There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Friday, August 31, 2007


All around great person and frequent commentor Camille has got herself a whole new crop of story and poem acceptances. You should go congratulate her. This summer and recent move have certainly worked for her. Just like the flowers in your new yard, Camille, you keep surprising and dazzling us with your growth.

Holy Frijolies and Meat Pies!

They're making Sweeny Todd into a movie. How wacked is that? This is a little old (it should have been out by now), but Johnny Depp as Sweeny and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. OMG! Tim Burton directed! I think I just orgasmed. OMG! This Christmas! Holy Frick! I gotta go change my underwear. It's horror, it's historial, it's comedy, it's a musical! (Yes, I've seen it on stage which is why I'm so excited)

Did I say... OMG!

And the radio is playing Christine Lavin. I'm in heaven. Did I die on the way home? Was that the thing with the dog on the motorcycle? Did I also win the Mega Millions (darn it, numbers aren't posted yet)?

Edit 10:51 pm Alan Rickman is Judge Turpin. I don't know who cast this movie but I love you. Hollywood, you should give this person more work.

Full disclosure, I was looking for information on The Dark Knight Returns which should be coming out the summer of 2008. Add in The Golden Compass, Spiderwick and a few others (Dark is Rising and Beowulf not so much, although A. Jolie as Grendle has some potential, at least that's what I got out of the trailer, didn't seem much like the book anyway so it could be Beowulf - The Missing Years) I'm going to have to start budgeting for movies again.

Story Bone

Well, today's work was hell on wheels. And the way the work day ended (after 11 hours) doesn't bode well for a nice next week.

But the story bone occured on the way home. There was a guy on a motorcycle with his dog. There was no side car. The dog wasn't running beside as he drove slowly. No, the golden-retriever was sitting with his butt on the seat and stradling the gas tank. No, I'm not kidding. I wish I had a camera to take the picture. The bike was what we call "dual-purpose" which means an offroad bike with headlight, 4 stroke engine, and some other modifications. But, yeah, dog on a motorcycle. Weird.

This goes with the TV satellite dish on the truck. Although that one I could rationalize.

Labor Day

I'm not sure what all I'll be posting over the weekend. If I don't type at you beforehand, have a great Labor Day.

If you like your weekends off, go thank a union member.

If you like not working 12 hour days (not that this applies to me), go thank a union member.

If you like your holidays off (the business trends are going against this, again, and is one of the reasons Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol), go thank a union member.

None of these things are "market driven." They're worker's rights won by unionization and collective bargaining.

And if you like that this is a long weekend, go thank a union member.

Steve B.
Graphic Communications Conference International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local M546 Member.

Haiku pushed out

Well, last night, after having my mind blown out by a 12 hour shift, added to by 1.5 hours of freelance design work on an "emergency project" (that came in at 5pm), and some village stuff, I tried reading to get my mind ready for sleep. Something in me went "sprung" and I ended up in the bathroom with what I can only describe as a strange combination of constipation and the runs. Yeah, it wasn't fun.

While sitting on the toilet trying to keep my intestines from flinging out of my gut ala Alien, a haiku was born. I'm sure these two events are connected in some cosmic way. It was a serious haiku that had nothing to do with what I was reading before, or the gastrial distress I was experiencing.

I would post it here, but I am going to be sending it out. Like I said, it was a serious haiku, and I had time to rewrite it in my head (paper is for wimps!). I have no idea how to title haiku, or even if they need titles (I don't think they do).

Don't ever say I don't share the creative process with you all. :)

Aw, come John, you know you wanna post about this.

For those SFWA (or wanna-be) writers.
And the Other Thing

Plea to Mr. John Scalzi. I know you're not going to end your haitus just because of my teasing here. I hope you're being productive with the time (it looks so from Ficlets and By The Way). But, seriously dude, please run for SFWA President next year to help end this kind of stupidity. I'm hoping by that point to have qualified for membership. I really want to belong (it's one of my writer goals), but if I have to swear to defend these actions or "Shades of Grey" I will probably pass on joining. GriefCom is great, I'd like to be able to access it. The other things SFWA offers would be excellent. But this organization really needs to pull it's executive-branch head out of its RIAA wanna-be ass. You're the candidate that can do that, or at least start the turn of the ship.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Woohoo! Rag-a-Bag!

(because the overwhelming vote is, just do it)

Just got an email (well, this morning) from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Rag-a-Bag passed first and second muster and is now on the shortlist (they say later, only 1 of 3 shortlisted poems get accepted). Woohoo! I'll take one out of three over one out of a hundred any day of the week.

They ask for my patience ("Yeah, yeah, patience,how long is that going to take" - Ed Gruberman) as they consider it. Consider my patience granted. Any editor, any market, you want to take a while to read my work for possible publication, take your time. When I started this journey a response time of 6-8 months was common, and that was for a form rejection letter. So if you need three months to decide and I'm out of the slush already, you go right ahead and take that time.

Oh, and thanks for the email Zara at Andromeda Spaceways. That was very cool. I'm now on a natural high (and it was starting off being a bad day and Thursdays are my long day at work). Thanks, Zara.



I got some good news this morning about one of my submissions. It isn't an acceptance, yet, and the odds are still stacked against it, but those odds are now 1 in 3 on making it through (as compared to 1 in 100+). And I wrote up a whole post about how psyched it made me. Really, me, natural high. I'm smiling. That doesn't happen often.

But then I thought, would I be violating some unspoken rule about not posting about such things. So I'm conflicted now. I'd really like to go up to the rooftops and shout it out, but I don't want to sink my chances and put me in that 2 out of 3 group.

Some writers read this blog, what's your take on good news that's not an acceptance but is greater than a rejection? Do you post it, thanking the editors, tell them how much they made your day? Or do you remain cool until you get that accepted/rejected letter? Do you think I'd violate some confidentiality rule by saying anything? Would I adjust the odds of the universe's rolling dice by saying something good?

As you know (Bobsies), I'm not shy about sharing the rejections here. What about the semi-good news?

And, yes, I'm positively bursting.

GPS, why, it's like magic!

So, if you listen to the news, you may have seen the new full-court press circus to change over the Air Traffic Controller System to GPS tracking from it's current radar/transponder based system.

This is being pushed by the businesses that stand to profit from forcing every pilot, carrier, and manufacturer to buy their systems. How do I know this? Because of the focus of the stories. GPS is the new snake oil. It can cure everything that's wrong with the current system. No more delays, no more waiting on the tarmac, no more endless circling over an airport, all the air traffic controllers will keep their jobs, nobody will have to be fired. Why, it'll even cure that stubborn acne that whatever Brittany Spears was touting won't get rid of. It's a salad dressing and a floor wax.

What a bunch of huey. It won't solve dick. And you know what. It'll make us less secure. Why? Because radar picks up everything in the air (okay, above and below certain altitudes escape notice). This new GPS Air System works on the premise that ALL the GPS devices are functioning. That ALL the GPS devices are in working order. That ALL the airplanes have one and have it turned on. So, if I want to disappear from the controller system, I turn the GPS device off. Bleep. Look at me, I'm a Stealth Ship. Right now if an aircraft turns off it's transponder it still shows up on the radar. The radar display just doesn't show all the data the transponder sends along.

Why would I want to do that? Oh, I don't know, like if I wanted to fly my airplane into a big building. I might want to disable the GPS. Not only would I do that to not be found (bleep, look, I'm a ghost) but one of those things that most people don't know about GPS is that it's run on military satellites that are specifically purposed to the GPS mission and are only using one fourth of their programming memory. Let that one sink in for a bit. Oh yeah, the Pentagon has officially said that GPS is theirs and they can turn it on or off when they want. They also retain the ability to adjust the signals when and to whom they want. Do you really believe that if I were a terrorist I would let my million dollar mission be subjected to such a risk? And if we dismantle the radar based system, when I go black, only the military would be able to find me with their targeting radar.

