When Reality Imitates Art

Remember when I wrote about Google Poo? Ha ha ha…that was funny wasn’t it?

…What do you mean that this is no longer a joke? People are actually calling for that?!

Can’t Say that I’m Surprised

Well, after my research in the past, you’d think that nothing would surprise me. And you’d be right, because this news didn’t make me bat one eye.

I’ve been thinking about doing another round of research, to see if book trends have changed any within the last few years. With this new tool called LinkFish, it’d be much easier than last time. Maybe if I have some time in the near future, I’ll give it another shot.

I Should Take the High Road

So, when I read this article about the final nail in the coffin for the Microsoft Phone and its app store, it wasn’t exactly news. Yet, when I got to that one quote:

“…As for why the platform has been all but dropped? The executive boils it down to one main reason: the difficulty of getting developers to write apps.

A Balrog rose from the depths of my soul. Suddenly, waves of memory after memory after memory hit me repeatedly, as I remembered the rage and frustration of even attempting to publish anything on that goddamn store. Since the whole operation was pretty much over long ago, it should just be left in the past and forgotten. And I should take the high road and just let it go…but I can’t hold it back, not after Joe Belfiore’s eulogy.


Okay, I got it out. I’m done now.

The Cycle of the Solitary Adult Gamer

  1. Realize that it’s been a few months since you’ve played a video game and fondly look forward to playing a new one.
  2. After a few hours of research, select a game with major accolades from critics that looks inherently fun and that has been published recently.
  3. Start playing and enjoy the gameplay on a more casual basis (like a few times a week), since work and other responsibilities get in the way. Watch other players advance exponentially compared to you, but stupidly, don’t let it be a source of dissuasion for playing in the future.
  4. Eventually (i.e., months later), get to the “end-game” portion (reach the highest level, etc.) and begin playing with the other players in its multiplayer modes.
  5. Become massacred by the other players whose continuous months of playing have granted them:

    A.) better stuff through incessant farming

    B.) muscle memory in their hands that would be the envy of a trained CIA assassin

    C.) an united team who could create an unicorn startup together if they didn’t spend every waking moment playing this game
  6. After enough frustration and wanting some sort of advantage, ask fellow friends of the same age if they would like to play this game with you. Hear them curse every inch of your flesh as they change the diapers on a screaming baby and then dodge any attempts to strike you with the dirty diaper, as they yield it like a feces-covered scourge.
  7. Become depressed and curse all of mankind as you reconcile with the fact that:

    A.) all of that invested time in the game has come to a bitter, empty end

    B.) your youth is over

    C.) that simple, carefree joy of spending time with your friends has passed and

    D.) you will now forever weep without abandon whenever they play “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem at the nearby hipster coffee shop
  8. After a few months, repeat Step 1.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

“Condo Chronicles” Says Adieu…For Now

I started this project a little over a year ago, and I wasn’t even sure how long I would be writing this story. Now, having a more comprehensive idea in mind, I think that I’m now somewhat past the halfway mark of this tale, and I fully intend on its completion. However, it would be a disservice to an audience and the story itself to simply issue it in parcels until the very end; it should be treated with the respect of any whole work. So, I will continue to write it, compile it, and then eventually edit it with the help of some intelligent friends and colleagues. And then, when it has reached a more mature stage (much more than my sophomoric self), I will release it, as a novel.

For those who have continued to read it (and for those who stumble onto it from this point), I hope that you have enjoyed it so far, and if you have any interest in its final form, feel free to send me a note at

peter.bolton.author [at] gmail.com

And I’ll do my best to send you a free copy when it’s finally available. Many thanks once again!

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion. For those who wish to read previous chapters of The Condo Chronicles, the Table of Contents is available.

Condo Chronicles: The Truth Will Find You

However, it was one day in the office, in the midst of posting to Facebook about the various announcements and happenings of West Guttenberg, her favored world collided with the real one. In the last few minutes of the previous day, she had posted something about a local missing man and about a reward for any provided information…and per usual upon every morning, she always checked for comments to the the posts of the previous day. When it was warranted, she would engage with the citizens of West Guttenberg in the most professional way possible. (Though, it sometimes required the utmost patience, since trolls have a way of testing one’s resolve. For every acerbic comment that she would read, she would have to watch a benevolent cat clip in order to clear her palette. It was her way of balancing yin and yang.) After only a few sips of her iced coffee, she reviewed the post of the missing man, and as she reviewed the comments below, she found her temperature plummeting to a degree below her beverage.

