Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Resolute: res-o-lute: Latin - resolutus
1: marked by firm determination : resolved < a resolute character >
2. bold, steady : < a resolute gaze >
synonym: faithful

This is what resolutions are made of. But how many do we really keep? With the best of intentions, we fail miserably; as did I on mine, last year. In this blog, I proclaimed, to wit, my faithfulness to the coming year of 2013. The previous year was monumentally lackluster and disappointing, however, 2013 turned out as bad a year as I can remember for several reasons, fraught with trials and tribulations.

Let's see how I did on last year's bold statements to be resolute. (ah, hem...clears throat)
I proclaimed on a personal note, to take My Beloved to a movie once every six or eight weeks.
Resolutus failurus: Uhm, I think we saw one movie last year...but hey, it was a really good one. Well, maybe two but one included taking Ragin' Cage. I don't know that a four-year-old tagging along really counts.

I proclaimed to give My Beloved flowers every month.
Resolutus successus: Yea! I really did this. She received flowers from me every month. Okay, truth be told, one bundle was from my dear departed brother's funeral. But they were given with tremendous love and therefore can be counted, as she loved him very much.

I proclaimed to re-grout the kitchen floor.
Resolutus kinda-sortofus: I found a wonderful cleaner to actually clean the grout and it looked wonderful. No need to re-grout. Unfortunately for me, I didn't have the time to seal it. Needs to be done again.

I proclaimed to do the small projects around the house.
Resolutus failurus: Yeah, whatever. I've got stuff to do....I work a lot, ya know?

On a professional note:
I proclaimed to not spend so much time above my schedule at work. Render unto Caesar what is Caesars, I said.
Resolutus epicus failurus: I spent more time at work than I had the previous year and gave up more than a week and a half of vacation time because I just couldn't go.

I proclaimed to finish two novels, the first book a fantasy and the second, a sci-fi work.
Resolutus kinda-sortofus: The fantasy book was finished and published under the title 'Sands of Nevertime'. It is the first in a series titled, 'The Last Elf Prophecy'. The sci-fi, 'Star Eagle Six', saw little work after the month of April. I did however write a short for an anthology titled 'End of the Road' and was published. (It's free on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes...I'm just sayin'). I have also penned another short for a second anthology due out in January of this coming year titled 'The Kiss'. Look for it. It is a compilation of twenty-some authors, each presenting their prowess as writers. (Yes, we are very good and you should go out and get one. It'll be free, ya cheapskates).

I proclaimed to add 'booksfromhale.com to my favorites list.
Resolutus failurus: While this simply did not happen, I see his writings so often that I simply don't need to add it to the favorites tab. He's still a funny guy and a terrific writer.

I proclaimed to sell more books.
Resolutus successus: I did indeed sell more books, just not that many. I did give away a few hundred as The Dream Valley, the first book in The Crystal Point Legacy trilogy is permanently free. Hey success has its price. You must crawl before you can walk.

Coming soon: this year's resolutus failurus topics, I mean, my new year's resolutions for 2014.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This Christmas Eve

The work is done, okay, mostly by my beloved wife, but it is so. The presents are wrapped, yes, I helped, and the house is decorated from front to back. I sit now in my chair admiring our tree, lit with white lights that make me think of stars held within the night sky. It is a tree My Beloved and I have always cherished.

Beside it stands the mantle, strung with fresh pine garland. Okay, it's probably wilting a little bit. That's what happens when you cut a live plant and let it sit for weeks indoors. It wilts some. However, the scent of pine waffles through our abode. It frames the stockings hung by the chimney with care, yes, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there. My job is to fill My Beloved's stocking as she is the hidden Santa within our home.

Our front room has yet another tree, a slim version trimmed in silver and white lights. From above, the room is lit with a gentle glow from garland strung with soft, white lights. It adds a gentle luminescence to our home. One of my favorite decorations is a simple red basked filled with pine cones and a string of white lights buried beneath. All these touches tell me our season is complete.

Today is my favorite day of the year. Nothing surpasses Christmas Eve as I have grown older. Everything is ready. There is a sense of anticipation in the air. Tomorrow, the gifts will be torn to pieces, sometimes literally as my grandson gets so excited. That's what happens to a four-year-old on Christmas day. I look forward to his reactions as much as anything. It is the sparkle of Christmas I remember through his eyes, the times from my past where Christmas has always been a joyous occasion.

