Sunday, July 31, 2005


      Thank you for all your birthday wishes! I had a good birthday. Several cards came in the mail, I received several Happy Birthday phone calls, and I also got a rocket.
      That's right. One of my friends (who should know better) gave me a rocket! It is the Estes Snapshot rocket. Very cool. It actually takes a photo during flight. Well, actually as the parachute deploys. The recommended engine will take it to 500 feet, a bit less than my old rocket (the Blackhawk) that regularly reached a 1,000 or so. Or it did until it caught fire on the launching pad. The solid fuel engine blew out the side, and that was that. I'm looking forward to launching the Snapshot soon and seeing what kind of photos it takes.
      Another good friend gave me gift certificates to Golden Corral. Awesome. I love CC's salad and hot vegetable bars. And I got some unexpected money from my relatives, which I used at the bookstore to buy a Calvin and Hobbes collection (I miss those two) and a book by James Rollins.
      Michelle of Soul Patches sent me a lovely ecard, one of the nicest ones I've ever seen. And Trixie and Frenzied Feline made my birthday even more special with their nice posts on their blogs.
      Not birthday related but cool, I received a nice email from Carolyn Hart thanking me for my mini-review of her new mystery novel Death of the Party (See entry for July 27).
      I spent the rest of the day running around and eating out and having cake. So it was a very good day. Thank you one and all.

Friday, July 29, 2005


      Tomorrow is my birthday so I'll probably won't blog. I have a full day of activities planned -- errands, eating out, cake, shopping, etc. Not that different that my normal day except for the cake. Y'all take care and I'll see you Sunday.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Little by little, bit by bit

      I wrote another column. The panic has passed. Until next time. You'd think I wouldn't worry like that. After all, at last count, I've written over 300 humor columns over the years. But every time I approach it with this ... dread isn't quite the word, but it's close. Somehow that spurs the weird part of me where my humor has built its funhouse, and so far, it's worked.
      Maybe it was all those years working for newspapers. That daily deadline had to be met. Didn't matter how I felt or if the words wouldn't come, I had to meet your deadline. My job depended on it. I think a certain amount of urgency encourages creativity. At least for me.
      I have to exploit this on books and plays. I set small deadlines. So many words or so many pages, depending on the type of work. Those little deadlines keep me in the race. Just thinking about the 500 or so pages required of a book makes me tired. But if I approach it as 500 words at a time, well, that I can do. The important thing for me is to never look at how much still needs to be done. I just look what I've written and at what I'm writing today.
      More disciplined writers probably don't have to play these games with themselves. Or maybe they do. Don't you think that every great thing has only been accomplished by doing one small thing at time? A note here, a brush stroke there, a paragraph today, and so on. And then at the end you look back and are astonished at all you've done. That's a great feeling.
      Good night!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


      Yes, I'm standing on the edge of despair. Once again I need an idea for a humor column. I don't have one. Not the gleam of one.
      Oh, I tried to write something about wanton Betsy Ross and why she really sewed that flag, but it just didn't come together. There's a column there, but not yet.
      Then I called my friend Crystal thinking she would give me a funny subject. She, instead, abandoned me so that she could read a book by Anne Rice. ABANDONED! I wrote three plays with that woman! You'd think she'd be more loyal, but no, she wants to read about men with dental problems and the women who love them and then die horribly. Sigh.
      So now I'm forced to wander the streets of my imagination, lost among the statues of Pamela Anderson and Lucy Lawless. I'm a poor waif crying out, "Columns, columns, ER's kidneys for a column ..."

Death of the Party

      I just finished Carolyn Hart's new book Death of the Party, another entry in her Death on Demand series. Good reading! Recommended if you like a good whodunit.
      Carolyn Hart is probably the finest mystery author in Oklahoma and one of the finest in America. This time out, she sends our heroes (Max and Annie Darling) to an island resort to solve a murder that happened years before, but it's not long until a second murder turns up the heat. And then they're trapped on the island, never knowing who could die next. The suspects all have good motives, and the clues are subtle. I confess to not figuring this one out before the end, but when the murderer is finally revealed, it makes perfect sense.
      You can buy your copy here.

Personality test

      I hardly ever do these, mostly because I won't take the time, but this was just what it said it was.

The World's Shortest Personality Test

You are elegant, withdrawn, and brilliant.
Your mind is a weapon, able to solve any puzzle.
You are also great at poking holes in arguments and common beliefs.

For you, comfort and calm are very important.
You tend to thrive on your own and shrug off most affection.
You prefer to protect your emotions and stay strong.

      Okay, I also liked the result.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Howdy again

      Hello! Sorry I haven't posted. I've been busy over the past few days. Not too busy to think of you, but frankly I didn't have much to say. It was all errands and filing and all the other details that make up a life. Well, my life.
      I've also been working on a new template for 51313 Harbor Street. I've not made one from scratch before, and the learning curve is steep. Don't expect it any time soon, but maybe someday.
      Since a couple of you have asked, Crystal is now safely back in Oklahoma and has just started her new job. Her son is having a good time connecting with family and friends. No word on or if she will resume blogging, but maybe someday.
      A couple of people asked -- in jest -- why I was friends with Erudite Redneck. Since I've also been asked that not in jest, I thought I would respond. It's basically a pity thing. I just feel sorry for him ... Actually, ER and I come from the same hometown. And while I think he has a better opinion of it than I do, it was a hard place to grow up. Back then, it didn't encourage college or learning or much of anything other than factory work, and if you chose to better yourself, there were plenty of people who would shoot you down. Sometimes literally. It was a dirt-poor place, and both ER and I were dirt-poor.
      But we were also both raised proud and with a determination to do better. ER likes to play up that country side of himself, but don't let him fool you. He has a razor-sharp mind and a string of accomplishments a mile-long. ER is a hometown boy who done good, and I'm proud of that. And since I'm fessing up, he makes me laugh. While I disagree with lots of his stances, I respect the intelligence he brings to them. And we also agree on lots of things. We're friends, and that's that. I hope that answers your questions on why we're friends. Oh, that the fact he's so pitifully homely. That's a large part of it, too ...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Blog twin

