glued to the TV for the next week or so as more and more information came to light.  I watched the footage as they played repeatedly.  I still feel the horror at watching as people would jump from 30+ stories up to escape being burned to death, only to fall to their deaths below.

17 years later, it still saddens me that this is the type of world we live in.  Other atrocities have happened since, and I suspect, will continue to.  This is a world where nihilism, fanatical radicalism, and mental instability cause people to go on shooting rampages.  Where bombings happen in places where the most people gather so as to cause maximum carnage.  

It's a world I don't understand.

My thoughts go out to people who suffer.  Any type of suffering.  That which is caused by others, that which has been caused by me, and that which seems to surround you for no other reason than being alive.  It's not easy to navigate our ways through this thing called life.  It's even harder to understand the reason for any of it, but I try my best to take solace in the kindnesses that others are capable of.

Be kind whenever possible.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Monday, September 10, 2018

On being a Judgmental prick

It's really no secret.  I'm kind of a judgmental prick, known to hold others in lower esteem than myself.  Part of the selfish nature with which my mind works I suppose.  I don't like that I'm like this, but it's been this way for a long time.  For some reason I just have this constant stream of thoughts where I'm looking down on those around me for their words and actions.

I tend to think it's because most people are stupid and I instantly compare their intelligence to mine, which tends to fall quite short (don't worry, I'll write about my arrogance at some point), and that's not a very fair assessment as everyone has something to offer the world.  Or so I've been told.

My therapist has told me that I hold people to a certain standard in my mind and that it tends to be at such a high level that I've created a cyclical form of self-sabotage because essentially no one can live up to it.  This allows for me to continue to judge everyone in a negative light as they've "failed" me in some way or another.  Again, I don't like this about myself and it's entirely unfair.

But, to be honest, while I can admit that my standards for others may be too high, I do still believe that the general population can't easily impress me, even were I to lower the bar.  This type of thinking unfortunately leaves me feeling ostracized, though in reality it's me who is the one pushing everyone else away, and I more often than not prefer to be alone due to this.

All of this leaves me in a frequent pattern of seeking solace in my own thoughts, then wracked with loneliness after a time, which leads me to searching for intimacy and conversation with others only to be let down by their inherent inability to live up to my expectations.  None of this is conducive to a healthy romantic relationship, alas.

Again...something I need to work on in therapy.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Selfish-ism

If I'm completely honest with everyone, I'm selfish.  I do care about others, for sure, but the fact remains that at the end of the day I don't seem capable of caring for others more than I care for myself.  This is a tough dichotomy that contrasts with my low self-esteem that I really can't understand too readily.

The reason I'm saying that I'm a practitioner of Selfish-ism is that I find that my most prevalent thought throughout my day to day is of myself and what's happening to, or affecting me.  Now, I already know I'm not a narcissist, my therapist has assured me, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm inherently selfish.

While I do care about others and will do favors for people, there is always this undercurrent in my thoughts of what I can get out of it in the long run.  Is this a pervasively evil way to think?  I don't know.  I'm just being honest.

The Selfish-ism also comes into play when I start thinking about why I'm incapable of being successful at the things that I think I want in life.  I might be delusional, but I've always had this idea that I could be writer, or a painter, or some sort of personality that I can subsist from.  But then, I also find that I don't want to put in all the effort that seems to be needed for such types of success.

It's like the selfish part of my mind is saying something like, "You shouldn't have to try so hard because all of these fuckers owe you something".  What the fuck is that about?

I'm actually quite disgusted and ashamed of these thoughts, but I don't really know how to quell them and think more positively for others.  It's not just a self-preservation thing either.  It's some odd belief that the world owes me something.  What horeshit!

Something to be addressed in therapy I guess...fuck sake.  Just another issue.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The pleasure of a hot shower

I am such a fan of showering.  A good hot shower can revitalize and assist in healing my mentality of the day.  If I'm feeling down or upset, I find that taking a lengthy hot shower puts me into a meditative state.

Often times I'll take one just to stand in the tub, letting the hot water pass over my body, while I rotate slowly and rinse.  I won't use soap or shampoo if I haven't gotten dirty or sweat throughout the day.  Always give the asshole, balls and taint a quick scrub of course.  Gotta stay fresh!

But there's something so soothing about being immersed in running water, which is why I prefer a shower to a bath.  I've taken baths before of course, but I don't seem to enjoy them near as much.  I get bored and will sit there while my brow sweats from the heat.

A shower, on the other hand, is constantly active and keeps the mind present while allowing it to also achieve a sense of peace. 

My typical shower for cleanliness is very utilitarian.  I'll quickly clean myself and then rinse before shutting off the water and getting out to dry off.  I can take a full clean shower in 5 minutes. 

The soothing shower though is something I approach with more abstract purpose.  If I have something particularly taxing on my mind and I have the time, I'll get the water to a slightly warmer than comfortable temperature, get in and immediately get my head under the stream.  This sends a quick shock throughout my body and clears my mind.

If I find that I can't seem to clear my head then I'll start to debate with whatever problem I'm seeking to confront in an effort to resolve it.  What I've found, more often than not, is that while I won't come to a full resolution, I will be in a more content state about whatever's been troubling me.  This allows me to be more level-headed about it moving forward.

Also, if I'm sick, hot showers seem to have a way of revitalizing my senses and clearing my head of the fogginess.  Probably something to do with the heat and steam.  None the less, I'm appreciative of their holistic effect.

So, if you find yourself wracked with the darkness of emotion, troubled by problems, or feeling like shit...I recommend a nice hot shower.  Give it a whirl and let me know how it works.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Why drive Lyft/Uber if you're going to be a dick?

So, it's no secret that I can't drive for 2 years due to me being a colossal fuckup and getting a second DUI.  The silver-lining is that I'm currently living a sober life and my creative spirit is getting stronger.  I typically use my bicycle or walk to wherever I need to go around the city and on rare occasion, if I'm running late or the weather is shit, I take an Uber or Lyft.

On three separate occasions I've gotten drivers who have done nothing but complain about the distance they've had to drive and how they won't be making any money on the trip.  Today, after my therapy session, I was waiting for my Lyft driver when I received a call from him asking how far my destination would be and he was saying how far away he was, seemingly indicating that I would be an inconvenience for him.

I understand that when a driver accepts a ping from a rider they can't see where the destination will be, but how is that my fucking problem?  To call me beforehand, basically grilling me about where I was going and bitching about how far he had to drive, was just so beyond what I've experienced thus far with these services.  Obviously it sucks when you drive 20 minutes to pick me up only to drive 3 miles up the road, but that's kind of part it, no?

Not every day at work is going to be perfect.

My plan had been to walk home from therapy as it was almost 100 degrees and sunny when I got there, but in the course of the hour of talking, a crazy thunderstorm came crashing in with torrential downpour.  So, I opted for a Lyft and when there was no response from any drivers I tried Uber, and there were still no takers.  After another 10 minutes of waiting I tried again with Lyft and this guy was the first response.

When I got into the car for the ride home the first thing he did was start complaining about how far he had driven to pick me up and that he wouldn't be making any money.  I nodded and said, "Yeah, Lyft should change how they do things and allow drivers to see the destinations or something."  And he kept whining!

So, I put my earbuds in, making it clear that I didn't want to hear his shit any more, and he drove me home. 

I always give great reviews.  Even when the ride is only mediocre, I like to boost the drivers' review score because it's not the best job to have and I'm sure they deal with some weird situations.  This guy got a 1 and a wrote a complaint comment.  I was happy to see that about 15 minutes later Lyft gave me a credit for the ride and a future one and assured me that this particular driver would no longer be able to answer my pings.  Thank you Lyft!

The fact of the matter is, if you get into ride-sharing as a way to make money then you should completely aware that not all of your rides are going to be profit.  It's the nature of the game.  But, if you're kind, considerate, and a solid driver, you'll get tips!  These can offset the shorter distance rides.  Wow, go figure. 

So, fuck that guy and any other asshole who is going to bitch, moan, and complain.  Now I'm done doing the same.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Heroin - Don't do it!

