Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

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

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holiday

I will likely be out of pocket until next week. So, I wanted to take the opportunity to wish every one a safe and happy holiday.

Whether you light the menorah (I know Hanukkah started on the 15th, but I choose today to send out my holiday salutations), a Yule log, a Christmas tree or your practice of choice may you have the opportunity to celebrate family, friends and experience the spirit of the season.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. The song, Free Falling is now stuck in my head.

(July 1998) A man with the unlikely ambition to jump off every river bridge in Norwich ended his athletic career with a 70-foot leap into three feet of water. Friends said the 34-year-old man had fulfilled his dream of jumping off every city bridge spanning the River Wensum.

Having exhausted the bridge selection, this time he climbed to the top of a multi-story car park, looked down from the parapets and shouted an enquiry to onlookers asking how deep the water was. Then he plunged to his death in the shallow waters below. Emergency workers were unable to resuscitate the man, who was said to possess "a strange and unusual passion for jumping into rivers."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Harvester

Update: I have received several nudges admonishing me for not mentioning that today is my birthday. So…today is my 35th birthday. Thank you.


I sleep no more
My mind is adrift
Thoughts flutter
Like a lover’s kiss

My smile is ferocious
Though I have no rage
Each blow I strike
Is just a turn of the page

The world is my oyster
To be eaten raw
Monster or Saint
You make the call

I walk through your streets
But don’t catch my eye
In their depths
Your soul will fry

My name will be whispered
From trembling faces
Never when alone
Or in darkened spaces

Life is a delicacy
How it’s consumed
Is what sets us apart

Live well
Or you’ll discover my name
Oh, what fun we will have
As you learn new levels of pain

You’ll not pass slowly
I’m sorry to say
I’ll carry you with me
Til my final day

I’d love to chat more
But duty does call
Time for both righteous
and wicked to fall

I know there secrets
As should you
If you stay your course
I’ll see you soon

Monday, December 18, 2006

Weekend Recap

Alright holiday shoppers, your time is running out. I can’t say I’m unhappy about that. I love the holidays, but the effect it has on the masses usually has me ready to see them gone long before they arrive. What is it about shopping for others that brings out the worst in people? Are they secretly resentful that this time of year means they have to part with money they usually get to put towards something else? Is that what makes them rude? If it’s that painful, why don’t they just boycott and leave the aisles filled with only the jolly people?

We had a going away party for Kim, not only one of my wife’s employees, but a dear friend of ours. It was a sad affair as she is moving all the way to Wisconsin. Why would anyone move to Wisconsin this close to winter? Oh, it might have been the fact that she landed a seriously better paying job. That and her family lives there, so it was bound to happen sooner or later. She will be missed.

The rest of the weekend was spent playing games and watching a few movies. I won’t do an official review, but I will say the big surprise from the rentals was Miami Vice. I ended up turning it off before it finished as it bored me to death. My goodness, but that movie crawled along at an excruciatingly slow pace. I was very disappointed.

How was your weekend? Do you do anything worthwhile with your time?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday 55

Welcome to Friday 55. The object of the game is to write a story using exactly 55 words. Susie is the one that started it all, so be sure to drop by her site as well.

Want to play along? Let me know if you do so that I can come read your entries.

Elbow pads, check. Knee pads, check. Steel toed boots, check. Flack vest, check. Helmet with face shield, check. I wish I had a riot control shield, but hopefully…this will be enough. I have to drop into a real hot spot. Picking up essentials at the local Wal-Mart this time of year is pure hell.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Big Pimpin'

In case you haven’t heard, the new issue of Spinetingler Magazine is live. As usual it is overflowing with great talent and interesting interviews. Be sure to download a copy.

Bernita wants to know what turns you off…sexually. Well, at least as pertains to characters in a book. Is there something that pulls you out of a story? Stop by and let her know.

Miss Snark is dolling out some wonderful advice. If you’re an aspiring writer, she should be part of your daily rounds.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Making Light posted a link (in Brilliant Send up” to a hilarious (yet at the same time frightening) look at the extreme Right’s need to find the cause for homosexuality (as if it were a disease and thus…could be cured). In this instance, it is a parody of an article claiming Soy makes kids gay. Yeah…you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Lime is waxing poetic for her HNT photos. Also, you may want to read yesterday’s post. They have some interesting dinner discussions at the House O Lime.

