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O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stop, Drop, and Roll with it, Baby

Random Michelle K and Janiece are doing it, so I thought I'd do it too.

The American Civic Literacy test.

For giggles I scored a 90.91%, missing three questions (Lincoln-Douglas Debates, benefits of International Trade and Specialization, and I mixed Debt and Deficit in my head, so got that last one wrong too).

Link salad for Turkey Day

Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do) via Colleen Lindsay's the Swivet. Colleen also has a lot to say about the writing industry, BTW.

Joshua Palmatier talks about making maps.

Rick Ferrel gives us the clue of how to survive the first dragon.

If you've ever wondered what submissions would be like as a role playing game, Jim Hines delivers the goods. It's a very funny read.

Not exactly a writer's link, but a good way to wax cats, the Eyeballing Game, via John (whom I don't think has a blog).

30% Chance of Light Blogging

Before it all gets away from me, I wanted to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy the holiday with friends and family (born into or chosen).

I'm thankful for all the opportunities I've been afforded this year, all the friends I've gotten to know/meet/hang-out with (online and off), that (so far) I've been able to meet my obligations (fiscal and time wise), and that I've been able to have a good time. I'm thankful I'm not in the grips of the big D anymore.

I'm grumble and gripe a lot, but I am a fairly content and accepting person. My regrets for the year include not being able to help my friends and even some people I don't know at all in more meaningful and supportive ways, letting my good nature allow others to roll me over, and not working harder on the writing.

But as we approach the holiday I'll be in and out with little time to be online. Today the RSS feeder says there's 23 posts I should read. I'm thankful I'm back into a mode where I can comment more on my friends blogs. I have a feeling next Monday morning I'll be back to over 300.

I'll probably have a few more posts to get out today and over the long weekend, but I wanted to make sure to say I'm thankful you all are my friends. Thanks, friend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How long to the point of no return

I have reached the end of the internets, and here be dragons (RSS Feeds read "0" post to read - granted I skipped most of them and Random Michelle's feed continues to give we hickups). Raconteur extraordinary Rick is talking about Dragons and creativity. He's posted the first installment, the Dragon of Calcination (first of two posts I'm assuming).

While Rick is approaching creativity from the alchemical view, this journey he's giving us all is not dissimilar to other journeys in other traditions. The eight-fold path in Buddhist tradition has similar steps. When Campbell was studying comparative mythologies he came up with the concept of "The Hero's Journey" to describe them. Rick's focus, however, is a mindfulness of our creativity, a nurturing and exercising the font from which our lives flow. First step, "Unlearn what you have learned," as Yoda told us. You must die to yourself/the world (relinquish the ego and pretense).

While he's taking a stake to my Muse, she'll survive. I've been on that path before, I know from whence the Muse speaks. I still love to hear her singing.

However, it never hurts to understand and nourish the wellspring of our creativity.

There's something happening here

Where Steve takes a hard turn in politics. This morning (okay, well for the past few weeks) there's been plenty of talk about the incoming Obama administration and what they should and shouldn't be doing. That President Bush is seeking input from them is, IMHO, a Good Thing(tm) and he deserves some credit for it (although the completely cynical side of my brain says it's a way of transferring blame). However this call for Obama to start calling the shots is completely over the line.

As Obama stated at the beginning of this, he supports the "One President at a Time" doctrine. President Bush, for all I've criticized him and think he's the worse thing since before they decided to sell sliced bread, is still the President. As such, he can ask for all the advice he can stomach, but until noonish January 20, 2009, he is still the President. The decision, choice, and ultimately the blame, are his until that point.

All these pundits calling for Obama to step into the transfer power-void are wrong-headed. Obama has no Constitutional powers as President Elect. For better or worse, this whole ball of wax is George W. Bush's until Obama is sworn in. Obama shouldn't be making decisions that go beyond his transfer team and announcements of what his administration will do (and who they'll nominate) once they're in. Advice? Oh, I'm all for that. I think that GW is willing to look at all solutions and include Obama in the loop earlier than any other presidential transfer is to his credit and helps with a smooth transference. But to have Obama give orders or even hold press conferences saying, "This is how I would have handled this (insert detailed plan)" is just bad form (and I expect better from him).

So, get up to speed Obama Team, plan out the strategy and forecast your cabinet, give advice all you want, but do not force your position. And President Bush, you need to step up to the plate more. The country needs a leader, which you claim to be. Time to show it.

Edit the incomparable Janiece says similar things. Great minds think alike. Or we're all hot chicks here. Something like that.

Edit and in other "Gee the economy is going swimmingly well" news, note over at S. Andrew Swann's blog, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has instructed editors to stop buying books. Um. Yeah. That's a good business plan for a publisher. And has it gotten cold in here or was there just a deep freeze front that passed over every writer's desk.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The money post

This is also in consideration of the previous post and I did mean to bring it up earlier.

Demonstration of this year's economics:
I'm an hourly employee at the day job, which means I have the patience of the Buddha, after all they're paying me by the hour (overtime is a nice thing, I haven't had it most of my life). If I take my hourly wage and multiply it out by 2080 (40x52), I get what my "salary" would be (before deductions of taxes, union dues, retirement, and health care). So in 2007 I had made as much as my annual salary by the first or second week in August. This year I just passed that mark last Friday.

