Friday, December 31, 2010

A year of what?

What a year.

I couldn't help but notice that most of the writers I have met through twitter are celebrating the end of the year with blogs of note worthy happenings of 2010.
As I sit here in my little guard shack thumbing through them I began thinking, what note worthy thing have I done?

And the question still lingers, waiting patiently for an answer.

I have published a book after saying I would for the past twenty years. Can we say procrastinator?

I quit smoking after trying for thirty years. I do enjoy a pipe in the evenings, it helps relax me.

I haven't killed anyone this year no matter how much I wanted to.

Unlike a lot of people I have met at work, in the guise of a security officer, I am still here. What comes next year is fate. Some of them I will miss others I only wanted to shoot. Not to kill. Suffering is good for the soul.

And as I always do I have made more than one person smile or laugh, either on purpose or accident.

I know it doesn't seem like a lot but the point here is that I did something.

As for 2011, well I would love to publish at least two or three more books, actually selling one or two would also be nice

Weight loss is heavy on my mind lately; (Sorry about that.) I got down to 190 once, for a few hours.

I don't really make resolutions because I never keep them unless I make one not to make resolutions.

These are my goals. I’m happy with what I have done in 2010 and I have made my wife happy by not killing her kids and I do hope to continue that next year, since them moving out is probably not an option at this point.

What I am worried about next year: very soon we will be losing someone very close to us. That will be hard. And I am not sure if I will be working where I am next year or next month.

Fate has a way of surprising you when you least expect it, but like always we will conquer whatever comes up.


May you conquer your fears, respect your peers, and always smile and act like you are enjoying it.
PS, I was thinking about posting a celebrity death list but I think that would be too morbid and I am sure someone else will do that.

Okay, I couldn’t resist. RIP;

2010 Celebrity Deaths « CBS Los Angeles- News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of LA

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The attack of the Edit headache

As some of you may know, I published a new story on smashwords a couple of weeks ago called The Set'la. After waiting only a few days I received notice that my hyperlinks were not behaving the way should and my paragraphs were not properly aligned.
I didn't have this problem last time and it seems as if I did everything correctly except for a few capitalized words. That one was an easy fix. Looking through my document I figured this would be a real easy fix.
It took me only a few minutes to fix the hyperlinks and then I began paragraph adjustment procedures. I made the change needed, and then saved it and closed it. No biggy, fixed and ready to go out again. But a little voice whispered in my head, "You sure you don't want to" In my mind I saw Gollum staring at me rubbing his hands together as he licked his cracked lips.
Giving into the fish smelling voice, I clicked on the open office program and waited for it patiently...
Once it was up and running I checked the formatting and it held. "There you go smelly voice! It worked!
Before it could change back I quickly uploaded it.....
...and got the message, "This is wrong idiot, try it again."

I heard the evil laughter echoing through my head as I fixed it again, saved it and closed it one more time. When I opened it back up the changes were not saved. I realized that the last book I sent to Smashwords was on the actual Microsoft Word, not the barebones version in OpenOffice.
Please don't misunderstand me. I like the fact that Openoffice is free, even with all the problems I have had with it over the years. To be honest the only reason I was using it is because it was free and I was rebelling against Bill Gates Corporate Opulence. Why should I pay extra for a program that always came with the computer only a few years ago, track,..sorry.

Anyway, after an hour of internet searches and queries sent out over cyberspace I tried one more little trick.

I copied and pasted it into a brand new notepad and then saved it. Here is where I messed up. I don't know how I did it but when I opened it back up in an OpenOffice Doc it had Chinese Characters almost every sentence. I cursed so much that the wife thought her daughter was home and suddenly developed a very deep voice.

Okay, I thought to myself, I can fix this. I copied and pasted the unwanted symbols into the 'FIND AND REPLACE' function and hit the replace all button.
Now, every apostrophe and quotation mark has been replaced with a question mark.
After two hours of trying to figure this out I gave into Mr. Gates and bought Microsoft Word.
The paragraphs behaved, but the question marks were still there and now I have to reedit, rework, redo. It will be back up. I can fix this, make it stronger, faster, better than it was before.
Hopefully by the end of January.
Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sample Sunday - Letters Home

You ever have one of those stories that seem to haunt you, trying to get out of your head and move to your fingertips like molasses in January. This is one of those stories. I have a beginning (which always seems to come in handy) and an end. In other words, I know where I am going, what happens when I get there, but I don't know how I arrived. Sort of like being drunk.

Here is a short little Sci-fi story that I am really going to work on finishing.....Honest....I am.

Letters Home (or Sunset)   {decisions, decisions}

Tuesday, April 25th, 2519. 1300 hrs.

Hey Pops, thought I'd send you this little run down of my day, hope you enjoy it.
For the past month, me and the other twenty-four crew members of the exploration ship Vogt have been in the eco-chamber due to the travel we will be doing for the next twenty years, our systems have to get use to space.

It will really seem like about six months since we will spend most of the time asleep. Each member of the crew will spend a week awake doing all the random stuff, what I like to call ‘grunt work’, that goes on around a ship. General maintenance and making sure we are not off course.

Well to continue, today is the day we get to head off for Gliese 581g, or more loving revered to as Sunset. When the first probe landed there it found a spot almost on the line where the day/night break is. Sunset happens all year round, and a beautiful one too.

At 0600 hours they moved us from the chamber and down a long corridor we could look out of, above a sea of humans. I felt like I was on display at one of those old fashioned zoos Grandpa kept telling us about. Thousands of people came to see us off and wish us good luck. I couldn’t make out anyone specific, but I knew you would be there.

The sealed pleztube stretched out about forty feet between the building and the shuttle that would take us to the ship, fifty feet above the maddening crowd. We stood in the middle of the tube and waved to the peeps down there, just because we were told to. We knew we would never see anyone again, unless someone cured aging. They have practically cured everything else – even cancer. Our life spans have been doubled, once we could only live to around 70 to 75, now most women live till they are 150, most men only last till they are 130.

Even with the excitement of being the first manned ship to leave the solar system – it was still a little scary – body numbing and stimulating at the same time. I saw the mix of emotions running through my crew members faces, fear, happiness, concern and wonder. Jim was showing no expression at all as we fastened ourselves into the seats on the shuttle.

