Thursday, March 31, 2016

Xavier and Bear at Crab Pond

Some months back, I shared the story that my youngest son, Xavier told while he was playing with one of his stuffed animals.

The story was so cute, I wanted to save it as an actual book so that I would always have it. 

I sought out an artist on Fivrr, and we got to work.  It’s been a truly wonderful experience, and I’m happy to say that the story is written, the graphics are all in, and soon the book will be formatted and available to anyone who is interested.

I'm so excited to have this going to print.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

AWP 2016

I’m off to #AWP2016.  

My focus is on self-marketing, branding, and finding an agent.

If you're going to be there, look me up.  I'll be the tall, thin-ish dude with that wild, look in my eyes like I've been tapped on the head with a ball peen hammer.  

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Best. Easter. Ever!

Last night, my youngest (nearly 4yo) advised me that candy is what the Easter Bunny pooped.  The best part if how sincere my boys are when they tell me these kinds of things. As if they've done the research, crunched the numbers and yep, this is reality!

So, there you have it.  Enjoy your poop!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In the Category of Ouch - Part III

Well, if you're going to be all mystical about it!
It’s nice when the stars align.

Like, say you get a migraine so debilitating and painful that you end up going to the emergency room.  Sure, they treat you like a druggie looking for a quick fix, but at least you get to spend all day away from your family and suffering in pain while lying on an uncomfortable bed in a room that is meat-freezer cold.

The next day, though, you go in for your migraine Botox of 31 shots and your doctor says, “Wow, you had a really bad day.  What meds do we need to get you?”

Thirty-one shots, and a couple of renewed scripts and you’re practically dancing out of the medical office.

Thanks stars!

Monday, March 21, 2016

In the Category of Ouch - Part II

Point out on the doll where the mean migraine touched you!
The absolute best part of spending the entire day in ER with a face-melting migraine is when they have you read the new(ish) policy of no narcotics through bleary and pain-spotted eyes.  “Did you understand the policy, Mr. McCandless?” I was asked by the nurse.  Really?  I have to take a reading comprehension test when it’s obvious my mental capacity has been diminished to that of an 8-year-old who wants to curl up in a ball and consider being tapped on the head with a ball peen hammer as a viable option?

But the capper, the real cherry on top, was being given a drug that made me nervous, paranoid AND did nothing for the brain-splitting pain I came in for in the first place.

I did like the Benadryl though.  Made me sleep through the worst.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

In the Category of Ouch

Two please!
The only thing worse than a brain-splitting, eye-blinding, world-killing migraine is . . . ummm . . . I’m not sure.

I’ll bet you can fill in that blank.  I’d possibly have to go with stomach surgery as my own relative worse.

But a shout out to my good friends Naratriptan and Norco!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Extra Chili-Cheese

This man needs some chili-cheese!
The nice thing about being on steroids is that I can finally eat again.  Not back to 100% with eating whatever I want whenever I want, but at least I can eat solid food.  I have nothing against soup and Ensure specifically, but after a while I want chili-cheese fries and a chili-cheese hotdog and a chili-cheese burger with a side of chili-cheese!

Monday, March 14, 2016

#DaylightStupidTime is STUPID!

#DaylightStupidTime is stupid.  My wife nudged me and said, “It’s 6:00,” but my body said, “No, that’s not possible.  She’s clearly wrong,” and my head agreed, so we went back to sleep.  Twenty minutes later, she nudged me again.  “Hunny, it’s after 6:20.”  I actually rolled over to look at the clock and see what she was on about.  I’d heard the words clearly—both times—but the meaning was utterly lost.

My bedside clock read: AFTER 6:20 YOU’RE LATE!

“Oh my god!  You were telling me it was after 6:20!”  I rolled, bleary-eyed, out of the bed and failed to put on my robe.  I couldn’t quite get my mind into gear.

“Ok, I’m up,” I said.  As if this would somehow change reality.

“YOU’RE STILL LATE!” my clock told me.

Frantic showering, grooming and dressing ensued.  This was follow by every cautious driving because it’s raining and people (like me) are obviously tired and late and angry about all those things.  I heard of three accidents on my stretch of road when usually we have none.

Be careful this week.  Studies show that the switch to Daylight Stupid Time (DST) creates a lot of havoc with the usual sleep patterns and alertness.  This results in an increase in car accidents, lost revenue and even damaging/fatal health impacts

I’ve been anti-Daylight Stupid Time for decades.  I know that the concept has the very best of intentions, but in almost every aspect of Daylight Stupid Time has failed, and it’s only caused a rash of other issues that exacerbate the problem.  We don't even have to apologize to Benjamin Franklin for DST because he didn't "invent" it.  Franklin proposed waking up with the sun rather than at an artificial clock-determined time—which is what Daylight Stupid Time makes us do!