Speaking of interesting conversations, stop by Bonnie’s place to read about her husband’s pre-surgery antics. Good stuff…

Southern Writer has a story that will put you in the holiday mood (if you already are, then it will increase it by 25%).

Carrie has just put up her 200th post. Way to go!!

There is a ton of great posts out there, but I have to get to work so, I’ll stop here. For more entertainment, take a stroll down my blog roll.

This has been a public service announcement.

Have a nice day.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. His friends just thought he had a big mouth.

(29 January 1998, Ohio) Hungry or just plain stupid? Wednesday was a fateful day for Michael. He was shooting the breeze with a group of buddies, watching a friend clean his fish tank, when the friend complained that one specimen in particular had become a fishy menace. It had outgrown the tank, and was eating other denizens of the aquatic community.

Michael volunteered to assist. He seized the five-inch fish and attempted to swallow it. Unfortunately, the fish continued its predatory ways by sticking in his craw. As he gasped futilely for breath, turned blue, and sank to his knees, his three friends realized that something was amiss. They phoned 911 and informed the dispatcher that Michael had eaten some fish, and was having trouble breathing.

Paramedics were quickly dispatched, and they arrived to find the fish tail still protruding from the victim's mouth. Despite their best efforts neither the fish nor the twenty-three-year-old could be resuscitated. The killer fish had claimed one last victim.

"If I dare you to jump off a bridge and you do it, you're stupid," Police Major Mike Matulavich said. Apparently Michael was not a victim, he was just another Darwin Awards contender.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Holiday Meme

I’ve seen this meme on several of my favorite blogs and decided to give it a go myself.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
This is the only time of year I drink Egg Nog, but I drink some every year.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Are you kidding? Santa doesn’t have time to wrap gifts. That’s how you know for sure their from him and not from your parents. Your parents take the time to wrap everything. Santa has it set out for all the world to see.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Colored lights just seem a bit more festive to me. I’ve used both in my decorating scheme but the colored lights far outnumber the white.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, an unfortunate misunderstanding at a company Christmas party has ruined the allure of the mistletoe custom for me.

5. When do you put up your decorations?
Thanksgiving weekend.

6 What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
It is a toss up between Ham and sausage balls.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
When I was ten, I opened all of my presents as usual. We were sitting in the living room thanking each other for our gifts and my mom goes, “Where’d that ornament come from?” I look and there’s a crocheted ball on the tree. I open it to find a key. The key fit a lock on the shed. The shed held my first motorcycle, an XR-80.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
What truth? Did something happen to Santa? Ah, man…I’m so skipping this question.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Every year for as long as I can remember.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
I load it with as many ornaments, candy canes and strands of garland as it can hold.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it on Christmas, but any other time it’s a pain in the ass.

12. Can you ice skate?
Yes, but I haven’t done it since I was 16 (that was a fairly long time ago).

13. Do you remember your favorite gift for Christmas?
I would have to say…that answer changed from year to year. I always had one present that stood above the rest and for at lest the next 364 days it was my favorite.

14 . What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Spending time with family. I love to eat all of the holiday fare and sit around catching up and/or playing card games.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Dirt cake.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Waiting for my son to go to sleep before I put together presents that need to be assembled. Then trying with every fiber of my being to do so quietly.

17. What tops your tree?
A star…it means the world to me.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
I prefer to give.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Little Drummer Boy.

20. Do you like Candy Canes?
Most definitely.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend Recap

Is it Monday already? It’s been a bit of a whirlwind weekend. We met with several members of my wife’s running team on Friday. It was a post-post marathon celebration. A fine time was had by all.

Saturday we went to see a friend’s band (The Four Players). They RAWK!! I must admit, we planned to be supportive either way, but…wow, they sounded fantastic. I even…now, brace yourself for this one…danced. Apparently, my Achilles tendon is healing nicely. I didn’t have a full range of movements, but it was fairly close. This is only three months after my surgery, I might add.

Sunday I felt so good about the triumphant return to the dance floor, I decided to try some other activities on my “no no” list. I rode my bicycle. I only made it a couple of miles before the injured leg was screaming at me, but that was a couple of more miles than I thought I could do going into the weekend.

I’m supposed to wait a year before I return to Karate practice, but at this rate…I may be back to training by February. More importantly, I should be able to shred some serious wake by spring. I was more than a little concerned I would miss an entire wakeboarding season. As it looks now, I should be back to near normal (whatever that is) by the time the warm weather returns.

