Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday it is

No, not Yoda speak, or even a simple statement of fact, but a decision on my part and one I hope you might like.

After blogging for and entire year straight it’s a little hard to go cold turkey on emptying my brains onto the internet, and since this place will by my conduit to fans fo my writing (yes, I love deluding myself), I had best keep it up so as not to disappoint.

So, what I have decided is that every Sunday’s will be my blog day here at the Twisted Mind. Heck, if preachers can spew out something once per Sunday - how hard can it be?

Yes, that special place in hell is getting prepared for me, I just know it.

And so you know, I’m starting up the novel re-writes on September 8th - the day school starts this year and routine timing, save strange days, will be the norm once more. Until then I’m enjoying the last days of summer with gaming, visiting and doing some house tidying.

I have a five drawer filing cabinet in my lair and I only ever had access to two drawers of it. But my wife will be getting her own three drawer next week which will then allow me to be able to hide away a lot of my stuff in the freed up three drawers, stuff which looks like a cluttered mess on my bookshelves.

Well, with that said then, expect to see something here every Sunday from now on. It could be a short story, novel excerpt, weird science article, dance trance tune, cartoon strip, audio file, photograph, entertaining real life story - whatever takes my fancy that week.

So, instead of until tomorrow, I’ll be replacing that with . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Friday, August 28, 2009

earth shattering KaBoom?

Day 365 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Holy Crap!

I actually did it!

Blogging for 365 days in a row . . .

In truth, since I set this goal, I knew I would make it.

Um, yeah . . . like you, I’m excited about its end too.

And for this last post, I was thinking maybe some great photography, or perhaps an audio bit, or a song, or a novel announcement . . .

. . . instead, you are getting only these written words with no added bonuses.

A letdown I know, but after 365 days of this, I’m not really up to much except ending this insanity.

So, year in review?

Well, I got a new computer, ditched the mind-and-body-crippling cube-squatting job, became a full-time writer, gave a talk in a high school and finished Fallout 3 . . .

Great accomplishments, or routine activities in just about any person’s life?

I’m not sure, and I don’t think it really matters one way or the other. What matters most in the end, I think, is the setting of reasonable, if challenging, goals and then the attaining of them.

So I was reading David Gemmell last night (Dark Moon) - man what a shame he died so young - this man was an epic fantasy writing genius. I beg you to pick up just about any of his novels and enjoy - if you like epic fantasy, that is.

Well, as you can read this post is about as dull as a rusty butter knife, and I think I’m going to end it - now - to save you any more pain.

Thanks to all those crazy enough to pop by here regularly and see what I put up on display.

I’ll be back on occasion (just not every day) to relay information about how my new career is progressing and other interesting tidbits, like maybe some more weird science articles or short stories, but for the foreseeable future I look forward to enjoying some blog-off time.

My Mornings, from now on, will be exclusively novel writing times - maybe in another 365 days I can show you a nice shiny new book cover with my name on it - even if I have to draw it myself . . .

Been a slice!

Until . . . tomor . . . er . . . the next time . . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009

second last

Day 364 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I only seem to have one thing on my blogging mind today - the fact that tomorrow this insane marathon comes to an end and I can say, “I DID IT”.

But that is not until tomorrow, of course.

Today I still need to come up with something entertaining to have you, my loyal, and very, very few, count-on-the-fingers-of-either-hand, readers coming back and seeing the closure of this silly episode in my life.

I’m really looking forward to my novel writing being the main item in my coffee-and-morning activities starting soon, and not having to crank out another blog.

It all starts in earnest on September 1st. And, as some of you know, it’s very important being earnest . . . not some John . . .

I’ll be giving myself a break until then - but afterwards it is going to be all fun business.

How can business be fun?

Well, when it’s something that entertains oneself, and may possibly pay a few bills along the way, I would classify that as fun and, um, business.

Oh, looks like I have to be on my way - my daughter is making pancakes.

Until Tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

school days approach

Day 363 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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At this time of year, end of August, I start hearing on the radio that catchy jingle “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” - meant for Christmas, twisted to mean it’s such a joy for parents to have the kids getting back to school.

Kids do need structure and something to do, but getting them up in the morning and off to school is no easy task.

We have the wardrobe bought for our daughter already so that is good. She has a new backpack - what is up with this anyhow? Back when I was at school nobody had a damn backpack, now it’s a requirement. Silly. Oh, and she has a new lunch bag because last year’s lunch bag is almost destroyed, not to mention ripe.

While the weather holds I’ll be walking her to school and back, which gets me out of the house and doing some exercising - a good thing for the writer hunching over a keyboard for long periods each day.

With my wife starting work (today, actually she begins with an orientation day) I’ll be taking on the main cello lesson driver position for my daughter. I’ve already been brought up to speed on what it is I need to do. Today will be the first go.

And it’s a little hard to believe and entire year has almost gone by since I started this crazy marathon.

Only two more of these posts to go and then I can celebrate - which I already did in anticipation of completion by ordering Science News for myself.