Oh, I never told you about Jim. Well dad – your daughter has a new boyfriend. It isn’t really anything serious – but he is awesome at almost everything he does. The crew is actually split up evenly – 12 men, 12 women. The 25th is an android – his duty is just to walk the ship encase there is an emergency on board that the two crew members need help with while everyone else is asleep. We call him Wesley. He is actually the on board computer – but he also comes in mobile form.

Any way – I don’t have much time to finish this little note so I may have to talk fast. My sleep cycle starts in 10 minutes.

Once planted firmly on the shuttle we lifted off without any problems and circled the giant ship Vogt once before entering the massive belly that serves as the cargo hold. The ship isn’t really that much – the news services are making more of a big deal than they need to about it. Most of the bulk of the ship is the AFTL drive (we cal it the Almost Faster Than Light Drive); it takes up at least 60% of the ship. Wesley has all the specs and owner manuals in case there is a flat tire or something, and I gave him your message – “You better not run out of gas.” Remind me never to tease an android. Everyone has read the manuals at least twice. (In my opinion they are pretty dry for reading materials, but at least we know how to fix it if it breaks.)

Connected to the engineering section is the container that has all the sleep chambers in it, twenty four in all – each scheduled in 12 month cycles, waking two crewmen – male and female – for a month at a time.

Before they put us in there, they shaved all our body hair – even if only one day passes for us, our hair will still grow at the regular rate. Basically we sleep for a year, wake up for a month and then go back to sleep – so only 20 months will go by for us, but you won’t hear from me for a year.

You will only have to imagine your little baby girl bald – I ain’t sending you a picture.
I’m really looking forward to this and please tell everyone I will miss them.
I’m falling asleep now – catch you later.
Love you all,
LT Commander Tia Bourbon

…message sent…

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30th, 2520: 1950 hours.

I've been really busy since I woke up on the first of the month, or I would have sent this earlier. Once the capsule opened it took me thirty minutes to fully wake up. During our training, they told us we wouldn't dream. They were wrong. I still remember some of it, flashes of pictures, like watching a old disc out of the 21st century. Scratched and pitted with only the occasional clear picture. One is a foreign alien landscape charred and broken with totally red skies. Could this be Sunset, or just something my imagination came up with? Another scene is a bloody reminder of human nature,
I'm still trying to make since of it.

Any way, they only wake us for a month at a time, I think I mentioned that, and that month is spent checking up on shop systems, making sure everything is still working like it should.
Jim and I spend about an hour each night getting acquainted again, even if it feels like yesterday we still missed each other.

The pair before us, and all the others, did a pretty decent job keeping the ship in good order. Nothing much happened out of the ordinary this month. Thirty days floating at the speed of light with only one man as company, there wasn't much we could do except get caught up on what's happening back home and each other.

As to our android, Wesley, he spends most of the time walking the ship – if he finds anything at all, he lets us know.

Nothing unusual in our sightseeing duties, we did see a few solar systems that may have a habitual world if Sunset doesn’t pan out like we are hoping.

There was one strange thing; our sensors noticed something off our stern, port side, which seemed to be matching us for speed and trajectory.

I ordered Wes outside to check it out – after spending almost three hours tethered to the ship he came in and said it must have been a shadow of our ship. “A glitch in the sensors,” he said. I didn’t think androids believed in glitches. But I suppose it could have been a shadow of our selves.

Since we are the first humans to travel at light speed, no one really knows what we will experience. That does seem a little scary now that I think about it.

Yesterday we woke two Lieutenants, Dona Tussey and Ted Rathburn. They will keep an eye on the “shadow” as we continue our journey.

Guess I will write again as soon as I can, which should be in about a year.
Night Dad, Miss you.

.message sent….


Hope you enjoyed that, this is still a very rough draft - but the important part is it is out there.

My next book, The Set'la will hopefully be sent to Smashwords tonight. Basic part of the cover is done, just need the title now.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Setla~ things to come

This is a work in progress, I thought it might be good for Sample Sunday, The story is complete but I am in the process of editing, which is a never ending process with me. The book cover itself should be done by the end of this week and hopefully ready to go before New Years. As of now, the working title is “The Set'la” This is Chapter One, Out on a Limb:

The stiffness she felt in her neck woke her up. At first, she thought it was a dream; she seemed to be standing up with her arms stretched out from her body. Her neck was not the only thing that hurt. Every muscle in her body seemed tense, like the day after a marathon. Dani tried to move her arms, but they felt tied down, some type of twine secured her hands against the rough wall. Then, the darkness and noises invaded her thoughts, surrounding her from all sides. The growls and squeals of unfamiliar creatures blended like a bad symphony. As her eyes grew accustomed to the lack of light, she began to make out shapes appearing out of the dark fog. She was in a forest, tied to a tree.

‘My house didn’t have any forests around it.’, she thought. The air, damp, and cold against her skin sent goose bumps across her naked body. The scent of decay and fresh rain mixed to give the forest a sense of rebirth.

A twig snapped in the undergrowth. Something was walking toward her. Whatever it was, it tried to be quiet, but she heard each footfall, each rasping breath. Straining against the material around her wrists, the twine finally broke and she was free. Turning around, she gazed up at the tree, barely making out a few low hanging branches. The closest one was ten feet above her. She hugged the trunk and slowly began the climb. It was easier than she expected. Her bare feet seemed to know just where they should go to get the best footing. Reaching the lowest branch, she curled her body around it and shut her eyes. She then remembered that she hated heights. Her heart pounded in her chest as the creature closed in. She could smell it, a musky wet odor, like a rug left out in the rain all week. The animal sniffed at the spot where she had been, the low snarl that came from its throat sounded like laughter. If she could read its thoughts she would hear, “You really think you can escape that easily?” The moonlight filtering in through the trees reflected off the eyes as it seemed to stare at Dani. The claws dug into the tree as it began the climb, the sound of its body scraping against the bark.

She could barely make out its shape as it closed in on her. Its red eyes shining with an inner light, it snarled. Without thinking, Dani lashed out with her foot, catching the creature in the throat. The force of the blow made it lose its grip on the tree and fall backwards, grasping at the air as it whined like an injured dog. One last cry escaped its throat as she heard it land with a thud. A grateful sigh escaped her parched throat as she closed her eyes, hugging the branch for dear life. Now all she had to do was figure out a way down.