Even though nearly half of them were in Spanish, she could always use Google Translate to grasp their meaning. It seemed that some of the commenters were making serious accusations about how the red-suited men had gotten a hold of this missing man, how it was a Satanic group of cannibals that ran around the town who acted with total impudence. Of course, others ridiculed these conspiracy theories and then made a mockery of it with jokes about these diablitos, who had come to munch on the chocha of each abuelita. And though the flame war ensued (as they do in each comments section, since it is less of a place of discourse and more of an opportunity to hurl pejoratives and to utilize one another as the metaphorical “emotional tampon”), her focus remained on the subtext of this pointless banter. Unlike them, she actually knew a group of men who wore such red suits and who made it a habit to lurk in the shadows. When she went home that night, she couldn’t shake the feeling of something being amiss, as much as she tried to drown it with poorly made cocktails that were ameliorated with the combination of a milkshake.

And for the next few days, her apprehensions and ambivalence continued to take their toll on her, as she constantly fended off these persistent suspicions. Unlike those of us with a few grey hairs, she hadn’t yet achieved that sort of disposition who gains from a history of walking away; with our callous skin that brandishes scars, we forget how the first time is such a scary proposition. Such an option was completely alien to her, and in that moment, it wasn’t even a possibility, not after placing so many of her chips on one square. Instead, she would rather watch the roulette wheel indulge its appetite by spinning off the gameboard and consume her like Katamari Damacy, all before she would dare to take one step away from the table. A cacophony grew louder around her; more devils and more angels crowded on her shoulders, shouting to be heard above one another. Paralyzed and frozen like an indecisive drunk before the display window of a liquor store, she would have remain transfixed to her metaphysical spot if it wasn’t for the more reasonable side of her, knowing the ultimate carrot for any young woman: curiosity. It prodded and teased, and in the end, the yearning to resolve a mystery overcame all.

So, she created a new Facebook account with a different alias, and with a minimal amount of effort, she befriended a wide circle of the citizens of West Guttenberg, including the friends of the missing man. Winning their confidence with sincere affection, these buddies informed her of his recent money troubles, though he oddly seemed upbeat and unworried despite his financial woes. And when messaging with her new Facebook friends with wild conjecture and gossip of her own fabrication, she worriedly learned how such a disapperance wasn’t a complete surprise to them: it seemed to fit a particular pattern. Even despite some of their more wild points, there seemed to be a consensus on those reported missing. Mostly, these poor souls who disappeared were in dire need of money, had no family in this country, were obsessed with amassing a small fortune, and (most importantly) had a questionable legal status. The more she learned, the greater her suspicions grew…

But Catelyn wasn’t stupid. Nothing was to be gained from confronting Ciro. At best, it could all be a coincidence and a complete fabrication, born of her imaginative paranoia…but her doubt would spurn his love and possibly end what they had. At worst, he could be the monster behind an expertly coiffed mask, and she could become the next one to be missing, joining those long-dead mobsters who had made the wetlands their permanent home. (Plus, if she did ask him, what answer would he give but a denial? Such an imposition would be utterly pointless and futile.) There was only one way to truly find out: she needed to catfish Ciro’s cabal as an inquisitive, prospective buyer. It was an obviously dangerous move, but at this point, she needed a definitive answer. Even in the beginning, she felt a certain moral ambiguity about it all, but her trust and love in Ciro had tipped the scales earlier. But now, in the face of these recent events…her moral compass may have spun wildly in the electromagnetic field that was Ciro, but it was not broken.

Using the various skills and knowledge attained within the last few months, she forged her social media masterpiece, something akin to a forged passport of the Cold War that was undetectable even by the KGB. It was skillfully layered, being connected and verified by other false accounts, all of which were hooked into accounts of the real world. Goddamn, she thought, Sometimes I amaze myself. And with her Hattori Hanzo in hand, she strode out into cyberspace and presented herself to one of Ciro’s people, unabashedly saying:

“Hey, I’m a friend of a friend, and I’m in need of some merchandise on ice. I heard that you had some problems with your last batch. I don’t deal where there’s risk. Tell me straight – everything’s good on your end?”

She didn’t know what the response would be, not expecting much – and that was when Pandora’s Box opened to reveal its horrors.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion. For those who wish to read previous chapters of The Condo Chronicles, the Table of Contents is available.