There have been many changes in my life over the years, but that has not dampened my spirit. My Sainted Parents are no longer with us but they live on in my memories. Christmas was always a joyous time in their home and I have always tried to live up to their model. This year as well with the passing of my dear brother Donald (North of 50, to many of you), I knew there may be yet another challenge to face for the season. Yet, my heart still holds this day special, something he would be proud of, not only for myself but for his family.

May your Christmas be filled with joy and peace.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ties that bind

Many of us have preferences that come about, likely because of what we do, or, more specifically, what we do for a living. I for one, almost never wear ties. I simply have no reason to. My work clothes consist of khakis and a polo with my company logo. It's not that I don't feel 'special' when I don a stylish strip of cloth the covers up the buttons on my dress shirt.

Oh, I wear them when I am forced; weddings, funerals, but little else. And for that reason, I own, or did own, about four ties. That's all a guy really needs, isn't it? My ties are suited to the dress clothes I wear. I own one suit, a gray double-breasted job that I've had for eighteen years. I suppose the good thing about that is I can still fit in a suit that is older than a high school student.

But, there's the rub as I have recently been given some of the neckties that my dear brother, North once owned. Now, North was an office person as his job was housed in one of the great towers of mankind. Although he was never outlandish in dress, he had a slight flair for color as evidenced in his ties. My personal ties are gray/black and red. Yep, that's it. His, well, that's another story. I am now the proud owner of purple ties with strips and others that I couldn't tell you what the patterns are. They are, however dignified as was my brother. There are one or two that are a tad wide. Perhaps they'll come back in style.

I am excited about a couple others he most assuredly cherished. As he was certainly proud of his Irish roots, yep, you guessed it, I have some leprechaun or clover green ties that have their own brogue accent. As well, being that North has a full collection of nearly every Santa ever created, I am the proud owner of cheery Christmas ties. I'm not sure where I will wear them, but I'm working on it. One mustn't  let the Christmas season go uncelebrated.

Perhaps I'll get to go to an ugly Christmas tie party. It'll be fun. At least I won't be sweating beneath an ugly Christmas sweater. North had too much class for that, thankfully.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's a business for?

Many of you know that I am a retail manager by day, blogger and author by night, unless of course I have to work at night, then the roles are reversed. Such is the life of a retailer.

After many years of this profession, 30 years to be exact, I've had my ups and downs. I've had good jobs and not-so-good jobs. Many times, the success of the company you work for determines if the job is worth having. I've had several go under beneath me and some that came very close. No company lasts forever. Just look at the recent troubles of several once-mighty stores such as Sears, JCPenney and KMart. It's debatable if any or all of them will make it in the long run.

Why do I bring this up? It's simple. I don't agree with all the negative attacks on companies such as Wal-Mart concerning their business operations and practices. As a matter of transparency, I do not work for Wal-Mart and never have. Although they have a store within three miles of my home, I rarely venture there. That particular company just seems to be a lightning rod for those who are dissatisfied with themselves or society.

There are plenty of other companies that pay their employees the wages that Wal-Mart pays theirs, often many who pay less. Many hospitals pay the cleaning staff and other non-skilled positions minimum wage and then ask for volunteers to man the information desk, visit patients and fill other positions. You don't hear people complaining about that, do you? The business of a company is to make a profit; to stay in business. Payroll and benefits is typically the number one cost any business faces. That's also why when times are tough, that's the first place to look for dollars to cut.

Many of the 'complainers' rail about the Wal-Mart 1%ers; the family of Sam Walmart. So they are billionaires, so what? Don't blame them for being in the right place at the right time. The U.S. is not a society, or shouldn't be, where those who have become a success should feel bullied into taking care of others just because groups are yelling at the top of their lungs. I'm sure there is a Wal-Mart foundation of some sort that provides significant assistance to charities. I'm fairly certain that the Walmart family contributes substantially to that and likely others.

In many places, towns and burgs, that company is likely a significant employer. That in itself is a substantial investment in the community. Many companies reinvest back into the communities they serve and it's not always celebrated with press releases and hoopla. Yet, it still happens. How many of those who complain about huge companies ever acknowledge the good they do? Few.

Corporations need to be profitable. That's the bottom line. No profits, no company. No company, no jobs. If you don't like the way a company runs their business, don't be their patron, but then don't complain if they pull out of your community and some of the jobs dry up. There are many who would love to have those jobs. Entry-level jobs are just that; entry-level. Want a raise? It's up to you to do more than the bare minimum just to get by. Entry-level jobs were never meant to be the primary income of families. I understand that at times, things happen that are not within one's control. However, there are many who simply think they deserve a larger paycheck but do nothing to go out and earn it. Sadly, that is too typical of many in the workforce. I have experienced it for many years in this line of work.