If I include all the pro-bono work and the barter work I would have my best freelance year ever (too bad the IRS considers my freelance a hobby).

Turn and face the strain

Well, time has come today as the other song says. Tonight while talking with a design client he asked me for business cards to hand out. While he didn't exactly state it, I think many of his "competitors" are jealous of his brochure (or at least that was the gist of the conversation). Now, I did do a bang-up job on his trifold, and I'm commensurately proud of it.

But last year I did make the decision to cut back on the freelance design to spend time writing. This was before overtime went all sucky and I was charged with being Chairman of Safety which soaked up that freed time. I still kept some clients, work I like doing, not that's necessarily good money makers. This would be good money. And my plans to spend more time writing didn't exactly pan out.

So now comes the decision to change directions and get even more hectic, hope to change out chairmanships, maybe get more overtime (probably not until middle of next year) and see if I go back to also writing. Or, I could soak up even more precious time but get paid well for it (instead of writing on what is basically spec).

Success, sometimes it's a frightening thing. I still want to write, but that lure of money for doing something I still love for people who actually have money. And this client's clients aren't hurting either, so if they're asking as well, even better.

Argh. It could drive one mad.

But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for

Just did a post over at Genre Bender on critique groups, and I thought I'd do a little thing here on accepting critiques. Also, this was just pointed out to me this weekend (and I'm probably the last person to see it).

(first, I haven't received a rejection letter, I'm talking in general here)

Many people think artists and writers have easily bruised egos and just can't stand criticism, and for some they may be right (hey, and I may be crazy). You can see these people all over. There was even a website devoted to rejection letters and the writer's responses. Good luck with the sour persimmons, cousin.

However, I have a BFA from the Meyer's School of Art at the University of Akron, and I've been a professional designer for almost two decades now. Know what that means? Well, at art school (not my first major, BTW, that was Computer Science) we were critiqued every single day. Now, fortunately that was being critiqued by professionals and people who understood what they were doing (so no "I'm not sure that shade of red is correct" when they really mean, "Helvetica? You choose helvetica, what kind of moron are you?"). Top that off with 19 years of professional work getting critiqued by amateurs (that's where you have to divine what the client is really critiquing). That all leads to having a thick hide when it comes to critique.

Reject my story with a form letter? Pishaw! Most times it barely registers more than, "Time to go to Ralans and Duotrope again." Most non-form letters mostly talk about the good things. Sure, they didn't buy it, but they liked it enough to take the time to write a letter. That's a success in case you didn't know. I thank every editor who has sent me a non-form rejection letter. Those are really good people. But, savage me in a rejection letter and call in to question my heredity (it's never happened, just making that clear)? Ha! I say again, "Ha!"

That is nothing compared to having the professor who chose your thumbnail, chose your rough, guided you on the final rendering only to come into class as all the pieces are up on the board and say, "These are all fine, except for one. And that one doesn't deserve to even remain on the board with the others it's so bad." And then he grabs your piece and throws it on the desk. Yeah, your form rejection letter? It ain't even close. (again, there is no actual form letter I'm responding to here, I'm just making a point in general that form reject letters are no big thing) Also I'll point out that after another year of taking classes with that prof (oh yes, I signed up for every class he taught) we had a good relationship. He actually suggested that I should go to grad school. Not so much for my benefit, but the school's.

This is why I point out to you that googling "Oh John Ringo No" will lead to hilarity. Don't forget to check out the Cafe Press store. Now, I'm not recommending that you write a story like the one that started this (really, I'm not, don't do it, for the love of all that's Holy don't do it), but to be fair, he never intended it to go public and he claimed the only reason he wrote it was to get it out so it would stop bothering him. But I do recommend that you look at how he handled the criticism. (Props out to S Andrew Swan for pointing this out to the group yesterday)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rolling down the interstate, running thirty-minutes late

Arrived late to the writing group. However, we haven't started yet. So all is good.

This weekend, well this Sunday, is the first day we didn't have snow. Skies are clear, the ice on the road sparkles just like the salt lime on the windshield. Ah, it's winter again.

Hopefully next weekend we'll have a break in the weather so we can decorate outside, although all this week the weather channel predicts snow

every

single

day.

Hope the weather near you is better.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Looking Through a Glass Onion

It's been forty years since The White Album was released. My brother loved the Beatles, and I grew up knowing most of their songs by heart.

It's also on this anniversary that the Vatican official forgives John Lennon for saying the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Glad they don't carry a grudge, and didn't wait as long as they did to forgive Galileo Galilei.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Gales of November Remembered

Well, looking at the radar it looks like most of you are in the clear. It's been snowing for the past week where I commute. Today was an hour and half plus to work, none of it over 40mph. Lost control four times, nearly went ditch diving once (fortunately regained control right before going in, soft ground), had trouble accelerating a few times. Breaking? Fergetaboutit.

