Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

My Very First Meme

The beautiful Red has tagged me with The Music Meme. This is the first one of these that I have ever received, so I thought…what the hell? Enjoy, feel free to pass it along
1. The total volume of music files on my computer is... about 20MB. Yeah, I know that isn’t a lot, but I generally download a few songs, burn them to CD and erase them off the computer. After, I have a chance to thoroughly evaluate my mix CD, I generally go by the full CDs of the artists that I like most on the disc. Of course, I know that there is a better way, but I am just quirky that way.
2. The last CD I bought was... With Teeth by NIN (Nine Inch Nails for the uninitiated). I did a review on this one just the other day. I can’t say enough good things about this CD.
3. The song playing right now is... I Predict a Riot by Kaiser Chiefs.
4. Five songs that mean a lot to me are...
One by Metallica . I remember listening to this while I was “away” in the military and it really struck home.
Vision Thing by Sister’s of Mercy. This song was played at least once an hour every hour at this biker bar I worked in when I lived in Germany.
I Melt With You by Modern English. This was the first song that my wife ever asked me to sing to her.
Zoot Suit Riot by The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. This was the first song I ever sang in public.
Feel Like Making by Bad Company. This song was playing the first time I ever…well, you can use your imagination for this one.
5. Which people are you passing this baton to, and why? I am passing the baton to Bones, because, quite frankly, I want to see his answers. I am only tagging one person with this, because it has too much of a chain mail feel to it and I want to keep the people cursing me for passing it to them down to a minimum. If you would like to play, feel free to consider the baton passed, but let me know so that I can see your answers.

Memorial Day

Our Memorial Day weekend was…well, memorable. We spent it with old friends and made quite a few new ones. A large group of friends got together and staked out a great campsite on the lake. The weather was perfect and the water was smooth (for most of the weekend, at least). Of course, the weekend couldn’t go off without a hitch, but overall it couldn’t I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend.

The battery on my Sea Doo, wouldn’t hold a charge if I taped one to it, but we didn’t realize it until we were ready to take off on Saturday morning. Needless to say, we left it behind; we had plenty of other toys with which to occupy our time.

We arrived on the scene to find water that was smooth as glass, perfect conditions for wakeboarding. We decided to split the groups up so that everyone could share in the fun. We used one boat to pull the various tubes (three in all, each with their own special function) and my boat we dedicated to pulling the wakeboards and kneeboards (oddly enough, not one person wanted to use the water skis).

Everyone insisted that I be the first one to break-in the wakeboard for the season. I am not sure of their exact intentions, but I suspect that it had something to do with wanting to use me as a guinea pig to see how cold the water was. It was cold but bearable and it didn’t take long to acclimate once you took that initial plunge. I took a minute to let my body adjust before I strapped the board on. I grabbed hold of the rope and let them pull out the slack slowly as we lined up for take off. I gave the signal and the engine revved, shooting me to the top of the water. It was just like riding a bike, I had no problems getting up and riding on my first try.

My wife also managed to pull it off with little difficulty, but my son was the one that impressed me the most on that first day. Now keep in mind, he is only seven, but he popped right out of the water and rode for a good ten minutes before he finally crashed. He was weaving in and out of the wake with reckless abandon.

On Saturday night, we played Black Jack with another group of friends. Our hosts, Matt and Kim, grilled up a magnificent feast before we set about the business of cards. At the first break, I was up nearly $2300. The person closest to me (Rob) had around $1700. The first hand after we returned from break, Rob bet $1000 and hit a Black Jack. Not to be outdone, I went “all in” on the next hand. Yeah, I drew a 16 and lost. Oh, well you win some…and then there are the times that you just play too stupidly to win anything. It was still a great time had by all, though. It was a nice little practice session for next week’s trip. Yeah, baby!!!! We are going to Vegas. I would go ahead and expect a quiet week from my blog starting on Sunday and lasting until the following Sunday.

We returned to the Lake on Sunday and had another wonderful day of water sports and good food. We took a little break in the evening and decided to try our luck at fishing. We found a nice little cove and dropped our lines in. After about an hour without any luck, we decided to try a new spot, but before we left, several of us wanted to jump in the water to cool off. My wife and son didn’t take long to decide that they had indeed cooled off enough, but I straggled. I heard my niece scream and my wife say don’t panic just as I reached the back of the boat. It turns out that not more than an arms length away from me, I had company. It was kind of hard to tell as it swam towards me, but my best guess is that this water snake was somewhere between four and five feet long and he obviously wanted to play with me. I didn’t share his feelings of adventure and decided that a hasty retreat to the boat was in order. My splashing kept him at bay long enough for me to get on the boat and we watched with great interest, as he grew bored and swam away.

We spent the night at camp and my wife made it through the entire night with out giving up and asking me to take her home to a real bed. She has never been fond of camping, but I guess she just decided to stick it out for the sake of family fun. Truth be told, I would be willing to bet that it just wasn’t as bad as she remembered it to be.

All in all, it was a great way to spend the weekend.

All the Love in the World



So, I bought the new NIN CD [WITH_TEETH] last week. I was actually pretty excited about this one. I was a big fan of them in the 90s. I also enjoyed some of Trent Reznor’s solo work, but it just wasn’t quite the same.

When I first heard The Hand That Feeds, it sent my on a wild goose chase. The DJ said that the CD wouldn’t be released for another couple of months, but I wanted to have the single now. I turned to my PC and began the search. None of my legit sources had it, and I just wasn’t willing to take a chance on searching with any of the peer to peer software packages (when the pirates go down, I don’t want to be anywhere near the ship). I had to settle for listening to it on the radio, which turned out not to be a bad deal as at least one channel played it every fifteen minutes or so.

At last, the day came that the CD was officially released. I bought it, put it in the player and waited.

A catchy little synthesized drumbeat rolled out of the speakers. It was quickly followed by the sound of Trent’s voice. Eww, is it just me, or is his voice off key? I thought in dismay. Then his voice actually cracked and broke, right there on the first track. Oh, my God they are just another has-been band trying to make a comeback. I felt bad for them as I listened to the song bounce all over the place. It seemed to be coming for every direction and none of it meshed for well. Then as if on cue with my thoughts, the music started to synch up and the voice picked up…confidence. Suddenly a deep drum rhythm signaled the attack and a wonderful CD was under way. From that point in the song, all the way through to the last track, this CD kicks ass.

With Teeth has melodies and lyrics that get under your skin and not only stay there, but bury their way into your very soul. The music is that good. It is by far the best NIN CD every released. I find myself listening to this thing over and over and… That actually reminds me of one of the songs:

I believe I can see the future
As I repeat the same routine
I think I used to have a purpose
But then again
That might have been a dream
I think I used to have a voice
Now i never make a sound
I just do what I've been told
I really don't want them to come around again

Every day is exactly the same


This CD is a must have. Buy it, enjoy it, you can thank me later!

Friday, May 27, 2005

I found this test by way of The Daily Bitch, and thought it might be fun to pass along.

Much to the surpise of my Beta Readers, I'm sure, this is how I scored:








Your English Skills:



Grammar: 100%

Punctuation: 100%

Spelling: 100%

Vocabulary: 100%





So how did you do?

The Sith and assorted weekend rents

We went to see Star Wars Episode III on Friday. Hooray, it didn’t suck. Yes, it still had a ton of bad acting and yes, it still had numerous scenes that ranked pretty high on the cheese scale, but I actually enjoyed this movie. If you even remotely liked any of the Star Wars movies, I recommend that you see this one and more than that, it should be seen in the theater. Enough said. I am sure that there must be literally thousands of blogs that address the pros and cons to Revenge of the Sith.

On Saturday, we decided to have a quiet night in and rented a few movies to help us to that end. We rented three movies; one was funny as hell, one tugged at your heart strings, despite being action packed, and one stunk so bad, that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was spawned in the deep dark recesses of Satan’s ass.

Let’s take on the stinker first. Team America is quite possibly the single worst story ever to be committed to film. I know what you’re thinking…it’s a movie made with puppets, what did you expect? Well, I expected to laugh, which I did a couple of times. Those moments were few and far between. Mostly, I just rolled my eyes and smirked. I wound up turning the thing off before it was over; I just couldn’t take anymore of the stupidity.

We followed that up with Ladder 49. This is a great movie. It is the story of a Baltimore City firefighter. It gives us a glimpse into the lives of these courageous men and women who risk their lives to keep us safe. This movie will make you laugh and make you cry, but in the end…well you will just have to watch the movie and decide what emotion it leaves you with for yourself. Rent it, watch it and shake the hand of every firefighter you ever see for the rest of your life.

The last movie of the weekend was Meet the Fockers. This movie is hilarious. I laughed ‘til my side hurt. From a cat (Jinx) flushing a dog (Moses) down the toilet to geriatric sex therapy, this movie has it all. Seeing Robert De Niro wearing a fake breast (for breast-feeding his grandson) and then making Ben Stiller feel it, was enough to justify the cost of this rental. I will buy this one for my personal collection and watch it time and again. The deleted scenes are just as funny as the movie; I am not sure why they cut them out.

Pagan Humor

I know I have a history of putting up some real groaners, but this time I decided to take on the one-liner from a slightly different angle. I hope you enjoy…Blessed Be.

Q: How many Asatruar "Nordic pagans" does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: None, the light from the burning monestaries is quite enough.

Q: How many Gardnerians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I can't say. It's oathbound.

Q: How many (hereditary) witches does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None ... if a candle was good enough for Gramma, it's good enough for me!

Q: How many Witches does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Depends on what you want to change it into.

Q: What's the best thing about Pagan friends?
A: They worship the ground you walk on.

Q: Why was the witch thrown out of school?
A: She couldn't learn to spell.

Q: What's a cold, evil candle called?
A: The wicked wick of the north.

Q: What happens to a fast witch on a slow broom?
A: She flies off the handle.

Q: How do you picture yourself flying on a broom?
A: By witchful thinking.
Q: What do you say to an angry witch?
A: Ribbit

Q: What's the best thing about Pagan friends?
A: They worship the ground you walk on.

