Friday, December 22, 2006

Last Post of '06

Well, folks, I will be offline until after the New Year. Spending next week with the family and not doing anything else . . . no work, no writing, no NUFFIN! :-)

So, in keeping with my "Traditions" theme for the last few days, I'm going to start a new tradition here today. It's a pretty simple one, but it involves you (yes, YOU!) I hereby declare the last post of each year on this blog to be dedicated to simply saying: "Thank you."

Thanks for taking time out of your life each day to read my ramblings. Thanks for giving me a place to vent, rant, and ponder. Most of all, thanks for the support you guys send my way whenever things start to get to me. I really do appreciate the hell out of it!

Thank you.

I hope everyone reading gets to spend their holiday of choice, with the people they love the most!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all!

See ya' in '07!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Traditions #5


There is a process to the opening of gifts on Christmas morning. One does not merely dive into the pile, grabbing packages at will and tearing off the wrappings! There is a form to be observed; a formal procedure, and order, in which all packages are to be opened. The traditional method for opening presents in our household is ancient and well-established:

First, we must consider proper placement of all involved parties. The Boy takes a seat on the floor (outside of package grabbing distance!) while The Wife sits up on the couch (wrapped up in a blanket cuz she's always freezing!) with camera in hand and muttering under her breath about how damn early it is. I get the position of gift-giver. I get to sit amidst the gifts and hand them to The Boy one at a time. (Okay . . . "hand" may not be the right word: "throw at" might be a more apt description!) Of course, I always ask him which package he wants to open next, then totally ignore his opinion, giving them out in the order most likely to frustrate him! (It's a Dad thing.) The conversations usually go something like this:

ME: "Which one do you wanna open next, bud?"
BOY: (pointing) "The big one!"
ME: (pointing at the small one next to it) "This one?"
BOY: (laughing) "No! THAT one! the BIG one!!"
ME: (putting hand on correct gift) "Oh! THIS one?"
BOY: "YES!!!"
ME: "Nah, you don't want that one. How about this little one instead?"
WIFE: (sighing and rolling eyes) "Give him the big one, jackass!"
ME: (handing over package) "Yes, dear."

We do only one gift at a time and take a few minutes to examine it in detail, read the back, etc. Rushing through the gifts is no part of the process. Each gift is appreciated as it is opened (and bad jokes about same are freely offered . . . usually by me!) This way, the best part of the day is extended for as long as possible. When The Boy was small, we could spend an hour or more just going through his gifts. Now that he's a teenager, there are far fewer (but much more expensive!) gifts but we still try to make it all last as long as we can. The moments of surprise and joy on each other's face as we open the gifts are what the day's really about after all, so why not drag it out? We always do The Boy's gifts first, with me giving out under The Wife's direction as she takes all the pictures (trust me, you do not wanna let me handle a camera!) After that, The Boy gets his turn at playing Santa. He hands out the gifts to The Wife and I, one at a time. Usually with a look of concern on his face as he looks over the gifts and says: "Geez, Dad, there's nothing here for you!" (Yes, The Boy has inherited my smart-ass sense of humor.) The gifts are usually all done in a half-hour or so now (sadly) but it's still the very best part, of the very best holiday of the year, in our house.

Oh, and let us not forget that there is a use to be made of all gift wrapping! Rolled into a ball, it makes a wonderful projectile for launching at Dad's head!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Traditions #4


Credit for this bit of familial oddity goes to my Old Man. Strangely, I believe it began the same Christmas as did yesterday's Tradition #3. My Dad read "The Hobbit" before I did. He was the one who gave it to me actually. He loved that book -as do I- but where I am a devoted fan of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, my Old Man always preferred "The Hobbit". He loved the simplicity of it, he said. He enjoyed LOTR but his first love was the adventures of one Bilbo Baggins and a dozen dwarves. My Dad loved Hobbits. He thought they were the most brilliant creatures ever. Hobbits know how to live well. They know about peace, they know of joy and of humor, but above all things: Hobbits know of food. Simple, solid fare, served in large portions is the very soul of Hobbit life. My father truly respected that. Hence, the tradition of The Hobbit Breakfast.

I pity those of you who have never partaken of such a repast!

Hobbit breakfasts are a five-course (or more!) affair. They take hours to eat properly and the cooking of them is just as much fun as the eating!

Course, the First: This is the simplest course. It's really just a warm-up . . . a way to get the belly woken up and ready for the gastronomic marathon on which it is about to embark. It consists of Juice (orange, tomato, or pineapple) and some type of bread (usually toasted) covered with butter and/or honey (I prefer both!) followed by a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Course, the Second: The cereal course. This is presented as a wide array of cereals (both cold and hot) for your gastronomic pleasure. Small bowls are recommended for all but the most Hobbitish amongst us, since we still have a looooong way to go on our eating adventure.

Course, the Third: Now my fellow Hobbits, we begin breakfast in earnest! We launch ourselves into a large stack of pancakes (aka: flapjacks, griddle-cakes, johnny-cakes etc.) covered with butter and large doses of maple syrup. Optionally, one may choose to use sweetened peaches and fresh whipped cream. Serve with an additional cup of coffee or tea.

Course, the Fourth: Egggssssess, my precious! Large platters of eggs: fried, scrambled, poached and boiled . . . any way you wish! Of course, one must never serve eggs on their own (Hobbits consider this terribly rude!) They must at all times be accompanied by large servings of bacon, sausage, and ham! At the very least, all these ingredients must be mixed into an omelette and all plates are served with additional helpings of toast and fried potatoes! Refresh the tea while you're at it, won't you?

Course the Fifth: Now we truly see who among us can truly call themselves a Hobbit, and who is merely a little dude with furry feet! Once the clutter of the previous courses has been cleared away, we break out the cakes! Doughnuts, cruellers, crumb-cake, muffins . . . baked goods of every conceivable variety for you to "round off the edges". This course moves quite slowly (as do all Hobbits by this point!) and can be spread across a couple of hours as needed to allow for proper appreciation of the sweets. Tea, coffee, and milk are suggested for sipping as we finish our morning and begin wondering what we might have for luncheon . . .

And THAT, my friends, is a Hobbit Breakfast! (No, I am not exaggerating!)

I will say however that the amount of food served in my house has been dramatically reduced since I was a teenager, living with five animals I called my brothers. Now, we generally use only the first, fourth, and fifth courses . . . often blending them together for a solid big breakfast on Christmas morning after the opening of gifts. The gifts, of course, come first. Gifts are the only things Hobbits love more than food! Even The Boy, who is usually a light eater, eats like a starved bear when we do Hobbit Breakfast. Luckily (for my heart!) we only do this twice a year: Christmas and Easter.

Now do you all see why I'm so damn fat? (I'm not really . . . I'm just a Hobbit!)


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Traditions # 3


Oh, c'mon! After reading my blog for all this time, you didn't think I was referring to The Bible, did you?

Nah, I'm talking about the reading of any good book, but the reading takes place at a designated time and place and with a specific methodology. What is this, you ask? Reading is reading, right? Usually, yes . . . but not so on Christmas! I love this tradition as it is strictly mine, created when I was ten-years-old, adhered to every year since, and (best of all!) has been adopted by The Boy as well.

When I was eight, Santa left me the most remarkable gift ever. A gift set of Neil Hancock's "Circle of Light" fantasy series. I opened the first book "Greyfax Grimwald" on Christmas afternoon, around 4:00 p.m. (after we were all exhausted from playing with all the new toys and all my older rothers were napping) See, I had only recently read "The Hobbit" and Santa thought I would like another fantasy to work through. Oh man, was he ever right! This series had a fantastic feel to it like nothing I've ever read since. It was a kid's fantasy story but it was completely otherwordly! I can still feel the incredible sense of awe I had reading through it. (I really should pick them up again and see how they stack up after thirty years . . .)

Anyway, the book was so amazing that I couldn't put it down. I read right through dinner and on into the night. By the time I thought to see what everyone else was up to, it was past 2:00 a.m. and I was the only one in the house still awake . . . and starving! I rustled up some Christmas cookies and sat back down on the couch, munching and reading. That night of sitting in absolute silence, snacking on the cookies, was one of the most memorable of my entire life. I can't recall ever feeling so content, or at peace with the world, in my entire childhood as I was reading Mr. Hancock's book. I read it cover-to-cover that night and didn't go to bed until nearly 5:00 a.m. It was wonderful. So much in fact, that I did the same the following Christmas, and every one since. Oh, the books change, but the process is the same. I start a book on Christmas night and do not put it down until I have read its entirety. I turn off all TV and music, and just read while snacking on the Christmas cookies and occasionally staring up at the lighted tree. It's still as much fun as it was that first Christmas. there's something so . . . free, I guess, about knowing you are not going to be disturbed out of your fantasy world. No one is going to call, you don't need to go to work in the morning, there's no work that needs be done . . . you can travel to the Realms of the Muse completely and without any feeling of guilt about shirking responsibilities. It's Christmas after all, and that's the gift I give myself each year.

Try it . . You'll never miss a Christmas-night-read again!


Monday, December 18, 2006

Tradition #2


I am a big fan of the cookies. (Hence the ongoing battle of the paunch!) Generally, I am too lazy to make them myself (Even the warm-n-serve variety often seems far too much effort for someone at my level of laziness!) so I most often make do with the packaged variety but Christmas is the yearly exception. On the day of Christmas Eve (think about it - it makes sense.) The Boy and I bake Christmas cookies. It's a father/son thing. Yea, I know: doesn't sound particularly manly, but we enjoy it. The Wife wants no part of the process (she cant' even stand to come into the kitchen while we do this. The mere sight of the mess we make gives her heart palpitations!) We bake us up some chocolate chip, sugar cookies, and a large batch of butter cookies (The Wife's favorite!). We put on Christmas CD's (Boy's choice) and spend a good 3-4 hours destroying the kitchen (We DO clean it up! Well . . . we do, but The Wife cleans it a second time, muttering under her breath about useless males . . .) The sugar and butter cookies are rolled, cut into Christmas type shapes and decorated by The Boy.