Condo Chronicles: Faustian Beginnings

His Honor, the Mayor of West Guttenberg, then provided her with a brief overview of the history of the Palisades, how the waves of Hispanics had started to reach the castellated cliffs several decades ago. Panglossians from Panama and other such optimists had arrived much like immigrants from bygone eras, with the expectations that the streets would be made of gold and opportunities on every corner…and like their predecessors, much to their surprise, they found it to be much more difficult than expected. Sure, towns like West Guttenberg had welcomed their new Dominican denizens and political refugees from Cuba, but it had hardly been due to altruistic reasons: the federal and state governments had paid them handsomely in funding to adopt these political orphans. Where the money actually went…well, that’s better left unsaid and instead told through a few winks and elbow jabs. So, fending for themselves, these nascent citizens learned to network and support one another, and they found employment wherever they could: the kitchens of restaurants, the shadows of construction sites, the drivers of business trucks and small jitneys. In some cases, though, it wasn’t enough to fulfill their promises to dire relatives; they had undergone the long journey to make a small fortune that was needed thousands of miles away…and desperate to make those ends meet. Sensing some of this palpable desperation, certain people (like the previous mayor who was Ciro’s predecessor and mentor) had formed a small cabal that could extend a service to any who were interested and who had two healthy kidneys of a certain blood type…

“Wait a minute,” interrupted Catelyn, somewhat horrified and leaning back a bit onto her pillow. “They were taking kidneys and selling them? Isn’t that illegal?”

Ciro had nodded, rolling onto his side in order to face her. “Yeah…but it was completely consensual. And everyone else in the whole world does it, Cat. I mean, it’s done where they come from, and they get far less for it in Ecuador. Even after a cut is taken for expenses and trouble, the remainder that they’d get would be way more here than there. And afterwards, they’d send money to their family, and then they’d spend some here in order to set themselves up. You know, like pay for good ESL lessons and maybe even for college…they’d get a ticket to a betta life.”

“But it was still illegal, right?” Catelyn pressing, inquiring but already sure of the answer.

“Yeah,” Ciro shrugged, “But so are lots of things. But when you do it right, and when you’re careful, who really gets hurt in the end?”

“And, so…are you careful?” Catelyn asked, already putting the pieces together and knowing that this business had been passed down to him from his mentor.

“Of course, my cleva girl,” he cajoled, rubbing her shoulder with one of his large hands. “There’s no getting anything past you…You sure that you’re not one of the Feds?” The fear introduced by such an accusation could be seen plainly in her visage, and it made him chuckle robustly. “Ha! You should see the look on your face…But, yeah, I’m always careful. And fair. So…are you into it? You wanna learn the ropes?”

And since it all made perfect sense in the way that he had put it, she climbed aboard this ship of adventurous enterprise and embarked on her new career as a privateer, where the treasure chest resembled more of an Igloo cooler. He taught her all of its administrative aspects: where the men in red suits took their clients for operations; who the medical staff included, among which were also immigrants who happened to be doctors (or so they claimed); the buyers who liked to meet on deserted work roads along the Hackensack River; and the shorthand that was their elementary form of encryption. The last was of paramount importance to her new role, since it fell upon her shoulders to be the facilitator of communication between the various parties. And since she was the social media czar of West Guttenberg, she published her encoded messages within the various posts and tweets of the Mayor’s office. (That had been her novel idea, of which she was incredibly proud.) Ciro even took note of how everyone was up-to-date faster than before, how it was clearly a result of her hard work. She glowed with the appreciation, given that it came from both her amour and her mentor. I was right all long. This was my destiny. I had to sacrifice many things to get here, but I am exactly where I need to be, she thought. I did it…I finally made it on my own.

And for the next few months, all became bliss. Much like when a singer becomes the song, she felt a certain harmony in this path that she had chosen for herself. During the day, she had the thrilling joy of working a normal job while moonlighting as a covert agent, being paid rather handsomely and amassing more money in that short time than the last several years combined. And during the off hours, when it was just her and Ciro, everything became even more magical. They would spend entire weekends on his boat, and they even participated in local races so that she could get a better feel for how to properly run the rigging. (She begged for them to enter the one around Block Island, but he said that she wasn’t ready yet.) They even spent an entire week in Puerto Rico together, chartering a boat during the day and consuming copious amounts of spit-roasted pork that was fabricated with a worn machete. A few times, she was sure that she had even caught Ciro looking at web sites that sold wedding rings, and she told herself to be patient, that the time would come eventually and soon. All was entirely well…at least, for a while.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion. For those who wish to read previous chapters of The Condo Chronicles, the Table of Contents is available.