Monday, September 29, 2008

Because I Listen to My Wife

I've spent some time concentrating on our new friend Travis. It's been fun.

Click it for a closer view.

And Travis, if you happen upon this, please don't drive that thing all the way here to kick my ass. Just comment here, and I'll take the pics down.

hee hee!

What to do on Sunday? or, Adventures in Going With the Flow and Following Signs

I tend to spend Sundays and Mondays at my computer as much as possible. It's because Terri gets those days off, and she hangs out downstairs with the kiddos, or takes them shopping, or playing, or whatever she comes up with. Whatever she comes up with usually doesn't involve me. At least not me going with them.

So yesterday, as I hunkered down, opened the stories I'm working on, answered emails, and checked myspace, Terri came up to the office.

She said, "I'm taking the kids to Mt. Rainier today. Wanna come?"

I don't think she expected me to say yes, I rarely go where she's planned to take the kids on those workdays of mine. BUT, we've lived here for two years, and we hadn't been there yet. Mt. Ranier? That snowy, gorgeous, active volcano that lives right next to us? I said hell yes.

I wondered if we might be leaving a bit late in the day, she thought of going at 10:30 in the morning, and we had to get everyone ready. I figured we'd get out of town around 1. We were on our way at 1:22. It's not even a two-hour drive to the Park, so even though we were leaving then, I figured we'd get some good sight-seeing in. And it was Terri's rad, spontaneous idea. We went with the flow.

It was a gorgeous day yesterday. The mountain was OUT.

~If you don't live around here, that might be an odd statement. See, a lot of times there are clouds between us and Mt. Rainier. (It makes its own weather, too.) The mountain's out means it's a clear, gorgeous day and we can see that huge mountain from miles and miles and miles away. The weather dude in Seattle says things like, "It's a beautiful day today, the mountain is out." We also have "sun-breaks", another local weather term that doesn't make sense most places, but that wasn't the case yesterday. It was warm, sunny, and blue, blue sky.~

We've got this new camera. It's a Nikon Coolpix. I'm still learning how to use it to its utmost ability, and I thought that surely taking pictures of our journey would be a great way to figure out long-distance, up-close, portrait, all that jazz. Plus, Mt. Rainier!! The Coolpix takes great photos. I'm really enjoying the camera so far.

I like photography. I've had good cameras since I could use one. I haven't yet had the best camera, but I'm working on that. In fact, I'm working on having several of the best cameras, which I will carry with me everywhere I go.

And I'll carry batteries for them. LOTS and LOTS of batteries for them. Enough batteries to power North America for ten years. Lots of batteries. Oh, the batteries I'll have. Bat. Ter. Ies.

Have you guessed where this is going?

Our Coolpix camera takes flat, recharchable lithium batteries. While we gathered clothes, snacks, showers, and kids, Terri charged its battery.

We let Caspian take our old camera, one that sucks the life out of AA batteries after a couple hours of use. We brought extra batteries for it.

Zane took his Fisher Price digital camera for toddlers. We put new batteries in it before we left.

We were SET for photographing our spontaneous adventure to freakin' Mt. Rainier!

As I said, the mountain was out. Driving down Pacific Ave. on our way out of town, it was huge and happy right smack in front of us. I started taking pics of the trip two blocks from home.

We cruised along, enjoying the autumnal beauty of this great Pacific Northwest. I snapped photo after photo out the car window--Mt. Rainier as we neared it, old barns, weird castle coffee shacks, church steeples with fall leaves fluttering around them, blurry trees, lakes, freaky people, you name it.

I was telling Terri how much I love our new camera, but was frustrated that I didn't have a few of them, one for quick shots of the weird shit beside the road, one with some powerful big lenses that I could keep focused on the distant volcano, and one for my pocket.

If you've been following my posts, and if you've read any of Terri's blogging, you'll know that we're using the Law of Attraction to bring us the life we want. Part of that is putting things positively, feeling the positivity of the situation. For example: Instead of me feeling frustrated that I didn't have three top-of-the-line cameras, I should feel the joy of when I do. So I was working on that.

We tooled along, and I talked about how great it was going to be to have so many useful cameras, and how much I love taking pictures, and how much fun I was having doing it, and how happy I was that we were headed to a place that I could really use the camera.

When we arrived at Mt. Rainier National Park, I'd taken twenty or thirty shots.

So we drive up to the entry gate (and I snap a postcard photo of the entrance) and learn that it's "free day" at the Park. No entry fee. How cool that Terri picked this day to go, right? Our first time there, a total spontaneous trip, and it's free day. How cool.

Terri had printed out a driving guide for the Park. There was a photo-taking bridge, where you get a sweet view of the mountain while standing above a glacial stream. Gorgeous place, the drive-guide says. 3.3 miles into the Park.

I snap a couple of shots on the way to the bridge. One of blurry trees, one of some silt deposits in the low, late-season river.

At the bridge, we crossed the highway to the mountain viewing area, followed a raised boardwalk built by Japanese exchange students, and came to the viewing point. I took two shots of the mountain, gathered Terri and the kids together for a shot of them in front of the mountain, and then took one more of Rainier without the sign standing in the viewing area.

I wanted to get a shot of the boys sitting on a bench. As I raised the camera, it beeped twice and a message came on the viewscreen. "Battery power exceeded." And it shut down.

I'd maybe had the camera on for an hour, all told. I couldn't believe the battery was dead. I tried to refuse to believe it by turning the camera off and back on. But it wouldn't come back on. It didn't all day.

