I'm At A Loss  

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I don't think Thanksgiving will ever be quite the same for me. I found out that today my friend's son passed away in a car accident. He was going back to school from visiting family for Thanksgiving. I didn't know this young man personally, and I haven't spoken with his parents face to face in some time. We kept in touch on facebook to some degree, but you know how that goes.

It just really struck me that I don't know how I would handle this type of tragedy. God forbid this would happen to one of my children. These people are strong and I know they will make it. It just seems like such a waste of a young life. This boy was just getting started and everything was taken away from him and his family in the blink of an eye.

It got me to thinking how important it is to let my family know how important they are to me. I don't tell them often enough that they are the reason I maintain some measure of sanity (allbeit slim sometimes). I'm pinning a note to my desk to remind me to say it more often. To show it more often, and most importantly to enjoy the time I have now because I can never know how long it will last.

To Steve and Shelly, I'm truly sorry for your loss. I remember all of us at that age just preparing to go out into the world. We were excited about what was to come, and even if we wouldn't admit it we were a little scared of it as well. I am praying for you guys and a lot of other people are as well.

So to any of you that happen to read this. Keep my friends in your thoughts, and if you are so inclined say a little prayer for them, I have a feeling they are going to be needing as much support as they can get.

Tis the Season?  

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Well here we go into the "Holiday" season. It doesn't officially start until Thanksgiving although I think they should go ahead and give the nod to Halloween. After all around the beginning of October is when I see the first signs of Christmas anyway, so why not just usher in the Holiday season with the beginning of Fall.

I'm against putting up decorations for Christmas before Thanksgiving, but I surely do love the Christmas music. It's on a station where I live 24 hours a day. I drive my coworkers and family nuts with it. It's just very uplifting for me to listen to Perry Como or Bing Crosby singing Christmas songs. :)

I've mentioned in the past that I work as a safety manager. Well I get these little tidbits of information from time to time from different "safety" sources. News clips or changes in regulations. Anyway, I saw one the other day that was talking about the proper training for employees to avoid injuries during big crowd events ie. Black Friday. This all came about because some poor soul was trampled to death last year at a Walmart during Black Friday. I'm just curious how they plan to train all these people in what to look for and how to avoid this kind of mess in less than a week (the regulation came out last friday). It took them over a year from the time this poor guy died to come up with a plan. Ah well if that isn't a good sign of our government at work, I don't know what is.

So I have been browsing the websites looking for the good deals that are supposed to be happening this weekend. I have to say I'm not all that impressed with it. We are supposedly recovering from this economic crisis. I would think they would do a bit more to get people into the store instead of offering the same stale, tired sales that they have been offering for the last month (with an extra 3-5% off).

BUT in the true spirit of the season, I have to share a little enounter I had with a "kid"(he was about 17). I was in line at the local Mcdonalds, well not local, but since I travel a good bit, I consider them pretty local. So I'm waiting in line and it's a pretty healthy line, I'd say there were at least 15 people in front of me and a good 10 behind. The line was moving along at a snails pace. Right behind me was this young man and behind him was this older woman (I'd guess late 70's). She was a little stooped and was chatting with everybody around here. Very outgoing and pleasant. She was talking to a bunch of younger kids behind her and they were all having a good laugh which sorta surprised me because usually kids don't have time for the elderly in my experience.

I came to find out that she had recently lost her husband and oldest son in a car accident (same accident). Well that just shot my mood to yucky in about one second. She told us not to be upset because she had faith that they were in a better place. She went on to tell us about her husband and son. By now the younger kids weren't listening anymore, but me and this guy behind me sure were. She told us how her son was a coach for little league and her husband used to go help him up until only a couple of years ago. I guess that her husband had some health issues that kept him from doing all the things he had enjoyed earlier in life. She wasn't specific and I didn't ask.

We were up to the front of the line and I asked her if I could buy her lunch for her. She accepted, but before I could get her order the boy behind me asked if I would please allow him to. I was a little shocked, but said sure. He placed his order for her and him ahead of me, and then explained to both of us that her son was his little league coach. The boy didn't remember her husband but said that her son was a great coach and always thought of the kids first. This boy was getting ready to get out of high school he said, and wanted to be a teacher because he wanted to be able to help kids like "Coach" did. Well I was getting a little emotional as I placed my order. I got my stuff and was walking away. The old woman was hugging the boy and told him that he gave her the best Christmas present she could ask for.

It's funny how these things can happen. I got to thinking about it afterwards. It's defintely a small town and the chances of running into each other are pretty good. I'm just glad I got to witness it and be involved in the conversation. I coached for about 17 years and I loved every minute of it (well maybe not every minute of it). It's a reward to see the kids learn something new and watch their eyes light up when they realize they got it right. I can only hope that one day I'll have a kid come up to me and say I had that kind of impact in his life. We think about doing that with our own children, but just remember others are watching. We are role models whether we want to be or not. I'm sure glad that lady got her Christmas present early :)

Online Gaming FTW!!  

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For those of you not involved in any form of online gaming, FTW simply means for the win. I am a complete online game freak but only for really one game. I play a game called Guild Wars. It's an MMORPG (Massive Multi Online Role Playing Game). I have been a gaming fanatic as long as I can remember. I started out playing pong. Which is by the way the first true video game. My taste in video games has evolved with the culture. I choose this particular game that I play now because it has stunning graphics and a good storyline for people that care to follow it.

