Tuesday, November 14, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 14

The jolly folks over at  mozilla insisted on giving me a new, improved, faster version of FireFox, and as a result everything on blogger hangs and takes five minutes to load.  As a result, I'm switching to brave, which actually does run everything faster than mozilla and blocks all third party advertisements as a normal, built-in feature.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 7

I voted today.  I believe it's my civic duty to stay informed, and to vote each election.  I voted against all tax increases.  We're overtaxed as it is.  We don't need to pay more.

Progress is slow.  I've reached a point in the story where I'm not sure what should happen next, and each time I write something it seems wrong.  Probably because it is.

I think I may have to give up my goal of mediocrity, and settle for something that's good enough for government work.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Friday, November 3, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 3

The word count today stands at 12,473.  I'm not particularly happy with this, but it's the best I could manage.  I'm writing a difficult section, and I think I may have gone a bit overboard in developing a really evil mean and nasty villain.  Well, what can I say?  Hello Kitty is not in the running for villain of the year.

On a different subject, if you have to deal with MS Word you'll eventually run into formatting problems.  Word starts distorting the document and refuses to format correctly.  The only real cure is to strip out the formatting and start over with the plain text.  In the advice of another author who has to deal with this, 'Nuke it 'till it glows'.  That means selecting all the text, copying it to the clipboard, then pasting it into a line editor that doesn't recognize all the herky-jerky HTML Word uses to format a document.  From there, paste it back into Word and allow Word to do its thing - correctly this time.

I use two text editors.  My primary text editor is ME, from Multi Edit Software.  I've used ME for years and never been disappointed with it; its only downside being that it isn't free.  My other text editor is PSPad Freeware Editor, also a good choice.  PSPad tends to handle special characters a little better, and it's freeware, which is nice.

Tomorrow, it's back to the salt mines.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 2

Work continues on The Making of Magic, although I believe a fossilized snail would overtake me on the first turn.  I've finished the scenes and dialogue that explain Otheldo's home during his childhood, and set up the first series of obstacles which Our Hero must overcome somehow. 

My word count thus far is 11,881, according to Micro$oft Word 2002 SP 3.  I originally wrote using LibreOffice, which claims to produce Word documents in exactly the same format as MS Word — except it doesn't.  I discovered this little white lie when I tried to feed my completed anthology from a LibreOffice DOC file into the Amazon translator, which if everything went correctly would return a file compatible with the Kindle e-reader.  The translator coughed, appeared to lock up, then produced a host of cryptic error messages having to do with the fact that it expected an MS DOC file and instead got gibberish.

Motivated by frustration and curiosity,  I created an identical three page file in Word and LibreOffice, then opened both in a file compare utility.  There were a few similarities, but you had to hunt for them.  In particular, the Word file featured a header that could only be interpreted by someone who was an HTML guru with 20 years of hard experience under his hands.  Suffice to say, it was three miles above my pay grade.

So I set my sights on an antique copy of Word, got it for a bargain, and continue using it to this day.  Eventually I expect Amazon to demand a DOCX file format, but until then I'm getting along just fine, thanks.

Back to work I go.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 1

NaNoWriMo is a somewhat imperfect acronym for National November Writing Month.

Starting on November 1st, victims participants start work on a 50,000 word novel, the goal being to complete said novel on or before 11:59 PM EST on November 30th of the same year.  I have a small head start, which I will desperately need if I actually hit the target date for completion.  Use of a pocket calculator will reveal that the minimum word count per day is 1,666; but that's the minimum.  If I'm actually going to make this, I have to produce around 2000.  This is not an easy task, but it's possible.

My novel is entitled The Making of Magic, and is a prequel to the anthology Magic for Hire.  If you haven't read the anthology, you can buy Magic for Hire on Amazon.  Splurge a little, and know that for every copy you buy, you're supporting a starving artist living in an unheated garret with a leaky roof and bad lighting.

And so, to work.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Super Summary

I recently discovered and fixed a broken link, thanks to sometime reader Colleen Hutcherson. Colleen left another link that I found very useful, the Free eBook Download Guide. The guide features loads of links to free eBooks and other helpful sites.  My thanks to Collen for her time and consideration.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Magic Novel: Plot Problems

Having written and published, for better or worse, Magic For Hire, I decided to write a sequel - another anthology.  I then realized a certain demand for A) a novel, and B) a prequel.  How did my protagonist end up the way he did?