      51313 Harbor Street has a twin. It's a test blog that duplicates this one. I use it to test various things before adding them to this blog. I find the Blogger preview feature to be of limited use in debugging a template, and I don't want to take the chance of messing the template up and having rebuild it.
      In fact, your template can get messed up simply by a file save error. A smart thing to do is to copy your template into a text file on your computer. Then if anything goes wrong, you just open that text file and copy your template back to Blogger. You can never have two many back-ups.
      It was a busy day today. I did laundry, housework, paid bills, filed, errands, shopping, etc. I'm a bit hampered right now because I got an eye infection and have been forced to wear "bandage" soft contacts. They make my vision somewhat blurry, but they are helping my corneas to heal. So far it seems to be working. When I woke up this morning, my eyes didn't feel like they had sand in them.
      Thursday afternoon, I got a new cell phone. I'm afraid it's not cutting edge tech. I got the cheapest I could get and still be able to upgrade. My old phone was nearly five years old and large, and its battery wouldn't hold a charge anymore. I tried to buy a new battery only to discover that they didn't sell it anymore. In fact, they didn't even want phones as old as mine to give to charity. I liked my old phone, but now I have a new one. It's got lots of features that I won't use. Other than when I'm traveling, I rarely use my cell phone. Last month, out of my 250 anytime minutes, I used 11. I've used more these past few days as I've tested the phone, but I can't see that continuing. I'm just not a cell phone guy. Some people live on them. My boss regularly uses his for over 1,500 minutes a month and often goes over 2,000. Amazing.
      Well, it's late here, and if I want to get this posted before it's tomorrow, I'd better close now. Good night!

Friday, July 22, 2005


      New Quote of the Week, new sayings in the chaser, and a few links that needed correcting. I hope to add a few other things over the weekend. I just want Harbor Street to continue to grow and offer more. Talk to ya later.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Potter Compleo

      I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince early this morning. It was a fast, enjoyable read. J.K. Rowling left a lot of things unanswered, and I'm curious to see how they will be resolved in the next book. I'm not sure if Harry is going to survive or not. I didn't have any doubt until this book, but the darker tone and higher body count and flat-out warfare makes me wonder if she's setting up Harry's last battle.
      I've been reading several debates about Harry Potter on various writing sites and SF & Fantasy sites. The debates are about why Harry Potter is so popular when other series, perhaps more deserving, are not. Certainly for any long-time fantasy reader, the themes and setting in Rowling's books are not new. Off the top of my head, I can think of three award-winning series that feature children learning how to be wizards or discovering they have powers (The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper, the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane, and the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander). In fact, that particular story goes a long way back.
      I don't know why none of those series -- ones I enjoyed and think are better written than the HP books -- captured the audience Potter has. But just because I've read better books doesn't mean Potter is bad or that the series should be resented for its success. There's plenty of room in the world for Harry Potter, and its success doesn't diminish other books or keep them from being published. In fact, HP has spawned numerous other series attempting to ride in its wake. Some of those series are frankly quite bad, but others are good and getting better. And it's made publishers aware that fantasy can reach a large audience. A few years back, the publishing industry had decided that fantasy was strictly a niche market. They feel differently now.
      As for the new book itself, no spoilers here. It's worth reading, it's fast, it's exciting. Go read it, and then we can talk about it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Potter Interruptus

      I'm reading the new Harry Potter so I won't be posting tonight. I should finish it tomorrow. Talk among yourselves, but quietly.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Before the flood

      I have that restless writing feeling again. That itch in the back of my mind that complains if I do anything else. But when I sit down to write, the words don't flow. Yet. They're there. My subconscious has been busy. I see signs of it everywhere. Memories disturbed, imaginings misplaced, clutter here and there, scraps of dialogue fluttering to the floor. I have hints of what it's up to, but no clear signs. I'm impatient, but I've been through this process before. Soon it will let me know. It will spring something full-blown on me. All I have to do is be ready. And I think I am.
      Part of the reason I've been floundering is all this drama around me. I require a certain amount of boredom to write, not too much as that depresses me, but just enough that my muse decides to get off her lazy hiney and stir things up. My muse is a troublemaker; never let her fool you. Some people's muses are genteel creatures who sip their Earl Gray with white gloved pinkie in the air. Mine likes to fling mud into those muses' faces as she rumbles through on a Harley, kicking over the table with a black leather booted heel.
      She may have tats. I'm not sure. I try to not ask. I'm just waiting impatiently for her to blow up the dam and let the word flood begin.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Not quite