So, here we were, at our very first stop in the Park, the whole afternoon of seeing its gorgeous wonders ahead of us, and now my well-voiced hopes of taking hundreds of pictures have been dashed (and dashed hard, like against rocks in a raging glacial river). At the start of our trip, Terri warned me against taking too many pictures, saying that the memory card could only handle 500--a number she pulled out of the ether, but that I thought was probably right, knowing that I've had 260 shots on it before.

When it died after such a short time, I was seriously crushed.

I tried to get over it. I really tried. But as we drove on, I kept seeing things I wished I could photograph.

Caspian still had a working camera. It's our old one, and it sucks, but we told him he could be the photographer for the day.

(Zane said he'd take pictures, too. We looked at his today. He took seven photos--two of me, two of Terri, one of Caspian's nose, one blurry gray one, one blurry green one, and a shot of his blurry crotch.)

After the camera died, and I was trying not to be bummed about it, back at the car, Zane decides he's hungry. So he eats a bunch of goldfish crackers or something and some craisens. But he's still hungry. Caspian says he's really hungry, too. I'm starving because now that I don't smoke, I eat lunch, and I didn't before we left. I'm sure that was part of me not getting over the loss of my camera. I have a touch of hypoglycemia without regular fooding.

Instead of making the next few stops suggested in our driving guide, we decide to haul-ass to the nearest eatery and save ourselves. We also held out hope that maybe one of the tourist-trap gift shops will have our camera's kind of battery and trade it to us for our car or something equally expensive. They sold candybars for $1.75. They also sold five kinds of lithium battery, but not the kind for our camera.

The dude said, "Yeah, that's a weird one."

Come on. Ashton Kucher is the spokesdude for our camera. I'll bet there are a few people out there with one. Weird one my ass. Try, I work in a gift shop in the mountains. I have no fucking clue what's going outside it.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that. I spent two years living in the mountains having no fucking clue what was going on outside my tiny town. I didn't even know who'd been elected president--Bush senior--until five months after the fact, and only because someone was bitching about it. But if you're some old freak who lives in the Park Service Dormatory Cabins at the base of Mt. Rainier, don't be telling people that their batteries are weird ones, because really, on what could you possibly be basing that?)

So after the unsuccesful battery buying attempt, and the hundred bucks Terri spent on a bottle of water and two big cookies, we made our way to the hotel restaurant.

I was a waiter for many, many years. If I glance into a dining room, I can tell you exactly what's happening in there. Standing at the Please Wait to be Seated sign, I saw what was going on beyond it, and it was not a pretty picture.

There was a party of 15-20 to the right of us in the middle of eating. Four kids.

To our left were three tables for four. Three of them had the remains of lunch on them, plates and all.

In front of us, deep into the dining room's interior, a young waitress sped to and fro, waiting on three tables of customers--a two-top, and two fours. Her hair was frazzled, she had a pen and pad in her hand, and she was doing that dance where half of your body goes to the left, and the other half to the right while your head swings 'round side-to-side trying to figure out which part of your body has it correct. There were seven visible open tables.

While I was observing, I tuned-in to the hotel desk manager's phone conversation going on beside us. It went like this: "Oh, well, she's real busy right now. Yeah, we had a rush. Who is this? Oh, hi! Yeah, it just got really busy. She's still busy."

After she convinced the caller that the waitress was busy (I was already convinced), the desk manager turned to us and said, "Hello. Are you folks on our list?" A list. At three-forty-five in the afternoon. Four occupied tables. One (obviously not so good at her job) waitress. And a wait-list. With one name on it. I asked how long the wait was.

"Oh, about fifteen minutes."

Who's worked in a restaurant? What does that sentence up there mean?

For those of you who don't know, who just say, "Okay, put me on the list." and then sixteen minutes later storm the hostess and demand to know why you've not been seated, and then after she tells you it may be a bit longer, you spend another fifteen mollified minutes staring at the poor girl who truly cannot control when people decide to leave the restaurant and offer up their table for you, and finally freak out and yell at her in forty minutes and are seated in fifty (or even if you sit there patiently and don't do anything lame), let me tell you what, Oh, about fifteen minutes means.

It means, I don't fucking know, dude. As soon as that inept fucking waitress can get a handle on her easy goddamned job and clean a table or two. As soon as the manager gets a fucking clue and comes out to help. As soon as I can get rid of you so that I can become uber-busperson and clean those four tables, reset them, get water for that party right there, grab whatever the inept waitress needs me to grab for her, then cashier for the three tables that are about to leave at once. As soon as I feel like it. Or any variation of such themes.

It does not mean fifteen minutes.

It especially does not mean fifteen minutes if you're an experienced restaurant worker who's just seen what's going on in the dining room and learned that the spastic ballerina with the frazzled hair is the only one running the show. It means forget it.

It means that when Terri said, "It's up to you, dude." I said, "Let's drive the thirty mountainous miles to the next eatery and hope we make it before they close." Because we were on a time-limit. All the visitor centers close at six. It was almost four. I know how long it takes to drive thirty miles in the mountains, especially in a National Park with 35 or 25mph speed limits. Sometimes much longer than two hours.

So, with kids cramping with hunger, and me trying not to be a pissed-off douchebag, but not really succeeding, we limped to the car (which we'd parked very far away from the restaurant, because there were no signs and we drove a circuit around the damned place before we decided to just park and go find food.) and made our way to Paradise, the Park's town at the base of the mountain.

We drove straight past all that stuff I'd wanted to walk around and take photos of. We drove straight to where a sign said that the parking lot was full, and we had to park on the side of the mountain and hike up to the visitor's center. Which we did.

