Monday, October 31, 2011

On your mark ...

It starts tonight. National Novel Writing Month begins at midnight. I intend to start writing then on Twice Around the Crazy Tree. I'm quite nervous about it, which is odd since, after all, no one is making me do this. It's amazing the amount of pressure I can put on myself.

Oh, here's the "web badge" for participants!

I wish the badge was larger. I'd print it out and plaster it everywhere I could.

Anyway, I'm to give out Halloween candy tonight and do some last-minute cleaning on my house and get ready to write.

Your support is appreciated!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


National Novel Writing Month starts on Tuesday, and I'm panicking a bit. I don't my outline even really started for the book I've decided to write. And the book I've chosen may be outside my ability. Well, it's NaNoWriMo, which is perfect for experiments and failures. It's odd to write something while knowing it might not be ever be published, self or otherwise.

My years in newspaper oriented me toward workable prose. Stories that might not be excellent but good enough to make a deadline. Journalists learn to not write long, to not be overly poetic, and to not love their words. I learned those lessons well.

NaNoWriMo is the time to thumb my nose at those lessons and see what else is in the world. We'll see how it goes, but my gosh, it's exciting!

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

A letter from Satan

I received a letter from Satan. I didn't even know he had my address. I suspect telemarketers gave it to him. Here's what it said.

Dear Mr. Bagley:

I trust this missive finds you well. If so, how utterly disappointing. You must understand my goal remains the total spiritual and physical destruction of mankind. It has always been a state of warfare between lower forms such as yourself and the other 7,087,978,002 humans and my own perfect being. I detest you all with an eternal hatred. Even so, there are certain lines even I do not cross, which you have done so.

I'm speaking about your recent comment which said I was to blame for Congress. I must take exception to that. Although I and my minions have certainly corrupted my fair share of Congressmen — the list involving Congressional interns alone would fill a huge book — you put too much stock in me and not enough stock in human greed and ignorance.

Yes, that's right. The “devil” didn't make them do any of their evil acts; they did them all on their own. Oh, I might have whispered a suggestion or two, but often they were already ahead of me. In many ways, they fulfill the potential for evil which I have always known humans possess. Why The Other hasn't simply swept your entire species from the earth remains something I will never understand nor want to.

I can and do claim credit for: suicide bombers, malaria, wars and rumors of wars, that plastic packaging that is almost impossible for anyone to open, thong swimwear for men and women, the KKK, the delightful lack of morals on primetime television shows, the fact that fattening and unhealthy food tastes so good, the crass commercialization of *****mas, most rock bands and pop stars, slavery, Internet porn, drug cartels, and so on.

One side note: You also blamed me for Jersey Shore, but the success of that show is strictly due to human stupidity and immorality. Oh, I admit I find their squalid little lives to be amusing, but once again, I cannot claim credit. They are promoting drunkenness and promiscuity on their own. I suspect The Other will have harsh words for them when they finally stagger off the mortal plane. Pardon me while I chuckle in anticipation.

To return to the matter at hand, in the future, please refrain from mentioning myself and Congress as connected in any fashion besides the obvious. Otherwise, you will hear from my attorneys at Beatem, Stompem & Spitonem, Inc., an outstanding firm among the many, many, many lawyers who work for me.

Now that we have cleared this up, I can return to inspiring bio-weapon designers. After all, that zombie outbreak you humans are so fixated on isn't going to happen by itself.

His Satanic Majesty


I really need to get a post office box.

(Copyright 2011 by Stephen B. Bagley. Excerpted from Return of the Floozy. No copying without express prior written permission. Thank you for reading.)

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Friday, October 28, 2011

No idea

I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month in November. Which is really close. This is maybe the craziest thing I've done all year. It's amazing I even think it's possible for me to do this when I haven't managed an extended amount of writing all year.

Well, it's on. It's like riding a roller coaster, and I'm nearing the top. My stomach is fluttering. My eyes are wide. I can see for miles, and there's that hesitation for a moment as the ride slows as we reach the crest.

I'm attempting mainstream fiction this year. It's the story of Hunter Thornton. The book is called Twice Around the Crazy Tree.

Hunter Thornton hasn't been home for five years. He's happier not being there, and his family -- with the exception of his sister -- agrees. But when he learns the town is going to raise a statue to his grandfather, he has to return, his longtime and long suffering girlfriend in tow. Because while his grandfather Franklin Thornton deserved many things, a statue wasn't one of them. Hunter knows because he's the keeper of secrets, dark twisted things that could tear his family apart. What Hunter doesn't know is if he's strong enough to carry the truth twice around the crazy tree.