And it, at best, will only reduce the wait times a little. This is because the wait times are caused by overscheduled flight routes. That is, within 30 minutes most airports can have about 12 departures and arrivals (planes must be at least five minutes apart, using two runways). As I remember, LaGuardia has twenty departures scheduled for 8am. This new system will allow planes a three minute window. So while that means that they can handle 20 arrivals and departures, that only means half those planes will still leave withing the hour of their scheduled departure. So you might not be waiting two hours on the ground, but you'll still be waiting for a long time. And then people will start to remember that those five minutes inbetween aircraft also help disburse the air turbulance caused by passing jet aircraft because we've done this before and had problems. And now that pilots will be controlling their flights more, how many will really "fly slower" to their desitination when their performance will be based on on-timeness? So get read to be stacked up even higher as we lose the flight control between airports and in the skies. But, say the promoters, each aircraft will beable to see the other aircraft and determine their best approach. Oh yeah. Say, how's that working on our highways? And pilots, you know, are really laid back people for the most part. Not stressed at all by all the other equipment they need to keep an eye on. Most don't have control issues. Air rage is going to take on a whole new meaning with this system.

With the jobs of air traffic controllers, of course they won't have to fire anybody. Most of them are about to retire in the next few years, as this system would be put in place. So, no need to fire them, and no need to replace them with new controllers. So, less people watching the skies. Feeling safer already?

My judgement, this GPS system is one of those, "but, gee, it worked so well in the boardroom," kind of things. That phrase may need explaining, let me give you the short cut. I once had an argument about business planning and was told, "as an artist, surely you know you can draw a pyramid starting with any point. Just start with the top point," to explain a top-down management concept about how hiring good corner-office managers would solve any business problem (this was before the "revolution" of flat organizational charts). The person I was arguing with, who had a PhD in Business, just didn't comprehend it when I repsonded, "yeah, you can draw it anyway you like, just don't try and build one from the top point down." They understood it (well, some did) a year later when they discovered a guy in the mail-room was ripping them off by using their "infallible" tracking system. He had been doing it for six years. Yeah, don't try and build your pyramids from the top down is all I'm saying.

Say, did I mention the Chinese Anti-Satellite Missiles? Oh, forgot that part.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

School Is Back In Session

For me, I sing that title to the tune of, "School's Out."

All the kiddies are back in school. The yellow buses clog streets that are seeing higher traffic. And the spam is back to clogging up my in box. And yes, these things are all related. Really, kids and school administrators, lock down your systems.

One nephew is starting college at my Alma Mater. We IMed a little on his first day. I hope he doesn't get caught in the traps college lays out for people. Another nephew is finishing undergrad this year and is planning on going to grad school (although we don't know where, I think he really wants to go to Columbia, good luck with that). Another newphew with graduate from HS this year. We're not sure what he'll do. College is the best guess. I have secondary bets on going crazy and leaving home (to hopefully go to the college he wants).

The nieces are still working their way through school. One I expect to see her sing this year. She's really great. The next on in line I think is starting Jr. High, so I expect some slight craziness, although she's been toughed up by her little sister. The last one we expect to hear she's causing more troubles. I really like my youngest niece. She needs more than she's getting. And she most certainly doesn't let boys (icky) push her around. :)

And this just in. My friend and sometimes commentor, Dan B. let's me know someone emailed a bomb threat in concerning a building at my Alma Mater. These kids are so dumb these days, you have to wait until at least midterms before pulling this stunt. This is not acceptable first week behavior.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tagged, Bagged, and filled out in Quadricate Meme

(imagine me in the roll of Kirk in Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan) KANREI!!

Your four things. Ugh. I have to keep them to four?

Four jobs I have had or currently have in my life:
1. Platemaker/Typesetter - The current day job. That title really only covers about one third of what I really do. Let's just say that it doesn't drain my soul and it fills my pocket. Which is more than I can say for previous jobs.

2. Councilman - Hi, I'm from the Government, I'm here to help. I've been in office for five years now, first year I was appointed to fill out the term of a recalled councilman. I'm up for re-election this year. Vote for Me! I've served on several committees. Currently I'm chairman of the Streets and the Lands and Building Committees (we tend to lump these together as one). I hope not to be chairman next year come what may in November. Three years is long enough.

3. Manager - I managed a 14 person art department for the National Office of a former Big Six Consultancy Firm. I was there five years (less two months). For three years I was #2 in charge (first year we had a separate design office, last year I was manager) and then promoted by vacancy to the chiefs position. Never do that to me again. Okay, well, if you're gonna pay me a real salary that matches to others in the same positions, sure. But they were only going to give me a token raise and then take away my over-time (which would have been a 25% or more pay cut). Don't ever take away my OT unless you're giving me a BIG raise. This is the job that asked for the pint of blood. Then the pound of flesh. And finally they came for my soul. I had to leave. Six months after I had left that consultancy division had been sold off, and then about five-years down the line really didn't exist anymore.

4. Mowing lawns and yard work - The job I started when I was 12. This wasn't mowing my Grandpa's lawn for an allowance. This was mowing two neighbors' lawns, digging their gardens, hauling stuff, pushing snow (with a shovel) for hard cash. When I started at Wendy's four years later, I had four lawns, plus my Grandparent's. Since I was at Wendy's I've been out of work twice for a total of eight months. Both times there was Bush in the Whitehouse and we were at war in Iraq. Keep that in mind if you ever wonder why I don't like the current president (notice that wasn't "hate," I just don't like him).

Four Countries I have been to:
1. Canada - You gotta go to Canada. Toronto, you just have to experience it. And seeing Niagra Falls in the winter, very romantic. If you see the falls in the summer you have to do the Cave of Winds tour. Really. Lots of stairs, but well worth it.

2. Germany - A couple of days worth side-trip while in college with my brother and Mom. We went to Heidelberg. Most interesting story? Arguing with West German border guards on the crossing from Denmark (you could see East Germany from the train station). They had MP4s and guard dogs. I had myself. Yeah, full of piss and vinegar was I. Also, people were smoking so much in the train car (when they shouldn't have been) that I had to stand between trains. They didn't like that. And I was young and dumb enough I didn't care what they liked.

3. Denmark - Also in college to visit with my Uncle. Both the Germany and Denmark trips were heavily subsidized by my Uncle. Thanks, Uncle Jim. I still remember the castles, Tivoli, and Legoland. I also remember the country side. I wish I could go back because I was young and stupid at the time and I'd take in more now.

4. I don't have a fourth I can talk about. Hmm. I need to rectify that. Does it count that I've been to Canada many, many times? And that I have a valid passport? Yes. This is one thing that needs rectified in short order. Bette's always wanted to go back to France. We've talked about Ireland and Scotland, including living there. (all the properties are closed out now)

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Back in college - I'm far enough removed from it that I don't remember the hellacious times, only the good parts. To be young and strong again. Full of piss and vinegar, ready to take on the world and squeeze what you can out of life. Who wouldn't want that. Of course then there was the fact that I don't remember when I slept. Hauling clothes through a sleet storm to the laundry (30 minute walk). Having a 500 square-foot apartment. But to be that alive again. Oh yeah.

2. In the San Juan de Fucas - If I ever hit it big, I have a feeling this is where I'll end up. Owning a small island, watching the ocean, orca, and weather come in and out of the Puget Sound, writing like a fiend.

3. Anywhere on a boat. I love boats. On a ship you have a lot of distance between you and the water. On a boat you feel the water.

4. Anywhere that isn't work and I'm with my wife - because, seriously, I don't spend nearly enough time with her.

Four foods I like to eat:
1. Mexican. Real Mexican, not Taco Bell. Not any of the chains. Real Mexican where they cook the tamales and shred the meat.

2. Asian (Thai, Chinese, Japanese). Again, the real stuff. Of course not all of it I like, and you can't get completely authentic food prep for some of it (and for some of it I wouldn't want it), but places that don't over-cook in the wok (vegetables should be crisp, not soggy), that know their sauces and how food is meant to go together.

3. A hoagie. Gods how I miss real hoagies. We're not talking just a sub/grinder/blimpie whatever. I mean a hoagie.

4. Real deli pickles. Not those spear thingies they sell in glass jars, I'm talking real wood-barrels and long tongs to pick them out. Garlicy, tart, spicey and juicy. Yum.

Four personal heroes-past or present:
This one is difficult for me. I really don't think in these terms. So I'm probably going to munge this all up and forget a few hundred people. Also not on this list are the people I served with. You know who you are. And there's the added part that I'm a politician that's up for re-election and this is one of those questions that you either maintain an even keel, or sink to the bottom.

1. My Mom, she raised us two boys after divorcing my Dad. She's always been there for me. She showed me what devotion means. She also taught me that you don't give up because the going gets hard.

2. My Grandfather, Charles Marpe. He taught me what it meant to be a man. How to love my wife. How to work. That life isn't meant to sleep through. Grandpa taught me how to live, and how to die. I miss my Grandpa very much.