‘I think I’ll stay here for a while.’ she decided, trying to relax.

Try as she might, she couldn’t. She led a simple, easy life on Earth. There never was any money issue; her parents had left her very well off. The week after they passed away, the courts awarded her enough money that she wouldn’t have to work again.

She kept busy, constantly with marathons and other sporting events like archery, rowing, and learning Tae kwon do. She learned the martial art quickly and was soon a black belt. Her Master told her many times, she was the fastest learning pupil he ever taught.

The only thing she had problems with were men. Most of the ones she met were ones that looked for an easy way out.

‘Why am I here? Wherever here is. Maybe it’s a dream, a nightmare! Maybe if I fall asleep, I will wake – and be home.’ Her eyes closed as her body tensed and she fell asleep.


With a start, her eyes flashed open as she began to slide on the course bark. Light was returning to the forest, chasing away the darkness and letting color returned to the landscape. All she could see were the tightly packed trees around her. Some were familiar, others strange and different. Most of the green leaves had a slight blue tint, glistening in the morning dew; others had red and yellow rings.

Looking around the forest floor, she discovered the body of the creature that attacked her the night before. It was in a very uncomfortable position about ten feet from the base of the tree. From the nose to the tip of its long thick tail, it was about six feet long. Its head lay in a very unnatural position atop a twisted neck. A rough looking coat of fur covered the body, thin and ringed with tan circles; it reminded her of a tiger, but the head was different, the snout was shorter, more like a pug nosed dog. Jaws, muscular and thick were open, revealing a swollen tan tongue resting on sharp jagged teeth.

“How the hell, did I escape that?” she said softly, as if she was afraid of being heard. She sure didn’t want to bring more predators to her roost.

The vertigo was making her dizzy, her first goal was to find out where she was, and then get onto solid ground. Gingerly, she unwrapped herself from the branch and got up onto her hands and knees. Crawling backwards until she reached the trunk, she stood up, trying to concentrate on keeping her eyes looking forward, never down. The branch she was standing on was at least five feet thick; the trunk was three times that. It reminded her of the Redwood Forest she had visited with her parents when she was younger. Looking straight ahead, she saw nothing but gigantic trees. She could make out little creatures in every one, flying from branch to branch. They reminded her of monkeys, except they had small flaps under their arms that they used for gliding from one limb to another.

“Dani,” she said, “you’re not in Ohio anymore.”

Looking up, she saw where the uppermost branches began to thin out. She had to go up, just so she could get her bearings. Climbing it with surprising ease, she reached a point where she could look out above this odd forest. There was a range of mountains directly in front of her that seemed to be within walking distance. First, she had to find out which direction she was facing. Gazing to either side of her, she located not one, but two suns, one of which was just rising above the treetops, while the other smaller sun was about a hands width above it.

“Where am I?” She whispered, as if she expected to hear someone answering her.

She barely remembered last night, if it was only a night. One minute she was walking home after a boring night at the local bar, then a sharp point entering her neck, a disembodied feeling and finally, waking up tied to a tree. She checked herself. She had a few scratches here and there, nothing serious. The insects that owned this tree were already biting her in places that she normally left for lovers, when she had one.

She had to get to water. The best choice were the mountains off in the distance. There had to be water near them, she was sure of it. Taking a deep breath, to steady her nerves, she took one last glance at her destination. That’s when she noticed the flock of birds circling. They were very far off and looked like specs on the horizon. Even from this distance, she thought them to be larger than eagles from her native Earth.

Turning around, she carefully began her descent from the tree. Occasionally, she fought back the fear and had to glance down, to be sure of her footing. Once she reached the branch she had clung to earlier that morning, she lost her grip. Scrabbling to hold on, her hands found nothing to grab but air.

She was ten feet from the ground and falling. Taking a chance, she braced herself for the impact and let her well-muscled legs take most of the jolt. As she landed, her knees bent and she crouched down.

‘That was close. No pain or broken anything,’ she thought. With a final glance at the creature that tried to have her for dinner last night, she started walking in as much of a straight line as she could toward the range of mountains in the distance. Frequently, she had to maneuver around a large tree that blocked her path. Some of them were larger than redwoods from California.

Dani would be the first to admit, she wasn’t much of a botanist, but no tree, flower, or bush she saw looked at all familiar. Even the bugs that wanted to chew on her bare skin bore no resemblance to those of her world. Occasionally, small reptiles scattered out from her pathway, some with wings, and more legs than she could count.

After twenty minutes of walking at a good clip, she noticed that she was breathing easily and wasn’t even sweating. At first, she thought it might have something to do with whatever Kevin injected into her, besides his tool, unless that was a dream too. She stopped and checked her pulse, clocking it at fifty beats a minute. That was strange for her, unless she was just waking up. Back home, she walked two miles a day in the morning, and ran two in the evening. Her heart rate should have been twenty beats faster than what is was now.

Continuing on, she heard something behind her, crawling through the underbrush. Turning around she saw it as it climbed on to a fallen trunk. Standing perfectly still, she tried to get a better look at it.

It was smaller than the creature that attacked her earlier. It didn’t even look harmful, but she didn’t want to take the chance. It stood on four legs and had a long prehensile tale that was poised above its back. Standing about as tall as a medium sized dog, about two feet high. The fur-less dark splotched skin almost blended in with the undergrowth. She didn’t see any reason to be fearful of this small animal.

The creature must have noticed that it was spotted, for it opened its jaws and showed off the double rows of sharp teeth inside as a flap of skin encircling its head inflated. Probably used to scare off its enemies, she assumed.

As it let out a piercing shriek, Dani no longer thought it looked cute, ‘It definitely worked for me!’ She thought as she took off running as fast as she could with the creature in pursuit. Her speed was better than any track meet she had ever run. At one point in the race, she noticed a tree that had recently fallen over, possibly from a lightning strike. The trunk was about four feet wide, and presently blocking her path. She leaped over it, startled again as she seemed to fly through the air. Her head almost hit a branch that was fifteen feet from the ground. Once she landed, she stopped and turned. The jump had taken her about thirty feet from the log.

