Saturday, February 27, 2010

Welcome To My Workspace - Post #97

Don't forget The 99 Followers Challenge - Time's running out!

Because of a very important meeting that should have grand implications for our future family, we've spent the day spring cleaning.  My little green room was a jumbly mess and perhaps I should have taken a before picture, but I don't want anyone thinking my name is Howard.  Well I'm quite pleased with how things turned out, so I thought I'd share.

Finally, I can see the surface of the desk.  I can't stand clutter.  That's why you'll notice very few icons on my computer desktop.  And since I was doing all this nifty organizing, it seemed a good time to put up a dry erase board for my story arc.  That little bookshelf in the corner holds a few manuscripts, marked all to hell with red ink.  If you look closely, you'll see a few pirate books.  It seems when people find out you're writing about pirates they like to give you pirate books as gifts.  I haven't read any of them fully, but they're chock full of historical crap, so they're good research materials.  

I commissioned the Skully portrait a few years back by an artist friend.  At the time I thought it would be a great way to market the story by setting up a Schmitty the Pirate myspace page.  Yep.  Myspace.  That's how long I've been working on this thing.

The little figures on top of the computer are Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom.  My friend Joe tends to get over-excited about writing.  When I finished the first draft of Grimstoke's Curse, Joe snuck a pirate-themed cake into the library for our critique group.  Those were the cake toppers.

And there's an airplane hanging from the ceiling.  When you become a pilot, the same people who give you pirate books also give you model airplanes.

Well, that's where all this magic happens.  Unless I'm on the road.  Then it's a laptop in whatever hotel I'm in.  Now show me yours.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Monumental Olympic Fail - Post #96

Don't forget The 99 Follwers Challenge - There's still time.

I had planned on ranting about what an Olympic Fail NBC had done with their coverage of the winter games.  What with 12 television channels, some I've never heard of, billions of dollars bidding on the right to air the games, years of reminding us with those five little rings in the corner of the screen, and the fact that, hey, it's the Olympics, we might expect decent coverage.  But no, turn on the telly during the daytime and you get soap operas.  If you happen upon it at the right time, one cable channel might show curling.  But that's about it.  Primetime - all tape delayed, so if you're breathing, you will have learned the results already.  And by the way, there are other countries competing.  It's not just the USA.  But that would take away time from the fuzzy, feel good, human interest stories.  And NBC can't let athletic competition interfere with the chance to make Ann Curry cry.  Too bad I don't live in Detroit anymore.  They get CBC from Windsor, showing all the games, all day long.

Anyway, since I'm not going to rant about NBC, I thought I would share my own Olympic Fail.  You know the drawer at the bottom of the oven nobody uses, except to store things nobody uses.  I stuck a vacuum sealer I no longer use in there.  A couple of weeks ago I ran the self-cleaning oven.  That gets hot.  Really hot.  I knew this.  I've had to replace cabinet drawers and doors on either side in the past.  In fact, it can get so hot, one of them burned down my sister's kitchen a few years ago.  Must be what happened to those Detroit Pistons tickets.  So, word to the wise unwise.  Metal in the drawer, like say, pots and pans - no big deal.  Plastic vacuum sealer - not so much...

Monday, February 22, 2010

What Would Larry Do #6 - Post #95

Don't forget The 99 Follwers Challenge - There's still time.

If this blog were an 80's television network, this would be a shameless crossover post. What Would Larry Do meets All About The Neighbors. In the second episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen invite Larry and his wife to a Paul Simon concert in their luxury suite. But as the night draws near, Larry has yet to hear from Ted about the details of the concert. He becomes quite concerned he's been uninvited, but bowing to etiquette, refuses to call Ted to ask, correctly surmising that doing so would make him a schmuck.

During my road trip with Howard, he mentioned that his company has a luxury suite for Miami Heat basketball games and invited me and Mrs. Sarcasm to a game next week. The problem is, I checked the schedule. There's no game on the night he specified, but there are two other games that week. And, just like Larry, I've yet to hear from Howard the details.