Further, lets drop the myth that Daylight Stupid Time is a benefit to farmers.  Farmers, and by extension their farms and animals, don't give two shakes of a lamb's tail what time the clock says.  They are usually up before dawn and don't really get to stop until long after sunset.  There's is always work to be done, and Daylight Stupid Time doesn't give them a single benefit.  In fact, farmers led the charge against Daylight Stupid Time because it can impact their bottom line.

If you happen to live in California, Assemblyman Kansen Chu has a bill for you.  AB2496, perhaps one of the simplest pieces of legislation you will ever see, will “. . . establish United States Standard Pacific Time as the standard time within the state during the entire year.”  Seriously, that’s action of the bill.  One line, and it ends forever this foolish experiment that has plagued us for generations.

You can help support Assemblyman Chu, by registering, clicking on “Comments” and selecting to “Support” the bill.  Drop Mr. Chu a comment.  I’m sure he’d love to hear your support!

Alternately, you can use the site to address this issue directly to you President Obama and your federal representatives in the House and Senate.  It's quick, it's easy, they even provide a pre-fab letter and automatic email system.  As of this blog, over 108,000 letters had already been signed and sent.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Voter Beware

If I can change, and you can change
Is that change we can believe in?
If you’re reading this, you probably know my stance on a lot of things.  Unless you’re just here for the girls and guns bit, which might have skewed your view of me.  Twenty-odd years ago, I was pretty centrist politically.  A few of my opinions, mostly fiscal, would have leaned to the right.  As a child of the Reagan Era, I was aware of vast government spending on the military, but not really understanding any of the impact.

All I knew is that Rocky went to Russia and kicked Soviet ass.

Get it?
A few of my more childish views have fallen by the wayside since then.  Some “common sense” elements have been shown to be neither common nor sensical.  Most people who meet me today would probably call me a “liberal”—and they’d probably mean it as an insult.  But by and large, my political views have actually remained unchanged.  What’s shifted is the political environment.  It’s skewed so heavily to the right that even my right-leaning side now appears to be a frothing-at-the-mouth leftist, pinko, commie, socialist with a bias for Satan.

So, now we’ve got that out of the way, I’m actually going to post up something political. I don’t do this often, because I’m sure it alienates some potential readers.  Sorry about that.  Perhaps with the information provided, you know (roughly) where I stand on things, and you can easily reject me out of hand for it.  Go ahead.  It will hardly be the first time, and while I may cry myself to sleep tonight, it will be on my THANKS KARL MARX pillow full of hope and spare change:

The problem here isn’t that Trump is lying—although it is a problem that he gets a pass for that.  The problem is that with Trump, it’s systemic.  Now, sure, you could say that Trump doesn’t believe what he’s selling.  He’s only doing it to secure the nomination.  He’s just a snake-oil mountebank who pitches what the people want to hear.  Ok, fine.  But even if he believes none of it—Trump steaks and branded water aside—he's still peddling hate and divisiveness to voters eager to lap it up.  He's pointing the finger, targeting racial and ethnic groups, pandering to hatred.  He tells people that not only are they right, anyone who stands against them—and by extension him—are wrong.  He’s telling people that not only are they justified in their fear and anger, but they are righteous for feeling it, and righteous for acting on it.

So righteous that he advocates violence.

Not only does he advocate violence, he actively supports violence.

Let’s be realistic about Trump.  Let’s drop the myth that he “speaks his mind” and he’s “a man of the people”.  He’s none of that.  He is bald-faced liar who can’t even own up to the truth of failed business ventures when it’s presented to him.  He’s a man, born of wealth and privilege whose only goal has ever been to advance himself over everyone else.  You can’t even make the argument that this is what all politicians in the presidential race are doing.  No matter where you fall on the political spectrum—Hilary or Sanders or Kasich or Cruz—they are at least an order of magnitude better than Trump.  They at least understand the amount of influence they have or want to have, and the potential for disaster they can create, while attempting (at least in their own minds) to make the world a better place.

There is nothing of that enlightened self-interest in Trump.  He’ll even tell you that himself.  He is, after all, like, a really smart person.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Inspiring Woman? Yes, Please!