      I thought I was finished for the night, but I guess not. Something happened tonight, something bad. That seems to be way of it lately. It's not something I can share since it's not my secret. It belongs to other people who are trapped in a terrible dance of lies and deceit and God only knows where it will end.
      I gave my usual advice when asked -- that the truth is always best since it will eventually come out anyway, that there are trained professionals who can help, that life will go on, and that God really does care for us no matter what.
      All the usual truths, the advice that no one takes, the words we all nod our heads to while thinking, You don't understand.
      So now I'm realizing how outdated I am, how old fashioned. How utterly ... romantic.
      See, I still believe in love in first sight. I still believe that two people can heal their broken hearts. I still believe in babies and puppies and apple pie and vanilla ice cream. I know all the words to The Star Spangled Banner and sing them loudly at ballgames. I like church and the people who go there. I also like books and old movies and playing Scrabble and Uno.
      I told a girl a long time ago that I believed in people having space in marriages and that they should have their own lives. I only said it because I wanted to not scare her off, but I tell you now and will tell her if I get the chance that I didn't mean a word of it. I believe in best friends who love each other and would rather spend their time together than apart, and if you don't have that in your marriage, you should fix it or get out. And I believe you can fix it if you both want to.
      Why state this all of this when it is probably not much of a secret to anyone who reads this blog? Because I feel threatened lately. I feel pressed. I feel the world closing in. I watch people I love tear themselves apart, and I have to repeat to myself to what I believe and why this life is worth living.
      It's a promise to myself. It's a reminder to keep my head up. It's a binding of heaven and earth. It's a prayer.
      It's a prayer.
      There's a Zen story that goes something like this. A man was walking along a path near a cliff when a bear began to chase him. To escape, he started to climb down the cliff, but halfway down, he hear a growling below him, and it was a pack of wild dogs leaping up at him. He couldn't go up and he couldn't go down, and his hands were getting tired. Just then he saw, growing out of the cliff, a wild strawberry plant with one ripe berry. The berry was red, plump and beautiful. Letting go with one hand, he reached out and picked the berry and ate the berry. It was delicious.
      And he smiled.

Finished for tonight

      I have 14 items left from my list of 42. Not bad. I'll do three more tonight, and then I'm going to sit down and finish reading Three Hands of Scorpio, the last book written by the late Andre Norton. I've enjoyed it so far. It's vintage Norton: The Light versus The Dark, Old Ones and Wild Magic. The book finishes her literary career with her distinctive voice as strong and clear as it always was. I'm glad for that, but it will be sad to turn that final page and know that there will be no more from her. Godspeed, Andre, and many blessings.
      I hope you have a good day tomorrow. Night!

Doing The List

      Since last we spoke, I've finished four more items on The List. What is this strange fascination I have with lists? Well, it's about the only way I get things done. I have mentioned before that I have the attention span of a mosquito at a nudist colony; it's normal for me to fly around from this project to the next, just doing a bit here and a bit there. Thus nothing gets done or things get done slowly. And the longer a project takes, the more likely it is that it will get buried or I'll lose interest completely.
      Lists keep me on track. I just have to watch what I put on them. Obviously this list was too large for a weekend. Fortunately it's easy to pick out the urgent items -- already done -- and now I can pick and choose among the ones remaining. The ones left will be on tomorrow's list.
      I'll be back.

The List

      On my list of things to do this weekend, I had 42 items. I've done 16 so far. I'm hoping to do another 10 or so today. None of them are particularly hard; they just all take some time. Time is precious these days. Curious that I can remember days as a kid where a summer day lasted at least a year.
      While I'm not going to be bloggin' aplenty today, I will be dropping in for these notes to keep focused. I hope your day goes well. Catch ya a bit later.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Move along

      Nothing to see here tonight. Move along and go about your business. There will be something tomorrow. I hope. Good night!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sci Fi Friday

      The ninth season of Stargate SG-1 premiered tonight. I'm still not sure if the new team is going to work. The loss of Richard Dean Anderson is going to be hard to recover from. Perhaps it's best to approach it as a new show and not compare with the old team. The Net chatter on it has mostly been good. I hope they find their footing as their season progresses. I've planned my Friday night around the show for a while. It would be a shame to lose that.
      Stargate Alantis was a let-down. I expected more from the buildup of last season. The show had a lot of new elements, and they didn't seem to mesh yet. Once again, I hope they will find their footing as the season progresses.
      I'm not a big fan of Battlestar Galactica. Its dark and twisted storyline has potential, but they just can't resist the soap opera aspects of the story. And frankly the whole Cylon-human baby thing is silly. But I watched the premiere, and it wasn't bad. I'll watch at least the next few episodes to see how it plays out.
      And that's my report on Sci Fi Friday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