As I see it, there are several possibilities:
  1. Howard forgot.
  2. I did something to piss Howard, or more likely Moira, off.
  3. Howard is full of crap.
  4. The tickets got lost amongst the debris in their house and he's too embarrassed to admit it.*
I know what Larry did in this situation.  I don't even care about the game.  I just want to see how Howard handles this.  If he handles it.  But I'm no schmuck.  If I were, I would have asked my sister to take me to a Detroit Pistons game (a team I would actually root for) when she had a luxury suite.

*Unlikely, given his penchant for hosting parties amidst the mess.  While embarrassment should live next door, it doesn't.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Announcing The 99 Followers Challenge

This being my 94th post, I thought it was time to throw this out there.  I had thought it would be cool to have 100 followers by the time of my 100th post.  As of today – post 94 – I have 63.  Pretty awesome considering how recently so many have come aboard.  And I’m grateful for everyone who takes the time to read what I have to say.
Having said that, I still want more.  So, I’m issuing the 99 Followers Challenge.  Why 99 instead of 100?  Because somewhere along the way I lost one.  And let me tell you, I must have really said something powerful to drive them away.  Have you ever un-followed someone’s blog?  It’s rather a mighty endeavor.  I’m actually a little impressed I had that great an impact.
Nevertheless, follower 99 would have been 100 and now you all have a chance to cash in on it.
The Challenge:
To have 99 followers by the 100th post.  Since I post at random that could be anytime.  So if you’re interested, jump on it.  You just may win.
The Prize:
Follower 99 wins a $10 gift card from Amazon.  But the person who sends them here wins a $20 gift card from Amazon.  And I’ll feature your blog.
So if you’re already a follower you qualify for the top prize.  Even if you join before 99, you could still win the $20.  If you’re 98, and you bring over 99, you both win.
The Rules:
1. Leave a comment.
2. Link this challenge on your blog. 
3. Remind new followers to mention you sent them over in the comments section of this post.
4.   If you become follower 99, announce yourself loud and tell me who sent you here.
5. If by some chance number 99 stumbles over all by them self, I’ll use the old random generator for the top prize.
Now get out there and start linking!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Can I Have These Last Few Days Back?

For frak's sake, where have I been?  I just realized it's almost a week since I've posted anything.  It's not because I've been terribly busy or anything.  Well, I did have to work a few times.  And there it begins.  I've explained in the past how I get to choose my schedule.  On work days, I'm on call from 10 AM til midnight.  This not only keeps the phone from ringing in the middle of the night, but I have to finish my flying by midnight.


I can be assigned a trip the day before.  When this happens I'm released from duty until the start of said trip.  It's a dirty little trick schedulers use to get the most out of my fourteen hour duty time.

So Saturday I got nailed for a redeye.  One with a four hour break and no where to take a nap.  By the time I got home 5:30 Sunday morning, my day was already ruined.  Naps only extend the tired.  Then yesterday I flew to Medellin, Columbia.  It still amazes me I can travel round trip from one continent to another in the time between breakfast and dinner.  Still, seven hours of boring.  It didn't start out well though.  When the captain warned me to keep an eye on him because he'd been off for two weeks I suggested he must have been having fun.

No.  His father died.

When am I going to develop the ability to probe one's mind before saying stupid things?

When we got to Columbia he went inside for a mystery meat sandwich.  I declined because I had a steak dinner waiting at home.  Not so fast.   US Customs computers went down nationwide.  The captain got through just in time, but I stopped first to pee.  I was in line forever. 

Finally, I got home and fired up the grill.  My grill sucks by the way.  Time for a new one.  But that wouldn't have fixed my dinner.  Some time ago my meat guy went out of business.  The stockpile of filet mignon has long since been consumed.  Until I find a new meat guy, I'm not paying market price for the good stuff.  As a result, last night's dinner was a tasty, yet grisly mess, impossible to cut.

Then came today.  I hoped to write, but my car needs some work.  The auto shop isn't far - by motor vehicle standards - by peddle power, not so close.  They were going to have the car all day, so I threw my bike in the trunk.  Now, forget the fact I haven't ridden in years - the tires were so flat, I didn't know if they were still capable of holding air.  Somehow, no matter what direction I was peddling, I had 50 knots of frakking headwind.  How does that even happen?