I just read a hilarious (historically speaking) quote from Judith Sargent Murray.  Her name alone is pretty awesome, but the woman herself is worth remembering

Hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Virtuous Pagans

Roaring not required.
In honor of International Women’s Day, here’s a sneak peak of the next book in the Flames of Perdition series:

Del kicked the metal door hard.  It shattered the frame, tore free of the hinges, and careened into the floor.  Sparks struck as it skidded across the broken tile and drove itself into a concrete column.  A large chunk of masonry broke free and fell on top the door.

“Breech,” Del yelled, and started through the doorway.  “Go, go, go!”

As point, she entered the room first.  Her team of Ljosalfar and Dokkalfar, light and dark elves, were right behind her.  Four armed and trained soldiers, swept into the room.  Del, her H&K assault rifle snug to her shoulder, turned into the left hand corner.  For the first time in six months, she didn’t feel the tickle of fear that her back was turned to a room of potential bad guys.  She didn’t tense twice as hard with the worry that someone would forget to clear a corner.

“Mortals!” a deep, resonant and particularly scary voice said from the darkness inside room.

Del ignored it.  Her team knew what to do.  She trusted them to do their jobs.

Astrid was a half-step behind her.  The other woman, the only true mortal on the team, veered right to make certain her corner was clear.  Their swift movements meant they crossed into the “fatal funnel” for only a moment, but demons aren’t known for using firearms.  Human servants, on the other hand, are quite partial, if generally untrained—they were as dangerous to themselves as anyone else.  Del and Astrid swept and cleared their corners as two Ljosalfar poured through the door with Kel-Tec combat shotguns.  They immediately opened fire into the rogue demon.  Heavy slugs with cold-forged iron cores slammed into the rogue’s chest.  A roar filled the room, and vibrated through Del’s middle.  Demons didn’t understand most emotions, but anger, righteous or otherwise, was right up their alley.

Del swept her rifle barrel across the blank wall until she saw the rogue.  He was a giant of a man.  Taller than any member of her team, and with the mass to match it.  He topped Del and Astrid by head, shoulders and chest.  He looked like a stereotypical barbarian-slash-bodybuilder from the 80s—the kind they oiled up, slapped on fur-trimmed underwear, and rolled film.

Except now he had two gaping holes in his chest.

“You will all pay for this insult!” the rogue roared at them.

It took two steps toward them.  Del pulled the trigger three times.

The kick from her H&K barely registered against her shoulder as it spat more cold-forged steel.  Two shots slammed into the rogue’s left leg and he crumpled to his right knee.  The third missed and buried itself in the wall behind him.  Del hated to waste the exclusive ammunition, but the result was well worth the attempt.

This is my boomstick!
“I will tear your heads from your bodies,” the rogue yelled.  His voice seemed to come from everywhere at the same time.  “I will drink your heart’s blood from your still-wet skulls.”

“Light him up!” Del ordered.

The two shotguns stepped apart in near unison.  Through the hole they made, her last two team members strode right to the rogue demon.  Their military-grade M26 Taser led the way.  As soon as they were ten feet from the rogue, they shot.  Demons, manifesting in the mortal world, were still damned scary.  The Taser probes shot out and struck the rogue’s chest and stomach.  Immediately, a fifty-thousand volts times two travelled over the wires and into his central nervous system.

The effect was immediate.

The demon screeched.  Its body jerked, arms thrust out and back arched until it seemed its spine might break.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Facebook and Politics

But not against the willfully blind, grasshopper!
I have to share a little story with you.  Today, out of the blue, someone questioned a Trump quote that I posted up.  Now, you know me, so I was about 99.44% certain the quote I’d posted was real.  Still, there’s a margin for error and called into question, I’m willing to go the distance.  I did the research, a simple enough matter with my Google-fu, and found the quote in a video on CNN.


But before I could post up the videolink that showed Trump saying the quote, this individual in question, with whom I’ve never interacted before, and so never even had the chance to insult, decided that my “sin” of potentially misquoting Trump was enough to block me.  Not that I care that much, it was wholly laughable.  But, as with most political discussion, it made me very grateful to have you as a friend, because I know any political discussion with you will be reasonable and worthwhile, regardless where we each end up.

Hopefully at the bar.  You’re buying.

