Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Man's Man

As one slides along on our blue marble ones perspectives tend to change over time. That is a natural occurrence, at least I would hope so. Not only does society change and evolve but so does its stereotypes of what we as people should become. At the end of it all, we are who we think we should become.

My world is not the world of my father or my father's father. They lived in different times and had different struggles. But I ask myself, what do we have in common? I would classify my father as a 'man's man', but his world is not my world. Although times and attitudes change, I find myself asking what does it mean to be a man in this world? In my opinion, it means to be well-rounded. So, what does that mean? It means a man isn't stuck in a single world. He has evolved through experiences and is adaptable to be able to fit into many worlds.

We all live in our own world built by our experiences. One is not necessarily any better or worse than another, but why would one limit themselves to only one set of experiences? Why can't the man who grew up farming the land not feel like he could attend an opera in New York City and fit the circumstances? And in reverse, why couldn't a big city man feel relatively at home in the mountains of Tennessee? That's what I mean by someone who has grown into his own and become a man's man.

As I began to ponder this existence I started jotting down a list of many of those things I believe every man should experience in his life. Now, this is not an all-encompassing list and I will surely add to it as I continue my walk through this life with My Beloved.

Love a dog; bury a dog.
Learn to play a musical instrument
Be in a play or theater event
Build something completely from scratch
Renovate or refurbish something
Witness a birth
Swim in an ocean
Pilot a plane (even if it's just for a few seconds)
Change parts on a car
Play a competitive team sport
Help a child with their homework
Explore a cave
Hike a trail
Sleep outside in a tent under the stars with a child just for fun
Learn to dance
Learn to fly-fish
Grow a beard or a mustache
Learn to drive a stick-shift
Help someone who could never pay you back

These are just some of the things that would give a man a wide-ranging set of experiences and broaden his perspectives on the world. And a note, I have not yet done all these things. Some I may never have the opportunity to do. We'll see. I hope my future is not so limited.

Many people have their own thoughts as to what it means to be a man. To be a man is to be confident in one's own skin without being abjectly arrogant. These are my thoughts, ever evolving as they are.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Home World Series

When one has been writing as long as I have, over twenty-five years actually, one starts out with a clear vision in mind of where you want to go. Over time, the future wanders in the mind's eye. The majority of my work has been in the fantasy genre. As a matter of fact, the project after Star Eagle Six is revisiting book three of the Last Elf Prophesy series.

I have always felt there is a kindred spirit between the fantasy and sci-fi genres. Many who read one often read the other. So to that end, I proudly introduce the first novel of a new sci-fi series, Star Eagle Six. It is now available for purchase at Star Eagle Six, Amazon.com.




   The vastness that surrounds me is beyond my measure. I stare into the void safely tucked away within my cocoon, that which shelters me from the cold expanse of the universe. It is my only salvation. I stare blankly at the panel before me strung with instruments that are nothing but a memory. They call out their song but I do not recognize their words.
   The warmth of the yellow star that illuminates my cockpit falls away leaving me in cold shadow. I am a stranger to this space. My memory fails. I have no recollection of the events that have brought me to this point, this time. My future is a canvas as blank as my past. What is to happen to me? Where am I to go? Should this ship be my coffin or my salvation? I remember, I am at war ... Star Eagle Six, is anyone out there?





I sincerely hope everyone who reads this book truly enjoys it. Writers put their heart into every word penned (or typed) onto the paper. It's what we do. Every book should be an experience for the reader and I hope you truly enjoy this experience.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mega-white

Let's see now, the east coast of the United States is getting blasted with what many are saying is the largest storm in nearly one-hundred years. Up and down the eastern seaboard the major metropolises are paralyzed and it will be days or weeks until they dig out. This, is a major impact and not to be taken lightly ... sort of.

How many times though have we seen the world outside our door shut down almost at the mention of the word "snow". Hey, it's winter folks. The white stuff falls and it has ever since you've been alive. Why the heck does everyone panic like they've never seen it before? Why are we all shocked at this?

Times have changed and it wasn't always this way. When I was a kid, I think my high school shut down once due to weather, maybe twice. Now, three snow flakes get together to have a meeting and there is a two hour delay. I thought I'd put together a little chart as to how things used to be versus now.