Summer holidays are great for family activities, but hell for the writer. I look forward to things getting back to a sort of routine for my daughter and wife so I can get back to finishing up my current novel and starting on the next one.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

vinyl groove gizmo

Day 362 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’m about ready to order a gizmo made by Ion, the makers of cheap but expensive USB turntables, which allows you to plug in your analog music machines and pipe it through to your computer to turn into digital tunes.

It will be a long a painstaking process, but I have about 200 albums which need to be on my writing computer - just because.

It will be so good to get my BTO and Foreigner and Kajagoogoo and Nik Kershaw on my machine for writing time. I really miss not listening to these bands and the many many others, and no I don’t feel like subscribing to iTunes, or any other version, when I have all this great music just sitting in vinyl and waiting for me to digitize.

I’ve, over the years, bought all the Alan Parsons Project and Kate Bush on CD, but it’s just too much money to try and pull that stunt with all my vinyl collection.

So, for 60 bucks, I’ll soon have the gizmo to do all this conversion for myself. Oh, and you can plug in any analog unit including tape decks so those old cassettes I still have will get digitized too.

And no, I do not have any 8-tracks.

I’m old, but not that old.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, August 24, 2009

some fluff some facts

Day 361 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’ve been on my own for the past eight days, and although it’s been nice and quiet, it’s also been kind of desolate.

So I look forward to the return of the girls today and all the noise and mess they bring with them.

As social animals, I’m not sure it’s a good thing to be on one’s own for an indefinite length of time. I think, in the long run, that would lead to madness.

And now, thinking about that, I feel sorry for our lone surviving rat, Fluffy. He’s been on his own, with our family of homo sapiens talking to him and giving him treats for a couple of months now. I’m sure he is coping, but I can see the look of loneliness in his beady little rat eyes. He pines for another of his kind, I know it.

Compassion.

I wonder if humans are the only ones to possess it? How egotistical for us to think so.

Did you know Elephants, not humans, have the largest brains of any land animal?

And did you also know that mole rats are mammals, but they are cold-blooded, proving that the saying ‘all mammals are warm-blooded” is utterly false.

See, and you came here today expecting to learn nothing new.

You just never know what you might find once you apply the proper leverage to that rock.

I’ll leave you with a saying my old shop teacher used to say, advice if you like, but it stuck with me all these years.

“Never push or pull indiscriminately on a wrench”.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, August 23, 2009

motivational stickers

Day 360 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I took some advice and incorporated stickers into my writing routine for a reward.

I know it sounds kind of 3rd grade, but when my calendar starts to fill up with these colourful little representations of hard work, I start to feel good about what it is I’m doing and can actually see how much time and effort is going into my writing career.



In the pile you can see stickers called, ‘Solar System’, ‘Bold Butterflies’, ‘Colorful Smiles’, ‘Happy Books’, and of course, the ever ubiquitous and popular stars.

If I write two hours a day, and each star represents 15 minutes on my hourglass timer, then I should have enough stickers to last me for over two years . . .

Yes, I believe in overkill.

Actually this pile of stickers, for me, means that when I have finally pasted them all to my calendar, I will be well on my way to a paid living cranking out words to entertain.

At least that is the plan.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Short Story: Mi-Go Spelunking

Day 359 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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This is the short story in which Morley Fenn makes his first appearance, briefly at the end. It’s got death, horror and empty craniums - what more could you want? Enjoy.


Mi-Go Spelunking
By: Paul Darcy

Spelunkers, like swimmers, should always obey and follow the buddy system. But, like all manly men, Jake Talbot was beyond taking such childish precautions and had good luck throughout his life ignoring rules such as these, until now.

Several hundred feet into the tunnels, and with his ankle swelling up and hurting like a bitch, he was not so sure today’s choice was a wise one. His cell phone didn’t work all the way down here and there was no way, in his current condition, that he could traverse the steep and uneven declines he had already climbed down to get where he was. The last section, where he fell, was the absolute worst.

So, Jake thought, the only solution was to go deeper into the tunnels where the way was more even, and try to find an alternative way up and out. These caves had several exits he knew. What he didn’t know was how to actually find another one once he was deep down inside of this one.

He had water and food which would last him a few days if he stretched it out. That was not his real problem at the moment though. His real concern was that the batteries in his flashlight, plus the extras, would only last about ten hours. So, Jake had no real choice about sitting around hoping another spelunker would happen by, which was unlikely. He had been sure to go spelunking during early mid-week to avoid others. That choice may cost him a great deal, perhaps even his life. But he was Jake Talbot, and no bad decision or swollen ankle was going to claim him.

Rising from the cold rocks, Jake hopped onto his one good leg and tested his swelling ankle. Jake could not put his full weight onto it, but if he hop-stepped forward quickly and caught his weight with his good ankle he could make adequate time. There was also nothing down here to forage for in the shape of a crutch just a ton of rock and damp and the occasional spelunker’s trash in the form of candy bar wrappers or empty plastic water bottles.