3. My Uncle. You showed me what was possible to do.

4. The Fab Four - I was going to cheat and name them separately and not to the family thing. But seriously 1) John Lennon, damn. "In my life." Every December 8th, For the Late Great Johnny Ace. 2) Paul McCartney, he owns how much of Great Britain now? 3) George Harrison, if I had a quarter of his talent/skill I'd be playing guitar for profit. 4) Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, 'nough said.

Four books I have read or are currently reading:
Jeez, you ask a writer this. What, don't you have anything else to do for the next year?

1. Atrocity Archive by Charlie Stross - currently reading. I don't think there are any wasted words in this book. Wow.

2. American Gods by Neil Gaimen - seriously, you have to read this book. This is the book that taught me what I should aspire to, and it wasn't Tolkein. Only one of two books that my response to finishing it was, "Damn" and turn back to page one to start all over.

3. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

4. Vintage Ray Bradbury by Ray Bradbury - the book I read before taking the class.

Four to Tag :
Ha ha ha!
1. Dan B. - because, seriously Dude, you need to post more often.

2. Jim Wright - because he's got a new blog and he needs to think about if he's going to do these kinds of things.

3. Camille - double tagged.

4. Greenyflower - because it'll be interesting.

Scalzi Watch Alert

News from the front. John's messing with his blog. And what's up with that picture, hair and beard? Hmmm. We seem to be on the verge of seeing the release of Scalzi V2.0 (or whatever number he's up to these days). Or has he perfected cloning (in the SciFi sense) through his relationship with the Amish and now his clone army is poised to take over, what, Western Ohio? Oh, if only the furry recon group wasn't marching to Boston to find Chang for Rizzle, I could have been on top of this all, but instead I'm on the sidelines.

As Frankenfurter said, "Antici..."

And you though I could only quote high-brow literature. Ha!


There is a bumper crop

A bumper crop of writing advice, lately. SF Novelists is turning into a good little community (Good job, Tobias and eveyrbody else there). Lots of stories and advice from working writers.

Then there's also all around nice guy and author Joshua Palmatier that has been showing some of the tools of the writer lately.

Let me backup. One of my favorite books on writing is Stephen King's On Writing. When Mr. King finally gets to the actual writing part, he talks about having a toolbox and then goes on to talk about the tools you have in the top of the tool box, the ones you use everyday, grammer and spelling. Then he talks about some of the big tools everybody ought to have in the other drawers of the toolbox (your toolbox does have drawers, doesn't it?) like plot. My reference is my own toolbox, which is a big Craftsman contraption that stands four feet tall and has wheels. I don't think a writer's toolbox needs to be so big, but it helps to know I'm not talking about a little tackle-box rig here. As an FYI, this blog is named in honor of Mr. King's book. He calls his story fragments "fossils." I like my ideas a little fresher, and his analogy on how to exhume the story works the same. When I roamed the woods of my youth, I ran into bones, not fossils (although I have gone fossil hunting since then), hence the name.

Josh is showing some of the tools in the other drawers. Plot, you can think of like a level or square. Josh is showing us the chisels, specialty hammers, and saws. You should check his blog out. And definately check out the past posts he's done. there' lots of good stuff there. Like this recent post on Sympathetic Characters.

I guess it's NOT just a Florida thing

This. What is it with Senators and public restrooms?

Come on, John Scalzi. It's got to be driving you nutty to not post now. Sure, you thought it was going to be a quiet two weeks. Sure, we all are waiting to see The High Castle. We know you need to post. We know why you need to post. Come on, the first post is free. :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Trying New Things

So I'm submitting poetry. Rag-a-Bag is off into the wider world to make, well, maybe copies. Bon voyage little poem.

I've only submitted poetry to college publications before. It's a long story. Basically, poetry was the major focus of my minor in Creative Writing, although my senior thesis was on the writings of Arthur C. Clarke (the thesis explored the relationship of religion to science in his writings, yeah, I had a brain, once, long ago).

There was a professor at my college that taught poetry. One critique in advanced poetry he criticised my use of a specific image in a love poem (well, actually it was a poem about love, not an actual love poem). "Buchheit," he said, "you just can't have dogs pissing on phone polls in a poem about love. It doesn't work. Even if you're using it to show frustration." (the dog's actions were showing the frustration he had with his moon-god, the street light) Flash forward 4 years (I was an undergraduate for 6-years, I changed majors, plus I worked several jobs to get through, deal with it) and my last semester. Said professor has a new book of poems out. I use my final bookstore discount (one of the three jobs I was working while attending full time, yes, full time AND three jobs) to purchase the little volume. Where I find a love poem (actually, a poem about love) with (wait for it) a dog peeing on a telephone poll to show frustration. That book still bears the crease in the cover. I have it somewhere (it's in a box right now). I think that was the last poetry book I ever bought.

Am I still mad? Maaayyybbbee. What's it to ya?

Have Room, Will Travel

Just finished the Jeff VanderMeer tansfer of membership for the World Fanatsy convension this fall by moving the hotel reservation over to my name. Yes, my secret plan of world domination (that's right, Jim, I also have a plan (insert evil laughter here)) is coming together nicely. Jeff posted on his blog last spring about not being able to go and needing to transfer stuff. I quickly chimed in that I would take one of the memberships and the room (the Con Hotel had just closed their reservation block).

So, I have Jeff VanderMeer's membership for WF, and I have their reservation. I also have coasters and postcards from Jeff to handout and leave on the freebie table.

So, I've been having a brain moment. I've been thinking I should make a "I'm Not Jeff VanderMeer" ribbon for my name badge, take pictures of the fun time at World Fantasy, and make a little post about it. Like a little story. "Tonight the part of Jeff VanderMeer will be played by..."

Anyway. I'm glad I could help out Jeff and Ann. And I get to go to World Fantasy and stay in the Con Hotel. Yes! Score! Good times all around.

And I'm really debating making that ribbon. Maybe I should see what Jeff thinks about that?

Not One of Us

One of the reasons I get pissed when people start defending our policies reguarding the Gitmo detention camps. This is Israel. You know, the place where suicide bombers used to go off like clock work. The place where it's more realistic that they would have a "the bomb goes off in 24-hours" hypothetical situation in real life. They don't do the shit we're doing. Because what we're doing is not necessary and is counter productive toward our goals of security. We need to stop giving the enemy points. And the finger for giving the enemy points, credibility, and a fruitful enlistment and training opportunities points directly at the Oval Office (and a second finger at the US Naval Observatory). We knew these lesson back in the 80s, back when we successfully fought terrorists to the point where the average citizen no longer thought about them. Why do we have to re-invent the wheel?

Strike Up the Band!

Well, rumors are Alberto Gonzales has finally seen the writing on the wall. And in the papers, and on the TV crawls, and writen in lipstick on his bathroom mirror. Rumors are the Great Gonzo will resign. I guess he wasn't scheduled for any oversite meetings this week.

Oh John Scalzi, aren't you sad you're on haitus today? Hmm, anybody taking bets that he'll do a post on this in violation of his own sabatical? I mean, sure, the big Karl goes AWOL and you can let it slide. But Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales? Come on, John. Don't just unload on Krissy and Athena. You know you wanna post about it. We know you wanna post about it. :)

So, as the munchkins prance about having had another house fall on another witch, the people in Oz wonder about how this will affect their stock portfolios.

Just for the record, this is the time in all administrations that the major players leave and fresh faces get their feet wet in those positions so that they can serve the next administrations. It's a natural thing. However, being hounded out of town on a rail isn't normal.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rewrite Weekend

This weekend was a slow one. I combined all the comments on Daddy's Little Girl on to one manuscript to get ready for the rewrite. I've put all the comments for Robert's Thunder into one folder (progress! science!). And finally I rewrote Rag-a-Bag and queried a few markets about if they considered publishing an early draft on a personal blog as "prior publication." Some places do, some places don't. I just figured I'd find out.

My brain has been keying to poetry lately. Little things set off the radar, like the line "Dogged days of summer" and "Arcturus, Arcturus, phone your way home."

So, Rag-a-Bag is tighter. I've realize that I really have no clue as to the current forms of poetry. So I don't know if I'm in vogue or behind the times. I did put in more punctuation and sentence structures, changed some of the line breaks. Tightened it up, but in the end, changed very little of the substance. I don't know if that's good or not. We'll find out once we start submitting it. Bewildering Stories was offline (at least to me) for most of Saturday. It seems to be back now. If I hear bad news back from those other markets that's where the poem will go.