Q: How can you tell a blonde pagan closed the circle?
A: There's white-out on the floor

Q: Why do witches use Brooms?
A: Because nature abhors a vacuum.

Q: What do ya' call 13 Witches in a hot tub?
A: A Self-Cleaning Coven

Q: What happens when a Ceremonial Magician gets angry?
A: He goes Qua-ballistic.

Q: What do you get when you cross a Zen Buddhist and a Druid?
A: Someone who worships the tree that is not there.

HOW TO TELL IF YOU ARE A TECHNO-PAGAN:

You call your corners on a cellular phone
You've had to remove candle wax off your keyboard
You charge your ritual tools- with a Visa
You use a remote control in place of an athame
You download your book of shadows
You cast your circle in a chat room
Your familiar is a mouse
You attend ritual skyclad because it's too much trouble to get dressed for a computer.
Your Yule ritual involves defragmentation
Your altar cloth is a mouse pad
Your cauldron is a crock-pot
Your cone of power has a surge suppressor
Your magical name, e-mail address, and on-line name are all the same.
If you end a circle with Ctl-Alt-Del

Pagan Pick-up Lines

- Hey babe, what's your sign? What's it's ascendant? What is your planet alignment in Venus during Cancer's revolving around the Fourth House?
- Read any good Llewellyn Books lately?
- Haven't I seen you someplace before in another life?
- Yes, I'm handfasted, but that's not "technically" marriage.
- What's a nymph Goddess like you doing in a place like this?
- You have the prettiest third eye I've ever seen.
- You're feet must be tired because you've been Spiral Dancing in my mind all night long.
- Is that a May Pole in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
Judge Orders God To Break Up Into Smaller Deities
WASHINGTON, DC—Calling the theological giant's stranglehold on the religion industry "blatantly anti-competitive," a U.S. district judge ruled Monday that God is in violation of anti-monopoly laws and ordered Him to be broken up into several less powerful deities.

"The evidence introduced in this trial has convinced me that the deity known as God has willfully and actively thwarted competition from other deities and demigods, promoting His worship with such unfair scare tactics as threatening non-believers with eternal damnation," wrote District Judge Charles Elliot Schofield in his decision. "In the process, He has carved out for Himself an illegal monotheopoly."

The suit, brought against God by the Justice Department on behalf of a coalition of "lesser deities" and polytheistic mortals, alleged that He violated antitrust laws by claiming in the Holy Bible that He was the sole creator of the universe, and by strictly prohibiting the worship of what He termed "false idols."

"God clearly commands that there shall be no other gods before Him, and He frequently employs the phrase 'I AM the Lord' to intimidate potential deserters,"

Prosecuting attorney Geoffrey Albert said. "God uses other questionable strong-arm tactics to secure and maintain humanity's devotion, demanding, among other things, that people sanctify their firstborn to Him and obtain circumcisions as a show of faith. There have also been documented examples of Him smiting those caught worshipping graven images."

Attorneys for God did not deny such charges. They did, however, note that God offers followers "unbeatable incentives" in return for their loyalty, including eternal salvation, protection from harm, and "fruitfulness."

"God was the first to approach the Jewish people with a 'covenant' contract that guaranteed they would be the most favored in His eyes, and He handed down standards of morality, cleanliness, and personal conduct that exceeded anything else practiced at the time," lead defense attorney Patrick Childers said. "He readily admits to being a 'jealous' God, not because He is threatened by the prospect of competition from other gods, but because He is utterly convinced of the righteousness of His cause and that He is the best choice for mortals. Many of these so-called gods could care less if somebody bears false witness or covets thy neighbor's wife. Our client, on the other hand, is truly a 'People's God.'"

In the end, however, God was unable to convince Schofield that He did not deliberately create a marketplace hostile to rival deities. God's attorneys attempted to convince the judge of His openness to rivals, pointing to His longtime participation in the "Holy Trinity," but the effort failed when Schofield determined that Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are "more God subsidiaries than competitors."

To comply with federal antitrust statutes, God will be required to divide Himself into a pantheon of specialized gods, each representing a force of nature or a specific human custom, occupation, or state of mind.

"There will most likely be a sun god, a moon god, sea god, and rain god," said religion-industry watcher Catherine Bailey. "Then there will be some second-tier deities, like a god of wine, a goddess of the harvest, and perhaps a few who symbolize human love and/or blacksmithing."

Leading theologians are applauding the God breakup, saying that it will usher in a new era of greater worshipping options, increased efficiency, and more personalized service.

"God's prayer-response system has been plagued by massive, chronic backlogs, and many prayers have gone unanswered in the process," said Gene Suozzi, a Phoenix-area Wiccan. "With polytheism, you pray to the deity specifically devoted to your concern. If you wish to have children, you pray to the fertility goddess. If you want to do well on an exam, you pray to the god of wisdom, and so on. This decentralization will result in more individualized service and swifter response times."

Other religious experts are not so confident that the breakup is for the best, pointing to the chaotic nature of polytheistic worship and noting that multiple gods demand an elaborate regimen of devotion that today's average worshipper may find arduous and inconvenient.

"If people want a world in which they must lay burnt offerings before an earthenware household god to ensure that their car will start on a cold winter morning, I suppose they can have it," said Father Thomas Reinholdt, theology professor at Chicago's Loyola University. "What's more, lesser deities are infamous for their mercurial nature. They often meddle directly in diplomatic affairs, abduct comely young mortal women for their concubines, and are not above demanding an infant or two for sacrifice. Monotheism, for all its faults, at least means convenience, stability, and a consistent moral code."

One deity who is welcoming the verdict is the ancient Greek god Zeus, who described himself as "jubilant" and "absolutely vindicated."

"For thousands of years, I've been screaming that this third-rate sky deity ripped me off wholesale," said Zeus, speaking from his Mt. Olympus residence. "Every good idea He ever had He took from me: Who first created men in his own image? Who punished mankind for its sins? Who lived eternally up in the clouds? And the whole fearsome, patriarchal, white-beard, thunderbolt thing? I was doing that eons before this two-bit hustler started horning in on the action."

Lawyers for God say they plan to appeal Schofield's ruling and are prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

"This decision is a crushing blow to God worshippers everywhere, and we refuse to submit to a breakup until every possible avenue of argument is pursued," Childers said. "I have every confidence that God will ultimately win, as He and His lawyers are all-powerful."

This article originally appeared in The Onion, http://www.theonion.com

More than just a smoker's cough

I would like to take a minute to talk about pertussis or whooping cough. It is a bacterial infection of the respiratory system. This includes your breathing tubes as well as your lungs. It was dubbed whooping cough because when children contracted the illness they would have intense coughing fits and in between coughs, they would make a “whoop” sound when they tried to catch their breath.

Literally thousands of kids once caught pertussis, which can actually be a deadly illness. In 1906 two French scientists, Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou, discovered the pertussis bacteria. It didn’t take long after that to come up with a vaccine to prevent it. Today, children receive a series of five shots, which protects them from this awful sickness.

Why, you might ask, am I talking about something that has been all but eradicated? Well, we will get to that in a moment.

About two months ago, two of my coworkers come down with what they thought was a cold. Most of the symptoms wore off after a week, but the cough persisted. A week or so later, another coworker was struck with this illness. A month ago, I came down with the cough. It was strange in that for the first week, I showed all of the symptoms of a cold, but eventually all I had was the cough. It didn’t slow me down much at all. I had little or no fatigue, just this nagging cough that varied in frequency and intensity. Slowly but surely, it started to affect various aspects of my routine. I couldn’t jog for more than a half a mile without coughing up a lung. I couldn’t sleep through the night because I woke myself up coughing every few hours. By last Thursday, my cough had gotten so bad that I felt as though I were going to pass out before I stopped coughing. During a particularly nasty coughing fit, I had a stabbing pain develop in my right side. I was hoping that it was only a pulled muscle, but I feared that it may be something much worse.

At last, I heeded my wife’s pleas and scheduled an appointment with our doctor. He couldn’t see me until Monday morning. As the weekend progressed the pain in my side grew in intensity. By the time that I actually made it in to see the doctor, I was sure that I had ruptured something in there. Dr. Koenig asked me a series of questions and performed a thorough examination.

“You have whooping cough.”
“What? I was vaccinated as a kid against that.”
“Yes, I am sure you were, but there as been a recent resurgence of pertussis and it is predominately in adults.”
“But I was vaccinated.” I repeated.
“Yes, apparently in certain people, the vaccination is no longer effective. It is often misdiagnosed for this very reason. That and the fact that it manifests itself differently than it does in children.”
“How so?”
“Adults, for the most part, don’t seem to have the tell-tale ‘whoop’. They just have the persistent severe cough.” He explained as he wrote a prescription.
“I also think you broke a rib.”
“From coughing?” I asked incredulous.
“It happens more often than you might think. Coughing is a very violent act for the body to perform.” He nodded as he spoke. “I am sending you over for X-rays just to be sure.”

So, to make a long story short…I have contracted an illness that by all rights, I should have been protected against. Lucky me!

What pray tell is the moral of this story? I’m glad you asked. It is quite simple; if you develop a lingering cough, get it checked out as soon as possible. It may not go away on its own and worse, neglect in this area can lead to a broken rib.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Personality Tests

I ran across two quizzes that I got a big kick out of and thought I would pass them along.

The first one is: Which Doctor (from Doctor Who) are you? My results were:

3doc
You are the third Doctor! Well, you certainly know
how to dress. Even people saving time and space
have to look good, I suppose. You're not overly
fond of the military. Strange how you ended up
working for them. You can be a bit
egotisitical, but this is tempered by your
genuine dedication to putting right the wrongs
caused by evil men and monsters and your
sincere affection for those around you.