Add to the fact that I have made so many friends online. We network with people from everywhere. I play with people from Germany, France, England, even a couple from Italy. Not to mention about 7 states here in the U.S. I have lots of people tell me that I can get the same thing from MySpace or Facebook. Nope I can't. I am a card carrying member of both although I don't even bother with MySpace any longer. I still network with my friends through Facebook, and don't get me wrong I enjoy it just fine for what it is.

The difference for me, is that I am able to relax and be myself online. Be it gaming, or networking. Gaming just allows me to be a little more silly and a little more childlike (immature). I have to say it's pretty liberating to become a character in a game and just let loose and have a good time. No worries about the job, or what's for dinner, or if the electric bill got paid on time. I can let loose and be somebody or something else for a little while and still retain who I am. Sounds a little confusing to read it, but for those of you that play, I'm sure it's totally making sense right about now.

I would suggest that if you have kids, or heck if you don't and you want a chance to relax without having to rely on a movie or the couch. Invest in one of the tons of MMORPG games available. Many are free to download and free to play. The only thing you really have to invest is a little time and effort in understanding the game and the storyline.

Now this will never take the place of my beloved reading, but it's a nice filler when I'm a little burned out on the stuff I'm reading, or if I've had a particularly rough day at work. It's nice to log in and talk with people that can relate to me, and even if they don't always understand exactly what my problem is, they understand that the gaming world is a great place to leave it behind. We have made a point of always finding something fun to do and hopefully as a large group. We have albums full of SS (screen shots) of gaming adventures, that are every bit as fun to look through as my pictures of the last Rec league softball team I was on.

I know that I'm a nerd, but I don't really care. I like the fact that there are tons of other nerds just like me and they are enjoying the same nerdy stuff I'm enjoying. So if you have a couple hours on the weekend go ahead and download a game, and give it a shot. I won't promise that it's for you, but I promise that if you like it, a whole new world will open up for you.

It's All Good  

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I realized that lately I've been sort of focusing on the negatives. It became pretty clear to me when I got so irritated by that rude little kid. I got to thinking that maybe I shouldn't let that kind of stuff get me down. My grandfather always told me that I will see in people exactly what I want to see. If I'm focusing on the bad stuff then I'm gonna see the bad in people, and of course if I start looking for the good then it's going to be that much easier to find.

I decided this morning that I was going to focus on the good stuff. So this is the middle of the month and for me that means Safety Meeting. I have to talk to people about the most boring drivel there is and I have to do it in a way that will keep their interest for at least 25 minutes. Any good presenter will tell you that the key is to make sure you get your information out there in a fashion that appeals to your audience, and do it in a timely manner. The longer you drag on the less they tend to remember.

With this in mind, I decided to go with a more humorous approach. I like joking around with the people I work around, and they generally like to joke back. I have some funny videos that I show from time to time to sort of lighten the mood while still offering up the information that they need to have. I chose one of these for this morning. So I got to the facility about 20 minutes ahead of time but nobody was there yet. I don't have the keys to unlock this place so I sat there and waited until 5 minutes before meeting time. Sure enough the guy shows up in the nick of time so that I can rush around and get everything in order before the meeting starts. Now normally I would have been a little irritated that he chose to show up to unlock at a few minutes before, but this is the new me. I told myself he probably got held up in traffic, or just dropped into the Mcdonalds on the way for a cup of coffee. No big deal right?

So I get the dvd player set up and the TV too. This only took an extra 15 minutes, because this same guy didn't bother to have anything out and available to get started. I once again told myself that he had probably just overlooked it, and it wasn't really him being difficult or anything like that. So I asked this guy where the DVD was that I left last night in preparation for this meeting, and he tells me that he didn't see it. He goes on to explain to me that it's not his job to have all this stuff set up and if I can't keep track of the movie I should hold on to it instead of leaving it in an unattended room overnight. Ok so maybe he had a rough night and just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I'm still looking for some good here.

The meeting has to go on, so I get a different movie for these guys to suffer through. It is about 15 minutes of pure boredom. I haven't even seen this movie before, so I can't offer up any additional information when they start asking questions. So now I look like I don't know my job but I figure it's not a big deal. This is just one meeting and these guys just want to get done and get out of here. So we finish up in a pretty good time only took about an hour and I'm thinking something is finally going right. So everybody is leaving and this one guy is walking out but he stops to tell me that I shouldn't let it bother me too much.
I have no idea what he's talking about, so he explains to me that this wonderful guy that has done nothing but cause me grief this morning has been sort of telling stories about the safety manager (that's me). He was teling the guys that i'm not ever prepared and then he went on to blame me for the meeting starting late (I guess I have phantom keys to unlock the door). He even went as far as to tell the guys that I chose this movie over the other, cause I didn't figure they would understand the other one.

So I decided that maybe you can't always find something good in somebody. I set this poor guy straight. I explained to him how things had really worked and that I had absolutely nothing to do with the late start or the crappy movie they had to endure. I then proceeded to walk over to this "supervisors" office to give him a piece of my mind. I walked in the room and closed the door. He told me he'd be right with me. I told him that he would indeed be right with me. Then next 15 minutes would be a series of @$#! as that was pretty much all that was said with a couple of "if I ever hear any of this crap again" thrown in for good measure. I decided that it would have better impact on mr. personality if I just left quickly before I overdid it. So before he had a chance to respond I turned around and out the door I went.