I lugged Zane up there, and had to honestly sit and catch my breath, something I don't think I've had to do since I ran races when I was sixteen. We sent Caspian into the dome-shaped visitor's center to see if that's where the restaurant was. He came out and told us no. He said there was a Park Ranger there at an info desk.

I panted, "Go ask him."

Caspian came back and told us there were twenty people waiting in line to talk to him. I'd caught my breath, so we decided to head over to the Swiss Chalet looking building to the left of us. Upon arrival we learned from a small sign tacked to its wall that it was a private residence.

Terri took control and ushered us all back into the visitor's center.

We immediately saw a sign that said: ---Grill---> So without bitching at Caspian too much, and knowing that this was the grill and not the restaurant, I led us there as quickly as I could weave a trail between the freaky tourists gawking about the dome. Yes, freaky tourists. Lots of just plain weirdos. Even Terri thought there were gobs of freaks, and she's not usually the one to say so. It's usually me going, "These people are fucking weirdos!" and her saying things like, "Shut up, dude."

We get in line at the grill. Terri notices that there aren't many tables available, and urges me and Zane to go grab one. I smell fries and leave my order with Terri--a bacon cheeseburger and LARGE fries. Zane wants a cheeseburger and fries. We find a booth. I clean it with napkins. We sit and talk about fries. Zane is going to need some of mine. But I can have some of his, too. Then Caspian comes over and tells us they just read sign that says there's no fries.

Our burgers are small. There's one piece of bacon on mine. We get little bags of chips. Terri buys two extra because I sent Caspian the bad-news-bearer back to her with the message that since there are no fries, we need lots of chips. She knows I'm on the verge of being Hunger-Maniac, No Camera, Surrounded by Weirdos, Super-Asshole Man, so she gets a lot.

I ate my burger in three bites.

On the first bite, I ask Terri, "Didn't I read that this place was just built? It's totally falling apart. It looks like shit." Seriously, pieces of it were falling apart. It looked like it was thirty years old, retro-ghettoish.

We shrugged about it while we chewed.

On the second bite, an announcement comes over the intercom system that the grill will be closing in fifteen minutes. The announcer goes on to say that the visitor's center will close in half-an-hour, permanently. That's right, folks, after today this building will be closed, and demolished, so take your photos now.

We all gawked at each other.

It was our first time at the park. We came on Free Day. We barely made it to the visitor's center to quell our enormous collective hunger, after quite a weird and tiring journey to get there, and then we learn that we're there in its last moments of life.

It was kinda crazy.

We talked to a grill-worker about it. Turns out we were in the old visitor's center. The new one was past that sign that told us the parking lot was full and that we should park on the side of the mountain and hike all the way up to the old visitor's center. Just built.

So, after finding the bathrooms, and the not carrying our camera's battery gift shop, we made our way up a twisting set of ramps to the viewing deck of the old visitor's center. Yup. We could see the new visitor's center from there. And the hotel and restaurant. My nibble of burger sat like a stone in my sour stomach.

But, I still tried not to be an ass. I asked Caspian if I could use our old camera for a few shots of the mountain, and of the kids in the observation room. We used it for our patented family photo self-photo. I tried not to think about how much better the useless camera in my pocket was. I kept the old one on the way back to the car and took some subpar pics of the family and the volcano.

We started out of the Park as the sun started going down.

It was a gorgeous drive home.

I tried to take a couple shots of Mt. Rainier all purple and pink and huge in the setting sunlight with our old shitty camera. They didn't work out. So I took one of me letting a little of the welling frustration out with a snarl.

We'll go back to the Park in the spring. I'll have three good cameras and a pack of batteries with the combined energy to make any nuclear power plant hide its radioactive face in shame.

For now, this is what we managed to capture of our long, strange trip:

On the way. The mountain is OUT.

Alder Lake, I believe. It's near the Park. I liked the stumps.

This is a metal-works art gallery on the way to the park. It looked cool. I got two shots of it from the car and this is the least blurry of them. Zane loves giraffes.

This dude cracks me up every time I see this pic. He was driving his golf cart along the highway, and I turned the camera backward out the window to take this pic. I had no idea how it turned out (dead camera thing) until we got home last night. I hurt myself laughing at it. The poor freaky dude totally saw me snap his pic. Look at him! Terri named him Travis because we saw a spray-painted ratty square of plywood propped up alongside the road that said, Travis Birthday Party near where we passed him. We figure it's Travis on his way to his party.

The postcard entrance shot through the windshield.

Third to last photo of the day from Coolpix One. (I'm naming it that so as not to confuse it with the other two I'll have by spring.)

Here's a shot Caspian took of Terri on our way to the viewpoint.

Here's the one shot of Terri and the dudes at Mt. Rainier that I managed. Second to last CP1 photo of the day.

Our family portrait inside the observation deck of the dome. Sorry you're making such a strange face, Zane, but I'm lookin' pretty stupid myself, so at least we're together in our not so great part of the family photo.

These are shots I took with the old camera after we left the soon to be demolished visitor's center.

Here I am expressing my love for our old camera and the fact that I couldn't use our new one.

Here's what Caspian took pictures of when I gave him the old camera back after I couldn't stand missing shots of the mountain on the way home because the stupid thing takes forever to process the previous shot, and doesn't really take the photo when you push the shutter button.

We had an okay trip.