Hobbling along, Jake made decent progress and the pain of his swollen ankle was bearable but certainly not getting any better. When he stopped for a sip of water, he gave it another inspection and did not like what he found. It had puffed up even more and spread down to his foot. His shoe looked like it was stretching to the breaking point. Jake loosened the laces a bit to relieve the pressure. Goddamn, he swore to nobody in particular, this day was shaping up to be a real ass-licker.

Still, Jake was determined to get the hell out of here and make his way to the hospital. But so far, any side fissures he had tried lead to nowhere, or choked off so he could not proceed. After about three hours of travel Jake was beginning to despair for real and no amount of cursing or self-bolstering of his courage was helping at this point.

Jake took another break to chew down some food and have a drink. He was wondering if he should actually backtrack and try to make it up the steep track he took down here. Could he even get back there now? Shit, could he even remember the way and his ankle was getting worse not better.

That’s when he began to hear something. It sounded like a hum or buzz, like a far off hornet or bee’s nest. Great, he thought, all he would need to do was run into something like that in his condition. A swarm of hornets and me, unable to run. Fucking great!

But, instead of a constant sort of buzz, it changed pitch and occasionally stopped altogether then would start up again. Very odd, he thought. Maybe it was the wind whistling down some convoluted pathways through the stone. Yeah, he told himself, that must be it. And where the wind came down here, there may be an opening to the outside.

With renewed vigor, despite the spikes of pain with every hop-step, Jake did his best to find the location of the buzzing. But every time he thought he had tracked it correctly, it seemed to come from someplace else and he was forced into more side passages. What he failed to keep a good track of was not only his direction, but also his upward vs downward advancement. If Jake had, he would have noticed that he was much farther underground now than when he had started.

He was rounding a jagged corner when he could have sworn he saw movement up ahead at the far edge of his flashlight’s range. It may have been a shadow or rock cast by his jerky flashlight movements, but had he to testify in a court of law, he would have sworn that he did see something relatively large moving just at the edge of his flashlight’s range.

The buzzing was getting louder now too, and he could make out distinct differences in some of the tones. If he didn’t know better he would almost think there were multiple sources and that they were moving around. Jake just made it to the next corner when his flashlight dimmed so much is became next to useless. Something, bats perhaps, moved quickly upwards in the distance with a flapping of wings and disappeared upwards and out of sight. He shook his flashlight hoping to get a better view but it’s batteries were all but dead. The buzzing disappeared as well. Was it possible for Jake to hear the sonar of a bat? It must be, for what else could he have been hearing if not the wind? And at this point Jake had definitely ruled out that possibility.

Struggling to fish the extra batteries out of his pack, Jake dropped one of them and heard it rolling away down the uneven tunnel. “Shit,” he exclaimed doing his best to follow the dropped battery’s sound while struggling to keep from falling again. After a few desperate moments, the buzzing returned and much louder than ever before. He had to find that goddamn battery!

Echoes of buzzing threw off his sense of hearing and direction and once the battery settled Jake wasn’t sure exactly how far or to which side of the tunnel it may have ended up. IN desperation Jake tried putting one new battery in with a dead one, but the flashlight did not burn any brighter. It was pointless. He needed that new battery and what was that horrible buzzing.

With no other options Jake got down on his hands and knees and made his way slowly forward sweeping and probing the floor with his hands as he went. All the while he was expecting some vampire bat swarm the descend upon him and suck all the blood from his body while he writhed in agony on the cold stone. But, it didn’t happen. That did not stop his mind from displaying before his mind’s eye new horrors.

After several futile minutes Jake’s hands and knees were bloodied and killing him, and he had not found the damn battery. He was about to give up when the rocky tunnel floor, at first seeming solid, suddenly gave way beneath him. Jake didn’t even have time to swear before his head struck solid rock and he blacked out.

* * *

Jake wasn’t sure what woke him first, the loud buzzing or the pain he felt all over his broken body. But, instead of waking in the dark at the bottom of some hole, he found himself in a dimly lit cavern. What he was looking at scared him into a kind of numb shock. He was lying on some kind of manufactured table and around him odd equipment blinked and hummed. There were rows of glass jars, and wires and tubes with coloured liquids running through them from one piece of strange equipment to another.

Through teary, blurry eyes, Jake could make out some sort of large flying creatures in the cavern as well, the source of the wild buzzing he know knew. He couldn’t focus on them properly through. When he tried to look directly at one it seemed to be fuzzy or distorted like it his vision was impaired. They appeared to be multi-legged and segmented like a giant wasp, but they were very dark and mottled and the head was unlike anything he could think of in the animal kingdom. The strange thing though was that the rest of the cave was not out of focus like these flying, buzzing creatures.

The pain was growing more intense now and Jake had a hard time focusing on anything at all let alone this strange place with the buzzing nightmares. The last image Jake recalled on this world, was one of the buzzing insect things hovering over him with some kind of hooked instrument. The horror and anguish were too much and Jake knew no more.

* * *

The pain was gone, but so was Jake’s normal perceptions. He was sitting on a shelf beside a lot of glass jars - each one looked to be holding a human brain in pale yellow liquid. Tubes and wires sprouted out of each canister.