Which Doctor (from Doctor Who) Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


The second one is: Which Star Trek Captain are you? My results for this one were:

You Are Captain James T. Kirk!
Perhaps the most legendary of all Starfleet
Captains, you are as fast with your phaser as
you are too bed various beautiful aliens.
However, you also have a skill for diplomacy
when you want. You have an extremely keen mind
that can outhink nearly any opponet. You
inspire almost outlandish loyalty in your crew
- and you better like them because you're not
going to get rid of them!


Which Star Trek Captain Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

These quizzes definitely put a smile on my face. Take the quiz and drop me a line to let me know how you ranked or you can just wait until I post this on my other blog and leave your results in the comments for the entire world to see.

Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Weekend Update

It was a great weekend, event filled and a good time was had by all.

Friday night I went to my writer’s meeting (OSFW). This was my second meeting and I can’t wait for the next one. There are several really great writers that attend these meetings and I hope that some of their greatness will rub off on me.

A portion of the meeting is reserved for members to read short stories or other pieces that they would like input on to help hone their skills. Only two people read their stories on this particular night.

M.T. Reiten, who is an outstanding writer, had several pieces to read, but finally settled on a story that he started, but wasn’t sure which direction he wanted to take it. The story itself was very captivating, but his presentation was what really set it off. Without going into too much detail, I can’t wait to read the completed work. It had the beginnings of a really great story.

I also had something to read. Though I felt a little like the kid in Comp II class that had to read his report directly after the student that used the Power Point presentation, I took a deep breath and read the prologue to my third novel. It was well received, but the general consensus was that it didn’t work as a prologue. I should add more detail and call it my Chapter 1. They offered some other advice, but since I am sure that this advice is more important to me than any of you, I think I will keep it to myself.

Saturday morning we indulged ourselves with a Star Wars marathon. It was actually my wife’s idea. I think she may be more excited than I am to see Episode III.

Saturday night was to be our (my wife and I) first ever 5K night run. It was the Full Moon 5K run held at Veteran’s Park. They had a kid’s zone, several different vendors and a large stage set up in the park. The runners were treated to a lovely outdoor concert before and after the event. Lou Gramm and Foreigner were the main attractions.

Some of the events we have been to before have a check in for the kid’s zone. This is primarily so that the children can amuse themselves while the parents participate in the race, without the parents having to worry about what their children were up to. We arrived at the park only to find that the kid’s zone was a virtual free for all. Oh sure, they had attendants to make sure that none of the kids hurt themselves or cut in line and what not, but there was no way that they could possibly keep up with which kid belonged to which parents. So, I elected to sit this run out and let my wife run the race. She is much faster than me, so it was a no-brainer.

As we walked around the park, I heard the sounds of angel flowing out of the giant speakers on either side of the stage. I had heard that voice before, but I had no idea that she was going to be singing at this event.

“Is that…?” I began as we walked closer to see who was on stage.
“It sounds like her.”
“Yep, it’s Jenny Labow.”

Ms. Labow is as talented as she is beautiful. She has become a bit of a local legend. She currently lives in California, but comes back to Oklahoma several times a year. Every place she plays in Tulsa is sure to be a packed house. Fame, talent and incredible good looks, one might think that she is untouchable. The fact is, one of the things that I find most appealing about her is her humility. I stopped to talk to her after her show and she all but blushed when I complimented her on her voice. She truly acts as if she doesn’t know why everyone makes such a big deal over her. She is a great talent and a great person.

My son and I moved to the starting line to watch my wife begin her race. The gun sounded and 2,000 people lurched forward. We cheered her (and our friend Kim) on as she weaved in and out, pushing passed people from the very beginning. Roughly 25 minutes later, she crossed the finish line. She placed 19th out of 143 in her age group, not too shabby. I am proud of her (as always), even though she still thinks she should have ran faster. She won’t be happy until she places 1st regardless of age group. You never know, she just might do it someday.

We decided to spend Sunday fishing. We loaded up the boat and set sail at the crack of…well, we actually didn’t leave the house until nearly 11:00 AM. Nevertheless, we still managed to find a nice cove to drop anchor in. Every time one of us threw a line in, a fish hit the bait. We didn’t catch all of them, but we did come home with enough fish for a good ol’ fashion fish fry. I even made Hush Puppies and fried potatoes to go with the fish. Good times…good times, indeed.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A little Tiger Humor

IRISH GAS STATION

Taking a wee break from the golf course, Tiger Woods drives his new Mercedes into an Irish gas station. An attendant greets him in typical Irish manner, unaware who the golf pro is... "Top o' the mornin to ya".
As Tiger gets out of the car, two tees fall out of his pocket. "So what are those things, laddie?" asks the attendant. "They're called tees," replies Tiger.
"And what would ya be usin 'em for, now?" inquires the Irishman.
"Well, they're for resting my balls on when I drive," replies Tiger.
"Aw, Jaysus, Mary an' Joseph!" exclaimes the Irish attendant. "Those fellas at Mercedes think of everything...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Today We Mourn...

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Mr. Common Sense.
Mr. Sense had been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such value lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, and that life isn't always fair.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not kids, are in charge).

His health began to rapidly deteriorate when well intentioned but
overbearing regulations were set in place. - Reports of a six- year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Mr. Sense declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student; but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Finally, Common Sense lost the will to live, as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense finally gave up the ghost after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, she spilled a bit in her lap, and was awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. Two stepbrothers, My Rights and Ima Whiner survive him.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on; if not, join the majority and do nothing.

Friday, May 20, 2005

One Hell of a Marketing Idea

I would like to take a minute to direct your attention to author Douglas Clegg. He has a new book coming out called The Priest of Blood. I think you all should know, by now,how much I love a good Vampire story. I will definately buy this book. Will you? Can you look your friends in the eye knowing that you don't have this book in your library? That's what i thought, so be a peach and support a bloody good writer!

As part of his marketing strategy (Yes, I realize that I have to get me one of those real soon.), he is auctioning of promotional items on eBay. With a potential audience of millions, it’s easy to see where he might think this to be a beneficial move.

This is only an experiment (selling promotional items, not necessarily selling books), but he has already seen a large response to the auction (over a 1,000 views in two days). I will be watching this process intently. He may very well be on to something here.

To find out more, please visit his site.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Is it just me?

I am at a loss. I have been struggling to discover where we went wrong as a society. We are in the presence of a two headed monster. Though the two heads are capable of independent thought (and quite frankly share opposite views more often than not), they share the same body. Without this body to sustain them, they would whither up and blow away. What? Oh, yeah I have seen fit to name them; they are: Entitlement and Intolerance.

I think I should address the lesser of these two evils first. Entitlement makes itself known to me at least once a day. Where do people get off thinking that they come into this world being owed anything? Give me, give me, give me; these opportunistic bastards are everywhere you look. Whether it’s frivolous or fraudulent (it’s a very fine line to me) lawsuits or my personal favorite, welfare abuse, these assholes are all but stealing directly from my pockets.

Everyone seems to be so quick to sue these days. Hey, it’s a great way to make some quick money right? I didn’t know that the hot coffee would be that hot. Make me a millionaire for my stupidity. You mean that I will gain weight if I supersize my McDonald’s Extra Value Meal? I didn’t see any warning signs; I think you need to pay me for my lack of self-control. You made my child feel stupid by giving him a 35% on that math test; I am going to sue the school for hurting my child’s self-esteem. We are almost to the point that we have to second guess everything that comes out of our mouth, for fear of being sued. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if I get sued over my post. What ever happened to the good ole’ days? You know…when if I had a problem over something that someone said to me, I could take them out into the parking lot and beat the shit out of them.

Don’t give me any of that “I’m poor and I can’t do anything about it” bullshit. If you don’t like the situation that you are in do something to change it. I went to school in hand-me-down clothes. I hate commodity cheese. I went without certain luxuries that other children took for granted and I watched my parents struggle to better their situation and you know what…they did. They used the system as it was intended, as a helping hand. Yet, we have families that have been on welfare for generations. They never have and never will actively search for a job. Why should they? Their parents went there whole life without lifting a finger. Need more money? Just have another baby.

I made a conscious decision early on, that I was never going to let myself be put in the situation that I had to depend on someone else to get by. I worked hard for everything I have and I expect those who keep my company to do the same. This is the land of opportunity, not the land of the hand out.

Now I would like to address something that has been on my mind a lot over the last few months. Intolerance will lead to the downfall of America. There are so many categories that fall into this particular beast’s mouth, that I couldn’t possibly cover them all here. So, let’s just take a topic that has gotten a lot of press of late; Homosexuality. Whether it is certain affiliates that would rather promote borderline child abuse than run ads by a church with “so what if they are gay as long as they believe in God” attitude or some backwoods jackass who believes that reading books will “turn” our young men and women gay, it is painfully clear that the majority of Americans still think of homosexuality is a choice. Ok, so that is not entirely accurate; there are some who think it is a disease. But, James...you’re not gay. Why do you care how they are treated? No, I’m not gay, but I have a lot of friends (and yes even family) who are and I get tired of seeing them treated like 2nd class citizens.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It is the pursuit of happiness that concerns me for the purposes of this post. According to Thomas Jefferson, limp wrist or no; it is your unalienable right to pursue happiness. What is happiness? Is it pretending that you are something you’re not so that you can fit in to some narrow-minded view of what is normal? Is it denying your feelings to adhere to someone else’s definition of morality? Is it…living a lie, just so some uptight overly judgmental ass-hat, whose self-inflicted shame over his own latent homosexual tendencies probably drove him to his current crusade, can sleep a little better at night? If it just so happens that a person of the same sex makes you happy, who am I to tell you that you are wrong? Hey Mary, there’s your happiness…effing pursue it and shame on anyone who tells you how you should feel or imposes any gender restrictions on your heart.

Ok, rants over. I will return you to your regularly scheduled programming of bad jokes and dark writing after a short break.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A teaser from my first novel.

Talon watched Chiaha through the bedroom window as he slept. It had been a year since he learned that he had a son. Chiaha looked so peaceful lying there. He had been there since the sun had set. Talon just couldn’t muster up the courage to go introduce himself. What would he say? “Hi, Chiaha. I am your father, I know you don’t know me but I just wanted to come by and say hi. What? Oh no, I can’t stay long, if I am still here when the sun rises, I will burst into flames.” No, somehow he didn’t think that was a good idea.