      Forgot to mention that the patron package was mailed Monday. The theater board met Sunday and worked willingly to get it folded and stuffed in envelopes. That was cool and made me feel better about the future of the board. I hope the patron drive is successful. We'll know over the next few weeks.
      Last night I worked on the poster for the first production. I came up with something that looks good, I think. I'll see what the director thinks of it tomorrow night at rehearsal. The first production is Hello, Dolly! I like doing graphic design work. It's fun to play with the various publishing programs and clipart I've collected over the years.
      I worked a bit tonight on the August Gazette. I'd like to have it ready, except for the Roundup, by the end of the month. It would be nice to meet a few deadlines.
      Our friend Crystal has finally moved back to Oklahoma. She's still not in her new place, but should be over the next few days. I hope she will start a new blog so that she can update all of you who keep asking about her.
      I've been focusing on my Weight Watchers again. It's easier in summer when I have that need for salads and fruits. And I've been slowly trying to increase the number of steps I take daily, careful to not strain my foot. So far, so good.
      My roomie, by the way, ran in a 5K run last Saturday and came in fourth in his age group. That's excellent, particularly when you consider he only started running the week before the race.
      Tomorrow I get paid again! Yay! I already have some checks ready to go to pay some bills. I'll write my account back down to nothing again, but hey, I'm paying them on time and am still on track on my Debt Reduction Plan. That's something.
      I've rambled all over the place tonight. Just my wandering thoughts. We'll finish with a joke:
      Two vacationing businessmen were talking on the beach at Miami. One said, "I'm here on insurance money I collected -- got $50,000 for fire damage."
      "Me, too," the second man said. "But I got $100,000 for flood damage."
      There was a long thoughtful pause, and then the first one asked, "Tell me, how do you start a flood?"
      And now, good night!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


      I shouldn't blog tonight. Because I'm tired tonight. Tired of the world. It happens sometimes. I look up and look around at these people, and I think, I don't belong here. This isn't my life.
      But it is, of course. I made each decision that brought me to this point. I can blame lots of other people if I want to. All those people who let me down, who betrayed me, who used me for their ends ... but I let them. And at night they're not here. It's just me. Me with all these small failures, all the large ones, me with this life that I never planned.
      I shouldn't be blogging this. These are the thoughts that I set aside in the day, the ones that I drown out with all my busyness. I don't look at them often because there's no point, nothing to be gained in doing so. I was raised that we didn't share these thoughts. We soldier on; that's what we do, God help us, we sing and we stay busy and we go through from day to day to day to day until we finally sleep. And we hold on to our beliefs and our hopes and we hide them even from ourselves because it's so hard to look at the lives we wanted. And dreamed of.
      It's a long world we're living in. I don't expect less. I'm not going to drop my burdens. I'm going to soldier on and I'm going to bury these thoughts and I will work because that's what we do. We go on. For whatever reason we go on until our eyes close for the last time.
      On Holly Lisle's blog, she classified this blog under the heading of Seeker. Maybe so. Maybe so. But I think we need a map, some chart showing us the way to Eden, a few signposts along to the way to home. To where we can rest and then rise up as if sorrow had never touched us.
      Until that far-off day, until the heavens split, until we finally fly ... until that time, we'll hold hands and cling together and look both ways crossing the street. Because we're in this together for better or worse, and no one gets out of this life untouched.
      That's what I'm thinking tonight as I sit in this darkened room and type in the pale light of my monitor. That and that it's nice and even comforting to think of you out there reading this, a lifeline of electronic bytes stretching across the night, a silvery web in the waning moon.

Monday, July 11, 2005

F & SF

      I had an interesting discussion a couple of days back with one of my online writing friends. He doesn't think much of fantasy and science fiction. He says they're "not real," and they're "made up."
      I pointed out that all fiction, by definition, is not real. Perhaps a novel might have a more realistic setting or characters, but the story is still "made up." Whenever we read a book, we enter a world of the author's creation. Some of these worlds are similar to our own; some are not. But all are imaginary.
      The closer a novel comes to the real world -- and I could argue that "real world" is an incorrect term as we all see the world through the filter of our perceptions and experiences and thus it is different for each of us -- anyway, the closer it comes to our meandering, apparently senseless world, the more likely it is that it will be hailed by critics and taken seriously by those who don't understand the power of a story to inspire the reader and further, to shape our world.
      Myths and legends are as old as mankind. Fantasy and science fiction seems to me to be our current myths. A lot of the stories won't survive due to a failure of imagination, but some of them will. I'd like to think I could pick out some that will be read in a couple of hundred years, but I doubt I would be correct. Myths have their own way of surviving, and it is as real and as mysterious as we are ourselves.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

American History 101

      (You will recall I was looking for a topic for my column in the Gazette. For better or worse, this is it.)