Jake screamed, but instead of a human sound, what he produced was a buzzing which vibrated the glass his brain was trapped behind.

* * *

“And that’s the way you found him?” asked Morley Fenn.

“Yes,” stammered the shocked boy of twelve, “I didn’t do anything to him, I swear.”

“It’s okay, son,” Morley said. “Nobody is accusing you of foul play. You can go home now, and thanks for reporting this.”

Taking down notes, Morley recalled several other cases in the files from years back. Humans found, sometimes in bad shape, sometimes not, but having one thing in common - their brains completely removed and no trace of how it was done.

Just what the hell was going on around Chilton county? Strange lights in the sky, noises from the Bulford crags, people disappearing without a trace, and now this. It had been a bad year for Morley, but private investigators went through cycles. His luck would change. One day he would find out what really happened to his girl. Sandy Brooks didn’t leave him as the locals had believed, he was sure of that. They were to be married.

No, something, this place perhaps, took her away. If Morley had to spend all his waking hours putting clues together from all the strange cases in the county, so be it.

Next on his list for today, old man Brown. He said his cows were being rustled. Could be locals, could be something else.

Morley snapped his notepad closed and headed out to his 37 Ford Coupe. Sometimes he wondered why he stuck around here: looking at a snap of Sandy in his sunshade provided his answer. He cranked the car over and squealed out of the drive of the court house lot.

Friday, August 21, 2009

dead easy

Day 358 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Today’s blog is dead easy.

I only have to tell you I’m guest appearing at The Rose City Sisters FLash Fiction site today and then let you follow the link to do some more browsing.

It’s a bit of a cheat, since the story already appears here, but it should give me some more exposure - and exposure if good, unless you’re a vampire - which I am not.

I may post a Morley Fenn story tomorrow because a few missed the first one involving the Dark Young during reading night a few months back.

And I can’t believe it’s almost the end of this damn marathon.

I know you and I both can’t wait.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, August 20, 2009

district 9

Day 357 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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So, I went out last night and saw me this film called District 9.

Wow, is my first response. It was pretty damn impressive, if filled with unanswered questions and a few niggling issues I had with it.

It’s shot in a sort of CNN news coverage way, and believe me, if you have that motion issue with video games then this movie on a 50 foot screen will make you positively ill with all the hand held and motion shots.

I don’t want to give much away except to say it’s not a Hollywood glitz movie by any stretch, and it deals with how I think, and obviously the makers think, we humans would behave in this very situation.

It’s a bit gory too, but not overly much by today’s standards. The CGI is very realistic and there weren’t actually any moments while I was watching when I was thinking - hey, that’s just CGI crap.

Overall, go out and see this movie - if you don’t suffer motion sickness that is, because it is worthy of your time.

And please, for the love of all things art like and shiny I hope they - NEVER, EVER, EVER make a District 10.

EVER!

Just let this film stand on its own and let it be.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ten to one

Day 356 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It seems like I’ve been doing this blogging-every-day thing for two years straight already, but the numbers tell me otherwise. Including this post, I have ten to go until I reach one full year.

Still, it will come to an end soon, and I will be relieved to not be tied down to it every day. I’ll still post on occasion, just not every gorram day.

Yes, I have been re-watching Firefly, but for some unknown reason I found it not as enjoyable as the first time through. Familiarity breeding contempt, perhaps?

And yes, that was a Culture Club reference. My mind works in mysterious ways.

I’m still searching for a series of TV show that can top, for me anyhow, Buffy. It was all that was right on TV. And yes, even the last season, though not as good as the others, had plenty of great moments.

Don’t even speak to me about Angel, and I have yet to see Dollhouse if I ever will.

But now it’s back to the written word and trying to create something other people might actually like to read and enjoy - hence, not blog posts with no purpose except to achieve a set quantity goal.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

3 days

Day 355 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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until one of my short stories comes up on another’s site - per request.

How did this happen?

Well, once you announce to the world that you are a writer, sometimes a few of those around you hear what you say and ask questions, or request product.

It’s the same way I got the gig to go into high school and talk to young adults about the art and pain of trying to be a published writer.

It was Twitter actually what got me the request.

Somebody liked what I tweeted, checked out this blogsite, liked what they read - and then asked if I would participate in their author site with a sample of my writing.

Connections.

Every artist needs them - as well as circuit boards, unless you write longhand . . .

Oops, slipped into the cryptic again . . .

Anyhow, I’m not going to go so far as to have business cards made up, or wear t-shirts that announce my profession, but I’m going to answer truthfully when people ask me what I do from now on.

And there is this mytique about being a writer and damn few people understand what it’s like to be one or how anybody could be one, etc.

Truth is, it’s just damn hard work, and it takes a long time to produce worthy product and generally longer to convince others to publish what you wrote.

If you worked out the pay scale in dollars per hours, I’m pretty certain it would work out to be more like pennies per hour - at least for the first few years or longer.

Still, it sure beats the hell out of commuting and cube squatting - beats the living hell out of it in fact.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, August 17, 2009

klaatu verada ni-cough-er-cough-ahem

Day 354 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Just about says it all for campy movies for me.

