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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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Word Count Fail

Okay, so when I agreed to do the novel critique workshop I figured I could get 30-45,000 words out by the time of my extended deadline (and then finish before the event). And given my progress at the beginning, I was pretty confident I would make it. That I would get somewhere in the middle of the second act (story "feels" like it needs 90,000 words or so, a descent size for a first novel) was doable. And then the whole day thing went pear shaped. Currently I have 13500 words out and in at least first draft form (although not completely edited let alone scrubbed to the point that I would normally have a story critiqued). And I'm on my way to another 1500 or so words that I should have ready for tomorrow. So only 15,000 words, half my lower level (insert cussing and kicking dirt over home-plate and on the shoes of the umpire).

And as you can see my word count here (and an Genre Bender) has been lacking.

On other news, why is it with the online application processes I have to have a loggin and account with each employer's site, agree to their terms, and all that other stuff. Really gosh-darn-annoying people. This is like having to have an account to get basic information about companies that you've bought their stuff. I shouldn't have to register. I appreciate that you feel you need to have "security," but there is a point where the security works because you keep people from using whatever you're securing. Like you keep a stadium secure by not letting anybody in the gates.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Clearer Picture

We had the meeting today. It was interesting, but I have no clearer picture of who is going to do what. There were some surprises, a few people asked questions I didn't expect from them. I get the feeling that the retirement packages may have been slightly better than some people expected. If they're good enough, I don't know.

I got some answers on my questions. Going to work in a graphic design studio would be considered "in the business" for the union. If the shop is not union I could continue in the union as an associate member with lower dues, but still be able to participate in the retirement plans. These would be paid by myself. The retirement plan is one of the best I've been a part of (as long as the payouts remain similar), so I'd really like to continue in it. From the time of layoff I have two years to either take a lump sum payout (no interest, just what I've paid in), continue in the plan, or receive a certificate of completion. There are then various rules that come into effect especially if I "retire" early. I can restart the plan and then there are more rules. I'm one year away from being vested in the second, national, retirement plan. But even now, with four years of contributions in, if I could retire I would qualify for a little more than $265.

Maybe this week things will shake out. The company wants to have answers on volunteers by the end of the week.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Nerves

Tomorrow is the Union Meeting where I'll hopefully have a better idea just what's going to happen in a few weeks. On Thursday the boss gave me a pep talk. I'm going from paranoia to hope as I try and parse out what he was trying to tell me. Of course I'm making myself insane attempting to read the entrails of the conversation and seeing meaning where there probably isn't any. He could have just been being a good manager by trying to head me off from diving over a cliff.

So today I ruined my body raking up the sticks, sawdust and chips left by the tree people. Raking leaves is enough of a chore in my yard. Add twigs and ripping up sod and moss, well, it wasn't fun. I used some of the dirt/chips left from the stump grinding (the trees in front we had built flower beds around them) to fill in some low areas in the yard. I'm going to have to buy some grass seed this week and spread it around. I didn't get up all the leaves (I still have the side yards to do), but I gave some hope to my beleaguered lawn. I'm not looking forward to the first mowing. By mid-summer I'm going to need a new blade.

Spending the rest of the day getting in some blog catching up and adding to the word count. In the middle of chapter six. About to compromise the hacker. Our guy has found himself trapped in the hacker's computer room and will be doing some quick thinking really soon. Or at least that's the plan. He might just skewer the hacker. Never can tell with characters. The writing is a bit more fluid than when I started. Listening to all those hard-boiled detective stories must be wearing off. But then that means I need to redo the first few chapters. Oh well. Nobody said this would be easy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pretending like I know what all these little flashing lights mean

I've been toying with this for almost a year, but with the extra incentive, I've just sent it off to be printed. Again, sometimes I can stun myself with my design. Here, let me stun you. My business card.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rollercoaster of something or other

This week has been up and down. I'm trying to see the path forward and have been unable to see it. This Sunday we have a Union meeting, things might be clearer after that.

I've been lobbied to beg for my job, but I haven't come up with an argument that convinces myself (if they haven't seen that it's leveled off, and the highs they're comparing to had the massive overtime in them). Until today talking with a coworker. They had a good angle that I'm going to try if I get the chance.

One of the main problems I have with arguing for my job is that I'd be screwing another coworker out of their job, and I don't think I'm that kind of guy. Okay, I'm pretty sure I'm not that guy. I don't have it bad, it could be a lot worse. But I'm not sure just how many months I can hold out. The best news I found was that I'll be eligible for the recovery plan help with COBRA premiums (we pay only 35%). We'll see.

I keep reminding myself that I need to keep positive. It appears the the economy (as relative to DJI Index and orders coming it) had hit bottom last week. Now if only it turns around fast enough. According to the news, durable goods orders have gone up, what was a parts oversupply in November has flipped, and there seems to be an actual plan that might have an actual effect on the economy in place. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reading the Entrails

So, there is some possibility of avoiding axes in the near future. A distant possibility, and I'll know more after the weekend, but I'd place the possibility higher than the 1% Doctrine. Not that I'd lay money on it.

So now I just need to get over myself and get some other things done. Like I should get new glasses. Priced just lenses today. For the bifocals to be placed in existing frames (I have some older larger ones than the German Proctologist's glass I wear daily) is $221 (includes 30% AAA discount, these would be bifocals with line). Lenses without the bifocal for the GP glasses is $161. Granted I need high-tech lenses. Glasses would require rigging to haul around and I can't wear polycarbonate lenses. They clash. Well, actually I'm a part of that minority that see rainbows with polycarbonate lenses. It's like those LSD, I mean, rainbow glasses they used to sell as novelties. You don't want that as your normal view on life. And again, any frame I really felt looked okay on me was north of the $200 mark.

Didn't do any word count these past two days. However I did UPR and actually have one sent off. Not much out there, but I'm just starting my search. Most things are either the kinds of positions I've avoided (because I like having half a brain and I don't miss the stress involved) or basic entry "start a fabulous career in the wonderful world of design, and we'll let you get a start by not paying you much" kinds of positions. Either that or they're the mix of "receptionist/designer" or "more mad internet skillz than my friends who do this for a living have / designer" jobs. If all else fails there's the Wal-Mart in Middlefield or going back to school to get my Class A driver's license.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Where we stand

As a part of the total weekend output I also started to organize the project.