Of course, as each sheet of cookies comes out of the oven and is placed on the cooling rack, it is very important that we both sample a cookie while it is still warm. (This is strictly a quality control issue!) Large glasses of cold milk are required as palette cleansers between each round of delectable munchies! Once cool, the cookies (that are left!) get placed into our special air-tight Christmas Cookie jar, which serves no other purpose within our home for the remainder of the year (cookies just don't last long enough 'round here to warrant placing them in a jar!)

No, we do not share out these cookies with anyone else. They are strictly for In-Home use. (And they serve a very important function in our home, which will be covered in my next post! Tune in for more geekiness, loyal readers!) My mother-in-law does the major cookie baking for family distribution, so we don't want to compete. Of course, since we ARE using her cookie recipes, the additional package she gives us each year is just a lovely extra buffer, lest we run out before the New Year!

It's a small tradition, I know. Doesn't seem like much, but to me it's one of the highlights of the season. I look forward to that day all year. I enjoy the hell out of just hanging with The Boy and telling bad jokes and stories as we mix up cookie dough. We almost always wind up talking about family history and what Christmas was like for me and The Wife as kids. It's a good time to pass along some of the things that I found important to my son.

Plus, it's just a helluva lot of fun!


Friday, December 15, 2006

Traditions #1

Well, let us begin the tale of my lameness with that most obvious of Christmas Traditions:


For starters, I'm one lazy SOB (I know, you're shocked!) I go for plastic over real, for the simple reason that it means a hell of a lot less work. I'm lazy to the extreme of having purchased a pseudo-tree wherein the electric lights are permanently fixed to the branches, saving me yet one more level of Christmassy frustration!

We begin our tree-trimming adventure with the obligatory basement-crawl, wherein your favorite blogger (No, not HER!!!!! Me, dammit!) fights his way past a year's accumulation of junk to find the large vinyl bag wherein that treasure of consumerism is hidden. I then lug it up the narrow stairs (Banging shins, hands, and various other body parts while roundly cursing the entire way) and into the living room where same shall be assembled. At this point, The Boy pops Frank Capra's immortal "It's a Wonderul Life" into the player so that I can feel all mushy and "seasonal" while fighting the vinyl-covered wire branches into something approximating the shape of a pine tree. There will be several breaks for tea and cookies during this process (Earl Gray, of course!!) as well as numerous stops to partake of key moments in the film (" . . . I'm your Guardian Angel, George!" "Yea, wouldn't surprise me a bit!") The Boy helps me unfold and fluff the branches, and the whole process usually only takes an hour or so.

Next, we move on to the actual decorating part of this adventure! This is the part I like best, because I ain't the one who does it! This is The Wife and Boy's job. My participation consists of sitting on the couch, making helpful (and totally ignored) suggestions about bauble placement. I also take the initiative to arise from my seat and switch out "It's a Wonderful Life" for "Miracle on 34th Street" when it's time. (Both in their original B&W of course. Colorization is an evil, awful, thing and the rat-bastard who invented it should be horse-whipped!) The pair of them do a remarkable job each year of turning the plastic leviathan into a tree so lovely, that no one who comes into our home ever believes it's fake. We finish the tree off with a lovely Angel, holding a single candle, that The Wife purchased for our first Christmas together. She actually does the placing of the Angel (Cuz, the tree's like 8 ft. tall and The Wife is like: Gi-normous!) My short, pudgy, ass can't reach that high! Next will come dinner (usually simple -ordered- fare like a pizza or subs) followed by a long evening of watching Christmas cartoons (umm . . . and more cookies and candy!). We usually do "The Year Without a Santa Claus", followed by "Rudolph" and/or "Frosty". We've got damn near every one ever made, on DVD, so we get to watch when we wish. I do love me some Christmas cartoons! You ain't lived until you've had the chance to see me and The Boy doing our rendition of the "Snow-miser" song!

"V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V . . . . TOO MUCH!"

Putting up the tree takes most of an afternoon and the evenings are just for hanging about and being silly together. See, to me: that's a GREAT tradition. Stay tuned for more family-geekness in my next post!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Closing in on Christmas

Much crazy running down to the Christmas holiday. Seems like every night there's something to do. Work, of course, has been going non-stop with the end of year deadline rushing. Don't know why, but all engineers and architects MUST have everything (that they've been dragging ass on for eight months!) done before the end of December. Emergencies, problems, deadlines, and general idiocy are blooming everywhere.

At home, we're trying to get the very last of the construction stuff done this weekend, so The Wife is staining trim like a mad woman (Ya know: a little madder than her usual!) so I can install it all Sat. morning, while she and The Boy are at a charity Christmas party for her workplace, and before our friends show up at 5:30 or so for a get-together. Sunday, we're heading out to my Mom's (A 1-1/2+ hour journey into the sticks!) to take her and my brother out for the afternoon. Should be nice: we don't get to see them all that often because of the distance and conflicting work schedules. Of course, The Boy has yet ANOTHER school project with a friend that we'll have to shoe-horn in there somehow as well. I am really looking forward to Christmas. I'm a huge fan of the holiday in general of course, but the best part is the week after, where I stay home and do NOTHING (except read, eat, watch movies & play video games with The Wife and The Boy!) With a little luck, the house will be done and I'll be able to sit comfortably in my living room, with a nice blaze working in the new fireplace, flipping channels on my new 50" plasma TV, as I lounge -with book in hand- on my brand new over-stuffed couch! Sweet, eh?

I think the Christmas shopping is all done at this point (yay!) so maybe next week we'll have a chance to relax and get more into the spirit of the season. I really want to have the nights free so we can relax and do some of our Christmasee type stuff. One thing I really want to do is our annual reading of "A Christmas Carol". We had to skip it last year because of the contractor mess but I wanna do it this year. We are supposed to trade chapters, each of us reading one out loud every night in the days leading up to Christmas, culminating with old Ebeneezer's conversion on Christmas Eve. Somehow though, I always wind up doing most of the reading. The family says they like the way I do the voices (What? You don't do voices and accents when you read aloud???? You don't know the fun you're missing!) The Boy does a pretty good cockney tone himself, so I think it's mostly laziness on their part, but that's alright. I enjoy the time with them, so I'll do the reading if that's what they want.

Don't know how many posts I'll get in between now and the holiday, but I think I'm gonna post about our Christmas traditions. Ya' know: the dorky things that we love to do but will make you all shake your head at our silliness. Yea. I like that plan.

Geekiness shall ensue in my next post!!!!


Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday Meltdown

Monday has fallen upon us once again; it's viscious fangs rending the hope from our souls, devouring the warmth of all human kindness, laying waste to the dreams that once harbored safely within our hearts . . .

Too melodramatic?

Yea, you're probably right, but I really don't like Mondays, ya; know? Seems that no matter how things go over the weekend, or how light the workload is, or what good things may happen (yea right!) on this day of the week: I'm still depressed as hell on Monday. It's the whole "working for a living" concept. I have a very deep seated hatred for the status quo of modern society. It's got to be some type of imbalance in me or something. The Wife seems fine with it. She is fine with the idea of working for the next thirty years in a decent-paying, semi-comfortable position that gives you exactly 10.8 hours of accrued time off each month. The idea of working 50 or so hours each week, for people who would replace you in a moment if ever you dare to step outside the parameters of "good behavior" as outlined in the 365 page H.R. Manual, wherin you signed away all your rights on the back page the day you began work there, doesn't bother her. Doesn't seem to bother a lot of folks actually. Just me. The whole system seems wrong to me. Am I the only one who needs a purpose to my life? The Wife stares at me like I have three heads when I start ranting about it but I can't seem to help myself. Is this all there is? Did some omnipotent being create my soul and hand me a body so that I could generate green pieces of paper for a faceless corporation that has no appreciation or regard for my efforts? Am I nothing but a cog in the machine; a mere data bit in the vast computer of economic efficiency? Or perhaps I was not created at all . . . perhaps I'm nothing more than the infinitely improbable collusion of unrelated circumstance that has combined in the eternal ether to create consciousness. Am I the the grand winner of the most valuable and immense galactic lottery ever imagined? Did I just happen to hit the big number on the grand roulette wheel of eternity? If I am, then should I fritter away that prize by sublimating myself in the pursuit of monetery stasis, and a reliable mode of transport to best enable my puruit of said stasis? Shall I trade my status as a winner of "life", against infinite odds, for the hope of a few years -when I'm too decrepit to appreciate it- wherein I may sit about and do as I wish? Assuming I do not wish anything beyond the median of my limited accumulation of wealth? Shall I sell all the viable years of my life for the dream of a gold watch and a rocking chair in which I may comfortably await my demise?


Oh well. Anyway, it's Monday.

I don't like Monday.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Senile Christmas

The weekend is almost upon me . . . YAAAYYY!!!!

It's been a long, crazy, week at work. Training seminars, meetings, problems . . . hell, I even actually had to TALK to my boss! Luckily that only happens every 2-3 months (yea, that's pretty cool!) I will say it's nice to have a job where nobody messes with me. I do what I want, when I want, the way I want (ya' know: usually!) so I shouldn't bitch (and yet, I still do!)

