Sunday, May 19, 2019

Design flaw

Consider the common push broom. It is a standard by which nearly every man or woman who has a workshop or large outdoor paved area is quite familiar with. It is a staple of the garage. Last week, my trusty old pusher snapped off the handle for the last time. It was a wooden twenty-four inch palmyra head. Too many handles have snapped off in the holes, and, the wood after twenty years was falling apart. Today, due to the whirlybirds littering my concrete I had to go buy another one.

Here's where things start going awry.

I have long noticed the design flaw these tools all have in common. My new one is no different than my trusty old one. Here's the rub; the angle of the handle to the brush head as it contacts the surface it is sweeping is incorrect. For the broom head to properly and efficiently do what it was designed to do, the bristles need to be flat against the ground/surface.

Now, even at my robust height of 5' 8", I must bend down slightly to be at the proper angle. For you freekishly tall people of 5'9" or above, you must put that much more stress on your lower back to do so. At the proper angle the bristles do their job efficiently. Unfortunately, most everyone who has a broom stands up normally to their natural height to use it. That means only the front bristles of the broom contact the surface to push the debris away. They bend beneath the weight/force applied to the forward stroke and that usually means a lot of stuff is left over from the path you just swept. That's the problem.

It's high time the hardware engineers out there do what is needed and design a properly working push broom without an overly inflated price for doing so. The world would be a cleaner place indeed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


If you were a kid growing up in Ohio, you know what these are. I suppose others had names for them, helicopters comes to mind but not much else. I was always fascinated with them. Each spring they come around and fall from the skies right as baseball season starts kicking it into high gear.

If you haven't figured it out yet, whirlybirds are the seed pods that drop from silver maple trees. They have a 'wing' of sorts on them and they casually glide to the ground. We had one in our yard when I was growing up. It was a difficult tree to climb as part way up the truck split into two main trunks. It wasn't long after a large piece hit the roof from a large storm that my father had it cut down.

For my brother, North Of 50 and I it was hours of swing practice. We would stand beneath the tree and take a swing at the falling seed pods with our Whiffle Ball bats. We would do this for hours, and no, that's not an exaggeration. It was a way to pass the time. We didn't have all the electronics back in those days to kill off an afternoon. It wasn't long after that we'd start playing a one-on-one whiffle ball game in the back yard. One would pitch while one batted. The catcher was a lawn chair up against the pine tree in the back yard.

Each place in the yard had a designation for either a hit and the type of hit it was or an out. Over the house was a home run as was over the garage and into Mr. Siliman's yard. Often that entailed chasing their dog around the yard getting the balls back. Following the rules of baseball, three outs and change places. The only thing that generally stopped play would be when too many balls hit the aluminum siding on the house and Dad would finally put a stop to the game.

Today my yard has three silver maples. As we were playing catch with Ragin' Cage in the yard today, all those memories came flooding back. I wish every kid has whirlybirds in their yard at some point in their childhood. It is a point of fascination to me to this day.

Happy Spring...and baseball season.

Monday, May 6, 2019

A new short

Every once in a while I stretch my writing legs and do something a little different. As I have been working on a science fiction series the last few years, sometimes you just need to write in a different style. My roots in fantasy fiction sometimes calls to me. There has been several times a short sprint into an idea has led to either a short story or even an entire book. Truth be told, the entire Home World Series started with a writing exercise to stretch my legs, so to speak.

This short began for my Daughter who has pestered me for years to write a 'Princess story'. So, this short is just that. Here are a few paragraphs of my ode to my daughter.