The rest of the day wasn't nearly as bad, in fact my second meeting was very successful and I managed to give out some gift cards in a drawing (because we had the extra time). I was driving home and slipped through the little town where yesterday the young man with the bad attitude was crossing the street. I was sure that he was going to rear his rude little head and I was going to fall back into the "funk" I seem to have been in. Alas he wasn't anywhere to be found which turned out to be a good thing since I didn't have my son with me like I told the little prince I would.

I realize that I have not followed my own rule now. I have made this post long and boring, but at the very least I got this off my chest. One more week and it's Thanksgiving and I'll be a happy camper. Until then I think that my best bet is to avoid the mean and nasty's of the world and like the Beatles said "Let it Be".

Superior Scribbler Me??  

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I was honored with an award very recently... I have seen this one floating around here and there amongst the blogs that I read. I am most honored to receive this from Kristen at http://readingartandwriting.blogspot.com/

There are a couple of rules involved with this award
Superior Scribbler Rules :

*Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the Award to 5 most deserving Bloggy friends.

*Each Superior Scribbler must link to the Author & name of the blog from whom he/she received the Award.

*Each Superior Scribbler must display the Award on his/her blog and link to this post which explains the award.

*Each blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler award must visit Superior Scribbler Rules :

*Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the Award to 5 most deserving Bloggy friends.

*Each Superior Scribbler must link to the Author & name of the blog from whom he/she received the Award.

*Each Superior Scribbler must display the Award on his/her blog and link to this post which explains the award.

*Each blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler award must visit http://scholastic-scribe.blogspot.com/2008/10/200-this-blings-for-you.html.

Now to pass on this great award...

1. http://hbmike2000.blogspot.com/

2. http://www.thecleanwhitepage.com/

3. http://writeitanyway.blogspot.com/

4. http://abookwithaview.blogspot.com/

5. http://plainolebob.blogspot.com/

Right of Way?!?  

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I completely understand that the pedestrian has the right of way. I was taught that from a very young age. I remember as a young boy walking across a couple of busy intersections. In school they used to teach us to look both ways before crossing. Now maybe it's just me, but doesn't a little common sense have to come into play here? After you check both ways, shouldn't you also ensure that the way is clear before crossing? I don't undestand a bunch of school kids who look, and seeing a barrage of cars......cross anyway. Do they not realize that some cars are paying as little attention as they themselves are? Is it really gonna matter who has the right of way, if somebody gets splattered all over the road? On the headstone it will read "Here lies little Jimmy...... He had the right of way".

The reason for this little tantrum, is because of this afternoon on the way home.
I had sorta finished early and decided to come on home. I pass through a couple of small towns before I get to my small town, and decided to stop in one of them for a quick lunch. I hit a bad time since school was recently out. All the school kids were walking down the sidewalk. I noticed that they were crossing the street up ahead of me in little groups. Now instead of walking an extra half a block and crossing at the light, the kids were crossing at a crosswalk with no light. First of all what kind of backward town has crosswalks in the middle of the busiest street in the whole dang town? I am if nothing else a good ol' boy, but even I see how senseless it is too have a crosswalk in the middle of the street and then at the traffic light. This goes on through the whole street, which by the way is about 2 1/2 to 3 miles long. So anyways, I'm noticing these kids crossing in little groups, and they are for the most part waiting for traffic to calm before attempting the cross. Enter my group of kids. I say my group because these are the adorable little children who chose to cross as I was appoaching the middle of the street. About 4 of them were joking and laughing and they just started walking. Now I knew that I would pass well before they got to me, but the cars on the others side of the road slammed on their brakes. These kids didn't even look at the cars that nearly had an accident avoiding them. I stopped right in the middle of the cross walk. They almost ran into my truck because they couldn't even look far enough in front of themselves to see that a truck was parked in their way. Finally one of them looked up and then looked at me. He just stood there, didn't try to go around me or back up. Just staring at me with who knows what on his mind. I rolled down the window and proceeded to expalin to him that he was asking for a large helping of hurt if he didn't pay a little more attention to what he was doing (maybe not as G rated as that). He flipped me off. Yeah this 14 or 15 year old kid flipped me off. then he started to walk around my truck. I was sort of stunned that this kid thought it was acceptable to nearly cause an accident and then flip off the guy that warned him of what he did. So I pulled forward a little bit as he was going around me (he wasn't smart enough to go behind the vehicle). At that point he got the idea that maybe I wasn't the best person to flip off. He sort of trotted across the street with his friends quickly following him. I rolled down the other window and explained to him that I would be back tomorrow to see if he wanted to offer up that finger to me again. Only this time I was bringing my under 18 son with me. Now I know that I got down to his level on this one, but I can't understand the throught process here. Can someone please tell me, who is teaching our kids that it's ok to show a complete and utter lack of respect to everyone and everything around them? Now I'm starting to sound like the old farmer that used to cuss me all the time when I was a kid. Of course when I was getting yelled at I stood there and took it then I apologized for doing whatever dumb thing I was doing when I got caught....