Been working on the revisions for "Fish" the last few days. It's going pretty well. The edits (so far!) aren't as extensive as I thought they were. The book moves quicker than I remembered, with a nice mix of human insight and action. I'm liking it.

On the homefront: The Boy is hurting my head. Keeps getting himself grounded by doing things he flat-out knows better than to do. If he keeps it up, he'll be grounded through the entire holiday season! He's already made it from Thanksgiving till now, with only two days of freedom before he tanked it yet again. OY! It's gotta be the age . . . the whole puberty thing has to be short-circuiting his brain. Right now, his girlfriend, friends, and cousins are ALL pissed at him because his punishments keep killing all the plans they've made together. C'est la Vie!

Did I mention I did me some woodworking last weekend? I made up a mantle for above my fireplace and caprails for some knee-walls and such. It's the first time I've ever used a router or did any kind of detailed finish work like that. It was fun! I can see how folks take it up as a hobby. Lot of coolness there. The Wife's been staining all the stuff I made this week (done that before: not so much fun!) so I can put it all in this weekend. That's the goal: to get the bulk of the trim work completed so that the place will look pretty well finished for Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, the upcoming holiday has managed to highlight my advancing years for me. The Wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas last night and I opened my mouth to answer, only to realize I'd completely forgotten what it is I want. Been rackin' my head all day to recall, but no luck. Shame . . . it was a really cool thing to0! Damn, it sucks getting old! My brain (what little I started with!) is rapidly turning to mush. I figure by the time I hit fifty, The Wife will have to spoon feed me and put me on one of those kid-leashes when we go out so I don't wander away. (Mwahahah! That will be my final revenge upon her!) It's bizarre though, I mean: who the hell FORGETS what they want for Christmas? I'm thinking there's a bit too much chlorine in my family's gene pool, ya' know?

Okay, I know what you're all thinking: "Damn, what a dull post!" Well . . . okay. I did warn you though that December was my zero-stress, zoning out month. Hard to rant when you're being all Zen and shit. See, now that's funny to me . . . mixing words like "Zen and "shit" in the same sentence tickles my funny bone. I'm a little odd that way. Okay, I'm a little odd in a lot of ways . . . but it was very rude of you to point that out! I mean, I may be getting senile but I've still got feelings here! Don't laugh at the crazy old man . . . especially you, SRH! You ain't that far behind me son! ;-)


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Oddity of Love

I'm in an odd place today.

Odd in a good way, I mean. For some reason or another I've been thinking a lot about the folks I love lately (must be the season.) I've been thinking about what real love is, how to identify it, and why it's so important. I've got something about it bouncing in my head right now (no idea why!) and I think I need to run it down, so this here blog seems like a fair enough place to do so. Fair warning though: I don't know what I'm about to write, so it may come out as ridiculous drivel. Read on at your own risk!

My life is not like other folks. I watch folks who are always calling each other "sweetheart" and "snuggle-bunny" (YAK!) and I have to shake my head. I see them being overly polite to their loved one ("Honey, can I get you a beer? Can I wash your car for you?") and I keep saying to myself: "That relationship is doomed." Yea, I know . . . Dr. Phil says your supposed to be kind, caring, loving, and solicitous of our mate. Well, after eighteen years of marriage (20+ together) I can say with some practical authority that the man is full of crap. Lemme tell ya' about how The Wife and I work . . .

Like most couples, we have our own terms of endearment for each other: she calls me "asshole" and I call her "bitch" (The Boy made fun of us for it last night. Something about the joys of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Kid's a smart-ass! Funny . . . but a smart-ass!). If she ever offered to go get me a beer, I wouldn't drink the damn thing cause she'd likely put arsenic in it. She explained to a co-worker the other day that if I ever bothered to send her flowers, she'd know I was screwing around. Our idea of a romantic evening together is laying on the couch, under a comforter, watching "The Lion in Winter" for the 53rd time. (Ya' know: similar relationships!) People who meet us for the first time are usually horrified at the insults we hurl back and forth. They're usually waiting for us to end up in divorce court any day. Folks who know us well just laugh and tell us to shut up. The Wife and I aren't much for affectionate displays. We love each other desperately but it's not said in the ways most folks think of when talking about love. It's more subtle.

See, we never pass each other without touching; a hand on a shoulder or a squeeze of the butt cheeks . . . whatever. When we're in a crowd, our eyes always find each other and we'll stick out a tongue or just smile. When we walk together, we always hold hands (and we know the only comfortable hand position for both of us to do that!) When it's just the two of us, we can go for hours at a time without talking to each other and still be "together". She'll never fetch me a beer but if she's getting a glass of water, she always brings me one too, no questions asked. Love is spelled out in the little things. Oh, we both say "I love you" fairly regularly and that's an important thing, I guess, but for me the silly things mean a lot more. After twenty years, I can still make her laugh so hard she can't breathe. She can still smack my ego down with dry one-liners that are pure brilliance. Best of all: when we talk about the big things we'd still like to do with our lives . . . all the sentences start with the word "We". Oh, don't underestimate that word! It seems short and insignificant but it's the most important word in the language. I believe that all those charming couples I spoke of smother each other with their tender regards. They overload each other with the vapid romance crap until they are desperate for a little "me" time. They have to get away from their: "Widdle-Choochy-Bear-Of-Wuv!" before they die of asphyxiation! They run away, trying to find the "me" they lost before they have to put a bullet through their skull. Here's some romantic math for ya': Me + Me = We. Whereas: Us x 2 = Divorce.

Love is about being yourself, alongside someone being themself, and the both of you genuinely liking that other person. that's it. No more, no less. Let me tell you a little tale about The Wife that will sum up how our relationship works. When I was growing up I had nightmares every night of my life. Nasty, horrid, waking up in cold sweats, unable to move a muscle from fear type of nightmares. Lived with them up till my early twenties, when they mysteriously went away. It took me years to figure out why. It wasn't until a few years ago that I noticed that I still had the nightmares, but only when The Wife wasn't in bed with me. See, whenever she's really sick (ya' know: or royally pissed at me!) she will sleep in the guest room. That's when the nightmares come back. When she's there, I'm fine. I'm safe, and warm, and happy. When she's not . . . I'm all alone with the nightmares again. During the day, when I'm upset or sad, or whatever . . . she'll put a hand on my neck as she goes past me to do the laundry, and I feel better. There's a definition of love: when someone can make you feel completely warm inside just by being close. The romantic passions and drama are worthless. Find someone who sleeps on the floor beside your bed after you've had all your wisdom teeth pulled, or someone who will drive you 50 miles to work (one way!) in their pajamas every morning because you can't afford a car, and you've found real love.

Not sure why I needed to get that out, except 'Tis the Season and all that. Like I said yesterday, I'm focusing on my family this month and I'm not letting anything stress me out or distract me from that. Time is moving far too quickly for my liking and I'll be damned if I miss any more time with them than I absolutely have to. The Boy is heading for high school and already thinking about colleges and careers. The Wife and I are discussing retirement and how we'll live out our golden years. Too fast, folks. Muuuuccccchhhhh too fast! I'm taking the moments I can get, while they're around for the gettin'! I suggest you do the same.

Thanks for being patient with my rambling. Maybe tomorrow I'll make more sense.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Stream of Consciousness

Great Googa-Mooga, it has been a long couple of weeks! Sorry for the extended absence folks, but life was busy placing large boot to wide ass of your's truly!

For starters, the whole family's been sick on and off for the last three weeks. Beyond that, life has simply been crazy. Every night after work we've been running somewhere, every weekend has been a scheduled event or working on the house (or dying under a blanket with a fever!) Work . . . shit, it's just been one more level of insanity! Problems, nightmares, trainees . . . the usual BS.

Well, I did not make my NaNo goal this year (though I did churn out 35, ooo words which ain't too shabby!) I was a little behind because of the screwed up counter I was using, then the holiday and other crap hit and that was all she (or in this case: "HE"!) wrote. I'm not too upset with it actually. NaNo is a way to help you learn to write regularly and I'm fair-to-middlin' about that as it is. 30k a month is about standard for me anyway so it's not lack of AIC (Ass-In-Chair) that's holding me back. My real stumbling block is still the business end of things. I am NOT working hard enough at getting the novels edited and into the hands of agents/publishers. I write fairly regularly (though it'd be a lot more if I could do this full time!) I just have a feeling sometimes that I use the act of writing as a cover up for not submitting. I can tell myself I'm too busy "writing" to revise or submit. Gotta stop that. I can write a hundred novels and it won't mean crap for my career if I never get them out the door, now will it?

It is now December and I have made myself a promise: I ain't doin' a dam thing this month! The year has gone by in a blur and I intend to spend the last month of it at home, with my family. I ain't doing meetings, running, volunteering, working late . . . nothing! I need a break. I need some time to sit with The Wife and The Boy and just relax for a bit. I'll work on my house and do the Christmas shopping thing with them, but that's the only stuff that will get my ass out of the house for the rest of the year. Anything else . . . I just ain't a-gonna do 'er!

I'm going to continue working on "Tears" and I'm looking forward to finishing off "First" (hopefully before the end of Feb.) but beyond that I will not begin a new novel until I have completely revised and submitted all the ones I've already written. This is what I have as of today:

1. "Knights" - My first completed novel. Not publishable, but a good learning experience. Was supposed to be start of a series but . . . (shrug)

2. "Slayer" - My second completed novel. This is the one I've been querying on. It's 100% done and I've gotten some nibbles on it but I'm worried it may not be quite good enough.

3. "Fish" - First Draft done and better than 1/2 way through edits. My best work so far. I think this is probably my best shot at landing a contract so it's being bumped to top priority.