The Dragon and
      The Princess

     The night is dark as pitch as no star shines from the heavens above to light this tower that has held me for so long.  The colder months begin to slowly fade, the ancient bricks that form this turret that is my resting place hold the heat from the midday sun and help to keep me warm as day fades to cool nights. But the night is a demanding mistress still and the warmth escapes long before the dawn again comes to the world.
     It is almost beyond my reckoning the length of forced servitude I have endured within these walls, to be set free to do their bidding at times of their choosing only to return again to mire my soul within. Free, they are not my equal by any measure yet their hold on me has truly been my undoing. It is a morbid life I lead, though one could hardly call it a life. Slavery. It is nothing more yet to call it so would be an insult to the vile term itself. I am a prisoner set free only to be called to return, which I must do of my own accord.
     This castle, this Whitehall as it is named has been built upon the backs of those whose allegiance is tied to safety, nothing more. Yet to pretend the king offers anything more would be preposterous. His well-being is tied to the peasants who tend the lands and his armies offer them solace from outsiders who would surely rape their lands and burn their fields of toil. It is a cruel master whose payment would be nearly the same as those who they seek protection from.
     The lands live forever and I have seen them slowly change before my downcast eyes. Meadows from my youth once rich and lush with wildflowers of uncounted hues now bring forth only golden grains that nourish the populace. Would it be that my time upon this earth would come to an end for I wish to no longer live within these constraints. Yet to leave my own treasure at the hands of the king is unthinkable. He has dwelled within Whitehall for a time that spans generations. His unnatural rule is of my own doing, unwittingly as it was, for my treasure is both my curse and the only reason I live on.
     My ear pricks at the sound of hooves as they approach Whitehall down the cobbled path, stones laid uncounted years ago. A single rider I note, his passing swift, the bridge lowered well before his entry. I suspect his arrival was anticipated as not even a torch signaled his journey through the night airs. Would I have had the notion of sleep this night his arrival would surely have awaken me. My slumber is not what it used to be you understand. These walls squeeze close as I have no space to stretch my wings. Perhaps I shall hear of the tale he brings from the West Country.
     The night slithers on and the dawn is just an hour off yet a soft glow emanates from the western hills where none should reside. As I crane my neck above the single opening in the ancient brick, pinpricks of flame begin to dot the horizon. It can only mean one thing; troops returning from the West Country. It is an unexpected journey as I have not heard tale of their arrival. I hear the jest in your thoughts; why should I, their prisoner be counseled of such matters? Ah, for I am dragon! Last in a line of mercenaries used by the kings of Whitehall against their enemies. Once our numbers filled the sky, Titans, but our petty differences and the growing swarm a men became our undoing. Yet I am none for hire as I reside captured in this hall, my freedom only to do the king’s bidding.

There is more to come as I write this short. I'll let you all know when it's done. Thanks for reading along.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Battle Wagon

The best laid plans of mice and men...okay, writers too.

Normally what every writer wants to do is to publish as many books as one can in a years time. Often, the most prolific authors may put out six or more. In the Indi publishing game one needs to publish or struggle to become highly ranked in the world of Amazon and other ebook sites.

Unfortunately for me, I have a day job that pays the bills and supports my family. I would love to be able to only write, but I've known for a long time, that wasn't going to be in the cards. With that being said...

 Due to life's circumstances, job, family, health, etc. it has taken much too long to get this book to market, however it is finally live on Amazon and will be available on iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble within a matter of days.

I appreciate everyone who waited for the third book in this series as I plodded along to get it finished. I fairly certain you will consider it worth the wait.

Thank you. If you enjoy this book please leave a review on the site where you purchased it. That is one of the best things you can give an author you enjoy.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A writer's life

On this day, St. Patrick's Day in the year of our Lord 2019...

It's finished. A work that has taken much too long to write has been wrapped up. The timeline was long due to many issues; jobs, health, family matters. Life does actually get in the way of things. Battle Wagon, the third book in the sci-fi Home World series has had the final words imprinted.

But it really hasn't.
Hasn't what?
Hasn't had the last word typed. 
But you finished it...
Sort of. It's sort of finished.

A writer's life isn't just writing the book. In the world where you are an independent there are many other things an author has to do to complete the book. It needs editing. Why? Because there are likely small mistakes along the way. Unless you do it  yourself which is very difficult, because you tend to read what you think you typed and not what you actually typed, it costs money to have someone look over all the words to make sure there aren't mistakes. Spelling is only one form of editing. There is also content editing where you have someone read the book to make sure you don't have a cluster of mistakes along the way that you didn't catch yourself.