1/2 inch:
 When I was a kid (WIWAK): It snowed?
 Now: Weather men on TV take off their coats and roll up their sleeves

1 inch:
WIWAK: That's not even enough for a good snowman
Now: Two hour delay for schools

2 inches:
 WIWAK: I'll have to shovel the driveway when I get home from school
 Now: Emergency Level One is declared

4 inches:
 WIWAK: My brother will have to help me shovel after school
 Now: Emergency Level Two is declared. Schools are cancelled

6 inches:
 WIWAK: I had to go shovel the neighbors driveways (they were older)
 Now: Emergency Level Three declared Every meeting across the city is cancelled

8 inches:
WIWAK: School is cancelled
Now: All grocery stores are picked clean like buzzards on a dead carcass

10 or more inches:
WIWAK: Okay, it's starting to get serious
Now: We're all gonna die !! (However, everyone goes outside anyway). Most common complaint: It's been a whole day and nobody's plowed my street yet.

Tomorrow I get to meet up with my cousins for my Uncle Jim's 94th birthday party. It will be fun. I'm sure my uncle will tell us how bad he had it in the winters of his youth. "Heck, we didn't even have TV to tell us it was snowing." I'm sure something like that is about to come my way.

Stay warm and stay safe and Happy Birthday Uncle Jim !
                                                                                                         




                                               

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Like a Boss !!

It's the new year, happy 2016 to everyone.

So, what does that mean? It means resolutions. It means changing our lives for the better. How do we do it? We make resolutions. Now, there's nothing wrong with making resolutions. There is something wrong with making unrealistic ones. I've always found the biggest changes happen with the smallest steps. One doesn't change one's life overnight. You won't lose 100 pounds in two months but you can start walking a mile per day above your normal travels. I won't look like Mr. Universe in three months but I can stick to my exercise routines to stay healthy in my old age.

The other obstacle many face is trying to do too much. No one can make ten high-demand resolutions and stick with them unless they plan to blow up their lives completely. Many of those obstacles are things one can't change due to the nature of life; job, family, etc. For me personally, I need to do things outside of my work. 2015 was a demanding year on the job. Due to circumstances in the company I work for, I averaged a day off from work about every eighteen to twenty days for nearly nine months. And the majority of those days were ten to twelve hour days. I also left two weeks of vacation time on the calendar I won't get back. But, it was what had to be done when it had to be done. It made life more difficult than it should have been and kept me away from home and My Beloved for many more hours than it should have.

With my work schedule hopefully back to a more normal routine, as much as can be expected in retail, it's time for a year for myself and My Beloved...

Resolutions ...

 Leave work when I supposed to leave work.

Publish two books in 2016. The first should be out this month. Look
for Star Eagle Six to be out in the coming weeks.

Begin a serious marketing campaign for my books. I had always told
myself I'd begin marketing seriously when I had seven or eight books
on the table. Star Eagle Six will be my eighth novel.

The second book will be the third book of the Last Elf Prophecy
series titled: Awakening of Lilestrom (Lilestrom is a dragon)

Take my wife on an adventure (get your minds out of the gutter)
each month. Do something fun we haven't done before.

Refinish a vintage 1947 Firestone radio / record player console
 I purchased from a friend last week. 


Okay, so these all sound doable. These are my goals and resolutions for the coming year of 2016. I going to do these LIKE A BOSS!

(and just in case I don't accomplish any of these, I'll erase this post like it never happened)

Make 2016 your year. Make it LIKE A BOSS!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

This Christmas Eve

This day again, my favorite day of the year. Sitting here with My Beloved, the fire roaring as I sip a cheap glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Okay, who am I kidding? It's sixty degrees here this year. I was sweating my reindeer off on Christmas Eve day as I wrapped up the process.

In truth however, this day has become the holiday for me each year. The hustle and bustle are complete and our home is decorated with pine and trimmings. Each year it is a little different. We cherish treasured ornaments and decorations from our past while we add new touches to the house. My Beloved does the vast majority of the Santa duties and I offset that by putting up and out the decorations each year. It's a working balance.

Christmas makes its statement to each one of us in its own special way, and as we grow older our views change and adapt. Christmas Day is for the children and the more I am around my grandsons the more that is refreshed within. I would gladly trade any gift I could or would receive to see their faces light up when they see the tree and what Santa has brought.

There will always be a religious element in our home as that is how I was raised. Christ's birth is the true meaning though I do not begrudge those who have come to take on a different outlook in this overly-commercialized season. I have come to terms with that and I believe most do as we grow older. My family comes first and that is the blessing that is bestowed upon me each and every day.

In these final hours before the magic of Christmas Eve, when the clock strikes midnight and the work of elves and a particular poignant fellow begins, I would like to wish everyone who reads this ramble a truly joyous and Merry Christmas. May you be blessed with joy and fellowship that pursue you throughout the coming year.