4. "Clans" - First Draft done but the idea of edits is daunting. Very long book (180k) and it's only book one of a series. Needs a LOT of editing but it's got some pretty original fantasy ideas (I think, anyway!)

5. "First" - The First Draft is about 90% complete but it's running long (already at about 120k). It will need a good bit of editing. It's also book one of a series. I like this one. It's not "cutting edge" fantasy or anything but I think it's got a good voice and plenty of action.

6. "Tears" - My new work for this years NaNo. Contemporary fantasy (sort of) that may be completely out of my league. I'm about 1/3 of the way through the First Draft.

I'm not including the other three novels I started, that died out at about 40k or so, or the dozens of short stories, etc. I've written (two published in paying markets, thank you very much!). All totaled though, that's a lot of writing for very little show. I will finish these last two novels and work on getting everything (except "Knights" of course) published. If none of them fly . . . well, I have to imagine that if I'm not publishable after close to a million written words, then I never will be. I won't be starting any new works until I have at least one of these published. There comes a point in any endeavor where you have to acknowledge your own limitations and admit that your talent doesn't match your dreams. I'm not at that point yet . . . but I think I see it hovering out there on the horizon. We'll see how it goes. Anyone wanna come along for the ride? :-)


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Go Shopping . . . NOW!!!!

People, people, people!!!!!

Good news running right now - Holly Lisle's "Talyn" has just hit the bookstores in paperback!

In case you've forgotten, I did my first (and only) online book review of this book a while back, thanks to Holly sending me an ARC of it. Let me be very clear on this folks: THIS IS THE BEST NOVEL I HAVE READ IN A VERRRRRRYYYY LONG TIME! This is one of the most remarkable, and believable, fantasy worlds I've ever had the pleasure to wander through. Trust me, you will LOVE this book. It is a powerful story. I was just at Holly's site and if this print run doesn't sell well, then the series may not make it to the third novel. That would be tragic beyond words. Her novels of Korre are tales in the caliber of Tolkien, Herbert, Martin, and Jordan . . . they have a breadth and depth that is staggering.

Please (for the sake of my inner reader, here!) PLEASE, go out and buy this book right away. The first month's sales are what will make the difference on future novels (click here to find out why). Trust me on this, it is the best coupla bucks you're gonna spend this year. Looking for a GREAT Christmas gift for someone who reads? This is the best book on the stands right now. Best one in the last decade, to be honest. If you like strong women characters with real emotions and a butt-load of common sense . . . "Talyn" is the book to buy.

Don't let this masterwork fade out, tell everyone you know about it . . . link to it on your site . . . shout it from the rooftop . . . get a "Talyn" tattoo on your forehead . . . ya' know: whatever it takes. :-)


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Taters and Such

Survived the weekend outdoors nicely, thanks.

The campout went really well, much fun was had by all. I got to cook me some turkeys over coals, deep-fried, and even one hanging inside a foil "box oven" (Yea, let's have the vegetarian cook the birds. Make sense, right?) It was a lot of fun though. Had to get creative with one of the birds I was supposed to fry. It was still frozen so that was not a viable option. (word of warning: NEVER try to deep fry a frozen bird, the oil will explode everywhere!) So we created a new category of bird called "Deconstructed Turkey". This entailed, hacking the bird into component pieces (legs, thighs, wings & splitting the breast) We wrapped each of these in foil, along with some onions and spices, threw them on the hot coals for about an hour and THEN took them out and moved them to the fryer for 20 or so minutes to finish them off. They were a really big hit. Folks loved the taste. (who knew?) The absolute, without question, unanimously elected, most marvelously wonderful, super-extra delicious treat of the whole day however: was our deep-fried tater skins. What is this you ask? Read and learn, my friends!

When you peel the potatoes this Thursday for your feast, do not throw them away! Instead, peel directly onto a good size sheet of foil, then dice up an onion (or two if you've a lage pile of skins) finely, and mix them in with the potato peelings. Toss on a touch of pepper and mix it all by hand. Fold up the foil and put the whole thing to the side for a few hours to meld the flavors. If you're deep frying the birds, then after they're done, take the skins and drop them (two hands full at a time - no more!) into the remaining grease. They cook up crispy in about 10 seconds and you remove them with a slotted spoon onto a cardboard box lined with newspapaer (or, ya' know: a plate with paper towels if you're not a savage like us!) Sprinkle HEAVILY with salt and repeat, tossing each layer of skins on top of the previous and dousing HEAVILY with the salt. When they're all cooked, dig in! For those of you not frying the bird, you could do this in a skillet with a few inches of oil -or an interior french frying thingy- just make sure it's super hot (400+ deg.) before you add in the skins. We use this as our treat for the "cooks". We don't share this with the guests, and we devour them as quickly as possible! We scarfed thirty pounds of skins in under five minutes. I'm telling ya: greatest snack on the planet! Think potato chips x 10, on the flavor scale!

In the end, we made seven birds, potatoes, yams, stuffing, veggies, corn bread, cranberry dressing, gravy, pies, cakes, cookies, hot apple cider and a few other odds and ends - in the woods, from scratch (mostly), and served over 100 people. The food was piping hot, tasted great, and afterward the boys put on a campfire and show for the guests as they enjoyed dessert. The boys done real good, didn't they Fred?

No writing this weekend at all. I WAS feeling pretty crappy by the time we got back on Sunday so I crashed that night, and last night as well. I'll catch up with a few big days though. That graph up top is DEFINITELY wrong! I am way the hell behind and I'm gonna have to really bust my hump to catch up if I wana finish my 50k this year. Wish me luck! Anyway, I'm off to write . . .


Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Update

Friday, and I am fighting off a nasty head cold that The Wife was kind enough to share with me. (ain't she a peach?) The best part of course is that I am camping this weekend. Nothing like sleeping out in damp, cold, air to really lock those sinuses down good and tight! It's our annual Boy Scout Thanksgiving Feast weekend. The Troop heads out tonight, sets up camp, and tomorrow we begin cooking (rustic style!) for what usually amounts to about fifty or so guests + the boys and leaders . . . say about 100 folks total. We use dutch ovens, box ovens, open fires and we deep-fry us some turkeys! We cook everything from scratch (mostly) and do it without ovens, microwaves, or electric can openers. You'd be amazed at how good it usually turns out. The boys (with a touch of supervision) can actually be pretty decent cooks. Following the feast, the boys build a large campfire and put on skits and songs to entertain their guests while they feast on all the pies, cobblers and other sundry desserts the boys supply. Sound corny and homespun? Well, maybe it is, but the boys put a lot of effort into it and it's a hell of a lot of fun!

Writing - Somehow, I screwed myself on Nano. (I think) I've been watching my little counter on the top of this page to keep track of how I was doing but I think it's wrong. It says I'm actually ahead in my word count but I'm pretty sure I'm behind by about 5K words. The weekend is shot already so I'll really have to kick it into high gear to make the 50K goal by the 30th. Tough, but not impossible. The novel I'm doing this year is an interesting one to write. It has two main characters who are leading parallel lives on opposite sides of the world. Of course, just for fun, one of them is a person and the other an elephant. Talk about shifting POV! It's going pretty well so far, though I know there's a lot of words going in, that will be cut later. That's the only real problem I see with NaNo . . . it's great for getting you in the writer's mindset of regular work but man, can you put down some extraneous verbage while doing it! So it goes. Anyway, gotta run. I'll be back next week to let you know how the weekend goes . . . and IF I make any progress on the book!


Monday, November 13, 2006

Summing Up

Hello, all!

Sorry for the missing days - NaNo and a VERY crzy week took all my time. We had somewhere to go every single night last week. It was ridiculous! I've managed to keep up with Nano, thatnks to a handful of 4,000+ word sessions so I'm still on track there. This weekend was also busy but entertaining so I won't complain (too much!) Friday night, The Wife went to a wake for the father of a co-worker. It was raining and in a very unpleasant area, so I drove her there. The Boy and I hung out in the min-van (yes, I drive one of those hell-beast vehicles) while she paid her respects. I got some work done on the novel (gotta love laptops!) and The Boy watched a DVD. GOt home just in time to watch the new BSG.

Saturday, running about all day with The Wife, while The Boy went to a Bar Mitzvah. Sat. night, we went to a local theater performance of the musical "1776", a personal favorite for both me and The Boy. Show was really well done and we stopped for a great dinner in a nice little restaurrant that we will definitely be returning to. Hard part of the night was to keep The Boy (okay, and ME!) from singing along with the show! Great family night!

Sunday, The BOy and his girlfriend wanted to go to the movies but they needed a ride and The Wife (overprotective oman that she is!) wouldn't let them go without adult escort so we went to see "The Santa Clause III". Not exactly what you'd call a great film. Had more fun watching the coming attractions actually. The Wife is dying to see "Happy Feet" (the dancing penguins?) with Robin Williams. That is the funniest man on the planet and I thought she was gonna pee her pants just watching the preview. Hopefully, it's not a case of showing the only funny scenes for the trailer . . .

Got hom in time to have some Chinese food for dinner and watch my Giants get their asses handed to them by Da' Bears. (sigh - me no happy!) Tonight: "Heroes" is on - a MUST watch for everone. Put it on (9:00 on NBC) Trust me on this, you'll love it! Ah well, the day ends and I gotta bail. Talk to you soon.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

We, the People

I’m taking some important time away from NaNo today because I have a confession to make. I’m a closet patriot and a voting geek.