I've never attempted anything like this in a book. My plays are closer to mainstream than any of my fiction. I hope Hunter's story is funny, sad, strong, sexy, and above all, interesting. I don't like boring. So we'll see.

I don't promise to not have vampire, werewolf, shape-shifting alien show up in the middle if necessary. After all, I have to write at least 1,667 words a day. I may need an alien or two.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From "Twice Around the Crazy Tree"

Cynthia followed me down to the lake. I sat in the stone beach watched the setting sun turn the muddy water into gold. She walked closer to the water's edge. I could hear a couple of cars leaving up at the house. I wondered who was escaping.

"You could have told me," she said, and in her voice was something quiet and final. I caught my breath as I realized what I had done and what it already cost me. Apparently I wasn't done paying. There's always the sinner and the sin.

"I didn't know how," I said when the silence became unbearable.

"I would have believed you," she said.

"I know," I said. "I didn't have the words. No, that's not true. Keeping those secrets, keeping that secret ... it defined me for so long. Everything I did ... It was all in relation to that."

She turned, but the shadows covered her face.

"What happens now?" she asked.

"Well, I don't know," I said. "I figure they won't build the statue, but maybe so. You can bet Grandmother is busy with damage control. I suspect I won't get invited to any more family reunions. My sister won't talk to me for a few months, but she will get over it. And behind my back, she will defend me. My cousins ..." I paused, feeling my eyes well up. "I never knew about them. We need to talk, I guess."

"It wasn't your fault," she said, coming to me.

I wiped my eyes with the palm of my hand. "If I had only said something."

She sat beside me and rested her hand on my leg. "You were a kid. Scared. You did the best you could. Nope of this is your fault. None. It's all his fault. I wish I could scratch his eyes out. If they build that statue, I promise to God, it won't be up long. As for your grandmother, if she thinks you Thorntons can hold a grudge, she has no idea how long and mean and strong I can hold one!"

She sounded so fierce, I had to laugh.

"I mean it," she said.

"I know. That's what makes it so funny. And wonderful."

"I wish I could have been there for you back then," she said. "I wish someone had been."

"That's the thing with secrets," I said. "No one knows you have them, so they can't help you." I spread my hands. "I wish I had done things differently."

"You have to forgive yourself."

I nodded, not trust myself to speak.

"You have to forgive yourself," she said again. "I want you to be happy. I want us to be happy."

I looked at her. "So there's still an 'us?' After all this mess? All this yelling and lies and all those terrible things?"

Tears glistened on her cheeks in the dying light. I felt more than saw her smile. "You bet your brass buttons, buddy."

I grabbed her hand, and we watched the sky turn black and stars came out as a little sliver of moon danced on the lake.

We sat there for a long time. And then we got up and went twice around the crazy tree.


(Excerpt from Twice Around the Crazy Tree by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express prior written permission. Thanks for reading.)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

40 books I've read in 2011

I'm horribly behind in updating the books I've read. I added a few more today and will work on getting this list up-to-date before year's end. But here's what I have entered so far.

Books Read In 2011

40. **** Ghost Story by Jim Butcher. Not the strongest entry in the long-running Dresden Files series but still good, it does have the distinction of starting with our hero being dead. Takes a lot to write a character out of that situation.

39. *** The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth.
38. *** The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman.
37. *** 90 Days to Your Novel by Sarah Domet.

36. **** Visions by Michio Kaku. Written in 1997, this book looks to the future. While interesting and lively, it's somewhat dated. But what's sad is how many of these future visions are yet to come true.

35. **** The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. This small book continues to help people attain more in their spiritual life and started a whole movement based on it.

34. **** The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. The ultimate think-better/feel-better book that continues to impress and inspire people. Helpful.

33. **** The Well-Fed Writer: Back for Seconds by Peter Bowerman. Updated version of The Well-Fed Writer with expanded sections on marketing, promotion, and cold-calling.

32. **** The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. Another well-written and informative book about writing nonfiction articles. A bit dated, but good reading.

31. **** How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit by Robert W. Bly with Fred Gleeck. Informative and entertaining book about writing short nonfiction articles. Not as detailed as I hoped, but worth reading for anyone interested in selling articles.

30. **** The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. Another steampunk entry with a decidedly mystical bend. Not sure whether the author can control all the events he has in motion in this series, but it's fun, fast, and fascinating to watch him try.