Currently we stand at 12,000 words, in order, and out in phosphors. Add in about another 2000 words of things slightly out of order. With about 1600 words that had been existing that were completely rewritten. Also about 800 words of outline and cast of characters (yes, I needed one so I created one, that took some time).

We're looking at some stimie time coming up, but hopefully I'll get back in the saddle again.

That clacking noise is the car going up the roller-coaster hill

On the way home tonight I debated this post. A lot. Still not sure about it. Finally I decided that I had promised to be as open as possible (I hope you all understand that I don't share everything) and this is something that will be major. And about those things I was going to be open about I was also going to be truthful. So there.

The day thing is still experiencing issues. edited decided I should be circumspect, somewhat end A future event that might happen will be dependent on seniority and I'm low man on the totem-pole in the way of seniority. We have a union meeting this weekend to discuss (I'm all perclumped, discuss amongst yourselves) options and various situations.

Right now I'm still in a little bit of denial. I'm also in the "gritty determination" stage.

If it does happen it'll break a streak I had. Each time this has happened before there had been a Bush in the White House and we were at war with Iraq. Granted we're still at war in a Iraq and experiencing the economy a Bush left us.

Of course it has sucked the wind out of the word-count sails. Tonight's bandwidth will be used on searches.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let us sit on the ground and tell sad tales of newspapers past

Sam Butler had a post about the demise of newspapers and print (journalism and other printed materials). And just like I am I had to comment. With his encouragement I'm going to make it a post here.

So some background. Sam was discussing this post by Clay Shirky about the death of newspapers and print journalism. Sam pulled this quote, and I think it is the main argument being made here.

"With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem."

This is the same argument about how digital books will replace printed books, the death of music (live performances are still up), the death of TVs, Movies, etc. Digital delivery of books will eventually replace most hard copy (my guess is in about 40 years although there will still be hard copy). While music is delivered differently, it isn't essentially made any differently (although the tools now exist to bypass the music publishing industry, those tools just democratized the function they didn't alter it in any real sense). The same can be said for TV and movies. Made the same basic way, just delivered differently.

Let's just say that since the early 90s I've listened to how the "internet"/"digital revolution" was going to replace print media and give us the paperless office. Since then I've seen print increase to the point that most paper mills churn out cubic miles of laser grade paper at the expense of "real" paper (copy bond just ain't it, you know) which can still be had, but for anything other than "house papers" (the paper print houses buy in bulk for when the client doesn't know how to spec paper, which leads to it's lower cost, which leads more people to select those papers... it's like why most barns are red, because that's the cheapest paint. Why? Because they sell a lot of it to paint barns) you're looking at special orders. Most highly specialized paper is no longer manufactured in the US, you have to ship it from former East Block countries or Asia (which ups the price, which furthers our drive to cheap white copy bond papers). But over all we produce more tons of paper now than we did in the late 80s. So much for the paperless office.

IMHO, if you want to see the real future of newspapers, google the term "hyperlocal." The national and international news are covered by other businesses. I don't watch local TV news anymore. Why? Because it's become a foreshadowing of the National News broadcast that I would watch in just a half an hour. If my local news is covering the fires in Australia, something is wrong. But hyperlocal requires manpower, which is expensive. So most news organizations reprint AP bulletins and rely on phone calls to cover local sports, add in syndicated columns, decrease the very thing people wanted from their paper (including my former local paper the Canton Repository decimating the obituaries page, of which the found out very quickly just how much of a bad idea that was, they changed it back - my opinion, very stupid of them, obituaries are PAID placements, normally not written by in-house staff - although some of them are - WTF were they thinking?).

So without making this a dissertation, here's my comment.

(full disclosure, I work in printing)

So, back when I was doing real design many clients kept on talking about how this "internet thing" was going to replace all catalogs/brochures/business cards (whatever). Those clients that did go all the way saw their businesses stagnate. Those that went halfway, "we'll not print next year's catalog," always ended up printing next year's catalog.

He's cherry-picking points in history and post hoc ergo prompter hocing all the way to his conclusions which explain absolutely nothing except, "The world has changed, we're all going to have to get used to it." Moveable type presses in Europe (and I'm being specific here) came at a time when lots of other movements were coming together. The Renaissance had already begun, the feudal system was collapsing with the rise of guilds, power was shifting from Spain, Germany and Italy to France, England, and Turkey. The enlightenment was a powder keg just waiting for a match, which Martin Luther provided. All of which drove and were driven by printing and the new found wealth of Africa, Asia and the New World (and here I'm limiting myself to Western/European Culture and ignoring most of the rest of the world because he also did in his post).

Newspapers are dying because of a number of factors. While the "Bagdad Bureau" was a part of it, it was only because everybody had to have one, and they did so at the expense of other reporting (like the local council meetings). People want the local news. When that "local news" reports things in Florida, New Zealand and Somalia, it's not as valuable. There are other organs that can do that. Decimating city desks in favor of "glamor" positions and AP reprints also leads to their own demise. Our local newspaper can't spare someone to cover our town's events. Guess what we did when it came time to appoint a paper of record, we went with the lowest cost, highest circulation press. Local sales have gone down, and the newspaper now focuses on communities east of us, all the while bewailing the loss of their subscriptions and revenue from our town.

Advertising dollars are way down. Everywhere. That the "internet" isn't suffering as much from the drop is because there wasn't much there to begin with (internet advertising nearly died six years ago). More money is flowing that way only because the ad execs have to be hip and sexy and the internet is hip and sexy. It's a contact high. Once the businesses start realizing that they can use old metrics to measure the "new media" they'll find out just what their money bought them.

The internet is fabulous when you know what you are looking for. It's horrible when you don't know what you don't know but need to find it. And I've heard the "old economics" arguments before. His view of what "publishing solves" is also very surface. It's like an NPR report I heard on the way home about a non-profit company providing coaches to poorer schools to structure recess for the kids. The reporter gave one of those truisms, "You may not remember it, but somebody taught you how to jump a rope, play kickball, tag, hopscotch, all the games of youth."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Today's catch of writing

Finished Chapter Four, but didn't go over it more than once. Have parts of chapter five and something that may end up as the start of Act II that was a bunch of back-story that came flooding out and I had to get rid of to think about what I was doing. So probably around 2000 words so far. I want to continue as long as I can with Chapter five before going to bed (although I am almost done with Brust's Jhegaala and want to get through that this weekend, it's calling to me form the bedroom).