Ok I feel a little better now. But I'm still going to go back there tomorrow with my boy and see if this kid is really brave or really dumb. Either way, he and I are going to have us another chat....

Fianl Approach  

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So I might have mentioned that I really like to read debut novels. I have said it before and I'll say it again. Debut novels are like Christmas presents, you just never really know for sure what you are gonna get. So I was pretty excited to get to read a debut novel from an author whose blog I happen to peruse on a regular basis. Rachel Brady wrote Final Approach. You can check out her blog at this URL http://writeitanyway.blogspot.com/ I will warn you now that this month she is a little preoccupied with NaNoWriMo, but you can check her archives for tons of good stuff. So anyway on to the story.

Final Approach is a bit of a chilling mystery to me. It's about a woman named Emily who is trying to locate a kidnapped child. Now Emily has some baggage related to child abduction, and she has lost her Husband and daughter to a tragic accident. She agrees to help the man she believes is responsible at least in part for a previous kidnapper getting off scott free. She is a skydiver and agrees to go undercover for this private investigator and see what she can dig up. I know absolutely nothing about skydiving, so this was also a mini lesson in skydiving terminology. Not to mention that I could visualize so much of the surroundings, and could imagine some of the sensation from a dive. Before I wasn't sure if I would ever want to skydive, now I'm sure I don't.

I will warn you now, if you have children this book will pull at your heart strings. I can hardly imagine what must go through the mind of a parent who has lost their child, be it to abduction or a tragic accident. This is an emotional roller coaster of a book, with twists and turns everywhere. I am not the biggest of mystery fans, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anybody who even thinks they might like mystery. Well written and I loved the ending. I hope the Emily Locke series becomes just that.

Keep your eyes on this author she will be putting out some more good stuff. I just hope it's soon enough to suit this reader :)

Getting Noticed is so Cool!!  


I am a middle child. If anybody doesn't know about middle children we get blamed for just about everything. We may have done it, or maybe not but that doesn't matter we still get the blame. As such middle children look for praise and acceptance more than the oldest or youngest (I read that somewhere). I wholeheartedly agree with that.

So Imagine my excitement to find that I was noticed by Sarah @ http://sarah-writerinmaking.blogspot.com/
As with most awards there are a couple of rules that must be followed. While I'm not great at following rules I do believe these are most appropriate.

1. Thank the person who gave the award to you.

2. Copy award.

3. Post it in your blog.

4. Tell us 7 things that your readers don't know.

5. Link 7 new bloggers as recipients.

6. Notify winners of award with comment on their blog .

7. Keep being awesome!

Well with that said obviously THANK YOU so much Sarah.

Now for 7 things...hmmmm
1. I once ate 2 1/2 lbs of spaghetti on a bet in a sitting (it was a long sitting).
2. I was kicked out of typing class in high school for typing faster than my teacher and rubbing it in.
3. I love to read an author's debut novel.
4. I have 4 dogs 2 cats and a turtle.
5. I was a total jock in school, but none of my sons have shown an interest in traditional sports
6. I am told (by my kids) that I make the best grilled cheese sandwich ever.
7. I scored in the top 5% on my ASVAB(military induction test), but could barely manage B's through high school.

Now, to pass this on...

1. http://wwwbobbypinsboardwalk.blogspot.com/ bobbypins boardwalk is just a really fun site to go browsing through. Jan is totally awesome and has more ideas than you can shake a stick at.

2. http://www.thecleanwhitepage.com/ I recently found the clean white page, and let me tell you, Tina has some unbelievable stories. Just tons of talent there check it out!

3. http://coachyourmind.blogspot.com/ I don't remember how I happened onto this blog, but I'm sure glad I did. Dayne is the type of person that makes you think about some of the tough things in life (like self improvement). He has a unique way of getting to the meat of the problem. He has saved me a ton of money on therapy..lol.

4. There are 2 blogs that I love, that also received this award from Sarah. Ian at http://thedailydoseofreality.blogspot.com/ I read his blog every day, and I promise that if you check it out you won't be disappointed. Ian will get you thinking about all sorts of stuff...

5. Kristy at http://kristy-hutchison.blogspot.com/ This was the 2nd blog I followed. I love her way of writing things that allows someone dopey like me the ability to understand. She is an aspiring author and I'm sure that she will do it. Really great writing style.

check both of these guys out you won't be disappointed.

6. Desertson at http://writersoup.blogspot.com/ He is also a writer, and if you check down his blog a bit you will find a teaser from his writing. Very talented guy, and I wish he would hurry up and put that story out. Did I mention that his daughter sings like an angel (no kidding). check out the links on his site she is a truly amazing singer in my opinion.

7. Russ at http://ramblingrussspeaksout.blogspot.com/ This is a new blog for me. I have to say that I really enjoy the posts he has put up so far. He is just getting started here, but I'm sure that if what he has is any indication of what we will be seeing. This is gonna be a great blog.

So those are my 7 and I am sure that if the rules said list 25 I could have done that too. I really have been lucky finding so many great blogs out there since I started following along.

For those that have followed along recently a little side note. My son Ethan is OK. They said he just has a good ol' fashioned cold. Imagine that nowadays there is still just a regular cold out there :)

Home Remedy  

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My little boy has begun to get sick. Not anything serious yet, but the cough is there, and the eyes are a bit glassy (no fever thankfully). He just seems sorta miserable. He doesn't say it, but when he doesn't want to play, and just wants to lay down and watch tv then you know as a parent that kiddo isn't feeling up to specs.