How was your weekend?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday 55

Alright folks, the object of the game is to write a story using exactly 55 words. Susie is the one that started it all, so be sure to drop by her site as well.

Want to play along? Let me know if you do so that I can come read your entries.

Eyes so big, they seem out of place on something so small. The mother watches her, heart torn, mind conflicted. How doe she explain? Helpless, she pulls the child close. “You can bring him back, baby”. The child’s body shudders under the weight of sobs. “Why did you take your brother out on the ice?”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sweet and Spicy

Clean humor is normally too corny to see air time on my blog, but I couldn’t help but pass this one along.

Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is at the Pearly Gates,
met by St. Peter himself. However, the gates are closed, and Forrest
approaches the gatekeeper.

St. Peter said, "Well, Forrest, it is certainly good to see you.
We have heard a lot about you. I must tell you though, that the place
isfilling up fast, and we have been administering an entrance examination
for everyone. The test is short, but you have to pass it before you can
get into Heaven."

Forrest responds, "It sure is good to be here, St. Peter, sir.
But nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. I sure hope that the
test ain't too hard. Life was a big enough test as it was."

St. Peter continued, "Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three
questions.

First: What two days of the week begin with the letter T?

Second: How many seconds are there in a year?

Third: What is God's first name?"

Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next
day and sees St. Peter, who waves him up, and says, "Now that you have
had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers."

Forrest replied, "Well, the first one-which two days in the week
begins with the letter "T"? Shucks, that one is easy. That would be
Today and Tomorrow."

The Saint's eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, "Forrest, that is
not what I was thinking, but you do have a point, and I guess I did not
specify, so I will give you credit for that answer so how about the
next one" asked St. Peter?

"How many seconds in a year? Now that one is harder," replied
Forrest, but I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer
can be twelve."

Astounded, St. Peter said, "Twelve? Twelve? Forrest, how in
Heaven's name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?"

Forrest replied, "Shucks, there's got to be twelve: January 2nd,
February 2nd, March 2nd.... "

"Hold it," interrupts St. Peter. "I see where you are going with
this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in
mind.....but I will have to give you credit for that one, too.

Let us go on with the third and final question. Can you tell me
God's first name"?

"Sure," Forrest replied, "it's Andy."

"Andy?" exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St Peter.

"Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my
first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the
name Andy as the first name of God?"

"Shucks, that was the easiest one of all," Forrest replied. "I
learnt it from the song",

"ANDY WALKS WITH ME,
ANDY TALKS WITH ME,
ANDY TELLS ME I AM HIS OWN. "

St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates…


And just so you don’t think I’ve gone all soft in my old age, here is a little spicier gem to entertain you this morning:

(1) Britain's Channel 4 public television announced in July that it would soon schedule a week of documentaries on masturbation, including one by self-designated "orgasm coach" (Where do I get a job like that?) Betty Dodson, "Masturbation for Girls," teaching hands-on techniques to three women. (2) The pendulum swung the other way in October, however, when Britain's Tesco stores agreed that a kit for learning pole dancing (advertised on its Web site), to "(u)nleash the sex kitten inside," with a garter and suggestive DVD, was perhaps unsuited for its "toy" section, where it might have been appealing to adolescent girls. (Tesco moved the listing to its physical fitness section.) [Daily Mail, 9-21-06; The Times (London), 11-15-06] [Daily Mail, 10-23-06]

Have a great day!!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. Stealthy is my middle name…

(June 1997) A suspected burglar fell to his death from the 12th story balcony early yesterday after being surprised by the Calgary apartment's occupants. Residents of the suite are shaken from the incident and baffled as to how the alleged intruder managed to access the balcony on the top floor of the Royal View Apartments, 1320 16 Ave. SW.

Dean Grabo, 23, was home with his wife about 12:30 a.m. when he heard a noise on his balcony. "We were surprised, but not nearly surprised as he was," said Grabo, whose yell startled the intruder, who fell while scrambling to flee. The body of a man of about 30 years old was found on the ground floor patio directly below
Grabo's balcony. He has not been identified and foul play is not suspected. 'We're a little confused how he got up there and a little shaken up," said Grabo. "It's not every day something like this happens and somebody perishes."