Suddenly, she didn’t have time to think about what had just occurred. Her pursuer was perched on the log. It didn’t stay there long. With a roar, it jumped. Noticing a branch lying next to her, about five inches thick and three feet long, she grabbed hold of it and took a stance. When the dog was five feet from her it leaped. Dani swung, making solid contact with the creatures head and killing it instantly.

Now her heart was racing, but not from exhaustion. She leaned on what was left of the branch as she tried to figure out what had just happened.

“Let’s see, I can run and walk faster. Jump higher and am obviously stronger. Two Suns.” Looking up she could clearly see that one was not as yellow as her sun. “I think I’m Superwoman. Lighter gravity! And I’m hungry.”

Looking down, she saw the mangled head of the creature she had just killed, but she didn’t like eating raw meat. She didn’t have anything to make a fire with at all, and she knew the smell of blood would bring more scavengers. Keeping what was left of the branch as a weapon, she continued at a fast trot in the direction she was going before.

Five minutes later, the trees of the forest thinned out and she began descending a slop covered with waist high reddish colored grass. As she continued down, she noticed it looked more like a crater than anything else, the center was leveled out with gravel and weeds, marred only by the burned out stump of a tree trunk twenty yards wide and about ten feet high.

Quietly, she moved down the steep slope until she came to the flat ground. Small pools of water spread across the ground, holding the last bit of rain that fell around here. She didn’t stop to think if it was safe to drink, she just knelt down and cupped some muddy water into her hand, her eyes still scanning the area, waiting for something to jump out of the high grass.

The liquid was warm and soothed her throat, her parched mouth soaking it up as fast as it entered.

She smelled them before she heard them, reaching for her makeshift club. It sounded like a wild animal, a large one at that. Her eyes caught some movement above the treetops. The flock of large birds she had seen earlier. Presently, they were too far away to be much of a danger.

Softly, and without making a sound, she stood straight up, slowly turning her head to survey the grassy slope. She noticed it behind her, about ten feet away. Something was slowly making its way through the waist high grass, slithering down the slope. There was also more than one. Five creatures were parting their way through the grass.

Dani tried to slow her heart down, it sounded like it was too loud. It would give her away. As she saw one of the creatures stand up on its hind legs she gasped. It heard. Willing herself to freeze, she stared at it.

The cat, if that’s what it was, stood at least ten feet tall, about as thick as a grizzly and completely hairless. Its sinewy skin looked tough, with the muscular outlines in all the right places. The face was catlike, with thick whiskers, that she thought may be like a cat’s, but they had to be about one inch thick. The ears were pointed and standing straight up. It was looking right at her, its mouth parted for an instant, showing off two-inch fangs that looked like they were purposefully sharpened. Definitely eats meat, she thought.

Then it looked away, like it didn’t even see her. Dani was so engrossed in the coming battle; she didn’t notice the birds closing in.

Suddenly, the rest of the cat-like creatures, all five of them, raised their heads collectively over the grass. One, she could handle; she had her doubts about five.

I hope you enjoyed this sample of my next story – feel free to leave any comments, I love comments.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Corporate opulesnce

A few years ago I got a little upset at my computer virus software when it developed a minds of its own, it liked to do things sporadically like scan when I was in the middle of playing a game or trying to write, Of course it never let me set the time for this labor of protection –it just figured, “Dude – while that human is in this instance would be a great time to run a complete scan!”

It basically refused to do anything the way I wanted it to. This was free software that for a while seemed to work excellently, until it needed an upgrade. The upgrade included a fee of $25 a month. I deleted it and went in search of the perfect anti-virus software. I found one,

Norton’s 360. I could even put it on more than one computer. (yippee) The price was right, so I went for it.
I was impressed by how well it worked, quietly in the background and not disturbing me at all – which is how all things should act – including kids. Until last week.

Every time I turned on my computer I got a nasty message from Norton telling me that my subscription will be expiring soon and I should really upgrade or else! I ignored it since I had no spare cash at the time.

As the days went on, the messages continued, getting bolder and closer together, I thought for sure that they would soon send someone to my house dressed in skintight black suits with hoods covering their faces and physically force me to upgrade their product.

This morning, my time was up. When I turned it on this morning it slowly came to life, then a full screen size message all in caps, “ATTENTION! YOUR SUBCRIPTION HAS EXPIRED AND WE HAVE YOU LOCKED OUT OF EVERYTHING YOU NORMALLY DO. SO PAY NOW OR WE WILL SEND THE MEN IN BLACK SUITS – UNTIL THEN – YOU ARE UNPROTECTED SUCKER!” It wasn’t kidding either. I thought I heard a knock on the door, but it was only my dog sliding down the steps. (He is okay; he does that all the time.)

World of Warcraft was so slow I moved around like an old Worgen walking through mud. I did the next best thing, I clicked “Upgrade now.” This took me to a payment site where they wanted me to fork over more than a days’ pay so I could have protection for another year!

I went on the search for another software program, free again. (Yeah, I’m a Scrooge – deal with it) I was pleasantly surprised that the old one let me download and install its replacement before I removed it from my computer.

After I removed the dead anti-virus I did check everything out, including WoW, and everything worked perfectly. My take on this is, if you buy a program for your computer you shouldn’t have to pay to make it work after a year – games don’t do that. It is another way for someone to get as much money as they can with what they have. Some people call it business, I call it corporate opulesnce = simple greed.

My other experience with it this week has been Microsoft Word. A month ago I downloaded their free trial software and all week I have been warned I was about to expire. I was expecting a call from Mr. Gates any minute.

Before getting that, I was using OpenOffice, which I thought was a good program and would work for me, until I downloaded DocumentstoGo on my phone so I can write at work (I didn’t think OpenOffice was compatible.)

It worked out pretty well; I managed to flood my email boxes by moving stories from my phone to my computers. I also began writing more.

When Microsoft Word finally expired Monday night – I couldn’t do anything with it, I’m sure I could have typed something, but that was all I could do. A few years ago, with an older version, I downloaded a trail and once it expired I could still use it but I couldn’t access some of the more special features.