While walking around Worcester the other day, checking out the murals that were being put up as part of Pow!Wow!Worcester, I came across a guy who was on the heavy nod in a corner.  If he were to lean any more forward, he would have fallen flat on his face.  The guy had absolutely no sense of anything going on around him.  He was zonked out on Heroin.

I was tempted to take a selfie video with him in the background while I discussed how no one should try Heroin since it's really not very glamorous at all, but I felt that it was ethically wrong.  Besides, I don't think anyone gets into that particular drug because they think it's so cool.  Though, then again, I wouldn't be surprised to be proven wrong.

Generally, the way it works is people start taking prescription pain-killers, whether from an injury or as a party drug, and then get hooked.  At some point the economics don't make sense anymore or their dealer has run out of the pills, but luckily for them Heroin is much cheaper and there's plenty of supply to go around.

I've done a fair amount of drugs in my life.  I don't say that as a point of pride, though there have been times when I was proud, that's no longer the case.  I only say it to illustrate that I've tried almost every type of drug or variant of it so I can say that there are some you should just stay the fuck away from.  Heroin tops the list.

I haven't done that particular drug myself, but I have done Oxycontin recreationally, which is extremely close in relation, and the withdrawals I eventually went through were horrific.  I was sobbing uncontrollably for what seemed like no reason and it was the closest I've ever come to what I would consider actual suicidal thoughts.

So, to end this post without further boring you, just do yourself a favor and stay away from Heroin.  Oh, and Meth, Crack, Cocaine, Bath Salts, PCP, etc. ad nauseam.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Left-Handed Action

I'm right-handed.  Basically this means that the majority of my time masturbating is with my right hand.  I know how it feels every time, know the ways to utilize it for maximum effectiveness and expediency, and I trust it's results. 

Every now and then though, I like to change it up and use my left.  It offers different sensations and while the results aren't always guaranteed, it can be a zesty enterprise when entered into.

It took me a long time of deliberate practice in order to get a good feel and rhythm for me penis with my left hand.  I can tell you all that while it's well worth it to have masturbatory ambidextrous capabilities, it's not something that's come by all that easily. 

I can recall the first few times I tried and failed miserably and how awkward it was.  Luckily, since masturbation is a solitary endeavor, there was no embarrassment.  After a significant amount of time and practice I was able to become successful with the left-handed approach.

Why am I discussing this in particular?  No real reason I guess, other than to let you know that you can't stay stagnant.  You've got to be open to new ideas and experiences, even when it comes to something as timeless as masturbation.

I sometimes go for weeks without trying to stimulate myself for pleasure and this isn't usually something that I think about beforehand, it just happens that I grow bored or sick of it.  Then there are those days where I pound it out 3 times.  Sometimes for no other reason than boredom.

It's weird...masturbation.  But, supposedly it's good for your overall health and it does feel good too, so what the hell, might as well change it up now and then.  So, consider going lefty.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Monday, September 3, 2018

Urban Hiking

In the past few days I've hoofed it around Worcester, generally 5 hours each day and I've got to be honest, I'm fucking exhausted.  Today was especially tough as it was about 90 degrees with high humidity.  I survived, though I definitely had some serious sweating and a little dehydration.

It's tough to walk around on asphalt and concrete all day without becoming sore in your knees, hips, and feet.  I'm also 37 and have worked a good amount of physical jobs thus far in my life, and grew up fat, so my joints are already in rough condition as it is.  I'm proud of myself for being able to manage the amount that I have traveled in this city though.

Worcester isn't the most walk-able city unless you have plenty of time, which I do, but it can be done if you're determined.  I will say though that you need to plan properly ahead of time so as to not got get caught in a tough situation.  It's similar to hiking in the woods, but you don't have the luxury of softer ground under your feet.

The way I tend to prepare is by first checking the weather for the day so I can pack my gear appropriately.  If there's going to be a good chance of rain then I'll put the umbrella in my bag, otherwise I'll leave it home so as to help reduce the weight on my shoulders.  The nice things about city hiking is that there are overpasses, awnings, and doorways you can get under if the weather does turn bad suddenly.  Not to mention the actual stores and restaurants you can escape into.

If you're planning to be out for most of the day then I suggest wearing a good pair of hiking shoes, I have Merrill's, which are better designed to keep your feet comfortable.  But, I do suspect, and I haven't tested this out yet, that a nice pair of running or walking shoes with the gel-type inserts are even better as they're lighter and designed with harder surfaces in mind.

Keep your backpack as light and sparsely packed as possible because adding too much weight, especially in the hot seasons, will just exhaust you that much quicker.  Save all those books and your laptop for the times you know you'll be going directly somewhere with reading or working on your computer in mind.  If you're exploring the city for explorations sake, then just keep your backpack simple.

In mine I like to have a 1 liter bottle of water and then a decent sized travel mug with coffee or tea in it.  I keep a small jar with almonds and a bag with beef jerky for snacking on the go for energy.  I'll also bring a notebook for writing and a small book in case I want to stop somewhere to read.  Other than that I'll have some paper towels in a pouch for blowing my nose.

I haven't done much winter urban hiking yet, but once I do, I'll report on that as well.  Oh, and always make sure your devices are all charged up before you head out and keep a wall charger in your bag, for worst case scenarios.  I also have a bus pass in case it comes to a point where I can't get an Uber/Lyft.

Not a very interesting blog post, I know...but whatever, I just figured I'd share my experiences.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Don't cross the fucking line

I spent a great deal of my time today walking the city of Worcester to explore the different Pow!Wow!Worcester sites where artists were putting up murals and installations, part of an initiative in the city to help promote the arts and community.  My feet, legs, and hips are sore and I'm tired from probably 8 miles of walking.

For the most part, Worcester is very walk-able, with sidewalks in all of the major traffic areas.  That being said, there are still a good deal of heavier residential areas and side roads that lack any sidewalks, but still have significant traffic.  And this presents a constant danger for people who are walking.

The sides of these streets all have the white delineating line which is meant to keep drivers from crossing too close to properties or walkers, like myself.  Unfortunately, there are a shitload of shithead drivers and I got to witness some of them today.

On multiple occasions I was thanking my lucky stars that I had crossed the road so I had a better view of who was coming and going because the amount of times I would have had a close call on the other side were too numerous for comfort. 

One dumb cunt-bitch, driving a black Mercedes, had half of her whole car over the white line while looking at her fucking cellphone and going around a fairly sharp corner with overgrowth that would have blocked her vision of a walker, had she even been paying attention to the fucking road. 

If I hadn't had the where-with-all to cross the road earlier I'd very likely be in the hospital right now.  Thankfully I have a healthy distrust for drivers and their attention spans/abilities so I'm always trying to maintain a high level of alertness on roads like that.

Don't be like that shit-heel twat from earlier today.  Pay attention while driving.  There are walkers and bike riders in this world and it only takes a split second to kill someone with your multiple thousand pound vehicle hurtling along at lethal speeds.

Take care of yourselves and those around you.

-Phil

Binge Eating

Having grown up as an emotional eater I still find myself succumbing to my desires to over-eat until my stomach hurts.  It was the way I would cope with the anxiety I felt from my father's constant beatings and berating.  He would insult me for being fat and my answer was to keep eating.

At one point he bought a large freezer for the basement to keep a lot of frozen goods stored.  After he got fed up with my constant depletion of the food in the refrigerator he started keeping more things in the freezer and he installed a hinged lock so I couldn't get to it.

It took me about 20 minutes to figure out how to remove the hinges on the door and reinstall them afterward without having to tamper with the lock mechanism, giving me full access to the treasures within, which I happily cooked and shoved into my face.  I often wonder how confused my dad must have been, at least for a little while, not understanding where the food was going, maybe doubting his mental inventory.

If there's one thing that being a latch-key kid taught me over those years was how to problem solve.  From figuring the freezer lock situation out, to teaching myself how to break into his room, or how to steal his liquor for my personal enjoyment, and even how to cool the television down before he got home.  Or going so far as to convincing the neighbor down the street to give me 10 eggs from his families' stash to replace the ones I had eaten.

