Monday, July 21, 2014

Who am I?

It occurred to me sometime this evening that many (or some, outside of my family) may not know who I am. And by that I mean, who is this rambling50 guy?

As this blog has been going for nearly seven years, I think most have a respectable idea of what I am about. However, it isn't always easy to read between the lines for some. So, I thought I'd make this fairly simple ... this is me. (Wow, seven years).

I am an aging, 56 years old by last count, husband, father and grandfather. My family means everything to me. I would not be anything without the love and support of My Beloved; she is my world. Well, other than someone who doesn't sit still long enough to have a normal conversation. I am a grinder. I push. I set my eye on a job to do, and I go after it. Case in point, over the past couple days, I (aided by My Beloved) have ripped off a house full of cedar siding and pulled up room after room of carpet. I am a very hands-on kinda guy. I'd rather get my hands dirty when it comes to work. It is serenity; a mind-easing state of bliss. A good work-up of sweat is a beautiful thing.

I have been a retail manager for thirty years. It is hard work with a demanding schedule that changes from week to week. This type of work means having your eye on many things at once. Running a store is a complicated task. But, it has been a good life, one that keeps me up with the times. Training a new generation what it means to 'go to work' has had its rewards. In turn, they keep me on the ball. Otherwise, I wouldn't know an iPad from a crescent wrench. (Yeah, I used to run a hardware store. An awesome job, by-the-way).

I am fairly conservative by nature. I believe the world doesn't owe you anything. To help the poor is noble, but to help the lazy and intolerant is ridiculous. As a Catholic who doesn't really go to church, I still hold the beliefs instilled in the days of my youth. Nuns can make a deep impression on the heart of a little boy. They did with me. The religious world is by its nature, a man-made institution trying to explain a Godly existence. They fail often, because they are human. Clergy aren't divine. They suffer from the same failings as the rest of us, but to cover up what the Church systematically seems to have done, makes me hang my head in shame. THAT, is not a failure of religion, that is a failure of faith.

As I cast my eyes on the upcoming decades, I know my world will change. The world spins below us and our memories recede, and those close to us fade with it. However, what should never fail us is a spirit of adventure; a spirit of learning. Move forward or coalesce into nothingness. I believe one should strive to learn something new every day. I see the world these days often through the eyes of my grandson. He's five years old. Nearly every day is an adventure, a new experience, a new way to see the world.

It is through his eyes, his spirit of learning and adventure that I try to experience the last decades of my footfalls on this blue marble. His eyes have invigorated my spirit these past few years and to a point, influenced my writing. As an author, it gives perspective; it gives enthusiasm to the solitary existence of writing, for writing is just that; a lonely proposition where you rely on yourself to pull the load.

I am a writer, along with all the responsibilities that come with every thing else we face in this world. I hope those who read these pages continue to follow along on my thoughts on just about anything ... in no particular order.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's a racket

Now, I don't usually get steamed up about many things too quickly, but this did it to me today.

It has been a long-running argument over the years on whether the price of gasoline is true or if it is just a big racket, a hoax on the American public. There have been studies over the years by official government sources and the like that says, no no no. I find it strange that almost every year there seems to be a refinery problem that suddenly drives up the price of gas when the American public begins to get back out onto the highway after a long winter.

Here's my thought ... it's a rip-off. Why? Well today we found gas for $3.18 a gallon. I haven't seen that price in ages. My Beloved said, it's Thursday, and gas always goes up just before the weekend. I looked at the gauge and we were sitting just above 1/4 of a tank, and she hates to go below a quarter. We filled up and drove a couple miles down the road as we were on our way to rip ceder shingles off my son's house. It was a wonderful day for it; beautiful weather. Anyway, we stopped at an intersection close to his home. The price on the electronic marquee read the same as the station down the road, $3.18. As we sat there waiting for the light to change, guess what else changed.

Yup, you got it. The price of unleaded gas shot up to $3.55 per gallon. Now, I can see gas going up some, but to increase the price nearly 12% in the blink of an eye is just a sham on the public. It is nothing more than price-gouging, plain and simple. I'm all for free market, but it's about time the oil companies fess up and admit they are in collusion to fix the prices at the retail pump. That's illegal.

Perhaps it's time they are regulated like utilities as that is what gasoline has truly become. If government is that blind to what is happening, then they are part of the problem. Hmmm. Government that doesn't know what it's doing ... naw, that just COULDN'T happen.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Two-wheelers

Share and share alike, as the rule goes. I live in an area where cycling seems to be growing every day. Fact is, I spent many a day as a young lad rolling through the neighborhoods with my buds. The rules of the road weren't too important back then. In fact it was dangerous to ride on the city streets. There were no bike lanes or signs for cyclists back in the stone age. It sure was hard to peddle with stone tires.

But times have changed, and changed dramatically. There are bike tours throughout the city; rides that span county lines and paths carved out with tax money to join towns throughout. On the surface of that, I don't really have an issue with it all. Many cycle because it is cheap transportation. Others like the exercise. Cycling and the gear that goes along with it is big business.

So why am I writing this? Because I have a peeve about it. (Not that I gripe about much). If we are to share the road with our two-wheeled brothers and sisters, why is it that they never, ever follow the rules of the road. Riding a bicycle on city streets requires bike operators to follow the same rules of the road as the four-wheelers. Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a cyclist stop at a stop sign? I'll tell you; never. And boy, if they get in your way when it's their fault, you get the sneer and stare. It's the, 'hey, I'm a cyclist' look.