He could feel that the sun would be rising soon and grudgingly pulled myself away from the window. He strolled silently around to the front of the house and dropped a sack full of money on the porch. Talon could barely see through the tears that streamed down his cheeks as he took to the air.

“Did you see him? How did it go?” Selu asked hoping for the best, but sure that the disappointment on his face meant that he hadn’t went through with it.
“Yes, I saw him, but…” He replied, choking down the lump that was building in his throat.
“Give it time, my friend. That is a big step even if it weren’t for your, uhm….peculiar circumstances.” Nick offered his support.
“Oh, honey. I knew I should have gone with you.”
“No, I wanted to go alone and I went.”
“Tomorrow we will go back and see if we can meet him together.”
“I don’t know if I can do this, Selu. It would be different if I knew that I could take him with us, but I know that we can’t.”
“We will just have to explain to him that he can’t come with us because it would be dangerous for him.”
“He is young he won’t understand that. What if he thinks that we just don’t want him? We could be doing more harm than good. It would be better for him to continue to think me dead than think of me as the man who abandoned him.” Talon insisted, looking at her with tears in his eyes.
“Talon, you won’t be satisfied until you have talked to him.”
“I know. Tomorrow we will go to see him, but only on the condition that we go see him at least twice a week, if he likes me that is.”
“Agreed!”
“I am sure that would make me feel better.”
“It will make you both feel better; I promise. Watching him is one thing but to be able to actually talk to him…there is no substitute.”
“I hope we are doing the right thing.”
“We are, my love. You will see, but for now you need your rest we have an eventful day tomorrow.”

As he drifted in and out of sleep, he uttered a prayer to the gods that Chiaha would accept him. The boy was only six years old, how could he possibly react to him? The two things that concerned Talon most were: 1. that he would believe that his father really was alive but hadn’t cared enough to meet him before now and 2. That Talon was the reason that his mother had to leave him.

When Talon awoke the next evening, his stomach was already tied in knots. He eased out of the bed as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb Selu. When he went downstairs, Nick was already up and around. He looked up and smiled as Talon approached wearing a worried look.

“A little nervous, about tonight are you?”
“Of course.”
“Worrying about isn’t going to change the outcome, friend. What will be, will be.”
“So you keep telling me and I know you are right. I just really have my doubts about subjecting him to us, without being able to explain everything to him.”
“There you are!” Selu said from the top of the stairs. “I wondered if you decided to take off without me again.”
Talon merely shook his head.
“He is still worried about meeting Chiaha.”
“Ah, my poor Talon, it will be fine. You will see, he will happy to know that he has a father and you will be able to be a part of his life, a small part yes, but a part none the less.” Selu explained to him as she came over and sat on his lap.
“Well if we are really going to do this, let’s go before I lose my nerve again.”

In moments, they were outside of the Freeman’s farmhouse. Chiaha was playing soldier with Thomas and Willie. The couple watched the boys in silence for a few moments.
“He is growing so fast, look at him!” Selu said as she stepped into the yard.
“Mommy!” Chiaha screamed when he caught sight of his mother.
He dropped his wooden gun and came running with his arms stretched wide. His smile was so huge and warm that you couldn’t help but smile back. He jumped into Selu’s arms and gave her a big hug.

“I missed you, baby boy. I thought about you every day since the last time I saw you.” Selu said between the kisses she was placing on his forehead.
“I missed you too, mommy. Are you staying tonight? We already ate dinner but I bet Mrs. Edith has some food left for you and your friend if you are hungry.” Chiaha offered as he eyed Talon with curiosity.
“Thank you, sweetheart, but we are not hungry just now. I have someone here that really wants to meet you.” Selu told him as she sat him back to his feet.
“Hello, sir. My name is Chiaha. What’s yours?” He grinned up at Talon as he stuck out his hand for him to shake.
“My Name is Talon. It is very nice to meet you. I ….”
“Hey! My daddy’s name was Talon; did you know him?” He interrupted, his eyes growing wide with surprise.
“You could say that. Chiaha, I am your father.” Talon told him as he braced himself for the barrage of hateful remarks that was sure to come.
“Mom, is he telling the truth? Because if he isn’t, it is not a very funny joke to play on somebody.”
“Yes honey, he is. I found him, and as soon as I told him about you; he wanted to meet you.”
“Where were you? How come you couldn’t come back to the Talwa?” He asked Talon still suspicious of why he was there.
“I was in a dangerous place, Chiaha. It was one that I couldn’t escape from, because I wouldn’t be able to survive if I did.” Talon tried to explain in words that he thought Chiaha would understand.
“Why?” He asked, tilting his head to one side.
“I am not sure how to explain that to you. Just know that your mom helped me and I am free to come and go now.”
“Are you going to take me with you now?” He asked as his eyes grew large with anticipation.
“No, we can’t take you with us just yet. It is too dangerous for a little boy were we have to go, but we will come see you as often as you want us to.” Talon said, his heart breaking from having to disappoint his son already.
“If it’s dangerous, why does mommy go with you?”
“Don’t worry, son. Your mother is safe. I would sooner die than let harm come to her.” Talon was quick to explain. “But it would be the same for you, if you were with me. That is why I can’t bring you along. I would be too distracted trying to keep you both safe. Do you understand?”
“No. If it’s a bad place why do you have to go back?” He asked with a little frown on his face.
“Because your mom and I are trying to make it a better place. We have to go by ourselves for now, but we promise to make time for you.” Talon said as he patted him on the head.
“Will you come see me everyday?” He asked after a moment’s silence.
“If you want us to. There will be times that we won’t be able to, but we will always try.”
“Will you bring me presents?” He asked as his face broke into a smile just at the thought of it.
“Will you give me a hug?” Talon retorted, as he spread his arms out wide for him.

“I am glad that I got to meet you, dad. This is a weird day.”
“How do you mean?”
“This morning started out like every morning, but this evening; I have a dad.”
“Does this make you happy?” Selu asked what Talon couldn’t bring himself to do.
“Oh, yes. I thought a lot about what it would be like to have a dad. Now I can find out.”
“Hey do you want to play soldiers with me and Tommy and Willie?”
“I would love to son, but you had better let me introduce myself to Tom and Edith first.”
“Tommy! Willie! Guess what. My dad’s here! And he said he would play with us.” Chiaha was screaming as he ran where the boys were playing.
“His father?” Edith asked from the porch. “I thought you said that his father was.”
“I thought he was. That was part of what has been taking up so much of my time.”
“The boys will be happy to hear that Chiaha has his dad, but they will be sad that he has to go. They think of him as a brother now.”
“Actually, if it’s alright with you and Tom, we need to leave him here for a while longer. We still have a lot a work to do before it would be safe for him to come with us.”
“I am sure that will be fine. To tell you the truth we have all grown quite fond of the boy.”
“Did he tell you that they started to go to school?” She asked as an after thought.
“No, he didn’t. When did they start that?” Selu wondered with surprise.
“Last Monday. Tom took them down to the new schoolhouse that they opened in town. They seem to like it well enough. It will do them a lot of good. I was almost thirty years old before I learned how to read.”
“I recon that all three of the boys will do good to get a little education.” Tom said as he stepped through the door.
“I am Tom Freeman.” He said as he extended his hand to Talon.
“Hello, sir. My name is Talon Harjo. It is a pleasure to finally meet you. I have heard a lot about you both.”
“So you are not planning on taking Chiaha with you for a while I take it?”
“No sir, we will be seeing him more often than we do now, if that is alright with you, but we still can not take him with us.”
“That is plenty fine by me, Talon. You all have yourselves a fine boy there. He is loads of help for ma and me.”
“Would you all like to come in? I have some tea that I just made up fresh this morning.” Edith said as she moved towards the door.
“Not just yet, ma’am, but thank you anyways. I have my first promise to keep to my boy.”

Quizzes

I love these quizzes. Let me know how yours turned out!
Mine was:

Samurai

You are a Samurai.
You are full of honour and value respect. You
are not really the stereotypical hero, but you
do fight for good. Just in your own way. For
you, it is most certainly okay to kill an evil
person, if it is for justice and peace. You
also don't belive in mourning all the time and
think that once you've hit a bad stage in life
you just have to get up again. It's pointless
to concentrate on emotional pain and better to
just get on with everything. You also are a
down to earth type of person and think before
you act. Impulsive people may annoy you
somewhat.

Main weapon: Sword
Quote: "Always do the right thing.
This will gratify some people and astonish the
rest" -Mark Twain
Facial expression: Small smile




What Type of Killer Are You? [cool pictures]
brought to you by Quizilla


And I really enjoyed this one:

hercules
Hercules


?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Groaners Galore

A MAN WAS DRIVING DOWN A COUNTRY ROAD WHEN HE
NOTICED A FARMER STANDING IN A LARGE FIELD...THE
FARMER WASN'T DOING ANYTHING..HE WAS JUST
STANDING THERE..CURIOUS, THE MAN STOPPED HIS
CAR AND TOOK THE WALK OVER TO THE FARMER
AND ASKED HIM WHAT HE WAS DOING..THE FARMER
REPLIED "I'M TRYING TO WIN A NOBEL PRIZE" "HOW
DO YOU EXPECT TO DO THAT" THE MAN ASKED..THE
FARMER REPLIED "I HEARD THEY ONLY GIVE IT TO
PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT STANDING IN THEIR FIELD"

A WOMAN RUNS INTO THE VETERINARIAN WITH
HER DOG IN HER ARMS CRYING "HELP..I THINK MY
DOG IS SICK"...THE VET TAKES THE DOG LOOKS
AT IT..TOUCHES IT AND SAYS "MA,AM YOUR DOG IS
DEAD" THE WOMAN LOOKS BACK AND SAYS "HE
CAN'T BE" THE DOCTOR BRINGS THE DOG TO THE
TABLE AND CHECKS THE DOG OUT AGAIN "I'M
SORRY MA'AM" HE SAY'S...THE WOMAN..NOT
GIVING IN SAYS "NO THERE'S GOT TO BE
SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN DO...SO THE DOCTOR
TELLS HER TO WAIT..LEAVES..AND COMES BACK WITH
A LARGE FURRY CAT AND WAVES IT OVER THE DOG..
WITH THIS THE WOMAN IS FINALLY CONVINCED, AND
THE DOCTOR GIVES HER THE BILL....."WHAT!! $950.00
HOW CAN THIS BE"..THE DOCTOR REPLIED ITS $50.00
FOR THE CHECK UP...AND $900.00 FOR THE CAT SCAN.