      During this month when we celebrate our country's independence from something that was trying to keep our country from being independent even though our country had its own job and could afford a place of its own, it would behoove us to look back at our nation's history. (Behoove, by the way, has nothing to do with having hooves. Look it up.)
      The proper way to do this is to read scholarly tomes and then develop a thesis and so on. That, however, takes work. Instead we shall use the method preferred by politicians everywhere; to wit, we will simply make things up.
      The History of Our Country
      First, the earth came into being.
      Second, lots of other stuff happened.
      Third, a bunch of miserable people in Europe thought it might be a good idea to venture to the New World where they could not only be miserable but could starve to death, too.
      Fourth, some of these people were sent here by England, a small island of dour tea-drinkers. These tea-drinkers were ruled by King George. Due to the marvelous benefits of allowing first cousins to marry first cousins, King George was almost completely untouched by anything resembling intelligence. After a fine career in wrestling, he settled down to rule badly and did it very well.
      KG soon got into a spat with France's King Louie the 215th about a Monopoly game. (Louie the 215th was not named for his father Louie the 214th despite what most people think. In fact, he was named for a kindly baker who poisoned Louie 214th before the king could have his seventh wife Marie Allyallyoxenfree beheaded for sneezing in his presence. When Louie the 214th's son was born 11 months later, the queen named him for the brave baker. The baker, by the way, was beheaded as you can't have your kitchen staff doing that.) KG needed cash to pay his troops, particularly since they bought a lot of $100 hammers and $10,000 one-holers. Naturally he raised taxes, but his own people began to mutter, complain and attempt to assassinate him.
      So his eyes turned to the New World colonies, and soon the rest of him followed suit, particularly his hands, which immediately started signing new tax laws.
      The New World colonists didn't like this. They muttered and complained themselves, but since they were separated by a huge body of water (see Atlantic Ocean; really you should, it's lovely) from the king, they couldn't threaten him in a meaningful yet respectful way.
      "No taxation without representation!" the colonists yelled, not realizing that having taxation with representation is no walk in the park, either. Their slogan really should have been "No taxation."
      Some folks in Boston who called themselves the Boston Patriots but didn't play any organized sports, decided to send the king a message he couldn't ignore. So they dressed up as Native Americans and sneaked on to some ships and threw tea into the Boston Harbor! Boy, that showed him. (Later on, some Native Americans dressed up as Boston Patriots threw some lemons and sugar into the harbor, too, but they were mostly ignored, except by the EPA who issued them a citation for polluting the environment.)
      The message was loud and clear to the king: "Those guys are nuts!" he said, showing that he had received the message loud and clear. Immediately he dispatched troops to the colonies. And three months later the troops landed on the shores of the New World and threw up repeatedly.
      But during those three months, the colonists were busy. They formed a Continental Congress, which immediately voted themselves a pay raise and then started recruiting congressional pages.
      The CC gave the command of the troops to George Washington who was a great man despite never having cut down a cherry tree. (That whole cherry tree thing was made up by a minister who used it to illustrate a sermon on not lying. I trust the irony of this is not lost on you.) George Washington would lead the troops to victory, so this column is all his fault; otherwise, there wouldn't be a history.

Copyright 2005. All rights served.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I got meme'd

      As long-time readers know, I hardly ever do memes or online quizzes. Naturally from that statement, you know that I'm about to share one. Joel meme'd me. Blame him.
      1. How many books do you own?
      Approximately 1,500 books, mostly science fiction and fantasy with a good amount of mystery and reference.
      2. Last book read?
      Yucatan Deep by Tom Morrisey.
      A Christian suspense novel about cave diving. Very technical and not much suspense, but several characters were interesting beyond the story.
      3. Last book purchased?
      I purchased four at the same time.
      The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold. Bujold is one of the finest fantasy and science fiction writers working today.
      Three Hands of Scorpio by Andre Norton. This is the last book by the late Andre Norton.
      Beast Master's Planet by Andre Norton. A reprint of two earlier novels by Andre Norton, The Beast Master and Lord of Thunder.
      Cat's Eyewitness by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. The latest entry in an excellent mystery series, which is more about the characters than the mystery itself.
      4. Name five fiction books that mean a lot to you.
      I'm going to cheat on this one a bit and talk about some favorite series.
      The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read this trilogy in college and still recall the awe it inspired in me.
      The First and Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson. These six books stunned me with their exploration of guilt and repentance in an unique fantasy world. He's currently writing The Final Chronicle of Thomas Covenant. I hope it will live up to what has gone before.
      The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Wise, witty and flat-out funny fantasy that still manages to have a point. I buy any Pratchett as soon as the books come out. I recommend him highly.
      The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. A fascinating twist on the Arthur story as Cooper details an eon-long battle between the Light and the Dark. Although a lot of the main characters are children and teenagers, don't mistake these books as being only for their age group.
      The Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle, which includes A Wrinkle in Time. Once again marketed as being for young people, these books explore what it means to be human with sorrows and joys.
      5. Tag five more people.
      Okay, I tag the writers of Frenzied's Frolics, Trixie's Home, Erudite Redneck, Sweet Sweat and Soul Patches. Remember, blame Joel!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Mindful of money

      A friend asked what exactly were the steps I was taking to fulfill my Debt Reduction Plan. Overall, my plan is be mindful of my money. Here a few things I'm doing to accomplish that.
      First, I'm making and keeping a monthly budget. Basically I know I need X amount of money to pay my bills. There's a bit left over, and from that bit, I put a set amount into my savings account (emergency fund), then I put a set amount aside for spending money, and the rest goes to one credit card to pay it down. (I should pay that credit card paid off this December!)
      Second, to keep my budget and stay within my limits, I've stopped carrying a credit card completely. I used to carry one that I held for "emergencies," but I've discovered that I'm willing to declare an emergency if I'm a few dollars short when buying something I don't need at WalMart. It's better than I don't carry one around town and pay only cash for my purchases. That way I know I've got the money. (If I went on a trip, I would carry one because you practically have to, but that's the only reason I'm going to do so.)
      Third, I carry only $25 with me. That $25 has to last me all week for spending money. Any other purchases I use my checkbook or my debit card. I'll tell you that I ran out of spending money very fast the first few weeks, but now I actually have a few dollars left over on Friday. Why not carry more cash? I can't afford to do so, for one thing, and for another, cash is easy to spend. I want to be forced to consider my purchases.
      Fourth, I've stopped eating out for lunch. Instead I bring a sandwich or go home to eat. I used to eat out for lunch at least three or four times a week. Now I eat out once a week, my set lunch with a friend of mine. Fast food is bad for your health, anyway.
      Fifth, I pay my bills immediately. I have a tendency to let them pile up and end up with a couple of hours of work to pay them all. It's better to pay them as they come in, always supposing I have the money to do so. If not, I prepare the bill, write out the check, put in the envelope, and then when I get paid and the money's in my account, I mail the bill. I subtract the bill even though there might not be money in there. Which means I have a negative balance in my checkbook a lot, but that keeps me mindful of my finances and what I'm trying to accomplish.
      Sixth, when I pay off that credit card in December, I will take that money and apply it totally to the next credit card with lowest balance. I should pay off the next card in September of 2006. After that, I will pay off another one in May of 2007. It gets hard to predict exact months after that point, but if things go as planned, I will have all my debt paid off (except for my home) in 3 years and 8 months from this month. Naturally I hope to make more money along the way and pay off the debt sooner than that. And then I will concentrate on paying off the second mortgage and then the first. I haven't figured out how soon I can pay off the second, but I know it won't take long with the money that I can put on it that used to go to those vampiric credit cards. And finally I will pay off my first mortgage as well as start pouring more money into my savings. In seven years or sooner, I should be completely out of debt, a state I haven't been since before I entered college.
      Of course, this is a long range plan, and a lot can happen in seven years, but it's a goal. The old saying goes that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. These are my steps.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