29. **** A Matter of Trust by Sherrilyn Polf. A moving and lyrical romance set just before the outbreak of WWII. The first in a series -- The Engineers of Flight -- that will make you want to read more.

28. **** My Heart Will Always Cry by Janell Haworth Desmond. A heart-breaking and devastating journey as the author survives her son's suicide and learns to live with hope and healing.

27. **** Jack London: Writer of Adventure by Martha Rhynes. A lively and interesting biography of the famous writer and his infamous escapades. Well worth your time even if you don't like biographies.

26. **** The Summer of the Frogs by Tressa Green. The diary of a psychotic woman seen through her eyes. Fascinating and frightening. It's a book you will think long and hard about.

25. **** Snuff by Terry Pratchett. Discworld remains one of fantasy's most amazing and wonderful creations. In this wisely funny novel, Commander Sam Vines takes a vacation that promptly involves him in murder, conspiracy, goblins, and lords behaving badly. Always entertaining with a subtle message about the rights of all freed creatures. Recommended.

24. **** Ganymede by Cherie Priest. Another entry in the steampunk and zombie stories of The Clockwork Century. Less suspenseful and less focused than the previous two books, it's still worth a read.

23. *** The Beginning of Infinity by David Deautsch.
22. *** Eat by Ian Smith.

21. ***** The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn. A fascinating look at the bugs, parasites, and other crawlies in our body that may help us more than they harm us.

20. **** I'll Mature When I'm Dead by Dave Barry. A new collection of funny essays from the master humorist.

19. *** I'm Over All That by Shirley MacLaine.
18. *** Ageless Memory by Harry Lorayne.
17. ** The Path of Energy by Synthia Andrews.

16. **** The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. A one year project by a woman in an attempt to make her life happier. Excellent suggestions.

15. *** 20 Years Younger by Bob Greene.
14. *** Your Creative Brain by Shelley Carson.
13. *** The Vitamin D Solution by Dr. M.F. Holick.
12. *** Don't Look Down by Jennifer Cruise.

11. **** Dreadnought by Cherie Priest. A steampunk/zombie novel that reads fast and fills your mind with images of a alternative world of terrible realities and strange vistas. Recommended.

10. *** The Portable Crafter: Cardmarking by Peggy Jo Ackley.
9. *** Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris.
8. *** Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon.
7. * Curation Nation by Steven Rosenbaum.

6. **** Hiss of Death by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown. Another excellent entry in the Mrs. Murphy mysteries. I wish the Browns would write more and write faster. Recommended.

5. **** 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne as retold by JacQueline Morley and illustrated by Li Sidong. This graphic novel does a good job with Verne's story. Excellent for teenagers and older children. Recommended.

4. ** Mrs. Pargeter's Point of Honor by Simon Brett.

3. **** Wake by Robert J. Sawyer. A great science fiction tale that manages to be informative without ever being boring. Sawyer is our generation's Issac Asimov -- and may be the better writer. Recommended.

2. **** Composed by Rosanne Cash. I usually avoid celebrity memoirs because I learn things I didn't want to know. This memoir, however, is lovely and lyrical with absorbing life lessons that apply to all of us. Recommended.

1. **** The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs. Funny and fascinating collection of "experiments" to which Jacobs subjected himself -- and his long suffering wife. Recommended.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dragon testing

This is a test.

This post is to test Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I lost Dragon when my computer crashed. I reloaded it today, and I experienced quite a bit of difficulty in doing so. Traces of the old installation were still left on my computer, and that made it difficult to install anew.

However, I got on the Dragon website and found other people had experienced the problem also. There was a fix, which I used, and now I am dictating this into Microsoft Word.

I thought Dragon might be useful for National Novel Writing Month, which is only a week away. I'm quite excited about NaNo. I'm hoping that excitement will carry through the entire month and bring me through to victory.

I'm amazed how accurate this program is so far. No mistakes. This is version 11.5. I remember version 4, which made many mistakes. I could type faster with fewer mistakes than it could take dictation. But 11.5 is going quite well.

Anyway, wanted to post tonight, and I have, so good night! Talk to you tomorrow. Bye!

Monday, October 24, 2011


If you want to be a writer, you write. You can read magazines, attend conferences, workshop your stories, etc., but you write.