Well, I did say I was going to start exercising this week.  Consider the first workout done.  Maybe I'll write later.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sugar Doll Award

It's been said of this award, it's somewhat girly.  To that I say, "Rubbish."  That's right Travener, I said rubbish.  I'll accept any and all awards, even a Razzie, if one were offered to me.  It still means people like me.  Well, unless I actually do get a Razzie.  But I'm doing my best to please my public.

So it is with great humility I accept this, the Sugar Doll Award, from DL Hammons over at Crusing Altitudes.  For an older dude he still seems to have a working mind.  Trust me, where I live, that's more than a compliment.  Just kidding DL. (Not about the compliment, about your mind.  But then, you would have figured that out, wouldn't you?  I mean, because...well...)

Apparently I'm supposed to reveal ten things about myself.  I'm quite unprepared.  I didn't expect to win anything.  Which reminds me of....

  1. My first year in college I hosted a talk show on the campus TV channel.  One day whilst working in the D'Jay booth at the radio station, a couple of my classmates stumbled by on their way to the Broadcast and Cinematic Arts Awards ceremony.  Quite certain no such awards existed, it barely registered when they told me they had voted for me for Best New Television Personality.  The next day I found out I won.
  2. A year later I was the first person to ever have a campus TV show canceled.  I like to think I still hold that distinction.
  3. You know that guy in the office that's such a kiss up everybody hates him except the boss?  Think Dwight on The Office.  Only I like to refer to him as Gareth, from the British The Office.  One day I went to a rival airline's job fair.  Gareth sat in the parking lot taking names.  I got fired.  I now have a better job.  One day, Gareth is going to need a ride on my jumpseat.  That will be the greatest day in my aviation career. 
  4. I was a terrible hitter in Little League.  The first time I faced a real pitcher, he hit me in the head.  I was ten.  After that I was always afraid of the ball.  Despite this fear, and the fact I use to repeat over and over, "Please don't hit it to me.  Please don't hit it to me," I was an excellent shortstop.  I even made the all-star team in the 12 - 13 year-old-league.  
  5. Looking back, every thirteen-year-old made that all-star team.
  6. Damn it!
  7. Sometimes, when I know I'm smarter than them, I'll screw with my captains at work.  Sadly, the only time anyone will ever hear it is if I crash and the cockpit voice recorder is released.  So here's a for instance.  In the early years after 9/11, pilots needed a code word when flying into Washington National Airport.  The captain would call our dispatcher on the phone, relay it to me and I would write it down.  If the word was horse, I wrote hoarse.  One particular captain freaked out.  He was none too happy when I made him sound it out.
  8. Sometimes my best ideas come to me in the middle of the night.  A lot of good ideas have been lost because I'm too lazy to get out of bed to write them down.
  9. Excited to get my first record album, I had a gift certificate, but still needed to pay sales tax.  I begged my uncle, who'd driven me to the record store, for thirty cents.  He relented, not realizing it was for Culture Club's Color By Numbers.  Twenty-seven years later, he's still disappointed.  So am I.
  10. I'm no Johnny Weir, but I do enjoy making people uncomfortable.  I'm in such a macho profession, I can't help myself.  The other day, the captain offered some strange looking chips to me and the jumpseat rider.  There was enough garlic in one chip the entire Twilight Series would have burst into flame from my breath.  When the flight attendant called to see if we were awake, I told her I needed a Coke and some M&Ms (that's right, I get M&Ms at work).  I told her I had a strange and exotic taste in my mouth that needed to be washed away.  Awkward silence lingered among nervous glances between the other two pilots for the rest of the flight.  I crack myself up.
I guess I'm supposed to pass this award on, so Travener gets one, because he always sugar coats his feelings.  

That's all I got.  I have to fly to San Juan in the morning.  At least it's not snowing there.  I'll be thinking of you when I'm on the beach.