      Naturally after a few productive days, I'd have one in which everything went wrong and I'd spend the whole day spinning my wheels. I guess the universe is balancing things out. Anyway, I'm tired and frustrated. Tomorrow will be a better day. I hope it's a good day for you, too. Night!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


      The Gazette is finished. Pardon me while I take a short break to savor this small accomplishment after so many months of enforced inactivity. Catch you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My kingdom for a topic

      Okay, three pages of the Gazette printed, but yikes, no humor column. I've been playing around with words all evening, but nothing funny comes to mind. I was kinda working on one about horses and how they hate humans, but who has horses anymore? As soon as I made a dog food joke, I knew it wasn't going anywhere.
      Then I thought about doing one about politics, but hey, there's nothing funny there. Tragic, ugly, mean and stupid, but not funny.
      So then I thought about my dating life. That's good for a few cheap laughs, particularly when you compare me to a blind musk ox in heat. That's always a knee-slapper and sometimes a face-slapper and once a kick in the groin, but oddly enough, I just couldn't work up any excitement about it.
      Finally I thought, hey, I could talk about how fat I am. Ho, ho, ho, as another jolly fat man likes to say, particularly when cruising downtown Vegas, but frankly I'm not as jolly as I used to be.
      So here I am: a columnist in search of a funny topic. Do you have a topic to spare? Are you hoarding the topics? You should share. Don't make me come over there! You wouldn't like me when I got angry. You might not like me when I wasn't, either. It's just hard to be friends with you. Have you thought about seeing a shrink? No, not dating one; I mean you should talk to one and try to understand this need you have to hoard topics. You'd be happier if you did. It's time to let go of your past topics. Remember, before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes, although this is hard if their feet are smaller than yours and what if they had some nasty foot fungus? Forget I mentioned it.
      Let us all now hum together the theme from M*A*S*H. Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm ... Some of you aren't humming. Sigh. Once again from the top. Or I could just say good night!
      Good night!

Back in the saddle again

      Man, it was hard to return to work today. I keep thinking of everything I needed to get done and instead there I was at work. Admittedly work brings in a lot more money than anything I was thinking of, but I still would like to have another day or two or forever off.
      I have several things I'd like to get done tonight if my energy holds out. I've been draggin' today. My get-up-and-go done got up and went. Some days I really miss caffeine.
      Yeah, I gave up caffeine nearly three years ago. Mostly for health reasons as there are lots of reports on what constant caffeine use can do to you, but mostly because I wanted to use weight and gave up soft drinks to help in that. (I don't like any of the diet colas. Give me sugar or give me nothing but don't give me some sugar wannabe.)
      Once every few months, I have a Coke or Dr Pepper, and I tell you, the caffeine hits me like a ton of bricks. I buzz around the room like something that buzzes around the room. It's a blast.
      I have to go back to work now. Yeehaw. Catch you this evening.

Monday, July 04, 2005

One more Bloggin' aplenty post (18)

Stars and stripes forever ... amen.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

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      I just finished watching Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events. The kids were good in the movie, but the rest of it left me unmoved. Perhaps the books are better. I particularly disliked Jim Carrey's performance. It was over the top, but that's what he's best at. I just didn't happen to buy him. People compared this movie to the Harry Potter series, but Harry Potter is much better.
      It's been a productive three days. I got a lot done. Not as much as I hoped, but enough to feel good about what I accomplished, and I got in some naps and some recreation. I should be able to finish the Gazette tomorrow night, and that's something I'm particularly proud of.
      This is the last of the Bloggin' aplenty posts. It's been fun, and I hope, not too boring for y'all. I might do this again.
      I hope you had a happy Fourth of July. Good night and Godspeed. This concludes our blogcasting day.

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      Trip to Walmart completed. Three pages of the Gazette finished. Woohoo! I only need to speak with one cousin (who's gone to Branson until tomorrow night) finish the Calender (which I'm going to do as soon as I finish blogging this), pick out a graphic for the front page and the headers of the other pages (something I will also do tonight), and write my incredibly funny column even though I have no earthly idea what it will be about.
      Of course, I know how to get a column written. I just start typing. Eventually an idea will surface, and then I write a bunch about it. When I run out of words, I write a conclusion or two. Then I savagely edit the thing, usually losing about half of what I've written. Finally I'm so sick of the whole column, I publish it, vowing to do better next time. There. The secret of my humor writing. Feel free to use it as long as you pay me a fee.
      Be back later. Hope you get a chance to see some beautiful fireworks today.