I wasn’t about to pay for this, more $$$ out of mine and into Bill’s. (Fortunately I discovered that Openoffice is compatible with DocumentsToGo, you just have to save it in the write version.)

Now I am happy!
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Christmas Party

Downtown Skyline

     I was warned about this a few weeks ago, and she made it a point to tell me to be sure to pick out something to wear at least a few days before hand so we can handle any issues that arise.

     This is a good point since I have been a Security Guard for 9 years, all my clothes say "ACME SECURITY," even my underwear.

     Hanging in a corner of my closet, near a suit I wore one time nine years ago, I found a tan pair of slacks. I even remembered these, but they were just a tad too small. I knew that after I ate something I would not be able to breathe. This was a casual dinner, but what she called "dressy casual." That meant my blue jeans, tank top and sandals were not an option. (which is a good thing since it was about 29 degrees outside, and snowing.)

     Like always, we waited till the last minute before we ejected ourselves off the couch and started moving.
First stop was Kohl's where she bought me a nice pair of pants, a sweater, (We were looking for a Grinch, but couldn't find one.) socks and a belt. We had a hard time finding anything that had traditional Christmas colors and settled for a nice winter colored outfit.

     Then she had to have her nails fixed. Once a month she has her nails done, removed, sanded, applied, painted and sharpened. She broke one a few weeks ago (you should see the other guy) and needed it fixed and then all painted a more Christmassy color. While there, I got a manicure to. Don’t laugh guys, its nice to be pampered.

     Around six o clock we took a nice slow drive over the ice and snow down to the Newport Aquarium. This is a nice place, especially when the Company buys it out and there are no screaming kids or parents. This is the second time we've been there, the first was last years party.

     The first part of the festivities included an open bar with watered down drinks, the wife drank as much as she could while it was free, I was allowed to have three. (really it was two, I snuck the third one). I was a little surprised at how crowded it was, over 150 people at least. 

     We managed to find a seat with people she actually knew and enjoyed being around, the people that sat near her cubicle, and we talked for about an hour. Let me clarify, they talked and my head did circles trying to zero in on one conversation. Why is it when you have ten people at a table they all have to talk about something different. I searched for a good conversation, but I couldn't find one. I got introduced to fifteen different people, and I forgot all their names before we left. We got some horderves while waiting for the dinner. They were small but edible.

     Once the bar closed, didn't really close, they just started charging for drinks, they moved us through the exhibits until we reached the dinning area, about 30 tables surrounded by more fishy displays. The entire time we ate I had the feeling I was being watched. 

     I kinda of figured the woman next to me, not my wife, was already smashed when she put her hand on my knee, I did advise her not to do that in front of my wife. (Don't think she would have liked that.)

     As too the food, no seafood was served, guess they were afraid of our audience throwing a coo.
I have no idea what I ate, the steamed veggies were okay, but the chicken was dry and the steak was tough. The unidentified rice cakes were however excellent.

     The conversations that were broken up resumed during dinner. They were a little more fun now. I'm not sure if it was the alcahol they drank or the few l had.

     After dinner we were ushered back to where it all began.

     This is where they handed out the door prizes. The wife wasn't looking forward to this because no one in her department ever won. The theory was you had to be blonde with large breasts to win. And sure enough, one of our table mates got picked.

     As the wife opened her mouth to complain her name was called. Once she was revived and back on her feet she walked up and got her prize. Just a card board cutout of the real thing. Was later told by her friend, "Oh, we're out of stock on that."

     It was getting close to 10 pm, an hour past my bed time and looking forward to at least a thirty minute drive and twenty minutes to let the dogs out. And I had to work Sunday.

     We left soon after, fighting with the idiots that had forgot how to drive in half an inch of snow. Remember, driving is like coloring, you just have to stay between the lines.

     At 11pm, I was asleep and dreaming. I can't really go into what.

     The morning brought the sequel, Revenge of the Party. With my head throbbing I woke with a start and realized I over slept. But I had time and made it in a few minutes before seven.

     Can't wait till next years. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Joys of Lighting the Way

When I got into work this morning my boss followed me in carrying a bag of Christmas lights. Now understand, the office we sit in is only about 15 feet square with three windows and two desks.

I was sure the bag; carrying three strands of 150 lights would be enough. However, it seems I was wrong. She will bring another bag in tomorrow. I never was one that got into the whole decorating thing. Oh don't get me wrong, contrary to popular opinion, I am not a scrooge. I do enjoy driving through the city – the safe parts if I can remember where they are, and ohhing and ahhing at the displays of people that will be shocked when they see their electric bill next month. I understand why – I was told when I was growing up we did it so Santa would be able to find our house. Of course I thought, “Oh great, yeah he can find it – but since we don’t have a chimney, how is he going to get in?” He always managed somehow.

My only problem with lights or any type of decoration is the fact that you put all that work into them, and then take them down in a month. I mean really – if you’re going to go through all the trouble of making sure they are straight, checking each light to make sure they work and the same color light isn’t next to it – (they have to be separated by at least four colors so if you only have three that still work, your screwed.) than why not leave them up for longer?

One year we used red white and blue lights (I was surprised I got that past my wife too) and we kept them up till the fourth of July.

I personally would rather put them up, real simple maybe one or two strands over the garage door, the weekend of Thanksgiving and take them down after New Years. I have seen lights up since Halloween – that is a little over board.

Inside the house, we have two trees (the wife says it is to even the house out – one in the living room and one in the family room.) One is in a multi-color light show, blinking spasmodically like a neon light on speed. (Of course no two colors are close to each other.) Heaven forbid if one is out, we spend over an hour trying to find it and replace it. Next there is the tinsel. Come on! Who ever thought of these little pains in the butt should be shot, and then hung – maybe on a Christmas tree next to their damn tinsel. Do you really think they look like ice cycles? And they get all over the place. If you try to vacuum them up before you take down the tree they end up back on the floor a minute later. And they clog up the vacuum so you either have to fix it or get a new one. (Wonder if the company that makes the tinsel makes vacuum cleaners too? Na…too much of a coincidence.)

The ornaments are good –but watch out for those hooks and make sure no two are next to each other if they are the same style. And---they have to wrap around the tree from bottom to top in order of size.