Living sober and not currently working a straight job (though that's about to change) leaves a great deal of time.  I do my best to fill it with constructive and healthy things such as working on the show, this blog, going for walks to Barnes and Noble, riding my bike to NU Kitchen to drink too much coffee and read, and go to therapy every week.  I've lost a good deal of weight and feel great physically and mentally.

None the less, I still have days where all I seem able to do in order to fill whatever hole is inside me is eat.  And when I eat, there's no self-control.  It's as though I'm possessed by something that just needs to have different flavors continuously experienced until what I've very obviously termed "The Hunger".

A whole family-sized bag of chips can disappear in a startlingly quick amount of time.  A pint of ice cream?  Easy.  Then I'll get a taste for the finer things.  A huge Ribeye steak.  Mashed potatoes drowned in butter.  Almonds by the handful  Massive bowls of popcorn.  Cheeses galore!

Generally this level of eating only lasts about a day, thankfully for my newer waistline, but it's disturbing to me that I still apparently cope with something unresolved by binge eating.  Anyway, it's just another thing I need to address actively and discuss in therapy.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Friday, August 31, 2018

RMV Horror Show

Why the fuck is the Registry of Motor Vehicles the worst government agency? 

I'm sure there are worse ones for sure, but it just seems that every time anyone has to go to the RMV and relays this news to anyone else the other person fully understands what awfulness they have to endure and has their sympathies.

It's a well known fact that no matter what you're going there for, you're bound to have to wait for what can be an exorbitant amount of time, and sometimes you may even have to go to various different windows, which will only increase the time spent in this horrific place.

I went this morning for my hearing of my second OUI.  I got to the Registry an hour early to ensure that I would be given a hearing, as the previous time I went and got there at 9 it turned out that they had already run out of their allotted daily amount, which is about 35.  This time though I was able to procure a spot.  I was number 14.

"Why only 35 spots for hearings?", you may be asking, and that's an easy question to answer.  There are only 2 people working in the hearings office of the second largest city in all of New England.  Not to mention that there are only a few Registry locations that actually have these hearings in Massachusetts.

What.  The.  Fuck. 

Get your shit together RMV!  The amount of people I've seen each time I've been down there who get turned away, myself being one of them, is astounding.  I got there an hour early and I still barely made the cut.  People who got there 30 minutes prior to opening were being turned away.  One lady even showed up asking if anyone didn't want to wait around and would give her their ticket. 

So, I was number 14 and I was finally seen at about 11:45AM.  Almost 3 fucking hours after they open.  Due to being grossly understaffed.  And the guy I spoke with only confirmed what I already knew, that I won't be driving for 2 years, and that after that 2 years I'll need an Interlock device in my car for 1 before I'm able to be given a full unrestricted license. 

I mean fuck, I'll do that job!  Hire me to tell people bad news all day and I'll do it with a smile.  These people also get to approve hardship licenses and drop suspensions, so it's good news sometimes.  I'll give that with a smile too!  And something tells me I'll do it all with much greater efficiency than these 2 jokers today had.

Don't drive if you've been drinking.  You could not only kill someone, or yourself, or fuck up your car, and definitely your life, but the worst part seems to be the insane amount of time that gets wasted.  Most of it at the fucking RMV.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Hidden Gem

Worcester Art Museum (WAM for short) is a truly wonderful bastion of art right in the heart of Massachusetts.  It's well worth the trip if you're in the area.  Granted, it's not massive in size, but what it does have for a collection is pretty impressive.

Having absorbed a good amount of pieces from the now defunct Higgins Armory, there's a decent collection of weapons and armor to see on top of all the oil paintings and sculptures as well as some nicely crafted furniture.

Some of their finer pieces are a large John Singer Sargent, a few Childe Hassams, a small painting attributed to Rembrandt, a Rodin, there's a Kandinsky, a couple Thomas Eakins', and some very nice Italian Renaissance period pieces as well.

In the front entrance on the floor is a massive tile mosaic that is a wonder to behold.  You can climb the stairs to the next level up and get a birds eye view of it so you can take the whole thing in.  On the wall the museum commissions artists to make a huge mural every few years.  They're currently displaying their 10th, which is a staged photo that has an allegorical nature to it while portraying a similarity to a renaissance painting.

There's a quaint cafe that has delicious lunch foods to enjoy.  There's also a teaching wing to the museum where I myself used to go on Monday nights for their free nude figure drawing open workshops.  It was always very professional and well worth the trip.  I wish I had kept up with it.  Maybe I should get back into it again.

Overall, of all the museums I've visited, I would say that WAM, for it's size and collection, ranks in my top 5.  Granted, I still haven't gone to the Met in NYC or anywhere in Europe, but for a Massachusetts museum it's a good quality spot in the heart of New England.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Control your dog

Angry rant ahead.

I was walking Dante to the local place to board dogs so he can have a temperament test.  The wedding for my friends MC and Ashley is coming up in a few weeks so I needed to get him all signed up for the couple days I'll be away.

It's about 6:45 in the morning and I'm walking my dog with his harness on and a sturdy leash, though I've trained him in the past to be capable of being off-leash this is a busy city with a lot of traffic buzzing by, and he's lagging a little behind, but being his typical chill self.  Up ahead of me I see a dog and it's owner, a somewhat elderly woman who has the gross body of someone that sits around most of the day eating like shit, and the dog is starting to eye us as we approach.

The woman does what turns out to be the only slightly sensible thing of the whole upcoming interaction and upon noticing us, she pulls her dog off of the sidewalk onto the adjacent lawn, waiting for us to pass by.  I smile and nod as we get closer and are about to pass.  I also notice at this point that her dog as a muzzle which is never a good sign.

Then her dog, which is about the size of Dante (50-55lbs), lunges hard while barking and trying to bite my dog through the muzzle.  The retarded old bitch falls to the ground, yelling her dog's name and causing more tension while I'm actively trying to pull the dogs apart.  I grab the dog by the back of it's harness and lift it off my dog, who, after slipping out of his harness from struggling to get away in terror, bolts down the sidewalk and thankfully not into traffic.   I'm flipping the fuck out at this dumb bitch, openly berating her and calling her a fucking retard for having one of those extension leashes that retracts (they are notoriously defective and easily broken), and calling Dante back to me once she has her hand on the harness.

My Adrenalin is through the roof at this point from the fear that my dog almost got chased into oncoming traffic, anger at the dog for not being chill, and rage at this old cunt for knowing how her dog reacts around other dogs and not taking the proper steps to restrain it.  Once I'm sure she has the dog well in hand and Dante is re-harnessed and leashed I tell this old fuck that she's retarded again, that she needs to restrain her dog better when she sees other people with their dogs coming, and that she needs to purchase a real leash.  And for the coup de grace I let her know that she's lucky Dante didn't get hit by a car because if that had been the case I would have grabbed her dog and chucked it into oncoming traffic.

I then proceeded to the boarder where I filled out some paperwork and dropped Dante off for a day of fun interaction with responsible people and friendly dogs.  While walking back home all I had were further thoughts of violence and anger toward that stupid old whore, who had the mandible of an older person that hasn't taken care of their teeth (probably from smoking meth), and her piece of shit dog.

Now, if you don't know already, I am an animal lover and having taken some time to cool off I realize that the only blame should be placed on the crackhead cunt and not the dog.  But, when I go to my red zone, thought isn't present and I don't act rationally.  I am fully of the understanding that what I told her was true.  I would have either thrown the dog under an oncoming car or used the knife I carry to open it's throat if Dante had been killed.  That's some scary shit and it's what I struggle to deal with and have since I was a child.

So, what I implore you all is that you learn to control your dog.  And if you're an old, weak, ex or possible active drug user, who has such a violent dog that you have to muzzle it and has the strength to bring you to the ground, have the goddamn sense not to be the person walking your mongrel.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

On Fame

I was with Matt today getting a late lunch...mid-afternoon snack...early dinner?  I don't know.  We were at NU Kitchen chatting about the typical things and then he asked me a question I hadn't really considered too much: "How would you feel if someone came up to you and recognized you from the show who you had never met previously?"

Now, to be perfectly honest, I've thought about the scenario in a cursory way, but haven't truly considered it from a logical and in depth perspective.  How would I really feel?  My initial reaction is to say that I'd be thrilled.  But, when I really think about it, I feel like I'd probably get real weird about it afterward.