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      My friend and I ate at Golden Corral where I defoliated the salad bar. Then we drove around the town. I showed him our sights, and then we came back to my house and watched Blade: Trinity until he had to leave. Blade: Trinity is not a good movie. The special effects are adequate, but the action sequences are uninspired. This movie has been made many times before. And Wesley Snipes basically phoned in his performance. Well, it might be the part as written. He didn't get to do more than swirl around in his black leather and growl. The final battle with Dracula -- something that should have been awesome -- was just a sword fight, certainly not Jedi quality. I don't recommend the movie. The good news is that there probably won't be any more since it did so poorly at the box office.
      How's the Fourth going for you so far? I still need to make it to Wal-Mart soon. But now back to the Gazette!

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      Now I'm waiting for my friend to arrive. We're going to go eat somewhere, although I'm not sure what restaurants will be open, other than the fast food joints.
      A friend of mine commented that he thought I might get more done if I weren't bloggin' aplenty. I explained that it might seem so, but I've found that blogging this way has kept me focused this entire weekend. It's like you guys are my writing buddies. I feel like I don't want to let you down. I set my plan for this weekend, and now it's important I keep it.
      I've not used blogging like this before. Frankly I've been surprised about how easy it's been. I'm not sure if all my entries have been that interesting, but they've helped keep me on track.
      I offically have three pages of the Gazette finished, by the way. I still need to talk to two aunts and one cousin for the Roundup, edit my brother's and sister's articles, write my humor column (PANIC!) and finish the Calender page, but it's doeable today and tomorrow. I'd like to mail it Wednesday. I don't think I can get it finished and printed today.
      Catch you later.

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      One of the things that drives me crazy about my family is that they don't communicate important news. I have an perfect example of that: One of the features in our family newsletter is what I call the Roundup. Basically I call all my subscribers and ask what events happened in the previous month. They give me a few sentences about what's been going on in their life.
      Well, I call a family member and discover that one of my uncles HAD OPEN HEART SURGERY TWO WEEKS AGO! He had seven blockages, and they were able to repair four of them. He's holding his own, but definitely needs prayer. (Please add him to your prayer list.)
      Naturally I ask why wasn't I told about it. The only reason given was that I was recovering from my surgery. But my surgery in no way compares to what he's going through. Why wouldn't they at least let me know so that I could be praying for him? Absolutely makes me crazy, ya know.
      More later.

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Happy Independence Day!!!
      I hope your day is a good one! I plan to work on the Gazette and prepare at least one article for submission. I also have a friend coming up from Dallas who is going to drop by on his way to visit his family. I need to make a trip to Wal-Mart as well as do some filing and pay some bills. Sounds like full day. Let's see how much I get accomplished.
      More entries to follow!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

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      Woohoo! Two and a half pages typeset for the Gazette. Not the three that I was aiming for, but more than halfway done. (It's a four page newsletter.) I should be able to get another page done tomorrow and maybe the whole thing. I doubt I will be able to get it printed and ready to be mailed by Tuesday morn, but maybe by Wednesday.
      Like most things, it was hard to get started on it, but after I got going, it got easier. And next month's will be easier as I can build on this month's template.
      So far it's been a good, productive weekend, and tomorrow I get another whole day! Woohoo!
      This concludes our blogcast for today. Good night and Godspeed.

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      I just finished watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. It's an okay movie, but I'm glad I waited until it came out on DVD. I wouldn't not have wanted to have paid theater ticket price for it. The technology and look of the film was cool, but the story was flat. And unexpectedly slow. The airships in it were cool, but we didn't get to see much of them. The flying platforms were also cool. A better movie would have made full use of them.
      I must mention, however, that it was obvious from this movie that Angelina Jolie wants me for her boytoy. And could have me immediately if only she knew who I was. Sigh. No one's looked so good in black except possibly Michelle Pfeiffer when she donned the Catwoman costume for Batman Returns. Michelle IS Catwoman, and it's a shame that she didn't make the Catwoman movie. Well, maybe not, since that movie had a terrible script. But she would have looked great in it.
      Catch you later. The newsletter waits. By the way, with this post, I reached my goal of posting 10 times over the holiday weekend. Now we're on bonus posts!

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      Page one of the Gazette (the family newsletter) is finished. It doesn't look exactly like the previous Gazettes, but that's okay. The Gazette grew over time; it can grow again. The important thing is to get it published and mailed to my subscribers.
      I'd like to finish another page today. I don't know if I can as I'm not sure if I have enough material from my writers. They had sent me stuff back in January, but naturally that was lost when the computer died. Still I can work on my humor column, which is two-thirds of a page, and I can choose some new graphics as well as work on the calender article. I have plenty to do. Just have to keep my fingers on the keyboard and my mind focused.
      How is your day going? Getting a lot done or getting a lot of rest? I hope so. I find my readers are uniformly grand and should be greatly blessed. I'll be sure to mention it to God.
      I'll be back later.