Building resident manager Brian Lester was also puzzled by the incident. "I had to let police into the next apartment over and the door was locked, so it doesn't look like he broke in there," said Lester. "It's a weird situation - the police didn't say much."

Police went to the 200-suite apartment in the Beltline area after several residents complained of hearing a loud noise. Unlike most cats this Cat Burglar lost all nine Lives and didn't land on his feet.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Esprit de Corps

I mentioned yesterday, I wrote a new short story. It occurred to me a while back that I’ve never written about zombies. In addition, some of my readers have asked, from time to time, why I don’t write more about my military experiences. I decided it would be quite fun to do both at the same time and it was. I’m not sure if I could have produced an entire novel from this concept, but for a rather long short story it fit nicely.

Would you like a little sample? Ok then, best stop reading here. For the rest of you, what follows is your first glimpse of the new story.

Esprit de Corps


Staff Sergeant Gibson peered over Lieutenant McRae’s shoulder as he traced a ridge with his finger on the map. The subdued blue light of his flashlight made the lines barely discernable.

“Is there a problem, Sergeant?” The LT folded his map and tucked it away.
“We’ve been in the Syrian Desert for nearly twenty two hours, sir.”
“What’s your point?” The moonlight reflected from the goggles perched atop his helmet as he cocked his head inquisitively.

“That’s twenty hours too long, sir.” Gibson took in the five men that made up the rest of his squad with a sweeping glance. They were barely more than shadows in the desert night. “This is a highly irregular situation.”

“Do tell--” McRae took a swig from his canteen.
“Our entire platoon is out here somewhere. We’re a Ranger unit, for Christ’s sake. In, out and on our way. Extractions only takes one squad.”
“Well, this isn’t an extraction and the orders were for all four squads to be deployed. We have limited intel on the target. We just know it’s near Al-Rutbah.”
Whatever it is, General Seaton must want it something fierce. Gibson wanted to press the issue, but knew better. If they wanted him to know what they were looking for, he would’ve been present at the briefing.

“It looks like we’re only about two clicks out. Send one of your men up that dune to see if we have a visual yet.”
“Corporal Hawkins,” Gibson said, his voice barely more than a whisper.
“Airborne,” he answered as he scrambled to his feet.
“I need a report from that dune.” He pointed to the east.
“Roger that, Chief.”

He took a moment to sling his M-4 rifle over his back before he clambered up the embankment, dropping to his elbows near the top.

“What the--?” He pointed his night vision binos down into the valley on the other side.

The moonlight lit up Hawkins’ face as he rolled to his back and Gibson could tell by the goofy grin the kid wore as he slid down the dune, they had found what they were looking for.

“Tent city with heavy armament, Chief. I’d say roughly fifty strong. They’re camped around a big ass camo net in the center. I’d say it’s about twenty by and it must be covering something…big.”

“With any luck, that something has an unlocked door in it,” McRae added with a grunt.
“This is some kind of secret munitions depot, sir?” Hawkins turned his attention to the LT.
“Sounds more like a Chem Lab to me,” Gibson said absently, already working out an entry plan in his head.
“Ah, some of our elusive weapons of mass destruction,” Private First Class Johnson piped in with a snicker.
“That’s the sort of opinion you need to keep to yourself, private.” Gibson intervened before his squad leader could.

Johnson used to be a Sergeant, but his continued clashes with Lieutenant McRae over why America was really fighting in the desert earned him a demotion.
“PFC Forelli.” McRae signaled for his radioman. “Cop a squat.”

Forelli dropped to his knees with the SINCGAR on his back facing the officer. The LT un-looped the headset, held it to his ear. Sergeant Gibson waited until McRae established comms before he turned to the rest of his troops.

“Alright men, you know the drill. Check your gear. I want everything cinched tight; nothing dangles and nothing gets snagged. When we go in, we’re gonna have to be quick and quiet. Bayonets are your primary; fire your weapons only as a last resort. Am I understood?”

“Hooah!” They replied in unison.
“Alright, we have clearance to proceed.” McRae stepped up to stand beside Gibson. “Are the men ready?”
“Locked, cocked and ready to rock, sir!” Gibson gave him a crisp salute.
“Then let’s move out.” He raised his hand above his head and dropped it to point east.
“Young you’re on point,” Gibson ordered. “Everyone else…fall in.”