When elections roll around I always vote. I’ve heard the arguments my whole life about how I’m wasting my time and how my vote won’t count for anything. (Believe me, my old man swore both parties were in collusion to screw him over personally!) I grew up on a diet of corruption, mistrust, and hatred of the government. Some of my earliest memories are of my old man watching the Watergate Hearings and cursing up a blue streak at the television. Nightly, my family watched the news and I saw the deadly farce of Vietnam play across the screen. I sat in gas lines, every other day, during a made-up “oil crisis”. I’ve lived my life in the shadows of Iran-Contra, The Cold War, Desert Storm, and Slick Willie getting a hummer from a pudgy intern. I’ve seen more corruption and vileness in my government than you could shake a stick at and you know what?

I still love it.

Last night the people of this nation made a statement. We made a major change in the structure of our government. Now, some folks reading may hate that change (I do not!) but here’s the thing that you need to keep in mind: WE made that change. Not some charismatic lunatic with a gun and a few hundred maniacs at his back. Not some multi-national conglomerate who put forth its giant hand to install its own puppet players into power. WE ,THE PEOPLE (great words, eh?) We made the choices of who would lead and we did it without violence, without revolution, or insurrection. We did it as the men who first assembled us under those amazing words: “We, the people . . .” meant us to. We made our decisions as a unified people. We chose those we felt best expressed our own personal values to represent us and we did it simply by showing up and voting. If that is not the height of human civilization, I don’t know what is.

In my head I can still hear my father telling me what a waste of time voting is. I could recite for you his hour-long litany of disgust with politicians and firm belief that the voters had nothing to do with who garnered power. I didn’t agree with him then and I sure as hell don’t agree with him now. I vote. Every chance I get: I vote. I take it as a very serious responsibility and I believe that every vote counts. If you voted yesterday, I want to say: “Thank You!” Thanks for doing your part in making this nation run. Thanks for putting forth your honest opinion (whether I agree with it or not!) and being someone I’m proud to stand beside as a citizen of the United States. Thank you for being a vital part of:

WE, THE PEOPLE . . . of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Quick Note


Quick progress report - missed writing on Sunday & only time for a few hundred words last night but I'm still (slightly) ahead of the game on NaNo. Had to change my graph at the top of the page cuz the one I had never seemed to work (on my browser at least). Work is crazy busy (of course!) and a lot of running at home so postings may be sparse.

Gotta run.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Circle of Life

NaNo is now in full swing! I'm off to a really good start (check out them numbers on the counter!) Been writing at lunch yesterday and today. I'm hoping to get some more time in tonight at home but we'll see how that works out. Last two nights were a lot of running around (Halloween + a vet appointment last night) The new novel, which I'm calling "Tears" for now is off to a good start, I think. I uploaded the first 1,000 words or so to my NaNo profile (JaCop) so anyone who wants to take a peak at it, feel free.

Halloween night was interesting. The Boy has a new "lady friend" (his first) that he invited over to go trick-or-treating with him and his buddies. She seems like a very nice young lady, and pretty cute too. The Wife is not sure she's ready for this though. The idea that her "baby" has a girlfriend is not going down smoothly. I give her credit though, she's handling it well (ya' know: on the outside!) but she's not thrilled. The Boy is taking her (the girlfriend, not The Wife!) to a dance this weekend, which I guess counts as his first formal-type date. It's pretty damn bizarre to think he's old enough to be interested in girls but I was thinking about it last night and I was exactly the same age as he is now when "the madness" first hit me. My advice to him:

"Run, boy! Run fast as ya' can and never look back! If they sinks their claws in ya'. . . ya're don fer life!"

Well . . . maybe that ain't what I said, but it was something like that, I'm sure. Actually, The Boy is a polite young man with a good head on his shoulders and I imagine he's gonna do just fine with a girlfriend. As long as he remembers that school and responsibilities come first there won't be any problems (and I won't have to kill him!)

I imagine there are gonna be some gaps in my posting this month (I imagine ther's a lot of that going on) because of NaNo. When I'm faced with the choice of writing the blog or doing the novel, I'm gonna have to go with the novel. The good thing is, the tickers at the top of the page'll keep moving so you'll know I'm not dead or anything, even if you don't hear from me for a few days.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pumpkins and Such

Hello, all!

Had a really fun weekend with the Scouts, even though I thought we might need an Ark on Friday night! The sky opened up as we were driving down and it didn't let up for a single moment (no exaggeration!) until about 11:00 Sat. morning. It was the most relentless storm I've ever seen! The winds were whipping all over and the rain actually created a small river through the middle of our campsite. The boys were great! They got all the tents and troop gear/tarps, etc. set up in under 20 minutes in the pouring rain and dark. Amazing to watch them move! Saturday we built our catapults and proceeded with our "Pumpin Chunkin" competition. We had events for accuracy, distance, and speed loading. The boys had a blast . . . must have destroyed nearly 200+ pumpkins throughout the day. When it was done, the boys took care of cleanup and I have to say that the sites were cleaner when we finished than when we started. After the event, we had a LOT of leftover pumpkins so we also held a pumpkin carving/painting competition. I was amazed at how good some of these kids were at carving! At the campfire that night we lit up all the jack-o-lanterns (about 25 or so) and it looked like a professional display. It was really cool.

One of the other adult and I took some of the left over pumpkins and decided we were going to cook something with them. We hadn't planned on anything beforehand, so we did an impromptu version of what we dubbed: "Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie". We didn't have all the ingredients for a traditional pie but we improvised and turned out two dutch ovens full of what the boys called: "the best pumpkin pie they ever had!" Gotta say, I was impressed my own self! It's amazing what you can do with a little flour, butter, and cinammon!

So, NaNo starts tonight at midnight. I'm all ready and raring to go: got my counters on the blog, the outline for the story is (mostly) done and now it's writing time! I love the freedom of NaNo. I get to write without thought for anything other than the story itself. I can just let it flow out of me as fast as my little fingers can tap the keys on the laptop. I'm looking forward to it. Of course, I just got an e-mail from The Wife teling me how busy we are this month. We have things scheduled for every single weekend and at least two nights each week already! Finding NaNo time is going to be rough but I will make this happen. The contractor killed me last year and I had to tank on the process (else "First" would have been 100% done by now!) but I means to git 'er done this year, come hell or high water! Keep an eye on the tickers at the top of the page!

I had fun last night helping The Boy with his school project (ya' know: the one I bitched about in Friday's post?) They have to create a fictional civilization, complete with religions, government, architecture, etc. It was a great world-building exercise. We spent a good two hours of me asking him questions about his society and him coming up with the answers about how their religion came into being, who runs the government, how did it develop, what's the society's feelings on education, etc. And here I thought all these years of working on fantasy novels had been pointless exercises in geekdom! I finally found a practical use for my weird little brain. (and it was cool to just spend the time working with The Boy!) After that, we watched "Heroes" on NBC (our new 2nd favorite show - BSG is still #1, but this one totally rocks!) Everyone who writes fiction should sit down and watch this program. It's like a great graphic novel brought to life before your eyes. It holds to comic book tradition with its episodic nature, and the slow build up of tension and dribbling of facts/foreshadowing of events is wonderful. This is just really good story telling. The Boy pointed out that there is a potential for problems with this show though. There are so many characters working, each with very detailed story lines, that it could easily become too complex to follow. So far though, they've done an excellent job of keeping it flowing well. Great stuff!

Oh, and lest I forget . . .



Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy Crap!

I know I've said it before, but teachers are way the hell out of control with homework! Now, I'm not opposed to homework in general but the thing that kills me are the "projects" they assign where the kids have to get together in groups to do outside of school. Case in point: we're camping with the Scouts this weekend (first time in a long time!) and it's a really cool event The Boy is looking forward to. Last night (Thurs.) I get home from work and The Boy tells me his teacher assigned a huge group project that's due next Friday. This means he has to get together with the rest of the group this weekend and can't go camping.

Well, I just about lost my mind. I started cussin' and hollerin' about teachers and how inconsiderate they are. Do these people not realize something like this disrupts the life of an entire family? People have trips, vacations, family commitments, sports, and other children to worry about on the weekends. Having one of them slammed with an out-of-school project at the last minute is just plain wrong! I have no problem with projects. Make them individual ones where he can do the work on his own time. Group work should be limited to school time so that people have an opportunity to have an actual family life. Like most folks today, The Wife and I both work full time jobs and we don't get home until almost 6:00 pm. By the time we cook dinner, eat, take care of homework, clean up the house, take out the trash, etc. it's almost 9:00 pm (on a good night!). That leaves us (maybe) an hour a day to spend as a family. The weekends are crazy enough as is but they're the ONLY time I get to spend with my wife and son. I really resent teachers taking up that time with "projects" that mean The Boy is gone for 4-8 hours in a day! He already did one last weekend for a different class. It's friggin' insane!

Well, the good news is The Wife and I did a little creative scheduling after closely looking at the instructions for the project, so The Boy can actually go camping. (yay!) Of course, it means he's going to have to do a ton more homework this week but such is life. It still irks me though. I get the point that in the "real" world kids will have to work last minute projects on tight deadlines, etc. but that will come all too soon as it is. How about we let folks at least have their weekends free to be a family, eh? There's some "Family Values" that make some damn sense for once!

Ah well, done bitching now.