For those who do nothing more than complain about others who don't help, how much time did you donate to a local charity this year? I'm sure Wal-Mart and other corporations did more than you know. Is it always as simple as that? No. Are they perfect? Hardly, but then neither is any of us.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My first Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

That being said, this really isn't my first Thanksgiving. I am kinda old, ya know, so I've been through a few of these. In the days of my youth, it was always a fun time. We didn't have much growing up but there was always food on the table and more love in our home than anyone could imagine. The holidays were times of celebration and fun. With five kids, that's a lot of commotion for two parents to put up with. The opening feast of the holidays was special.

With all those memories, yesterday was truly a first for me on Thanksgiving. What was this first you say? Well, for the first time in my life, I had to work on Thanksgiving Day. Retail has been a good life for me. I've made many friends and met some wonderful people over the years. That being said, I know the retail world and I realized it was just a matter of time before I was forced into this. I was hoping I could put it off for one more year; not to be so.

We opened late, and manged the crush of people. I run a smaller store and really didn't have to put up with the "Walmart" customers. That being said, I feel like I lost part of what makes the holidays special. It is a time of family, and although a small or smaller shop can often feel like a family, shopping isn't what this day should be about. In a business sense, I fully understand why these decisions are made. However, that doesn't mean I have to like it. My day ended late, 3am when I landed home and went back into work at 7pm. Nothing says 'happy holidays' like a bunch of sale signs.

Thirty years of not having to work on this day was a blessing. So sad to see it end. Perhaps some day we will remember what holidays are really supposed to be about. Stores filled with stuff you can buy every other day of the year, shouldn't be one of them.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wall to wall

On the weekends, when I'm not working, which most of the time isn't very often, the television routinely finds itself on either HGTV, DIY or some similar home improvement channel. My Beloved loves these shows of remodeling, renovation and all the trials and tribulations that come along with all of it.

Now, I  understand that many of the scenes are staged and the homeowners walk in and are joyfully surprised by the overwhelming transformation, but why is the script always the same? Just for once, why can't the perfect-looking homeowners walk in and cringe at what they see? Wouldn't that be hilarious? You did what?, she screams. That's the most hideous kitchen I've ever seen!

When was the last renovation show that had a contractor that didn't look like they walked out of a magazine shoot? Now, I'm not against very nice looking people on television. But couldn't you have someone on there that looks rather ordinary but knows where a load-bearing wall is located? How many renovation shows begin with pipe-dreams of perfect homes and still maintain the budget? Answer: all of them. How many shows find out that twenty minutes into them there is a load-bearing wall they can't move? Answer: all of them. I suppose that makes for the drama of it all, if you want to call it drama.

How can so many contractors miss the same thing every show? Also, how many 'contestants' know what a budget is for and how to stick to it? Oh, here's our budget, although we won't stick to it because we don't know why we have a budget anyway.

I wish I was a contractor for these shows, I could make the same mistakes over and over again. Just like the real world, I guess. Then again, these shows usually do give me my next project.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chinese Checkers

This is how you play Chinese Checkers:

Lay out the board, everyone taking their own color of marbles to move across the board. Then the play begins...

Jump, jump, jump.

"You can't do that."
"You jumped the red thumbtack."
"I thought that was mine."
"No, you have the yellow 'Jujubee'."
"Well, who has the paperclip?"
"The paperclip belongs to black marbles."

Jump, jump.

"Can't do that either?"
"Who's that belong too?"
"The 'Mike and Ike? That's green."
"Well, why didn't you use a green one then?"
"That's all I had."
"You've got 'Hot Tamalees' you could have used."
"I ate those already."
"Who does the 'Pez' belong too?"
"I don't remember; blue, I think."

Well, at least that's how you play Chinese Checkers at my house after a four-year-old gets hold of the marbles.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Zero is nothing gained

Zero tolerance. It seems to be the new mantra of just about every organization out there; schools, companies, national organizations and just about everything else. It has been in the national news several times over the past few years, but what does it mean? What is zero tolerance?

From what I can tell, it simply means no one is smart enough to use their God-given brains. We hear it all the time. A kid comes into a school and has a gun; he's suspended. Another kid comes into school with a picture of a gun; guess what, he's suspended too. I ask you, where is the logic in that? How is it that zero tolerance has become zero brain usage by those in charge?

Managers, supervisors, principals and the like now seem to see zero tolerance as an out so they don't have to make the tough choices. Aren't they supposed to be the real leaders? Isn't that why they have risen to positions of power and influence? Zero tolerance has become nothing more than using a policy to show toughness in a situation where true leadership should surface. Being PC is just the easy way out and a way to stay the 'popular kid' as it were.