Good news for retailers looking at not only the free-fall economy (oh noes, look, deflation, argh! um yeah, come talk to me when a McD's double cheeseburger is $.75, falling commodity prices isn't bad necessarily, falling wholesale prices is something else), but a shortened Holiday Shopping season (no matter what they try, typically Black Friday to December 24th). Yes, it's cold and snowy so people are thinking about Xmas.

My Xmas Wish List is almost finished (note to self, put Wii on list, then I'm done). My wishes for you, of course, are warmth, health, family (born into and/or chosen), prosperity, and happiness. I thought I'd get my shopping done early. You're welcome.

Every year I think I'm going to get so much more done. This year I was hoping to get a story out that I was going to chapbook as gifts (and release here). Maybe we'll get snowed in and I'll be able to get it out. I have no idea what it'll be about (although I'm thinking it'll be a Windswept, Ohio story, hopefully below 3000 words, hopefully about this time of year).

This weekend is going to be busy. Saturday we're going to Carousel Dinner Theatre (oh noes, it's an Elvis musical, no wonder my wife said she didn't know what is was about, tricksie she is). That's a whole day event. Sunday is our wedding anniversary (#11, Steel), writers group (of which I'm still reading, have about 40 more pages to critique), and that's the day our Parks and Rec board decided would be a good day to put up the Village holiday decorations. I have a feeling I'm going to be missing at least one of those.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You say it's your birthday

Happy 10th Anniversary to the International Space Station, aka Enterprise. Here's a big candle for you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ear worms

Damn it. Can't get Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King out of my head. Fortunately I have an excellent memory for music so the rendition is fabulous (Cincinnati Pops version, not the one from the video link). ARGH!

Losing my religion

It's almost Thanksgiving which means it's time for that other turkey in the straw, Frere Jim-Bob Dobson to climb out of his borrow. If he sees his shadow, it means a few more millennia before the second coming. Yes, I'm sure with the incoming godless (actually I got to see Hal Lindsey explain how the Obama Presidency will usher in the World Government, aka reign of the Anti-Christ, great comedy) Obama Presidency will mean fewer merchants will say the politically correct "Merry Christmas" and instead revert to that blasphemous "Happy Holidays." A trend perpetrated by that poster-child for the godless, Bing Crosby. Yes, soon Dobson will be back on his high hobby pony banging his shoe against the Fox News commentary desk decrying the horrors of retailers who are obviously so godless to not say "Merry Christmas" and only offer sales, decorate with trees and lights, dress in red and green (hey, even the street lights are doing it from what I hear), play mind-numbing Xmas muszak, and generally don't do anything to celebrate the season.

Well, he may not be able to get his message out as well this year. The economy (and plowing so much of their money to support Prop 8) has hit Focus on the Family hard and they have had about 40% layoffs this year. Fewer Christian Soldiers to marching on to Shibboleth, at least in the pay of Spain.

Me? I think we need to put the Ram back in Ramadan, Kwanz back in Kwanza, the Chzks back in Chanukah, and Mythra back in Christmas, but then I'm a contrary cuss.

And speaking of getting religion, wow, it's interesting how quickly conservatives suddenly get religion when it comes to politics. After eight years of "whatever the President wants" I'm now hearing a whole bunch of voices advocating for less presidential power, less executive office expansion, more controls on spending, etc, etc, etc. After 20 years of arguing how the executive branch and Congress should be controlled by the same party all in the name of unity and "gettin' 'er done," well, I guess a loyal opposition actually is needed. Go figure.

As Bugs Bunny once said, "It is to laugh."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Joe the 'tard

So, Joe the Plumber has a website and a movement. Pity he's a wonk. Could have used him eight years ago when the Republican Party standard bearer GW decided to trash our country. But of course, this isn't what Joe is really about anyway, protecting freedoms. What he's about is hate and sour grapes. He's a sore loser and he has plenty of company. He's going to keep watch? Well, Joe, you're eight years to late to the game. Thanks for closing the door once the horses have all run out. Fucktard.

Yes, after the Bush Administration decided the best way to fight against the terrorists who "hate us because of our freedoms" wasn't killing them but denying them their objective by removing our freedoms, you decide to get into the game. I know you think GW was just "protecting us" but he really hasn't. Instead, they've plundered our economy and treasury just as they plundered our freedoms and world-wide good will. Glad to see you're also trying to get some of that money.

Yes, Joe, you are an ignorant ass. I know you value talking the truth, so there it is. Everybody, including the McCain campaign economists, tell you that your dreams of owning the plumbing business you worked for (a dream I'm assuming you've abandoned now) would work better under an Obama Administration, and you doggedly cling to your preconceived notions that you would be worse off. Good to know that insightful advice from knowledgeable people in the field doesn't sway you. You fit perfectly in the modern conservative movement.

You are also a publicity seeking twit. Yeah, just try and defend yourself. I'm waiting. Maybe you could make another trip to the NYC to do the talk show circuit to tell me how I'm wrong. Maybe you'll sign your (hastily ghost-written) book to me to that effect. Probably you have a very insightful commentary behind your subscription based website that proves me wrong. I doubt it.