So as a boon to all those who are still wondering just what the heck I'm writing. Here is a sample that just came out.

"When Mr. Hernandez asks you to work on a weekend you say, 'Yes, sir.'," she said back. "Besides, Kevin has the kids out at the zoo, so other than a sunburn I'm not missing much." She reached over and pressed the button that called the elevator and waved me passed.

"You have something against zoos?" I said as I walked passed her desk.

She sighed, "One broke my heart when I was a young girl."

The elevator's bell sounded louder in the almost empty lobby as the doors opened. "You aren't still a young girl? I'm disillusioned," I teased.

"Younger than you, maybe," she said before the doors closed.

"Ouch," I said to the closed doors and the elevators lifted my sunken esteem to the fourth floor.

Writerly Roundup

It's been a while, and this will take some time, but I'm slowly catching up with the bloggeroll. There's been lots of interesting stuff out there, and I'm probably the last one to know these things, but here we go anyway.

The wonderful Camille continues on her publishing roll. There's been so many posts with sales I just can't keep track of them all. She's on a tear through the publishing world. And she has also offered writerly days, Friday movie nights, and some other things. Unfortunately most of these are going on haitus as she works toward the grand event of a retreat in Vermont.

Fabutronic Mer Haskell is starting her agent hunt search and hitting a good stride right out of the box going from query, to partial, to full request in the space of a few days. Mer rocks, and I am so stoked that I get to read this novel before most of you will. (bwahahaha, oh, wait, I also have to critique it, in a month, along with five other novels as well as finishing up my own? Of curse you twisted fate! wanhahaha!)

Arguably evil monkey's better dressed alter ego Jeff VanderMeer, was recently turned into a stuffed marmot and the only way back to his human form is to gnaw the nut of empathy. Whoops, I mean he has to answer all of your writerly questions, yeah. So speaketh the wily witches of Penguin. So he does so here and here.

The ever spot-on and knowledgeable Justine Larbalestier makes a longer argument for "stop the whinging and just do it" to her writerly friends. This is something pro writers tell newbies all the time, and yet, in the heart of the dark night with the winds of economy raging around their sand castles, they too have doubts. Isn't that good to know as a beginning author? I think it is as I currently deal with germ of "all my writing is crap" feelings about the novel project. The end argument of the whole thing (which you should read) is "write what you love to write and do it because you love to write it." Yeah, what she said.

Fantastic fantasist Joshua Palmateir give his first person views on writing in the first person POV. Since the current novel project is First Person POV, I'll need to reread this one to distill it all. He also has some post on men writing as and about women, which I need to go back and read at some point.

There have been lots of other good posts lately (it's like you all are feeding into my procrastination need) and I've only highlighted some that made me laugh or think out loud (yeah, I do that sometimes). And I'm not even a third of the way through my bloggeroll, but I have to get back to writing. So maybe more later.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Delayed Submission

(those Kegels are working)

Last night I sent A History of Lightning off to Strange Horizons. Good luck little story.

And I just remembered, with all the funness of yesterday afternoon I completely forgot to send my thank you note to Cat Rambo. (taken care of) That's a whoops.

Just finished up things today. Didn't get much new wordage out. I can't afford many of these days. But I did work through the problem I was having. I knew that this chapter should have been a "slower" chapter, but I was trying to turn it into an "action" chapter. Plus I had forgotten that I needed to add in some things to advance the story line (and foreshadow some things at the end of Act II). Now that I have my head on straight, Gary shouldn't wander around so much in the rewrite.

The Ants Come Marching Two by Two, Hurrah!

Well, Spring is sprung. I know this because the ants are trying to invade. Unlike the red, red robin be bop bopping along, which BTW, robins don't migrate, the coming of the ants are a better predictor. Little do the ants know I'm prepared for them this year. This morning I sprayed the little buggers back to their chitinous creator. Bwahahaha!

Usually it takes me a few days to get the spray and traps, and by then we're killing them a few at a time (killed two all of last night). This year I already have the spray and traps. Bought them a few weeks ago.

Since Spring is now here, it won't be long before the mud gets out of control. And then we'll have one final snow storm. The sweltering heat will arrive next and everybody will be moaning for cooler weather. Same as it ever was.

I am always amazed at the people who talk about springtime as this wonderous, magical moment when all is blossom and nectar, and then bitch about how "this Spring it's just mud." Here in NE Ohio, I don't think I remember a Spring that wasn't just mud. I remember a longer time that the temperatures climbed through the sixties and seventies and nights of slow, warm rain. Lately it seems we have a week of that, and then we're into the muggy upper 80s and above until Fall. I remember it taking at least a month when I was younger. Maybe that's another fault of growing older.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A poke in the eye with a sharp stick

So, am I the only one that feels like he gets screwed every time he goes to get new eyeglasses?

Had my eyes checked today. My near-sightedness is actually slightly improved. The astigmatism (no, you're thinking "stigmata") is also better. However, I do need bifocals. Yep, I'm 42. go figure. See, I've had eyeglasses since I was six. So by now I'm over having to wear glasses. With my day job and training I can't afford the risk that surgery brings and contacts just aren't for me.

They have a new test that takes a picture of your retina. From what I can tell for no really good purpose except that they can. So I said no, and then I had to sign a paper that said that I refused the test. WTF.

And then there was, what I now realize is my own mistake by marking the wrong paper with the wrong inscription during our health care meeting (which, in my defense, we only had like 30 sheets of paper that discussed the various options of our health care plans, all four parts). But they did say that I had no eyeglass benefit, when I do have 20% off lenses AND frames. I finally got them to admit to the frames part. And for the up-purchase plan (which I did get), frames are free up to $130. Ask me just how many frames were less than $130 in the doctor's office that weren't for kids. I think I found one. There were about 20 that come in somewhere in the $140-200 range.