At first I'd be flattered and definitely amused that someone recognized me from the internet and had the initiative to walk up to me, not knowing 100% that it's the person they think it might be, and then interacting with me.  I'd say thank you and talk with them for a short time, but my gut tells me that I'd get super annoyed fairly quickly.  Unless they had the sense to say something quick and then keep it moving, I could see getting frustrated that I'm being bugged in public.  Which runs antithetically to putting yourself out on the internet.  Especially YouTube, where everyone can see exactly what you look like.

I'm a dichotomous person.  Matt and I were talking about the enjoyment of the anonymity a city the size of Worcester affords you.  I love it.  I can go to the same place for weeks on end and essentially the only people who will notice me are the other regulars who tend to keep to themselves and the people who work there.  Unless I put myself out openly, I can maintain my privacy in public.

But, that being said, I do love the "celebrity" status that can be gained in a smaller city like Fitchburg or Leominster.  Being able to go to 5 different places and when you walk in there tend to be at least a few people, if not everyone, who know who you are.  It engenders an interesting sense of belonging within a group of people who are essentially strangers.

So, while being noticed and spoken to briefly would be very cool and I would absolutely be gracious, I can certainly see myself hating it after a while.  Luckily, the 18 subscribers I currently have to my YouTube channel are more than likely all my friends already, so it's not something I have to contend with as of yet.

Also, an update for you all since I know there was concern about his hydration level due to Matt's refined pallet not being compatible with the Evian water I provide for the guests of the Ivory Tower, today he happily downed one of his waters with no complaint at all. 

So just to recap:  You don't fucks with Matt's water!

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

The satisfaction of a great dump!

Yes, it's that time again!  Let's talk about pooping.

So, I woke up early this morning.  Right around 4AM.  I was hankering for something to eat due to the fact that I hadn't eaten anything substantial yesterday.  I kept it liquid all day.  Coffee, Kombucha, Tea, and Water.

The reason for this was that I had binged on popcorn the previous day and was feeling bloated and gross.  Plus I hadn't taken a dump in almost 2 days at that point.  Now combined with nothing yesterday, it was 3 days with seemingly no end in sight.

As I stumbled around the apartment wondering what I should eat all I could think was, "I really wish I could take a satisfying dump right now".  I decided on a couple scrambled eggs with ground beef, mushrooms, onions, and garlic.  BAM!

It was maybe 15 minutes after finishing eating that I felt the rumbling in my tummy.  I got a book and headed to the bathroom to sit on the Ivory Tower's throne.  Much to my relief, things came out fine.  Wonderfully in fact!  I mean, I haven't had that much shit come out of me in one shot in a long time.  I was nervous that it wouldn't all flush and I'd have a shit storm on my hands.

Luckily everything went down without consequence.  And I have to say, the feeling of being totally cleaned out from a few days waste is truly great.  I know this isn't the most glamorous of topics, but it's something we all deal with.  It deserves some attention.

Take care of yourselves and your bowels.

-Phil

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The past is the past and there's nothing to be done about it

While talking with my therapist this week, we were discussing why I struggle with such anger issues, and she said that it's likely that I'm incapable of letting go of things that have happened in the past, which causes a constant frustration within and a general lack of patience with those around me due to wanting to control events so as not be a victim.

Essentially, I need to learn how to let go of what I can't change.  My logical mind understands this, but my emotional self still finds it's way to the feelings I've repressed over the years, and in times of strife, taps into those and there's apparently a wellspring of seemingly unending anger, which comes rushing forward in an uncontrollable flood.

I wish this wasn't the case and I've spent most of my life trying to address it in one way or another.  Granted, there's been quite a bit of time spent on the wrong ways, (drinking, drugs, mischievous behavior) but I'm constantly working on it.  These days I think I've found a decent balance of sobriety, creative outpouring with the show, daily writing, reading, and exercise.

But, I still find myself getting angry about things that I have absolutely no control over, and my patience will disappear instantaneously for no apparent reason.  I will get pissed off at Dante for not responding when I call him quickly enough.  I'll start bubbling up with resentment toward him and start wondering why I even have him.

I'm still stubbornly not speaking to my father.  Over the years we've had kind of an off and on interaction.  The last time I spoke to him I found out he had lost my childhood home due to foreclosure.  Now, I'm basically alright with that since it was my own personal house of horrors.  There are so many awful memories within those walls that I'm happy to not have to go back there.

I'm resentful toward him though for not keeping his shit together enough financially to keep the house, and it's for entirely selfish reasons, if I'm honest.  I always figured that if everything in my life fell apart, I at least had that house to fall back on if I desperately needed it in order to rebuild myself, but that safety net is gone now. 

And yes, there was an even more darkly selfish thought that's pervaded my mind.  I would think of when he finally passes away and what my inheritance would be.  He has his failing auto body business, but now the house and property is off the table, and my guess is all that's left is debt. 

There was this idea in my head that maybe I'd gone through all of the bullshit beatings and abuse as a child, but at least I'd get a decent estate willed to me, not that it would correct anything from the past.  But, maybe it could help alleviate whatever stresses I was dealing with whenever he finally kicked the bucket.  An attempt at an apology after all assaults.  Alas.

The past is irreplaceable and irredeemable.  I'm trying to learn how to accept these facts and move on.  I can't live at my age with so much resentment based in actions that have previously affronted me.  I'll just keep tearing relationships I have in the present apart.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Evil's Consciousness

Porn-brain, from watching too much porn, is about as detrimental to your health as wet-brain, from drinking too much alcohol.  You can find yourself easily drawn down the rabbit hole of porn if you let yourself.  There's so much dark shit on the internet and the free porn sites house a good deal of people's fantasies.

I'm all for people accepting their darker side and embracing their sexual kinks, as long as it's always adult and consensual.  Knowing what people are capable of though is what scares me.  There are some twisted minds out there who walk among us on a regular basis and we're not even close to aware of what they're up to.

DK told me about a guy who was buying some suspicious items and materials.  Luckily he was investigated because it was found that he was building a dungeon in his basement.  Now, there's nothing wrong with a little agreed upon BDSM, but the cages he was constructing were apparently of the size suited for children, not consenting adults.  I shudder to think what his eventual plans were.

The fact of the matter is that there are more people out there who have these sick predilections and aren't actually found out.  People go missing all the time and it's never solved.  You hear on the news of women who are held captive for years on end by these psychopathic fucks.  

What is wrong with people?  Is it just mental instability?  Or is the fact that human beings are the only creatures on the planet that inflict pain and torture on others for their own pleasure the curse of self-awareness?  Perhaps our consciousness is actually to blame.

One of my favorite quotes that I've been known to babble when I was drinking was from the first season of the great HBO show "True Detective".  One of the characters is trying to explain his pessimistic viewpoint of the world and says, "I think human consciousness, is a tragic misstep in evolution.  We became too self-aware, nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself, we are creatures that should not exist by natural law."  And, when confronted by the horrific things that people are willing to do to others, I'm inclined to agree with that statement.

By all means, find a partner (or multiples if that's your thing) who will consent to exploring your deviant sexual side. But you know what's wrong, morally, truly, ethically. And if that's something you're trying to be a part of...kill yourself.  The world doesn't need any more sick twisted people who are willing to hurt others for their own pleasure.  Have the courage to open your own throat before you do so to someone else.

Well...this was a dark post, but it's honest.  We don't need predators out there.  The world is hard enough as it is.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Retain your humanity

Yeah yeah yeah, I know.  I committed to writing 1 blog post a day and I keep failing at it.  Whatever.  I make up for it the next day so fuck it.  I'll do what I can, how's that?  On to a more serious topic.

Humanity.  By that I mean the general state in which people treat each other.  So often people can easily lose their humanity when faced with enough pressure.  It's a sad state of affairs when this happens though, because then we're only our base animal selves, and what the hell was the point of our evolution if that's the case?