The people who are propping you up will abandon you just as quickly when the national media is through with their infatuation with you. Which should be sometime next month. Instead of "keeping it real" you opted to cash-in (I hope your plans include the cash-out). Yes, once you have that really tough interview (I mean, eventually you'll have to move beyond Fox) and the investigations start, your star will dim.

You're from the Toledo area. IIRC that's the same place that a few years ago a teenager stole his mother's credit card numbers to give his girlfriend breast enhancement surgery so she could be an adult movie star. Good to know you're continuing to uphold the same high standards.

You have a fast car

Here's something we haven't seen since the eighties. You may not be paying attention to this, or you might be distracted by all the hand waving, but the American Auto Industry is about to do some union busting on the scale we haven't seen since President Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers.

There's some fucktard analyst out there that keeps talking about how the UAW agreement is "over an inch thick" and how this is dragging down the industry, and that "no business can expect to comply with all that and be profitable." And he's using this argument to (not so) subtly argue for either the Congress or a bankruptcy judge to throw out the union contract. This is union busting plain and simple and these people need to be called on the carpet for it. And the people supporting are the exact same people who complained so loudly that bankruptcy judges shouldn't be able to rewrite mortgage contracts because that would be "interfering in private contracts."

If this agreement is "too complex for a business to operate under" than every executive at the American Auto Industry should be fired. They agreed to it. They accepted it. If it's unworkable they are at fault for agreeing to it. So every single one of them must go.

Cost of employment is too much? Huhn. Toyota USA and Honda USA pay the same wages (or slightly higher) and they don't have that problem. But then those companies pay their executives less (and watch for the arguments about how we need to pay that high and give bonuses to attract the best and brightest who'll agree to contracts that they find unworkable).

To be fair, there are some contractual benefits the other companies don't have to work under, and some I find egregious, but those are things that can be negotiated. The big difference between the Big 3 and the others concerns health care and retirement. I'll point out here that again, our private payer based health care system is the major drain on the economy. It was the major sticking point in last year's UAW negotiations, the unions made concessions on other parts of the contract but stuck to their guns over health care. As it was the unions accepted the new burden of paying for health care for their retirees. Also, the UAW has a good retirement plan that has been underfunded by the car companies. The other car companies have 401k plans.

So there it is. Because the insurance industry has such a strong lobby, and some conservatives can't see that their ideology is crippling the country, our economy is being drug down.

As a side, you'll also hear about how "the consumers didn't want more efficient cars." That's a red herring. My argument, "Okay, so why didn't you take your big profits from the SUVs and do the R&D to make them more efficient?" The reason why they didn't? That would have affected their profits and bonus pay.

Monday, November 17, 2008

They're giving none away

This past week came not only the blizzard of catalogs (say, did you know it was the holiday shopping season?) but the accompanying reissue of credit cards. So this Sunday I spent almost an hour on the phone "activating" the cards. I usually only use one card, my Amazon Visa (me likee free books), but I have a few other Visa accounts (mostly tied to businesses where I get discounts or free shipping), a Discover account (my first credit card, back when they were just starting out), and a MasterCard account.

So, I'm making the calls to the computers, no I don't want that extra crap (which it was interesting that some cards only gave you a button option to press if you wanted to opt in, but nothing if you just wanted to skip the deal, hate that stupid marketing crap, I really do). And then I get to one card, that used to be tied to my alma mater, Akron University. Some small amount of what they made off of me would be donated back to the school. About three years ago they stopped that association, I stopped using the card, but I had a long credit record with them so I kept the account open. Plus I had a large amount of credit available through them.

On the carrier letter I noticed they had halved my credit available. Well, it's still pretty good. So imagine my surprise when I call to activate the card and I'm told the account was closed. Bastages. I specifically didn't close it so that wouldn't affect my credit score and they just went ahead an closed it on me anyway.

A few years ago Bette and I applied to the same company to get a credit card (I won't mention the bank, although I used to have an account there). She was accepted but I was declined. Now you have to understand, I have the permanent job, I am the principle money maker (haven't been always, and that wasn't the plan, but the way it worked out), my wife works on semester contracts where as I had a stable employment history. And they reject my application. So I request my credit report. Nothing bad on there. Still nothing bad on it.

I just find it hilarious that I'm the customer they want, steady job, good income, always pays the bills. The only detriment to a credit card company is that I don't carry a balance. And they close my account. Hello, retard MBA specialists, you really don't know WTF you're doing. Maybe that's why your industry is in such bad straights. You know, unless you all really want to be loan sharks. Oh wait.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grackle Feast


Here you see the aftermath of the grackles passing through. That's my deck/patio/balcony and on Friday night, it was clear of leaves, acorns, etc. My attempts to photograph the flock were less successful. Maybe when they go by on the ground later in the year I'll be able to capture some good photographs of them.

Well, since all the stores think it's Xmas anyway

When I posted at the beginning of the year of going to the Jeff Dunham concert in Youngstown, I was surprised to find a lot of you like his comedy. I also mentioned how he was prepping material for an Xmas Special and a few of you asked about it. Well, tonight it debuts on Comedy Central (9pm eastern), and on Tuesday you can get the DVD for yourself. YouTube previews here.