And for those people who were wondering about my quotation abilities, here's another source for you. This weekend we've been watching "Deep Blue" and "Blue Planet" on Discovery, all narrated by Pierce Brosnan. For the past three segments I've been overlaying what Mr. Brosnan says with a Pinky and the Brain episode. This is the episode that breaks down the fourth wall and has Brain doing a voice-over and Pinky as the sound engineer. Brain's copy reads something like, "We know a little farm that grows peas..." It's insidious once it starts.

Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?
I think so, Brain, but if we didn't have ears, we'd look like weasels.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

More Linkies

All around nice and cool person, Mer Haskell, has some writer's links up on her site. Some are duplicates of what I've put here, scrounged from others, some are new. I'll just point you there (because, after all, you should be checking her blog as well). You can also wish her good fortune on her new novel endeavor. You go, Mer.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Writer Smoked Links

Via Tobias Buckell, the SF Awards Watch. 'Cause, you know you wanna know all the awards and which ones you might qualify for.

And because I saw it on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Robert MacNeil is one of the main movers, The MacDowell Colony. It looks nice, has a great history, but I have some problems with artists colonies because they intentionally separate themselves from the world. Being in the world, to me, is essential to the creation of art. Not that I would refuse an invite, and if I had the time I might apply.

You know your a SF geek when...

You type in an email, "Here are the changed PDFs," and your brain keys to changing the waters-of-life in Dune (and replays the scene from the SF Channels movie version).

I get these kinds of things all the time. It keeps me smiling.

Strike the Top Sail, Assemble for Passing Honors, Render Honors, Salute

All around good guy, Chief Warrant Officer US Navy (Ret.), sometimes commentor, and now Alaskan woodworking/fishing/sled-dogging resident Jim Wright has a blog called Stonekettle Station. I met Jim on John Scalzi's Whatever and have known him for his level-headedness and insight. He can also crack a good joke. This is one of the good guys.

Jim is just getting started on his blog, so there's not much there, yet. I expect Jim will soon fill it out with his interesting views, opinions and stories. You all should go and check it out. Here's wishing Jim a successful retirement and blog. May you never be bored.

All I can say is that if Old Jarhead starts blogging I'm never going to get any writing done.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Writers Really Do Like to Write About Writing

Again, because I'm a new writer (still have the new writer smell!), I'm always keyed to essays abotu being a new writer. Who doesn't like reading about themselves?

So here's Jay Lake's take on it.

And here's Richard Park's take on it. Ogre-san also talks a little about one hit wonders, which it's good to see that perspective.

Calling for What Has to Happen Anyway, the New Firmness

So, you may hear that the chorus for troop draw down is gaining momentum. We must withdraw troops "before Xmas" and must withdraw more "next spring." It's all a political game.

Why? Because in September we end the surge. That is the military begins to run out of fresh troops it can throw into theater given it's schedule of rotations (15 months on 12 off for Army, 8 months on 12 off for Marines, if memory serves). What that means is that those people who had their deployments extended to complete the surge are now approaching the end of those extentions. They come home (in most cases). So legislators calling for their withdraw this fall (you'll notice the numbers they are calling for are "small" or "token") are betting to win. Legislators that call for a bigger withdraw next Spring are also betting on a sure thing. Next Spring the numbers work out to mean a low point in deployments to Iraq. The only way we wouldn't do that is if the DoD extended tour times again, which is highly unlikely.

So, the legislators get to say that the President listened to them, that they were right. And the administration gets to say they're just following the plan they already had. It's a win-win for everybody in politics.

40 Years of Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions and a Seasame-Seed Bun

The BigMac is 40. Go have some greesy for lunch and clog your arteries. The BM used to be may favorite McDs sandwich, until the $1 double-cheese burger came along.

I'm still a Wendy's guy (I used to be a lunch grillman there). It's just an anniversary. I'll return to my favorite on-the-road food after this blip.

Well, anymore, I don't much much fast food anyway.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Paul Jessup on newbie writers

Paul Jessup gives us his take on the Newbie Writer Cycle. I'm halfway through it, and thought it was good enough without reading the end to post the link here. I'm right at the point of having stopped looking for the "sekrit." I never did believe in it anyway (but you gotta look for it, it's like Sasquatch, you just gotta look). The best line, "Your biggest enemy is yourself. It is always yourself, will always be yourself."

Everybody who has done the bi-polar experience of writing knows this. "This is the best shit evar!" to be followed by, "How could they reject it in less than a day, this must be the worst crap evar!" I quickly get passed the second part these day.

On the plus side, it seems that a lot of people are picking up the mantle of snarkiness. Many hands make light work.

(Endeavour is positioned for re-entry, skin is 2000F, over the Southern Pacific, track will take her slightly east of Hurricane Dean).

Edit 1:45pm I'm forgetting my blog etiquette and give a shout out to Jay Lake for the link.

Endeavour is Coming Home

As I write, Endeavour is just entering the atmosphere. She's somewhere over Australia at the moment. (go to NASA TV link)

Come home safe, Endeavour.

12:19pm Com Blackout (ratty com) Atmospheric controls, Endeavour is over Costa Rica.
12:23pm Out of ratty com, over southern Florida
12:27pm First camera view, looks pretty
12:30 WTF was that! Oh, sonic boom. Never mind.
12:33 Showing nose cam data, Kewl! (inner geek squee!)
12:34 Nose gear down. Welcome home Endeavour!
12:37 Stopped and venting, ground vehicles are inspecting. You know, Direct TV offers NASA TV. There's another +5 for switching from my local cable.


I've updated the blogroll. There's still more to come. Now that I have so many links, I've been thinking of dumping the "Reading" category and split out the links into a more manageable style. What do you all think? Any ideas for categories of links? I'm thinking; People I've Drunk With, People I've Met in Person, People I Like and Know, The Editors, Resources, and Everything Else.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Weekend Report

Friday we went to the Cleveland Zoo. We were supposed to go with the niece and her beau, along with the sister-in-law, but the first two bailed. He had soccer practice (and if you miss a training event, no soup for you!) and she couldn't come either by herself or with another friend. Young love, apparently. Yick.

So we had a fun time looking at the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). Also the stingrays in the Interactive TOUCH! 2007 Exhibit which just doesn't take the place of Sea World (I miss me Sea World, I do). I had fun with adding snarky comments about the animals and especially the people watching the animals. "Hey you, the one with the fat kid, bring the kid closer to the bars." There were also the Dinosaurs, which were kind of okay. The best part was in the exhibit of a long-necked dino, they had extra necks above the brush nearby. It's only my opinion, but I think someone should start making more realistic dino robots. As least ones with real looking skin and structures, painted with something that isn't going to flake and peel. Just so you know, the Cleveland Zoo isn't one of those zoos you can do in a day, unless you're a speed walker. so we didn't get to see everything, including out Rain Forest. The good news is that we're members, so we can go back whenever we want.

Anyway. Saturday was a wash out. I didn't do much of anything but march in place and do a little writing (I'm working on my version of the story bone I put out last week and rewrites of the poem).

Sunday had me standing in the rain for our Fall Festival Parade. Our little Orwell Annual Fair which seemed littler this year. I mean, there was the rain and all, but there seemed to be less "stuff" there. But we had the parade anyway, in the rain and all. Not only did I get to stand in the rain for the parade, I helped put up the speaker system for the announcer of the parade. Woohoo! Electrical equipment in the rain. It certainly keeps one on one's toes. Plus I got to play with a lot of people I don't normally do (the firemen and police). Dwight, the person I was helping with the speakers, and I self appointed ourselves as the Official Cheering Section. So when the announcer finished their speach about an entry, we would shout, "Yeah!" Okay, well it kept us amused. And there were people lined up to see the parade. Not a big crowd, but a good showing.

After that, being drenching wet, I went to my writers group for the afternoon and evening where I had two stories critiqued. Now I have lots of edits to make, and I think I know what I need to change. This is unlike other critiques where you can scratch your head and go, "how the heck to I fix this."

So I hope your weekend was nice, or at least dryer.

This whine brought to you by a generous grant...