I tried the home remedies that have been passed down to me. Unfortunately for coughs they are pretty light. I did the hot tea with honey, and boiled the hot water over the stove. Then I just figured that if hot water boiling was good the whole dang bathroom full of steam would be better. So he has been stuck in the shower, force fed tea and made to inhale large quantities of steam from a pot. I will fix him or kill him at this rate.

So I started wondering if maybe anybody out there had their own home remedies for a cough or cold. I would be willing to try anything to make him feel better (he might not be too excited about it). So if you have something drop me a line and I promise I won't tell Ethan where the info came from....

Anybody Remember the Milkman?  


I admit I was fairly young, but I still remember the milkman dropping off the little carrying case of milk on the front porch. It wasn't a plastic carton, it was glass. We usually had 4 of them in that little contraption made of cheap wire. My mom would tell me to make sure that I put the basket back on the porch every Sunday or we would get charged for a second basket (that was a no no). I didn't talk often to the milkman, he usually would say a simple "Good Morning" and be on his way. Is it just me or did that milk taste better than the $4/gallon stuff we drink now?

That made me think about a lot of the services we used to get that were a little more personal back then. The garbageman, that's right he was called a garbageman and he was proud to be called that. He came by our neighborhood twice a week and emptied those shiny metal cans that were multipurpose. In the summer those cans were filled with ice for all the sodas and other drinks at the barbecue. The lids made perfect shields for BB gun fights. Every now and then the garbageman would dent up the can. There was almost always a note on our door, apologizing for the dent to the can.

Of course there was the mailman too. The mailman from my childhood knew my name, and he knew the name of every kid on the street. He also knew the families and could shout greetings by name up and down the street. He didn't drive a little mail jeep, he walked. He wore those funky post office shorts, and we used to laugh a little when he left, but it wasn't uncommon to have him ask how the little league game went last night, or if we were keeping up our grades at school. Heck our mailman even liked our dog and that dumb dog seemed to like him.

Now I couldn't tell you my Postal Delivery Service driver's name if my life depended on it. Mostly because it's not the same person on a daily basis. The solid waste disposal technician shows up at about 4:30 in the morning (usually) and if I have a lid left on my receptacle I'm happy. Thankfully heavy duty plastic doesn't exactly dent. The milkman is dead. He was replaced by the mini-mart and the discount grocery stores of the world.

Nothing is personal anymore. I'm sorry that my kids won't get to experience that side of this town I grew up in. I'm not saying everything was rosy back then. We had our fair share of problems. Bullies were still running around like they do today (but back then they hit you with a fist). Drunks, pushers, and just plain inconsiderate people were still around then too, but people tended to frown on that type of behavior a bit more. Now if you are one of those categories nobody wants to say anything cause somebody might get offended. Political correctness is more important today I suppose.

Well there isn't much I can do about the milkman, but sometimes I wish he was back, along with my mailman and the garbageman...........


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Well I haven't really made any mention of some of the books I have been entertaining lately (cause most of them have not been entertaining me). I am defintely a fan of Fantasy/Adventure as well as a slew of other genres, but I find myself returning to Fantasy a good deal.

Well some time back I made a trip to Barnes & Noble to check for anything that might sucker me into yet another purchase for the bookshelf. Not to get away from the subject but there is this amazing library on bobbypinsboardwalk you can find that project here http://wwwbobbypinsboardwalk.blogspot.com/2009/10/living-turned-library.html . Anyway I found what appeared to be a pretty interesting read. I had never read anything from K.J. Parker before so I was doubly excited. I love reading new authors, it's almost like Christmas. You just never know what you are gonna get, and just like Christmas sometimes it's really really cool, and sometimes it's that tired old sweater that you already have a dresser full of.

The story revolves around an engineer from The Republic. He breaks the guild law by making something not to specifications. Sounds a little blah, but the whole premise of the book is based around this society that is built around order. Everything has a place and everybody has a job. They are the only culture with technical knowledge so advanced. They basically make everything that the outlying cities and towns purchase. If somebody goes "rogue" it is imperative to recover them or remove them.
Nobody else has the technical knowledge to build the war machines that keep this republic so strong. Nor does anybody have the skills or abilities to make these knick knacks and every other creature comfort available in the same way or with the same precision as the republic.

This engineer is sentenced to die, because he broke the rules and made something he wasn't supposed to. He escapes and offers his services to the Duchy of Eremia. The very city that just suffered a devasting battle to the Republic. The Duchy is a bit unsure and assume that he is a spy or some such agent, sent to ensure the total destruction of their city.

The whole story revolves around the engineer and the leaders of two other cities. It's basically a story about a man starting a war to be able to reunite with his own family. There is a lot of "technical" jargon in this book. So if you are into that type of thing this will be great for you. My biggest problem with this story was I found myself not really agreeing with the "hero". I like my heroes to have a similar take on the world that I do. Silly I know, but that's just me. The other thing that gives me pause is this is book one of the trilogy. By the way the trilogy is The Engineer Trilogy. Not exactly the most catchy of titles I admit.

