Confessions of an NSA Nobody, Vol 1

update: originally posted June 2015. I took these down after the 2016 election partly due to the realization laughing at Snowden was no longer a hot blogging item and also due to a smiiiidge of existential despair. I'm adding this one back for now, as it was both the most brainless and the most viral of the series. The rest may or may not follow, depending if anyone cares. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Edward Snowden, by all accounts, seems like a guy. I don't have any adjectives. I don't know if there are any adjectives. Sure, words like "courageous" or "traitorous" get tossed around a lot, but those are all for his actions, not his person. Watching him give interviews doesn't help, either. The man's impenetrable. I don't mean he has some unfathomable genius mind. I mean that humor ricochets off him like bullets off Superman. Like he was born in a foreign country where jokes were reserved for disciplinary actions. 

Wikipedia says he was born in North Carolina.... but so was Zach Galifianakis. So much for that.

Anyway, I've been thinking. Since Snowden's no longer under the employ of Uncle Sam, somebody else is paying for his meals. I can imagine that, given his allure with the tech crowd and conspiracy theories of every political stripe, these somebodies are willing to pay a lot. Wikipedia says he's received up to ten grand in speaking fees. Ten grand! That's a lot of scratch.

This also got me thinking even more. Spilling the beans is lucrative, isn't it? It brings in sweet gigs and world wide fame. I want in on that. Writing a zombie novel that tricks people into learning the basics of Christian faith doesn't earn you squat. I've also got attractively priced things to say. I worked for Uncle Sam, too. I was read on. I been through indoc. Talent Keyhole isn't a creepy double entendre to me.  I got crap like this lying around my house:

I've been on the inside. I know what they do in there. I had precious clearanceseses. Why can't I get a slice of that sweet, sweet ten grand?

So here goes. I, too, shalt spill mine beans. Caveat: I didn't work at Mothership Meade, but, like Snowden, I was attached to one of the multitudinous satellite facilities. Still, we did secret shit. Super secret shit. With some further ado:

Drum roll, please.


I don't hear you drumming.


Okay, tone it down. Don't get too crazy.


Confessions of an NSA Nobody #1

NSA workers can't shut their fat traps up about WoW. I swear to God. Everybody and their TS//SCI-cleared mom plays World of Warcraft. Not only that, that's all they talk about. Do you know how hard it is to transcribe every single daily cell phone call in the Chicago area in a single shift when the Petty Officer on the other side of the cubicle is rambling on about how hard it is to tank the Lich King? Do you? Try it, I dare you. Just try it.

Confessions of an NSA Nobody #2

At the NSA, no lunch is safe. I can't count how many Hot Pockets were boosted from the common fridge during my time there. It was a crime wave. At one point, a friend and I got so annoyed by this we tried to sabotage a box of Hot Pockets to deter the thieves. In doing so, we discovered something horrifying: like the Trinity, the makeup and function of Hot Pockets is ineffable and utterly unfathomable. We tried to cut them open and fill them with oddities like soap bars and popcorn kettles, but we never got the new insides to heat up. How come mozzarella and pepperoni turn into a hot tasty magma substance, but nothing else does? What exactly is in that bread-like shell? What's in the mozzarella? 

The mystery of the Hot Pockets was never solved, and the theft never abated. Do you know how hard it is to stalk 70 million American webcams on an empty stomach? Citizens don't spy on themselves, people.

Confessions of an NSA Nobody #3

I don't know what was in the water there, but you definitely did not want to drink it. Most women in our facility were perpetually pregnant. I'm not exaggerating. Everybody wants to talk about how we thoroughly and accurately read eight billion emails every sixty seconds, but nobody ever wants to bring up the pregnancy thing. It's freaky, man. Was it the water? Was it an experiment? There were massive satellite dishes outside of our building. Maybe they, I don't know, cooked some eggs? That doesn't seem scientifically sound, but hey, it's the NSA. There's always super secret shit going on in there. They break every possible rule of plausibility and common sense to make Venn diagrams of every Twitter post ever made, past, present, and future.

Confessions of an NSA Nobody #4

The bathrooms were too damn far away. At night, when all the top brass had gone home and it was just the junior enlisted and lower ranked staff NCOs manning the mission to read every sext message from (but never to) Beverly Hills, I said "screw this" and ran to the bathrooms. Not because my bladder was about to explode, but because the bathrooms were too damn far away. When it was toilet time, I took off my headphones, stood up, and sprinted for the head. It was like working in the airport. Looking back, I wish I'd smuggled in a Razor scooter or roller blades or something just to cut down on traversal.

More to come

And this is just the FIRST wave of my leaks! Why does that make it sound like I have troubles with incontinence! Don't laugh, world. I've got more juicy tidbits about the secret inner workings on the NSA. Cubicle soccer. Improvised firearms. Crop dusting. William Shatner films. And yes, more obnoxiously loud conversations about World of Warcraft. 

Look out, Snowden. I'm coming for your speaking fees.

personal project updates

A few of you might notice the site's been redesigned. I've reverted to a more minimalist style in the vein of my earlier blogs. The color scheme is now black and grey to better reflect a world that will, in all likelihood, soon be reduced to radioactive ash.

I have two writing announcements. One, I am shifting my ...of the Dead trilogy from "indefinite hiatus" to "cancelled." There are a few reasons. The first is that while some people may be sad about this, the number of you who will feel truly disappointed does not exceed the number of fingers I have. The second is that I think the concept is neither necessary for our time nor a project that retains value outside a particular cultural moment, and I think we are in dire need of art that can transcend and persist through the increasingly rapid and wily shifts in culture.

I am, however, now working full bore (or near as I can) on a project tentatively titled Winds of Empyrea. As all such stories must, it centers on an orphan girl with an unlikely dream and an unknown past. In her world there are both elves and engines, both monsters and motor-cars. Telephone service and electricity have not yet reached all the country villages, but airship transport between nations runs very nearly on schedule most days.

And it is important that they do run on schedule. Unlike ours, in her world there is no great body of water covering most the surface for ships to sail across. In her world, there is no surface. "Continents hang in the sky like paintings on a wall," suspended in place by the opposing pulls of the ringing heavenly spheres above and a silent darkness below. Without reliable flights, there would undoubtedly be much chaos in the upper echelons of society, in no small part due to resulting shortages of exotic produce in the markets.

Readers will learn more as they join our young orphan, who is swept away by her minders on a journey through her own country and beyond. There are towering monsters, strange swordsmen, cunning villains, great battles, and, last but certainly not least, enough packed ham for the adventure.

I make no promises as to the quality of the tale or even the sufficiency of the supply of ham. I am not a particularly experienced storyteller, and our heroine eats a startling amount of the stuff for her size. I do however hope the story is as appropriate to read this decade as it is the next and the next after that, and that the story will bring some small measure of joy to the reader no matter their age.

That is all for now. Thanks for reading.