Oh noes! John Scalzi's Whatever is on a two-week haitus. And there's no methadone treatement for that kind of withdrawl! I can, I can, I can feel the shakes coming on now. No Scalzi snark or wit for Two. Whole. Weeks. Not to mention a further delay in the Creation Museum Report. Ayiee!

Oh, the inhumanity. Soon us regulars on the Whatever will be out on the streets trying to score cheap snark replacement comments. Oh sure, they won't be as good as the real thing, but when you need a fix, you don't look too hard in the face of the dealer. By the time John restarts the Whatever some of us will be in the back alleys of teh interweebies living in make-shift virtual cardboard shanty towns. Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross will be bringing in wit by the truck load, and trying to hook us up intervenously to a high protein wit drip. But all their wit comes from China, and is probably tainted with second-hand irony, which as we all know, we don't process as well as the good stuff.

See ya on the other side, John. But, you know, other blogs do the same thing with guess bloggers. This is like when the Daily Show and the Colbert Report go on vacation, what, there's no Jay Lenos (Jay Lenii?) out there to hoist the banner of guest chairing? Or have all the Jonny Carsons gotten wise and don't want the competition?

See what having the Whatever go on vacation does. I'm already in the paranoid phase of withdrawl. Argh!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Year Without a Santa Claus

Matell has made their second recall of toys manufactured in China because of magnets that may become dislodged (one may not be bad, but two could interact in bad ways within a toddler's intestinal trac). In our local area there are"Toy Screening" programs to test toys for lead paint. You may remember that Jesus would obviously make his necklaces from slugs of lead (also from China). It's not a good time to be in the toy business.

This is also about that time of year a magical occurance would happen in my childhood life. It would be time for those elves at Sears to send out the "Wish Catalog." I still get excited just thinking about it. Two-hundred pages of wonder and merriment and soemthing that would entertain me all the way till Thanksgiving.

But this year kids will find a hard lesson in macro-economics in their stockings. That lesson is that we don't manufacture hardly anything in this country anymore. Sure, there's a lot still going on, but compared to two decades ago, we don't make dick. Putting a fifth of JD Black Label in your kid's stocking isn't going to endear you to the child welfare people. And a axle differential is fun, but I don't see them as children's toys.

This is good news for some people. You may remember that for the past five years FAO and Geoffrey over at Toys R Us have been complaining about Wal-Mart's unfair practice of selling toys below cost to gain market share. Remember were Wal-Mart gets all their stuff? So, as long as the other guys didn't shift their maufacturing to China to stay competative, they shoud have a good year. My guess is that they have switched to the Asian Machine and we're all going to have a world of uncertainty tis Holiday Season.

Yes, there will be toys on Santa's shelves. Considering one of those recalled toys was an Elmo and a Big Bird, just how much can you trust that Transformer sitting under the tree. Chucky, at least, would just cut your throat. Primus might lower your ACT scores. And how much can you afford of non-Chinese manufactured slinkies?

One of my friends works as an engineer in a manufacturing plant. He needs qualified people to help. He can't find any because we no longer teach manufacturing, and all the older people that were good at it have left for other positions and places in the country. We're losing the skills needed to make things. Santa's Elves now have a distinct accent. Santa better wake up and smell the coffee soon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Story Bone

We have a dearth of Prince and Princesses to rule the land. About five years ago we had a bumper crop of easily offended witches that changed them all into mice until they gnawed the nut of wisdom, or frogs croaking to be loved for who they were, or fauns to learn vulnerability, or some such silliness.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

There Goes the Neighborhood

My only comment is that the opening illustration seems to have more in common with the Bratz franchise than the fey. As someone who writes in this field, all I can say is that I now have another flattened part of my forehead from banging it against my computer screen while shouting, "No, no, no, no, no!"

Disney's Fairies, corrupting another generation of youth.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about this travesty later, after I can process it. The horror, the inhumanity.

First Edit Brian Froud is spinning in his grave, and he's not dead yet.

Second Edit John Lasseter, how could you do this to us? Not, "how could you do fairies," but how could you do Disney Fairies? ::crying into my hands::

Third Edit Okay, I can't be the only male of my generation that has as a part of his memories one of the first "sexual awareness" concepts was seeing Tinkerbells panties on "The Wonderful World of Disney." And just in case you think I'm way off base, you should read Old Man Disney's instructions to his animators when they were drawing Beethoven's Sixth Symphony (the Pastoral) for Fantasia. He explictely directed them to not draw nipples or other sexually provocative images for the characters. They still snuck some stuff in.

So that's why I find the Bratz like quality to the drawing disturbing. Also, the majority of those fairies are awfully curvey. Now, granted, I'm all in favor of breaking the "Twiggy" fetish most fashion magazines have and go back for a more full-bodied perception of femanine sexuality, but I don't like that this is targeted to an audience younger than 14. There's a whole bunch more here (like how the Bratz work pyschologically and the postures of the fairies on the Disney site and the prevelance of sex in real fairy tales, especially in the modern versions), but that would need another post.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Pick-up On Aisle Six

Most days I pride myself with my independent thinking. Oh, yes, disciplined, very head-strong and independent. Not much outside persuasive argument or hard evidence can sway my thought patterns.

Well, that isn't true with things I don't know. Or things that I may have not remembered or learned correctly, like grammar. Those things, well and some other stuff, I'm open for correction and illumination.

But my thought process, what I choose to think about, that's my own destiny. Oh yes, except when it isn't. Sometimes someone will give me an mind-bug and I won't be able to think of anything else. And then there are the sneaky times. The long, slow, cooker of the soul times. In case you're wondering, I'm (virtually) looking at you Camille.


Edited 08-27-07 Removed text of poem to comply with submission policies. Sorry.

My first poem I've written on my own for a coons-age, and it's full of teen-age angst. Sigh. Ah well. Camille, a while back, said I might want to write more poetry. So I'm driving home and that line, "rag-a-bag teens collect" just won't leave me alone. I've had the scene in my notebook for a long time, but I've never had a place to use it.

So, the first crappy draft is done. Oh yes, my mind is a disciplined sieve.

Reading is Good

I didn't get much writing done this weekend, but I got a lot of reading done. Right now I'm in the middle of The Dark, New Ghost Stories edited by Ellen Datlow. Some of the stories are good. Most are too long, and I'll admit that so far I've skipped three stories. Not many of them really grip me though. I don't know whay that is. I've always liked Ghost Stories told at camp. In fact, I always wondered if sleep-over camps, by some zoning requirement, must always have been located just down the road from the State Asylum.

Growing up in Southern New Jersey I was certainly surrounded by ghost stories, including those about the New Jersey Devil (which I have notes on a couple of stories including that horse-faced beastie). I also really like the Ghost Hunters show. So my reaction to these stories is puzzling me. Ah, well, not everything can be good.

So yesterday I started the other library book I requested, Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross. I'm only a few pages in and I'm having fun. Plus I had a strange occurance, I made notes for a story I have in pieces parts that also involves Cthulu. It's strange because when I do get inspired by something I'm reading that inspiration doesn't have anything to do with the subject that I am reading (yeah, it's weird).

Anyway, there it is. This weekend's writers group looks like a bust for me. Our "Fall Festival" (the old timers call it that) is happening. I've been tagged (again) to set up the speakers for the parade at 2pm on Sunday. Nobody knows how long the parade will be because we have same day registration. My guess is that I won't be out and have the speakers back to the hall until 3:30-4:00, so that would mean that I wouldn't get to the group until 5:00. Margle. I wanted to get feedback on several stories. Well, I guess it'll give me some more weeks to rewrite.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Local Schools

Okay, so this week we got the Local School's Annual Report/Calendar. One of the interesting things is that last month we knew that our Superintendant was leaving (getting out while he still smelled like roses, IMHO), but he's all over this calendar. But, you know, print schedules, etc.

What was interesting are the numbers. Some specific numbers. Such as, on the August Header we have our District Profile with a bunch of numbers to show how wonderful our school is compared to the Statewide Average. I'd like to point to the last couple of lines where we talk about millage.

Full Rate Operating Millage (including our JVS): 44.47 Local -- 47.24 State Avg.
Effective Operating Millage Agricultural and Residential (including our JVS): 22.00 Local -- 27.17 State Avg.
Effective Operating Millage Commerical/Industrial (including our JVS): 22.36 Local -- 31.08 State Avg.
(all numbers listed as Fiscal Year 2006 Stats)

Looks nice. August, people are thinking about school, how much they're paying versus what they're getting. Good numbers.