A WOMAN FRANTICALLY CALLS THE LOCAL
FIRE DEPARTMENT TO REPORT A FIRE IN
THE NEIGHBORHOOD..THE DISPATCHER
ASKS THE WOMAN "WELL..HOW DO WE GET
THERE"..CONFUSED..THE WOMAN REPLIED
"DON'T YOU STILL HAVE THOSE BIG RED TRUCKS"

A FROG HOPPED INTO A BANK, WENT TO THE TELLER WINDOW
AND WAS GREETED BY PATTY BLACK..THE FROG ASKED PATTY
FOR A SIZABLE LOAN, TO FIX UP HIS PAD..WHEN ASKED FOR
COLLATERAL THE FROG PRODUCED A SMALL TRINKET. PATTY
LOOKED AT THE TRINKET AND SAID I'LL HAVE TO CLEAR THIS
WITH THE BANK PRESIDENT...WHEN THE PRESIDENT SAW THE
TRINKET.. HE SAID "IT'S A KNICK KNACK PATTY BLACK, GIVE THE
FROG A LOAN"

A MAN WAS DRIVING DOWN A COUNTRY ROAD WHEN
SOMETHING WENT RUNNING PAST HIM....BEING CURIOUS
HE SPED UP TO SEE WHAT IT WAS...THE THING QUICKLY
TURNED DOWN A FARMERS DRIVEWAY..SO THE MAN
FOLLOWED IT....UNABLE TO CATCH UP THE MAN STOPPED
TO ASK THE FARMER IF HE KNEW WHAT IT WAS...THE FARMER
REPLIED "YUP..THAT WAS ONE OF MY CHICKENS" HE CONTINUED
"YOU SEE, MY WIFE, SON, AND I ALL LIKE DRUMSTICKS THE BEST,
SO I BRED A THREE LEGGED CHICKEN"
THE MAN WAS AMAZED AND ASKED "WELL HOW DO THEY TASTE"
THE FARMER REPLIED " I DON'T KNOW... I'VE NEVER CAUGHT ONE"

A MAN WAS SPPEDING DOWN THE HIGHWAY ..WHEN HE
NOTICED A COP WITH HIS LIGHTS AND SIREN GOING BEHIND
HIM...HE THOUGHT TO HIMSELF "I CAN OUTRUN THIS GUY"
SO HE SPEEDS UP..70MPH..80MPH..90MPH..WITH THE COP
STILL RIGHT BEHIND HIM HE GAVE UP AND PULLED OVER
THE COP CAME UP TO HIS CAR AND SAID "LISTEN MISTER
I'VE HAD A REALLY LOUSY DAY, IF YOU GIVE ME A GOOD
EXCUSE FOR YOUR SPEEDING I'LL LET YOU GO" TO THIS
THE MAN REPLIED "THREE WEEKS AGO MY WIFE RAN
OFF WITH A POLICE MAN, AND I THOUGHT YOU WERE
HIM, TRYING TO GIVE HER BACK"..

A PAINTER WAS PAINTING THE STEEPLE ON A
VERY TALL CHURCH..WHEN HE GOT ABOUT HALF
WAY UP HE REALIZED HE WASN'T GOING TO HAVE
ENOUGH PAINT TO FINISH THE JOB...FIGURING
THAT HE WAS SO HIGH UP HE THINNED DOWN THE
PAINT AND CONTINUED...ALMOST AT THE TOP
AND NEARLY OUT OF PAINT HE THINNED THE PAINT
AGAIN..AND FINISHED THE JOB...DECIDING IT WAS
TIME FOR A BREAK HE CLIMBED DOWN INTO THE
BELL TOWER FOR LUNCH....ALL OF A SUDDEN A
LARGE BLACK CLOUD APPEARED OVER THE STEEPLE
AND A LOUD DEEP VOICE WAS HEARD
"REPAINT..REPAINT..STOP THINNING"

A GRASSHOPPER WALKS INTO A BAR AND SITS
DOWN..THE BARTENDER LOOKS AT HIM AND
SAYS "HEY WE HAVE A DRINK NAMED AFTER YOU
THE GRASSHOPPER REPLIED "YOU HAVE A DRINK
NAMED STEVE?"

A NEW TEACHER IS TRYING TO MAKE USE OF HER PSYCHOLOGY COURSES
SHE STARTS HER CLASS BY SAYING "EVERYONE WHO THINKS THEY'RE
STUPID, STAND UP"...AFTER A FEW SECONDS, LITTLE JOHNY
STOOD UP. "DO YOU THINK YOU'RE STUPID JOHNNY".
"NO MA'AM" HE SAY'S "BUT I HATE TO SEE YOU STANDING
THERE ALL BY YOURSELF"

A DOG RAN INTO A BUTCHER SHOP, AND GRABBED
A ROAST OFF THE COUNTER,FORTUNATELY THE BUTCHER
RECOGNIZED THE DOG AS BEING HIS NEIGHBOR,THE LAWYERS DOG..
VERY UPSET ATTHE INCIDENT, THE BUTCHER CALLED THE
LAWYER AND ASKED "IF YOUR DOG RAN INTO MY SHOP AND STOLE
SOME MEAT, WOULD YOU BE RESPONSIBLE.?
"OF COURSE"THE LAWYER REPLIED "HOW MUCH
WAS THE MEAT?" "$7.98" A FEW DAYS LATER THE
BUTCHER RECEIVED A CHECK FOR $7.98..ATTACHED
TO IT WAS AN INVOICE THAT READ...LEGAL
CONSULTATION SERVICE..$150.00

ATTENDING A WEDDING FOR THE FIRST TIME,
A LITTLE GIRL WHISPERED TO HER MOTHER.
"WHY IS THE BRIDE DRESSED IN WHITE?"
"BECAUSE WHITE IS THE COLOR OF HAPPINESS"
HER MOTHER EXPLAINED
THE CHILD THOUGHT ABOUT THIS FOR A MOMENT
AND ASKED "THEN WHY IS THE GROOM
DRESSED IN BLACK"

And with that the groaners are out of my system. Have a nice day!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

Your Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you

walk down the street, she's the smell of certain foods you remember,

flowers you pick and perfume that she wore, she's the cool hand on

your brow when you're not feeling well, she's your breath in the air

on a cold winter's day. She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to

sleep, the colors of a rainbow, she is Christmas morning.


Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in

every tear drop. A mother shows every emotion........... happiness,

sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement,

joy, sorrow..... and all the while, hoping and praying you will only

know the good feelings in life. She's the place you came from, your

first home, and she's the map you follow with every step you take.

She's your first love, your first friend, your first heartbreak, but

nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space...............not even death!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Numbers Don't Lie

From a strictly mathematical viewpoint it goes like this: What Makes 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%. How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:

If:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.

Then:

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

and
K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

But,

A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

And,

B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T
2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

AND, look how far ass kissing will take you.

A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G
1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that While Hard work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, it's the BullshiT and Ass kissing that will put you over the top.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Workplace Safety

My boss sent this account out as an example of why we follow such stringent safety guidelines at our plant.

THE BP EXPLOSION / Workers could only watching horror / Unknown to many victims, witnesses say, a gas eruption signaled trouble.

By ANNE BELLI, TERRI LANGFORD, and TOM FOWLER - Staff

It was shortly after 1 p.m. on a sunny spring day, and contractors working on the gasoline-producing "ultra cracker" unit had just finished eating fajitas brought in from Gringo's Mexican Cafe.

BP had catered lunch for the workers as a reward for completing another week's work without injuries. Now everybody was getting back to business - climbing scaffolding, getting in vehicles, moving equipment and operating generators.

More than a dozen contractors from JE Merit gathered in a nearby construction trailer for an afternoon staff meeting. Unknown to many of the workers, part of a nearby isomerization unit - used to boost the octane level of gasoline - was about to be restarted after a long period of maintenance.

Shortly after 1:15, the radios started crackling: "What's that coming out of that stack?" "I hope that's water. God, I hope that's water." Workers watched in shock as a clear liquid shot out of the top of a 100-foot ventilation tower in the isomerization unit.

When a cloud of gaseous vapors from the liquid then quickly formed over the stack and began to spread, it became clear this wasn't water.

"Turn the equipment off!" workers screamed. A few hundred feet away, and about 70 feet high up on a catwalk, Glenn Alexander saw the vapor cloud forming. He immediately thought of his wife, Lorena Cruz-Alexander, a JE Merit worker who had just returned to work in the trailer parked near the stack. The liquid was forming puddles and vapors were gathering near the ground.

Truck draws panic

Workers watched in horror as a white pickup began backing into a puddle. They screamed at the driver to stop the truck and get out of there, when suddenly the hood of the truck flew open, the engine began to rev, and smoke engulfed the undercarriage.

"I knew what was fixing to happen," said one contractor. "That was enough ignition right there. You could have scraped a rock and lit this thing up."

Other witnesses told federal investigators that they heard the engine of a diesel truck idling near the tower, but it is not clear whether this was the same truck. And it is not yet known if either was the ignition source.

The driver and passenger of the pickup darted from the truck as employees scattered. No alarms ever sounded, witnesses said, and it's unclear whether the JE Merit workers sitting in the windowless trailer
ever had an inkling of the spreading threat as they worked at their desks and computers.