There are various ways this can happen.  A very common type of base animal instinct is lust.  When someone cheats on whoever they've committed themselves to for lust, it's because they've given up their humanity for those moments of passion, rather than to make conscious decisions.  People will claim things like, "I got caught in the moment" or "It didn't mean anything".  And they're kind of right, but to indicate that the decision was beyond their power is utter bullshit.

At some point they made the choice to give in to animalistic urges over their high conscious humanity.  Whether this is due to their partner having themselves been unfaithful, or maybe they've just grown tired of whoever they're with and are looking for an out, the fact is their mind was made up before the indiscretion ever happened.

A more severe version of losing one's humanity is what happened in the Nazi camps.  The Nazis were too busy fighting a war to police their Jewish prisoners, so they co-opted willing Jews to be the Kapos who would supervise the forced labor of their fellow inmates, and in an awful precursor to "The Stanford Experiment", it was shown that these people would relish their newly achieved power.

I bought "The Gulag Archipelago" by Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, and plan to read that within the next year, but I've heard some horrific things about this first hand account of what happened during Russia's Communist rule.  I've read elsewhere that the people were starving to such an extent that they regressed to animalistic behaviors of survival, such that the government had to post signage warning against the people eating their babies.  It actually happened.

I spoke to my therapist about this and she, a mother of 3, insists that she would never allow herself to regress to such a state, but I'm skeptical because without ever actually facing such a thing, how can you really know what you're capable of?  The basest and most animal instinct in every single on of us is survival.  And sometimes that comes at an impossible cost.

Do your best in this world to retain your humanity.  Be honest with yourself when you've found yourself devolving, even if it is only for a short amount of time, down to the animal inside.  Confront it and learn from it so you can avoid letting yourself fall into that in the future.  There are times it can serve you, but most situations in modern day life do not warrant the need for it.  Use your rational humanistic mind.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Non-Oedipal Complex

My mother left when I was about 1.  She threw me and my half-sister into the foster system without letting my father know her plans.  It took my father around a year to track me down and get me back.  Due to this, I have no real lasting imprint of a maternal figure.

What I do have is many different female friends of my father who helped babysit and raise me until my step-mother came into the picture.  She was around from about 9 years or so and I never really liked her all that much and came to really despise her in my adult years.

They say that men typically seek their mothers in the women they wish to be with, and similarly, women seek their fathers.  Obviously this is a mixture of abstract concepts and specific characteristics.  And yes, sometimes they seek the opposite, dependent on how they were raised and various other nature/nurture influences.

I didn't have any photos of my mother.  I had no understanding of what she was like, her smell, her voice, nothing.  The only thing I knew, in my heart of hearts, was abandonment.  This has served to cripple my expectations of women.

My immediate belief when I get involved with someone is that they will eventually betray and leave me.  "If you will it, it is no dream."  This unfortunately is an all too true statement made by Lenin as I have seen evidence of such in the relationships I've had in the past.

By simply thinking that worst was eventually going to pass, I was a direct contributor in the manipulation of the relationships, until the inevitable happened.  While I'm not saying that I was the sole reason for all of the trouble, I can say with the clarity of mind I have nowadays, I certainly was the major instigator.

I haven't been very fair to the lady-folk and I definitely regret a great deal of my words and actions over the years.  I'm in therapy and working through it finally.  We'll see if I can figure it out and have a stable relationship.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Joy of Children

For some reason, while I'm standing in line at the grocery store and there's someone ahead of me with a small child sitting in the cart's child seat, almost every time, the toddler will look me square in the eyes with a somewhat probing intelligence there.  I'm typically wearing some sort of stoic expression or slight scowl as I genuinely hate being in the grocery store.  Top that off with my general distaste for children, mostly when they're crying or screaming, and you'd tend to think they'd pick up on that and hate me.

Not so!  I don't know why, but children always seem to gravitate toward me and want to smile or point at me.  I try and keep my stern expression for as long as possible, but eventually I crack and will grin ever so slightly, which they pick up on and their sheer happiness at breaking my walled emotional exterior is quite apparent.

I'm so flabbergasted by children.  They are so foreign to me in every way.  I can't imagine ever being able to accept having one of my own.  Mostly due to the things I've gone through in life and also my anger management issues.  I would find it irresponsible for me to have a child.  It makes me too nervous that I could regress into someone truly awful.

The first and only time I've ever held a baby was my friend Tom's first child, Lyra.  It made me so nervous to be holding a newborn, but I must admit that there was a certain thrill.  That doesn't mean I would make a suitable father though.  A short amount of time with a calm baby definitely doesn't indicate that I'm someone who should have kids.

I am very often extremely annoyed by children.  When in restaurants and they start freaking out my hackles raise instantly.  The thoughts I have aren't anything nice or understanding by any means.  Typically they're more aimed at the parents who I think should be taking their wailing toddler outside, but for some reason just sit there, trying to no avail to calm this inconsolable little devil.

I have friends who have children and they are very honest with me, saying that yes, they too get extremely annoyed and frustrated with their children, but there's that whole unconditional love thing, apparently. 

Maybe I'm just jaded because I've experienced the lack of this.  I've been a firsthand witness to parents who don't feel that way and I'm just a good enough person to admit that I could very easily be the same. 

And so, I choose to frown at children in an attempt to make them realize that I don't like them and that I wish they would leave me alone.  But, somehow they're able to see through my facade and break my stony demeanor for just a small shared moment, and I can see a certain triumph in their smile then.

Little shits.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Interviewing

Apologies for the delay folks, I had quite a full day yesterday and ran out of gas early, falling asleep on the couch before writing the daily post.  I had a job interview in the morning, then recorded 2 full episodes of the show back to back, so quite a bit of talking for one day, but it was awesome! 

Now on the heels of all that interviewing I figured I may as well discuss what my process is, both for job interviews and for the interviews I conduct with the guests on the show.  Maybe it'll help you when you go for your next job interview or if you too plan to interview people as part of a creative endeavor.

I'll start with the show since that's probably what you're more interested in anyway.  When I get someone hard scheduled the first thing I tend to do is mine their social media for any sort of information I can find that I don't already know.  I'm hoping in the future to get more people who I've never met so I can really hone my researching skills, but as of right now it's been people I have at decent knowledge of.

I'll write down as much random information as possible because even a small thing can sometimes become a longer conversation.  At times while interviewing the guest I'll feel myself floundering a bit and in search of the next segway and that's when I'll glance down at the page for something random and fairly interesting to mention.

In terms of putting people at ease with conversation topics, I'll generally ask before we start recording if there's anything they'd prefer to stay away from, which helps limit how much editing needs to be done and helps assure them that I'm not trying to bring up dirt for sensationalism. 

Before the guest arrives I clean the apartment as much as I can to keep the dog and cat fur to a minimum, make sure the temperature is comfortable, and also light a pleasant smelling candle.  I also always offer the guests any sort of refreshments they'd like ahead of time, but most people tend to bring their own, or take the water I keep on hand.

Once we're into the actual meat and potatoes of the interview I do my best to affect a relaxed and calm demeanor and this is fairly easy for me at this point since I generally am calm and relaxed these days.  I think this helps the guest as well which allows them to feel more apt to open up and be perhaps a bit more honest than if they felt interrogated.

Most times, the guests have arrived with some feelings of trepidation, which some use various substances to help alleviate, and I certainly have no issues with that and can understand it, but by the end of every episode everyone has admitted they've enjoyed it and would absolutely come back, so I suppose whatever I'm doing is working!

Now, in terms of job interviews, I find them somewhat easy and will say that I've been offered the jobs of probably 95% that I've interviewed for.  That may sound arrogant, but it's the truth at this point.  Having interviewed extensively over the years and also having been the interviewer for a number of years, I have an understanding of what's going to be asked and also what is respected.

In terms of your physical presence in the room, always try to take up a decent amount of space and convey a sense of relaxed confidence.  What I mean by this is cross your legs, but not your arms.  If your chair has arms, keep yours on them, out to the sides.  Don't bounce your leg or constantly fidget with your hands as this shows an amount of anxious energy.

When I interview for a job or when I interview someone looking to get a job, my first tactic is to make things personable.  So, the first thing I'll do is try to find something in the room I can relate to like a picture of a dog, or a certain book.  If there's nothing specific, then go more broad based and choose easy compliments, but don't overdo it because then it's obvious that you're brown-nosing.