In my former life as a high profile designer (before I became a factory worker - there's another term but I'll spare you all) I used to do DVD and CD cases and packaging. Now, you might think that these are filmed on Xmas and released the next (we did work for the gospel music industry so we had a lot of experience with Xmas Specials). You'd be wrong. Most are filmed in August or September for release that year. So when you see all those people with their heavy coats and clothing sitting in the theaters watching the show you're watching, understand that even with the air-conditioning running at full tilt, they're sweating their bums off. Also, all that snow and sugar plum fairies and xmas trees are just out for the show. Afterward they hang around the back dock smoking their cigs and talking about where the best place is to get mojitos.

So, go forth and watch, laugh, enjoy. Feel sorry for the audience members who are very uncomfortable (but mostly get free tickets). Knock back with some eggnog, and try not to have it come through your nose while you laugh. 'Tis the season after all.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bending Genres (or is that Blending Genres)

Ken's brain child is up and going with a welcoming post by him and a first post by Matt on writing horror. Matt came up with the name, Genre Bender, and I agree with Ken that this is a good name. We all write in slightly different areas, and as this is to be a place for starting writers, I think it's good to try a little and see what works. Heck, I kept forcing SF out, okay, well, it's all that wanted to come out, but when I broke over to fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror I found my "writer's voice" suddenly got very strong.

I've had a few ideas for blog posts over there. I think as some point I'll need to start and idea file for it. Some things like self editing and some of the breakthroughs I've had there, finding out what you want to write, source material writing, and letting go and being happy when writing. Also the general process of getting words down and carving out the time to do so.

I'm awake now

I'm sure I've mentioned here that we have a flock of grackles that parades through our yard at various times of the year. Grackles love acorns (so do blue jays and turkeys), and most of our trees are white oaks that produce a bounty of acorns every year. So the grackles will march (and I mean march) from one side of the yard to the other, in formation, with scouts in trees, tossing leaves in the air looking for those acorns. The flow is at least a hundred individuals, so they make quite a racket when they go through. Well, today was something different.

I was attempting to sleep in when it sounded like there were people up on the roof. We've contracted to have some of the trees close to our house taken down, so my first thought was that they had come and Bette just didn't want to wake me up. But when I looked outside there was nobody there. But it still sounds like people walking along the roof. So I get out of bed and go to the patio door where it looks (and sounds) like it's hailing. Only it's hailing acorns.

The grackles were going through, but instead of on the ground they were in the canopy, shaking the branches to get the acorns to drop. Little buggers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Leipzig is calling you

Frequent commentator and no slouch at the airwaves either, Ken McConnell is looking for writers who haven't quite made it yet, but are willing to share and grow together. He's looking to start up a group like SF Novelists, (which you should be reading, and if not, why aren't you) but with a focus on the "soon to break through" authors. He's got a better explanation on his blog. If you're interested, go and giver him a shout out. I'm thinking about it.

One of the things I've been blessed with on this journey toward professional writer is the wealth of information, camaraderie, hand-holding, cheerleading, and general willingness to help out others given by those around and ahead of me in their writing careers. I hope that I've been able to give as good as I've gotten myself, although that has been mostly on a one to one basis. This would definitely have the possibility of widening that help. I need to look at my time available and see where I can crop out some time to do this as I think it has serious potential.

And I can blather on about writing as you can tell. Can't you? Anybody? Beuller?

The three way's I learn the best are doing it hands on (often failing, but learning and getting better), listening to others discuss, and trying to help others. Reading books I tend to get information, but not internalize it well. It took, I don't know, like a hundred times of hearing the phrase, "Kill your darlings" before I finally got it. And that was because I had to explain it to someone else.

At this point I (think I) know a few things. Sharing is something I like doing (can you tell?). In the end I'll probably say "yes."

Crack that Whip. Give the past a slip.

Applications for Viable Paradise open in two months and close in eight months. It was my plan to submit the first part of the novel as my critique piece. Gotta get writing. If it's not finished by the time of application closing, it should be finished before the actual workshop.

Words of advice from Tobias Buckell, "Don't workshop an unfinished novel."

Forward into the past!

Watching the fall out of the elections of the republican chattering class and thinking heads reminds me why I left that party. Hello, John McCain had it right back in 2000, you need to shrug off the Social Conservative yoke that Reagan placed on your necks and re-evaluate your policies from the Fiscal Conservative view (note: when people claim, "Most people in the US are conservative" those polls checked for fiscal conservativeness, not social issues). Slavish adherence to the social conservative agenda has run you into the ground, and you'll soon see the "base" eroding to age loss (ie. old people die at a faster rate than young people, although "old people" is a category that will continue to grow for the next two decades, these are the hippies reaching old age, not those who came of age in the conservative early 50s). So listening to all the viewpoints about where the Republican Party needs to go form here has me giggling. Newt Gingrich has thrown his hat in the ring for party leader.

As someone who sits in opposition, let me say, "You go Newt!" (insert giggling here).