How is that possible you ask? Well, there are all sorts of details that you forget along the way even if you take exceedingly impeccable notes. But even then, things crop in. Since I am not published by one of the large book houses, I have to do it all myself. You'd be surprised how many mistakes there really are in traditionally published books.

There's also formatting. Huh? What's that? Well, that is how you line everything up so it reads the way it should, so it looks like is should whether you are reading a paperback book or you are reading it on an electronic device (ebook). Each of those is formatted differently. If you don't know how to do that, guess someone.

Then there's the cover...

You guessed it, if you don't do it yourself it costs $$$ to have someone design your image. This image is only for an ebook. You need another cover for a print book. Why? Because you have to have a back for a printed book. So now you have two covers.

These are just some of the issues writers face when writing a book. Some do it for the money. Some do it for the love of writing. If they never see a dime, they're okay with it. I'm kind of a blend of the two. I'd like to make a living from my efforts but I have an overwhelming desire to put words down on paper ... or an electronic device. It's a passion.

So, the next time you run across a book don't flinch at the price. Most indie authors don't charge more than a few dollars for their efforts hoping against hope that a lot of people will buy it and love it. Most books cost less than a 'frappy crappy-chino thingy' at the local coffee shop. You drink it once and it's gone. A book, well, it lasts forever. (And don't forget to leave a review. We get noticed that way 😎 )

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Remington steel

I was originally going to post something that was light-hearted this evening. Something I did that I haven't done in probably thirty or more years. But the world is in an ever devolving state and the news changed my mind.

A court ruled today that the gun maker Remington is liable for the deaths in the Sandy Hook shooting. They determined due to the way the gun (the AR-15) was marketed, they now became liable and can be sued by the victims. In the ruling Connecticut's highest court said Remington violated state law due to the product being marketed as a militaristic weapon.

This ruling completely ignores the fact that the individual who broke uncounted laws simply isn't really responsible for his actions because someone else told him to do it. It also opens the door for so many lawsuits to companies for other things because the perpetrator of any crime is now not responsible.

For instance right off the top of my head: video game manufacturers for any game involving a gun to shoot people; any automaker for marketing their ads for vehicles as fun and carefree (why bother with rules of the road)? When someone dies in an auto accident, Ford or GM or any other is now liable; the producers of any violent movie or television show that shows murder... get my drift here?

You can't stop people from doing stupid things with legitimate products. It's not Tide's fault stupid people die from eating laundry detergent. Likewise, it isn't the fault of Remington that a mentally unstable person used their product illegally. Repeat...illegally. If the product had been different but the damage the same would the company who made it be liable as well? What if the product was a knife? Is that now the knife manufacturer's fault?

Believe me, I feel horrible that such a tragedy took place in this country. It is a different world we live in. I would be just as grief stricken as a parent and grandparent if it were my grandchild. The difference is I know where to place the blame.

I am amending this to note that this author is not a gun owner, however I respect the rights of gun owners as granted them by the Constitution.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Which is which?

Do you ever have a continual problem of misidentifying something? You know, something so mundane that it just doesn't sink in? Something around the house perhaps? Not something difficult like a whats-a-doohickey or a thing-a-ma-bob. I mean something as mundane as dish towels. Or are they really dish towels?


Yeah, dish towels. When My Beloved and I moved a couple years ago in 'The Great Downsizing', we purchased a few new items for the abode. You know, things like dish towels, curtains, hand towels for the bath, all those things that bring a fresh touch to the home. To be honest, ours were well worn and ready to become shop rags for around the workbench.

The problem is, for me anyway to the unbridled amusement to My Beloved; I can't tell the kitchen towels from the hand towels for the bath. As the awesome husband that I am, I routinely do laundry. When the towels are thrown into the batch, I somehow end up mixing them up. I put bath towels into the kitchen drawer and kitchen towels into the linen closet. My Beloved just politely takes the bath from the drawer and switches them with the misplaced kitchen towels. She just shakes her head as she walks by.

You'd think I'd know the difference since I also do my fair share of dishes. At least until the dishwasher gets fixed.