Perhaps its about time we go back to brain power and ask our leaders to exit, the 'zero zone'.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reading NatGeo

In general, I'm a fairly busy person. I put in a ton of hours at my 'day' job, have a wife and a home to take care of as well as all the other business of life. On top of that, I work to find as much writing time for my books as I can. That's a lot to have on the plate, all the time.

One thing a writer must also find time to do is read. Reading is like practice for anything else. As an author, one's reading should primarily be along the lines of the genre you write in. There are several reasons for that, among them keeping up with trends and finding ideas for your own works. But one should also read outside your preferred genre. Finding an author whose style you like whether inside or outside of your genre helps to make one a better writer. Perhaps you can use elements of that style in your own.

With my time crunches already built into my world, I find one of the best things to read is National Geographic magazine. Really, you ask? Really! Most who know little of this gem only know of the photography. While the images are often dramatic, the writing can also be powerful. Some of the best descriptive scenes I have read come from these pages. The writers are telling a story just as you would find in any book, short or novel. But unlike other periodicals, they also give you a sense of place by description, touch and scent. It's odd that the writing would need to include such descriptive passages that are accompanied by dramatic scenery, but I find some of the best writing out there to be within these pages.

Although I enjoy the scientific and social elements of this magazine, I believe the writing within holds as much for me as anything else. It is the only periodical I subscribe to. Well, I am kinda busy, you know.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I drove to the local grocery store today to drop off one of my prescriptions. Don't worry, I'm not going to die. My cholesterol just needs to be kept under control. I slide into the parking lot and see the parking signs which I detest: Courtesy parking for pharmacy customers.

Really? This particular store also has spaces set apart for pregnant women. I see these all the time and I just hate them. I don't have an issue with handicapped (I'm sure someone will take offense to that word but that's what they are) parking spaces but do you need 50,000 of them all across the front of a store? No. Most of them are empty anyway. The first time I saw the pregnancy signs, I about ran one over. I thought exercise was good for preggers. I think it's ridiculous to have so many reserved spaces.

And before you get all mad at me because I'm insensitive to the plight of others, it's not really about the parking spaces at a grocery store. It's about society as a whole who believe they need something special because they have this issue or that. I'm this or that and I have to have someone treat me different because I'm too lazy or stupid to help myself. What ever happened to the notion of taking care of yourself? Why does everyone feel they need special treatment? There are very few people who I believe can't take care of themselves and yes, those people need the help. I'd put that number at a very low single-digit percentage. I think all the rest are just simply lazy and attention-grabbers. As a local radio host I listen to often says; "it's the wussification of America". (check out  @Commonmanradio  97.1 the fan, Columbus, OH).

And for the record, I parked a little further out and didn't park in the pharmacy spaces. Gosh, those five extra steps nearly killed me.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


This ramble began with an innocent comment from My Beloved early this morning; I heard a 'beep' last night. Consider this sound we have now become so used to. Everywhere you turn in our modern world, you hear a beep. Beeps come from your phone, they come from your car, smoke detectors, alarm clocks, alarms and so many other innocuous devices that we pay little attention to them. We are inundated with this sound.

When you think about it, the earth is reported to be 4.5 billion years old (give or take). For all of those millions upon millions of years, as our planet went through the various eras and epochs, and where life emerged about one billion years ago (the first signs of algae and other primitive life, I believe), until about sixty years ago, never in the history of the planet was there a 'beep'. Well, where did it come from then?

We are now in the electronic age. We have circuit boards and knobs and blinking lights and everything that comes along with them. I wonder who heard the first beep? I would think it was someone involved with the building of ENIAC or the component parts before that. Although, with vacuum tubes, I don't know that ENIAC would have made that sound. It may not have come until that system evolved.

Along with that, who decided that sound should be called a 'beep'? If you hear it, it sounds like 'eep'. Why do we need a 'b' in front of it? I think it should be considered an accomplishment or an honor to be the first person in recorded history to hear a certain sound.

Unless of course you believe in aliens like my friend Sharon. Then, beeps were likely around before that. She may even have heard them.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Old habits die hard

Wife: What are you doing?
Me: Nothing. Uhm, why?
Wife: Why are you standing there?
Me: I'm eating.
Wife: I can see that. Why are you standing over the sink?
Me: I'm eating.
Wife: I can see that. Why don't you sit down?
Me: Then I'd have to get a plate.
Wife: So?
Me: It'll get dirty.
Wife: I know that.
Me: I'd have to clean it.
Wife: So?
Me: It's easier this way.

