Sunday, January 29, 2012

old coot winter

Despite my eating a load of Vitamin D every day, I’ve been in a bit of a funk this winter.

Actually, I can’t even say we’ve had a winter so far this year - not that I’m really complaining - but shouldn’t there be snow and stuff?

In fairness, I did have to shovel “once” yesterday - maybe that counts?

And speaking of yesterday it was my Anniversary.

Yup, been married now a total of 23 years . . .

. . . yes, it’s hard to believe with me being so youthful and all . . .

Okay, maybe to most of you I’m an old coot!

Complaining about the weather, yelling at kids who get too close to my lawn.

Still, I got my webcam working yesterday, so that makes me kinda, sorta, tech savvy and young, no? . . .

. . . okay, still an old coot.

And can you believe I’ve read 9 books already this year. I have a goal of 70, so if I keep on like this I’ll smoke that with no problem.

Of course when the summer weather returns I tend to slow down in the reading department so it’s good to get some padding in now while the days are short and the temps are chilly.

So, back to my old Cootedness - I’m finding Goodreads and Google+ pretty confusing. I’m an ex-engineer and as such I like things orderly and concise. Those two sites, in my opinion, are not.

Oh I’ve figured out how to navigate around and do basic things but I feel like I’m missing out on loads of cool things that I can’t figure out. Like on Google+ how the hell do you join a Hang Out?

There are supposedly about a bazillion users on every second, yet I’m unable to find anyplace to actually hang out with my newfound tech toy, the webcam.

Of course, one sight and sound of me would likely have others fleeing in horror . . . so maybe it’s best I don’t figure it out.

And Goodreads is just a hodgepodge - it's hard to find others who share your book interests easily. What I would like is a quick compare feature, something that takes your list of read books and bounces it against others on the site looking for a huge overlap of common books.

Maybe it’s there, but if it is, I can’t find it.

And so ends another blog post where looking back on the week I’m wondering if I’m actually any wiser, or just older.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Short Story: End of the Line

Seems to me it's been far too long since I posted a short story . . .

. . . hey look, here's one now. And it's, what else, a horror story!

Enjoy!


End of the Line
by Paul Darcy

Malcolm had one of those days, and all he was thinking of, as he boarded the train at Marigold Station, was a hot supper and a early bedtime. The crowd of commuters found places to sit and when the mini-rush settled down, Malcolm found himself next to an elderly gentlemen; looked German, at least what Malcolm thought an old German should look like. He wore a very expensive looking watch, and his clothes looked like they were worth more than Malcolm’s entire wardrobe, which maybe wasn’t saying too much.

Several stops later, and only three from his destination, the train was suddenly emptying out like he had never seen before. Odd, but then he was too tired to wrack his brains for the probable cause.

On the second to last stop only he and the German were left, and one other, a student by the look of him, that had just entered. The newcomer was young, disheveled, wild-eyed and in obvious distress. He carried a large stuffed backpack and had his fist squeezed tightly around his cell phone. Malcolm dared not stare though. There was something about this guy that gave him the creeps. The doors closed and the train lumbered off to his final destination. Malcolm couldn’t wait for the next stop so he could get off this train.

They had just passed into the tunnel leading to his stop when a flash of light and a sound like thunder nearly made Malcolm leap from his seat. Then, like something from a dream he could see the student pushing his thumb down on the top of his cell phone and grinning maniacally. What the hell was happening?

As quickly as the strange occurrence began it ended, and they had passed out of the tunnel. The German man next to Malcolm seemed not to have noticed anything, and the student was seated such that Malcolm could not see his face. He no longer held the cell phone. But something was wrong. It took Malcolm a moment to realize what it was. Instead of the forested section of track outside the window he expected, there were no trees at all. The train was slowing, and came a stop. Had Malcolm fallen asleep? They were certainly not at any stop Malcolm new off.

The doors opened and the student got up, shouldered his pack and stepped outside. But this was no station, it was a field of sand and Malcolm was sure he could see other figures off in the distance. The student left the train and stepped into the sand leaving indentations which were nothing more than dimples as he walked off into the distance.

Watching his footfalls Malcolm could see the student was about to step on something which gleamed on the sands. It became evident to Malcolm what it was a moment before the student trod upon it ;a landmine!