I mention this because I was talking to a writer(?) who didn't understand – or didn’t believe – she had to write to actually claim that title. In fact, writing was secondary to her plans. She blogged, she FBed, she workshopped, she went to conferences, she read writing books, she did everything the magazines say a writer should. All of which can be helpful. And if those things are all she wants, it’s her life. She can live as she chooses and be happy, but it isn't writing.

I don't know of any way to be a writer other than to write. And if you want to be a published writer, you have to finish what you write. Then you write some more.

And you have to let your baby go. You have to release it, either to agents or self-publishing or your files, but after you've written it as best as you can, you have to let it go and move on. No, it isn't easy. It's easier to fiddle with it forever, but you must move on eventually.

You have more than one story in you. Yes, you didn't write that first story the exact way you wanted to. It's not perfect. But it won't ever be perfect. If it is, then you did something wrong.

The whole point of being an artist of any type is to continue to strive. If we reach our goal, we have to raise our goal.

It's frustrating, heart-breaking, exhausting, but it's also exhilarating, fascinating, fulfilling. That striving makes us human. Actually more than human. The ape reaching for the hand of an angel.

And that’s how I see writing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Poor Little Blog

Poor little blog. I've been neglecting you. I'm sorry. I'll do better in the future. I hope.

Let's see what's going on in my world. Not much. I clean house, ran errands, exercise, watch TV, read books, sleep, fret about the plight of the nation, feed my fish and clean the aquarium, laundry my clothes, etc. Not much to write about.

I did sell a couple of books and a few more greeting cards this week. I put out the September family newsletter and have to get to work on the October so that it won't be hanging over my head in November since I have plans for that month.

What plans? you ask. National Novel Writing Month, of course. A month of frenzied writing in which I will write 1,667 words a day for 30 days. Yes, it's as crazy as it sounds. Particularly when you consider -- and you should -- that I'm not even coming anywhere close to that right now.

Madness, I tell you, madness.

And what am I going to write? I don't know. Maybe Murder at Forty Fathoms. Or Circles. Or Ghosts. Or something else. We'll see.

But I intend to participate, and I intend to win.

Talk to you tomorrow!

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Saturday, October 15, 2011


By Stephen B. Bagley

Do you ever wonder where the villains in those James Bond films get all those henchmen? The henchmen drop like flies as they defend their Great Leader, but apparently there is an inexhaustible supply of underlings. They’re more plentiful than the mixed-up nuts at a political convention.

Let's imagine that job description: Wanted: Henchmen. Good salary, but no benefits because the hero will shoot, knife, karate-chop, laser, or drown you long before you reach retirement age. You also might be executed for irritating Our Great Leader or used as a test subject for a deadly nerve toxin or on a whim. No phone calls. Apply in person. Bring machine gun.

You can understand why the henchmen at the beginning of the adventure don’t quit — after all, they haven’t seen Bond mow down dozens of their co-henchmen — but those guys who stick it out to the end are simply asking for a messy death. They’re the lemmings of the villain world. No one will sell them life insurance. They should all wear red shirts. (In the original Star Trek series, crewmen who wore red shirts rarely survived beyond the first commercial break. I hate having to explain jokes. Please brush up on your pop culture trivia. Thanks so much.)

Part of the high attrition rate isn’t their fault, of course. Their boss can never just shoot Bond. No, their super genius boss has to arrange an elaborate death for Bond for no good reason, and then go off and leave Bond completely unattended so that the super spy can escape and foil the master plan. It’s like the boss is a Democrat or some other creature that self-destructs.

When I was younger, I used to root for Bond — and I still do — but I have a lot of respect for some of those villains. For instance, in Moonraker, evil genius Hugo Drax has built a huge space station that even has artificial gravity. It’s years ahead of what we can do. And in The Spy Who Loved Me, another evil genius, Karl Stromberg, has built an entire city underwater, once again something we can’t do. Admittedly both of them are crazier than a North Korean president, but you’ve got to admire their superior engineering skills.

And they’re surely providing jobs. Drax alone employed hundreds. If he really existed, he would be running for President for the Republican Party based on his corporate experience. He might even win.

But Bond doesn’t do that. He builds nothing. All he does is blow things up. Space station, underwater city, stealth ship, Starbucks, etc. There’s never a hint that maybe we should use the technology for the greater good. And the only jobs he provides is for a few techs in Q Division and a couple of explosives factories.

Whenever Bond shows up, there’s rubble and smoke everywhere with a body count higher than in Halo. Then, after a smug quip or two, Bond is off to a beach sipping a nasty vodka martini with the latest Bond tart clinging to his arm. For a super villain, that’s got to be really discouraging.