Okay, that discussion never really happened but could on any given night that I get home from work after she gets ready for bed. It's surprising how often I eat over a sink when My Beloved is out of town.

So what's the point of this, you ask? It's simple actually, because I'm fairly simple. I paid a visit to my doctor the other day to have my usual checkup. You know, blood pressure, weight, cold stethoscope on the chest. I have a few mild ailments at my age; cholesterol the most pressing. It runs in my family. I suppose for an older guy, I'm in relatively descent shape.

My biggest issue is, I still kinda eat like a seven year old. We didn't have much growing up. I relied on hot dogs and peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and bologna for lunches most of the time. Those habits die hard. I'll come home late and eat just that, a nice PB and J with cold grape jelly. Yum! Breakfast is usually corn flakes or something similar. On a good day, I get raisins! I have weened myself off of Capn' Crunch in the last few years, so, I'm making progress.

My Beloved makes fun of me as I have a tendency to 'graze' in the kitchen. Every time I walk through I snag something and pop it in my mouth, just like a seven year old. You'd think I should weigh 300 pounds but a walking job keeps me in check. Without that, I likely would. I suppose as the years creep up on me, I do need to become more selective in what I eat ...

I really should, I really should, I really should. If I say it, does it make it so? Likely not.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The rules

Sports has been ongoing in my life to some extent since I was a little boy. I don't get to play much anymore, but I keep up on things. In my formative years, baseball was my game. I started at eight years old playing organized ball and hung up my glove a year after school. Although I never played at the highest levels, I know the game. I'm old.

Recently, much is being made of the unwritten rules in baseball. Players get mad at another on an opposing team because he did this or that. As these recent events have come to light, I thought I would have my own say. Mostly, I just don't agree with the complainers.

Yes, there are 'unwritten rules', but they have been bastardized by whiners and cry-babies. These 'rules' are really about sportsmanship. There are things you do in the heat of a close game you don't do when one team is getting the snot kicked out of them. You don't steal bases late in games when up by a ton of runs. That's bad sportsmanship; that's rubbing it in. That's like going for two after a touchdown when you are winning by 45 points. You don't taunt the other team. That's bush-league

Some of the supposedly 'new' unwritten rules aren't correct. You CAN block the plate in a close game. The catcher is trying to stop you from scoring. If you don't like it, run his ass over. You CAN bunt to break up a no-hitter. It's YOUR JOB to get on base any way you can. It's okay to clap your hands after you drove in some runs or hit a homer. That's not showing up the pitcher, that's celebrating YOUR success. If the pitcher has a problem with that, he should have thrown a better pitch. What, you don't like someone pausing to watch their home-run? Think that's a classless act? Really! How many times do you remember Reggie Jackson just dropping the bat and watching his ball carry over the wall? It happened all the time. What he didn't do was point a finger at the pitcher. That would be classless and unsportsmanlike.

If you don't want the other team celebrating, do your job better. It's not unsportsmanlike, it sports. Winner takes all.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A new phone

It's going to happen, likely very soon. Within the next week or so, okay, perhaps ten days or so, I will be giving up my Jerry Jones flip-phone. I'll be joining the world of the smart-phone.

Hey, if a flip-phone is good enough for a billionaire, why isn't it good enough for me? Well, there are several reasons actually. I have had several instances of people sending me texts that come across as picture mail and I can't read them. At a business conference earlier this year, every time my boss sent out a text for our group of managers to meet at a time or place, I couldn't read it. (Thankfully, I always had one of them in sight. A bar is a good way to make sure that happens).

Although I don't surf the net when I'm not on a computer, mostly at home, there are times when I could have used such a service. Often it is when I need directions or an address. Most other times, I think it's a waste of my time. I'm not judging you, you can do what you want. I'm simply not a slave to technology. It's useful yes, but I have no interest in being continually logged on to the internet 24/7.

Sometimes I wonder how folks become to addicted to their phones. I saw a video today (on my computer) about a woman who went through her day and was surrounded by others who stopped being social because their attention was always on their phone. Now, I understand how technology can be useful, but what does it say about our society? Are we so unhappy with our lives we long for something else? We long for others to contact us? What's wrong with those in the room? It seems we no longer live in the moment with those around us.

Believe me, I'm not that important and I'd rather talk to you than a phone. Sure technology is helpful, it lets all you fine readers of this blog go out and buy my e-books ☺ !

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Butt head

I'm free! Free at last!