Monday, February 8, 2010

LIES - A Gone Novel, by Michael Grant

I promised this a few weeks ago and considered setting up a separate blog because these will be long posts.  But why send you all over creation?  I discovered how to set up extra pages on this blog.  Yay me!  You’re here.  Stay awhile.  Click the link on the right side bar to read LIES.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Road Trippin’ With Howard

It was time to pick up the new couch,and Howard was back from Disney World.  Of course, no simple journey to the furniture store would be complete without a few stops along the way.  First up, the gas station.

Howard jumped out, leaving the door open so we could talk.  While he explained what poor gas mileage the truck got – so much that it ran out of gas on his way to Disney – I realized he’d left the motor running.  Pointing it out seemed only to amuse him. 

“No,” I said.  “It’s in big bold letters on the sign.  TURN OFF ENGINE.”

For some reason he argued the safety margin in filling up a tank with a still running motor was negligible.  Me sitting in the car that might blow up was a bit closer to the margin than I was comfortable with, so I turned off the key.

Then we had to stop at one of his work events.  I’ve mentioned Howard works for a liquor distributor.  In conjunction with the Super Bowl they were sponsoring a celebrity autograph session at a local liquor store.  The celebrity:

Some guy who tastes Jack Daniels for a living.



I once had a friend who tasted Pepsi syrup one summer during college.  Seemed like the same thing to me, but the crowd – the largest Howard had ever seen at this particular store,  - about six, and consisting almost entirely of his co-workers – treated this guy like the messiah.

The guy signed a bottle of Jack that Howard had had engraved for his newborn son.  He plans to present it to the boy on his 21st birthday.  Klassy!

Well, no small favor goes unpunished.  Even after helping him hang his new 55 inch telly, I’m not off the hook.  It seems I somehow committed to watching the Super Bowl with him.  I don’t even care about the Super Bowl. 

“We’ll just watch the commercials,” he said.

Does that mean I can go home in between?

The only saving grace – he promised to order food.  God knows I’m not eating anything prepared in that kitchen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What I'm Up To

Been working, mostly.  Three days in snow country with no computer.  But that was by design.  I love printing out my manuscript and marking it all to hell.  I've come up with some brilliant ideas.  Some I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to incorporate without a complete re-write.  Then, in the middle of the night, I had a Blair Warner moment.  Problem solved.  And ooh, is it good.  Sadly, I've too many non-writing related things to do after being gone a few days.  The most important of which is to watch the season premier of Lost.  No spoilers please.  I'll not be reading your comments until after.

Just to keep you interested, here's a Thursday Teaser.  I know, most people do Tuesday Teasers.  I tease on Thursday.   A writing friend commented that she liked the name Skully initially, but then thought it sounded like an old man.  Until she read how he got his nickname.  Here it is...

Pirates.  Perfect.  Less than human, with missing limbs and bloody entrails, as Admiral Ironskull had described them.  The night just kept getting better.
"So, ya got a name then?" asked Barney the Hook.
"His name is Alistair," answered Mad Grave.
Defender of the people.  Except he wasn't.
"No," he said.  "Don't ever call me that."
"Just as well," said Barney.  "Sounds a bit sissy, that.  Got a last name?"
"Like the admiral?" Barney glanced sideways at Mad Grave.  So, Barney knew his grandfather too.  "Hard headed that one.  Most of these blokes'll hang if he ever catches 'em.  Could be a problem.  We'll just call ya...Skully.  Sounds cool.  Piratey."
Whatever.  As far as he was concerned, Alistair died with his mother.  Might as well be Skully the pirate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Look - Not So Fast

While this is a new look, it's not the one I was going for.  If you stopped by at random intervals during the day you might have seen what I thought was a pretty good look.  A warm, wood desk, with various notebooks sprawled across the edges.  I was quite pleased.  Macs are pretty cool.  And it turns out, I'm getting pretty good at Photoshop and HTML.  Only one problem.  When I opened my laptop to see how it looked in Internet Explorer, I couldn't see a damn thing.  So, until I can figure that out, enjoy this sanitized white layout.