$230 for frames? Just whom are we kidding here. Seriously, if they were made of titanium, all of it, including the lenses, then maybe it might be close including the middleman markups. So, yeah, I'm going to be shopping around and maybe seeing if I can get new lenses in these frames. I still like them. I'm not all that self-conscious to only want progressive lenses, a line for the bifocal is fine (although the sales person nearly had a panic when I said that, I wonder if they even can make those anymore). Reminds me how I was asked if I wanted to pay an extra $30 more for a partial view of the falls the last time we were in Niagara. I said no, we got the same room anyway, but for the original price. Or how I have to pay a "touch-tone dialing" fee when I'm not offered the option for rotary dialing (yes, I asked).

Rejection in Emerald

The fantabulous writer and fiction editor for Fantasy Magazine, Cat Rambo, sends word that she passing on A History of Lightning. She doesn't give a reason, and you know, she doesn't have to. As I've said before, she's the editor. If the story doesn't work for her and/or her magazine's readers, that's all that necessary to reject a story. Fair cop.

She did say that she enjoyed it. If that's her just being nice because in my cover letter I did casually mention we had served on a panel together, did I say before that Cat is a genuinely nice person, it's okay. In the little fantasy world in my head, I'm going with that she actually did enjoy the story.

And, a personal rejection letter from the editor, I believe that's a three-pointer (yeah, yeah, it's March Madness, what can I do about it). So, score!

When I get home tonight, I'll send her a thank you email before I go back to the salt mines of Duotrope and Ralans. I wonder if Weird Tales is open again?

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Ramble over the Raptor

Ken, over on his blog, brings up some good arguments for keeping the F-22 Raptor program in place. I started to write a comment on his blog and realized I was ranting. And rambling all over the place. So making that comment on his blog probably wasn't appropriate. Ken makes the decisive argument on readiness and I can't really argue with it.

But...

I can see some of the reasons to cut the Raptor as valid. And to be honest much of the parts shortage was engineered to create the need for a new fighter by making it difficult to maintain the F-16 and F-18 inventory in a program of planned obsolescence. The same way it's now difficult to maintain the A-10 (and thankfully someone finally realized that keeping a close support airframe in the field was necessary) and we have to butcher half the inventory to keep the other half in the air.

The F-22's mission really doesn't exist any longer, just as the B-2's doesn't either. Sure, you can shoehorn it into a different mission, but the Chinese and Russians (our closest competitors) current and on-board airframes aren't progressing either. Having seen the MIG-29 in person, it's a much better craft than I was ever lead to believe (and those Russian pilots are crazy, just saying). We are about equal (currently).

I don't buy the argument that the future AF will only be UAVs. There are still missions that need a pilot in the seat, and if we ever get into a hot war with another country that has an air force, a UAV can't dogfight. But the F-22 is not necessarily the airframe we need.

It's very expensive. And its flexibility of configuration starts to negate the ease of maintenance bonus. I wish I had access to Jane's, because most of the info I have is from the 90s when the initial designs were being floated. But as I remember its range is dependent on mid-air refueling, wasn't all that great to begin with, and TOT sucked (something like less than 3 minutes). Now, granted, at super cruise (MACH+1) a few minutes is far too long for any tactical need, but in its attack bomber configuration, 3 minutes is enough for one run at a target. Considering the flight will also have to provide its own fighter cover, that time becomes small.

The problem, and here I agree that we need the F-22, is that development of any new fighter would put operational deployment out to something like 2016 (if we started NOW). The F-16 has a projected operational life to 2012, 2014 with certain modifications. However, these figures were predicated on a continuing Russian and Chinese airframe progression (which hasn't happened).

And then you have the planned obsolescence with part supply. Much of the parts' dies and molds have been destroyed. Yeah, love that part of the contract General Dynamics, (swearing like a sailor here).

As to having the National Guard and Reserves playing a larger roll in wars, that started before Gulf I as a part of having the Soviet Union collapse and a partial realization that the two-war strategy was no longer valid or needed. Also I'll just mention Checkered Flag (IIRC, although I think they've renamed them as "Rodeos") and how well the reservists and guard perform in those competitions. Normally they clean the active-duty teams' clocks. (Although that might have changed with the current war)

What I would like to see if a much smaller airframe resdesigned as a general strike craft. But not one that can replace the A6 for load, or F-18 (Navy) for fighter capability. It can't do both well and keep good specifications. The attack role can be handled by UAVs and Stratospheric bombers with JDAM (yes, it's a crime that we're still flying B-52s, and the B-1B is just crap, even with the restructured frame). What we need is an interdiction fighter that has the new stealth functions, tie-ins to the battlecube (or whatever the AF is calling it now, the Army is using LANWarrior), range, time in air, and ability to engage over the horizon (fire by radar). Or what was called a "support fighter" brought up to the late 20th century. With advances in rocketry and global positioning, some of the old functions of the attack role have changed drastically. And we might want to look at copying the Navy and having a navigator/weapons seat and forget this "the brave young men in their flying machines" mystique. The F-22 is not really built to be a dog-fighter (IIRC). We already made that mistake in Vietnam. Do we need to relearn it?

There are other programs that have been cut. The Army lost its heavy, tracked artillery (Challenger I think it was called). And for good reason. Its basic design mission no longer existed. It crowded out smaller field pieces that would have been more beneficial in the recent past (and possibly in Afghanistan in the next two years depending on what our final mission turns out to be). And the damn thing couldn't be transported by any existing airframe. The only aircraft that could lift it is a Russian Heavy Lift vehicle. Considering the original design of the Challenger was to fend off a Russian (Soviet) advance across Europe, I don't think we would get a chance to rent those craft.

Also, warfare has changed drastically in the past decade. Not only in the types of war we're fighting (kind of hard to fight the conflict we did when our war footing was based on fighting mechanized troops coming through Eastern Europe), but in how we actually fight. We are at another Civil War moment. Our weapons have out stripped our tactics and strategy. The F-22 is a casualty of that. But only if we learn the lessons of the past and look at the new world.

Yes, Russia is resurgent. It still can't field a blue-water fleet for more than a few months. China could be (and IMHO will be) our next major military competitor. China is looking at acquiring their first aircraft carrier, so they're somewhat behind. However, they have nuclear submarine technology now (their contention they also have a sea based nuclear tipped missile is still dubious). They do have some good missile technology, and we'll have to be able to counter that (Aegis Cruiser here we come).