But outside the trailer, workers not only could see the terrible magnitude of what was about to happen, they also felt it.

Like a merciless vacuum, the air around them was being sucked up toward the tower. On the ground, the contractor said, the rush of air sounded like a freight train. Up on the catwalk, Alexander heard a deafening, high-pitched whistling sound.

As he ran against the wind, the contractor said, an initial blast knocked him several feet into the air and sent him tumbling. He made it to his feet and took two or three running steps when there was a massive
explosion, "three times as powerful," that sent a wall of fire and debris flying in all directions, he said.

"I could feel it behind me, but I never looked back," he said. "We were running our asses off."

A husband's nightmare

Running for cover up on the catwalk, Alexander turned around and looked at the trailer where his wife was working. He watched in terror as a ball of fire engulfed it.

"I saw it roll over the top of my wife's trailer," he said. "I knew she was in serious trouble." A second or two later, a visible wall of warped air - a pressure wave created by the monstrous blast - began charging toward him.

"It slammed us into the deck," he said. "I've never seen anything like that. I have never seen air buckle and move like that."

After the pressure wave passed, Alexander looked back at the trailer. "It was completely gone," he said, his voice starting to crack. "There was nothing but the floor. The desks. The file cabinets. The bodies were all scattered outside."

His co-worker helped him get to the ground, where he then began to walk in disbelief toward the trailer and his wife - and the intense heat resulting from the massive burning fire.

"I said, `I have to see if I can help her," he said, "but he is yanking me back. He finally got me back to the safe zone."

Once there, he fell to his knees in prayer, hoping against hope that his wife somehow miraculously survived the deadly explosion.

But Cruz-Alexander was indeed among several contractors who were meeting in the trailer parked near the unit and was killed. In all, 15 died in the blast.

`Man down! Man down!'

Panicked and injured workers screamed for help on their radios. "Man down! Man down! I need help! Man down!" they cried. "Everybody was crying, `Oh my God!' said the contractor, who suffered only minor injuries. "People are a bloody mess. Glass is blown into their faces. People's uniforms are darn near ripped off of them. People were choking and throwing up."

Amid the carnage of the construction trailer, remarkably, not all had perished. Jack Skufca was at the top of the pile. Under him were other injured co-workers. Inches away, just within reach, was a radio. The blast had ruptured his aorta, broken his ribs and fractured his skull, but Skufca was able to reach the radio and call in his location to rescuers. Within minutes, he was rushed to the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he remains in intensive care, said his brother, Bob, who recounted the ordeal Friday.

Hundreds of calls to 911

Outside the plant, the explosion was heard and felt more than five miles away. Windows were blasted out of homes and businesses. People rushed outside to see a black cloud and flames rising into the sky.

Hundreds of people called 911 to report the blast - more than 90 in the first two minutes. "It blew out the windows in my house!" said one caller. Another asked, "Can you tell me if we're safe? The plant just
blew up!" A minute or so after the blast, a harried Texas City police dispatcher called the BP plant. "What is going on?" the dispatcher asked a security officer. "We just had an explosion," the officer responded.
She directed emergency-response workers to the main gate of the plant.

By then, firefighters from Texas City's Station No. 1 had already jumped into action. Capt. David Teverbaugh and two firefighters rushed immediately to the scene. They arrived by 1:25.

"In my 22 years on the job, this was the worst devastation I've seen," said Teverbaugh, his voice growing quieter. "It was pretty horrific going in."

He described a scene of twisted metal, burned-out cars and charred debris strewn everywhere. Within minutes, a search-and-rescue team was called in, ambulances began lining up outside the refinery and Life
Flight helicopters had been requested.

Working closely with BP officials, Texas City firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze and feverishly looked for survivors - searching under cars, digging under debris and looking up in the rafters.

Meanwhile, BP officials beyond the blast site were spreading the word that there had been an explosion. At 1:32 p.m. an environmental engineer called the National Response Center in Washington.

The NRC, manned by the Coast Guard, is the federal point of contact for reporting oil and chemical spills. "Reporting a material release from a process unit that was involved with a fire and explosion," the
resulting report stated.

In the section of the report that asks whether there was any community impact because of the hazardous material release, the NRC operator typed in "No."

Over the next several hours, firefighters and paramedics brought out victim after victim, loading them into ambulances and sending them to area hospitals. In all, more than 100 were injured.

For the most gravely wounded, a helicopter was the fastest way to get care. Two helicopters hovered above the site as a patient was loaded into one on the ground. One would take off to UTMB, then another would land - over and over again.

"All of them were burn victims," said Kelly Rothrock, a Texas City fire investigator. One disheveled onlooker watched in disbelief as paramedics loaded an unconscious woman onto a waiting helicopter.
"That's my wife," Rothrock said the man told her. "He was just in shock."

Last week, those closest to the tragedy were still trying to deal with what they saw that day, as well as their anger that so many people had died.

A.J. Ramos Jr., whose father, Art Ramos, died in the blast as he attended a meeting in the trailer, said his father and other non-essential workers should not have been at the site that day.

He noted that the blast occurred as BP was restarting the isomerization unit - and that shutting down and restarting the units is considered one of the most dangerous times in the operation of a refinery.

Alexander, who said he and his wife had been planning to start a family this year, echoed Ramos' anger. "If I had known (the restart) was happening, I would have gotten Lori away from where she was," he said.
"He just happened to be in the area," Ramos said "If they were going to start something up, they should have all of those people go home to have a nice Easter weekend."

Instead, dozens of families spent Easter weekend holding vigils at the bedsides of the injured while other families planned funerals.

Morris King's was the first, with services March 28. Kimberly Smith's was the last. She was laid to rest Saturday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Crime and Punishment

Once there was a parrot and he swore like a sailor. He belonged to a goody-goody little old man. The old man said, "Parrot, if you don't stop swearing, I will put you in a box!" The parrot kept on swearing. So the little old man put him in a box. The parrot kicked the sides and scratched at the box until the old man took him out.

The parrot kept on swearing. The little old man said, "If you don't stop swearing, I will put you in a cupboard!"

The parrot kept right on swearing. So the little old man put the parrot in the cupboard. The parrot was kicking the walls and making a lot of racket until the little old man finally took him out.

The parrot kept swearing so the little old man said, "If you keep swearing, I am going to put you in the freezer!" The parrot kept right on swearing so the little old man put him in the freezer.

The bird was making quite a racket for about 5 minutes then it was all quiet. The Little Old Man was beginning to get scared, so he opened up the freezer. The bird quietly stepped out, his hands folded in front of him.

He said, "I will be good as long as I live! By the way, what did the chicken do?"

It's Raining Bullets

I have been following the emergence of a nut job, right here in Northeastern Oklahoma. After reading the articles and watching the clips, I wish I would have thought of this scenario first; the individual involved would make a great character for a book. Here’s what we have so far:

Tuesday, April 26th 2005 7:00 PM

Shots were fired at cars traveling westbound on the Creek Turnpike between 101st Street and 193rd East Avenue. Two SUVs were hit, but no one was injured. Neither driver realized their vehicles were hit immediately. The first driver became aware of a problem when his SUV suddenly overheated. He discovered that there was a bullet hole through the radiator. The second motorists didn’t find out that his vehicle was struck by a bullet until the next day. He noticed the bullet hole in his hood as he prepared to leave for work. After reporting the incident, it was revealed that he had traveled along the same stretch of road as the first victim.

"We don't have any suspect information at this time," says OHP Lieutenant Phil Guest. "We don't know if this is an accidental shooting or whether it's intentional."

Which makes since, because I can’t tell you how many times I have been driving on a turnpike and watched people firing rifles in the general direction of the road. I do live in BFE afterall.

News Channel 8 added the following to its article: Right now the facts are slim. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol just wants the public to be cautious as they investigate, what they hope is not a highway sniper.


Thursday, April 28th 2005 10:00 AM

A third SUV has been confirmed hit. It is traced back to the same are as the other two shootings.

Investigators combed the area around the four mile stretch were the shootings occurred. The searched for clues and possible vantage points to aide them in their investigation.

"No suspects at this time, we're still working on what type of weapon was used and the caliber of the weapon," says OHP Lieutenant Phil Guest. "We still don't have that information."

Friday, April 29th 2005 9:00 AM

Here I come to save the day!!! The FBI “joins” the investigation of the highway shootings.

Close to ten thousand people a day travel the nearly four mile stretch of roadway -- and they pay for the privilege. If fewer people board the onramps, it hits the transportation department's bottom line. Guess what, having some asshole with a rifle taking pop shots at drivers, tends to reduce the number of people that want to use the turnpike.

"It reminded me of when they had that one guy shooting all those people at the gas station and places like that," says Charles Cypert.

They are quick to recall ten sniper murders that terrorized the Washington, DC area three years ago or the current trial of Charles McCoy, who is charged with 12 highway shootings near Columbus, Ohio.

Friday, April 29th 2005 11:00 AM

The headlines read: Police Say There Is A Fourth Victim Of Turnpike Sniper

Authorities told NewsChannel 8 this morning that a fourth person has come forward to tell police they found a bullet hole in their vehicle. A woman watching the news Wednesday later went to wash her SUV and noticed a bullet hole in the front grill.

She called police and told them she had been in the same area of the turnpike as the other three victims on Tuesday night.

Police have examined her vehicle and linked it to the other attacks.

Given that all four vehicles shot have been SUVs, authorities say drivers of those types of vehicles have cause for concern.

Do you think? I saw the connection on the first day, what is taking these guys so long to announce it.


Friday, April 29th 2005 5:00 PM
The media begins speculating on a motive: A search of Internet forums brings up several instances of anti-SUV rant, including some very chilling entries that are eerily similar to what's been going on in Broken Arrow.

"Perhaps if they were to start a DC sniper-type shooting rampage of SUV drivers they might come close in the short run," one said. Another says, quote, "Shoot owners of SUV's in the head, but don't make it obvious why you did it."