I know you're there. I steer clear of you. Actually, I want nothing to do with you. You don't belong on busy major thoroughfares any more than a pedestrian, but since you are, why not follow the rules of the road for once. Less chance of getting killed that way.

(I'm fairly certain I'll hear from a few cyclist friends on this one).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fantasy book trailer

Little by little as a writer, I'm learning to do things in this electronic marketplace. There are many ways to reach an audience, but they can be very challenging and time-consuming. Writing is work, but so is trying to market a product. 

Marketing tools change on a daily or monthly basis. Just as Facebook has changed their algorithms and limited the reach of both personal and business pages, those who strive to find a niche with their voice must learn to adapt and find another channel. 

I hope you enjoy this video and view it often as the mood strikes. It was fun to put together and a wonderful learning experience. 





Oh, and buy some books!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Buy this book

Back in May, I posted a ramble about a new anthology due to be release. It is titled, 'The Bitten'. The book is an anthology, a collection of short stories from twenty-eight authors of the Raptor Retreat Press. All these works revolve around vampires and werewolves. Why? Because one of our members, Brandon Hale writes in that genre. He is a phenomenal writer. His primary series is titled, 'Day Soldiers', and it is fantastic.

If you saw the previous post, you know why I and others are pushing for you to buy this book. Brandon was recently diagnosed with cancer, and we are working to help him cover his expenses. Being an author is a truly dedicated calling, but it does have its drawbacks. There is no guarantee of income. Writing is a business. It requires tremendous amounts of time and effort to both write, edit and market your work. This ain't easy folks. To that end, we have all donated our time and energy to write, edit, and promote this book for him with all proceeds going to help him cover his expenses.

Without further adeau ... The Bitten is now live at Amazon.com


If you're interested in seeing the story I contributed, check out 'Old World Vintage'. 

There is some tremendous writing in this book I an urge anyone who loves stories about horror with all kinds of flavor to pick up a copy. You'll get a great book, and help someone who needs a hand.

Thank you.
#vampsforbran

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hump year

These last few days marks a monumental  year in my life. I remember years ago doing the math to see how old I would be when the twenty-first century came in. I thought that was going to be old. In fact, it was anything but, and now the next decade and a half is rolling along.

I have always joked that middle age is ten years older than whatever age I was. That's sort of hard to do at this point. Even I can't believe sixty-six would be considered middle-aged. It was good for a laugh and it worked for years, but it seems that I must once and for all face the facts. Middle age has caught up to me (assuming I'm going to die at 112 years of age).

I must now admit, I am one year past the 'hump year', the double-nickle, the Nixon speed limit. I have crossed over the hill and I sit perched looking at the downward side, one step beyond its crest. It's a steep drop, a long slide down. But you know what? I've decided to go down at a run. Life takes each one of us on a differing path. Some struggle more than others, and though I have had several bumps along the way, I decided years ago I would not live a life of fear.

So bring it on; bring on the 'old guy' problems. Let the AARP do their best to chase me down the streets. I plan on staying one step ahead. If my brothers and cousins can do it, so can I.

Now, where do I sign up for that Golden Buckeye Card?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Treasure boxes

I inherited the tool gene from my father, and likely a lot of his habits when it comes to fixing things. My dear brothers, bless their hearts, couldn't hammer a nail with a screwdriver. (Uhm, cause they'd try to). My workbench is very much like his. Okay, it actually is his. I took it from the garage when the booty was split up. The bench is unique in that the top of it is actually two sections of bowling alley bolted together. I have a good idea of where it came from, but nothing to back up the story. He built a cabinet beneath it to store the big tools. It all fits in my basement quite nicely.

Now, neither of us are/were hoarders, by any stretch of the imagination, but there hasn't been a nut, bolt or screw that I've likely not gotten rid of over the years. Someday, that'll come in handy! I have two mis-matched storage drawers that hold tacks, screws, miscellaneous parts of things that could come in handy for other usages down the line, and various other clips, washers and metal things.

I am a fixer mostly. I don't build much from scratch but I can fix a lot of things. All those little pieces come in handy. As I was digging for a couple of screws this night, I pulled out two very special boxes that reside below my second work bench. You see, I built another bench across from the bowling alley; two benches that flank a slop sink. It comes in really handy.

But back to the boxes. They are special in nature. Each time I rifle through them, it brings back memories of my father. They aren't very large, but I would consider them antiques. Inside them you'll find silcock parts, washers, drawer knobs, a boiler drain valve, one child-proofing drawer latch, and numerous miscellaneous parts of things long forgotten. But, these two little boxes have been my savior many times over. Just when you need it, the right part just seems to show up in them.

Believe it or not, they are the cardboard bottom halves of two Velveeta cheese boxes. That's right, two brown, cardboard cheese boxes as long and wide as a rubbery brick of Velveeta cheese. They had been in my father's garage for over thirty years and they have been with me for fifteen. Sometimes I think he sneaks the small part I'll have trouble finding into one of them just in the nick of time. It's amazing how much those little boxes can hold. I don't have the tops, they are long since gone to the ravages of time and sharp tools. But I have the bottoms, my own little treasure boxes with more memories than any box can hold.

What am I working on?....It's a secret.