Back in the late 80s and early 90s the Republicans had a full machine going for them, a machine constructed in the late 70s. It consisted of think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and other organizations, the Young Republicans, and a organization structured to bring up legal scholars and prepare them for high level positions and judgeships (the name of this group escapes me at the moment). The Democrats had nothing to counter this infrastructure and were fighting political battles with handicaps. However, in the late 90s the shift of these organizations changed from generating new ideas and shepherding new talent to justification and promulgation of conservative positions and instilling social conservative values in upcoming stars while vetting out those whose ideologies didn't quite line up (you might have seen some of this in the infamous RINO hunts). That sea change in those organizations, IMHO, is what lead to the Bush Administration and the eventual downfall of the conservative brand. The President never really lost the support of the grass-root social conservatives even though their leaders have been critical. What they lost was the support of the fiscal conservatives (aka "the moderates") in the general public.

So now the battle is joined. To the right stands the old guard that clings to the mantra, "We weren't pure enough to obtain the Holy Land. We must be purer." To the left stands the young turks who shout, "What worked in the 80s doesn't work now. We must adapt or die." (announcer voice) Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

No longer an adherent to the Republican party, I'm just a bystander. But like everybody else on fight night, I've got my pick for who'll take the dive in the 3rd round. Other than that it's popcorn and soda in the cheap seats.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free Books! (mostly)

And you know what I am for book giveaways. So far November is blossoming over with contests and giveaways.

Before we get to getting books, remember it's all in the spirit of giving. The incomparable Jim Hines is doing it again ("Let him, let him" - sorry, saw Young Frankenstein over the weekend, it's one of those movies that keeps me giggling for a week, "Froderick!"). He's collecting books from authors and other types to donate to his local domestic violence shelter. In the spirit of the freshly dead campaign commercial, I wholeheartedly endorse this message. My local shelter receives the majority of my charitable giving. It's an issue that cuts close to home for me. You go, Jim.

In other Jim news, he's running a contest to win a free copy of The Stepsister Scheme. I've already won something from Jim this year (and it rocks), so I'm not going to enter this one. But the idea of the contest, photo of you, your pet, 8" action figures, whatever, reading one of his books is inspired.

In other contest news, Joshua Palmatier is giving away the German version of The Skewed Throne. And this one is even easier to enter, all you have to do is comment. I mean, except for those European Email Sweepstakes, it just doesn't get any easier to enter. Plus, you get a cool book in German. How many of you have a book in German on your shelves? (okay, okay, yeah, I know many of you do)

And in other giveaway news, Matt Jarpe will give you a paperback copy of Radio Freefall for just putting a widget on your site (well, the first five people who do so, there's other requirements, which put me out of competition).

And, while not really a giveaway, Apex is raffling (is that a word?) off a whole slew of goodies. Grocked from the ever fab Cherie Priest, who, BTW is guest blogger over at Jeff VanderMeer's Estatic Days where she talks about some cool stem-punk themes (ZEPPELINS!).

Edit I thought I had mentioned this before, but in case I didn't, William Jones is also running a contest that's almost over. To win you have to guess what's in the book. Sorta like "how many jelly beans" but with authors and stories. Contest closes 11-15-08. Also, I haven't seen him close the blog entry contest for the same book.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Say goodnight Gracie

After several days of nagging myself, and misremembering when the writing group was meeting, I got through another edit/rewrite of A History of Lighting. I really need a new title for that. Anyway. We're at 4024 words, and I forget where I started, but it's 20 words less than the last saved file. I also went on a "was" killing spree. At least twenty of the little buggers fell to the editing scythe. The only thing I did count was that there are only four left. And I may get those next time (bwahaha!).

As you can see, I'm tired and punchy. Also had a freelance quick gig I didn't expect show up tonight (done and out). So it's time to go to bed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's that time of year

Open Letter to Those Who Share the Road With the Rest of Us,

Now that the snow has arrived, along with the ice, and the joy of scraping said ice from our cars is upon us, I'd like to remind you all to remove snow and ice from your roofs. Not only will this help your gas mileage at this time of economic belt tightening, it will also remove the chance that an ice sheet will go winging from your vehicle and cause those traveling behind you to swerve out of the way to avoid damage to their cars.

See, when this happens, the person driving the vehicle behind you will then spout not only a string of profanity that, had your car been in the lane beside them instead of in front of them, would have pealed the paint right off the passenger side door, at the same time, while cursing the blue streak, this same driver is willing with all their might that a Elk Bull would appear suddenly in front of your vehicle.

This situation is highly toxic to the karma of all those involved. I hope you understand that nothing personal is meant by this. And I also hope you'll agree that it is to the the benefit of all those involved that next time you will clean off your stinking roof.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Five Random Things

Sorry for being offline for a few days. Not only has work been especially busy, I've been sicker than a dog. I've got this nasal thing with drainage, coughing, and general all around crapiness. I don't recommend it.