Now for my Christmas list ... oh, never mind. It's probably too late for all that.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Launching in January

It's a lot of work to write a book, and the culmination of that project is a published work. The closer one gets to finishing, the more anticipation builds, not only with the reading public if the book is announced, but also within the author.

The following in a brief excerpt from my upcoming science fiction novel, Star Eagle Six which has a tentative launch in January 2016 ... God willing and the river don't rise.

“What’s the report commander?” Joseph turned at the sound of the conference room door opening. The pull of the star field as it swept past the Parras was intoxicating. It was his way of losing himself, brushing off the burdens of command even if was just for a few minutes.
“We’ve not been able to detect any of the ships sir. I was concerned about the Revenge with her structural damage, but even she is undetectable.”
“How long before we cross the first detection point.”
“Less than thirty minutes captain,” Jason replied.
“We should get back on the bridge. We can’t afford for a Lorilon ship to stumble across us.”
Joseph led the way as mentor and student took their posts at the command station. Joseph could feel the tension level of the Alpha bridge crew rise as they neared the threshold. It was one of the most heavily militarized sections of Lorilon space. Tor Dunlaw was a fortress. It would be protected from a distance. Joseph looked up instinctively as the first of the proximity warnings sounded.
“Lorilon ships dead ahead at space normal speed captain.”
“We should breeze by them without so much as them sensing we’re even here captain.”
“That’s the idea commander,” he replied. “How close will we come to them?”
“One-hundred thousand meters captain,” Conn replied.
“Comm, were all ships instructed to maintain communications silence?”
“Yes sir. We’re certain that would give away our positions.”
“Monitor any communications. Let me know if anyone slips up.”
“Aye sir.”
The minutes ticked off one by one and the tension within the ships of the fleet mounted. They were close; the first big test of the cloaking devices was upon them. Fifteen minutes; the time cut in half. Stuart Joseph was getting antsy, swaying from side to side.
“Sir, a Lorilon Studda has turned and is heading towards us.”
“Time to intercept?”
“Eleven minutes.” The bridge went quiet for several moments. “Eight ships have turned and are accompanying the Studda.”
“Conn, has their course changed?”
“No sir. Nine minutes to intercept.”
“Can we tell if their weapons are energized?”
“Not at this distance sir,” Conn answered. “They have assumed standard attack formation.”
“Commander, signal all forward batteries.”
“All batteries report ready sir.”
“Seven minutes.”
“Should we signal the other ships sir?”
“Maintain silence.”
“You think that wise sir?”
“Jason, I have to rely on the captains of the fleet to know their business.” He turned, scanning his bridge before he settled back on his second. “If they don’t, they’re dead.”
“Second Studda group off to starboard captain. Six ships altogether. Standard Lorilon formation.”
“Time.”
“Four minutes.”

Star Eagle Six ... coming in January 2016

Monday, December 7, 2015

Because you allow it

It's not often I get political on a ramble, especially when the Christmas season is upon us. I would prefer to stay light and breezy this time of year. I however came across several articles that just happened to coincidentally come together in my thoughts this morning. One was Senator Bernie Sanders berating WalMart for their business practices. Another was an article about corporations not paying their fair share of taxes and a third for retail companies, not just WalMart for paying wages that others don't believe are classified as a living wage.

Now, I rarely shop at WalMart, nor as a long time retail manager do I work for them, nor have I ever worked for them. Taking retail as a whole, many jobs are part time work and have always been considered entry-level work. You can make a living wage in retail when you move up the ladder. Going into the workplace means moving up the ladder to have a successful career or a better life. I could name many companies outside of retail or the restaurant business that people start part time and with lower wages than someone who has put in the work and proven themselves.

I know someone who drove a FedEx truck that made $10 per hour. In many areas of the country that is the same wage a WalMart cashier makes. Many people that perform office work start part time and make less than that. Have you ever asked a bank teller what they make? It's a low wage. Where is the uproar over those companies? Never hear about it, do you? Most who make a higher wage have either one of two things in their favor; either they have a long work history of success or they have specialized knowledge to perform a specific task. Entry level positions require neither of these attributes.

As for the companies that pay little or no taxes, the politicians like Bernie Sanders (and every other member of Congress who is running for president) and the rest of Congress have no further to look at who caused the problem than to look in the mirror. Why is it all these corporations can do this? It's because they are following the laws you as Senators and Congressmen have passed into the tax code. Why would anyone pay more than they are legally entitled to pay? As a private citizen I wouldn't, so why would any business? I'm sure every member of Congress takes advantage of every deduction and loophole their accountants can find.

I hear a lot of politicians pointing the finger at problems when the election years come around, but I still don't see them finding much of a solution. Here's a solution to the tax problem, change the tax code.