Friday, December 2, 2016

A new beginning

As one grows older one tends to begin to think there are less true adventures to begin in life. Well, that's not quite the way it goes all the time...

Tomorrow, My Beloved and I begin moving into our new home. It's not really new, but it's new to us. It'll be quite the change to what we were used to over the last twenty years. We built our last home and sold it a couple months ago. To that end, we have been refurbishing an older house which will become our new home. It's been a challenge at times with my work schedule to try and help out My Beloved who has shouldered most of the burden in dealing with contractors, timelines and special orders. It think she's likely painted more in the last two months than in the last twenty years.

What she has done is take a tired old house with good bones and begin transforming it into an updated and shining new homestead. She has the ability to see how the disparate pieces will come together and what the finished product will look like even without an image or a computer to show her. She has some serious design talent. She politely asks my opinion at times but the vision is hers. All the tile, flooring, faucets, paint and lighting have all come together from her fabulous vision.

Oh, there are still a few last minute details that need to be worked out and not everything is quite in place, but that is what happens with this type of adventure. She has made a beautiful new home for us continue our lives together.

I don't talk much about her on these pages as she is someone who doesn't always like the publicity, but she is my world and life.

Now, if anyone wants to help carry boxes and furniture over the weekend ...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Report Ensign; Ghost Fleet

I haven't posted much about the current book I'm working on. Hell, I haven't posted much about any book I've written in a long time. Although this blog is more about my life and thoughts of the world and how I interact with it, my writing is a huge part of my life.

Soooooo, here is a rather long excerpt from my current work in progress that is tentatively titled 'Ghost Fleet', book two of the science fiction Home World Series. It is the sequel to 'Star Eagle Six', book one of the series. The passage involves a brilliant young ensign and scientist Jeff Sinclair, giving a report to Stuart Joseph the captain of the starship Parras. The ensign is accompanied by lieutenant commander Sinna DuClair, a bridge commander. I hope you enjoy the selection.



“Okay, give it to me.” Stuart Joseph leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. Ensign Sinclair and commander DuClair sat across from him in the bridge conference room. Joseph had a slight scowl on his face. He didn’t like being pulled off his bridge to listen to a report. “This had better be good.”
“We have a clue to the destruction of LeLairn, Captain.” Sinna was sitting up straight, her posture rigid, her hands folded across her lap. She always felt uncomfortable sitting in front of the captain. It reminded her of being called before the principal in school, or being in a job interview. She was much more relaxed when she was on her feet, moving around; more on equal terms. “I think you need to hear ensign Sinclair’s findings.” She nodded as she looked over to a nervous ensign. “Go ahead Jeff.”
“Well sir,” Jeff began nervously, stopping as captain Joseph held up his hand.
“Son, make sure you bring this down to my level, okay?”
“Yes sir.” He looked over to Sinna quickly before beginning. “You know of background radiation as a constant throughout the universe I assume sir. It’s the single remnant that points back to the Big Bang.”
“I’m aware ensign. I’m not stupid.”
“Sorry sir. Well, what we found was a path that cut across the LeLairn system that shows a clear disturbance in that radiation. It measures approximately one-quarter an astronomical unit across.”
“What caused it?”
“That is something we don’t know yet, but it is a definite interruption in the local field. I didn’t have time to begin to analyze its structure yet. As the duty cycle finished I started working on the report to send up.”
“Reports can wait when you’re on the cusp of finding something tangible.” Joseph let his eye move to his commander before returning. It was enough to force a nod back in his direction.
“We did measure a difference in width from where it seems to have entered the system to when it exited, although the it seems to have broken up at some point.”
“And that point being?”
“Likely when it interacted with LeLairn prime, sir.”
“Interacted meaning …”
“Yes sir, when it collided with LeLairn.”
“Very good. What’s next?”
“There are several things to look at. We need to calculate the variation in width to begin to determine a point of origin. We also need to investigate what could have caused it. It’s possible it was a weapon, or, it could be a naturally occurring phenomenon we have never encountered before.”
“What’s your best guess, son?”
“Well sir.” Jeff paused and swallowed hard. “I can’t think of anything I’ve ever even dreamed of that would point this in the direction of a natural occurrence. If I had to guess, I’d say it was not natural.”
Joseph let his head drop. He pushed himself away from the desk and turned toward the viewport behind him. He watched the stars in the background as the destroyer Victory loomed at her station off the starboard beam. He let his mind go blank for a few moments, lost in the dark solitude.
Ensign, how can you be sure LeLairn interacted with this anomaly?” Joseph turned back to his officers.
“I’ll have to run a time line to see where, or if they interacted.” Jeff sat silently for a moment before continuing. “Although I don’t want to point out the obvious sir, we went looking for a smoking gun, and we found it.”
“How long will that take?”
“Only a couple hours sir. There are a couple problems we face to do this however. We don’t know the velocity of whatever it was that caused the disturbance in the radiation. I could take an educated guess at that and plot the orbital path of the planet back in time. We’ll see if they intersect.”
“What’s the other problem?”
“Sir?”
“You said there are a couple problems. You’ve told me one. What’s the other?”
“It’s the variation that we might encounter since we don’t have all the facts.” Jeff’s eyes narrowed as he began to think through his rationale. His voice lowered like he was speaking only to himself. “If the variation is more than plus or minus seventy-eight hours …”
“Jeff, stop mumbling,” Sinna said as she nudged his arm.
“Sorry sir,” he said as he looked back up. “If the time frame is off by a factor of seventy-eight hours then this likely isn’t the cause of the explosion.”
“Why seventy-eight hours?”
“That’s the length of three LeLairn solar days. The path of this disturbance cuts obliquely at an angle of twenty-six degrees across the plane of the system. It’s not horizontal to the plane. If it takes longer than seventy-eight hours, it would miss LeLairn prime.”
“Go find me some answers Ensign,” Joseph replied. “Make sure I see it as soon as you’ve reached your conclusion.”
“Aye sir.”
“Do you want any help with this?”
“No sir. Others just slow me down.” He hesitated from his statement. “Sorry sir, that didn’t come out right.”
“I know what you mean Ensign.” Joseph turned back to the viewport just in time to see the stabilizers on the Victory fire keeping her at station. “Carry on.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The face that launched a thousand ships