Well, it's been a long time. Years ago, I was a smoker. I smoked for twenty-five years. It was odd that I started in that, although my parents were smokers, none of my siblings ever took up the habit. Yes, I was the black-sheep. Back then, in the before-times, my sainted parents were the norm. Nearly all my forty aunts and uncles were smokers as well. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Hell, it was the sixties and seventies.

Just recently as I was driving home from work, I was stopped beside a young lady who was smoking in her car. She pulled in deeply as we waited on the light. She held it, then slowly sent a pillow of white into the air. While, even after twelve years of freedom from this habit, I could still feel the smoke within my mouth. I thought, YUCK!

To be honest, I don't know how my Beloved put up with kissing me. She never said a word about it. She was never a smoker, but somehow she loved me enough to dismiss my awful habit. I am fortunate that I have my health and have beaten whatever effects this had on me. It took me over a year to finally quit. I tried three times before it took. I don't know how she put up with me, although I wasn't a heavy smoker, I think smokers would be off my list if I were a single man. (Though, that's never going to happen).

I know some still think smoking is manly, or even sexy or a cool thing to do, but ... YUCK!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The open road

Ever since I bought my first car, I have always loved the feeling of driving and the open road. There is no greater sense of freedom than having the windows down on a crisp autumn day as you roll down the road. I love the whipping of the wind, the rush of acceleration as you cruise along a two-lane road that turns just a little bit here and there.

Unfortunately, that scenario no longer seems to exist, at least in my part of the world. My daily rides are now reduced to going back and forth from home to work. I jump on a crowded road at 6am and venture forth. At least I know that at this time of day, everyone is doing the same thing; trying to get somewhere. The same is true for leaving work; everyone is trying to get somewhere. They are like me, in a hurry.

Ya know what I can't stand? I can't stand driving after 10am. Have you ever tried to get somewhere after the rush-hour traffic? Can't be done. Why you ask? There surely aren't as many cars on the road. Well, that would be a true statement. What you do find is ... pokey-man and pokey-woman. You know them, the people in life that have nowhere to be or nowhere to go. It seems they just amble about and get in the way of folks who need to get somewhere. These are the people who drive below the speed limit, start braking at every traffic light, even if it's still green, and never, ever accelerate when getting onto a freeway.

Remember the last time you had an open two-lane road ahead of you full of breezy turns and curves? Yeah, me neither. I can't get around the pokey fart in front of me.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Quick fix

Fix it. Fix it now. Fix it quickly.

That seems to be the motto of the society we live in. On the surface, there's nothing wrong with fixing what isn't working or isn't working well enough. The problem is how we fix things or what we think might be the correct fix.

The inspiration for this ramble came as I was listening to my sports-talk radio the other day, although what happens in sports, as is said, happens in life. Sports is the ultimate quick-fix. Have a football team that sucks? Get a franchise quarterback. Languishing in near-last place in the standings, go over-pay for a power hitter. It's the same thing year after year after year.

So what is it about all these supposedly smart people who are billionaires and own these franchises, that they can't see what the problems are? Why do they languish in futility? There is generally a reason why your team sucks and throwing money at a big star isn't going to fix the whole. In football, RG III might be a great quarterback but you can't win games because your defense is terrible. North of 50's Yankees no longer win because they are old and slow and often injured. They now have a 2nd baseman who at the age of 31 or 32 wants a ten year contract worth 8 gazillion dollars. Why not take that 8 gazillion dollars and get several players that can help the team? (Personally, I hope they don't so the vaunted Yankees continue to miss the playoffs, boo-hoo). Sorry North.

Like sports, life isn't a quick fix. When there are problems there are usually underlying issues that need fixed. I often face the same issue at work. Sometimes I look at my product assortment (that I have no control over) and think, who the hell thinks this is a great idea? Unfortunately, ideas from my range of control are difficult to percolate upward without continual nagging.

But take heart, and for things you can control, look past the surface issues. A quick fix is normally a short-term fix in sports, and love and life.

Happy fixing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


As many know I run a retail store. It is in an older part of town and we periodically suffer from power outages. Some may last only seconds, although we have had those that lasted days. It is very difficult to run a store with no power.

It happened again today, we lost power for nearly an hour. But, something caught me a little different about this one. I don't really know why. It was morning, about 9am. The light was bright and we had a clear sky. Then, BAM! No power. The way the building is situated, the front faces north but with a large windows the light cascades about half way into the store. It drops off quickly and the rear is lost in a hollow gray.

With our alarm systems not receiving power. there are quickly beeps and chirps echoing throughout the stillness. The sounds will not fade until their battery power begins to die and then there is silence; total silence except for your breathing. What little sound you do hear is echoed throughout the building.