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     Not getting as much done today. It seems the more I work on the family newsletter, the more of its templates and clip art I find missing. Sigh. Well, I knew it would take a lot of effort to get it back into shape.
     You're probably thinking, What kind of newsletter is this, anyway, that would require so much work? Well, it's a four-color monthly (or was until this year) that I and my family have produced for over seven years now. It has photos, family history articles, humor, devotionals, recipes, etc., from various family members. I originally started it to share stories from my father's life with my siblings, and then it grew. After he passed away, I thought no one would be interested in continuing it, but my sibs, aunts and uncles, and cousins wanted it to go on.
     I write a monthly humor column in it. Yikes! I haven't even thought of a subject for that yet. Back to work.

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      After church, I came home and decided to take a quick nap. Wish I hadn't. I woke up feeling groggy and out of sorts. Sometimes a nap is good. Sometimes it isn't. I wonder what makes one nap restful and another nap not so?
      I think it might have something to do with how deeply I sleep. I slept hard and woke in the same position I lay down in.
      I don't usually nap on Sunday because I can feel Monday looming, and I hate to waste any time. But tomorrow I'm off work! Woohoo!
      Now back to work on the family newsletter. But first, lunch!

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      Good morning! It's a beautiful sunny Sunday here. For personal reasons, I had hoped for rain this weekend and lots of it, but the sun is nice, too. Today my only project is to do the family newsletter. I'd like to have at least three pages of it done today.
      I need to get ready to go to church now. My mother always said that church was like punctuation for the week, that it signaled a beginning, that it was a reminder that each week we start anew. As I've grown older, I've come to understand what she meant.
      If I get asked -- as I sometimes do -- why I'm a Christian, it's because of the message of starting anew. Of beginning again. Of each day rising and starting over, another chance to get it right. God doesn't expect us to be perfect people; He just expects us to try to be better people. True Christianity is about growth, about learning new ways to experience joy and life. All that other stuff that people associate with it -- legalism, politics, punishment and misery -- were added by people with an agenda.
      Be back later.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

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      Just finished watching Flight of the Phoenix. I liked it, but the original was better. Of course, the original had Jimmy Stewart in it, and one thing Jimmy could do was make an audience root for him.
      One thing I liked in this movie was that the cast had a woman in it, but we weren't subjected to any plots where one of the men tried to force himself on her. A lot of old movies have that. It's very predictable. In fact, not much was made of her gender. Of course, that meant there was no romance in the story, which might disappoint those who want that, but let's be honest. People marooned in the Gobi Desert are not going to be interested in much other than survival.
      This ends my blogcasting day. Pleasant dreams and catch you tomorrow.

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      Spent the rest of the day working on the family newsletter and running more errands, making two trips to the new Home Depot that just opened here. I'm tired! Now I'm going to watch a couple of movies with my roomie.
      Last night going through some files, I found a poem that I had written that I had forgotten. It was kinda cool to read it from an unfamiliar perspective. I write so much that it happens sometimes, particularly with something I haven't read for a few years. The cool thing was that it's wasn't bad. Some of my old writing makes me cringe. This didn't. It's a nice feeling.
      Catch you later.

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      The patron package is printed! Woohoo! That's a relief. Now all I have to do is finish updating the mailing list, and it will be ready to be stuffed and mailed.
      Next up: the family newsletter. I both dread it and look forward to it. I dread it because so much work needs to be done to rebuild it. My computer crash a few months back wiped out years of work and hundreds of photos. While I recovered many of the photos and some of the templates, the majority are gone forever. Learn from my mistake: BACK UP! BACK UP! BACK UP!
      I have at least three backups at all times now. One at my office and one in my safe. I never want to go through that again. I can always buy another computer, but the data can be irreplaceable. And it respresents hours of work and effort.
      On a sour note: I received yet another new bill from my surgery. Isn't that ... nice.
      I'll return in a bit. And have you backed up your computer data today?

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      While I was gone, I did four loads of laundry, washed the dishes, worked on the family newsletter, and put the final touches on the patron package. Now I go to get it printed and photocopied. Heigh ho, off to Staples I go!
      Or off I will go in a few minutes. I needed to take a brief break. I'm still feeling the effects of the surgery, I guess, or really the effects of having to take it easy and all that bed rest. It's hard for your body to go after it has spent so much time not going.
      That's true for writing, too. I find that if I haven't written for a week or so, it's hard to start again. The creative impulse requires exercise. The more you use it, the more you can do. A couple of years ago, I really stretched myself and found my writing grew as a result.
      But since the first of the year, I had to let it slide due to all that other nonsense. As a result, I'm writing slower and with less grace. I'm taking less enjoyment out of it.
      Fortunately I know how to fix that: I have to write. It's as simple as that. The more I write, the more I can write. And now off to get the patron package finished. Catch you in a bit.

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      I have a busy weekend planned, but I have not forgotten my plan of bloggin' aplenty. I figure on doing ten or so posts this weekend. We'll see how that goes.
      I will be printing the patron package today. After that, I just need to finish the mailing list, and everything will be ready to be stuffed and mailed. I'm excited about having it done. I think it looks good and certainly better than what has been done for several years. I hope it's a success, but at least I know I did my best with what I had.
      Next up this weekend I will be working on my family newsletter. I haven't published it since January due to health problems, computer problems, etc. I hope to finish it this weekend, also, so that it can be mailed Tuesday.
      After that -- or during that -- I'm working on submissions to a couple of magazines and contests. I plan to submit five pieces by next weekend. I have a couple of pieces ready to be printed, and two others close.
      I have a few errands to run so I'm going to sign off now. Catch you a bit later.