The focus of these people's anger seems to be gasoline prices and the environment. If gas prices are in fact the fuel to the fire, Tuesday night's 12-cent increase in price may have set the shooter off.

Yeah, I was upset about the gas prices too, but you don’t see me taking it out on someone’s poor car.

Friday, April 29th 2005 6:00 PM

Authorities announce that the sniper is using a .22 caliber rifle to do his dirty work. They found some casings that narrow the focus of this maniac’s attention. The area is along the Creek Turnpike, from the Muskogee Turnpike interchange to Northeastern State University, near 101st Street South.

A college student perhaps? That is unheard of. When I was in school I never saw anyone that was fighting for a cause, any cause, the cause of the moment (Yes, I am kidding, their was a crier on every corner).


Monday, May 2nd 2005 6:00 PM

Shell Casings Help Investigators Pinpoint Sniper's Location. Ah, the final countdown has begun. It is only a matter of tic tocs until this ass-hat is put behind bars or is it?

Broken Arrow - There is new information into last week's apparent sniper shootings along the Creek Turnpike in Broken Arrow.

Authorities have pinpointed the location where they believe the shots came from. It's an overpass at the Creek Turnpike and Highway 51.

Officials say they discovered five shell casings, which are now on their way to an FBI lab. The shots may have been fired from an opening between a slab of concrete and a metal support on the overpass.

Officials have previously said they believe the weapon being used is a .22 caliber rifle.

Four cars were struck by gunfire Tuesday evening between 7 and 8 o'clock. Luckily, no one was injured in the gunfire.



Tuesday, May 3rd 2005 5:00 PM

Reward Offered For Information In Highway Shootings.

Broken Arrow - A three-thousand dollar reward is being offered for information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect or suspects who shot at vehicles along the Creek Turnpike last week.

What are you going to do now, dipshit? You live on a campus. $3,000 might as well be $300,000, to a bunch of broke ass college students (unless things have changed drastically since I was in school). You are so turned in.

If you have any information that could help law enforcement in their search for the suspects, call the Highway Patrol at 627-0440 or by cell phone, dial *55.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Weekend Rents (Of a Sort)

Fangs, arrows, stakes, blood and fury, and thatís just the good guys. The local suck-heads just thought they had it bad when all they had to deal with was Blade. In Blade: Trinity, the third and final installment of the series, The Daywalker (Wesley Snipes) joins forces a group of human vampire hunters known as erÖThe Nightstalkers (I wonder if they realized how cheesy that rhyme was going to be, when they named the group). Abigail (Jessica Biel) and Hannibal (no not lector, this one is played by Ryan Reynolds) help Blade search for the greatest of all vampiresÖDracula, slashing and smashing their way through hordes of the undead to get to him.

They did Dracula up right. They ditched the cape and tux, choosing some rather wicked looking armor in its stead. Oh, and they referenced Bram Stoker, but it was only a fleeting mention before they went on to say that Dracula was actually 7,000 years old.

When they say this is the final installment, they mean it. Without going into to much detail (for fear of spoilers), letís just say that something big happens and leave it at that. Do you want to know what it is? Come here, lean in a little closer and I will whisper it in your ear. Are you ready? The &()@#$%^^ doe this thing where )_#($_%+^+&)&) and then (#&()_+%+^+&+& happens to the)#*$)%__%+^+^(. Can you believe they did that? Kind of ruins and chance for a sequel.

I picked up the unrated version which contains and extra 10 minutes of action not seen in theaters. The bonus features are pretty descent. It came equipped with a blooper reel, alternate ending (I am so glad that they decided not to go with this ending), and a 16-part behind the scenes documentary describing the world of Daywalkers, Nightstalkers and Familiars.

I bought this DVD sight unseen. I knew that it was going to be a part of my collection when I saw the first preview. Yes, there were a few cheesy parts and yes, there were a few parts that made me groan and wonder why they had to put it in the movie, but overallÖI was a good watch. This may come as a shock to some of you who have been following my blog for awhile, but I am a sucker for a good vampire story. Yes, I know itís hard to believe, but itís true. So, this movie was a little bittersweet for me. If you have seen it, I am sure you know what I mean. If you havenít, well you will just have to watch it to understand.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Mind of a Professional

I was emailed this test and got a kick out of it. Lets see how you folks
do.

_____________________________________------

The following short quiz consists of 4 questions and
establishes
whether you are qualified to be a "professional".

Scroll down for the answer.
The questions are not that difficult.

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
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The correct answer is:
Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe and close
the door.
This question tests whether you tend to do simple
things
in an overly complicated way.

.2 How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator ?
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Wrong Answer :

Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant
and close the refrigerator.


Correct Answer :
Open the refrigerator, take out the
giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door.
This tests your ability to think through the
repercussions
of your actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference,
all the animals attend except one. Which animal does
not attend?
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Correct Answer :
The Elephant. The Elephant is in the refrigerator.
This tests your memory.


OK, even if you did not answer the first three
questions,
correctly, you still have one more chance to show
your
abilities.


4. There is a river you must cross. But it is
inhabited by
crocodiles.
How do you manage it?
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Correct Answer:
You swim across.
All the Crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting!

This tests whether you learn quickly from your
mistakes.

According to Andersen Consulting Worldwide, around
90% of the professionals they tested got all
questions wrong.

But many preschoolers got several correct answers.
Andersen
Consulting says this conclusively disproves the
theory that most
professionals have the brains of a four year old.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Saturday Night's Alright

Yes, today is the day that my wife comes back from Germany. The talks and experiments went well, so I guess the trip was fruitful, but I will sure be glad when she is back in my arms, only ten more hours to go. Luckily, fate has intervened to give me something to keep my mind off of the waiting; I have to work today. Yes, I could think of better ways to pass the time, but I guess my beloved (heavy sarcasm here) PLCs decided to go a little bonkers yesterday afternoon and I wasnít able to finish repairing them.

I owe, I owe so it's off to work I go, but before I do; riddle me this:
Three men go to a cheap motel, and the desk clerk charges them a sum of $30.00 for the night. The three of them split the cost ten dollars each. Later the manager comes over and tells the desk clerk that he overcharged the men, since the actual cost should have been $25.00. The manager gives the bellboy $5.00 and tells him to give it to the men. The bellboy, however, decides to cheat the men and pockets $2.00, giving each of the men only one dollar.
Now each man has paid $9.00 to stay for the night, and 3 x $9.00 = $27.00. The bellboy has pocketed $2.00. But $27.00 + $2.00 = $29.00. Where is the missing $1.00? WTF?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Next Step

Ok, I have been in contact with Cyber-Pulp and I now know what my next step is. In addition to the author bio, Mr. Gunner has also asked for a short bio and a picture to put on his website. It actually turned out to be quite an interesting exercise for me. I basically had to sum myself up in three sentences. It is (for me, at least) a lot harder than it sounds. Whatís pertinent; whatís not? What can I write that might intrigue someone that is just browsing through the authorís section?

Then, of course, once I had written something, I began wondering if I had put the right information down. Will it be enough? Am I overanalyzing this? Itís just a three sentence bio for Christís sake, why am I putting so much thought into it? Because it is my first one and I want it to beÖperfect. In the end, I decided that simple was best, nothing flamboyant or overly cute. It is short, sweet and straight to the point. I just put out a little information and if they want more, wellÖI am sure they can find it somewhere.

On a side note, I donít see me finishing any more reviews of my weekend rents this time around. I just canít seem to sit still long enough to watch a movie for some odd reason or another. Donít worry, I will make it up to you some other time.

The Day to Beat all Days (I'm going to be published)

Yesterday turned out to be a very hectic day. I had a couple of meetings in the afternoon that held me over until after 5. (I normally get off by 3 or so). As many of you know, my wife is in Germany this week, so I am a little off kilter as it is. I rush to the daycare to get my son, who is more than a little perturbed that he was there for as long as he was.

ìDad, how could you forget me?î He pouted as I signed him out.
ìI didnít forget to pick you up. I just had to work late.î
ìIf mom was here, you wouldnít have forgot me.î
ìI didnít forget about you.î I insisted.
ìIím not going to have time to play now, am I?î
ìI doubt it, but what were you doing in there when I picked you up?î
ìPlaying in the Jupiter jump.î
ìWell, then I guess you got to play today.î I snickered. ìDid you finish your homework?î
ìYeah.î
ìWas it done right?î

He just shrugged and of course, it wasnít even close to correct. So I threw some dinner on the stove and set about erasing everything that was wrong in his homework, of which there was plenty.

Once I had my son situated and working diligently on his corrections, I tripped over to the computer to check my email. I powered it up and went back to the kitchen to check on dinner. On my way back through, my son started asking several questions about his homework. I helped him out, but by the time I was through it was time to check on dinner again.

I logged onto my computer and just as I clicked on the Outlook icon my son starts shouting.
ìDad! Bhodi is peeing the floor!î
When someone informs you that a Great Dane has decided to use your carpet as a toilet, it demands your immediate attention.
ìDidnít you let them out when we came home?î I demanded as I ushered both dogs outside.
ìYeah, you saw me do it.î
ìDonít get smart with me. I was in the kitchen checking the messages when I told you to let them out.î I said, struggling to remain calm as I rummaged under the sink for some suitable cleaning products to take care of carpet. ìNow did they both go outside?î
ìWell, Gigi did, but Bhodi wouldnít go.î He replied, looking down at his desk.
ìThen guess who gets to clean up the mess.î I said holding up a rag and a spray bottle.
ìBut dadÖî
ìDonít but me. There is a reason for everything I ask you to do. I donít just give you chores because I like giving you a hard time.î I paused to smile at him. ìThatís just a bonus.î
ìI havenít finished my homework.î
ìYou can finish it when you are done cleaning up this mess.î

By the time everything was cleaned up it was time to wash up for dinner. It was a quiet at the dinner table. Clearly, Tyler was a little irked by the way the evening had went up to that point.