Then on the July Header we have our District Financial Report for the year just ended. Were we have:
Full Rate Operating Millage: Total 50.1
Effective Operating Millage Agricultural and Residential: Total 28.36
Effective Operating Millage Commerical/Industrial: Total 29.11

Assessed Property Valuation
Residential/Agricultural 81.5%
Commercial/Industrial 7.1%

You know, July, when people are thinking about vacation and have probably tossed the calendar by then.

Why, there seems to be some discrepancy on those numbers. I wonder why that could be?

Talking Head Idiocy

So, it's Sunday. Not much happening. Got back late last night from taking Mom to see Harry Potter and the Order of Fries. Sometimes I like to watch the talking heads, but I got up too late to see the usual suspects, but then I got to watch the "Your Money" (if you have a lot of it) shows. What a bunch of friggin' morons.

First up was the Horrible, Terrible, Jim Cramer Flipping out OMG there goes Pestilance on his horse, collapse of the "Sub-Prime" Market. Now, I'll admit, this is a big problem. But the hand wringing and the "people who took out these loans should have known" coupled with the "bankers are losing their jobs" wailling is too much. It's gonna be bad. Yep. And when those banks posted record profits, and the economy looked so good, all those people who didn't see this coming should resign and leave their offices, because here comes the invisible hand of the market to give them all a slap upside the head.

Unfortunately, we (read, those of us in Government) need to do something about this. That the solution requires saving (mostly) the butts of those aforementioned people telling us all it's skittles and beer rankles me no end. The solution also means sacrificing those on the low end, which is even worse. So, yeah, some people are gonna be in a world of hurt, but those people whose annual bonuses are more than 4-year's salary of the rest of us will come out better than the people who are counting on their houses, and their retirement funds, and their 401k, and their invested pension funds... Disclaimer, I have a 30-year Fixed, so I'm in somewhat good shape (you know, except for the value of my investment going down).

And then there was the topper. Say, did you know that gasoline pump prices really aren't tied to the price per barrel of oil? Could have knocked me over with a feather. And with that saying that as ppb is still over $70 and gas prices are heading south of $2.60 per gallon, there was the talk of the cars we buy. And that, well, we Americans love our big cars, we love the road and we buy big cars to show that love. After all, the CEO of Ford said that Americans don't want to buy any small cars (he was quoted, I guess he reiterated that stupidity this week). Say, how's that perception working out for Ford anyway? Yeah. Maybe you shouldn't be listening to that person after all because Toyota and Honda are eating his lunch.

And please, oh please, do not talk to me about how the Unions and the workers are ruining the business. Sorry. When GM laid off workers last year, and the amount saved (that was absolutely necessary for the life of the company) is less than the signing bonuses of the top ten management, something else is wrong.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Decorations Redux

For Greenyflower, my new home Xmas Tree. Relooking at it the tree may only be nine feet, not twelve, my bad. Next year I'm going to put it on a box. It fits (just barely) in the space we have for the tree, and it's big and prelit. Although, I added some more lights. I like to be able to read by the tree. This year I hope to replace some (or all, he he he) of those lamps with LED lights.

That's my living/dining room space on the south facing wall. Yes, I need to get more light in my house. The wallhanging is a quilt made for my wife by some home-schoolers that she helped out by donating some scientific equipment and books we had. And as you can see, there's a big haul under the tree. This includes presents for Bette and I as well as for her family (the nieces and nephews mostly), the presents for my family having already been delivered to my Mom's house. We host Bette's sister, brother-in-law, and two nieces the first night they're in Ohio, so we thought it would be good to have them (the neices mostly) be greeted with this. This year Xmas is supposed to be at our house, so we're going to do up the diggs for that.

Because I'm a Lawn Decoration Wonk

For those of you who don't know, I love decorating my yard for Halloween and Christmas. My neighbor across the street (hi David) is also into decorating his lawn. We have a friendly competition going. And we like that cars now come down our streets to see our lawns. We even have waving inflatable snowmen (that we bought separately) that we position to wave at each other.

For me, however, Halloween is the bigger holiday. I love to decorate for Halloween. I have a plethora of those styrofoam jack-o-lanterns and I always like to put them in interesting configurations. I make my own decorations as well. Last year I took a standard issue scarecrow and added one of the smaller jack-o-lanterns as it's head and a package of plastic bones for it's arms and legs. It was excellent, but I need to adjust it for this year (maybe get a larger scarecrow, or just make it more menacing). A few years ago I scored big and during Trick-or-Treat I had a kid do a jump take when he realized that one of my decorations was right in front of him. I think he may have pee-ed himself a little. Imagine me with my evil grin as I remember that moment.

More on lawn decorations later, back to the story.

So when I was at Sam's Club yesterday I saw what will be this years "must have" Halloween Decoration (like last year's Santa's Train fetish, the year before was Snow Globes). I'm not saying I'll get one, and it didn't have the same effect as last year's 12' Pencil Xmas Tree (which I do have, don't we all have cathedral ceilings we can display that large of tree in?). But I did like it. I couldn't find a photo of the exact type, the one at Sam's had two horses and the coffin inside had a pop-up death/reaper character. But you can get the idea from this one.

It's Like When the Weather Channel Plays Pink Floyd

One of the joys of my commute is that I am in range of three different NPR stations, and two of their repeaters, during most of my commute. In addition I also can usually pick up a Canadian Broadcast station as well (hello to all our friends up north, over the lake). This morning, however, I had problems receiving one of those NPR repeaters when I was less than ten miles away from it. The main station farther away came in clearer, but not all that clear (some static and doppler effects). Other radio channels also had problems (although higher up the FM dial they had less problems).

And with how my morning is going so far, this was an omen. I shoulda stood in bed.

Oh, and my Weather Channel Local on the Eights reserves Pink Floyd for the Winter, usually when bad weather is approaching. Really. I'm not kidding about that.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Eye New Ight

Justine Larbalestier says we don't have to be spell well to be good writers. Well, thank the Gods for that, 'cause I suck at spelling. It's something I never paid attention to in school. It just wasn't important to me. And now I'm paying the price of that.

I have been getting better. Really. I'm sorta kinda cured. Well, maybe not. I fake it well, though.

Homophones always trip me up. Obscure words I've only used verbally also don't map out well. In a recent story I replaced "sexton" with "sextant." Sigh.

One of these days I'll right gooder then I usta did.

(and damn it if I didn't have to fight myself to correct that, even though I intensionally typed it that way)

We Are Not Chickens

Little fluff-ball chickens are hardwired for some things, like we all are. If they see the shadow of a raptor (bird-of-prey) they will run for cover. They most likely have never seen a raptor up close, or seen what raptors can do to little fluff-ball chickens, but their lower brain is hardwired with the body shape of raptors. When they see it that lower brain sends the signal, "Danger!" to the higher brain. The higher brain then pulls all the stops and levers to make that little fluff-ball run for it's little life.

That lower brain function exists in all of us; it's a survival instinct. The initial response of that chicken to run for cover is prejudice. That they do it all the time, instill the behavior in the chicken culture, pick on chickens that won't run for cover; this is racism.

It's Blog Against Racism Week.

I wrote a long entry about how all these functions work in our society, and I realized it was mostly bull. Well, not exactly bull but that most of what I wrote just doesn't matter. Here it is in a distilled flavor.

Racism is a political term as are most "-isms." There are people on all sides of the issue that have a vested interest in keeping racism (or the discussion of racism) alive and functioning. Racism is easy and can be addressed by laws and movements. Prejudice is hard to change, and requires individuals to make that change.

Prejudice is to racism as a broken leg is to pain. One causes the other, and if you just "fix" the pain, you've still got a broken leg to deal with. Prejudice is to racism, but it also "is" to all forms of discrimination. And it's that discrimination that needs to be stamped out. Racism is just one form of discrimination.

I am (mostly) a member of the supposedly Privileged Class (I've got my "Cracker, but okay" card somewhere around here). Bite me. My mother was divorced in the early 70s and we went from middle class to working class poor. I've been discriminated against because of that. That may seem strange in this day and age, but back then I was asked by a local reporter at the time about my "anger" at being in a "broken" family. There was a whole host of issues that were supposed to follow me, drug use, criminal activity, angry, batterer, gay. That's prejudice. I had to fit somebody else's worldview. I've struggled back out of the working poor into the lower Middle Class. I am also overweight, and I've been discriminated against for that. For a "Privileged" life, this has sure been crap. I've been working to keep my head above the economic tide since I was twelve. My first "real paycheck" job took 5 years to land (when I was 17). And yes, at twelve, I was out there hustling work and applying.