It was gorgeous, and Mt. Rainier is simply awesome. We saw the things we'd like to take a closer look at, the kids were cool and good the whole time, Zane didn't puke, we know how long it takes to get to everywhere we can drive, and we know that the gift shops, though they do sell hand-carved bolo-tie clasps for fifty dollars, do not carry our camera's weird lithium batteries. We'll go back in the spring when the rivers are really rockin' and we'll spend the whole day there, with a cooler full of food.

How was your Sunday?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dumb Dogs, Pre-School is O-K, So is the U.S. Financial Crisis

I'm so happy to have quit smoking. When the stock market collapses, and the US's financial crisis really gets swinging, cigarettes are going to be very expensive. I'm happy to stop now.

I had some problems with sickness from Chantix. Gut-wrenching, dizzying, headachy sickness. But that seems to have abated. I had to go back to having a few cigarettes a day for about two weeks to help me from feeling so damned bad. A few days ago I cut it to one cigarette in the morning, and one at night. Two days ago I just had one in the morning. I didn't have one yesterday. I haven't had one today.

I would have, had I been silly enough to have a pack around. This morning was terrible, dropping off Zane. Yesterday I went with him into his classroom. Today Terri went with us for the drop-off, which I kinda thought might make things more difficult, and it did. He wanted us both to go in to the class, and we decided not to. He really freaked out.

I had to fight a lot of instinct. I wanted to run through the stumbling line of three-year-olds, knocking a trail through them, tear the huge glass doors off their hinges and rush to my kid. Then I wanted to take him to get cookies and ice cream, maybe a puppy or pony or something, dance with him all morning, whisk us all away to an island and never make him go to school.

Instead I called to him that it'd be okay. That he'd be fine, and that I'd be back to pick him up soon. And I watched him scream his way into the school, tugged along by the teacher. "I want my Mommy!" "I want Daddy!"

I'm sure he was soon fine. Probably sooner than me.

I had to yell at the cigarettes that I was not going to smoke because I was stressed out. I called them names and said I was not going to smoke them. Stupid things. Then I yelled a bit at me, some junk about Pavlov and his dog, and my dumb dog response to stress. Then I went upstairs and checked my email.

I read Sarah Hilary's story. Check it out here: Tuesdays and Thursdays . It's excellent, as her writing tends to be. It brought me great memories. You should all go read it if you haven't already.

So I didn't smoke. I haven't really wanted to. I'm not going to. I take a pill in about a half an hour, it'll block up my nicotine receptors, maybe make me a little sick, but it'll help me not smoke. So I won't be that dumb dog anymore.

Which will help when cigarettes cost ten bucks a pack, and money is hard to come by, or not worth the paper tobacco is rolled in.

In order to manifest a happy, unfucked United States, I won't state that I'm worried. But, I have been paying attention, and I'm really having to use my imagination to project any sort of good feeling about the state of this union.

I'm thinking about how lucky I am to have chosen the entertainment industry as my career path. Everyone needs to hear or read a good story, especially if they're Depressed. Actors thrived in the early 30's, as did novelists, radio personalities, musicians, artists, all those good jobs I can do. I'm also thinking about how I can grow food, and make things or fix things if they need fixing. I'm handy to have around if there's no electricity or running water, I've lived that way before. I'm thinking how I have useful skills, and an able body.

I'm not thinking about bread pudding, or any of that nasty shit my grandmother ate, having been 28 years old with a couple of kids, living in the dustbowl in 1929. Not thinking about that...

I'm thinking I get to go pick up Zane in fifty minutes.

I'm thinking that no matter what, there's love and laughing.

Now I've gotta go hug my wife.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It Happened so Quickly

Zane went to pre-school this morning! He's been on his own for the first time for an hour now. I hope he's doing great. I'm sure he is.

We weren't sure if he was ready for being away from his mom and me. We had a call in to the pre-school, but they hadn't called back and school's been going on for a while now, so we'd decided it just wasn't meant to be this year.

But last week the teacher called us and said that Zane could come in for an evaluation. Terri and I waffled a little about even having our lil' dude go to school right now, having a conversation about it while on the line with the teacher. Then she explained what the school is all about, and told us that most kids his age did great at pre-school, but that it was up to us of course, and we could call her back the next day. We decided on the phone that he should go.

His evaluation was yesterday.

He started school this morning.

He was so cool looking:

I went into class with him. It was totally cute. He did really well. I left as he was deciding what to play. He had a lot of choices, but I don't think he was clear on what they were. He chose to go outside and play on the playground equipment, but that wasn't an option. I wonder how he did with that... He's wanted to play on those toys since he saw them last year when we dropped Caspian off at school one day.

I think he was going to pretend to paint a house.

He told the teachers that he paints with me all the time.

I took video, and of course shut it off right before he said that.

I'm doing pretty good with him being gone. Came up here to the office and checked my e's and did this post. He'll be fine. I'm sure he's having a blast.

Though I did see that he's probably going to have a girlfriend soon enough. There was a little girl named Sydney who was very talkative and helpful. He didn't like her one bit.

Yay, Zane! Pre-schooler!

Friday, September 19, 2008


I can't be believin' it.

'Spent most tha mornin' talkin' like some land-lubbin' stiff-leg.

It were a thick fog in me head that trussed me early noggin' to the jury mast o' the ghost ship Forgetfulness.
By the Furies, I sha'n't (is that correct, Erin?!) be so daft again.

Now, avast ye all! Out into the wide, big world ta spread the talk o' Piratin'! Off with ya, scamps and skallywags!

(today is always fun for me.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tagged Again

I am obviously not running around the school yard fast enough.

Gay tagged me again. (; If this were kissing tag, we'd totally be making out by now. ;)

This one looks pretty fun, but it's got some rules. I will try and follow them to the number and letter. I don't follow that many blogs, though. I'll try.