If you can look past some of that, this is a really intriguing story. It gives you a little vision into what someone MIGHT do to be with their family. It's about more than just one man, it's about a mindset, and that's the part of the story I can relate to. I'll reserve judgement until I have read through all three books, for now the jury is out, but all in all it was able to keep me coming back to see what would happen next. If you are a patient reader it's not bad, this book runs about 600 pages and if you have no understanding of measurements it could be a bit confusing. Other than that it reads fairly easily.

I will start book 2 this weekend so we'll see how that goes. Hopefuly #2 leads me down the road I want it to :)



Well I might have mentioned that I enjoy writing. I just don't write for other people. The stories were always confined to my kids or myself. The boys enjoyed stories about these neighborhood boys who were normal everyday school kids by day, and time traveling superheroes on their free time. ACES was born and it's been fun even if I have written far fewer now then I used to.

So when I started hearing about NaNoWriMo I figured I would give it a shot. After all how hard can it be to write 50,000 words in a whole month right? I have thrown away stories nearly that long and they didn't take more than 10-15 days until I decided they weren't worth the paper they were written on. NaNoWriMo doesn't care if I think it's good or bad, all that matters is the quantity. So I figured this would be a shoe-in for me to manage. I was wrong.

First of all it has to be original. I have a tendency to use common characters in most of my stories (pure laziness I think). So I resolved that issue fairly quickly. Not too difficult to bring another few people to life in my mind. Just putting a face to those voices in my head (I'm kidding there aren't usually voices in my head). Then of course just start writing. something usually comes to me as I start putting a character into situations. Their immediate reactions to common situations is usally good for at least 10-12k. Not this time. My characters don't wanna do anything. They want to be difficult. They haven't decided if they want to get along with each other, or if they want to take this trip I have planned for them.

I thought being a parent had it's rough spots, but sometimes I feel like getting ideas out of my head and onto paper is far more difficult than talking my 8 year old into eating veggies. I don't seem nearly as strange to my kids when I argue with them about their eating habits, compared to arguing with myself about a storyline.

I've decided that maybe all I really need to do is have a couple of tasty beverages (code word for Jim Beam and soda) and maybe everything will start to sort of line out and become a bit more cohesive. If nothing else I figure I'll be a much happier failing writer.

Anybody else out there offering up their souls to the NaNoWriMo Gods? More importantly anybody else out there having similar difficulties? I'm sure that I'm not the only one. I looked on the site and saw there were tons of people in my area attempting this. Altough I have to admit looking at their word counts made me realize how far behind the curve I am at this point.

Well I guess I have procrastinated long enough, and I'm gonna head to the kitchen for one of those tasty beverages and hopefully some inspiration....

So much for Mr. Nice Guy  

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Well I guess I'm a little fed up. I figure I must be a little irritated cause I haven't even posted here in like 5 days. So anyway, here is my situation.

For those that don't know, I was married previously. I divorced almost 15 years ago. From my first marriage I have a son, Andrew. Now Andrew is a good kid in a bad situation. From a religious standpoint (formerly Catholic), I'm a bad bad dude. It's just not something you are supposed to do. Of course if I give the church money, they would indeed annul my marriage. There are of course a ton of ramifications that come with that, so I didn't choose that road.

Regardless, I pay child support. I have been doing so for 15 years now. With the exception of a short time when I first got divorced and was struggling, I am on time, I see my son and we have a good relationship. I have 2 younger sons with my wife now, and they have a good relationship with their brother also (if that is possible between young brothers).

The whole problem started when I had my son come and live with me for a year. He was having a ton of problems with his mom and stepfather, and wanted to come live with me and see if that would clear up some of the problems. I was more than happy to accommodate, since I have wanted my boy here with me for some time. I always felt that I made a big mistake in not getting 50% physical custody back when he was little. Since I can't change the past, I was hoping that we could do a little something with the current.

I am a family focused person. My family is the world to me. My wife, kids, parents, and siblings are very important to me, and I have hopefully influenced my children in that respect. So anyway, my boy came and lived with me for a year, and while his schoolwork faltered (I'm not good at forcing school issues), his social skills flourished. He developed friendships outside of school, that he had never managed before, and was actually doing things on the weekends besides sitting in front of the TV or video games. A little background on my son, he is ADHD and bipolar. I have a tough time finding the bipolar aspects in him. After being with him day and night for a year I don't see it, but the doctor seems to think so.

So for a year I had Andrew, but they continued to take child support from me. His mother said that she would just give me the support payments as they came to her. Well this didn't happen of course, and I'm not that cold hearted (usually). I figured that times were pretty hard for her, and she would get it back to me. So I switched jobs, and the child support stopped coming out of my check. I figured that was OK, since I have my son. Guess what it's not OK. They started sending letters, and I told them that he lives with me. I was told to get a note stating that, well his mother said that she wouldn't give me a note and then she had him move back home.

So I guess it was about the money all along. So now they zapped my account to $0. I can't buy a dang hamburger if I wanted to at this point. No movie for the little ones this weekend, and no response from the ex. I find it really hard at times like this to believe in the system. Since I'm the non-custodial parent, I'm automatically the bad guy. I must be to blame. They don't want to hear what the situation is they just want you to shut up and pay them. I shudder at the thought of the government getting further into my pockets than they are now. If this is how they handle a simple misunderstanding with child support, I can only imagine how they will handle health care.