So yes, I was watching “Army of Darkness” last night and it always makes me laugh out loud.

In the beginning of the movie, when Ash first arrives in the past, it is dead obvious his shotgun is not on his back in its leather case. In fact we can see the empty case over and over again in many scenes until suddenly he shoots Arthur’s sword in half.

So just where was he hiding that 2 ½ foot long firearm? I’ve heard of horseshoes before, but this is ridiculous . . .

It reminded me of the animated 60s Spider Man where Spidy is swinging along with his camera, then no camera, then camera, then no camera, etc.

Self-imposed flubs aside, this is a damn fine fun movie to sit back with and just unload - a shotgun or rifle works best, for the unloading part that is . . .

In fact the last scene of Ash in the S-Mart wielding the lever action rifle and blowing away a demon witch girl is just too much for me - and I love it.



Shop smart, shop S-Mart.

Give me some candy, baby,

Groovy.

And it you like Campbell in this movie, you aught to see him in “Bubba Ho-Tep” which is superior and just as campy and possibly even more fun.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, August 16, 2009

rat buddy

Day 353 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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That’s what I call him, even though his name is Fluffy.



As you may, or may not, be able to tell he is our pet rat - the last of four rats we’ve had and he is having the good fortune of being the longest living as well at the current doddering old age of 1 year 8 months.

As you can see, pet rats (lab rats) are not the gross brown Norwegine horrors rumaging through your garbage and growing bigger than cats. They are cute, hairy little guys that do not bite and make great pets.

Domestic rats have been bred for the laboratory (for over 100 years now), so we homo sapiens can perform horrible experiments on them in the hopes of extending our own lives. We do these kinds of thing, in case you didn’t know.

Anyhow, these little hair balls live about 2 to 3 years, which is not a long time.

But time enough to get attached to them and find them to be an integral part of the family.

We have a nice rat home too. It’s a three story rat high rise rat unit, suitable for two rats.



Rats love living in cardboard boxes because they can chew them to shreds. Rats love to chew things - and you thought puppies were bad.

He is to be our last rat buddy. Our next pet, if we can ever afford one, will be a dog.

Either a whippet or a border terrier.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, August 15, 2009

hot peppers two

Day 352 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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How could I even begin to call myself a true pepper grower if I didn’t have in my garden some hot Hungarian ones?

Seen below here is one of our two hot Hungarian pepper plants, which seem to be doing better than the Jalapenos - as far as growing peppers early is concerned.



I’ve already tried one, and yes I nibbled first. To my satisfaction I found them to be quite hot indeed. Not hot enough to make you sick, but eating one will likely make you sweat and look for beverages in a hurry.

I’m not sure what exactly I’m going to do with them. They will likely end up being consumed by me with cheese and crackers, unless I can find a recipe for them. My family likes a bit of spice, but not too much. I fear putting one of these in a recipe will not make them happy.

True story:

Back when I first started into my cubicle life I knew a Hungarian worker and he used to bring in these peppers by the dozens each day, when they were in season.

I recall watching in horror and fascination as he would proceed to consume one after the other during lunch like they were carrots. Sweat would break out all over his body and he looked like he was about to spontaneously combust. He never did though, and as far as I know he is still alive and kicking.

This concludes the peppers in the garden series.

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, August 14, 2009

hot peppers one

Day 351 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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As the weather is nice, and the camera is working, and I can transfer images to my blog - here is a picture of the Jalapeno peppers I’m growing beside the house.



As you can see they are flowering up nicely, but the season is slow this year because we have not had boiling, hot temperatures so far - not that I’m complaining, but if peppers could give voice mine would have been yelling at me to bring them hot cocoa and sweaters this past few weeks.

Anyhow, once these plants start producing peppers they spew them out like crazy and you end up liking them a lot - or giving then away to friends.

Me, I like to just cut them in rings and eat them with cheese and crackers . . .

. . . or put them in sauces and stir-fries of any kind - or even eat them raw . . .

. . . Which reminds me of a true story from last year.

Early in the Jalapeno season 2008, I picked a small Jalapeno pepper and took a tentative nibble of it. It was actually sweet and not at all hot. So, I promptly chomped the whole thing down.

A few days latter I picked a slightly bigger one - and made a very bad assumption. I assumed it would be mild like its sister pepper.

Fail!

I chomped the pepper in half and began to chew - a moment later, as the whole mass was crushed up in my mouth, I realized my near-fatal error. This pepper was so damn hot I nearly threw up. This was the closest to swooning in agony I’ve ever come. Thankfully the water hose is right beside where I grow these peppers and I was able to flush my mouth out before passing out from the pain.

Moral of this pepper tale - don’t chomp before you nibble . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, August 13, 2009

the flat screen

Day 350 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’ve blabbed about it and what a great deal I got, so I suppose I should show you a picture of what I bought to watch my DVDs on.



Okay, it’s not a Sony or Toshiba - it’s a Prima. But let’s face it, there are only 3 manufacturers of flat panel TVs on this earth. One in Japan and two in Korea I believe. The Prima set is made by the same manufacturer as the Panasonic, so I think it should be okay quality.