Having said that. I have had opportunities that most people haven't. I have a college education (state school, paid for through grants, scholarships, debt and working jobs all the way through, including working 3 jobs and going full-time the last two years). I've been to Europe (thanks to my Uncle). When I was 25, Bette and I (we weren't married then) bought our first used car (thanks to a former brother-in-law of Bette's). When I was 37, we bought a house (again, thanks to my Uncle). We were then able to buy new cars. Three years ago I was able to take the first real vacation (that is, travel and see something) in nearly two decades. I can now go to events (like conventions) without half my brain screaming about the money. I am finally up to two weeks paid vacation. Have I had it better than some? Most certainly. But never has it ever been easy.

Historically for the Privileged Class (whites), we have subcategorized ourselves and discriminated against Germans, Irish, Italians, Jews, Lutherans, the Anglos discriminated against the Saxons and both hated the Normans. So much for the homogeneously together white-man. If we look like we're together, it's only because we all have somebody else we can point to and collectively say, "Not one of us" (right now, that argument is against the illegal aliens, or Brown/Hispanic/Latino/Mexican, which is wrong-headed because there are many peoples that are illegal aliens, many of them Asian). If you think that sounds strange I'll point to the various discussions of hair and skin-tone in the African-American community. Or the discrimination in India between those that live in the North and those that live in the South of that sub-continent. Once the external fixation is eliminated, we would go back to internal strife.

So if you think that this is only a Racism issue, you're dead wrong. It's a prejudice and discrimination issue. We'll probably never be able to solve the lower brain screaming, "Not one of us," to our higher brain (it would probably require surgery). But we can disable those prejudicial reactions (IMHO, this should be the focus of the correction). At the very least we can modify how those reactions are externally projected and end discrimination.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Robert's Thunder is outa there. The Assistant Editor at Baen's Universe is passing on it, not passing it up. That's the assistant editor's job, fair cop. This is my first rejection from Baen's Universe, so I don't know how form the email is, but it did end with "Please feel free to send us anything else you'd like, though." So, either very nice people or score. Either one is good.

Tomorrow it's to the salt mines and finding... well, you know, I do have my writer's group in a week and a half. Maybe I should run it through critique. Yeah. That's what I'll do. I have to admit that I didn't de-piratize it. That might have been a mitigating factor. It's time to see if there's anything else wonky with it.

My prison novel, profusely illustrated, "In Cold Leather"

Last night I did something I haven't done for months, write stories in cold blood. My only motivation was "I have to write, must get back to the routine of writing, must start now." So I keyed in about 600 words of a short I've been playing with for a while. I don't know if it'll get to conclusion, I sort of know what's happening. A link on Jay Lake's blog yesterday (can't find the link now, that man just posts and posts, it's like he's a posting machine) kicked me off that I need to write it out.

The story is told in several parts The first is a quote from a future non-existant report from SETI on why we haven't heard any signals, "Maybe they know something we don't." And then the main story (a mix of first contact, submarine in space, and adventure) is mixed in with a management consulting story (about monkeys, bananas, and water hoses that explains cultural learned behavior). All these relate to each other in interesting ways. I'm expecting it to be about 8000 words or so if I get it done.

But the main point is that with overtime now at a low (although yesterday we were back to the line, "We need these plates to fill the schedule overnight" instead of, "We need to control expenses, go home.") I'm back to having time to write regularly. And I need to taek advantage of that.

I'm also trying to figure out if "Daddy's Little Girl" is a story or a vignette. There's a whole story there, I'm just not sure it's a compelling story. The tension deals with asking if the narrator is sane or not. And I've been getting extra little lines that need inserting. I'm struggling with the concept of, "yeah, cool idea, but just doesn't hold me well." I've been wrong about my own stuff (designs I think a "meh" clients go bonkers over). So maybe it actually is good and I should let the editors tell me if they like it or not.

No Arks Were Built

Well, when I left work I tried phoning home and there was no response. So I stopped by Wal-Mart and picked up some water, ice, and a big sandwich. By the time I made it back to the Village all had been put aright. The power was on, although Bette tells me it was off from around 11am until 5:30pm. No tree limbs were down (that I saw). The storm ditches weren't raging currents and there was no street flooding.

So we're all okay. My fridge is solid enough that we didn't lose any food to spoilage (at least none that we've found). We only had room for one of the ice bags, so I put the others into pitchers and we had cold water last night.

However, now I am worried about the heat that's comming our way.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I have said this lately?

I friggin' hate Windows. I've used Microsoft's pocket-picking software/"waste of brain capacity" since version 3.2. I have a new Vista laptop right here on my desk and the only reason I haven't chucked the boat anchor (well, it's kind of light for one, but I digress) out my second floor window (aim for the concrete pad, baby) is that I don't own it. It's a part of my council work and is owned by the Village.

Yesterday I purchased a USB2 Flashdrive to do some backups and file tranfsers. So, I thought, I would transfer one of my many photographs of the Village to use as the background image (instead of the generic one I have now) from my Mac to the Windows machine. After at least 8 dialog boxes on the windows machine, I can't get the drive to mount because I don't have the proper driver software. It's a cheap generic (okay, Pliny Memory) USB2 Flashdrive. Friggin' eight dialog boxes to get a "Nope, sorry, can't do that."

Know what I needed to do to get it to work on my Mac? Plugged it in to a USB port. That's it. No dialog boxes, no configuring the system, nothing. Plugged it in. Showed up on the desktop. Copied my files to it. Three seconds and I'm using it.

Windows, five minutes and I can't use it. Windows sucks rocks. Rocks from the bottom of a real scummy pond.

Don't tell me, "Well, hook up to the internet (BTW, after three hours I still can't get the machine to see my wireless network, want to hear how long it took me with my Mac?) and download the drivers." It's a friggin' USB2 Flashdrive. It's not like I'm configuring a video capture firewire device.

Rain On Me

It's raining, finally. You'd think that after a long hot summer, this would be what we need. Well, in some ways, yes, but in a lot of ways, no.

Yes, because northeastern Ohio is in drought conditions. We have considered enacting sprinkling bans in our village (only had to do that once before). One major rain storm won't help with that (our water supply is something like 300-600 feet below the surface). So rain is good, although we'd rather have it in a week long slow rain instead of the delugue we're getting. Also on the plus side is we've had a few reports in the village about water run-off problems and a quick delugue will help troubleshoot what's happening with that.

No because it's too late for the crops and now creates muddy conditions in the field when the farmers need to be running harvesting equipment. Also, the ground by us is mostly clay, and it's baked hard, so this delugue is just going to run off and cause flooding problems.

And I have a brand new windshield on my car. This is the first rain since that repair and I'm worried about it leaking ("Hi, I come from small worried-people stock").

So I have to sit here at my desk and wonder if the body shop guy will have to utter those immortal words, "So, whose the U-Boat commander?"

Update 08-07-07 2:35pm Just got a call from my streets guy. The power is out in Orwell and he wanted to know if he could purchase a battery operated sump pump (I said yes). Lots of damage from the storm here in Cleveland. People stranded (at least for a short time) because of the intensity of the rain. Lots of basements flooded out. More when I get more.

Weird Cross-Referential Issues

This may seem like a dig at LJ, it's not. It's an honest expression of the strangeness I feel when I'm over on those blogs.

Okay, so I read a whole freakin' lot when I was young. The topics of that reading varied far and wide. Some of that biblioteching activities included reading Victorian letters and novels. So when I read many LJ Bloggers, I have this weird sense of deja-vue.

It's like a Victorian gossip sheet. Or is it just my warped perception? There's a lot of references to screen names which on LJ tend toward the anachronistic or at the very least acronymisms. It's like reading, "The divine Ms. Z__ entered the party late and conversed quietly in the corner with Mr. R__ and Mrs. G__."

Don't get me wrong, I read a lot of people on LJ. I also comment on many an LJ blog (I really don't keep my LJ blog going). I keep hearing about how "LJ is the place to be." I don't know about that. It certainly is more "communal" than other blog sites (as compared to individual blogs). I just have this feeling I need to go put on the poet shirt, gird my loins, buckle my shoes, and sally forth when I enter the land of LJ.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bad Writer, No Ice Cream!