So I set to work, and after 20,000 words or so broke my toes on the worst case of writer's block I've ever experienced.  I'd gotten my protagonist into a predicament and couldn't decide on a way to get him out.  I tried several, all of which were dismal failures.  Today, at long last, a solution has suggested itself and the obstacle to my production melted in the heat from the keyboard.

My protagonist was in a bad way, through no fault of his own, but unless he could get out of his current predicament under his own power, he'd never develop and become the protagonist I'd write about later.  My difficulty was that I was sending him help he didn't deserve.  My solution is obvious; he'll overcome the problems that the author hands him without outside help, and continue merrily down the road to publication.

And that's how you defeat writer's block.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Motorcycle Hall of Fame Visit

Having a little free time last Sunday afternoon, I decided to visit the motorcycle museum in Columbus.  I pass this place on a regular basis, and have always wanted to stop in and see what they have to offer.  Officially, the place is listed as:

Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum
13515 Yarmouth Dr, Pickerington, OH 43147
(614) 856-2222
Motorcycle Hall of Fame Web Site
Open 9 - 5, seven days a week

Thursday, September 14, 2017

R.I.P. Rose the Cat

I had Rose put to sleep this morning (Thursday, September 14th, 2017).  Her health was failing, and I don't think she weighed more than five pounds.  She had stopped eating, and only drank a little water once in a while.  I tried tempting her with canned cat food, which she loves, and she only ate a few tiny bites.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Rules for a Son

I found this on Facebook, as posted by Don Comes, and originally posted by Aaron Conrad. This inspired me to write a commentary, which I haven't done in a while.

Monday, August 21, 2017

GenCon, Dinner, and a Pub Crawl in Indianapolis

Mike attends GenCon every year and seems to enjoy himself.  He often ties up with Doc Bitterman (PhD in Information Systems, his treatise being something like Fun with Artificial Intelligence!) and the two have dinner at St. Elmo's Steak House, followed by a pub crawl.  A few years ago I joined them for dinner and the crawl, and having recovered I decided to join them again this year.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Excessive Noise Complaint, Part Two

I wrote about being jolted out of bed at 4:30 in the morning in Excessive Noise Complaint. Evidently, someone picked up on the post because on August 10th, I got this email from Ryan Younge from the Columbus government:

Hi Bill

I apologize that the mosquito sprayer woke you up. We have to spray in the early morning because that is when adult mosquitoes are most active. We also cannot spray during the daytime because pollinators are out i.e. butterflies and bees.
We do not want to kill those insects and they are not out when the sun isn't out because flowers are not out.

We sprayed your area because the mosquitoes we trapped in that area tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Please let me know if you have any questions and sorry for any incidence

Which is a whole lot more than I'd get from most local governments.  In fact, I'd say it was pretty singular.

Your apology is accepted.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Excessive Noise Complaint

I live at the corner of McNaughten Road and East Livingston Avenue.  During the day, but especially in the afternoon, I get boom cars, car horns (drivers pay more attention to their cell phone than the traffic light, so the driver behind them wakes them up), Freddie the Fire Engine, Marty Meat Wagon, and Officer Friendly - the last three are running with lights and siren.  Since all this happens during the day, it's just a part of life - the exception being the boom cars, all of which should be confiscated and the offensive equipment destroyed.  But when my peace and quiet is shattered at 4:30 AM, I become a tad irascible.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

R.I.P. Pastor Cher Clay

My good friend Pastor Cher passed away last night at the Genesis Healthcare facility in Sylvania, Ohio (on Whiteford Rd, just north of Alexis).  Cher's health had been very poor lately, and she was transferred to Genesis Healthcare from the hospital, where she'd been admitted due to heart problems.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Last Trip Home: Part 2

I think I'm showing my age. I took a few pictures of the old homestead and, for my own amusement, decided to post them on my website along with a few memories of the place. Tell me I'm too young to sit around and reminisce about the good old days.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Last Trip Home: Part 1

I made my last trip home yesterday, driving the beltway to US 23, and staying on 23 all the way to 75 into Toledo.  Left at the split, where you can see the Mosque minarets, then up to the Monroe Street exit.  The drive was a real grind, with an accident on Northbound 23 just south of Delaware and construction on I-75 that had to be engineered by the Toledo government.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Broken Tooth Repair