They slipped over the dune and into the camp. Flowing between the tents like ghosts on a graveyard breeze. Young dropped to a crouch; held up his hand. Everyone else froze. Gibson held his breath as he heard two guards talking in their sing-song language. It was a full twenty heartbeats before Young signaled the all clear.

That’s about right, Gibson thought when they neared the edge of the camo net. A large tin shack stood in the center. Yeah, the LT’s door was there, but it had a guard posted on either side. Gibson quickly signaled directions for Private Brown to circle around and take out the one on the left, while he handled the other. He palmed his bayonet, the blade resting comfortably along his forearm. He made a wide arc to the right, creeping as close as he dared to the front of the opening. He watched the LT for the signal that Brown was in position.

McRae flicked his wrist. Gibson sprang around the corner. His left hand snaked out, gripped the guard’s mouth; pulled him forward, off balance. He swept with his leg, bringing him the rest of the way to ground. He pressed down with his right arm as they fell, pushing the blade against his throat. The resistance was brief. Gibson tried not to look into his eyes as the blade met bone, but he caught a glimpse of them, wide with surprise. It was enough. He could feel the breath on his hand as it grew weaker. Spittle and blood oozed between his fingers. He clamped down hard on either side of the body with his knees as it started to spasm. No noise.

He looked up to find Hawkins already helping Brown carry the other guard through the door. They dropped the bodies in the first empty room they came to as they swept the building. Room after room they found empty. Old newspapers and magazine littered the floor, but there were no other signs anyone had spent any time working in the building. He nearly ran into Johnson as he stopped short in a doorway.

“Sweet Jesus,” he whispered, frozen in place.
“What is it?” Gibson hissed, pushing the private out of the way.
“A whole lot of heartache, Chief.”

Shiny cylinders filled the room, stacked from floor to ceiling. They were strapped together in bundles that were six cylinders wide and three deep. Gibson stared at the gauges and controls that lined a panel in the front. Wires and tubes lay in lazy tangles throughout the bundles.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Gibson whispered.
“God willing, we’ll never see anything like it again,” Johnson matched his whisper.
“I don’t know what it’s for, but I assume we’re going to blow it to pieces,” Brown added.

“Satchel charges aren’t going to cut it. I don’t want to be anywhere near this thing when it goes.” Hawkins couldn’t pry his eyes away from the contraption.
“Forelli, let’s call this in.” McRae signaled for his radioman to step closer.
“Yes, sir.” Forelli knelt to offer the radio to his LT.

McRae’s hand trembled as he reached for the handset.
Gibson turned his back to him, studying the room, looking for some clue as to what exactly they were dealing with.

“Sergeant Gibson,” McRae was at his side, startling him. “Air strike is inbound for these coordinates. We’re to proceed to the rally point in Al-Rutbah immediately.”
“You heard the man; let’s get the hell out of here.” Gibson looked over the room one final time. What is wrong with these people?

***

Monday, December 04, 2006

Snowblind in Tulsa

We made it through the near blizzard (for this neck of the woods anyway) conditions safe and sound. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to try out my new 4WD Trailblazer. My first thought was, Great…I’ve had this new vehicle for two weeks and some non driving A-hole is going to ram into it. Thankfully, I was able to avoid (and yes in some cases flat out dodge) said A-holes. Why was I out in such deplorable conditions? Heh, I had things to do and I wasn’t going to let a little thing like record breaking snow falls slow me down.

I managed to knock out most of my Christmas shopping. With the exception of Sunday, the stores (that managed to stay open) were largely deserted, giving us ample opportunity to shop without wearing protective equipment to fend off the mobs of slobbering, shop happy maniacs that seem to grace the stores this time of year.

We only lost power once (for about 2 hours), so the storm definitely could have been worse. Having said that, if I never see a storm like that roll through again, it will be too soon. For all intents and purposes, it all but crippled most of Northeast Oklahoma. I hear that other areas got it worse, but it was a rather impressive dusting here none the less.

On the writing front, I’ve completed another short story (Esprit de Corps) and compiled a collection of six stories in all for another book to be published by Cyber-Pulp Books. More on that deal as it develops, but these are exciting times.

I’ve also been adjusting well to my new job. All indications are that I’m really going to enjoy working for this company. Did I mention, I’m the newest Controls Engineer for JVIC? Well…I am, lol.

Anyhoo, I had better get back to it. How was your weekend?

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