This has happened many times since I have been at this store but today, it was different. At one point walking up the main aisle, I had a sense of loneliness. The thought that struck me was the men of Apollo 13. It made me stop. I listened to the sounds of alarms, the stillness of all else and the fading darkness as light could not reach all places. Now I have seen the movie several times and watched the documentary. Both were gripping, but for some reason today, I began to appreciate just a little of what they may have felt like.

I can't explain why; I was in no danger, no peril; I was safe and calm in a familiar place. Perhaps it was the alarms, the retiring light and the stillness. There was just something about this time, this place that gave me a new-found respect and admiration for the men who traveled to the moon and almost didn't make it back.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Small Town America

It is the time of year when the end of summer is just around the corner. For me, that means a busy time at work and the back to school season which just completed in our area. With that comes a changing of the guard for the seasons and all that goes with it; the nights begin to get cooler so a good nights sleep is a little better and small town America comes to life.

This is the time of festivals and county fairs across our country. Usually, this time of year I am far too busy at work to attend some of these, and they are diverse. In our area we have the Popcorn Festival, the Tomato Festival, The Pumpkin Festival and my favorite, the Sweet Corn Festival on the shores of Buckeye Ocean.

If you ever want to see the quintessential small town, go to a festival. You'll see everything from kiddy rides to arcade games, to games of chance which always seemed to be orchestrated by the local fire departments, Order of Something or Other or a Catholic organization of some sort. We Catholics always seem to be around the beer and gambling. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps it's in the bible, who knows.

Well, this year My Beloved and I were able to get to the Sweet Corn Festival with her cousin Red and her husband Chester the Charmer. The weather was perfect with high skies and cool temps as we walked about the grounds beneath tall trees. The food was what you should have at festivals; something on a stick, cooked and baked sweet treats of all sorts and whatever the festival is about, in this case, sweet corn. The next best thing is people-watching. You see all sorts from the old farmer and his wife as they stroll down memory lane to the goth chick and friends. You get the football players and the cheerleaders, the hoe-down on the platform where the old folks dance and everything in-between. It was a lovely evening all-in-all.

I'm sure there are still festivals and county fairs yet to go as the heartlands and the Midwest still have plenty of good weather left before the harvests. Get out and enjoy yourself before old man winter extends an icy finger in your direction.

Friday, September 6, 2013

An excerpt from The Dream Valley

An excerpt from The Dream Valley, book one of The Crystal Point Legacy trilogy.

"You must realize Seika, many legends and stories come down through the generations from articles based on fact. I have searched many a land during my quest. I am sure the Crystal Point lies in this valley."
"When we reach the lower valley, where will we look?"
Dwylar looked over their heads his eyes a glaze and spoke;

            The eye sees not what wing and feather spy
            What wind and fortune dare to speak
            The summit spires twin thy mantle watch
            Upon the altar man’s sire seeks.

            Crimson hues with watchful eye
Lights crystal prism cut for thee
Barrier force drives shades of wanton lust
Heaven’s fire glistens for all to see.

A place of dream where paths do cease
Of life nor death nor winter’s touch alone
Summer’s sun on chambers endless green
On fields singing only summer’s tone.

Palisades of time their visions dim
Of Searchers quest an ageless father’s line
For kings of ice and rock must falter
A blaze of fire does for thee shine.

"What tale do you tell us, Dwylar?"

"This is a part of the lore of the crystal. I believe it tells of the resting place where the king had chosen to place his warning. The Dream Valley may be the final leg of my quest, for if I fail here I must return to the Northern Kingdom, and my king, and there face banishment for my failure. His judgment shall decide my fate in the coming war."

The Dream Valley is currently free on Amazon.com

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sitting still

For my work, I was recently at a training session for store managers that lasted over a period of three days. As many of you know, this is my profession (as well as wanna-be author), and I have worked in this field for over thirty years. (And believe it or not, I started writing over twenty years ago).

The type of retail stores I have always managed put you on your feet. So, I walk. I walk and I talk and I lift and I carry things. The stores I've worked for have always put the managers out with the customers. I have never had a sedentary job where I sit behind a desk planning things out, and at the end of three days of training, I don't know that I could do that.

The first day, I was fine. After the hectic back-to-school selling season, it was nice to kick back with my fellow managers and talk over a few things. We talked, had lunch and wrapped things up after about eight hours. Day two didn't go so well.