One hard part is keeping the horde of dogs away from it; the other part is remembering to turn them on when I get home from work.

We also have a strand, blue lights, across our fireplace mantle that the wife uses to display her Santa Clause statues. This one we leave up all year, even the Santa’s.

How much decorating depends on when we do it – if we wait too long, we may just have a candle in the window, or two. (All straight and exactly even with the one above or below it.)

I have heard rumors that there are people out there that wait until December 23rd to do any decorating. I have never witnessed this display (I never go out after December 15th anyway: Fear of shopping, it’s a mancode thing)

Of all the displays I have ever seen, I think this one is and will always be my favorite;

Most everyone I talked to today has their light displays up, some don’t. I have noticed that the neighborhood displays have dwindled a little, is it that they are just too busy to do it, too poor to afford the energy bill or just don’t want to mess with them at all?
Me, I may wait till this weekend and start the processes by putting up one of our trees up and just sitting in the corner and waiting for someone else to do the lights. I know the house will be unbalanced, but that is something we will have to endure. (I know from experience that my wife will do it over again, but I try to please.)

It is time people, get those lights up and display them in your favorite fashion. My boss did her this weekend at their condo. She said no one else had their lights up and as she worked at them the neighbors started to come out and watch her. Eventually she got the whole section of condos lit up like a night game at the local stadium. Now that is the Christmas spirit – I do hope it is catching! Nothing beats upping the Griswolds!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Is Real or is it Reality TV?

This subject matter of today’s blog is my opinion, if it disturbs you, stop reading it.

Welcome to the day after. Are your feet tired, your pocket book empty? Is the little magnetic stripe on your credit card so worn you can see through it? If the answers are yes, no one told you to get up so damn early and go shopping!

I thought my wife was crazy when she looked at me Thursday night and asked if we were going to wake up at 4 am to go shopping. I just stared at her like she was nuts, but thank the maker she was teasing. She seems to do that a lot. I am almost used to it – but still it is difficult to know when she is teasing.

For instance, yesterday when she came back from getting her nails done – her one addiction, every month she spends a little money on herself and gets fake nails glued onto her finger tips and painted however she feels like painting them. I really don’t mind it, it just worries me when she sits on the couch and files them, making them sharper! OUCH! Sorry, let me get back on track. Anyway, I came downstairs to join her and the step daughter as they started surfing our wonderful cable channels to find something on. (Over 100 channels – nothing but crap!) Unfortunately- the only thing they found to watch was a show called Jerseylicious.

I don’t know who came up with the idea for this show – but I think they should be shot for lack of good taste. But I think that about all reality TV shows. Jerseylicious is not a show about a bakery in New Jersey; it is about a beauty parlor. These women that work there have the most atrocious make up – there eyes look like something out of Cleopatra. (Yeah – it looks good on Mrs. Taylor – but ladies – that aint you.) Have you ever noticed that when cameras roll some people act more stupid than they really are – with these ladies I’m sure that wasn’t difficult to do. After 5 hours of the marathon even my wife decided she had enough. She says she only watches these things because they make her look smart. I am pretty sure I grew a few brain cells during that experience, hopefully they will stick around.

I never understood the attraction of reality TV shows. Why do we seem to like it when people act stupid? It is like Survivor, you know that when the show is over they go sit in their fancy hotel rooms and laugh at all the sucker that think it is real. Just kidding – I know it is real. But why would you even want to do that? There must be something to human nature that enjoys surviving by the skin of your teeth, being attacked constantly, and that is just from the other contestants. All that for ten minutes of fame.

I am so glad they killed Fear Factor – even the commercials were disgusting. And what about American Idol? (I know this is everyone’s fav, and please forgive me – I am just speaking my mind.) I admit, I usually watch the first few weeks – because it is actually funny. Can you honestly believe that the people that get up there think they can sing – and no has told them they can’t! That is just cruel. I tell my kids they can’t sing all the time. I believe during the auditions they find about 25 people that can sing worse than a cat being strangled just so they have their ratings. That’s what it is all about right? Ratings – the main cause of the downfall of Television.

There are a lot of things wrong with TV now days. The following is just a small sample.
1) How long can you break out of prison? (Prison Break)
2) To any good guy that is trying to catch the bad guy as he runs away – just shoot them in the leg, trust me, they won’t get far.
3) DNA results do not take 60 minutes.
4) You cannot pick a safe by listing to the tumblers. Source: Mythbusters
5) An electromagnetic watch will not deflect a bullet. Source; Mythbusters (Wait – that’s a James Bond movie. Those are always true.)
6) Drinking coffee will not make you sober if you are drunk. Source; Mythbusters

At least in the real world – but I know that a lot of times, as a writer you have to engage the audiences imagination – that’s why I like writing Science Fiction – it might sound extraordinary – but no one knows what the future holds, unless you write it yourself.

Speaking of Sci-fi, have a look at my book on Smashwords, Journey of Tara

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Obsessions of a Compulsively Distracted Procrastinating Writer

I did some checking today, as I tried to think of some subject for today’s blog, and realized that I have a detective that no one has met yet; his name is Nathan Whiseman, an intelligent smart ass, a little hard around the edges, but still tries to remain loveable (still working on the particulars to that.) His first name is my unofficial middle name. My wife handed that to me because I didn't have a one and she needed something to say when she got pissed off at me. "Brian" just wasn't enough, now it’s "BRIAN NATHAN!"

Whenever I get a thought for a case, I quickly go with the idea and run with it, not knowing where I will end up and scattering my thoughts all over both computers and the database of my phone.
So now I have seven short stories, including one possible novel length story, all starring my detective. None of them are finished.

(Oh, a bunny!)

I admit, my writing habits are bad, WoW keeps interfering, but since they shut the beta down – I may be working on one or two of those until December 7th.

Sometimes, the writing does come easy to me, flowing from my thoughts to the lined paper, (now a virtual keyboard on my phone that my fat fingers slide across, misspelling everything. My OCD hates that.) Getting the thoughts straight and un-jumbled from everything else is a hard part.