And finally, the best way I've found, for me anyway, to convey confidence is to go into whichever job I'm interviewing for with a true and honest understanding in my mind that I don't care if I get the job or not, and even convince myself that I won't take it if it's offered.  This allows me to feel at ease because what do I have to lose? 

So, those are some of my tips on interviewing.  I'm not sure you'll find them useful at all, but hey, this is my blog and I don't actually care what you think!! 

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Monday, August 20, 2018

Japanese Animation aka Anime

I'm not really sure why, but for some reason Anime has some sort of stigma around it.  It's viewed by many as an inferior film technique.  Yet, the same people who would decry it will turn around and exclaim at the newest Pixar movie.  It's utter idiocy.  Not to say that Pixar doesn't have it's fair share of decent films, but honestly, they can't touch the depth and intensity that Anime movies accomplish.

People will also discuss the longevity of "The Simpsons" (a show I thoroughly enjoy) but if you were to stack it up in sheer episode count, it's eclipsed by such shows as "Pokemon", "Dragon Ball Z", and "One Piece".  And "The Simpson" only has one movie, while "Pokemon" and "Dragon Ball Z" have 19 movies each.  And not to mention the strength of the Anime story-arcs which can last for dozens of episodes before reaching their climactic conclusion.

Why do people in general seem to shun Anime and Manga (the Japanese comic book format) as something only geeks are interested in?  Some of the greatest story lines I've ever encountered are from the Japanese.  Read "Battle Royale" for instance.  A story about how every year a class of students is put on an island to fight until the last standing person is left.  This was created long before the bastardized version everyone in the United States knows as "The Hunger Games".

Or, if you want cyberpunk the likes of "Blade Runner", look to the classic, "Akira", one of the films that opened my eyes to the lengths that could be gone to with the medium of animation.  If you're interested in psychological horror, try out "Perfect Blue".  A mind-fuck of movie that makes "Memento" (a movie I do love) seem like kid shit.  If you're more into movies that have lighter themes and heart, then I definitely recommend "My Neighbor Totoro" or "Howl's Moving Castle".

Want giant robots battling it out?  Try out the epic shows "Robotech", "Mobile Suit Gundam", or "Neon Genesis Evangelion".  You'll get more than your fill of badass mechs and the interwoven themes of love, betrayal, friendships, and every other type of human experiences just serve to make wonderfully lush stories.

I understand that a lot of people don't want to read subtitles, which is genuinely too bad because I do believe subtitled movies help with your reading speed and comprehension, but the prevalence of dubbed movies and shows is increasing and the quality is getting much better than it used to be. 

Basically all I'm saying is that you shouldn't so quickly turn your backs on something because other people deem it inferior.  There's a great chance that you're missing out on amazing experiences and entertainment just to seem cool and part of the "in-crowd".  Don't be a fucking sheep.  Try things and make up your own minds.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Dante's lack of Inferno

I love my dog.  I swear I do.  But he's such a fucking pain in the ass sometimes.  And it's really not his fault.  He's just a neurotic psycho and it drives me up a wall to constantly deal with his fear of a stiff breeze through the apartment.  That's no joke.  If I have all the windows open, as I'm wont to do during the nice weather of late, there's a wonderful cross breeze that keeps the whole place nice and cool, but when enough of a gust comes through, Dante will jump up from a dead sleep and run away from the closest window. 

Now, this may seem cute to you, but trust me, dealing with this type of behavior for the past 8 years has grown really tiring.  Not just because he will startle me when he does this, but also due to the fact that there are times that he will crash into a table, knocking things over and causing general chaos.  Not to mention that now and then he'll be in such a state of panic over a door being blown shut that in his attempts to escape the room he'll run headlong into my legs, very nearly toppling me to the floor while I curse him.

Again, since you don't have to deal with any of this yourself, you're probably grinning inside thinking of the catastrophes I'm continuously beset by.  All because I had the inclination that I needed a dog in my life. 

Let's talk about apartment hunting.  Do you know how much having a dog limits your options?  Even a medium-sized, extremely mild-mannered one like Dante.  Landlords are immediately suspicious when you have a dog.  I'm sure it's something to do with insurance claims and liability for bites.  What I find funny though, is that cats are more universally accepted and they're more likely to do things like tear up carpets or mark territory, and they can be pretty vicious at times.

I love Dante and my mind will go to some dark places when he does eventually pass and I won't lie, maintaining my sobriety during the initial days afterward is going to be tough, but if I'm brutally honest, which I try to be more often than is probably advisable, there are times that I wish I didn't have him.  Not him in particular.  A dog in general.  And it's for selfish reasons.

There are things that you can't do when you have a dog, especially if you don't have a readily available support system to look after it when you're out, or the money to board it.  I get invited to places and events that I have to turn down due to not having those things and it's definitely a bummer.  I wonder sometimes at the missed opportunities due to having a dog.

That being said, would I so easily trade the time I've had with him for the few handfuls of possibilities which remain unknown, whereas I've had great times with him?  No.  Even though he frustrates me with his spastic nature, I really shouldn't complain as he's so well-behaved, and I really only have so long with him.  He won't protect me from an intruder, even if they're actively assaulting me, but he will come lick the tears off my cheek when I'm in the throes of debilitating depression.  So yeah, I love my dog.

Take care of yourselves and your dogs.

-Phil

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Loneliness

Most of us aren't strangers to the unfortunate feelings of loneliness.  That sometimes crippling feeling of being without any sort of anchoring people in our lives.  I know it well myself.  There will be days on end when I have little to no communication with anyone.

The problem becomes when you start feeling so isolated that it becomes a self-assessment which yields on feelings of uselessness.  After all, there has to be a reason you're left to your own devices and irrational thoughts, so, the eventual conclusion inevitably turns, at least for me, to a self-deprecating one.

Combating loneliness can be extremely tough and sometimes futile, but having had to deal with an extensive amount of it in my life, I've come to learn some techniques when no one is around that I'm going to share forthwith, in no particular order.


  1. Read - Reading, especially fiction, can take you out of whatever misery you may be feeling at the moment.  It's called Escapism for a reason, so why not use it to your advantage?
  2. Go sit somewhere public - I personally like to go to coffee shops or diners during busy times and sit anonymously and just absorb the conversations and general bustle of all the surrounding people.  It gives you the feeling of being interactive while also affording you the privacy you may desire, as I do.
  3. Go on a walk, hike, or bike ride - Being out in the open air, experiencing nature or the urban landscape will pull your mind out of itself, which is where loneliness tends to spring from.  That constant self-examination of your surroundings, when they remain constant, will eventually lead to the realization of your loneliness, so fucking bail on that shit.
  4. Write - Writing can help extricate the negative emotions associated with loneliness.  Now, this is a double-edged sword because as you write you will be delving ever deeper into those emotions, but without walking through Hell you can never make it to Heaven, as it were.
  5. Involve yourself in something constructively creative - For me it's working on the podcast show or painting.  Some people work on furniture, or scrapbook, or photography.  It doesn't really matter what it is, but when you're actively engaged with something creative that takes an amount of active meditation you'll find yourself immersed in the activity and the feelings of loneliness tend to melt away without a thought.
I'm sure there are plenty more techniques that help to alleviate loneliness and I'd love to hear about them.  Please send me an email about your experiences with this cousin to depression: HangoverHaze@gmail.com

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Friday, August 17, 2018

Social Psychology in Corporate Collapse

Having worked in the corporate world for a time, in a management capacity, I have some insight into what happens when a company begins to have to shed its employees.  I would love to see what sorts of Social Psychology research there's been on just this type of situation.

What I've seen is that people quickly become filled with a sense of resentment for their fellow worker's who continue to thrive and do good work, especially if that work is openly acknowledged, and I believe this is due to realization that they aren't able to maintain their current position when others are clearly continuing to produce.

As the resentment builds, the lower worker will begin to spread their negative feelings outward amongst the other workers, hoping to gain sympathetic allies.  If though, they are met with derision by the others, they will build more resentment, thinking these people are also against them in some way.