So that's my thoughts. Yes, we need a new airframe. It needs to be cheaper to maintain and operate than our current aircraft. We need to have an offensive capability. We need to be able to project power across the globe to protect and obtain our strategic goals. I just don't think the F-22 is what is needed anymore.

AIG, Swing and a Miss

So, the bonuses are contractual? Okay, well, one, they're Income then, not Bonuses (depending on how they're paid there are different taxing concerns). I hope you all paid your back taxes. Two, how many people have stood up and declared that Detroit should break or at least re-negotiate those contracts with the UAW. How many of them are now saying that AIG should break or re-negotiate those contracts?

So here is how you handle it. One, check the language. If it's "pay for performance", the company needed bailing out. Your performance sucked (maybe not personally, but as a group, yeah, I know, it sucks, too bad). No bonus. Two, here is a paper asking you to waive your bonus this year in consideration of the dire financial straights the company in which the company finds itself. Please sign over your bonus. Want your bonus? Fine, here's your check, sign off on any golden parachutes, there's the door. Don't like it? You could sue, which would take several years. Did we mention we're breaking the company apart?

Think that's rough? If you worked in a factory, you wouldn't even get that consideration.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph

Wherein Steve makes good on his photo obligations.

Because we had three piles just like this one:

I bought these (five 2x4x8 pretreated pine) and 30 screws:

And made this:

Sure, it looks easy. But it took me most of one night (notice how light it is with the 2x4s and the flash with the finished product). I made two mistakes. First, I thought I could attach the spacers with pocket screws. I tried to be too fancy for my own good and screwed up because I had the wrong length of screws. Measure twice, cut once, but first double check your supplies before spending a half hour drilling holes. And then I misjudged the pilot holes needed for the other screws and bound two of them in the wood (heads stripped trying to back them out). But I did it, it's done, and yes it's level. It's the driveway that isn't.

Oh, and because I've been admonished for not posting cat photos. Here's two more of the kitters.

This is Cleo (who still doesn't know her name, but she now is responding to "Baby", sigh, cats). That afghan was on the back of the rocking chair that she attempted to climb up on. This is the result (okay, I did uncover her from the afghan avalanche). She then took the opportunity and napped there for two hours like this.


And here is Vivian, wondering just what the heck I'm doing, hoping I don't wake Cleo from her nap with the flash so Vivian can get some peace.

You can see the shadow of her ear tuffs at least.

And here Steve gets himself into trouble by saying all the wood is stacked and out of the front yard (except for one piece we can't move very well, I'm thinking of either taking the chain saw to it, or turning it into a planter - was the stump of four trees that had grown together) and I should take a photo of all the stacks.

Talking Heads - A Rant for Sunday

Slowly waking up this morning, listening to the talking heads on TV. And I'm brought back to a single question.

Have conservatives lost their collective minds?

If I hear one more conservative talk about how they're an "ideologue" but aren't "partisan" because they also criticize Republicans, I'm going to vomit on their shoes. Really, you claim non-partisan because you've criticized what you consider RINOs (even if you don't use that word) for not being "true to the faith" (there have been plenty of these over on Scalzi's Whatever, but specifically here I'm looking at you Tucker Carlson). If you think the rest of us are idiots you're to use to the people who are normally your audience. The rest of us remember history (long past and recent past).

And then to have the audacity to talk about those on the other side and how they're all in lock step. Really? How many votes have you seen in Congress where all the Democrats vote together, say, like the Republicans. Yes, look, there's a little guy standing behind that curtain trying to fake us all out with fireworks and a sound system. Oh, and if you think Jon Stewart is just Obama's mouth piece, and that NPR won't ever criticize the new administration, you really ought to start watching and listening. Jon has made fun of Obama already, many times. And listen to "Wait, Wait, Dont' Tell Me" on NPR. Through December and January they had a portion of their game called, "We Await Our New Benevolent Overlords" which had the theme music of "The Empire Strikes Back." Hilarious.

I think in this case what your confusing is that there is so much more to make fun of the Right than there is on the Left. Jon Stewart is a jester. He's taken the classic role of the one person that can criticize the King and keep his neck. And everybody is in his sites. He made fun of Bill Clinton, that's actually when he started. Newt Gingrich just gave him easier (and richer) material. When you watch his show, the parts you nod your head to and think, "he's just telling the truth here" when he's talking about those on the Left is the same way those of us on the Left think of his show when he talks about those on the Right. And he does both.

And Dick Cheney says the Bush Administration has accomplished almost everything they set out to do in Iraq? Um, Dick, where's the WMDs. Remember your initial rationalization for going to war? So, Mr. Former VP, either admit you lied to the country to go to war (and yes, you lied, I want you to admit to it), or admit that it was a distraction from the real war against Al Qaeda. You're policies failed. The attack on the embassy in Yemen gives the lie to your statement about how we having been attacked because of your policies. The rise of AQI gives the lie to your statement of how you we're defeating them. The rise of high seas piracy (yes, it had never actually gone away, see Indonesia, but under your watch it grew, substantially) during your term give the lie to "the world is a safer place."

Finally, if I have to hear one more story on Michelle Obama's arms I'm going to throw something. Back in the 90s when I went to work in Dallas, a coworker of mine also went there. She wore a pant suit to the office one day. People who worked there travelled from two floors away to see a woman in the office wearing pants. No, I'm not making this up. This coworker was, IMHO, very attractive, but it was the fact she was wearing pants that was so strange she became the unique object threatening their reality. Listening to all this about Mrs. Obama's bare arms reminds me of this. Women have been wearing sleeveless dresses in the rest of the US for over a decade. Get over it.

And while we're talking about it, why are most female news anchors now wearing just blouses when their male co-anchors are still wearing suits? And on some networks (here I'm thinking of Fox) the blouses aren't (IMHO) very "professional" but are more "girly". If they guys also were in shirt sleeves the difference wouldn't be so jarring. Considering how controlled appearances are on TV, I'm guessing this is a management decision. And one I find disturbing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Working Saturday

Chopped wood, carried water. That was pretty much the morning and afternoon, and no I'm not being literary or figural here. Although it was kind of in reverse, chopped water and carried wood. I'll need to post pictures later. Yes, I know I've promised a few photos lately, I need to deliver soon.