I have one mild problem with misspellings, CDO: Compulsive Disorder of Obsessions. (The way OCD should be classified, in order!) I get into the story so much, but if I see one little mistake or catch that little wavy line Microsoft word thinks is the way it should be spelled, I have to fix it. I have tried to ignore it, but it doesn't work too well when you still have to look at the keys when you type. I will look up after a five minute run of typing and see them all over the page. (I know – I can turn that off – but I still see them.) Another –

(Look, a bunny!)

Little distraction: the dogs barking at all the squirrels that are making stupid squirrel decisions like, running through the dog yard, an area that smells of at least seven dogs. Facebook, Twitter, my sister texting me to ask me about WoW, the kids watching shows on TV-just a little too loud, That goes for their music too. Oh, another one that gets me, listening to the kids play their video games and yelling at the people they are playing with. This is fine when you have a microphone and they can actually hear you – but it makes no sense to do this if they can’t hear you!
And my wife – (but she is a good distraction.)

Also - I know I am a procrastinator. (After I finish this blog entry I will look that up – maybe)

This procrastination flows not only into my writing, but everything else in life. It is a problem when it does that, but I am not saying that you have to force yourself to sit down and pound a key board until your words make since, but you do have to try. That is all it takes.

I’m also working on another Sci-fi story that I completed and which was previously posted somewhere else about three years ago. A little reworking is all it will take, just have to do it. I also have to wait for my artist to make the cover – she is my Step Daughter and did the cover to Journey of Tara (Found here: ) I had to wait a while for that to – but I suppose it runs in the family.

Include all this into the fact that I am constantly Twittering and on Facebook as I spend my days at work in a box – I just have to do it.

What is it they say; knowing you have the problem is the first step in fixing it. Now is the time for fixing!

Step 1) Sit down for one or two hours a day, or more - (quiet helps) and work on one story.
Step 2) Turn off Twitter and Facebook notifications on my phone when I get home.

I’m sure I’ll think of some more later, when I get around to it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My life in a Zoo

I met my wife a little over 9 years ago. She told me she had a couple of dogs. I think it was a little bit more than a couple. The first day I actually visited her house I rang the doorbell to the sound of what I thought were an army of dogs.

I didn’t meet them right away, we watched some DVD’s on her ex-husbands big screen TV with his super expensive DVD player. Then I met the dogs: one very calm and polite Airedale, two watchful Komondors, one male, and one female about 5 years old, their showing days over, they were now retired. She also had one Komondor that was about two years old, her showing days had just begun.

About a week after she tossed her ex to the curb, the older Komondors decided to have a little unauthorized fun. The heavy breathing woke her up, but she didn’t want to deal with it. I don’t blame her. The outcome was nine puppies. Yes, she had a total of 13 dogs!
My mind was saying “Run!” My heart wasn’t. I stayed, married her eventually. Attended her dog shows for a while and a little ways down the road of life; we managed to sell off or give away the nine puppies and the youngest of the pack. We were left with three. Now three dogs I can handle!

Soon after we settled down and stopped showing, a cat followed the daughter home (yeah, right!). We decide to keep it, even if the Airedale was known for catching cats, it stayed in her room.

A couple years down the road, the Airedale died of cancer, a very sad time for all; she was a Champion and always well behaved. We were now happy with two, it was easy – except for when the female went into heat and we had to separate them. She could have taken care of that, but both dogs were approaching old age now. She didn’t want to risk it.

Four years ago, the female started slowing down, and we decided to get one more dog. I choose this time, a Whippet. Known for their speed and prey drive these dogs were awesome racers, and that is a main reason why we got them. I wanted to race them.

( Meeme, Razzie, Billie)

Now we had three Whippets, one cat, and two Komondors. When the female Kom began to pass, we helped her along, it was a hard decision, but it was time. She went quietly – just the sobs of the family ringing through the Vets office.
About a month later, she was ready to get another one. Maybe a little one this time, a lap dog that she could cuddle up with when I worked second or third shift. After some research, and a lot of looking, she found a breeder of Italian Greyhounds. We went there one night to buy one. We walked away with two – a brother and sister.

The male Komondor, Bully, is still with us, he is getting old, 77 in human years, and has a little trouble standing and going up the steps and holding his bladder – but he is happy, even when the Iggies pay a little too much attention to him. All three whippets are getting along fine, except when the female is in season. I hope this is the last year that we have to separate them when they go outside, it is a pain.

Our ferret count totaled out at 7 eventually and the daughter added 2 rats to her collection. The rats and cat still share the same room – the rats in a cage where the cat just stares at them. The ferrets were old when we first got them, now there are three left. A young one she adopted off of a friend that didn’t want it and two old ones. They are hanging in there.

A basket full of ferrets!

The dominate Whippet male, Billie, has picked up a good habit from the ancient Komondor – he is our guard whippet and will bark every time the bell rings, even if it is the TV. We don’t race them as much as we use to, only because they seem to be out of state and further than we can afford to travel – but they get their exercise.
Me? Well I am a survivor – between letting them outside a few times a day, we manage to keep the messes down. They behave for the most part. Besides feeling like the underpaid kennel help sometimes, life isn’t too bad.

Razzie is wearing number 5
Billie is right beside him in blue

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving and beyond,

I find it hard to believe that this is the 15th of November. Thanksgiving is 10 days away. Holy frac! Of course the stores began putting up the decorations for Christmas a week before Halloween. They could at least wait a couple of weeks so the pumpkins don’t feel rushed out.

Also, in the past few days, all I have heard has been advertisements for Black Friday! I hate to say it – it really shows my age or ignorance, but until a few years ago I didn’t know what Black Friday was. I always called it, “NO! I don’t want to go shopping today, are you NUTS!” For some reason my daughter wants to. Sorry kid, it ain’t happening. Sure, you get good deals that will come in handy with this economy – but I don’t feel like getting squeezed together between to shopping carts being pushed by overly stuffed people thinking they are in a Nascar races. (Another age showing gem – I worked retail when the Cabbage Patch Kids first hit the market. I found it amazing that people went nuts over this doll.) I plan on staying home and either writing or playing WoW. Of course this depends on which TV station has the best marathon running.

