Monday, December 19, 2016

PSA - Monday, December 19th

Wish me luck.  Today is the day I go in for a very minor surgery.

The doctor assured me that from the time they wheel me in to when they wheel me out, it will only be 60-90 minutes.  Recovery should be pretty fast as well—two to three weeks total.

In the meantime, I probably won’t be updating this blog much (if at all).

My tweets will still go out automatically, and they’ll post to Facebook the same way.

Other than that, I’m pretty much “off the grid” as far as quick responses.

If you don’t hear from me, Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Burning EKG Daylight

I must break . . . out in SONG!
Yesterday, as part of my pre-op checkboxes, my doctor had me do some lab work and then get an EKG.  I’ve never had an EKG, and I assumed I’d be on one of those treadmill things, strapped with a couple dozen electrode-thingies, forced to run on an increasing incline at faster rates much like Ivan Drago did in Rocky IV.

Kaiser’s lab opens at 7:30am, so I headed off from my house a little before 7:00am.  I was the third or fourth in, and took #6 from the “Wait-UR-Damn-Turn-inator”.  When 7:30 rolled up, the lab check-in process started rolling and I was quickly in a seat, having my blood drawn by an expert phlebotomist.  Almost no pain at all, which I always appreciate and thank!

Then it was up to the fourth floor for the EKG.  I was the second one into the waiting room, and that window didn’t open for check-in until 8:00am, so I had a short ten minute wait.  This is almost never a real problem for me, as I’m always carrying my Kindle with two or three books that I haven’t read, and a slew that I’d be willing to read again. 

Unfortunately, as the receptionist told me, they don’t start doing the EKG until 8:45am.  Well, this is what I’m doing this morning, so that’s what I did.  I settled in to read for the next hour, tearing through the last third of Nick Cole’s The World as We Knew It and then started into Eric Lahti’s Saxton: Yee Naaldlooshii.  The lab tech for the EKG collected me around 9:10am, and we took a short walk down the hall.

EKG tests get your heart going!
“You can set your stuff there,” she told me, and gestured to a chair.  I deposited my messenger bag and sunglasses.

“Lay down and pull up your shirt.”

What’s this?  No disrobing and putting on a hospital gown?  No treadmill set to 95 degree?

The tech put six or so sticky-pads on my chest and attached cords to each one.

“Lay still and breathe normally,” she said.

I did so.  Or at least as much as you can in a cold hospital lying on an uncomfortable bed-thing with my feet hanging a good foot off the end.

“That’s it,” she said a moment later.

Seriously, like thirty seconds.  It took more time for her to take the pads and cords off of me than for the actual test.

I hope I passed!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

We're Fine, We're All Fine Here

Actual picture of my nurse!
I never know how many people actually read, let alone appreciate, my blog posts or various tweets—until yesterday.  I was waiting patiently (no, seriously) at my doctor’s office for a schedule pre-op appointment, I sent out what I thought was a funny, observational tweet:

The nurse had told me twice in the past 45 minutes that the doctor would see me in "five minutes".

This morning, my Facebook page, which Twitter automatically posts to, was filled with comments and some concerns, over my well-being.  It went beyond heart-warming, as I followed what started to become a conversation about me and my status.  Fortunately, one of the concerned folk Tweeted to me directly, and after I responded (non-descript, is the term used), he was able to assure everyone else I was OK.

Or at least as OK as a guy like me can be.

You don’t really know how many lives you touch, and how great that impact can be.  I’m not going to get all sappy in this post, but it did give a lovely morale boost.  It’s great to know that, even people you’ve never met, think you’re a worthwhile human being.

Or else they called dibs on your stereo and cassette collection.

(Hands off, you vultures!  I'm taking them with me!)

Whichever, I thank all of you who saw the post and were even slightly concerned (or just wanted to mock me).  You've warmed the cockles, the sub-cockles and the undercoating of my heart.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Weekend Birthday Madness

When your three boys attack!
We had a great opportunity this past weekend to celebrate a birthday.  It’s hard to believe that four years have gone by so fast!  Tara had a schedule, and despite all the jokes (and there were plenty, I can assure you) it worked.

Tara is truly brilliant.

The picture is what happens when you're the dad with three boys, and they're "working together".

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Letter to My Son

The following was a letter written to my son and his third grade class for some kind of student recognition:

Dear Miss Mendez and Porter’s Third Grade Class:

You’re in the third grade, and that’s amazing!  What’s more amazing is that you’re in Porter’s class.  I wish I’d been in your class.  Porter comes home from school every day excited about what he’s learned, and anxious to tell me about his day.  From the lessons, to what he had for lunch, to what he played at recess—I get the full breakdown of your daily class.  I also hear about all the friends Porter interacts with on a daily basis, and it sounds wonderful.  It is so great that all of you get along well, and I’m thrilled by what you’re learning.

I wish there had been a Porter in my class when I was in third grade.  Porter has always been a responsible child, and he enjoys learning new things.  But most of all, Porter really loves helping and being a friend.  He’s always been a kind child, and has always paid attention to the smaller kids—Porter likes when everyone is included and everyone has fun.  He is especially good, to his two brothers: Tristan and Xavier—even if they do annoy him sometimes.