On other fronts: The Dog has been feasting on cat poop this week. Oh yes, there is no joy like sticking your hand in a puppy's mouth to see what she's chewing on and coming up with a palm full of masticated feline feces! Oh, the wonderful aroma of cat crap mixed with dog saliva is a joy I will carry with me through all my days! (yak!) It was friggin' vile beyond words. Of course, The Wife (who, BTW, was the one who told me to get whatever The Dog was chewing on out of her mouth. Accident? Hmmmm . . .) was so busy laughing her ass off at me, that she was no help whatever in the cleanup process. Oh, the WHOLE family was vastly amused by my adventures in kitty doo-doo! So, yesterday, The Wife (brilliant woman that she is!) empties the cat box and rather than walk the five steps to the garbage can with the bag (It was too cooooollllddd!) she drops it on the back porch, meaning to pick it up later. Well, "later" never came and The Boy let The Dog outside to take care of her own business and voila! What wonderful, tasy, morsels of chewy goodness did she discover? The bag of cat shit, of course! This time it was even better, since the crap was all nicely mixed in with cat litter. I'm thinking it was kind of like a peanut covered tootsie roll . . . all crunchy on the outside with a chewy chocolate center! MMMMMMM!!!! Good eats! Now it was my turn to laugh. I had nothing to do with the whole scene and refused to become involved. I'd done my time in ca-ca hell and I wasn't goin' back!

Nasty stuff. I will leave you with those lovely images as I head off for a weekend of sleeping in cold tents while the rain comes down by the bucket outside. Sadly, I'm going to love that . . .


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Game Show

As you all probably know by now, I live in NewJersey, which (according to MSNBC) is about to becomes: " . . . the gay wedding chapel" of the United States. Now, as a lifelong resident of NJ I'd like to give you an idea of how most NJ Residents feel about this issue:

We don't give a damn!

Listen, most folks here in the Garden State support gay marriage. (Most folks I know do, and polls place the number at about 60% in favor of) Why is this even a discussed issue? How does two people (of any sex!) getting married in any way lessen, threaten, or invalidate my own wedding vows? Let's look at the question here from a "traditional" standpoint in a lovely game I like to call:

FAMILY FEUDAL! (Oh, c'mon! that's clever!)

Question #1: The Wife and I love each other. Is it alright for us to marry? (100 people polled . . . number one answer is . . . YES ding-ding-ding!!!)

Question #2: Does anyone wanna hear the details of our sex life? (Answer says . . . GOOD GOD, NO!!!!!)

Question #3: Well, The Wife and I can't have children. Is it okay if we still get married and have sex anyway? (Survey says . . . Sweet Jesus, Man! Yea, sure . . . do whatever you want just never-ever-never bring up the subject of your sex life again!)

Question #4: How about if, since we're married, we pay our taxes together and name each other beneficiaries on our insurances? (Umm . . . the IRS says no survey needed. Answer is always: YES!)

Final Question: We're not Christian and we won't be married in a church. Does that mean our marriage doesn't count? (Final answer, for the whole enchilada: an all expenses paid vacation to the corner grocery store! 100 people surveyed . . . Answer is: What are you, Jim, some kinda dumb-ass? Nearly 40% of the people in this country are married by judges and mayors. Religion is a personal matter, not a legal one! Of course your marriage counts!)

Well, there you have it folks. I'd win on Family Feudal! Of course, if I were a woman looking to marry The Wife, a huge chunk of folks in this nation would give different answers to those simple questions. That's predjudice, bigotry, and hate any way you slice it. People should marry whoever they damn well please and everyone who opposes them should drink a nice big glass of: "shut the fuck up!" The NJ Supreme Court is supposed to hand down a decision on this today and I hope they do the right thing and afford everyone equal rights under the law. Will this make all the gay couples in the nation move to NJ? I doubt it, but even if it does: what the hell do I care? I don't know what my current neighors do in their bedrooms, nor do I want to. Marriage is marriage. It's two people deciding to build a life together.

In legal terms: a partnership. The law is very explicit on the fact that you can't bar ANYONE from being part of a partnership. Why is this topic still being discussed? It should have ben shot & left for dead years ago.

Anyway, that's my rant for the week. Tomorrow: back to my usual drivel.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Twisted Brilliance

Why is it that women will listen to everyone on the planet except for their husband? The Wife is the queen of this! I can tell her something thirty times, with six pages of written proof, a slideshow, and a signed affadavit from God Almighty (in triplicate!) and she'll just roll her eyes and ignore me. Let the drunken bum lying in his own vomit on the corner tell her the same thing though and she's all ears. (Sigh!) I'm fairly sure it's just a reflex action from her resentment of my always being right. (Ha! It's good to be the blog writer!)

On Sunday, we went to pick up The Boy from a friend's house and she stepped in a small hole in their lawn, twisting her ankle pretty solidly. She limped back to the car and I told her that when we got home, she should elevate it and put ice on it to stop the swelling. She replied with her infamous eye-rolling and chose to ignore my sage advice, continuing her usual mad-dash routine when we got home (Well, she IS Super Woman, after all!) Yesterday, the ankle was swollen up like a balloon and she was in a lot of pain. In the morning I told her once more to ice the damn thing . . . and got more eye-rolling for my troubles. She goes to work, shows it to one of the nurses at the hospital, and gets remarkable medical advice from someone with years of training and experience that far outweighed my paltry attempts at helping. Wanna guess what they told her to do?

"Go home, elevate it, and put some ice on that damn thing!"

Wow. Sure am glad there was somebody around to give her such smart advice! Of course, since she heard it from ANYONE who wasn't me, she left work early and went home to take care of the ankle. (Sigh, yet again!)

Writing: I've got most of my NaNo novel plotted out and I'm working on the chapter breakdowns for it. Still not feeling very confident on this one but I figure it's kind of like sex: very intimidating at first but you'll never know how wonderful it can be unless you try. It will either be a complete flop of a novel or something wonderful. I don't see this one falling into a middle ground. (Hmmm . . . Premature Novelization?)

The weekend went well, we went to my brother's for dinner Saturday and had a wonderful time. My entire family was there (and there are a LOT of us!) It was loud, crazy, and damn funny! One thing I will give to my clan: we're all a little nuts but we've got a fine sense of humor. Stories, jokes, and inappropriate observations were flying all over the place. Most of the younger generation are now in their teens/early twenties so they're old enough to participate in the conversations and it really made it fun. (Fresh audience for old stories! Very cool!) What a great bunch of kids! They're all smart, funny, and a lot of fun to hang with. We ate much, drank much, and laughed much. If there's a better definition of a good time, I don't know what it is!

Oh, and my Giants laid a whoopin' on the Cowboys last night, so life is good today!


Friday, October 20, 2006

Dull Post Friday

It's Friday and I'm feeling MUCH better. Sleep is the key to all illness! I just crashed the last two nights, skipped my workouts, and just let the body fix itself. Right now I'm feeling good. Still have a little tickle in my sinuses but that's aout all. Hopefully it won't come back.

Things are going really well on my outline for NaNo this year. I decided to take the general plot and push it through the filter of Campbell's "The Hero's Journey". It's working nicely. The story altered itself into something a lot more dramatic as soon as I started working it inside that framework. I actually wound up shifting the entire novel to a completely different locale and that really changed the story (for the better, I hope!) This will be a tough write for me. The MC's are really outside my own areas of experience so I'm really going to have to push to make it work.

On other fronts . . . well, there aren't any other fronts at the moment. Things have been pretty quiet at home (for a change!) and I haven't paid attention to much besides my illness for the past two days. This weekend will be another crazy one. Fundraiser for Boy Scouts tomorrow a.m., then dinner at my brother's tomorrow night. Sunday, the boy has a friend coming over to do a school project and I'm fairly sure the wife has something else planned for me to do. If not, I may get a little more work done on the house (minor stuff - it's FOOTBALL day after all!) The big thing I want to do is get the last of the trim for the upstairs purchased. We need to buy, and stain, it so that I can finally put this damn renovation to rest! We (as in: The Wife!) has been meaning to do the staining for months now but it hasn't happened yet (That's a subtle hint, dear!) She claims to have been too busy doing EVERYTHING else around the house (by herself, of course!) but I ain't buyin' it! Hell, there's 3-4 hours every night where she does nothing but lay in bed and snore! Talk about lazy!! (That's a joke, babe . . . put down the knife. No, really . . . Put it down!!!)

Umm . . . gotta run far away now!!!!


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Not feeling good today. I'm coming down with a cold or something. My neck aches and my throat is raw. Never fun. I'm thinking tonight is a crash in front of the fire and read night. That, followed by bed, is all I have in mind right now.

Scouts last night, followed by a long talk with The Boy over his attitude. Nothing major, just the typical teenager type of stuff. Funny thing is (not funny ha-ha, but funny weird, ya' know?) was that a lot of his issue comes from trying to be like me (his own words, not my opinion!) at the same age. He wants to show he can be as "independent" as I was. (SIGH!!!) I had to explain to him I wasn't "independent" by choice. My home life was so screwed up I moved out on my own at 14.

It wasn't fun, it wasn't good for me, and it certainly isn't something I want him even considering! I took great pains to explain to him just how badly that had screwed up my entire life. He was shocked to find I'm still struggling with a lot of the fears from back then today. Silly child thinks I actually have complete control of my life and thinks I learned that by being on my own so young. OOOOYYYYY!!!!! I think he got the idea though. I finished the conversation by explaining that I didn't want our relationship to go bad, the way it did between me and my father. I was glad to hear he didn't want that either! He agreed to tone things down a bit and I promised not to be quite so "in his face" over silly things. (I exempted school, safety, and legal stuff from the promise!)

Anyway, I got more work done on my NaNo outline. I'm shooting for an 80,000 word novel this time around and having the outline solidly done is gonna be key to getting it all done in 30 days (yea, I'm delusional . . . told you I was sick today!)


Monday, October 16, 2006

Triple the Fun!!

Friday was a good day.

I don't mean: chili and beer, watchin' the game in peace kinda good either . . .