As you've seen with some photos of my house, I live among the trees. It's like sleeping in a treehouse. The robins sing you awake in the morning, and the soft ruffling of the leaves in the wind lullaby you to sleep. Or the bluejays' screaming startles you out of a sound sleep at sunrise and the ruckus chirping of the spring peepers prevents you from drifting off to sleep. The soft moonlight sifts through the foliage dappling the ground. The keep the house cool in summer, and act as a windbreak in the winter. But then there's times like today when you have go up on the roof and sweep off the leaves, and rake an olympic swimming pool full of them off the lawn. Then there's also the lichen growing on the roof, not to mention a death defying dance on the roof with a chain-saw on a pole, trimming off the branches that are overhanging the house. Fun times. So we're going to have a tree service take down some of the trees.

There's snow in the forecast. Yes, I know some of you have already had snow, we have too, but this is the actual change of season, no more Indian Summers snow. As we were raking the temperature was dropping like crazy. We did put the rain barrel away, and the garden hose. A rain barrel sound like good idea, until you actually use one. I guess if you had a big garden and not a lot of rain it would be good. However, when you have the 50gal rain barrel at the base of the gutters that drain the whole back half of the house in an area that gets a lot of rain, not so much. With a good rain we can fill that barrel up in less than half an hour. Which means I need to keep my eye on it when it rains. And I usually get to go out into the pouring rain to close the diverter, so the side of the house doesn't flood.

This holiday season should be chock full of good deals, you now if any of us has any money left. So far this year there's been some preliminary panic sales. Look for full-blown world ending sales to start happening just before Thanksgiving, when the retailers fully grasp the significance of a shortened holiday shopping season (4 weeks) coupled with a slowing economy, and resurgent unemployment.

I picked up Isis' ashes yesterday. She's always hated car rides, so I tried to calm her on the way home. Doesn't that sound strange? So right now they're in the tin container (paw prints, natch'). We'll try and find some more appropriate vessel to put her in. I still look for her, on the bed or in her usual haunts. I've also had the thoughts of, "I need to clean this up before she gets into it," or "I wonder where she's at?" In other cat news, while our Isis was a somewhat wild kitty, there's a mostly wild kitty who has now taken to our back yard. Well, to be fair she's been showing up since August, and Bette has been feeding her. She won't let me get close, although today after eating she was cleaning herself pretty close to the house as I was dragging tarps full of leaves past her and she didn't budge.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Other Story Research

If you write military SF, you could do worse than read Defense Tech. Especially when they run articles about the cutting edge military research. Sure, some of this stuff has already made it into some SF, but here's some more material.

Story Bone

Ghost Dad

Okay, so here's the set up, a young window (or, for gender flop, widower, then just change some of the sexes for what follows, might even make a more interesting story, but it's too close to fairy-tale step-motherhood for me) marries her high school sweet-heart who never lost the flame. She has kids from her fist marriage, and the new father finds himself not exactly replacing the lost father, but living his life, doing things he would have done (instead of being who he is). Whenever he tries to escape that, the kids and his wife force him back in. Does he acquiesce, does he struggle vainly, does he eventually have to leave to regain himself? As an extra twist, the ghost of the former parent starts visiting him, giving critique or encouragement is up to you, or simply being a reminder of who the first father was, or would do. Does our protag try to exorcise the ghost, does he do things to keep the ghost around or to placate the ghost? Do others see the ghost (just like "Daddy's Little Girl" the ghost could be a projection of his own guilt/desire/psychie) or just him? How hard does he try to prove himself? Could be a very deep psychological horror story. I'm not sure I have the chops to write this one, or that I have enough experience to pull it off successfully.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Story Bone

From a real event on the way home.

"Surreal is when you see a dead-ringer for Stephen King in a jeans jacket, his lank frame puckered around the wheel of a Ford LTD with a hell-bent-on-leather look on his face waiting at the stop light."

Or something like that. I had to do a double take.

Teach me, I know I'm not a hopeless case

Well, it's now 10pm, and most news organizations are calling Pennsylvania and Ohio for Obama. If that holds, those are the nails in the coffin of this election. Both were critical for John McCain's strategy. As long as those predictions hold (and at this point we all thought that Gore would win), McCain would need several miracles, including California. But it's late, and I need sleep before tomorrow. I'll cross my fingers in bed. I may cramp up by morning, but I'm here for you.

I am going to be so glad when we can talk about other things.

Random Ketchup

I wanted to say that my Mom is an election worker in Stark County, Ohio, and how very proud I am that she's involved. I've said before that my family is very political, something I tried to avoid in my own life (hmm, councilman for 6 years, served on future zoning commission for a year and a half, I'm not doing very well with that plan, am I?). My Mom has been retired for a couple of years, and we're hoping that the Board of Elections has an ongoing job for her after the election is over. For the past month, when I've talked with her she sounds much happier and full of life than she has for over a year now (back when he had the heart- attack). So now you know, the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree. You go, Mom.

Hey, the inestimable Todd Wheeler finished up the second draft of his novel and is about to dive into the third draft. That's amazing Todd. You all should go over and wish him well.

Through an email to Mur Lafferty's "I should be writing" podcast, Donald Maass (of the Donald Maass Agency) has released his book "The Career Novelist: A Literary Agent Offers Strategies for Success" as a free download PDF.