And flat panels have been out for over a decade now the so the technology is nothing new.

I’m actually getting used to the size of the screen now, and it feels just about right. You see, I don’t have perfect vision for distance and the larger screen helps me pick out things I’m sure I’ve missed for many years when I watched on the 24 inch I used to have.

The only thing I’ve never liked is how movies are 2:35 ration and the TV itself is only 1:78 ratio. So, you still end up with a strip of black above and below the actual images on your TV. I can get rid of that by using the ‘zoom’ function but then you are cutting off some of the picture.

But that is not a complaint and most (well newer anyhow) TV shows are shot in widescreen now and the realeased as DVD sets in 1:78 filling every pixel your widescreen TV without distortion.

And that is what I watch most of anyway, TV shows.

And now, it’s back to writing.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

fence material

Day 349 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Had I known how cost effective a chain link fence is compared to the six foot high solid wood fence I build was years ago - I would have gone that route first and saved myself the aggravation.

But, there were other factors involved eight years ago when the behemoth was constructed. Those factors don’t apply anymore and so a four foot chain link will do.

It’s black, keeps rodents at bay, and the wind, no matter how hard it blows, doesn’t stand much chance of blowing it over.

Oh, and I finally got my entire CD collection ripped to my computer. It’s so much better for writing to have everything there shuffling up surprises during the session.

And, almost at an end here with this silly marathon. I can’t believe you’ve hung in there that long and I must say, it’s been one hell of a long grueling trip to write something here everyday. But, so far, so good and yes, I look forward to not having to do it.

And maybe good was not the appropriate word here - more like endless filler.

Which means I’ll leave off today so I have something to write for tomorrow.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

game purging

Day 348 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It’s going to be a lot harder than I thought - dumping all those old computer games I’ve accumulated over the years.

As you can imagine, I’ve got a lot of old games for Win 95/98. And the funny thing is I still like almost all of them.

I was going to pitch them out and keep the cases for those DVD sets I have where the inner tabs break off and leave the discs poorly held or not held at all. Some of my Buffy sets are like that.

But, as I looked over my collection with that intent, I found a lot of stuff (like most of it) that I don’t want to part with. Command and Conquer, Birth of the Federation, Master of Orion 2, Diablo and Diablo 2 are just a few that come to mind.

I know I should just get rid of them all and be done with it. I have a bunch on new games, like Fallout 3, which thoroughly entertain me during my free moments with the family away and the writing all done for the day.

But I find I can’t.

Funny how you can collect so much stuff, not use it for years, but when the time comes to part with it we manage to convince ourselves that we will use it again and so hang onto it.

And, to top it all off, it’s even harder to part with those old games because I have an old Win 98SE machine to play all of them on - - so pitching them out begins to render my backup machine obsolete - well, it can be used for my writing too if this one blows up.

Silly really to leave all this cleanup to my offspring - so, I’m going to just make myself do it before the next decade pass and I accumulate even more.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, August 10, 2009

news free

Day 347 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’ve made it a point not to listen to, read, or watch any news in the past four weeks. And despite being pretty much out of the loop with regards to worldly going’s on (like I ever really was before anyhow) I’ve not missed it one little bit.

I actually get whatever small bits of news I oversee dribbled to me from those I follow on Twitter. How is that for bizarre.

Did you know the black hole in the center of our galaxy is a mere 4 million solar masses? Did you know Andromeda’s is 30 million solar masses. And did you know a monster lurks in the heart of galaxy M87, which weighs in at around 1 billion solar masses?

Now you do - and that’s the kind of news you really need to know.

Oh, and if our sun were a mere 20 times more massive than it is, when it burned out its fuel, it would collapse into a black hole.

Wouldn’t that be an event on our horizon . . .

See what I did there?

Yes, blogging for a year has affected my mind - and not necessarily in a good way.

Now, back to the books - those I’m reading, and those I’m writing.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, August 09, 2009

another old fool

Day 346 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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is going to start blogging every day for an entire year.

Oh, what a torture this individual is setting for himself - I know, from firsthand experience.

Is it good writing practice? - Um, not really.

Does is lead to loads of great blogs? - Um, actually it seems to just lead to lots of filler.

Does it lead to tons of followers? - Um, in my case it leads to stagnation and repulsion I fear.

Oh, and happy birthday to you - you crazy old coot.

I know, I’m older than you are, but what is six weeks? - Um, don’t ask mayflies.

Anyway, as you can see today, there is a great lull in my force powers to churn out yet another blog post of some entertainment value.

Actually, I’ll likely use a bunch more picures to close out this lunatic marathon over the next three weeks.

But, it will eventually end - um, and that’s a good thing.

Thank (insert whatever you want here)!

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, August 08, 2009

but the second one stayed up

Day 345 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Fence, that is.

As you can see from the picture below the fence is up and it’s looking good and solid. In fact, it was hopped a couple times and, besides a slight wobble, it’s solid as a rock.