It seems that we picked the perfect time to Thanksgiving dinner have at our house. Normally it is at her dads, which I can handle a little bit. I really enjoy sitting at the table for an hour, after we eat, so I can listen to hilarious tales and situations about people I don't know and really don't want to know. (However, as a writer it makes good material if I can remember it.) I'll still have to listen to the stories, but this time, the left overs stay here.
Now, if only our heater works and the kids clean their rooms and the mess blob doesn't escape when they open their door.
In the past ten years, since we have been together, I think this will be the third time this has been attempted. A few years ago, on another blog far, far away:

It began as just a thought, turned into a whole blown date, but that year – Thanksgiving struck our house. I think the turkey we picked up a week ago was named Murphy.

We had planned on it as simple, short – a nice dinner with her dad and our new family. The wife was always a good party thrower, but sometimes things don’t always happen the way they are planed, it would make a boring life if it did. The temperature was a chilling 38 degrees outside as we threw the turkey in the oven and closed the door. The kids were all snuggled and warm in their rooms, playing their computer games and staying away from us, only because they were afraid they would be given something to do.

At about the same time the door to the oven closed, a large pop came from outside and down the street. We noticed the total silence at first – no TV, no nothing. The only sound, that echoed through the house: children cussing because we lost the electricity.

It wasn’t long, about one tenth of a second, that the oldest one bounced down the steps – “Hey, what happened – I lost the Internet!”
“We lost the electric, read a book – it is still light out.” I suggested. That didn’t go over well.
Emergency calls started, the power would out for about three more hours. Her dad, he lived close, still had power so we shoved Murphy in the car and headed that way. His oven was warmed up and ready so Murphy found another home.
As soon as we set the timer, the oldest kid rang the wife’s cell phone, “Power is back on!”

Now is the time to celebrate and congratulate the electric company. I think they lie on purpose so they look better when they take care of it faster. After we unwrapped Murphy from her dad’s oven and pushed him back in the car we rushed home.

Upon opening the door – smoke flew out into the frigid air. Panic struck, the wife runs inside and quickly finds the source of the problem. The oldest one was cold – he only wore thin pajama bottoms with no shirt and bare feet. Instead of getting dressed into warmer clothes he decided to make a fire. Fortunately for us we have a fireplace. However, it usually works better if you open the chimney flue all the way before you light the fire.

Murphy eventually made into the oven where he cooked till done. We decided to take him back to her dad’s house since we still had the faint smell of smoke lingering in the air.

The rest of the night is a blur of conversations and children saying, “Is it time to go yet?” Eventually they got that wish and we piled into the car, taking about half the left overs with us.
Will we have better luck this time? I am trying to think positive here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fresh takes on old ideas.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I found some old writing notebooks that I was using a few years ago. At the moment, while I'm working, I'm tapping them into the virtual keyboard of my Droid, using a cool app called Documents to go.
As I read them, I enjoy the characters, the dialouge could use a little work, but the main story is really bad. I'm gonna have to fix that. Something is whispering in my ear to scrap the whole thing and do it over. Possibilities are endless, and in the world of fiction anything could happen.
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why so frakin early?

That's simple really, it started as a soft whimper, whispering from the other side of the room. Slowly it began to grow more urgent. We (I) did set the clocks back last night, but my brain was so fuzzy I didn't know if it was 1:30 am or 2:30 am.
It really didn't matter, some one had to go out and water the lawn. After I took the two littlest out, started the coffee pot, brought them back in and put them away, grabbed a lightly tanned cup of coffee and sat down in my office, it was the old ancient ones turn.
Once he was taken care of, I finally started up the computer, clicked on the WoW beta icon, and nothing happend.
This was actually a good thing. Yesterday, as I was fishing through my writing notebooks, I found three different bios I had written for my detective and four short stories, and one long one, that I had started. Never finished them.
Now, I had a chance to figure out where I was, and which one I should do first.
Only interrupted once, an hour after I let him out, the old ancient one hobbled into my office and stared at me for a few seconds before a low cry began to grow from his throat.
"Let me guess, again?"
Just a low quiet roar came out as an answer.
"That's a yes," I sighed.
There are only a few times the old man gets really excited, when he thinks he is getting food, which is every time someone enters the kitchen, or he gets to go out side.
Or that certain odor is in the air and he is thinking, "Maybe this time!"
Once the five trips up and down the steps were done I began. Now I'm organized, (don't have a heart attack) and ready to work on them.
First one will be a short story, a way of introduction.
I'll be back once I get the feeling back in my finger tips.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

My day off and more.

Not really supposed to be exciting and it wasn't. I spent most of the day playing WoW beta. Yes, I was bad and did not write at all. But the night is still young depending on what I am fixing for dinner - haven't decided yet, hamburgers or pbj. So many choices, so little time. It was actually neither: hot dogs, beans and macaroni and cheese.

Within the next few days I will be posting either the biography or the prologue to "Appointment with a Dead Body, A Nathan Whiseman mystery." It is either that title or "The Bad Taste of Death." He has been around for a while, in my head itching to get out. As I age the walls are getting thinner and he is close to escaping. If not today, maybe this weekend. I started his biography on Friday and suddenly discovered I had two other bios for him...(Maybe I will combine the two of them.)

Things turned out better for my paycheck anyway, I did work yesterday, "Yippee!" Sorry about the outburst, I'll try to keep it down for a while.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Will it ever make sense

I normally do not complain about politics, but I couldn't stay away from this;

Last night, we had two major school levys to vote on for two districts in predominantly Republican neighborhoods. The levys lost, which tells me that people are conserned about the rising cost of living, which includes taxes. Then they turn around and vote Republican.

Okay, I'm done. On the bright side, no more political commercials, and as a friend, Jack, said earlier this morning, they can go back to pretending they like each other.

I have a detective series to start, the hardest part is making it different than anything else out there. After 53 years, there isn't much I haven't seen in crime dramas.
One of my favorite authors is James Patterson, I love all his books and am simply amazed some times at what comes out of his head.
I heard one author say once, you have to be crazy to write crazy. I don't consider myself crazy, but I think I can fake it.

Have a great day!
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The first

Years ago, I started two different stories. I didn't know where I was going with either of them until I put them together.

This may become an ongoing series, thoughts are beginning to form.
In the mean time, I'll be working on a detective series that has been crawling through my head trying to get out.