As is the norm on our sojourns, My Beloved and I went shopping, as is our habit to do when we're on vacation. We're with friends and we hit some stores we might not normally hit when it's just the two of us. All in all I don't mind shopping when on vacation. It's only when I'm not that I hate it. Being a retail manager for sixty hours a week doesn't really allow me to enjoy being in stores when I'm not at work. It's kind of a hazard of the trade, so to speak.

Well, we hit a store that I'm sure I've been in before and with the recent topics of body shaming so prevalent in the news recently, this store gave cause for me to veer toward this topic. I like picking some clothing out for My Beloved, although most things I hold up, she just smiles and nods. The sizes were 0, 1, 2. Okay what the hell is this all about?

Then it struck me. All this body shaming is brought on not by the regular guys of the world. It's brought on by the women themselves and the fashion industry and style mongers they are so devoted to. The industry as a whole can't even put together a sizing guide. So often I've heard from the women in my life that sizes vary by store. What the hell? How am I supposed to buy something for her birthday or Christmas if I don't even know what size I'm supposed to buy? I once bought underwear based on the size of the pants she wears. Boy, was that a mistake.

All this shaming is ridiculous. I don't hear the men I've been around most of my life complaining about their woman's size. We value them for what they are, they way they are and we love them for that. The real men of the world don't particularly care. We're workers, businessmen, electricians, plumbers, truck drivers, managers and all the rest. We don't care. Women have done this to themselves.

When normal men see beautiful faces such as Ashley Graham's they think, that's the face that launched a thousand ships. If you don't know what that means, look it up. If you don't understand, you're part of the problem.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Horizon

There is nothing like seeing the horizon the way God made it. As a land-locked small town dweller it is something we are robbed of in our confined world. Although I love the sight of trees, earth-grown monsters filled with a catacomb of branches and leaves, one of the reasons My Beloved and I purchased our most recent home was the setting, however seeing the horizon where water meets sky is something that fills the imagination.

Do you see clouds within the mainland? I do, but nothing like horizon-filled cumulus puffs of cotton that stretch as high as the imagination will let them. I sit on the beach with my feet comfortably tucked into the white sands and let my mind wander. From here as the heavens open and fill with strings of cotton candy pulled beyond their breaking point, wisps of white litter the blue skies in all directions.

Their forms take all shapes as I see stuffed bears and running rabbits. Fierce dragons that roam the sky give way to alligators and lizards as their shapes meander from the upper winds I can not feel. In their haste, mighty steeds gallop beneath the solid blue walls, dark where the sun can not penetrate within their secretive confines.

It is these and a hundred other shapes that dance in their never-ending theater that hold my imagination this day. At the end of this week I will give up my view of the unending curvature of this earth and take with me that which I will carry only within my most cherished memories.

Until we meet again ...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Have a seat

No, I basically can't.
You can't what?
I can't sit down.

Having had a recent outpatient surgery for something very minor but something in an awkward place, I've essentially haven't been able to sit down for nearly two months. Sounds horrible you say? What's the big deal you say?

Well, in comparison to someone who is fighting a disease such as cancer or heart or kidney disease, it's nothing. It is however something I've never experienced before. I've never had any type of surgery in my life; heck, never been to a hospital. I think that's quite an achievement for someone of my advanced  years. One of the issues concerning this is ... I don't know how to react to this stuff.

Although I'm a very active person, as a retail manager who routinely walks thirty-five to forty miles a week on the job, you find out quickly how limited you are when you can't sit down, and I mean literally. Think of all the things you do during the day even while you're at work. You answer phones, work at a computer, have meetings, take conference calls, chat with customers and fellow employees.

Well, I can't do any of that sitting down. Ever try to do computer work standing up? It's not easy when the desks aren't built for that height. As a writer, one needs to work at a computer. For the first month I tried writing while standing at the island in my kitchen. I also flopped myself over my leather ottoman and tried to type with the computer on the floor. That's really hard on the neck and shoulders. The only other position is to lay down. That doesn't work too well either. Want to have some fun? It's a blast to go to a restaurant and eat standing up.