Last Wednesday, July 19th, 2017, I was enjoying a leisurely breakfast of a mushroom, onion, and cheese omelet, toast with butter, and black coffee, when it happened.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

R.I.P. Zeus the Cat

Mister Zeus, my little tuxedo cat, hasn't been doing well lately.  His digestive system wasn't working the way it should; he'd eat, but there would be no weight gain.  He'd be hungry all the time, but feeding him whenever he felt hungry was a bad idea, as he'd end up regurgitating the food.  He also had trouble getting around.  His joints were too stiff and sore to allow him to groom himself.  He negotiated the stairs on step at a time, pausing to rest about halfway up.  Although he hated being picked up and carried, he enjoyed it when I carried him up the stairs.  He'd lost so much weight that he was little more than fur and bones.  And he could no longer play with Danté, his buddy cat.  Danté would offer to play with him, and Zeus couldn't.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book Review: Gosnell: The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer

When I was around ten years old, I wanted to see a scary movie.  My dear old mother took one look at it and refused to let me go watch it, saying it would give me nightmares and it was trashy anyway.  I don't remember the film, but it might have been The Mummy (1959) by Disney.  That would put me at 7 years old, so I tend to think this was the one.  I pestered Mom so much that she finally told me to read something scary.  Like what?  Like Edgar Allan Poe, for instance.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Origins 2017: Day 5

This is Saturday, the biggest day at the Origins Gaming Convention. The dealer show should be elbow to elbow, with no room to move and little room to turn around. As you can see, that's not the case.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Latest News as of June 20, 2017

My Internet connection has been down for the last two days.  It turned out to be the modem that I lease from my ISP, Time Warner Cable (TWC), which is now officially known as Spectrum.  So now I have a nice, new modem which is finally working the way it's supposed to.

In other news, my brother Dave suffered a heart attack Monday morning.  He's in Flower Hospital and still on the sunny side of the lawn, but a heart attack is serious business.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Origins 2017: Day 3

Today is Arkham Horror, as hosted by Rogue Judges.  To understand the game, you should have some kind of background reading H.P. Lovecraft, as quoted below.

Origins 2017: Day 2

We started the day off right with a game of Tunnels and Trolls  (T&T). The game master was the designer of T&T, Ken St. Andre.  For those of you who have never played an FRP game before, skip this part.  You won't understand, and I'm not up to writing a 5000 word essay on the definition of FRP gaming and why people do it.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Origins 2017: Day 1

I'm attending the Origins Game Fair this year with Mike and Dave. Unfortunately Dave has called in sick with an upper respiratory malady, and as I write this is being nursed back to health by his dear old Mother in Toledo.  We're having to make do without him.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wake Up Call

I was startled to find my living room fireplace on Filthie's Thunderbox. You can read all about here, in House Sitting.  My liquor cabinet has suffered some shrinkage, but that can be repaired.  How one person could actually drink so much is not beyond me at all; I just didn't know Glen was a professional.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

My Fireplace Decoration Efforts

Having designed (if we can call it that) several arrangements of my father's antique horse bit collection and a few other items, I took a few pictures and put the designs on a facebook poll.  I asked, you may have answered, and I ignored the entire business.

Saturday Blues

Today was supposed to be a work day, but it's turning into half a work day.  For some unaccountable reason, I'm feeling quite depressed.

Zeus in His Customary Place
While it's all very well to be depressed to one degree or another, I'm reminded of the realities of life by one of my favorite writers: Thomas Stearns Eliot OM (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965), who mentioned practicalities through his character Ape Neck Sweeney in the play Sweeney Agonistes.

Apeneck Sweeney is best described in the poem Sweeney Erect:
The lengthened shadow of a man
Is history, said Emerson
Who had not seen the silhouette
Of Sweeney straddled in the sun. 

In Sweeney Agonistes, three men and two women are sitting around a kitchen table together, having a drink and listening to music.  At the prompting of Doris, Sweeney decides to wax philosophic.