This makes a lot of sense, because Porter wants to be a game designer.  When he was younger, he invented a game called “Ball-Ball”.  I don’t know the exact rules of Ball Ball (it’s possible only Porter does), but playing it with him was a lot of fun.  Porter will play any game that comes into the house.  While he enjoys single-player video games, he prefers games that allow multiple-players so that everyone can join in with him.

Most of all, I am proud of Porter, and all that he represents for the upcoming generation.  I catch glimpses of his mother and I in Porter, but he is wholly his own person.  Energetic, driven, focused (when he wants to be) with opportunities and experiences that far outstrip my own.  I also catch little visions of what he and his classmates will be like in the future, and it makes me happy to see.

Thank you!

Your Dad—

RobRoy McCandless

Monday, December 12, 2016

Outlook Hazy—Try Again Later

. . . then the nurse said, "The doctor will be with you
in a moment!"
Every couple of years or so I like to throw my holidays into a wild curve by visiting the hospital.  This will be one of those years.  Next Monday, December 19th, I’ll head into surgery.  It’s nothing major—I’m told they remove heads all the time—so I’m not overly concerned.

You should not be concerned either.

If you are worried in any way, just stop, and then be awesome.

If that doesn’t work, I’ve pre-programmed my Twitter to keep sending out all those nuggets of wisdom you’ve come to know, love, respect and cherish.

If you aren’t cherishing them, you can start now.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The New Normal

"It's silly to appeal to people's moral sense."
It was inevitable.  When we allowed Trump to continue as a viable candidate after his first round of lies, we established and validated a pattern that we'll continue to see for at least the next four years.  Trump is no longer accountable to anyone, and we made him that way.

The new normal is:

Trump lies.
He gets caught in the lie.
He lashes on whoever called him out for the lie.
Trump doubles down on the lie.
There are no consequences.

We created the monster, gave him power over us, and now all we can do is watch helplessly from the sidelines.  The next four years will show Trump repeating this cycle.  He’ll malign individuals over perceived slights, and take credit for something he didn’t accomplish, and never mind that the numbers don't work.

Or, to put it more succinctly:

But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.

Hermann Goering

Nuremberg Diary
(The dude in the picture)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fantasy Bounty Hunters

“Who are those guys?”
Butch Cassidy Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Whaddya mean "no disintegrations"?
Bounty hunters rank right up there with pirates, ninjas and Vikings as one of the coolest jobs every romanticized into mythic proportions.  A recent question about bounty hunters in a Medieval fantasy setting prompted quite the conversation, and pointed out that there are precious few fantasy-genre bounty hunter stories.

There’s a very good, historical reason for this.

Independent individuals who captured criminals for a monetary reward (bounties)—didn’t exist in the Medieval period.


Bounty hunting, as a profession, doesn’t become a thing until the late 1600s and early 1700s.  Before that, there wasn’t a reward system in place that would create and sustain a profession we know as “bounty hunting”.  This isn’t to say that rewards weren’t offered, from time to time, by a government or an authority figure.  Those certainly happened.  But there wasn’t a system of “bounties” that would create enough demand for an individual not attached to the government in some way to make a living, even part-time, hunting them down.

My!  That is a large bounty you have there!
Why wasn’t there an economy of rewards?  There was no need for it.  The agrarian society of the feudal system tied the majority of people to the land.  To survive, they had to work the land, and that just didn’t leave a lot of time for master minding a castle heist.  Wealth was generally in the hands of the aristocracy, whose prime concern was on maintaining and expanding their holdings—meaning walls, forts, and plenty of guards which sharp metal that would leave holes in your favorite liver.  Crimes that did occur, even minor ones, were harshly punished (see the aforementioned guards), which acted as a major deterrent.  Getting your hand cut off for stealing a loaf of bread really puts the kibosh on a reasonable person’s dreams of becoming a master-thief.  Most criminals were of the petty variety and locally sourced—they wouldn't have the means or ability to travel outside of their region to “pull a job” or “make a get away”. Those that did, wouldn't really be worth tracking down in a “bounty hunter” fashion, and they rarely if ever made the radar of the local lord or reeve.

If a criminal, or criminal group, did become a problem, the local authorities would put more effort into capturing or killing them, even to the point of placing a reward—but the enforcement would remain in the hands of the local government.  The rewards were one-offs, and not regular occurrences.

Add to that the relatively small population of the time.  On average, everyone knew everyone
Will work for bounties . . . or noodles!
else and everyone knew what everyone else had—next to nothing.  If your next to nothing was stolen, and Goodman Smith suddenly had slightly more next to nothing, it's a good bet where he got it.  It takes the rise of a merchant class/middle class to spread around the wealth, and see a rise in crime, such that enough criminals become a problem, you need to start putting bounties on their heads to keep the crime rate down. Reward-systems started to come into place in the late 1600s and early 1700s when the merchants were well established, wealth was better distributed, and populations were on the rise.

None of this is to say you can’t have a bounty hunter in your Medieval-based fantasy world.  In fact, you very much can and should!  There appears to be very little bounty hunter fantasy out right now (the aforementioned discussion turned up only a handful of titles).  You don’t even need to explain the economy of your fantasy world to make bounty hunting viable—just get out there and start writing!