So I have made phone calls, and sent emails, and who knows maybe one person who cares a little bit will bother to look over the information and fix the problem before they turn off my phone, pg&e, cable and everything else I send a check to pay for...

They system truly sucks, but from now on I'm gonna have to just realize that the other guy or gal (still use the word gal sorry) isn't looking out for anyone but themselves, and unfortunately I will have to become that way too if I want to survive in this system....

Thanksgiving or Christmas??  

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I was asked recently which I prefer Thanksgiving or Christmas. My immediate thought was CHRISTMAS!!!! You get gifts and a couple days off, everybody gets together from out of town. I get to see relatives I haven't seen in a year and it's just a big sense of family. Well at least with our family that is how Christmas is.

Then I stopped and thought about it a little bit closer. Thanksgiving is a freebie Holiday. There are no expectations. You don't have to find a ultra cool gift for that 8 year old you only see once a year. You don't have to deplete your bank account for the gift that mom and dad only put out if they think you will see it.(They already have just about anything they want.) Around here we get Thursday and Friday off, so that makes for a great 4 day weekend. Top it off with FOOTBALL!!!!

The only drain on me for Thanksgiving is possibly my house is a little messy and I over eat (like that doesn't happen on every thursday). I get to go play football in the front yard with my cousins and the neighborhood kids, and we get to relive a little slice of our youth. Yeah you know back when knees worked and backs didn't hurt and don't forget that nagging pain in the shoulder. Of course the downside to all of that is Friday, but hey it's a day off so I can recover on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday if need be.

On Christmas I have to spend more money in one month than I make in 5. I am generally wrong on at least half of the presents I buy for family and friends (guess I'm not a good judge of what other people like). I still have to clean up the house after it's all over. The difference being on Chrstmas I have to clean up gift wrap as well as dishes.

So I changed my answer and told my friend that I prefer Thanksgiving over Christmas. I then proceeded to explain the pros and cons as I saw them. It took my buddy about 5 minutes to think through everything I said before his response.

He told me that I had it all wrong. Christmas isn't about presents. He explained to me what Christmas is truly about (like I didn't grow up in a Catholic house). I let him ramble on for about 20 minutes before I stopped him and asked how much money he spent on Christmas even though it's not about the presents. He has 3 children ranging in age from 4-10. Well he wouldn't tell me, but told me that it was over $1000. WOW!!!! Little kid presents shouldn't cost that much first of all.

So we argued the merits of his statements about Christmas compared to mine. The argument got a bit heated and I guess we raised our voices a little bit more than we realized. A gal (sorry I still use the word gal) who works at the office popped her head in the door and told us we were foolish. We were told that regardless of all of that Memorial Day was the best holiday. She then explained the whole 3 day weekend thing, how everything is on sale. You have good weather (here it's good weather in may) to go and do something as a family or with that special someone. Pretty soon, there was another head popped in the door, offering another Holiday. The argument faded into a laughing debate about Holidays and Birthdays and if your birthday should be considered a Holiday. We finally got the withering stare from the boss which was a signal to get our keesters back to the daily grind of well whatever we were doing at the time.

So now I'm faced with a dilema. Which is the best Holiday? So offer up your choice and give me a reason why you think it ranks as the best. I need some heavy ammunition for Monday when I get back that way and can finish this debate.

There Should Be A Law!!!!  

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I have to do a fair amount of traveling for work. In any given day I drive an average of 150 miles. I am thankful that it is almost always away from the freeway. As I work for an agricultural firm (yeah we are killing the planet) I am usually held to the country roads, and one minor highway that leads the back way to Southern California. I'm in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley in Central California, and for those of you that aren't familiar with the area, it used to be flourishing with farming.

There was cotton, grapes, almonds, pistachios, lettuce, onions, garlic...Well you get the picture. Pretty much everything grows here. The soil is a miracle of nature in the Central Valley. It reminds me of those Sea Monkies from when I was a kid. Just Add Water..... That's pretty much the equation around here, just add water. Unfortunately the powers that be, aren't letting us have the water we need, so that is causing thousands of acres of fallow land. Bankrupt farming operations, unemployed communities. Well you get the picture. That is not what my biggest problem is right now though.

As I stated, I drive a fair amount daily, and I thought to myself that it wouldn't be that bad, cause after all this is in the country. There won't be all those annoying freeway commuters, in a hurry one minute and eating a donut and talking on the phone the next. This will be a calm relaxing drive to and from work, and back and forth to different locations during the day should be just as enjoyable right???

Well.....No wrong. It's a nightmare of stupidity out here on the country roads of California. People don't pay attention to where they are going, they don't pay attention to how fast they are going. Worst of all they don't pay attention to their surroundings. They are usually too busy talking on their flippin cell phones. Even better is when I see them still using those God awful CB radios. Come on people get into the 21st century. these are not a reliable means of communication.

I don't generally use the phone at all in my pickup. I will pull over if I talk. I take the whole thing about not driving and talking on the phone semi-seriously (I don't really like blue-tooth technology). I will finish my conversation and then I can just jump back on the road and get about business. You would think that is simple enough for most people to handle. After all it's not like they are flying down the road. Most of the time, these "farm workers" are either going 10 or 15 mph below the speed limit. I say farm workers because I don't know most of the time if they are the owners of the farm or just a hired hand, so I prefer to lump them all into one big category. That category is basically the annoyances. These are people that drive too slow and swerve on the road cause they don't pay attention to what they are doing while driving.