Here's the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write 6 random things/unspectacular quirks about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.

Six Random Things:

1. I like bugs. I like to watch ants, spiders, bees, whatever. I don't kill them if they're in the house, except trains of ants, or hives of wasps if they try to sting me or my family.

2. I was nearly killed by fire ants. I almost put this up there along with number one, but then I thought about coming up with five other things, and figured this ought to be a thing on its own. It's a long story about military school and the rainy season of tropical Texas, but I'll cut to the quick and tell you that a floating island of fire ants landed upon my shores. I would have died without an adrenalin shot, and nearly didn't make it as it was. I had no idea I was allergic to their venom. Apparently, most people don't.

3. I get vertigo. Sometimes I'm petrified of heights, sometimes not. Sometimes I get all spinny and freaky and latch onto whatever I can, sometimes I hang over the edge and look down. I want to one day sky dive, but I wonder if I'll freak out when I'm supposed to jump and not do it. That would suck ass, so I haven't put it at the top of any to-do lists.

4. I have an unusually high tolerance for pain and drugs. Which sucks when I'm really hurt and get prescribed pain-killers that don't really work.

5. I'm an environmentalist. Apparently, that's a bad word to certain people (like my parents). I don't quite understand that, and I'm happy that our upcoming generations are more like me than them. I've always loved and respected our Earth. I've always wished that the people who don't would start. I don't tolerate short-term thinking or selfishness. I can't believe people think themselves separate from their environment. That is insane thinking.

6. I value humor over most things. You can be a complete asshole, but if you're funny, I'll probably like you.

Wow. That was easy.

Now let's see if I can tag enough people.

Terri --my sweet and lovely wife should be tagged. She is the most interesting person I know.
Iron Outlaw (B.) (Addy) (That crazy Aussie dude) --my friend from Australia. Watch out for his blogging, not for the faint of heart or those who don't like it straight and sweary.
Erin M. Kinch --a writer and blogger that I'd surely like to know more about.
Claire de' --singer, crazy woman, good person. And she's always got good random facts.
Sarah Hilary --an excellent writer, an interesting person, and shall someday have action figures for characters from her stories.
K.C. Ball --a retired journalist gone fiction writer. She can write, too. I'll bet there's cool things to learn about K.C.

Okay! I think I followed all the rules.

7. I'm really bad about following rules. I usually break them on purpose. Especially if I can't see their purpose. (It's because I'm a bad boy.)


Double Your Fun?

People are always talking about going back and reliving their childhood. Wouldn't it be great to get back to those old forests, toys, teachers, and innocence?


It would mean you'd have to be a virgin again.

I wrote a story about that, and Every Day Fiction published it today. It's called Double Virginity. I had a really good time writing it.

So far, people seem to like it.

Please drop by and give it a read (and rating and comment!). Double Virginity

Let me know what you think--would it be fun?

Monday, September 15, 2008

She Can Suck It

You may or may not love Pamela Anderson. I happen to love her. I won't go into all the reasons why, but I assure you, they're not all sexual. In fact, the real reason I like her is that she's outspoken and honest. You might say she's shameless.

I try and not be political. At least as far as politics are concerned. But sometimes the ruling class goes too far. Sarah Palin is an obvious ploy by republicans to convince the public that they want a woman in charge of the country. Number one, that is bullshit. Two, the public does want a woman as president, but not Sarah Palin. We don't even want her as vice president.

There are so many reasons why. From her politics to her not believing dinosaurs existed (or that they did, but four thousand years ago, or that God made those funny rocks into the shapes of giant animals for our entertainment, or whatever weird, lipstick-pitbull, tiny Alaska town freaky crap she's into), from her false fronts, her policies as governor, and even pretending to know what the hell she's talking about to her and McCain running commercials about how they're not republicans. Devil in a red dress, it's plain to see. And no MILF, certainly.

Pamela Anderson doesn't like her, either.

Check out what she had to say:

Go Pam.

When I saw this, I honestly thought, "Pamela Anderson is my long-lost twin."

She can suck it. It's exactly something I'd say if asked about Sarah Palin. Quote me.

Anyway, it struck me.

So I made some shirts about it, as I'm prone to do about political things that grab me, though I do profess that I'm really not all that political, especially about politics:

I know some of you out there are republicans, and you believe that global warming is all natural and normal, and that oil is the best fuel (or money-maker, or both) that there is, and that there's nothing you can do for the future, so you might as well live like an asshole now and take as much as you can while flipping off the rest of the world because they're not as smart and savvy as you are, and that poor people suck anyway, and that those tools who stand up in front of you and lie about how different they are from that other tool that you either don't want to admit that you voted for, or that you'll defend to the end, being as big of a tool as him, aren't really the harbingers of doom that they are. I know you think Sarah Palin and John McCain are the suits for you. I know you won't want to buy these shirts. (Unless you're total perverts, too, which is definitely possible.) So you don't have to tell me how much you don't want to buy them. If you don't, I'll assume you didn't want to.

If you're not one of those perverts, then you might want to show up to get the thumbs up in a Suck it, Palin t.

I'll honestly tell you--I'm not very political. I don't know all the candidates' views on all the issues. What I do know is this: Every time I've heard Obama talk, he's made a lot of sense. He's one of those honest, outspoken, shameless sorts that I admire.

McCain and Palin, side-by-side, look like a couple of rodents--smug about having just dug through our cabinets.

So, I'm with Pam.

Suck it, Palin.