I gotta use words when I talk to you
But if you understand or if you don't
that's nothing to me and nothing to you
We all gotta do what we gotta do
we're gona sit here and drink this booze
we're gona sit here and have a tune
We're gona stay and we're gona go
And somebody gotta pay the rent
When it's all said and done with, someone has to pay the rent.  That would be me, as the cats have no money this month.  Next month isn't looking too good either.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Before and After

I've been in Columbus most of the time, and the lawn back in Sylvania is beginning to look a bit unkempt.  Sort of like a place that hasn't been occupied over the past, say, six months.  I called Frank and explained my predicament, and he immediately told me he'd handle it.  And well, I guess he sure did.

Night Out with Music

Feeling a bit restless last night, I wasn't sorry when Mike called around 6:00 PM and suggested we go and get some coal fired pizza at Natalie's, then maybe stay for the music and maybe not.  I was up for that, and in short order had donned a clean shirt and put my car under me.

Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza and Live Music
5601 N High St, Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 436-2625

I've been to Natalie's before to see the California Guitar Treo.  The bar provides an excellent music venue.  Mike and I sat at the bar, decided that we'd have a drink, a pizza, and maybe an appetizer later on.  The music was a maybe, maybe not.  Mike had no trouble with an early evening, but having driven out to Natalie's I was inclined to stay and hear the band - the Whirlybirds.

We're sitting at the bar, and the very first problem we have is service.  There are two bartenders.  One looks like he's under the influence of some weird new anti-psychotic drug, and the other is flat out ignoring us.  By holding an empty glass up for about five minutes I manage to get one bartender's attention, and we get our first round.  So far, so good.  The trouble was that the quality of the service never picked up, and we had to yell for everything - including a cheese plate that we ordered, and that the bartenders were literally looking everywhere except at our waving hands.  We both yelled and made ourselves heard over the band and got the plate, but it was a struggle.

So last night's service gets one start out of five.

The food, by the way, is excellent.  Now if the manager could just come up with a way to deliver the food to the hungry customer, they might really have something.

We decided to stay for the band.  Actually, I wanted to stay.  Whirlybirds bills itself as a swing band, and I like swing music.  Here's a link to their site: Whirlybirds on Facebook
Whirlybirds, featuring Joe Gilliland (vocals/guitar), Brenny Brenneman (clarinet/saxes/vocals), Trent Sampson (double bass/vocals), Nick Simko (trumpet), Jacob Campbell (keys), and Max Marsillo (drums).
The music selection was a little odd, but that's okay.  They played their own arrangements of swing songs, most of which I know, but few of which I recognized.  The high point of the show was Just a Gigalo / I Ain't Got Nobody, which has been recorded by just about everybody.  Whirlybirds did a good job with this one, but the other songs - not so much.

Whirlybirds on Stage


Drummer and Keyboard

Band Leader and Guitar

The Doghouse
I'll give the Whirlybirds two and a half stars out of five, with the promise of watching them again.  I think what they really need is time.  Practice time.  Also it wouldn't hurt the keyboard player to trade the keyboard for an actual piano.

Taken individually, all these men are good musicians.  Taken as a whole, they're disjointed, and they don't have to be.  That's my own opinion, and like everything else, your mileage may vary and the sleeves will ride up with wear.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ancestry and Graveyards

I had lunch with my cousin Amy yesterday, and mention I though I might go to Toledo Memorial Cemetery to see the graves of some of my ancestors.  Kind of a morbid, depressing thing to do, but I'll admit to not understanding my own motivations.

Amy explained that when she was little her folks owned a rental property in Waterville, which was right across the street from a cemetery.  Amy and her girlfriends would all go and get a Popsicle, then go over to the cemetery and enjoy the summer weather - or do whatever they did.  I'm sure the residents didn't mind.

Here are the results of what amounts to a scavenger hunt at Toledo Memorial Cemetery.

Recipe: Hummus

I learned to make Hummus from Ellen's daughter Karen, who has a penchant for Mediterranean cuisine.  It's an easy recipe to make, but it's also easy to screw up.  When I did my grocery shopping yesterday, I couldn't find an essential ingredient for hummus: tahini sauce.  This afternoon I visited a store which specialized in Mediterranean foodstuffs, and naturally there were several brands of tahini.  I chose one and two hours later my hummus was ready to eat.  In short, it was perfect.  Here's the recipe.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Recipe: Gazpacho

A long time ago, early one Saturday afternoon, I was feeling the aftereffects of Friday night, and I didn't think things would get much worse.  The girl I was dating (Linda) suggested I might like some gazpacho, which I'd never had before.