The other side of the spectrum is the Andretti's of the world. These are the people that drive 15-20 mph OVER the speed limit. These are people that don't generally drive out here in the sticks. They are driving in their BMW/Mercedes SUV or some biofuel crackerbox (no prius out here). They zoom up and down my roads (that's right they are mine Mon-Fri). Don't exclude our state's finest CHP officers. They love to exceed the speed limit, and then have the nerve to pull me over for not making a complete stop at a stop sign in a town of 70 people. BRILLIANT!!!

I have decided to take my bosses advice and do more work from home here on my faithful computer. I can avoid all the hustle and bustle of the country driving (never thought I'd say hustle and bustle with country). The only problem I can find with this scenario is no more donuts for breakfast, no more Mcdonalds for breakfast, and most of all no more BJ's Country Kitchen for breakfast (they have the best biscuits and gravy on the planet). If I can find a way to survive without these oh so necessary evils, I think that I"m gonna be a homebody a lot more often.

My Hero  

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Earlier today I was visiting one of my favorite blogs to read http://thedailydoseofreality.blogspot.com/ . If you have a few minutes I suggest you drop by and check it out. Ian has a great style and poses some interesting questions. You won't be disappointed. So anywho I was answering a little questionaire over there and one of the questions asked to name my autobiography if I was to write one. I made reference to my father, because he is and always will be my hero.

I guess that might sound corny or sappy to some, but I happen to think that it's something more of us need to have in our lives....Heroes.
I'll tell you a little bit about my hero. My dad, Jack is a worker. He was a furniture mover, a diamond saw operator, a chemical technician (mixed big vats of chemicals). He worked his regular job, and then on weekends he played in a band. He was a very talented guitarist as a young man, and became a very talented bass player as an older man.

I rarely saw my father before 6:00 pm. He was gone before I got up, and he got home well after I was done with homework, and had settled into a book, or a board game, or some other kid game that I would use to placate myself until he arrived. Now dinner was generally when dad got home, which was usually around 6:00. Occassionally it was 5:30 and those were the especially good days for me.

As soon as the el camino came pulling into the driveway, I was trotting towards the car, to see if dad wanted to play some catch before dinner. Looking back I can't remember a time that he said no. He would always say, "Let me put my stuff away and say hi to your mom." Off he would go into the house for all of 5 minutes and back he would be. We would have a catch for about 15 or 20 minutes till mom hollered "DINNER". In we would go to clean up and eat.

Now dad worked all week, and most of the weekends, but he didn't miss Little League, Football, Basketball, Tennis, Cubscouts, Band or the occassional school program in the evenings that I managed to get myself into. He was my biggest fan, and I never heard him say a foul word in the stands. He didn't shout at the umps for bad calls, he didn't yell at ref's for bad calls, he didn't argue with other parents. he simply cheered me on, by being there hollering for me when I did something good, and always telling me what a great job I did, or if I might want to work on some problem or other that I had over the weekend. He didn't criticize me for not being the best player on the team. He always told me that I can be as good or bad as I worked to be. I took that to heart. I practiced every day for whatever sport I was playing. This bled over into my school years as well. I knew that if my grades fell, no matter what the school said, Dad would not let me play.

He saw me through the awkard moments of my teen years, like the first time I got drunk, my first heartbreak, first suspension, first bad grade. He also saw me through 104 stitches in my face after I ran through a sliding glass door. He never said a thing that would make me worry through the whole 4 hours that they stitched my face, he just sat there offering some encouragement when I started getting nervouse or down. He saw me through meningitis. My mom and dad sat at the hospital day after day, waiting for word that I would get better or die. For a week, they didn't know so my parents had to deal with that. Through it all they managed, and so did I.

I joined the Marine Corps and I watched the mix of pride and fear go across my fathers face as I explained to him what I planned to do. He didn't like me going, but he supported me through it all. I came back in one piece, but the whole time I was gone, if I was at base it was never more than 3 days between getting a phone call from my dad and a letter from mom.

He helped me through my divorce. He let me be an ass just because I was mad at the world for my marriage falling apart. He didn't blame me, he didn't try to tell me how to handle it, he just let me be, and I always knew that he was right there.

I am remarried (12 years now), and I have more children, and dad is getting up there in the years a little bit. His health is not all the great, and he will be the first to say that it's his own fault. Years of smoking have led him to COPD. He deals with it, and he still works (retiring this December). Yet throught everything, my children know that Papos is there for them just like he was there for me. He loves them unconditionally and they know that even if they don't know what unconditionally means. My son has told me many times that he could tell Papos anything and he would understand.

I still talk to my parents everyday. I live about 1/2 mile away from them and make a point of getting over to the house at least a couple times a week. I enjoy just having a chat with my Pop every now and then. We can joke around or talk about anything, sports, politics, religion and even though we don't always see eye to eye we don't get mad at each other over it.

So this is my hero. Maybe some of you have one, and maybe you don't, but this man is the reason I became the man I am. I am forever grateful to my father for his advice, and his understanding, and even though he isn't one to say it very often, I'm most grateful for his love.