You can tell the villains are dispirited. In the last couple of Bond films, the villains are simply after money. No grand plans of world conquest. Not that you can blame them. Conquering the world implies you have to rule it, and that’s no fun at all. Just having to deal with the cast of Jersey Shore is a headache no one wants. (Naturally the cast would be killed, but the debate of how to torture them before their deaths would take up days.)

Still, I miss the days when they dreamed big. When they would get excited about the idea of orbital missile platforms or a hidden base built of ice in the Antarctica from which to launch nuclear-armed submarines. Those were the days of the great villains, but I fear they have gone away forever like the dodo, passenger pigeon, and honest Congressmen.

At least henchmen aren’t endangered. You can find thousands of them working for various political campaigns, hoping their man will one day peal forth truly mad laughter and order the robot flying monkeys to attack.

Copyright 2011 by Stephen B. Bagley. Excepted from Return of the Floozy. All rights reserved. No copying without express prior written permission from the publisher and author.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011


Been feeling ground down lately. Stressed by the day-to-day uncertainties of life. Finances remain a major worry. I waver between being a miser, hoarding my coins, stretching funds as far they can go, and being a spendthrift, tossing money at books and toys, defiantly baring my teeth at my creditors. This does not make a sound financial plan. I think I might be crazy.

Sometimes out of the blue, the loss of my parents hits me in the face. It's strange the things I will remember about them. I miss talking to my mother. Miss the Sunday morning phone calls from my father. I don't like visiting their graves. Don't like being reminded of what is lost. And besides, I know they're not there.

In the end, no matter how strong-willed we are, no matter how much we cling to life, no matter how hard we fight, in the end, we all pass away. We all go into the unknown. In the end, we all die.

And it always seems that our lives are too brief, mere flickers of flame in the storm-tossed dark. Every moment is precious because it will not come again, and yet, it is impossible to live each moment to the fullest. We were not made to be constantly on the edge of life. We have down times and off times, low moments and sad moments. We cannot be rejoicing all the time, and if we were, how would we know what to rejoice in? If we had no darkness, how would we know that a moment filled with sunlight and laughter should be cherished?

Perhaps that is what Heaven truly is: Bright moments that we know are bright for which we do not have pay for with darkness. Pure rejoicing with no taste of the bittersweet. To dance in the infinite sunlight as the stars sing forth praises.

There are times I long for a place I've never been. Do you?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Ulysses is one of my favorite poems. If you've not read it before, you may be familiar with the last six lines if you watched the series finale of Frazier.

The poem tells the story of Ulysses, no longer young. He's returned home and ruled well, but now he had decided he wants one last adventure. He's giving the throne to his son and setting sail to see if "some work of noble note, may yet be done" in a last bold journey into the unknown.

The language is measured and metered, but has a sense of urgency, that of a man confronting his own mortality and wanting something before him as great as what lies behind.

If you can, read it aloud. It's worth your effort to taste the words. Here it is.


By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,-- cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,--
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
>From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,-- you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

How wonderful. How utterly powerful. It inspires me every time I read it. As I grow older, I find more wisdom and meaning in each line.

Hope you enjoyed it. Talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


They are still working on the roof today. The sound effects are amazing. Booms, clanks, thuds, hammering, sawing, shouting. It's quite interesting in a pounding headache sort of way. Which I have. Can't blame it on on them. Think I've picked up a cold or maybe allergies. Feel really tired and ran a fever last night. Better than morning, just exhausted. Sure wish the house was quieter.

If I felt better, I'd go to the library or somewhere to get away from the noise, but then I'd just spread my germs around. If it is germs. It might be allergies. Very possibly is. It would be weird to have a cold every year around this time.

I've taken antihistamines and Advil and Alka-Seltzer. Also, Vitamin C. And hot green tea, which soothes my throat and warms my body. Admittedly, I think the green tea would be better with sugar or honey, but I try to avoid sweeteners these days.

They're supposed to finish the roof today, but it doesn't look like they will. Or at least that's what I think. They still have bunches to do. Only one section of the older roof shingles has been torn off. Still have two sections to go. I hope they do. I sure would like to sleep in tomorrow.

Anyway, that's all I have to say today. Hope you're having a good one. Talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, October 03, 2011


Did I mention that my house is getting a new roof today? Right over my head, a group of men are tearing off the layers of old shingles to prepare for a new layer. They are also apparently performing River Dance. The banging, thumping, and general all around noise has led me to this conclusion.