In short, the gazpacho was excellent, and is the only known sure-fire cure for overindulgence on Friday night.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Learning to Cook

Glen over at the Thunderbox left a comment stating he wished he knew how to cook, which put me in mind about how I first learned to cook something besides peanut butter sandwiches.  It was a real learning and growth experience, let me tell you.

Non-Paying House Guests

This morning I was up early thanks to my three borders.  After fixing them breakfast, I started assembling my own morning meal.  I'm standing in the kitchen, watching the coffee maker like a semi-comatose mental defective, when Mister Zeus charged my feet and made a classic feline pounce-swat.

He missed.

Mister Zeus with Muzzle, Untidy In.
Not his fault, as he moved faster than I've seen him move in years, and the target managed to make hard cover.  My own nervous system is so poor I didn't even flinch during the entire business.

So now I have a house guest that is uninvited and is not paying rent.  Eviction procedures will commence around noon today, which is when I'll get back from the store with a nice, new trap.  Not a live animal trap, either.  A nice whack - their dead trap.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Recipe: Mom's Spaghetti Sauce

When my old father was a child, spaghetti was a brand new item.  People bought it and then didn't know what to do with it.  One recipe - possibly the only recipe - that involved spaghetti was slumgullion.  My paternal grandmother (Jess) used to make it, and according to my father it was every bit as appetizing as the name suggests.  The dish featured spaghetti noodles, beef grease, and a random selection of overcooked vegetables.  When Dad got older he refused to eat it, and would go out and buy his dinner at a diner down the street.  My grandfather (Marion) would eat it, mainly because he was too much of a Scottish tightwad to do otherwise.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Recipe: Slow Cooker Pork Chop Stroganoff

Tonight we're having pork chops stroganoff.  I've made this one before, and it's always turned out very nicely.  It's easy to freeze single serving portions in one quart freezer bags.

Pork Chop Stroganoff

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day 2017

Today is Mother's Day, so by way of celebration I'll post a few pictures of my own dear mother, Jane King Cameron Emery (June 28th, 1925 - July 8th, 2015).

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spiders and Snakes

One way or another I ended up reading Glen over at the Thunderbox, and he's writing about Phobias. Evidently Glenn is one of those people who can't tolerate the insect world as easily as some of us do, although I'll admit to a strong aversion to the Florida flying cockroach, the Palmetto bug, and the large brown water bug that showed up on our dinner table without warning one afternoon.  It was about the size of my thumb and was purposefully making its way to some destination out of sight of humanity and hungry birds.  I brushed it off with my napkin, and it disappeared from view.

Glen goes nuts over spiders.  Arachnophobia is the correct term for his particular malfunction, which is common enough.  I don't suffer it myself.

If you've been patient enough to get this far, know that I'm headed for an anecdote from my misspent youth.  I was about 6 or 8 years old when I heard this one.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

R.I.P. Bob Wallace

My thanks to Glen of Filthie's Thunderbox for the latest news.  It seems that a fellow blogger, Bob Wallace of Uncle Bob's Treehouse, has passed away unexpectedly and will be sorely missed by his readers.

Glen decided to honor Bob with First Ever Bob Wallace Memorial Campout, which I would have attended had I known about it, had a trailer similar to Bob's, and been able to get a valid passport in time.  But I didn't, I don't, and I am unable.

The thing about establishing a presence on the Internet is that you attract more than your fair share of weasels, trolls, and x-wing nasties, a very few of whom mean business and pose credible threats. Bob didn't care much about this - just read a few of his posts and you'll understand why.

Most bloggers eventually run out of steam, posts become fewer and fewer until the most recent post is two years old.  Eventually the blog makes its way to the electronic graveyard, the disk space is reclaimed, and the universe continues to create idiots.

At the end of it all, no one knows what happened.  In many cases no one ever met the author personally or even knows the author's real name.  And so, when he eventually dies, nothing much can be said about him except the usual recriminations - I wish I'd (fill in the blank).  Bob was an irascible sort and a good writer.  He made the blogosphere a slightly better place, and I'll miss him.

Here's a link to his obituary, such as it is:

Robert Wallace Jr. | 1956 - 2017 | Obituary
Bob worked at the Granite City warehouses and wrote his own blog, Uncle Bob’s Treehouse.