Quote me.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

I Have Zombies on My Brain

At least they're not IN my brain! (buh-dump-buh)

I know I said I was only writing a novel, but I got this zombie story thrashing to get borned.

Chantix is great, but it makes me sick, or withdrawls make me sick, or both. I spent a long time researching what others had gone through in their Chantix journey, and I'm now going about it a little differently than I was.

I'm smoking a couple cigarettes a day to stop the withdrawls from killing me. One mid day and one at night, and maybe one in the morning. I know that means I haven't quit. It means I'm quitting. I'll stop doing even that soon enough. I don't like smoking anymore. It's yucky tasting and stinky.

But that's what's up with that. I'm still quitting, but I'm still smoking a little. And even with things the way they are, I say three cigarettes a day is seventeen times better than a pack. I'll get it down to none soon enough. I've got three months of this Chantix to go.

I thought I'd let you know about my fight with smoking vs. puking because Terri told me I should, and since she's got the good advice, I usually listen to her. Plus, she's my wife, ya know.

Now back to the zombies.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

No Holes Yet...

Particle physics: I know so little about it that I could count what exotic materials (see, probably not even using the correct terms) I've heard of on one hand. (Counting fingers, not sub-atomic particles.)

BUT I think it's really cool.

Being a science fiction reader and writer, I've run across several tales in my time dealing with CERN, and that other particle accelerator (what's it called?). Usually they have to do with time travel, tears in the space-time continuum, other dimensions, tiny things getting huge, or black holes being born.

Apparently, scientists are actually worried about that last item on the sci-fi list.

Some say that the new particle accelerator, The Large Hadron Collider (They turned it on today/yesterday.), is a very dangerous machine. They're afraid that it could spawn little black holes that would (relatively--is that a double pun?) slowly eat the planet.

Wouldn't the holes keep eating after that? I'd think the danger is to the whole solar system--and maybe beyond it--but most Earth scientists are rather elitist, concerned only about life on this planet...

At any rate, the majority of scientists say that the collider won't produce black holes. BUT it could produce strangelets, dark matter, maybe even anti-matter. Now, as I said, those terms there mean little to me, as I'm not a particle physicist. However, I do know that anti-matter means the opposite of matter, and that in itself might not be a good thing to create inside a big tube under the earth. It could also be the best thing to happen to humankind so far.

But hey, scientists know what they're doing right? Especially those dealing with theoretical particles, ideas about how things form in the universe, and computer models of how matter might react if certain things are done with it. No worries.

The scientists who say nothing bad can happen are (not being very scientific, really) already touting the fact that the machine is turned on and no black holes have been born. Then, as if in afterthought, they say, "The machine's not up to speed and won't be for a year, so nothing's happening in there right now." So really, we still don't know if black holes will spring forth from the huge metal oval under France. Or is it Switzerland? We'll know in in a year, when the machine reaches full operating capacity.

I'm not really worried. Scientists do all sorts of crazy stuff to matter every day. We just don't hear about it. I suggest everyone read some science fiction or conspiracy theories.

I've actually written a story about a small black hole let loose inside a planet. (Who hasn't?) Here's an exerpt:

I happened to be in the right place at the right time. (That’s a joke among my people.) I’d just taken seven ships to the science planet of Aros, and was in orbit, programming the flight computer to head home, when the planet disappeared under me.

Not all at once, but quickly. At first I couldn’t understand what was happening. My radio began screaming—voices shrieking for help, and warnings from observatories and sentries across the system. I had a good view of the planet, and could see a dark spot growing on its surface.

I escaped.

At a respectable distance, I observed the planet’s demise.

I don’t have time to explain it all, I’ve probably put too much detail into this anyway, and I have to go soon. I’ll tell you what I can.

They had a small black hole contained at Aros. No one knows how, but they lost containment, and the thing ate the planet.

I’ve been monitoring the hole, sending distress signals, trying to make sense of radio chatter blasting through my speakers.

Worlds will fall into the hole. Billions will die. But I can stop it.

And of course, he does. But Aros is completely destroyed by then.

As I said, this isn't my idea. I actually wrote the story that the above comes from, inspired from another short story about a group of scientists who find an alien machine on a distant planet, and they accidentally turn it off, letting slip the small black hole inside it that had been powering the alien technology abandoned on the planet for 10,000 years or so. They think one of the scientists did it on purpose.

I just tried to find a list of all the books and movies dealing with particle accelerators. I was not fruitful. But I was reminded that in his book, Angels and Demons, Dan Brown (I know, but you really should read Angels and Demons. It's the same sort of thing as the Davinci Code, but better.) makes CERN into a place of unwitting evil.

Angels and Demons is about a secret society using anti-matter stolen from CERN to destroy the Vatican. There's a great interview about the facts of CERN and how they relate to Angels and Demons here: CERN-Angels and Demons

Anyway, the idea that a collider could cause the end of the world is not new.

And I say, "Something has to."

I guess we'll see what happens when that sucker is all warmed up and they start flinging particles at each other in the ultimate rollercoaster/crash-up derby in the world. Oh, to be a quark on the wall inside that crazy tube.

If we don't all die by being stretched to infinity inside an expanding black hole or three, then the newest, biggest, best particle collider ever is going to give scientists a glimpse into the fabric of the universe. They think they could discover new particles, new dimensions, and even a Higgs-Boson particle! (That's the particle that scientists think holds the key to the secrets of mass.)

That's some awesome stuff. I really hope it works.

If it doesn't destroy us, we science fiction writers may end up with new story ideas.