The picture was taken from inside the yard and so the angle is slightly different from yesterdays shot. I suppose I should have thought of that, but you can get the idea.

Well, the final construction started well and all was going according to plan until the pipe cutter I borrowed, and returned, from my neighbour was needed again to cut off the line posts to proper height.

It wasn’t until I put on the top rail caps that I realized the fence posts were about two inches higher than they needed to be.

We waited around for an hour, but he did not return.

He did not.

We tried a hack saw and found that a quick way to frustration as the pole was wobbling all over the place despite one of us holding onto it. We gave up on that idea after a futile few minutes. So next, we walked to a place in town I thought rented tools, but the store only sold them.

I was not amused.

Next we went to the local Canadian Tire to see if they had a check pipe cutter. But, the one large enough to do the job was 40 bucks. Um, no thanks.

Anyhow, the next plan was to locate and then drive a ways to a real tool rental place. We picked up the same pipe cutter my neighbour had (for ten bucks) - I should have just kept the damn thing for the day, but I was being all neighbourly and wanted to return it promptly, which I did.

The rest was just slug work, and if you are going to try this at home kids, make sure you have fingers of steel to twist all those darn ties. Plyers help but you need to do a lot of twisting with the old digits.

After I thought we were done the fence was looking a bit out of shape. The height was good but the bow in some of the sections was unacceptable. So, we ventured forth again to get a turnbuckle and a bottom tension wire which we installed.

This cleared up most of the issues and what you see is the fence in the shot. It’s dead straight, solid as a rock, the chain itself touches the ground and is flush with the top rails - damn, it almost looks like it was constructed by two people who knew what they were doing and had built one before.

Not!

Two chain link fence rookies did this.

And tonight is reading night and my good friends’ birthday - well tomorrow actually, but he looks a year older after yesterday’s fence building.

Overall, the project was a huge success and I am extremely happy with the end product. I defy the winds to blow this sucker down . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, August 07, 2009

all in a row

Day 344 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Since I’m in the midst of fence construction, I thought I would give you a couple of pictures so you, the humble reader, can see how the project is proceeding.

The shot below is looking along the line of posts that we (my good friend and I) put up yesterday.



It was nice to find that the ground was not strew with rocks and rubble and so digging the post holes was not a hardship. My friend had some horror tales of doing this kind of thing in other locations - I’m glad my place will not be included in his horror list with regards to that.

It took us about three hours to complete what you see. The back of my yard spans only 46 feet, and we will be using my neighbours existing chain link post (which you can’t see because it is behind this shot) to fix the other end so we only need to dig 5 holes.

Next, as seen in the shot here, we mixed up some ready concrete stuff (which always blew dust at us every bag we opened).



Each hole is about two and a half mill . . . er, feet deep. Gawd how Douglas Adams (GRHS) has influenced my mind . . . Anyhow, each hole has around 100 pounds of concrete in it so the posts should not be falling over anytime soon.

The only fear is frost which may heave the posts if we have a crappy cold winter. But, in our neighbourhood (which we’ve been in eight years now) I’ve not seen a lot of leaning 4 foot chain link fences and so the likelihood of it heaving is very small.

Today we will be putting up the chain part and I’m sure you will see the finished product in a picture here tomorrow.

Now, I need to really finish my Morley Fenn short story for tomorrow night.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, August 06, 2009

been 4 months

Day 343 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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to the day since I left the cubicle.

I haven’t really looked back on my feelings about it, until today that is.

I’ve not really paid much attention to GM in the news after I left (well except for the bankruptcy issue which could have screwed my accrued pension), but I assume they are still a company and have not been liquidated outright.

I give them between 5 and 10 more years before they totally dissolve, or are absorbed by another company altogether.

But today’s short post only focuses on my feelings about the whole transaction. It’s been a little scary and unsettling, but I’m slowly adjusting to the new reality for me.

I was told that for every big change in your life it takes one month per year + 3 to make the transition. Let’s see, I was a cube-squatter for 20 years, plus 3 more months for a total of 23 months to make the new reality sink in and get comfortable with it.

After 4 months I’m still grappling a bit with the new routines and new life. There was much financial crap to get through and thankfully that is almost put to bed now, with a few more details left to iron out.

But come this September, after this silly blog marathon ends, I will be focusing 100% on the new life of writing and being an at home dad - both positions I enjoy about 1000% more than the old cube-squatting one.

It’s still a little scary, and outward pressure from sources which tell me I should be getting another job soon, have me not feeling totally comfortable yet.

I’m doing my best to ignore those bad influences and just get on with my new work.

I’m hoping to have a collection of short stories about Morley Fenn compiled within a year, as well as finishing my current novel and first drafting my second.

By writing every day I will meet these objectives, and may even exceed them.

Well, with that in mind, I’m off to polish my current Morley Fenn tale so it’s ready, at least in first and a half draft for our reading night this coming Saturday night.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

games closet

Day 342 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Here is a shot of the games closet in my lair.



It’s taken quite a few years to accumulate these games and most I still like to play when I get a chance to play them with others.

I think everybody must have a cubbyhole of some kind to stash their non-computer games, don’t they?