Tonight at some point I'll hoist one for Bob.  Maybe two.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Life is Tedious

I was grexing at myself because I haven't accomplished much lately. But over the last couple days I managed to open a checking / savings account at a local credit union, which has been an uphill struggle all the way. First they wanted some form of ID that I don't have, since my driver's license hasn't been changed over yet. When I finally got a utility bill that they'd accept, this brain damaged clerk kept me waiting in the lobby for 20 minutes before he'd condescend to begin the process, and the entire business took an hour and a half. This guy was a real ding-a-ling, but I finally got the accounts opened and money deposited.

Then I managed to find bags for both (upstairs and downstairs) vacuum cleaners and get the bags changed out - without creating a haz-mat spill on the living room floor.

Then, while I'm busy feeling sorry for myself, I learned that John Meilink's Significant Other, Cindy Zuccarell, is in the hospital due to broken bones and significant health problems. Cindy is a real nice person and really doesn't deserve this. I think that prayers for her would be appreciated.

We have T-Storms in Columbus, so between the T-Storms interfering with the TV reception and the stupid warnings running all over the picture, watching Gunsmoke reruns is out. T-Storm warnings? Really? All you have to do is look outside - look up, genius. See the dark clouds? That means rain. Those bright flashes are lighting, which is your cue to grab a ten foot metal pole and go play wave the pole at the astronauts in the rain.

I'm going to the bookstore, then to lunch.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quality of Fiction

I enjoy reading Sarah A Hoyt's blog, and as a result I hooked up with the disreputable but friendly folks over at Bad Novelist.  A long and somewhat perilous walk later, I found myself the recipient of a stack of free literature for my Kindle Keyboard and entered into an online raffle: Announcing the Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway.  Naturally I didn't win anything, but I didn't expect to win anything, so that's a wash.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Early Publication

Back in March of 2000, a local columnist for the Toledo Blade started a routine barbecue of the local politicos as they delivered yet another prevaricating press release about the quality of life as it will become in Toledo, Ohio.  Toledo's (back then, not now) Mayor Carleton Finkbeiner was involved, although not so much in the writing, but in giving this five pound stack of foolscap the official nomine Domini and making it available to a blue collar public that frankly couldn't give a tinker's damn what it said or even if it existed.

Roberta de Boer tried reading it, then offered some long green to anyone who could tell her what it said.  I, of course, had no trouble with it and wrote to Roberta, and the rest is, as they say, the bird cage liner.  See for yourself. 

Roberta de Boer's Column
Important Part!
I got a real kick from seeing my letter in print somewhere other than the situations wanted section.  What a hoot!

Officially, this is my first publication anywhere.  And yes, Ms. de Boer did, in fact, send me a cheque - although I can't remember the amount, I thought it fairly generous.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Shrove Tuesday 2017

Happy Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, whichever you prefer.

Shrove Tuesday Pancakes
Note: Photo courtesy of Cambridge News UK, used without permission.

The word shrove comes from the word shrive, which (if you believe the OED) means to impose penance upon (a person); hence, to administer absolution to; to hear the confession of.
In other, more civilized parts of the world, today is Fat Tuesday.  Today we eat, drink, and make gluttonous khazers of ourselves, for tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which signals the beginning of recovery week for all those of you who party hardy on Tuesday.

As I said, Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, and we all turn over the new leaf of austerity. But let's not think about that; it's unnatural.  Instead, observe party time, for tomorrow may never come.

Party Central for Mardi Gras is Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, otherwise known as The Big Easy.  The truth (being somewhat less appealing than fiction) is that most of the New Orleans locals leave town during the Mardi Gras season.  Those that stay are working and making a nice income off the tourists, all of whom are busy doing the best they can to give themselves alcohol poisoning.  The crowds are massive, and the press of people is the only holding some of these party patrons upright.

By the way, if you're ever stuck in a crowd on Bourbon Street and want to get out, the best thing to do is to bend over sharply and make retching noises.  People around you will believe that you exceeded your drink limit and will quickly back away, then will give you a tunnel to exit.

As for me, I've never been to Mardi Gras and have no intention of ever going.  Mardi Gras is the number one original worst amateur night anywhere, ever.  It incorporates tourists, money, and copious amounts of booze.  Put all these together and agitate them; see what happens.  If you don't believe me, just ask the New Orleans Police Department officers who get stuck working the crowd.  They can tell you some real horror stories.