By the way, you’re going to hell.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Individual vs. Group Fighting

I'm pretty much the best general I know . . . 
Napoleon once gave some simple statistics* on tactics and order of troops:

Two Mamelukes can defeat three Frenchmen
100 Mamelukes are a match for 100 Frenchmen
300 Mamelukes would be overcome by 300 Frenchmen
1500 Mamelukes would be easily defeated by 1000 Frenchmen

What old Bonaparte is talking about is a matter of individual skill versus group training.  “Mamelukes” or Mumluks, were a warrior caste in Medieval Egypt and great individual fighters.  But their tactics were out of date when Napoleon invaded Egypt and Syria.  While it’s great that Farmy McFarmerson, the Chosen One of the prophecy now has a master swordsman, Colonel Cutter Slash Stabberhack to train him, this doesn’t mean that A) a few weeks of work will turn him into a consummate expert or, even if it does that B) he is now able to overcome a group of trained and experienced soldiers.

Kirk kirk, kirk kirk-kirk!
But he’s the Chosen One!

Alright, great.  No problem.  I’m totally cool with that provided that you cover some basics.  Anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of modern armies knows that an unshaven recruit will take months to get through training before he/she can competently take to the battlefield.  The U.S. Army requires 10 weeks of basic training and, depending on the discipline, 6 weeks up to a full year of advanced individual training.  Keep in mind that the age of gunpowder rapidly decreased the amount of training required to create competent troops.  Some of the best, most devastating troops of the Middle Ages, like English longbowmen, started training to pull their bows when they were old enough to hold one simply so they’d be strong enough to pull a full draw when it came time to loose at the enemy.  But archers alone, even the best of the best, couldn’t defeat the enemy alone.

The best armies of the ancient times (Romans, Assyrians, Chinese, etc.) knew this as well. 
Quick everyone, DIAMOND FORMATION!
They dedicated months to training, training and yes, more training.  Consider, for a moment, the amount of effort it takes to train a “simple” troop of spear.  The spear is the most basic and longest-lived weapon on the battlefield, and also one of the most formidable.  It made up the backbone of almost any decent fighting force (later modified into a mix of longer polearms like pike, glaive, halberd, etc.).  But the requirements to simply form a shieldwall and advance in a fighting line weren’t as simple as drawing in the dirt around a campfire.  A shield formation requires the frontline to link up, either with large shields hard to penetrate or, as the TV show Vikings likes to illustrate, a locked-system of overlapping shields.  The second line (yes, there would be a second line) would, when they actually met another shieldwall, push against the back of the first, possibly overlap their shields over the heads of the first line to ward off any missile attacks and at the same time thrust with their spears and swords AND not getting stabbed by the other team.

A very important lesson!

There’s a lot of things wrong with the Dwayne Johnson movie Hercules, but there is one definite thing right—training.  Early in the movie (small spoiler) Hercules is ordered by King Cotys to lead untrained men into battle.  Surprise, surprise, they lose against the experienced evenmy.  Even Hercules, with his singularly spectacular team of individually capable mercenaries is unable to put the smack down when Rhesus starts cooking.  They can’t.  A few well trained men and women can’t compete on an open battlefield with a troop of trained soldiers.  On the other hand, you can witness at the beginning of Gladiator and the TV series Rome just what Roman armies could really do against a determined force lacking in the same degree of training and experience and tactics:

But individually, well, that’s a whole different matter.  Goatherdia del Ranchero, the Chosen One, gets her magical sword out, and taps into the mystical energy of the Unifying Unobtanium of Time and/or Space and she can take all comers.  She gets a bonus to levelling and places all her skills in sword-mastery.  Past lives aid her, and she can go into the Aviator state of Howard Hughesness.  Plus, if there’s ever a defeat or setback, she just reverts to a training montage and is ready for action.

This still doesn’t make your Chosen One a general, a captain or even a first lieutenant.  Individual ability doesn’t translate into leadership, tactics or strategy.  As Fezzik in The Princess Bride points out, individual combat abilities and experience don’t apply the same when you’re confronted with a troop on a battlefield.  This doesn’t mean that Princess Wannacut Yerheartout can’t become a decent or great general and tactician (or use double negatives), but it takes more than some watery tart tossing about scimitars to lead warriors into battle.

I could kill you with kindness!
A good general, or even captain for that matter, has some degree of training from somewhere—even if it’s reading stacks and stacks of material on the subject.

*The full quote is: Two Mamelukes kept three Frenchmen at bay, because they were better armed, better mounted, and better exercised; they had two pairs of pistols, a tromblon, a carbine, a helmet with a visor, a coat of mail, several horses, and several men on foot to attend them. But a hundred French did not fear a hundred Mamelukes; three hundred were more than a match for an equal number; and one thousand would beat fifteen hundred: so powerful is the influence of tactics, order, and evolutions!