I'm talking about: sky box seats at the Super Bowl, with two exotic dancers giving you a hot-oil rubdown while a third feeds you peeled grapes dipped in Dom Perignon, kinda good!!!!!

Well, maybe not THAT good but it was still pretty damn cool. Had me a smile on my mug the entire day! See, there's a legal statute on the books here that says if the judge feels a contractor has acted with "intent to defraud" a client, the court may award damages up to triple the figure named in the suit.

Guess what the judge did after reviewing everything?


TRIPLE damages for all the nightmares the contractor put us through! We were thrilled. Hell, even my attorney was surprised by the judge's decision. He said it's not commonly done, but The Wife had done such a great job of detailing the Who/What/When/Where of everything that happend, the judge didn't even hesitate. Now of course, there comes the actual issues of getting the money back but that's what the attorneys are there for. I'm not worrying over it, I'm just glad to know that justice has been properly served. So, that should be the last you'll hear me whining about the contractor (and I'm sure you're relieved!) The next you'll hear about it is if/when we receive the money he stole from us.

The rest of the weekend went really well too. We took The Boy and a friend of his who's also interested in the "private" high school to the open house and we were all really impressed. It's a remarkable program: totally focused on advanced math and science (which The Boy loves!) and it also has a remarkable campus and learning opportunities I don't think he'll get anywhere else. He's very excited about it and we're moving forward in the application process. The Wife was a little bit freaked to be walking about a school campus with my son. I think she was visited by the "Ghost of College Yet to Come" and didn't like the idea at all!

Sunday was a family party at my sister-in-law's house. It went really well and everybody had a good time. We brought The Puppy with us and I discovered the universal theorem of contentment quite by accident. It reads like this:

( six children + one puppy / One Large Yard) x five hours = happiness

The kids had a blast playing with her and she was about the happiest puppy on the planet. She didn't stop for one minute all day and then when we got her back into the car, she (literally!) got up on the seat, lay down, and passed out for the entire ride home. She didn't even move until we were back in the driveway! We lucked out with The Puppy - she's great with people and with other dogs. Funny thing: The Wife is totally shocked by the fact that I really like The Puppy. We've had cats ever since we married and I've never warmed up to the things. Been telling her for 17 years I'm just not a cat person, that I like dogs, but she never bought it. She's been operating under the assumption that I'm just an evil, cold-hearted, bastard. (Which I am, but I'm an evil, cold-hearted, bastard that likes dogs!)

Notice my new NaNo icon at the top of the page? This is so you can all keep track of my progress as I work through November (and laugh when I fall behind!) Who else is hitting NaNo this year? Hopefully all of you! If anyone's interested, my handle for NaNo is: JaCop . . . so you can add me to your "Writing Buddy" lists, or whatever. Throw your name in comments and I'll add you to my list. (I've already got Nienke!) Been doing some rough plotting for the NaNo book already (i.e. day-dreaming, much to The Wife's annoyance!) I'm just about ready to start the outline though. I think I've got the bulk of the story arc worked out now. I want a printed guide this time so I can get the bulk of this novel done in the 30-day time frame. Who knows? If things go well, maybe I can get the whole thing done in one month! (Yea, and I may learn to fly too!) Ah well, writers dream . . . it's what we do!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

NaNo Cometh!

Got my e-mail reminder that NaNoWriMo is starting up again on November One. I hadn't been planning on doing it this year but yesterday I got this really wonderful idea for a novel that I'd love to jump into. I was only half-seriously considering starting it, because I'm still working on "First" and it's something completely outside my traditional fantasy genre. Then I got the invite fo NaNo and the little light bulb went off above my head. Timing is everything, eh?

Here's the issue: (and I know I've touched on this before so I apologize for boring you!) I've been really wondering if I'm working in the wrong field. I love fantasy . . . or, I used to. See, I grew up on it and it's the section of the book store I always stop at first. Over the last few years though, there's been very few fantasy works that I've liked (exception: anything by Holly Lisle. I learned about her from her blog and she writes amazing stuff. If you haven't picked any of her work up, go do so immediately!) most of them are just . . . flat. They're predictable and lack the sense of wonder that made fantasy so much fun for me. That's bad, but worse than that is: my own books seem just as flat. They just aren't fun. I read them and say "That's pretty good." instead of "Wow, that's cool!". I've really never written much besides fantasy because that's what I knew best.

And therein may lie the problem.

I'm thinking that I've become so familiar with the "rules" of fantasy that I'm not able to break through to anything original. "Fish" is the only thing I've ever written that isn't fantasy based (it's a contemporary fiction novel with a dark fantasy twist) and -while it's not perfect- it's the best thing I've written. This new novel would be something along the same lines, with more of a literary tint to it. It actually scares me to think about trying to write this one. Strangely, I believe that fear is a good thing; it tells me I'm looking at something that's an actual challenge. NaNo is a perfect opportunity to try it out. A one month burst, to see if I have it within me to even get close to writing this type of novel. At worst: I take a short break from "First" and get my brain cleared out to finish it up. At best: maybe I'll discover that fantasy isn't my genre and I've been missing my hidden greatness all this time! (Hey, it's my blog! I'll dream out loud if I want to, dammit!) Really though, I just feel like I need to try something different. The fantasy writing is not inspiring me the way it used to. I feel like I do my best work in a modern setting, with a bit of my own humor thrown in (ya' know: like dis here blog!) I've been thinking a lot about it lately and I'm going to at least give it a shot.

So, bring on the NaNo, baby! I'm in again this year!!!

On other fronts: I'm off to court tomorrow to finalize the legal proceedings against my contractor. (yay!) I'll let you know how it goes, come Monday. Then I have a meeting with a group of Church Ladies (real ones!) tomorrow night, that should take forever. Saturday is going to be crazy: taking The Boy to an open house for a "private" high school he's interested in atttending and then I'm pretty sure we have to do something that night, though I don't remember what. (The Wife will tell me. I just follow her and say "Yes, Dear." a lot!) Sunday will be working on the house again (and watching football of course!) So, I'm outta here until Monday once more rears its vile head to drain all pleasure and hope from my life . . .


Monday, October 09, 2006

Evil Scales

Monday once again. Yes, that overflowing cess pool of a day has yet again spewed its foul offal upon our heads.

Happy frikkin' Monday.

Weekend was alright though . . . I got my 2nd gas fireplace installed (woo hoo!) and did some other minor crap about the house. Also did a lot of running, looking for lamps. Hours. . . looking . . . for . . . LAMPS!!!!! Once more, we can see the difference between the male and female of the species. We have different approaches to purchasing anything:

THE WIFE: "Do you like this one? I don't know, it's too short . . . and the color may not go with the drapes. What about that one, with the rod iron flowers? Oh good, you like it too? Wait . . . I don't like the shade. It's oval, not round . . ."

And on, and on, and on . . .

ME: "Can I put a light bulb in it? Good, then buy the damn thing!"

See? We just think different!

What else is going on? Well, BSG was friggin' (or frakkin' if you prefer!) awesome on Friday. The writers have got some big brass ones with the story changes they're attempting this season. One thing I found fascinating is the (not very subtle) reversal of roles they're pulling about Western morality. See, in this show: the GOOD guys are reduced to using suicide bombers and other terror means to fight off the BAD guys. Of course, even the bad guys have some good folks among them, but they are smacked down hard and fast for trying to help the good folks. (i.e. via a bullet to the head) The bad guys are convinced that peace can only be achieved through use of extreme force and at any price: even torture, murder, and illegal arrests. Sounds familiar, eh? Can't say I agree with all the points being made but I think it's a good think for folks to take a minute and look at things from both sides. Okay, so their applying the morality lesson with a sledgehammer; but it's STILL damn compelling TV!

Diet, exercise, etc. is still going strong (for once!) and I'm feeling good. Scales are evil things . . . I have to learn to ignore it. It tells me I haven't lost any weight over the last two months but that just ain't so! All my clothes are falling off, I can see the change in my face and even The Wife pointed out the other day that most of my paunch was gone (Welllll . . . a good portion of it, anyway!) My waist size has dropped at least four inches (maybe more!) and I can feel the difference in everything I do but the scale still says: "Nope, you're a lard ass, Jim!"

Well, fuck you too, Mr Scale!

Only thing I can figure is the exercise. The Wife tells me muscle weighs more than fat and I have seen a good bit of change in that arena as well so I'll have to take the brilliant lady's words for it. it don't matter really, point is: I just feel good . . . but it sure would be nice to say: "Damn, I lost me some weight!"


Friday, October 06, 2006

The Crazy Fade

Friday's here at last! Thank f@#$ing God!

What a crazy week it's been. Hardly a moment to breathe. Well, my requested partial got another form rejection (sigh) I'm thinking what I need to do is stop dragging this out and send the queries to every agent on my list at once. What's that you ask? Why haven't I done that already? Well . . . how the hell should I know??? What, you think maybe I have a brain or something? If you've been reading this blog you should know better! Seriously though, I'm worrying that "Slayer" is not really ready for publication. It's an early work of mine that I had set aside, then rewrote last year. I thought I could fix the glaring flaws in it but I'm thinking it may not have been salvageable after all. I'm thinking: one more round of queries, then put it aside and move my focus onto "Fish". Well, at least I got some work done on "First" this week: 1,300 words on Wed. night and another 2,500 at lunch today. (to make up for last night's crazy running about!) I'll try to get another 1,200 tonight but I have to knock off by 9:00 . . . it's the season premiere of BSG! Oh, yea! The Boy and I are big-time excited!