For a safe and sane celebration, go out and have some pancakes for lunch, then indulge yourself in your favorite dinner and top it off with a hot fudge sundae.  There you go - Fat Tuesday.

Monday, February 27, 2017

John B.'s Retirement Party

I wonder if a rock musician ever really retires?  I tend to think they don't - but the sets get a little shorter.

John B. in an Unguarded Moment
Noteworthy rock drummer and sometime author John B. Meilink is officially retiring, and as such a retirement party is mandatory.  So it's off to the underground club in Temperance, Michigan for an evening of rock music and friends who are getting older.

The name says it all.  Old Grand-Dad is not just for drinking; it's also proof against cold weather, bad tempered women and snake bite.

First Set
I can't remember what the band was playing here, but I was trying to get the drummer in motion when it was apparent he was enjoying himself.

The Band - Bad Manorz
I don't know why the band members crowded around to the left, but I think it had something to do with the P.A. system, which was not behaving as expected.

The Retired Drummer in Action
I finally got a decent picture of the elusive John B. making the wood fly.  You're looking good, old man!

As usual, I had a great time at the club, and as usual, most everyone who is laid back and likes rock music is invited.  I'm looking forward to the next session - as usual.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Zeus News

I've been worried over Zeus the cat.  He's getting on there in years (16 or 17, we think) and he hasn't been eating lately.  I took him over to the Hamilton Road Animal Hospital, and Dr. Carol fixed him up with an uncomfortable examination and some medicine, including an appetite stimulant.  You see the results below.

You will note that Zeus prefers his water in a highball glass.  Truly, I don't know why, but he goes to the glass in preference of anything else.  He also dived into the new food I bought for him.  I bought several brands at the store on the advice of Dr. Carol, who said that getting the little monster to eat was more a matter of trial and error than anything else.

Evidence of Eating
 Zeus was so enthusiastic that he is now in violation of the Feline Order of the Day, Section 1, Number 3, part C: Muzzle, Untidy in.  He refused to allow me to clean him up, so I left him to his own devices.

Preferred Food
More as a memo to myself than anything else, here is His Majesty's preferred brand of cat food.  Chow time!

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Northern Wall

I found this today while procrastinating.  This is Canada's answer to the international border crises, and it's a good one.

I understand the U.S. and Canadian governments are both looking for experienced hedge trimmers, so I volunteered Glen Filthie over at Filthie's Thunderbox. No need to thank me.

Friday, February 3, 2017


This is my living room. The feline with his muzzle in my water glass is Zeus.

My Living Room
Zeus has his own water, which is perfectly good.  Why is he demanding mine?

Zeus in My Water
Now I know why my water tastes funny.

Oh well.  I got myself another glass from the kitchen and kept it out of his reach.

How Internet Rumors Start

I found this little gem on Facebook, that bastion of free speech for moonbats everywhere.  Check the flag and the caption.

From Facebook
The reality is a bit different.  From the article Lps Sends Statement Regarding Flag Placement at North Star High School:
Lincoln Public Schools was made aware Wednesday of an incident that happened in a Spanish language classroom at Lincoln North Star High School. There are flags of many nations hanging in the classroom, and one student hung a Mexican flag on the same flag pole as the American flag.
The classroom teacher appropriately used the incident as an opportunity for a teachable moment to lead a discussion on respecting the American flag, proper flag etiquette and patriotism, and removed the Mexican flag. The school principal had conversations with the students and staff involved, and people had an opportunity to discuss the issue. These were all positive experiences; these are life lessons that stick with students.
Note that it was a student who hung the flag, and the instructor corrected it.  Now just try and get the real explanation to fly in the face of the blatant lie that is already making the viral rounds.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Home Improvement

The house in Columbus is slowly coming together, and it doesn't look like a 27 car pileup on I-75 during an ice storm.  My problem is that I have a galley kitchen, which is a polite way of saying that there is room for one, and only one, chef, and it would be best if the chef were slim and flexible instead of being old and fat.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

R.I.P. Ruth Seed

Ruth passed away on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017.  She was a long standing member of Bethany Community Fellowship (BCF), and was a close friend to my mother, Jane Emery. The two of them could be found together most Sundays sitting in 'widow's row', as Ruth named it.  Ruth had a wry sense of humor, and was very straightforward about her opinions.  When one of the Elders at BCF ruffled her feathers, Mom and I had to calm her down before she had a chance to straighten him out.