Realistically, more often than not, the worker is merely concerned with themselves and whether they'll be able to keep their current status of employment as they see the corporation falling apart into disarray.  In general, everyone is looking out for themselves, without much concern for their coworkers.

There are though, those workers who will take any advantage they can in order to retain their employment, even if it means taking down those around them in order to do so.  This type of person is the worst kind of employee and an insidious problem that needs to be dealt with immediately.  If not, they will spread their negativity like a cancer within those who are doing their best to stay focused and work.

The point I'm trying to make in a very shitty way (apologies, I'm tired and I'll try speak on this again with more clarity in the future) is that most people have a self-survival instinct.  Some people, unfortunately, have it at such a level that they are willing to hurt anyone around them to get what they want and they'll do their best to drag as many people down with them.

Misery truly does love company and exhibits it's profound jealousy of those who can persevere through tough times in an obvious and pathetic manner.  Always keep an eye out for these types of people.  They're the ones who will drag you under if you try to save them from drowning.  Sometimes, when all they seem able to do is struggle against you saving them, the best thing you can do is let them drown and swim away.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Happiness - Not the Dylan Baker kind

What's the value that we tend to put on this elusive thing we call happiness?  Why does it seem to come at such a high cost within our lifetime?  There isn't any way to rationally define what it actually is, except to say that we know it when we have it, and perhaps more detrimentally, when we don't.  When we find ourselves with a severe lack of it, we rail with profound fury against the suffering of the day to day, convinced that we deserve to feel otherwise.

In fact, if we were to examine a large set of our lives I have no doubt that we would find the larger swath to contain a low grade suffering that was pervasive throughout, and that the bursts of actual happiness are few and far between.

Were we to further examine that happiness, my guess is that we'd find the greatest depths of it to be of an almost primal nature, not generally associated with the higher mind pursuits, but in fact more in line with things like the first orgasm, tasting of bacon, or upon hearing the laughter of a child.

In effect what it seems to me is that we constantly pursue these defined things in our lives in an effort to gain the undefinable thing known as happiness, when in fact were we to rather settle into our routines and put the thought of happiness as an abstract out of our minds, we'd more readily find ourselves experiencing it.

For instance, while walking around the city, I don't actively pursue finding things that will bring about the physiological responses within myself to elicit the feeling of happiness.  Yet, when confronted with a particular cloud formation while listening to an explosively uplifting piece of music, I will find myself with an odd feeling in my being brought on by the combined experience of seeing something beautiful and associating the music with the feeling presented.  That's happiness.

It's a fleeting thing overall.  At times only microseconds.  There are the rare occasions when you and a friend get into such a fit of the giggles that you can no longer even understand what's funny, but the laughter persists, and the feeling of happiness is extended by this.

Happiness may be one of the most addictive feelings in existence, as we all seem desperate to feel and immerse ourselves, and those we love, in it.  "Share this hit of happiness with me". 

Love is not happiness.  Please don't make that foolish mistake.  Love is far more complex and varied than that.  Love involves happiness of course, but it also is made up of resentment, envy, pride, sadness, pleasure, and so much more.  Some day I will write about Love as concisely as I'm able.

So, to close, walk more and look at clouds while listening to rousing music.  Maybe happiness will find you.  Or do whatever it is that takes your mind off of such foolish pursuits as that of happiness itself.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Death: Now and Forever

It's not something any of us will escape.  We all think about it in some cursory way on all too regular a basis.  Some of us flirt with what the idea of suicide can be.  Who will be affected and how we'd go about it.  The finality of it all isn't easy to accept, yet, of all things in life, it's truly the one thing we have absolutely no control over.  Death is coming for everyone.

A woman who I care deeply for informed me that her father passed away yesterday.  I knew him in the way you know someone's parents when you go to their house for holidays and on the random drop-ins.  I enjoyed the man greatly.  He had a sharp wit, smooth manner, and a charisma that clearly had suited him throughout his life.  His eyes regarded me with a hawkish intelligence, as though judging whether I was a wolf in sheep's wool or if I was the genuine lion who loved his daughter.  I think he liked me as he seemed to enjoy telling me stories about his youth and what it's like to be a part of the Freemasons, of which he was ranked a Deacon, if memory serves me.

I eventually showed his daughter the true rage-filled bull I am and destroyed the chance of ever meeting him again, and that really sucks.  I would love to sit and talk further with him if I could.  He had quite the checkered past, not all of which he had told me mind you, but definitely had no issues telling me about how he would help the touring bands in Boston back in the 70s get whatever they were looking for.  He, like me, had a propensity toward drinking and getting violent, but had worked his way out of it over the years.  I have a great deal of respect for that as I deal with that struggle myself.

I'm not sure what he died of, though I know he had battled cancer for some time, and I thought it had been in remission, but considering the way it ended between his daughter and I, it didn't cross my mind to ask. I just expressed my condolences at the news.

It's a shame that we don't live forever is what some people seem to believe, but consider how meaningless life really would be if it never had a discernible end.  What makes every moment so precious is that it will never happen again.  We take it all for granted, probably because we're just overly intelligent apes who are pre-programmed to fuck, eat and sleep, but a more concerted effort should be made toward appreciating every breath we draw in.

I'm not specifically religious.  Meaning I don't subscribe to any religion in particular.  Nor do I stringently cling to the idea of Atheism with the fervor of a radical believer in whichever religion.  What I do believe is that I am a moron and the workings of this universe are so incredible in what science has been able to show thus far, that for me to claim any truthful knowledge beyond argument is hubris above measure, and would just further prove my ignorance.

All I can say is that when we die what we know as this current state of being is changed.  Into what, I have no earthly or existential clue, but I'm certain that it's different.  Much as each moment is different than the last, and the next, and this one now, so too is our life unto death.

Please try and make each moment memorable and positive and let the people you care about know that you do.

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Enjoy whatever the next chapter in this existence is Mr. Rossi. It was an honor to meet you and I'm still sorry for what happened between me and your daughter.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

My growth as a reader

Books are magical things.  Worlds within pages that allow us to escape the inescapable march of life toward death, if only for a short time.  To become a reader, a true purveyor of books and their meaning within, is a journey that's long and only ended by death.

I began quite early, or so I've been told by my father, and have never truly stopped.  I've had periods of drought in general interest, but there's never been any significant length of time where I wasn't reading something, anything, to keep my mind engaged.

The earliest books I can recall are ones like "The Berenstain Bears" and the Little Miss and Mr. books, such as "Little Miss Stubborn" and "Mr. Tickle".  After which I started in on the Shel Silverstein books, classics like "A Light in the Attic" and "The Giving Tree".  Oh, I did of course read Dr. Suess as well, but I always found Silverstein to be the superior writer.

As I grew toward adolescence I became enamored with "The Great Brain" books.  Those I relished because I, even then, had some understanding that my brain was something to be nurtured and nourished.  I grasped the tenant of "Knowledge is Power", though I couldn't full appreciate what that really meant. Another book at this time that was fairly formative was "Ben and Me", a story about how a mouse was the primary influence behind Benjamin Franklin's greatest achievements.

On Sunday mornings the Boston Globe was delivered to our house and I would tear into the comic pages with great excitement, knowing that there would be a half page spread of my favorite strip, "Calvin and Hobbes", which remains, in my estimation, the greatest newspaper comic strip ever created.  At my younger age I loved that I could readily identify with Calvin and all of his misadventures with his ever present sidekick Hobbes.  As I grew older and reread them, I came to realize that the stories within contained valuable philosophical lessons that applied to a greater context of life overall.  It is extremely brilliant in it's conception and I urge everyone to read them.

Comic books were the next logical progression and I found in them the moral and ethical dilemmas of the Hero and Anti-Hero plot devices.  The lessons learned from too many titles to bother listing here are ones that to this day I take heart in.  I cannot stress how important these were to my learning of what to truly expect in and from the world.  Comic books have, until fairly recently, been relegated to the "geeks" and looked down upon by parents as some sort of lowest class art form.  They are absolutely the opposite.  In combining fantastic stories, within the serial structure (similar to that in which Dickens worked), with amazing artwork and cinematic viewpoints (which Orson Welles openly admitted to mimicking), with an appeal across all avenues in life, male and female, superhero and antihero, high literature and absurdism...well, there should be more thought and research given to the impact given.