Malcolm winced the millisecond before the student triggered the trap. Malcolm thought he was braced for the shock, but the explosion punched at him like a giant fist. Sand was blown everywhere from the concussion, and a muted scream could be heard seconds before something heavy crashed down beside the open doors of the train. It was the mutilated body of the student, both his legs were blown off.

But he was not dead. He was screaming from a face which was partially torn away from the blast, and, Malcolm noticed in horror, that the student was regenerating right before his eyes. In what seemed like no time at all, the student was whole again, up and walking across the sands towards another gleaming mine.

The doors closed and the train shuddered and left for another location. It’s got to be a dream, Malcolm thought. Some horrible dream from which he could not wake. But, before he could test his theory, the train had reached another destination and the doors had opened again. The German man beside his rose without a word and exited the train.

Outside Malcolm could see railway tracks, barbed wire and an open pit. Inside the pit he thought he could see the twisted remains of bodies, hundreds of naked bodies; emaciated almost beyond recognition. The German man had walked to the pit and knelt down. Malcolm could see now that his hands were tied behind his back and he was not wearing his fine clothes anymore, but striped prison garb. Malcolm knew with a chill that what he was looking at was a death camp of the second World War. But how?

Before he could make sense of it all, a figure walked up behind the German and pointed a luger at the back of his head. Malcolm, despite attempting it, could not look away. The figure pulled the trigger and the pistol fired. The German. head blow apart, toppled into the pit to land atop the many other victims already piled there. In a moment, the German twitched and screamed and came crawling back out of the pit. His head was almost hole again. He positioned himself again on the side of the pit again as the doors of the train closed and the train sped off once more.

Dear God, Malcolm said aloud. This was a train to hell and he was the only passenger left. But why? What unbelievable evil had he perpetrated to warrant eternal torment? He could think of nothing. He had lied, stolen petty things, been mean to others at times but nothing heinous enough bring him to this. It was a mistake.

The train stopped and the doors opened up. Malcolm, unable to resist, walked to them. Outside was a beautiful meadow, butterflies flitted from wild flowers and the sun shone in a sky full of fluffy white clouds. The air was warm and pleasant and a slight breeze wafted the delightful aromas of a hundred flowers to his nose. This was not a train to hell after all, it was merely an instrument to deposit the dead to their deserving destinations.

Several robed figures approached Malcolm and he felt at peace in this haven. No words were exchanged. One of the figures touched his back and he got a strange sensation there. Soon, Malcolm knew what was happening. He was sprouting wings. Just like a child dreaming of flying, he was being given the opportunity in this, his next life, to experience that joy.

Smiling and flexing his knew appendages, Malcolm made to lift off and join the multitude of beautiful butterflies in the sky, but two of the figures stopped him, each taking hold of one of his wings. What was this, Malcolm thought amused, maybe he had to wait for his harp? The smile of amusement on his face quickly changed to shock and pain as the two figures roughly grabbed his wings and began to pull.

Malcolm screamed in agonizing pain as he felt the muscles in his back tear, heard the joints at the base of his wings pop and break and then, on the verge of passing out from mind-numbing terror and agony, saw the figures, each with one of his severed bloody wings in its hands toss back their cowls to reveal multi segmented eyes on their insect heads.

Bleeding and screaming on the meadow, Malcolm could feel new wings beginning to grow back again as hundreds, if not thousands, of cowled figures approached forming a line as far into the distance as Malcolm could see.

* the end *

Sunday, January 15, 2012

it sort of adds up

Since the demise of Reader’s Den, our book review site of years ago now, I’ve decided to join Goodreads.com. To date I have over 1,000 books rated and over 130 book reviews posted.

Seems like a good place to share what you have, and are currently reading, with others.

I even got my wife to join and she is liking it.

I know, just one more website to suck away my time . . .

And it occurs to me that I never did a year-in-review of the goals I had for last year . . .

. . . um, well, that would likely by because I fell pretty short of them . . . anybody remember Evil Knievel and Snake River Canyon . . . ?

Dating myself again, I know.

I’ll just sum it all up in percentages then. My reading goal . . . hit about 60% My writing goal . . . about 30%.