Now I'm reading my brains out. Maybe photos tomorrow.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Laughing in the Face of Friday the 13th

So, not to be thrown out of the groove and wallow in my own self pity, I did some Duotrope-fu and submitted A History of Lighting to Cat Rambo over at Fantasy Magazine. Good luck little story. Make Daddy proud.

Reading the tea leaves (somewhat convoluted maybe, possibly, good news)

updated 3-13-09 8pm Well I knew I should have waited to get home. Sure enough the rejection letter lay in wait for me. No honorable mentionings, no finalists, nothing. Well, Joni did scratch out the "Contestant" and wrote in my name. And she signed it in ink with the admonishment to "Keep Writing," which in the past has been printed. The letter also reads differently than previous rejection letters. So I don't know exactly what to think. Except that I need to find another market for it. An additional thought, my past two submissions haven't made the cut with WotF. That's somewhat worrying. end update

Writers of the Future blog just posted the first list of Honorable Mentions for the 1st quarter. You'll notice I'm not on there. Nor have I received a rejection letter, yet (hey, I live in the middle of cow country, mail is slow sometimes). Of course this is also just the first list (she usually posts two or three lists). However, there have been quarters that they have been posting the lists, and I've made the lists (or they sent me the wrong letter), but my name hasn't appeared.

So that maybe a round about way of saying History of Lightning is still in the running. More than likely. Hopefully. Go, little story, go.

Dear Adobe,

I've never have able to use your automatic updater program. The installation always fails (six times now). However, the main updater program then says that all updates were installed successfully. Your software is broken. Please fix the damn things.

Then maybe we can talk about issues like changing the functionality of Illustrator and InDesign to the point that they are unusable to do the work I want to do. Case in point, in Illustrator when I adjust the path using filters such as Roughen or Bloat or when I use Pathfinder to join objects I want the fucking points for the new path. I want to be able to adjust that peak I just created with the Roughen, or I want to grab the intersection point of the new combined shape. Don't just apply the filter/function and keep the old path. It's really god damn annoying.

Oh, and thanks for changing the functionality of InDesign with CS3 that when I grab a bunch of objects, including the frames of placed graphics, and then resize them together (like to change the size of the elements by a percentage) that you no longer move the placed graphics relative to their frame, but keep them 1) the same percentage of the original placement and 2) in the same place relative to the page. CS2 worked fine. It would adjust the objects relative to their frame. With the new functionality I lose some of the imported graphics because their frame no longer holds the placed graphic in view so I can't even select the image to move it within the frame. This is something I do Every. Single. Fucking. Day. Because you changed that functionality it now takes me longer to do my work, and it makes my job more error prone. Thanks for making my job harder.

Let us not even discuss the silliness of the default RGB color space except to ask, really, just WTF were you thinking?

And to add insult to injury, in a down market, after we're all done cutting out the economic legs of everybody in this business with a race to the bottom, you go and charge nearly full price for an upgrade to CS4, with no price differential with going from CS3 or CS2 or even CS. Hello, giving me no reason to actually upgrade. God knows what else you've changed that will make my job harder.

I think you took advantage of Quark's fumbling and then quickly forgot what made Adobe's business, and applications, better. Because, quite frankly, you're quickly going the way they did. You might want to get on that to change that direction.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And work and... what was the other part

So much to do, and the computer is acting up. Margle.

Six year old computers and multi tasking. Well that and a bunch of high end functions and things are getting locked up. Hope you're doing better.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Long day into night

Had errands to run after work trying to find prices on some things that for whatever reason aren't listed on websites or given over the phone. Um, hello, 21st Century calling. And considering the low end quote was around $25, it really wasn't worth it. Ah well.

Then when I came home, since I had time, and it was about to get colder for the next few days, I turned five 2x4x8's into a wood rack. I made a few mistakes, but recovered from them. I only lost one 6" piece. Because I mis-remembered what kind of kreg screws I had, I ended up wasting about a half hour drilling holes. Then I had to scrounge some 2"+ wood screws to make it all come together. Needless to say I spent over an hour longer on it than I planned and was finishing up by the garage light. And then ate dinner after 8. Ah, good times. But it's done.

Now we're off to 1) Watch the season opener for Ghost Hunters, my guilty pleasure (although this looks familiar) and 2) Edit some commercial writing for a client. If all goes well either add in some creative writing, or going to sleep early. I also have to read novels to come up with my recommendations on what I want to critique.

At the day thing, things are strange. Some metrics I can track are looking better. Now it is left to be seen if the powers that be also see it that way. I'm sure they have different metrics.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I think it was called "tough self love"

Mary Robinette Kowel helps distill down an editorial to its essence. And it's a good reminder to just STFU and do it.

Here's the full editorial by Beth Wodzinski (editor of Shimmer) over at Apex's Blog.

This is part of why I agreed to do things. Village Council, Ruritans, Cajun Sushi Hamsters, and other things. All because some times you have to just say, WTF. And yes, I say that putting on Ray Bans (you know, or you don't, don't make me explain it). Take the leap. Sometimes you splat, sometimes you figure out how to fly. After a time you get better at flying.

Given how low my word outputage (yeah, I made that up) of these past few days has been, with the current leap there's a high probability I may splat. Add in the day job shakiness and it may be a big, expensive splat. But you never get the brass ring riding safely.

Live by the shoddy analysis, die by the shoddy analysis

Hmm, okay, so if we go with the Fox News market analysis, I guess todays market shows that Wall Street likes 1) Negotiating with the Taliban terrorists, 2) Separating politics from science (hence leading us to stem cell research and acknowledging Global Warming is caused by human activity), 3) want the spending increases in the omnibus spending bill, or 4) Actually think that isolating the Troubled Assets to remove the risk from the market is a good idea (instead of just giving banks money). Your choice Fox.

I'm waiting.

I'm going for all five. Or, you know, Wall Street doesn't really react to political news bites, but to perceived market fundamentals and how much money they have to invest. My guess is that enough money had been sidelined, that if certain entities don't invest it by the end of the quarter their position sheets won't look nice.

edit corrected spelling with the help on an anonymous blogging friend (who can out themselves if they like).