Anyway, stealing an idea from Lynn, over at Spilling Ink, I thought a little poetry would be in order today. Here's one I did about ten years back that still makes me smile, so I figgered it'd be something to leave you pondering on a dull, rainy, Friday (hereabouts, anyway!)


by JA Coppinger
All Rights Reserved

The ebbing mass of electrons ride
high upon the pulsing tide
of data dreams
and cyber-screams
that leave minds light
on gigabyte
and steals our souls away.

We worship the mouse
and yet, all grouse
of electro-demand
and time's running sand.
Of the microbrain
that drives us insane
and drains all our joys away.

Our keyboards clack
beneath finger's attack
while we digitize
with compu-strained eyes
and adjust baud rates
while cursing Lord Gates
who's taken our wallets away.

So we sit in our chairs
with our blank, vacant, stares
and we curse at the screen
not quite sure what we mean
and we'll all double-click
'til it makes us quite sick
and the men come to take us away.

And each day they get faster
with more vector and raster
while we're all too outdated
to be PC-World rated
and the machines curse at us
through their billion watt bus
as they take our whole world away.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Tao of Tea

I am new to the drinking of tea.

Growing up, my parents did not serve hot beverages to their children (I'm fairly sure we weren't worth the cost of the gas to warm the water!) other than the occasional hot chocolate (read: nasty, brown, water!) in a styrofoam cup at the local high school football game. When I was 18 or so, I took a job framing homes . . . in January! (Don't ask!) It was un-frikkin-believably cold. I'm fairly sure the average temps for that year were around . . . negative infinity! I spent my morning chiseling ice off of boards that were frozen together so we could work. The only salvation for my cramped, cracked, screaming-in-agony hands was the arrival of the lunch wagon at 10:00 am each morning. As the new guy, it was my job to get coffee, rolls, etc. for all the rest of the crew. Now, I never intended to start drinking coffee (I thought it tasted vile at the time!) but it was the only thing the lunch wagon had that was HOT!!!! I'd get a cup every morning, just to hold it in my hands so I might feel my fingers again. After a few days I realized it would help warm up everything if I actually drank it. Soon after I was a solid coffee addict. For the last twenty years I was noted for walking about with an insulated mug that held an entire pot of coffee (and kept it warm for 6+ hours too!). I was a coffee guy, with no desire for the tasting of prissy things such as tea! Men - REAL men- drink coffee! We drink it strong, black, and steaming, by the bucket full!

Until we drastically change our lifestyles and eating habits, that is. One of the things I found was that many of the medical issues I was having were directly related to the amount of coffee I drank. (Duh!) So, along with the vegetarian thing I gave up all the coffee. (Oh, and it HURT! Caffeine withdrawal is an uuuuugggggglllllyyyyyy thing!) Which brings me (finally!) back to my original point . . .

I'm new to the drinking of tea.

It's a whole new experience for me. You see, tea is calming. Tea is relaxing and settling. Tea is sort of like a massage in a cup. When you're done with a cup of tea, you let out a satisfied sigh and stretch, a small smile on your face as you move back to work. This is the exact opposite of what I'm used to. Coffee (at least the way I make it!) is like jet fuel. It ignites in your system, peels your eyelids back, and launches you into the day like someone had shoved an Acme Rocket up your ass and lit the fuse! Of course, the after effects of the coffee are similar to any use of Acme products you've seen in a Roadrunner cartoon . . .

I'm thinking I like this tea thing. It's . . . civilized! Guess the Brits do still have a few things to teach their American cousins, eh?

Actually, I desperately needed the calming effects of my tea today. Last night's meeting did not go well at all and by trying to keep peace between two pissed off men, all I managed to do was get them both pissed off at me! (I feel like the frikkin' U.N. today!) Both felt that I didn't support their stance the way I should have, so neither is pleased with me at the moment. Ah well, it's not devestating I guess. They'll both get past it but I still think I did right, trying to get them to let go of their anger and focus on solving the issue itself. (Can't we all just get along?) The meeting (which was supposed to be one hour) lasted FOUR hours last night so I got no writing done. I came home and collapsed on the couch; spent from dealing with the most uncomfortable meeting in history!

See! Now I need another cup of tea! (Go to a happy place, Jim! Got to a happy place . . .)


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Playing Catch-Up

Howdy, all!

How's things? The weekend went pretty well . . . I actually got some work done on the house for the first time in months! I built the frame for my upstairs fireplace mantel and I installed a gas fireplace in my basement. Anybody else have one of these? Holy CRAP! These bad-boys throw some heat! On the lowest setting, with the blower off, it heated my entire basement from about 60 deg. to 80+ in under 15 minutes. Installation wasn't too bad, though I did do a lot of cursing about my contractor while doing it. He had run the rough piping for the gas line but (of course!) it was all wrong and I wound up having to rip it all out and redo the entire thing (about 15 ft. of black pipe, valves, etc.) At least it all went right on the first try . . . NOT usually the case when I'm doing piping work of any kind.

On the writing front, I did 1,500 words on Friday night (yay, me!) and took the weekend off as always. Monday a.m. I woke up feeling completely punk (I wanted to call out of work desperately) but I had a trainee coming in so it was: "off to ye olde salt mines!" for me. I just felt worse as the day went on and when I got home last night, crashed on the couch and didn't move other than to light my new fireplace (sweet!) pull a blanket over me and flip the occasional TV channel. I tried to get in a good night's sleep last night but my wife did not cooperate. For some ungodly reason, she got up at 4:30 this a.m. and proceeded to take the dog out, shower, get ready, etc. She was so damn loud about all of it she woke up everyone in the house. I (being somewhat tired and a wee bit cranky) just growled at her before pulling the covers back up over my head. She left for work early today -so I assume there was a reason for all this- but I have no idea what it was. She didn't say she was going in early or anything. I'm sure she'll give me the full explanation tonight (while I give her an earful about being considerate of those of us who DON'T have to get up so early! Especially when we're not feeling good!) The whole wake up thing threw my whole morning off. I was so tired I slept through my morning workout and just got up, showered, and headed for work. I believe we have discussed my need for a set routine before - I don't handle dissruptions well.

Anyway, I'm feeling much better today (though still tired, Dear!!!). Work is not as crazy as yesterday and I'm hopeful that whatever was making me feel crappy is fading away. Maybe it's just the changing season.

Tonight is a Boy Scouts night and I have a Committee Meeting (that's the adults who help run the program) of which I am the Chairman and there's going to be some unpleasantness so I'm not looking forward to it. There's a few issues that are going to put some folks backs up, so I'll be playing peacemaker most of the night. I imagine I'll be exhausted afterward and just come home to crash but one never knows: I may be all wired and have pleanty of energy for writing. We shall see.

So, there's my weekend catch-up post. (I know: compelling writing, ain't it?) More on the 'morrow.


Thursday, September 28, 2006


( A special post for SRH)

Today, I want to talk to you about something near and dear to my heart. I'd like to talk to you about CBS.

No, not the television conglomerate, but something infinitely more important to our daily lives. The CBS I'm referring to stands for the:
Corrective Bitch Slap.

Far too often in our crazy, runabout, lives we are faced with the rampant stupidity of our fellow travelers on this hurtling piece of space debris we call Earth. Because of the hectic pace of modern life, we are not able to take sufficient time to explain to these poor, ignorant, souls exactly why they are such incredible morons. Despite our best intentions, we -all too often- allow them to continue on their way without correcting the glaring idiocy that they are radiating to everyone around them.

All because we don't have enough time to explain it to them. Isn't that heartbreaking?

That's where CBS comes in. In a situation where rampant stupidity is displayed, you can simply use the palm of your hand to strike the back of the offender's skull as hard, and as fast, as you can while saying the three letters: "CBS!" out loud. The ignorant fool is made instantly aware of just how moronic they are being and you can go about your day, having wasted little -or no- time, feeling good about having made a change for the positive in our world. Consider this scenario as an example . . . we'll take two office workers named Joe and Jim in a typical conversation.

Joe: "Hey, Jim, did you make the changes to those files like I asked you to for my meeting today?"

Jim: "Well, let's see . . . did you ever e-mail them to me like I asked you to?"

Joe: "Uhhhh, no . . . but I need them for a meeting in ten minutes!"

Jim: <smack!!> CBS.

You see how much time a simple CBS can save in a situation like this? Instead of spending all the time before the meeting explaining to Joe why he's an idiot, Jim is able to move on to the work and Joe is made to realize -instantly- just what a fool he's been.

Let's consider a second example . . . a typical traffic acident on any major highway.

Driver 1: "Lady, you drove up my ass, cut off four cars to get to the left hand lane, then cut back across three lanes to get off at the exit that was only 3oo feet from where you started, side-swiping me in the process!"

Driver 2: "Well, I'm in a hurrrrry!!!! My poodle has a 2:30 hair dresser appointment and if we're late, Madam Fifi just goes all to pieces!"

Driver 1: <smack!!> CBS.

Once more, a simple CBS brings reality home in an instant.

I am here today to ask you to make the effort to apply the principles of a CBS in your own home and community. If we all band together, we can make huge strides in the elimination of blatant stupidity from our daily lives. Apply a CBS to your boss, a friend, co-workers . . . even your own children if they're in danger of being a complete dumb-ass. Remember: a CBS today may help prevent tomorrow's idiocy.

Do it for the ones you love. Do it for your own sanity.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled lives.

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you courtesy of W.A.S.P. (Writers Against Stupid People), Northeast U.S. Chapter. Any resemblance to real stupid people ,or events, is wholly intentional and anyone complaining about it will be subjected to their own CBS, so piss-off before I get violent and sick a platypus on your ass. Trust me, you do not want a ticked off platypus coming after you!

(Is that enough of a rant for you, SRH?)