Starting at the top you can see the old Arkham Horror, still a good game but not in the same league as the new version you can also see on the right hand side with the three small expansions.

Then there is Carcassone, a game my daughter loves because you get to connect tiles to make castles and farms and roads. She usually beats me at it.

Another two games of epic proportions are Twilight Imperium and the expansion, plus War of the Ring. Both worthy games which need multi-hour sessions to complete. The are complicated games with many rules, but that aside, they are much fun - if you have the time.

I also have Runebound with some card expansions. My daughter also loves to play this one and asks to pull it out whenever she has the urge, which is more often than myself. A fun game also by Fantasy Flight Games.

Then there is Axis and Allies Pacific (flawed, but fun for a little while) and below, which didn’t make it into the shot, the original Axis and Allies as well as the newer expanded version which includes destroyers and artillery.

Tikal I really like, but the rest of the family would rather pass on it. Balderdash gets a lot of dust, but Settlers of Catan gets played once in a while.

Starfareres of Catan is fun, if flawed with three players, but it hasn’t come out in a while. Risk is, well Risk - good to blow off some time, but ultimately flawed.

And yes, you see and old CD-Rom drive and two small hard drives. Cast offs from computers of the past, but still operational and can be used as backups to my old system if some component should fail.

Now, isn’t it time to step away from the computer and TV and pull out one of your board games, call some friends and get to it?

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

morning brew

Day 341 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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The picture you see below is the actual system I use to make my morning coffee.



I probably use double what any sane person needs for one 14 oz. Mug, but I seem to really need a strong shot in the morning to get my old neurons firing for my writing time.

Well, it’s what I tell myself anyhow.

I can quit any time I like . . . really . . .

Ahem, as you can see I use an old Melita drip filter holder thing - they have an actual name? I find my coffee machine totally inadequate for squeezing the maximum coffee goodness into one cup. The machine has a way of diluting the pure caffeine essence no matter how much coffee I scoop into it.

And so I use the drip method.

I think the only thing that would work better would be dumping the coffee straight into 14 oz. Of boiling water and then drinking it unfiltered.

But that would be gross, wouldn’t it? And gritty.

Now to enjoy my strong brew and get that writing muscle exercised properly for today.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, August 03, 2009

not that big really

Day 340 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Of what do I speak?

Well, the new LCD TV, of course.

It’s only a 32 inch Widescreen. I see you shaking your head and wondering why I would get something so tiny when clearly I need something in the 60 inch range.

Fact - I’m only about 8 feet from the TV while viewing it, and watching the last few days (after my writing is all done mind you) I’ve found 32 inches to be quite adequate. In fact, when we first watched a show, upon bringing it home and setting it up, we actually thought it looked a bit too big for our space.

So, to have gotten something in the 40 inch + range would have been downright silly. The unit I got has a built in progressive scan DVD player as well and the TV itself will display up to 1080i signal (should Blue Ray become the norm in the years ahead and I actually buy a player), but usually converts whatever you stick into it to either 480p or 720p.

Am I happy with it?

This is the question my wife asks me several times a day.

Um, yeah - very happy, thank you.

And the price was so low, with a full 1 year parts and labour warranty, that I couldn’t pass it up. How low you ask?

Well, let me just say that I spent a little over half of what I paid for our old 20 inch Sony many, many years ago.

Incredible how electronics have fallen in price so much over the years. Now, if gas prices would do the same . . .

Anyhow, now I get to watch all those movies and widescreen TV shows I have on something that doesn’t make me squint and pause the program to try and make out fine details.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, August 02, 2009

back on the fence

Day 339 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Or I should say, back to building a fence, but that blog title would have been far too dull.

So, yes, the fence I had to tear down (the six foot wooden one) needs to be replaced and my neighbour has offered to foot half the bill.

Going out today then to acquire the chain link parts and pieces and then conscript a friend to help me put it up.

Not going to be fun, but once it is done then it should never blow down in the winds, being chain link and all.

And, I got up late today so things are getting a wee rushed again. I’ve got some more fence planning, measuring and checking to do before the purchase. Then there is the writing, which I want to have finished before lunch.

How did I ever get anything done before I was retired . . .

Don’t those words just make you want to cane somebody?

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, August 01, 2009

the new short

Day 338 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It’s been percolating in my mind for the past several days - that new twisted short story - and now it must come out.

It's a situation I haven’t read yet (though it has probably been done before - haven’t they all?) and is just begging to get out of my cluttered mind and free itself.

It will be set in the world of Morley Fenn, and it will be he that investigates the mystery.

So, with August hot off the press, and my mind working overtime on this idea, I need to scurry off NOW and get it down.

Oh, and on a practical side note of everyday life, my wife scooped a permanent job for next year so our financial woes will be lessened and my writing career can be given a good run before I need to go out and get a job packing groceries.

Also our neighbour has offered to pay for half of the fence I had decided not to build - so, fence is back on the menu boys!

Which means I need to contact my good friend (a real "Builder the Bob" type) and see when he is free to help me with the construction.

Until tomorrow . . .