Monday, March 9, 2009

Submission in the later Afternoon

Because I'm playing hooky from other work, I sent off Prince Wanted to Flash Fiction Online. Good luck little story. Don't forget to write.

Rejection in the Afternoon

An editor over at Ideomancer sends word that unfortunately they won't be buying Prince Wanted. They liked the twist at the end, but say they don't publish humor often. Fair cop. It was a personalized rejection letter, so score! And, they also read it all the way through (okay, so it's only 600 words, but still).

So once again to the salt mines of duotrope, Ralans, and all the others to winnow out a market for the little flash story that could.

Something like productive

Today's day off proved to be productive, but not in the way I wanted it.

Things accomplished:
1) returned lost cat to owner
It had been wandering around for the past three weeks
2) replaced (upgraded) light fixture in laundry room
Hint, turn on light, then throw breaker to make sure you have the correct breaker off (zapped twice)
3) met with client to go over letter and mailing
Trying to save client money, he's done things for us so $.50 per letter just ain't cutting it.
4) dropped off Village laptop for upgrade
It's a Windows machine, I hardly use it except for official business
5) Freed wood rack from being frozen to the ground
One day that was semi warm caused it to tip over, and then the ground froze again, I didn't restack the wood yet
6) post blog entry explaining why my word count is off today
You're reading it.

Things not accomplished:
1) word count
At least not yet
2) replace electrical plug in kitchen
Haven't had a moment where I can have the electric off (half the house)
edit 6pm Installed. Now our appliance plugs won't keep dropping out. Was really annoying.
3) Get quote from copy cop
To get cost down for client (hell, I might just print it off)
edit 6pm WTF, FedEx and Copy Max (Imcopy or some weird name like that) don't publish their prices. Oh, but they'll accept your work and then give you a price. Bzzzt. Thanks for playing.
4) Turn five 2x4x8's into extra wood rack
We've got a lot of wood to stack
5) Procrastinate by checking and commenting on friends blogs
I'm getting to it

Hope your day was more productive.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Resolution

Okay, I've farted around enough today, and it's one hour shorter than all the other days (damn you, Congress!). Yeah, so sometime in the next few weeks I get to commute through the deer moving times (twilight) again! Argh!

Anyway, considering my sucky word output yesterday, I've got to do more today. ::crack that whip:: I've got enough to distract me offline when I need a mental break. Now if I could just find that 8gig USB drive. And my keys. you haven't seen them, have you?

Oh well, time to put the internet away and get to work.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Some Early Headlines from 2010

Well, Chizine nibbled on Scrimshaw Man. They wanted some edits which makes it easier to read, but harder to speak. Of course I said yes to the edits. Sent back my email saying I agreed. They said it might be published in 2010. So here we are sitting and waiting.

As I say at work, "I can be patient, I get paid by the hour." (well, not in this case, but $10 isn't something I'm going to get all freaked out about, you know)

I still don't have a hard commitment or contract, so it may go sour. But there's the good news I've been sitting on for a while now. Thanks to everybody that responded to my query about what to do in these circumstances.

Somehow saying, "I'll be published in 2010," feels an awful lot like, "I'm big in Japan." Yeah, I know, publishing schedules. What can you do. And, hey, they want it. I can wait.

Wait, it's 4:00? Man, I'm getting good at procrastinating

Well, actually I am doing stuff, just not writing (you know, except for this). Catching up putting things in their proper places, some household paperwork, village paperwork, checking lottery numbers, filling out forms, making a lost cat flyer (not for ours, we have a long hair mail out back with a collar, no tag, and he's very boney) and in general farting around. It rained this morning, so I could go out and toss wood, which would have been good because I'm back at 304 lbs (after shower). So I could use a good work out.

Need to get back to the writing. Need to download the other novels and start reading. Need to write blog posts for here and GenreBenders (which I've been neglecting). Need to stop saying I need to do things and get things done.

So, how's your weekend going?

Late night bingeing

Wow, crazy week. Besides all the other stuff, the day job, the night thing, the other night thing, the trees being taken down, and all that craziness, I also finished up (okay, well, got revision 1 done) of chapters 1-3 and a short synopsis of Bladesman down in phosphors. It's posted to the group site. I'll have to download the others' novels tomorrow and take a peak.

I'm so tired I can't tell if it's good or not. I guess I'll find out. And I'm having problems forming coherent paragraphs, so it's time for bed. See you all when the sun is so high.

Finally they posted next week's layoff schedule. I have Monday (good thing they posted the schedule before I went home). So maybe I'll be able to power through more.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Well, that took way too long

OMG! It's time to go to bed, and I spent the night doing quotes for a client (no, not impressions, although I do some good ones, I mean "I can do this work for you for this much" kinds of quotes). Except for their letter they needed written, I didn't write anything else this evening (unless you count the typing in the quote numbers for presentation). OMG! I'm doomed. I needed to get Chapter 2 in shape and work more in Chapter 3, plus more notes for the synopsis.

Bad writer, no klondike bar.

Tomorrow comes early, and I hauled like 15 wheelbarrows full of wood back to the pile, plus the full day of work and playing with the kittens. Damn it.

Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me

Today was exceptionally busy. And it looked like yesterday was also busy at the day thing. Now, we've had these before only to have the next day be kind of a waste (for work billing related projects). But I'm hoping we're seeing a trend. Especially since we don't have a layoff schedule for next week yet! Argh! How am I supposed to plan my interviews health appointments when I don't know when I'll have the day off? I mean, if I have next Friday off, I could call my doctor's office and schedule the appointment earlier (like they normally call me the day before to try and get done). I could beat them to the punch!

Anyway, I've been writing. Not a lot, like 5000 words a day, but constantly and whenever I can sneak in a few moments. I have pages of notes I've taken at work, doing a basic outline, defining the Three Act Structure (yeah! it has one), getting in the details, figuring out just WTF is supposed to happen how and when, and... ooo, something shiny. Oh wait, no, must focus. Today the crisis hit. That feeling of, "What am I doing?! I can't do this! It's impossible! I'm gonna kill myself trying this." Not a fun time. Bu tI suffered in silence at work. Or, at least the machinery was loud enough nobody heard me whimpering.