In sixth grade I remember borrowing "The Hobbit" from my Social Studies teacher, Ms. Hay.  She was adamant that I treat the book with the utmost care and to return it immediately upon finishing.  She was also an early twenties blond woman with a diminutive, but curvaceous, figure who wore dark nylons and skirts that hinted at something tantalizing and foreign within.  So, I was all too happy to comply.

After finishing that book, and absolutely loving it, I had to borrow the entire "Lord of the Rings" set she had and tore through that with fervor.  Those books set me on my path of reading full-sized novels for pleasure.  They also helped introduce me to the worlds of Fantasy and eventually Science Fiction.  Once you're set down those roads, if you follow them long enough, you'll find yourself in the worlds of fiction written as a way to cover more subversive and political topics.

I read "1984" at some point in high school.  Not because it was assigned reading, as I rarely, if ever, would read what my intellectual captors were prescribing, but in fact because I had read George Orwell's staggering "Animal Farm" in 8th grade for a book report and gotten an A+.  "1984" opened my eyes to what literature can do and the power it holds.  I then started to dive as ravenously as I could into what is commonly termed as 'Literary Fiction'.  Such profound books as "The Fountainhead", "Executioner's Song", "Cat's Cradle", "A Brave New World", "Crime and Punishment", etc. ad nauseam.

Of late I've been turning more readily to philosophical, psychological, and spiritual texts, perhaps more eager than ever to find a common meaning in all of this banality, and also for some enlightening answers to the questions mankind has posed itself since our awakening to consciousness. Nietszche, Lao Tsu, Plato, Freud, Jung, Peterson, Sun Tsu, and various others are whose minds I currently mine in those attempts to feed my desire.

I don't foresee a time when I won't find solace in books and the knowledge therein.  If that were the case, I believe that I would make amends with life, and realize that was my last day in this material world...and I am a material girl.

Take care of yourselves and keep reading.

-Phil

Modern toilets

Why do we poop and pee into water?  Fresh water.

I don't really understand why modern technology hasn't sought out a new way that makes more sense.  Of all the things that we continue to do throughout our lives, defecation and urination are a constant, yet for some reason we still use an antiquated sewer system.

The internal combustion engine, hailed as the greatest technological advancement in history, is not long for this world.  Computers have come from being the size of large commercial rooms to fitting in our pockets.  Refrigeration has replaced spices for preserving food.

Why the fuck are we still pissing and shitting in fresh water, flushing it down through pipes that corrode and fall apart over time?  Isn't there something else that can be done?

Granted, I'm not the guy who has any of the answers, but there's got to be one.  I personally don't believe that anyone is really thinking too deeply about this problem as they don't think there is one.  It's perfect just the way it is, right?  Fuck that.

Are you even aware that the modern toilet is designed terribly?  We aren't supposed to sit with our legs at a 90 degree angle, we're supposed to squat, hence the advent of things like the Squatty Potty.  Instead of improving our toilet, we buy add-ons.

And why the fuck isn't America using bidets?  They're fucking genius and Europe loves them.  Instead, we clog our septic systems with "flushable" moist wipes.  If your pipes are even a little aged, those wipes are going to catch, build up, and clog your system up, causing you nothing but a very expensive fix.

Come on people!  Let's get some of this shit taken care of...figuratively AND literally!

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Monday, August 13, 2018

Fashion over Comfort - What horseshit!

That idea is the dumbest fucking thing I've ever heard.  I understand that I'm a guy so it's different, but I would love a woman's input on this.  Who the fuck ever said that fashion should be put as more important than comfort should be punched in the goddamn throat.

Now, I get that women have a much different ideal to constantly try to live up to, but shouldn't there have been some woman's revolution within the fashion world, whereby the comfort became fashionable?  And I don't mean making it cool to wear yoga pants, slippers, and a busted tank top out and about, though people certainly seem fine doing it, especially at Walmart for instance.

I'm saying that it surprises me that there hasn't been some sort of upheaval by fashion designers to create dresses and footwear that is both functional with comfort in mind, but also sleek and worthy of being called "high fashion". 

Granted, the industry is largely dominated by men and I suppose that's why you see men's fashion as being quite comfortable, in general.  It's had hundreds of years of transformation under the eyes and minds of men who realized that it should be paramount to feel comfortable while also looking good.  I do believe that there can be some sort of similar efforts made for women in this regard.  I'm certainly not the one to do it.

Also, don't ask me to hold your fucking shoes at the end of the night when your feet are hurting because you decided to wear uncomfortable heels and didn't plan ahead by bringing some flats to change into.  You look ratchet walking around in bear feet and that's your own damn fault.  And don't try and convince me that you did that for me, you did it for yourself, much like the altruistic notion in people, it's selfishly based.  You just want as many eyes on you as possible.  If it was just for me, you'd wear them in the bedroom, not out in public.

That's not to say that I have a problem with you showing off your figure in public and trying to gain as much attention as possible.  Hell, we live in a society where that's coveted, so it's no surprise to me.  Just don't get pissy at me when I refuse to hold your shoes and give you shit for not planning ahead, that's all.

But, as I stated earlier, it's definitely not too fair for women that the ideal they need to strive for is not comfort based.  I'm not super comfortable when I clean up and wear a tie and such, but I'm not overly uncomfortable either.  And the slightly loosened tie even has a certain appeal to it that women like.  So even when we're dressed up, we can find a way to be comfortable and fashionable.

Come on designers of the world!  Get your shit together!  Help these ladies out for fuck sake!

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The power of the "New Media" and why you should be taking advantage NOW!

It's a gloomy, rainy, and temperate day.  I have the windows open and the AC off.  The breeze is cool and refreshing after so many days of high heat and humidity of late.  I'm sitting on the couch while taking in the day.  Just trying to enjoy the calm peaceful quiet of the moment.  

Fuck...I should write today's blog I guess.  And I still have to record the intro for tomorrow's Hangover Haze episode, then edit it and cut it into what I already have.  Basically, it's time to get off my ass and get some shit done.

While taking my shower I was listening to an interview between Jordan Peterson and David Fuller in which they were discussing how Jordan has risen from relative obscurity to sharing the worldwide stage with such thinkers as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Bret Weinstein, Heather Heying, Christopher Ryan, and Debra Soh, just to name a few.  Some of whom have been grouped into what people have dubbed the "Intellectual Dark Web" or the I.D.W.  New York Times article about the I.D.W. and it's "members".

What the interview I was listening to got me interested is what Dr. Peterson has to say about the place "New Media" has in today's societies and cultures.  He also goes on to explain how it threatens the traditional media.  Jordan Peterson Interview in which he explains the "New Media" and it's effects. 

I am new to all of this stuff, but it's been growing in popularity and prevalence, especially in common every day conversation, over the past decade or more.  I can only agree full with what Jordan says in the interview and to wholeheartedly agree that we live in a new world now where everyone can have a global voice.

Granted, the large majority of people won't have anything too intelligent to say and prefer to out content that is strictly low brow entertainment, but that's fine.  The best thing about these new technologies and their current affordability is that anyone can create and we now have access to people who will create amazingly intellectually enlightening content!

Never in the history of mankind have we been so connected and easily accessible.  There are great dangers in this, but there is also the capacity for such a wealth of knowledge that even the library of Alexandria pales in comparison.  We are so lucky to be alive in this new age of enlightenment and everyone should be doing their best to take full advantage.

Get online and join the discussions, create content, promote your beliefs and those of who you agree with!  One of the double edged swords of the internet is the anonymity it provides.  This lets people troll and be fucking shitheads who want to vent their own self-esteem issues on everyone they can.  But, the adverse has it's advantages in that people who are socially inept or awkward can join in and take their time to express their opinions.

I for one am excited for what the future holds as these technologies and "New Media" expands and evolves into the norm.  I'm happy to be part of the discussions and plan to continually try to explore more long-form conversations and will be pushing more to get into headier topics moving forward.

You should join in!

Take care of yourselves.

-Phil