ìWhenís mom coming home?î He asked as he helped me load the dishwasher.
ìShe will be home Saturday night.î I said, patting his head. ìI miss her too, son.î

I sent him up to take his bath and settled in to check my email. As I scrolled through the messages, one in particular caught my eye. It read RE: Submission: Drums of the Nunneíhi in the subject line.

Well that was awfully quick. It must be a rejection I thought to myself. I opened it up and read it. I rubbed my eyes then read it again. I clicked on the from field and checked its properties to make sure one of my friends werenít pulling some sort of cruel trick, then I read it yet again.

The email was from Cyber-Pulp Press and they want to publish Drums of the Nunneíhi. It is the Dark Fantasy novella that I wrote a while back that kept me from posting to either of my blogs for a couple of weeks.

Here is a little teaser for you: A small community in Southern Oklahoma is rocked by a savage murder and the disappearance of six seniors at Castleton High School. Only a
Few members of a tribe that lives on the Red River Reservation know what really happened that night. A group of spirit warriors known as the Nunne'hi has avenged
the death of Carl Redoak, putting a new twist on an old-fashioned ghost story. The bodies of the missing boys slowly turn upÖin pieces. Tensions rise between the Res and their neighbors in Castleton as the accusations fly. When the truth is revealed, will anyone believe it?

I am still reveling in the early throes of being accepted. I havenít received the contract yet and I am sure that there are several details that I will need to work through. Once I have signed the appropriate paperwork, I will finally get to fill out the coveted deal report form and submit it to Publishers Lunch.

This is my first time, so I am really not sure what all to expect, bringing me to my next point. Are there any other aspiring writers out there that are curious about the process from being accepted to seeing the finished project?

I will post a blow by blow of the entire process as it happens to me. Those that are still waiting for their first break can live vicariously through me and those that have already been through this process can laugh at me as I stumble through it. Hopefully, it will be a good time for all concerned. So sit back, buckle up and letís put this puppy into gear. It ought to be a hell of a ride.

As it stands now, I have already been asked if I had anything specific in mind as far as the cover art goes. Now as I understand it, how much input an author has about their cover varies from house to house. Some publisherís welcome the advice and some will sigh heavily and tell you that what winds up on the cover is entirely up to their art department.

I submitted a couple of ideas, but was sure to make it perfectly clear that I would be happy with whatever the artist came up with on their own if either of my ideas were deemed unsuitable.

Stay tuned for the next step, whatever that is.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Home is where the heart is.

ìWow! Look at the buildings. This place is growing before our very eyes. This is a new city?î Selu asked finding it hard to believe that a city of this size sprung up over night.
ìYes, it seems that the oil business has been very good to this area. With as many people moving into the territory that there is, it won't be long before they are petitioning for statehood.î Nick replied.
ìGreed drives men to do the strangest things. Most of these people came here for cheap land, yet their land sets untended as they race after the lure of easy money.î Talon said with a shake of his head.
ìThey never seem to be satisfied with the gifts that they have been given. Where will they turn when they realize that no one is working the land any more? Who will help them when they don't have enough food to feed all of the people who fled to the cities to make it rich?î Selu added with a sigh.
ìNot everyone has forsaken their land. In fact, I dare say the majority of the people are still working hard to make their land prosperous enough to support those who do move to the city. They know that there is money to be made by hard work as well as luck. Do you think that my homeland, or all of Europe for that matter, is made up of entirely rolling farms?î Nick asked, a sound of exasperation in his voice.
ìOf course not, but they have had centuries to find a balance. We are trying to rush into the modern world before the groundwork has been properly laid.î
ìNo, it isn't. It is merely following in the footsteps of Europe. In fact, there are cities there that would dwarf anything that you could imagine. To become a ëcivilizedí society, you have to progress. Part of that progress is the development of two types of people: Those that harvest the land and those that harvest the mind.î

ìShame on you, Nick!î Selu chastised sharply. ìYou think that just because someone chooses to grow crops that they do not exercise their minds? Talon and I both were taught to live, not just off of the land, but also as a part of it. Do you think us ignorant as well?î
ìYou misunderstand me, Selu.î Nick quickly intervened. ìI was not suggesting that farmers were ignorant. I was merely saying that the things that they are interested in learning, for the most part, are things that will help them accomplish their goals, a bountiful harvest. In the cities, one is more free to pursue the arts, or attend a university to study science, philosophy, or any of a hundred topics that are of no interest to a man that wants to grow a good crop or raise cattle for that matter. This does not make them ignorant.î
ìI understand what you are saying. In all fairness, I still think that man should not be stamped with an everlasting title based on how he supports himself and his family. Why can't he be both a painter and a farmer?î
ìOk, but that goes back to my original statement. If he lives near a city he or she for that matter, has a better chance of finding his niche in life. If he is brought up in the middle of a thousand acres, four days ride from the nearest town, he is not likely to do anything other than take over his father's farm.î Nick replied with a patient shake of his head.
ìOk, but all that I am saying is...î Selu began.
ìSelu! Can we please just drop the subject? I am starving and at the rate you two are going, it will be daylight before we even walk into town.î Talon interrupted with a laugh.

They joined his laughter and agreed to start the hunt. As the trio walked up the riverbank, Talon was impressed that mortal men could build such a city so quickly. The air was filled with the sounds of the city; the clip-clop of horses riding on the streets, the bay of dogs as they darted in and out of the people walking up and down the sidewalks. The air smelled of food and spirits, though the hour was getting late.

As they pressed through the crowds on the busy streets, Talon began to wonder if a city this size could hide beings like themselves. There is obviously a very busy nightlife, so they would not appear suspicious while roaming the streets at night.

They finally found a tavern that was not overly crowded. The group made their way to the table and ordered three glasses of scotch. A quick scan of the peopleís thoughts revealed that there were several potential meals in the room. There was a gentleman sitting at the table next to them that had taken off work early today to surprise his wife, his business had been booming and he had been working at his shop nearly around the clock for several months. He had finally generated enough profit from it that he could hire some help. He stopped by one of the street vendors and purchased a bouquet of flowers. As he approached the house, he thought to himself. Someday we will fill this house with the sound of childrenís laughter. The thought of it made him smile. He opened the door and found himself alone in the front room. He could hear movement upstairs.
ìAh, she must be cleaning the bedroom.î He thought aloud as he looked at the ceiling.

He ascended the stairs quietly, hoping to startle her. As he gently pushed open the bedroom door, he couldnít believe his eyes. His wife of less than a year was kneeling on the bed, gripping the headboard with both hands while some strapping young Indian lad was taking her from behind. He had a hand full of her hair, which he dropped when he heard the man began to sob. They both scrambled off of the bed and began to throw on clothes. The man just sank to the floor in disbelief, the bouquet of flowers still clasped tightly in his hand. All of his hard work had been for her. So that he could lavish his love with anything that she wanted. How could she do this to him? He didnít even try to stop her as she ran out after her lover. What was the point? It could never be the same again. His life was ruined. Forever changed, by a soulless whore that claimed to give him unconditional love.

ìWow! Did you catch that?î Selu asked quietly, obviously listening to the thoughts of the same gentleman.
ìYes, I did. The poor bugger Worked himself to the bone for love. Only to find out that the woman he loves is nothing more than a common whore.î Nick replied, shaking his head in disgust.
ìMaterial gains arenít all that a woman needs to keep her happy, Nick. If he would have spent a little more time with her maybe she wouldnít have felt the need to stray.î
ìYou canít honestly be defending that woman, Selu. If she really loved him, she would have waited for him. She would have realized that the only reason that he was gone so much so that he could provide her with a good life. You can tell yourself that material possessions donít matter, but we both know better. If he went broke it would only be a matter of time before she was looking for someone that could take care of her in the manner that she feels like she needs to be taken care of.î Talon declared amazed that she those words had come from her lips.
ìButÖî Selu began with a look of concern on her face.
ìBut nothing! Do you mean to tell me that when I went on hunting trips for weeks at a time, that you were searching for comfort in the arms of someone else?î He asked, perhaps a bit to sharply.
ìOf course not, Talon. I love you more than life itself. I would never do anything to hurt you like that.î She quickly replied, with a shake of her head.
ìMy point exactly. If you love someone, you would do anything in your power not to hurt them. So she was obviously an adulterous whore, who had no concern for the mental well-being of her husband.î Talon stated as he smacked the table for emphasis.

No one could hear their conversation, but everyone heard him smack the table. All heads momentarily turned towards them. After a moment, everyone returned their attention to what they were doing. Almost everyone that is, the gentleman sitting at the table next to them was still staring at Talon. He suddenly stood up and walked over to their table.

ìI know the feeling friend. You are obviously agitated and sometimes the sound of your hand smacking something unyielding is enough to clear the anger from your mind or at least enough to accomplish the task at hand.î He told Talon, as he stood beside him.

They all exchanged glances, wondering if he understood, what the task at hand meant for him. Nick gave Talon a wink and Selu had to suppress a chuckle. Nick reached over and pulled out the vacant chair that was nearest him.

ìWould you care to join us friend?î Nick asked with a smile. ìAt least until your friends arrive.î
ìI am alone this evening. Thank you for the offer; I would appreciate the company.î He answered before taking the chair.
ìMy name is Sam Bernard. I own a curiosity shop a few blocks from here, Bernardís Import Goods.î He said as he looked into his drink.
ìWhat sort of wares do you offer there?î Selu asked, as her curiosity was piqued at the idea of someplace new to shop.
ìOh, a variety of things really. I have silken robes from China, small statues from Greece, stuffed animals from Africa. Just about anything you could imagine and a few things you canít.î He said as he smiled for the first time since his ill-timed discovery.

As the conversation continued, his spirits seemed to lift a little with each laugh that he was able to induce in any one of the trio. Within an hour they had not only decided that they were not going to feed on him, they actually found themselves growing rather fond of him. Selu promised that she would visit his shop soon. Nick and Talon both assured him that there were far better women in the world than the one that he lost. Women that would appreciate a man like him. The group finally had to excuse themselves; they did have a limited time to feed after all. Talon had a feeling that they would see Sam Bernard again.

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