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.