On Adventures in SciFi Publishing, the next episode will be about Ohio's very own Tobias Buckell. You really should be listening.

It's a Beautiful Day

Polls are open. Everybody duck and cover! Got up early to get into work early so I can leave (somewhat) on time so I can vote. And just like John Scalzi I'm looking forward to getting my life back.

Oh, and early results are back from some towns in Vermont. Looks good so far for my candidate (Obama 15, McCain 7, Nader 0 - editopps, got it wrong, Obama 15, McCain 6).

I can't wait to have a government I don't feel like I have to watch like a hawk.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Five Random Things. But wait, there's more...

So glad they moved Daylight Savings time, so now in both the spring and fall I get to experience twilight on both ends of the commute for a second time. You know twilight, that's when the deer are most active. Yeah, so glad I get to go through that twice every half year (this morning I got to see five deer).

Business revelation! Schlock work and great work pay about the same going rate.

Now that the candidates are set in their speeches, the news media are focusing more on the voters. Boy, are we a bunch of idiots. Seriously, do we ever listen to ourselves anymore. Best quote, though, "I'm afraid of the country we'll live in if (candidate) gets voted in." Um, look around. It's that country. Oh, and considering how many robo-calls I was getting this weekend (hint to McCain campaign, I know you're doing the Karl Rove pick off the edges strategy, but seriously dudes, I'm an elected Democratic Party member, do the math, and you ought to fact check your statements, because I did, and you all are spewing some high stinkeroos there.

And because I'm a EOE kind of guy, Democratic Party, if you want me to give money, do not robo-call me again. Seriously. I hear that recording start up and my wallet sphincter clamps down hard. Have someone real give me a call, it doesn't need to be a celebrity. In fact, it's better if it's not.

Today's gasoline price at the pump I normally go to was $1.99(999). Gee, and that only took a moderately stronger dollar (well, it's not falling as fast as other currencies) and a 3-5% reduction in our consumption. Imagine that. No new drilling, ANWAR is still a preserve, and we didn't have to invade anybody new. Let's see, if we properly inflate our tires, we'd save 3-8%, combine commutes (less trips), another 5%, and driving more fuel efficient cars 5-8%. Nah, none of those things will ever work to bring down the price of oil. (insert sound track of me laughing) Now if we could have only done this without the recessionary economy. You know like listening to Al Gore and maybe not mocking Obama with giving advice that would work now (instead of in 10 years). Now lets talk about getting some more resources online, and what and where those resources should be. Oh, and cut all those tax breaks that Exxon-Mobil (and others) enjoy, because, dude, seriously, obscene profit.

And, the winner of Best Take on McBeth's Three Witches in a Modern Blog Post, goes to Jim Macdonald over at Making Light.

Story Bone

Mis-overheard:

"Here I am drinking grape juice and you're saying it interacts with poltergeists?"

Yeah, that's gotta go somewhere (along with a divergence on "haint blue" and how grape juice ain't haint blue).

VOTE!

My yearly admonishment to those of your registered to vote (and if you're eligible, why aren't you registered?) to actually go out and vote tomorrow, if you haven't already.

I know some of you disagree with my politics, I still encourage you to vote. Some of you who maybe checking me out from my comments on other blogs (you know, once I get back to them, currently 600+ messages behind, you all were busy over the weekend) might be on the polar opposite of my politics. All of you, go out and vote. This tends to make the opposition's heads explode (as their party has intentionally tried to get people to not vote), but IMHO everybody that qualifies should vote. Thus republic only works properly when you all vote.

Don't tell me it's rainy, don't whine that the lines are long. Go out and vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Busy Weekend

Spent the weekend working around the home. We took down the Halloween decorations. I spent a few hours repairing some of them, rewiring an electric spider, things like that. Adjusted all the clocks, slept in late.

At work things are a bit crazy. We're finally back to a normal work flow, plus there's an annual big project. On top of it all, some vendors decided it would be good to sponsor an open house. The management is going slightly ape, which is worrying to some of us underlings. You now, like maybe such concern should be directed, say, toward the sales team. Anyway, after giving the outside design firm a few weeks to come up with a cohesive program, only to bounce the idea they came up with (which wasn't bad, just not what they were looking for), I then had six hours to hit a home run and a hole in one all at the same time. Had to have a good design, and only time to get one out.

So glad they ignore the guy with a BFA in Graphic Design, 18 years of professional experience, and maybe give me time to work out a good design, instead I get to save the day. Bitter? Me? Nah. And now, when I have a lot of work, you know, not like back when they handed this project to an outside firm, I get to design a whole series of items, you know, that may help decide the future state of sales for our company. No pressure.

Needless to say with everything else going on, I'm very far behind on my blogging. When I last left work, I was back over 450 blog posts. Bad blog buddy, no cookie.

Spent some time editing "History of Lighting." About halfway through and I'm down to 3988 words (started at 4041). Fixed one thing, still have another to get to. Cleaning up language, and tightening sentences. Adding in some tension. Need to get it ready to submit to the critique group by this weekend.