Ruth will be missed by many, but she's in Heaven now along with my mother, and what a time they are having!

Edit: Here's a link to Ruth's obituary: Ruth Seed Obituary

R.I.P. Pastor Jim Riccitelli

On Thursday, January 5th of 2017, Jim Riccitelli was admitted to the hospital due to a bad case of pneumonia.  He was discharged several days later, but his condition worsened and he was taken to the emergency room the following day.  He received the best of care, but his condition continued to worsen, and he passed away in his sleep, early this morning (Saturday, January 28th, 2017).

His wife Ruth is doing as well as can be expected.  She's surrounded by friends, neighbors, and members of her Church.  As I write this, her children are on their way to her home.

Pastor Jim was a great man.  He and Ruth served as missionaries in Burkina Faso, Africa for over ten years, where they ministered to the Red Bobo tribe.  Jim and Ruth had to learn the native language, which is tonal - anything you can say in Red Bobo, you can also whistle - then Jim invented a written language for the tribe as they had none.  He translated the New Testament into Red Bobo and taught the tribe to read.

Upon returning to the United States, Jim started The Berean Fellowship Church in Point Place where he served as Pastor for 25 years.  His sermons included a question and answer session; in other words, if you didn't understand something or you had a question, you could raise your hand in the middle of the sermon and your question would be answered.  All Jim's sermons were teaching sermons, focused on understanding the Word of the Lord.

When he retired, he was called into service at Bethany Community Fellowship Church in Sylvania, Ohio, which is where I met him.  Pastor Jim led me to accept the Lord into my life on Thursday, August 18th, 2005.  I was baptized shortly thereafter, and a few days later Pastor Jim and Ruth agreed to become my godparents.

Pastor Jim retired (his third retirement) and he and Ruth moved to Ft. Meyers, Florida, where Jim was called out of retirement again to serve as minister of music.  In between ministries, he finished his most recent book, Authenticate Your Faith.

I shall miss Pastor Jim terribly, but I'll see him again in Heaven, and I wouldn't wish him back into this lousy world for anything.

Edit: Another writer has posted a missive about Pastor Jim, which you can read here: Remembering Pastor Jim

Friday, January 27, 2017

Zillionaires Prepare for the End of the World

I was listening to NPR the other day and heard an interview that I found interesting. Evan Osnos of The New Yorker typed out a fairly interesting missive about survivalism; surviving the aftermath of the next great catastrophe.  You can read it here, Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich, but the title says it all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Belated Political Anniversary - January 22nd

January 22nd is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (courtesy of Wikipedia).  The case was officially argued on December 13, 1971, rehashed on October 11, 1972, and finally decided on January 22, 1973. Truly a momentous decision.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Why Me?

I'm more than a little exhausted from moving to my new home in Columbus and trying to clean out the family estate in Sylvania.  Last Friday I schlepped my parents' fine harness show buggy to a consignment shop in Louisville, KY, then was too tired to make the drive back to Sylvania.  I ended up staying in Columbus and driving back the next day.  I'm beat.

And so, you see, I had a little incident with breakfast this morning.  It's my habit to wash my dishes by hand, then put them in the dishwasher for rinsing and drying.  The abrasive soap in the dishwasher being hard on the dishes and cookware, you see.  This morning I popped open the dishwasher and retrieved my favorite cast iron skillet, spatula, and coffee cup.  I proceeded to make myself my standard breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast and coffee.  Everything had a slightly odd flavor to it, but being half comatose I ate it anyway.  In truth, my sense of taste has been permanently altered by chemo and radiation therapy, so nothing tastes quite the same as it used to, but as I write this I have a very bad aftertaste in my mouth that reminds me of badly used dishwater.

There's every chance in the world that I washed the dishes, put them in the dishwasher and failed to turn the blasted thing on.

On another front, two kind souls gave me a gift certificate to Amazon and a cash Visa card, respectively, and now I can't find either card.  I must have put them somewhere for safe keeping, which means they'll turn up sometime in June.  Worse, I can't find the charger for my camera and I desperately need to photograph some items in the house so I can fail to sell them on eBay, which means I'll have to buy another charger on Amazon, and this will give me a total of four separate chargers for my camera, three of which are lost.  Or misplaced.

Why me?