Thursday, December 29, 2016

Make it Great again, America

It's no secret that My Beloved and I have relocated our abode, downsizing in our pre-golden years to a smaller place. We went from a big two-story to a homey ranch with a little more land but a slightly smaller house. Our little retirement place was built in the early seventies, and as one would think, not in tune with the modern design trends.

With that being said, I have my own little Joanna Gains in my wife. She has a great vision and a wonderful sense of style. With all this in mind, we began the journey of bringing this little gem into the twenty-first century. We now have an open design and all that is left to do (mostly) is to find all the stuff that's piled into the basement and give those pieces their rightful place. Heck, we just found our flatware six days ago.

When one remodels, one must buy new things to remodel with. You need cabinets and vanities and countertops and faucets; well, you get the idea. To that end, we have searched through the many retailers to find our best buys and and capture the look and feel we wanted.

So, what did we find? We found some decent products but we also found many items that were built incorrectly or damaged right out of the box. So far we have purchased two vanities, had to return one with a bad door. One bathroom tub; had cracks and had to return it. One bath towel rack that was missing screws and has to be returned. For the moment we have to hang our bath towels on the handle of the new shower door, the door that had to be replaced because the screws installed at the factory were stripped and one had the head twisted off and couldn't be extracted.

We have had other issues with products so far. Many have been made in America, some not. Some of the defects have been minor while some have caused the entire item to be returned to be replaced. Our president elect might want to make America great again, but I'd settle for American's making something great again.

So far I'm not impressed with the quality control of home remodeling products.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Another Eve Upon Us

Again I post a ramble on this Christmas Eve. It is my favorite day of the year, if you remember. I post this almost every year. The hustle and bustle is complete and the splendor is spread along the floor. A fire is often ablaze in the hearth, though this year that would make things a bit too warm. This is the first Christmas we will share in our new home. I hope it will be ripe with new traditions and decorations to make this house our home. It is different; it is beautiful. It is ours to sculpt and enjoy with those we love.

Each year I am asked what I want for Christmas. At my age, I really don't want much. A tool I stumble across now and then. It's really the simple things that sit best with me. My daughter knows the kinds of black licorice I like and sprinkles them to me throughout the year. I enjoy seeing Ragin Cage's eyes light up when he sees the presents under the tree. And for My Beloved, each passing year on this night we try to share something special; perhaps a glass of wine or some other special touch just between us.

However, all that pales in comparison to the quietness of the evening. Unfortunately, Old Man Winter has not blessed us with his kiss of white this year. I do enjoy winter's white, the fresh blanket of snow that lays upon the ground. There is nothing quite like a white Christmas. Because Santa does need a good snow base to land on rooftops. Those sleigh rails can do some serious damage to roof shingles you know.

I wish everyone who finds their way to this blog a blessed and very Merry Christmas, or a joyous celebration of whatever spiritual holiday that calls to your heart.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Godspeed John Glenn

For any who follow the headlines, we all know that 2016 has been a rough year. The number of notables and celebrities who have passed away seems staggering when compared to previous years. Likely it's not, however what could be is the number of mega-stars who have passed away.

Most who have gone on are famous in their industry. A great many are entertainers, movie stars and musicians have spoken their final lines and sung their last verse. Now, I am not one who follows many in the entertainment world. I know the names but I don't really know them. It's just not my circle. It is not my calling.

I am more saddened by the passing of one who I would consider a true American hero. The others are notable in their own right, however none possess the capacities of a man who served the public, fought for our rights and wowed the American people with a trip around the earth.

John Glenn served as a United States Marine, a fighter pilot in the Korean War, and in his later years served as a Senator in the US Congress. What launched him into the public spotlight was his flight aboard the Friendship 7 as the first American to orbit the earth as the United States became embroiled in the space race. He stood above so many with his compassion and passion for serving this country. So many who are in the public spotlight at some point fall victim to scandal or corruption. Life can be a messy business. John Glenn fell to neither of these. He was a man of integrity and honor and whether you agreed with his politics or not, he was a man of conviction and humility.

He is my definition of a true hero. That word is loosely tossed around and attributed to many just because they are famous or notable. Heroes are truly few and far between in this world and John Glen wears that moniker with distinction.

Thank you, and godspeed John Glenn.

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 ...