Okay, so after getting my stories back into submission, I had a lot of mental energy. I figured today would be an amazing production day.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Bubkiss.

I farted most of the day away. I did get things done. A lot of paperwork that way laying around. I just didn't get any writing related things done. Well, except for checking Baen's submission site twice (I can't help it, must check again).

Hope your weekends were more productive.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Three stories in submission. Shout out to Camille for her link to Story Pilot. Handy dandy that site is. So, some things that may or may not fit, but, you know, that's the editor's job to accept or reject a piece. It isn't mine.

I find it interesting that Baen's Universe gives you a link to track your story's progress. That's kind of neat. Although, as a vetran of tracking orders shipped from online stores, I have a feeling that checking on my progress might take on obessive qualities. Must not check more than once a day.

So there we are. Now I need to do a hard copy edit of Daddy's Little Girl. Maybe submit it for review by the writers group. Plus do edits to Changelings and Crow Boy. How long is a weekend? Oh well.

Friday, August 3, 2007

And we have a tie for the Friday "Duh!" Awards

So, this morning, we have a tie for saying the most, "Well, duhuhuhuh! Ya think?" at the radio.

First up, "Overstretched British Troops Suffer High Stress" and so they drink and have domestic issues. But now that we have an expensive government study, we can now all discuss this more than the "I know a guy, who talked to a guy, who overheard..." level. You know, like having a week long NPR report on Fort Campbell wasn't enough.

Next up was Kid Nation, a new reality show from CBS that "features children left to manage life all on their own in an unpopulated New Mexico town." And there are ethical issues and people who have a problem with it. Yeah, like they couldn't see this coming down the pike. (Official Show website). Hello! (doink doink) Bad publicity, not controversial "oo we gotta watch it" material. And the kicker, New Mexico now has laws that would make this show illegal (child labor). The producers are looking for a site for Season 2. How much do you want to bet they won't find a place for Season 3? (Okay, well, maybe Pakistan, India, China, or Indonesia).

And curse Sir Walter Raleigh, he was such a stupid git

I'm that kind of tired that you don't sleep well. I keep on waking up in the middle of the night and curse my forlorn state. I wish I could take advantage of this in some way. Every way I can think of, though, will exacerbate the problem.

This weekend, though, I should be able to sleep in. I need this. While a day or two of lack of sleep doesn't hurt people, this prolonged situation racks up a sleep deficit. I don't have much in the bank on any given day, so I'm getting even farther behind in making my minimum payment.

But, I felt one of those internal switches being thrown this morning. So I requested The New Dark edited by Ellen Datlow and Atrocity Archives by Charlie Stross from the library. I had been waiting to read these until I got some other of the guilt pile gone. That isn't going to happen. I need to read more, soon. They'll need to have them sent from another branch library that I don't normally visit. I'm really glad I got my Geuaga County Library Card when I did (I wouldn't qualify now, but once your in, your in). They have an excellent collection of SF/F/H. You all do know that most libraries can get inter-library loans, right?

Right now I'm mostly reading Neil Gaimen's Fragile Things. Normally when I read Gaimen my mind fills with ideas for stories. I think I've discussed this before that some authors have this effect on me. I'm so tired, I'm not getting the benefit of this effect.

But this morning I picked up my car from the body shop and it all looks good. They thoroughly cleaned her out as well. Woohoo! So once less thing to worry about.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

RFID Tagged

Margle! Okay, so I'm doing some light surfing at work and I check out Camille's (littlebird blue) blog (note to self to update links list with Camille's name). She has one of those blog tagging memes, and she references the blog she got it from (the writer of which, Kanrei, is a frequent commentor on Camille's blog). So I go over there, just idly reading and BANG, "If you are reading this (AND HAVE A BLOG)consider yourself tagged." Damn it.

8 things you don't need to know about me

I, like Kanrei (and most of you), have a day job. I'm also a councilman (so if your looking to fullfil your prurient interests, ain't gonna happen). And there are some standing orders that I can't violate.

8. I'm also cheap. I wasn't always this way. Money used to burn a hole in my pocket. The woman who is my wife has cured me of that. But now I think we've gone too far, and she's taken over my old role. This has lead to many compromises in my life. I don't go to many events because of the costs involved. Things that need purchasing, I do buy. I don't buy cheap replacements (I drive a Honda Civic after all). I am very aware of price and will shop around to find the best price. I should add that I tip very well, though.

7. I come from small, worried-people stock. Yes, I am mightly tall and bestride the world with some confidence, but then there's the other side that makes me worry about things that probably won't happen. All I'm saying is that when the shit hits the fan, I'm ready. :) It does make life a little hard and consumes a lot of energy. If someone is late, I worry that they were in an accident. I worry that I'm not doing enough. I worry about getting published, if I'm wasting my time. I worry when something medical happens. I worry about being stuck in places.

6. I'm compulsive about locking doors. I'm not "If I don't recheck twenty times my mom will suffer another heart-attack" compulsive, but I will double check to make sure doors are locked and the garage door is down before I leave the driveway. It's something I struggle with.

5. I'm generally self-centered. If I'm not watching myself I will try and direct the conversation to be about me. I also occasionally do the "but my story tops yours" behavior. I really, really, work hard on this one. Or is that statement too self-centered? This isn't narcissism, I don't think. It's more like a validation need.

4. I'm prone to being so upset that I yell at the TV and radio. And in the last decade, there's been plenty to be upset about.

3. I use trivia games to remind myself I have a high IQ. I'm not going to quote you a number (that would be bragging), but let's just say that Mensa Membership qualifications aren't a problem. I don't belong to Mensa, I need to be in another club/group like I need another hole in my head. I use triva games to exercise my mind. It is actually enjoyable for me. I don't get all the answers/questions correct, but I have a high percentage of being correct. Being wrong no longer bothers me.

2. I also, sometimes, do very dumb things. That bothers me much more than being wrong. I'll pay too much for something, I'll make the wrong decision, zigging when I should have been zagging, I'll say the wrong thing or (more likely) forget to say the right thing. I often forget not everybody can see or has thought about what I have seen or thought (and that some have seen and though about different things). I sold Apple stock at 50. Yeah, dumb things like that (although, my "in" price was 9, and I needed to buy my Honda Civic).

1. I drive a Macintosh Computer. I personally love it when people tell me about their computer problems (crashes, installing software that bombs out something completely unrelated, unexplained slowness, etc) and then I mention about how I use a mac and I never have those concerns/problems. Then I watch as those people who just trashed their computers get all defensive about their decision to buy that computer. It's funny.

So, there you are. Somethings a little too close for my liking, but cathartic for the soul.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

With Long Intervals of Terrible Sanity

I just realized how long it's been since I've checked Locus Magazine Online. Mighty Zarquon.

It's the first of the month and I'm jonesing for my Ansible fix.

The beginning of the month is also "Meeting Season." One meeting this week, I have to write two reports, then extr ameetings next week, and the big one the week after. Sigh. I hate it when months start on Wednesday. Seriously, they create a long meeting cycle. If they start on Monday or Tuesday, two weeks and we're done.

And until a moment ago, work was very light. It only looks to be heavy for an hour, and then light again. Nothing makes the day drag more like having nothing to do, but not able to work on the other projects that are eating up the brain space.

Manic Madness

Things are hot this summer. I've been overscheduled since April. We're trying to get some custom bookshelves made and installed. An idiot backed into my car making a body shop visit necessary ($860 worth of stupid, and to fix the two other small dings from shopping carts, $925, we're just doing the major stupidity). There's something like a hundred emails I need to write, I need to submit those stories back out. I need to work on the house outside. I need to clean on the inside, again. I need to get rid of the rock/weed bed in the front yard.

It just keeps going on from there. And I need to write. Must write. Then write some more.

Dreary Madness

Okay, in the past two weeks my "Mr. Councilman" calls have gone up in frequency. At about the same time I sat for an interview with the local paper (I didn't have time to snag a copy, I'm told it went well). Why did I do that? I was doing so well in the obscurity of "nobody can spell my last name so they can't look me up in the phone book." Now, even though I've been on the local access channel every month for the past five years, people have opened up to the realization that I am a councilman.

Sigh. I want to do this again for four years? Why do I want that?

On the plus side, if I'm re-elected (Vote for Me!), my council pay doubles to $400 a month! (we passed the pay raise two-years ago, pay raises only occur after you're elected) Woohoo!