If it does? Well, scientists have also always wondered exactly what happens to objects that are sucked into a black hole. They'd all find out first-hand.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Day Four--Easy Peasy

I just wanted to check-in with everyone to let you all know that I have this smoking-thing whupped. I'm fine.

It's the fourth day. Less and less do I find myself thinking, "I don't smoke now." I don't have cause. Stress doesn't even do it.

I feel free.

Anyone who's looking to quit smoking, even if you've tried nearly everything, give Chantix a try! I'm a walking commercial for it.

Yay for me!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I'm a Believer

Second day of not smoking. I can't even give you the hourly count.

Because I don't care.

Seriously, it doesn't matter. I'm a non-smoker now. I have no desire, other than little psychological glimmers, to smoke. I have no physical withdrawl symptoms. I'm free.

This is not the first time I've quit. This is the fourth.

The first time I was 16. I was in the middle of my second year at military school. My first year, smoking was encouraged. My second year, it became illegal. They hooked us, and then took our drugs away. The school's solution was to put us all on Nicorette gum. 1987 Nicorette gum. It was like chewing a sockfull of wet cigarette butts with a sprig of regurgitated mint.

We smoked on the sly.

So, when my tongue started falling apart, it was a month before I gathered the courage to talk to the school doc. I quit smoking for that month, and it was terrible. I thought I had tongue cancer, and they'd find out I'd been smoking, and I'd get kicked out, or at least stripped of rank and doomed to dig ditches on my weekends. (By then I had an established weekly trip to Mexico, I couldn't blow that...) It turned out to be a throat infection. I was busted, but the doc was kinda my friend, and he didn't turn me in. As soon as my tongue cleared up, I went back to smoking out the windows, and smoking freely off-base.

The second time I quit smoking, I was 30. I quit for Terri, my wife, who was at that time my new girlfriend. She didn't date smokers. So, in the middle of a weekend seminar I was teaching, while giving readings after classes, and talking to Terri all night on the phone, I quit smoking. I'm sure I was insane, but I was there as a psychic, so I think no one noticed. A few clients did notice that I fell asleep and started mumbling during their readings, but actually I received stellar information for them because my brain was sleeping while my mind wandered for them. At any rate, it was weird, and hard, and my hands felt big, but I did it for love.

I started smoking again about a month later, when I missed my two-year-old Caspian too much, and custody was an issue, and things were new and hard, and I fell back to it. I'd always wanted to smoke all along, anyway.

The third time I quit was recently. I tried to use the patch. The whole time was a countdown, or a countup, really. This many minutes without a smoke. This accomplishment without a smoke... I didn't last a week. I wanted to smoke and smoke and smoke. My hands felt big, my head spun, I was sick, needy, jonesy, all of it. I caved as soon as I quit.

This time is so different.

I ran the gauntlet yesterday. I was exposed to nearly every smoking trigger I have. I had four cavities filled, I was around smokers, I had crying kids, I drove the car, I ate, I went on walks, I drank coffee on the porch, I wrote, I did all the things that normally would have driven me insane for smoking.

I had a dream this morning that I accidentally smoked. In my dream, I lit a smoke, put it to my lips, and took a drag without thinking. When I realized what I'd done, I felt so robbed. I awoke, and thought, "Phew! Glad that was a dream. I don't smoke now."

And my first thought when I woke-up for the day was, "I don't smoke now."

I'm not bothered by it at all.

I think about having a smoke, like when I get a cup of coffee, but then all I have to do is think, "I don't smoke now." And that's it.

No cravings. My body feels normal. I feel good.

I already taste and smell things better. That's weird, too, it usually takes a couple of weeks for me to notice.

Chantix rules. It absolutely works. I have absolutely no physical cravings, and when I have the idea that I should smoke, it withers with a thought.

I sorta can't belive it.

I absolutely recommend it.

I don't smoke now.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Gay Said to Say This Outloud

You know, lately I'm sick to death of literary magazines.

I used to aspire to wrap up all my thoughts into obscure, pretty words that drew upon the classics, the form, the intent, the fragility and diamond-strength of language structure--I wanted to say something real, and touching.

THEN I realized that I also want to make money while I do that. Since I'd rather spend my days writing than working for some asshole company, and I wasn't born into an idly wealthy family, I have to write things that make money. I can still be real and touching, but include EVERYONE who can read, not cater to a gob of intellectuals who wouldn't know life if it lived through them.

I realized that I like to tell stories that anyone can read. Not just someone who's attended the correct classes, schools, or writing workshops.

I can write literary fiction. It's just ridiculous to do it unless you don't give a whit about making a living. (Or garnering a public voice that is heard beyond universities, literary magazines and coffee shops.)

Literary writing is exclusive.

I aspire to be a best-selling author. That means my stories sell the best. It doesn't mean that they mean more or less than something about James Joyce's real meaning behind a bowl of oatmeal and a girl hanging upside down on a swing in that familiar, soft-focus, backyard where something wonderful hides something horrible, and everything means something more than is said, but you wouldn't understand unless you've studied Joyce at Emery with professor So-and-Such.

Pretention does not a story make.

That's my ten cents.

Remember, I'm at two hours and ten minutes of not smoking. I'm a little testy.

And I don't run some fancy-shmancy literary magazine.

Day One--One Hour and Fifty Minutes

This morning is the first morning in many, many years that I didn't wake up, pull on all my clothes, and dash outside for a cigarette. I haven't smoked in the house for over ten years, once my kids started coming along, I was an outside smoker. What a pain in the ass that was.