Last night I went through Chapter 1 and it was decent. Not spectacular, but you know, I don't think it was as full of suckatude as I thought it maybe. I'm in the middle of Chapter 3 where we meet the Boss, and get a feeling for what where up against. And yeah, I blows it out of the water at the end of Act 1 and 2. That's what we do as authors. As Jim Hines says, when asked if he ever wanted to hang out with his characters he doesn't think that would be a a good idea. Jig (a goblin and the protagonist of three of his novels) would probably knife him as soon as expedient because of what Jim puts him through. So my main character is going to have two main plot areas where he realizes he's in a deeper and smellier dung pile than he thought he was. And he nearly dies in the first chapter. Things go from bad to worse, cycle repeats.

We had our trees taken down on Tuesday, so my yard is full of wood, wood chips, and sawdust. I've made a very little dent these past three nights. Yes, I have pictures, but I haven't had time to download them yet. Maybe this weekend.

I also haven't gotten my RSS feeds reuploaded at work, so I know I'm missing a whole passel (hey, I just figured out how to spell that correctly on the first try, yeah me!) of posts and am living a less enriching life without my contacts with you all. Hopefully soon that will be rectified.

Also, because I did it again, I need to kill the adverbs in the book. And my first sentence has a doozey. So back to the wood pile.

And in political news, I found it very funny and somewhat sad that Fox News is pointing to the DOJ action today and then pointing to the President and saying how it's a vote of no-confidence in his presidency and the health debate today, when, you know, every other news organization is talking about how GM might fail, even in bankruptcy, how Citibank is trading around $1, and GE is going under. Clue bat to Fox News. There's a reason you "don't hear this kind of news anywhere else." Yeah, when you pull it out of your kesiter like that, nobody but you wants to hold it. Just saying.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's like a revolving door

Prince Wanted is back out to Ideomancer. Good luck little story.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sunrise, sunset

A post about the day and night things. Or, basically, a few random things make a post.

But first a question for my fellow writers. When do you announce a special event. When you receive first notice, sign the contracts, or when it's about to be available? I've just been wondering of late.

At the day thing we finally had a layoff day calendar posted. But it's only for this well (insert ominous music here). Wouldn't it be nice to know in advance what day we would have off so we could do things like schedule car and doctor's appointments? Well, yeah, I think so. Anyway, tomorrow is my day off and I have a car appointment. So fortunately I was able to reschedule.

Since the snow is mostly gone but the ground is still frozen our tree service finally came out and cut down the trees we wanted removed. So my lawn is a mess and it's still going to be cold for a bit. And when it warms up, it's going to rain. Yeah!. I need to clean up all the wood out there, contact the people I asked if they were interested in buying some fresh firewood, and then rake the whole place (there's leaves from the fall that I couldn't get up before bad weather stole in). Then I'll need to restructure the beds and rebuild the stone walls we had to take down so they could grind the stumps. Lift that log, tote that wheelbarrow.

This Sunday I reached the magical 300 again. Weight goes down, then up, then down, then up... but hopefully the trend is still downward. Which it is. I just noticed today that that I have my doctor's appointment next week. Let's hope I keep on the downward trend until then.

Even with the downturn in the economy, I'm having difficulty getting quotes for freelance jobs. What's up with that?

Flash: Rejection!

Andromeda Spaceways sends word that they're going to pass on the Prince Wanted. I'm not sure if it's a form rejection or not. They say that can't use the story at this stage. And then they say they hope to hear more from me. So it doesn't feel like a form (maybe my wishful thinking) but isn't specific to the story either. But, hey, they can't use it. Fair cop.

So now I need to find another funny fantasy fiction market. Back to the old Duotrope.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Da Research

Huhn, seems Raymond Chandler is one of those authors that fire my neurons. Good thing that. Although I just figured out the books I have are abridged! ARGH!

See, for me there's two kinds of authors. There's the kind that I love to read and watch what and how they do things, but they leave my mind barren of fire. Then there's the other kind that light my head in a bonfire of creative drive.

Today's library run got me The Maltese Falcon, and Hugger Mugger. Both are unabridged (yes, I double checked before I checked out). Score!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

BZZZZT! But thanks for playing.

As some of you know, one of the books I'm writing deals with the end-times, so when something comes on TV concerning that topic I like to give it a listen. Well, as I was finishing up the work today (boy, did that take longer than expected), there was a History Channel show on Nostradamus, the infamous bogey man of end-day prophesy, and 2012, the current fab fannish obsession*. Well, I wasn't watching, I was over here at the table working when I hear one of the commentators talk about how, you know, it's all coming down to crunch time; 2012, Revelations**, biblical prophecy and because the Jewish religion also believes the world will end in their year 7000.

Which was the "WTF?!" moment. Um, hey, I'm pretty hip to these things and that's the first I've heard of that. Granted, I'm no Talmudic Scholar, but I think I would have come across such a thing before this.

And the year 7000 in the Jewish Calendar is some 1200+ years away. Yeah, over a millennium away. And we're in crunch time with 2012? As Bill Engval might say, "Here's your sign."

* No, it's not their "catastrophe prediction of end-times," it's a super reset of their calendar cycle. There are dire warnings in their texts about this next cycle, but the world goes on, just as it has 4 times before according to their accounting. Also, most of their 12 year cycles have forboding messages. Remember, these are people who felt they needed to sacrifice the still beating hearts of their prize citizens to keep the sun moving through the sky. You know, they weren't about happiness and daisies if you know what I mean.

** Actually, when you know what you're talking about, according to Revelation as revealed by St. John the Divine, we are already in the "end-times." I could go through the whole proof, but I'm tired at the moment. Let's just say that the Beast/Anti-Christ was the Roman Emperor. Domitian if memory serves, although Hadrian is also sticking in my head. In either case they are both long dead.

But at night I'm a junk food junkie

So I didn't get to do things I wanted to do today. Instead I'm working, again, on things I'll get very little pay for. Because of that, I'm munching on comfort food.


You can have your greasy foods and your depression era make do-s, for me it's mostly cheese. And here Steve betrays that even though his ancestry includes peoples from Irish Rock Farmers to Russian Schtettle Refuges, it's mostly Slavic/Germanic.

Along with Mustard Cheese, Horseradish is a sometimes favorite (I can't eat it all the time, but a few times a year is good). Mmm, cheese.