Not good . . . not good at all.

My new plan this year is off to a decent start, but not spectacular.

Seems like doing everything I said I was going to do each day for 2012 is not so simple.

So far this year I’m sitting at 67% for those goals I’ve set myself.

A pass . . . barely.

Maybe I set my goals too high, but if I don’t, then where is the challenge?

Oh, the goals for this year are as follows:

1) One completed short story per month. So that would be 12 for this year.

2) Read a total of 20,000 pages this year.

3) Exercise six days a week.

4) Cleaning jobs around the house six days a week.

Well, I should be getting at it then.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, January 08, 2012

multi media migraines

I am the first to admit that I’m far from the most tech savvy guy on the planet . . . like about 10 AU far from . . .

You see, when I install software I just expect it to work. Not so with Windows Live Movie Maker from Microsoft for Windows 7.

I followed all the online instructions to the letter, did everything I was supposed to and - no go. Some dumb error during install to do with direct X or dill pickles or some such rot.

Anyhow, I’m sure, given time and enough brain strain, I could figure it out. But still. That program used to be part of the XP operating system - not so with Windows 7 . . . *sigh*

So, I won’t be using Movie Maker anytime soon to create videos to upload to Youtube so I can win a Streamy award . . . or just annoy people and get hate comments like everybody else.

Maybe it’s best since my visage has been known to spook small children, house pets and old people.

Still, my creative avenues with the advent of Windows 7 seem to be limited to the written word only. I do want to create videos, short movies and music like I was able to do before.

Not my idea of a better operating system from Windows XP.

I know - shut up and figure it out like thousands of others.

I will - and they you, the viewer, will likely be sorry I did.

Now I should say that I have yet to load my music creation program onto this new machine. I’ve been hesitant because the program is so darn complicated and it loads some undesirable crap on the machine I really don’t want.

Don’t you hate it when programs do that?

I do.

I may break down though when my craving to create music overcomes my desire to run a clean machine.

And on the written front I’m currently wrestling with three short stories simultaneously. No easy task, and it may mean that this Saturday when the Psychos meet I will not have one of them ready to read . . . stories that is, not Psychos . . .

Oh well . . . so it goes.

And my first week of “the new plan” had a few hick-ups in it.

Namely trying to exercise every day. I did it for six days in a row and then my body just sort of shut down on me. So yesterday I took a forced rest and I feel better for it today. Maybe after a month or more my aging bones will be up to the task of daily exercise, but until then I’m taking Saturday’s off whether I want to or not it seems.

Well, I’ve used up all my space again for this week so . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, January 01, 2012

no real resolutions

I was wondering what I could write here today that would be profound, inspiring and appropriate for the start of 2012.

But, since I can’t think of anything I’ll just write . . . as you were.

Of course many of you, myself included, see this artificial place keeper in time as the appropriate time to turn over a new leaf, make a new plan, or just get the bathroom clean because it’s a day off and it really, really needs a scrubbing.

My new plan (you knew that was coming) is to do three things every day for the entire 366 days this year.

And no they would not be eat, sleep and expel . . .

The three things I speak of are to write, exercise and clean.

Sounds dead easy, no?

I can assure you it’s going to be a grueling test of my willpower and resolve. The reward for this incredibly tough challenge I’ve set myself? I get a buck for each item each day to spend any way I want.

And no, it will not be to pay for visits to the psychologist.

I heard that if you want to accomplish something you should use positive motivators instead of negative motivators. One example is instead of saying, “I will lose 20 pounds” or some such, one should set a positive goal like, “I will exercise three days a week and eat more healthful food” instead.

It has to do with how the brain works and how we just do not want to “give up” something which we already possess. Guess this is a hangover from infancy when we were hanging off the breast not wanting to let go, or clutching that candy those adults wanted to steal from us.

Anal retentive is another way to say it.

So, goals need to be seen as adding somthing to your life instead of taking something away.

And that is my psych 101 uneducated, put-five-cents-in-the-jar advice for 2012.

Take it or leave it at your own risk.

Well, I wish you success and happiness for this coming year and may all your dreams be fulfilled . . . y’know, before Dec 21st when the world ends . . .

Until next Sunday . . .