This morning, my alarm was set to go off at 7:45. I woke up at 7:43 and my very first thought was: "I'm not going outside for a cigarette today." Then, "Shit, I quit smoking today."

Nearly two hours later, I'm thinking, "Wow, two hours and I'm not completely losing my mind." (I've thought that every half-hour or so--maybe I'm losing it just a little.)

I have the desire to go out and smoke. I had a cup of coffee in my hand, first thing in the morning, and that means sit on the porch, watch the neighborhood awake, and smoke. Then go inside, wait for fifteen minutes, and have another smoke to play catch-up for the six hours I was asleep. But I'm in control of it so far.

I'm thinking, "I really don't have to smoke."

And that, is weird.

We'll see how I do. I'm ignoring triggers as best I can. Even sitting here writing this makes me think I should pause to smoke. What a brain-game! I plan on writing today. Usually that means smoking a lot. I have to go have three cavities filled. Usually that means a "after all that horrible crap" smoke. I plan on ignoring all that today.

I think I want to smoke, but my body doesn't really need me to. So, as long as I can get over the initial desire, I do okay.

Oh, and you don't have to read these posts with not-smoking countdowns, they probably won't say much. I just need to say something about it. Especially today.

25 years is a lot of habit to change.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bring Me a Bucket and a Cleaning Lady

I've smoked cigarettes since I was 12 years old. By 15 I smoked a pack a day. That means I've smoked a pack a day for 22 years. I've smoked for 25. That's a good bunch of numbers, I think.

So Friday is my newest quit date.

This time I'm not messing around. I'm using good old fashioned pharmaceuticals. Am I allowed to say Chantix on the air?

I'm taking this drug because it gets in the way of the other drug that I take when I ingest cigarette smoke. The stuff they say is the most addictive chemical in the things--nicotine. But that might not even be true, because who the hell knows what else is in them? At any rate, Chantix is a nicotine receptor blocker. It fills up the nicotine slots in my brain cells so my brain thinks it's just had a smoke.

I'm on day four of taking them.

The pharmacist allayed my fears about the horrible daymares I'd heard about in association with Chantix by telling me that he hadn't even heard of anyone having a psychotic episode, but that a lot of people complained about nausea.

I'm complaining about that right now. That's really what this post is all about.

I'm supposed to be going to the grocery store for our weekly trip, taking both the kids. I'm not going.

Later, I have to go to Caspian's school to find out what class he's in and drop off his supplies and meet his teacher (please don't let it be that total dick!) and I'm not sure how I'm going to be feeling this afternoon.

Right now, each step is a threat.

This stuff better work.

Just thought I'd share with you. Be thankful you don't live here for the real sharing that could take place at any moment. TMI? Sorry.

Anyone else take this stuff?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Every Day Fiction Turns 100!

Oh, sorry, I mean--One! It's been one year of daily flash fiction for everyone. That's 365 stories published. Who else does that? Well, no one.

EDF sends out a story every single day. It's a terrific thing for those of us who love to read. The zine has done a great job of its first year of life. I look forward to watching it grow into a well-adjusted (and sorta rock-and-roll, ass-kicking, super-star) adult. I'm very glad to have provided what I could to help it along in it's first year.

So what's going on at EDF? Well, they're throwing a party tonight. Wish I could be there.

They also just published their table of contents for the month:

September’s Table of Contents

Sept 1 K.C. Ball I Must to the Barber’s Chair
Sept 2 Abby “Merc” Rustad Bench Trial
Sept 3 Brian Dolton How the Rainbow Came To Be
Sept 4 Greta Igl Free
Sept 5 Frank O’Connor, freelance thinker The Holy Fool
Sept 6 Oonah V Joslin Closer to the Truth
Sept 7 Tels Merrick Are We There Yet
Sept 8 E.K. Entrada A Certain Patch of Grass
Sept 9 Robin Vandenberg Herrnfeld Three Wishes–A Fairytale
Sept 10 Avis Hickman-Gibb All the Continents of the Sun
Sept 11 Deven D Atkinson Becoming Cottontail
Sept 12 Gay Degani Stranger on the Porch
Sept 13 Tommy B. Smith The Eric Jones Show
Sept 14 Erin M. Kinch A Castle in the Clouds
Sept 15 Anna Schwind Another Boot
Sept 16 Celeste Goschen A Beautiful Lie
Sept 17 M.Sherlock
Crossing the Bridge
Sept18 Kevin Shamel Double Virginity
Sept 19 Sylvia Spruck Wrigley The Banshee
Sept 20 Selena Thomason The Cat Won’t Stop Playing
Sept 21 Bill Ward The Unbelievable Non-Adventures of Gasbert and Zephyr
Sept 22 Frank Roger Complete Understanding
Sept 23 Megan Arkenberg Ghouls
Sept 24 Lenora Rain-Lee Good A Pitiful Face
Sept 25 Sarah Hilary Tuesdays and Thursdays
Sept 26 Jens Rushing Blankenship & Dawes in: Chrono-Conundrum!
Sept 27 Anne Marie Gomez Lester’s Lucky Day
Sept 28 BD Wilson Zalophus Philosophy
Sept 29 R. L. Copple The Carpool
Sept 30 Mari Ness
The Shoes

Lots of great writers on that list! I see many of my favorites coming up this month.

AND my good pal M. Sherlock makes his Every Day Fiction debut! Congrats, M. (I've read the story, folks, you'll want to read it, too!) My other pal, Sarah Hilary, gives EDF an interview that lets us into her super-writer mind. She's one to watch for action figures and movie deals. Watch her, I say!

So that's every day news.

Now, back to the hurricanes...