They started at 8:30 this morning. I don't know how long they will work today. I'm hoping they get the roof done by Wednesday. I don't live in a large house, but it does have a weird shaped roof with at least two layers of shingles on it and maybe three. 

It's a mess outside; tar paper and old shingles are everywhere. I hope they will clean it up before they leave. It's been amazing to watch the old nails rain down. I think they run a magnet over the yard when they finish, but I think we should still be careful about parking on the lawn for a while. There are always a couple of nails just waiting to pierce a tire or be thrown by a lawn mower into someone's leg. I knew a guy that had a nail thrown into his leg. He's fine, of course, but the incident made him more cautious about mowing his own lawn. 

Generally lawn work is dangerous. Sharp shears, whirring blades, rotating knifes on a bush trimmer, explosives, lasers, etc. Frankly, a person could get hurt mowing their lawn. Or their neighbors could. Maybe a whole block.

A man up the street from me has understood that for years. He rarely mows his lawn. Just lets winter beat it down. I would guess his next door neighbors aren't so thrilled with that. This year, though, his lawn has stayed neat because the drought hasn't let the grass and weeds grow. It's been brutal here.

We're supposed to get some rain next week. I sure hope so.

Oh, the desktop computer is working. I'm using it to type this. Still have a few more programs to load and a few fonts and drivers to find, but it's 98 percent done. I hope it continues to work.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Whoa. Bad day today. Computer is mostly working, but I'm not. Wore myself out and can barely get up and around. Have more programs to install and more updates and drivers. Still haven't installed my printer yet. Will do so in a few minutes. Once I get that done and install a couple more programs, I may be in a place to start work again. I'll be glad when that happens. Or as glad as I can feel while fighting sleep and anxiety.

The thing about any computer system failure is that you're never sure exactly what happened. In this case, it seems to be the operating system crashed and the hardware is okay, but you never really know. I might do all this work, and the system crashes tomorrow or sooner. Every time I've had to restart the desktop, I've held my breath, waiting for that dreaded blue screen. It's uncertain.

I'm sure if I wasn't so tired, I could make that into a metaphor for life: It's uncertain. You can work as hard as you can, do everything right, but the universe remains out of our control. A friend of mine calls it the get-hit-by-a-bus syndrome. He's always been afraid of being too happy because he says if he achieves everything he wants, he will probably step out of his house and get hit by a bus. Yeah, he's a real joy to be around.

But I'm too tired to make any grand statements about life. Things happen. We respond according to our abilities and gifts. Sometimes we do well; sometime we don't. You can drive yourself crazy thinking about mistakes and missteps. Gotta to move beyond that and keep going. I do believe movement counts. "Don't just sit there; do something" is often the best advice. At the very least, you will present a moving target for you foes. And there's a lot to be said for that.

But not by me. At least not today. I need another nap.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

5 a.m.

Stayed up to 5 a.m. working on the desktop computer. So far, it's working again, but I'm still installing updates, drivers, and programs. Need to install my printer again, too. It's been quite a day. After I went to bed, I slept for about three hours and got up again and started working on the computer again. That's been my pattern all day: work for a couple of hours, nap, and work again.

I've installed over 275 updates and drivers. I'm amazed. Admittedly the system is five years old, but still, that seems like a lot. But things are calming down on the system considerably so I'm hopeful I'm nearly at the end of this. Of course, then I will start installing programs and all their updates. This may never end.

I do understand why people just go out and buy a new computer rather than go through this process. I think if I could afford it, I would have, but I can't. Well, I could probably manage a new computer, but I have a bunch of programs that won't run on Windows 7. They would have to be upgraded or replaced. Can't afford to do all that. Don't want to do all that. Certainly not in one huge event. I want to upgrade slowly as need be.

About three this morning, I was thinking about computers and whether or not I could do what I want to do without one. Computers bring a lot into our lives, but they take a lot away, too. I know my writing might not have gone the places it has without a computer. And I couldn't make the cards or any of other design projects without it -- or I think that, but people had to be able to do these things before computers, but maybe not as quickly or as productively. Who knows what I would have devoted my life to if there hadn't been an electronic monster on my desk most of my adult life?

Well, that's a path for another life. Maybe somewhere in the multiverse, a Stephen is doing just that: Making his way through an adventuresome life in the outdoors without the use of electronics. Maybe people keep telling him to get one, but he always says, "No, maybe someday, but right now, I'm living in the real world." I wonder how that works out for him.