I did find out however that I am very tired at the end of the day and have slept very well. The reason? I've stood up all day. That gets exhausting. Those small breaks you get during your day when sitting down, no matter what you are doing lets you rest. You can't rest standing for sixteen to eighteen hours every day for two months.

Fortunately, my tushy is finally beginning to heal and though very uncomfortable, I'm starting to sit for very short periods of time. It's still not easy as this ramble is typed standing around the kitchen table. My writing has taken a hit as I had hoped to have the second science fiction title published by now. Oh well, that'll have to wait.

It's coming ... please keep the faith...and have a seat round the fire.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Hobbled

I have been very lucky throughout my life. I've face no serious injuries nor had invasive surgeries to mar this awesome physique. I have always been able to fend for myself be it a physical or mental challenge. I've always been quite proud of that fact.

In my line of work I see a multitude of people coming and going. Most of them are fine on the surface. They seem to be able to have unfettered locomotion. I've always found it curious when someone needs me to carry something out to their car, especially when I'm several years their senior. I'm not one to ask for help in something like that. Why? Because I've always been fortunate to have my health.

Well, recently that feeling of invincibility has been stripped from my facade. My minor outpatient surgery of recent weeks has left me vulnerable to the slings and arrows of old age. Yes, I'm still a strapping and vibrant (cough, cough) young man approaching sixty, but I am not a person unable to lift anything over twenty pounds. It's a rude awakening when back in the day my normal workout was routinely tossing ten, 80 pound bags of concrete mix into someone's pickup truck, then running back to the other end of the store and loading fifty wet bags of mulch into someone else's trailer. Back in those days, most of the mulch bags were 3 cubic foot, not the twos you routinely see for sale now. It was a workout that rivaled any trip to the gym.

Now, My Beloved isn't fond of me picking up a loaf of bread unless I've had four slices of toast out of it. She worries, and with good reason. After twenty-five years she knows me. She knows I don't like restrictions. She knows I think I'm invulnerable to ravages of age, that I'll not face the foibles others face. It is humbling to have to walk past something on the ground and ask another person to pick it up. It's frustrating to ask someone in the store to climb up the ladder and get the heaviest damn thing up there and bring it down, because even though I'm the oldest person in the store, with few exceptions, they call me for that type of thing. 'Cause 'I'm the man!

Well, this 'man' has learned a humbling lesson. I have been around a few who needed my care to nurse them through their ailments and frailties, but I have never walked in their shoes. In the beginning, this rambling blog was dedicated to my life and observations, what I learn and feel as I walk through the decades of my life. Often I pass along thoughts on the world, but rarely do I pass along hard lessons learned. Consider this a hard lesson learned when it comes to the frailty of the body as time passes.

I have now walked a quarter mile in their shoes, and I have not enjoyed it one bit. This shall pass in a few weeks, but the lesson has been learned.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Inside the rails

I am an aging, middle-class (I guess) male who has lived a healthy life. Now, don't take that to mean I've always made the best health choices throughout my life. For twenty-five years I smoked. I have been smoke-free now since January 5th, 2:15 am in 2002. My Beloved still thinks I eat like a nine year old, but most of what my diet consists of when she's not around is what I grew up with. I eat cereal nearly every morning, usually a sugar-coated concoction of some kind or Rice Chex filled with raisins. The breakfast meal also includes toast with butter and coffee when I'm not scheduled early for work.

The one thing I've always hung my hat on is that I have never (outside of having my tonsils out at the age of seven) been admitted to a hospital. Oh, I've taken the trip to the emergency room plenty of times over the years for a variety of broken bones, deep cuts and athletically ripped muscles, but I have not been on the inside of the bed rails.

On most of my trips to the hospital I have been on the outside of the bed rails looking in. Well, today I had my first inside the rails trip. The difference is significant way of looking at life. Now, I'm not struggling with an insidious disease or condition. I won't make that comparison. Many people face life and death on a daily basis due to their circumstances, often beyond their control. This is not one of those struggles, but what it did do for me was put me in a situation where I was not in control.

I am used to doing things. I'm not used to laying in a bed and forced to do nothing. I'm not used to nurses sticking me with needles and having leads taped to my body. I'm not used to being wheeled around the hallways of a surgical building with the breeze wafting up my gown. And boy, do they keep those hallways cold. Apparently my doctor told My Beloved during the after-consultation that I was a lightweight. I was out before I even entered the surgery room. Today starts several days now of recuperating; more sitting around doing nothing and forcing my wife to be my go-fer. Well, in my case it is more not sitting on my butt ... if you get my drift. However my ordeal will be over shortly and things will return to normal for me, and the quicker the better.

And speaking of people I know who are facing the struggle of their lives, my author friend Brandon Hale is winning in his battle with cancer. He has a different view on the world and is the author of the Day Soldiers series. I urge everyone to give it a read and discover a brilliant author.

Although I was inside the rails I can still make the claim of not being admitted to a hospital. (Hey, you take your claims to fame where you can get them).