Day two started as did day one. By the time lunch rolled around I was getting antsy. I don't sit well for long periods of time. Even on my days off, my best days are working around the house, cutting grass and generally being productive. We had lunch and, it didn't sit well. I felt sluggish. My stomach churned and I was simply beginning to feel miserable. The feeling didn't wear off until I was out of there several hours later and moving.

Day three followed the course of day two. I felt unproductive, sluggish and my stomach was beginning to churn again. I was so happy when the day was over simply because I could move and get active. Now, don't start thinking I'm a totally physically-fit nerd guy. I'm simply active, and active most of the time. I likely walk over forty miles per week just at my job.

Looking back, I don't see how people can sit behind a desk all day. It's just not for me. I suppose you get used to it and your body and mind adapts to what you are doing over time. If just three days nearly puts me in a coma, I'd hate to think of how I would be after a forty hour work week of just sitting.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Grandpa's are from Mars

We had an adventurous weekend as we had our grandson, Ragin Cage for a couple days. There was a party for his cousins who are twins; their fourth birthday celebration a pool party. Kids that young were everywhere, splashing and jumping and running all over the place. There were plenty of adults around ranging from parents to other grandparents, a great grandparent as well as aunts and uncles, and everyone has their own style of supervision and parenting.

Grandpa's, however have their own unique way of looking at things, especially when it comes to boys. I, as exulted Paw-Paw see the young whippers differently than the Maw-Maws. I see little boys running and jumping and smacking things and whacking things and know that is what little boys do. I'm not so old that I don't remember what those days were like as a kid. We ran everywhere we shouldn't have and smacked all kinds of things with other things. We threw and kicked and generally were rambunctious, 'cause that's what little boys do.

Grandmothers and mothers don't see little boys the same way grandpas see little boys. We were them and now we live our lives wishing we had the same unbridled energy we had in the dawn of our days. In their esteemed wisdom, Maw-Maws and mothers have more rules than Paw-Paws do, at least for little boys.

And I guess they always will.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Walking with blinders on

The Columbus City School District recently received the news about their own grade card from the State of Ohio. The news wasn't good. Their scores were littered with F and D across the board. I heard the story on the radio one morning as I was driving into work. I was appalled.

For full disclosure on my part, I do not live in the capital city, nor did my children attend CCS. I live in a suburb of the city. My grandson, however will likely be going to CCS in the coming years. I have never done an in-depth study of my own concerning the school district, although I have always paid attention to newscasts over the years. More often than not, the news did not portray a favorable image of the district as a whole.

I suppose my biggest complaint is how the Board of Education has treated the (now retiring) superintendent of the district. Dr. Gene Harris has been the Superintendent of Columbus City Schools now for twelve years. She began her tenure in 2001. Every large organization has its struggles, a fact I fully understand. Your can't turn an aircraft carrier on a dime. But, after twelve years, it appears, according to the state report, that CCS are just simply broken. Within her time of leadership, at no point do I ever remember the school board not giving her a raise, often substantial ones, nor do I ever remember them not lavishing bonus after bonus on her.

Recently, even the mayor of Columbus, Michael Coleman has appeared in television commercials concerning the fate and state of the school district. I ask you now, where has the guidance been for these elected officials if the schools are in such a state of disrepair? Why did these school boards not see the problems for what they were? Why was a superintendent praised year after year and given raise upon raise when at the end of her tenure, after a scandal-filled year, the district seems to be in worse shape than when she started twelve years ago.

If you ever wonder why voters don't want to vote more taxes for school levies...this is the reason.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Vintage favorite

Today I was following a post on Facebook that was speaking of a certain vintage commercial. I followed the link to check it out. Below that link was a slideshow of television commercials from the fifties and sixties. I followed along that as well. It was amazing to see how advertising has changed over the years...doctors touting cigarettes, blatant sexism in both print and media and things that today, seem just like they were simply made up, not that we couldn't still say some of the commercials we watch/see today isn't just something someone made up in a room with five others idiots.

That got me to thinking, what about stuff I used to watch as a little boy back in the sixties? I'm sure someone has put some of those things on You Tube or someplace else. Well, sure enough, I found my all-time favorite 'cartoon' from when I was a very young boy in the first half of the sixties.

I don't know how many of you would even have heard of this or remember it if you are my age, but here it is.

Fireball XL5

I'm sure very soon I will see what episodes have been loaded into the You Tube machine. This was likely the catalyst that gave me an interest in space and science. The first books I read as a youngster were a series of "Johnny" books which I have not been able to track down. I think the first title was something like 'Johnny and the Red Balloon' or something like that. Perhaps a project for a rainy day.

Today, it's grass-cutting day.  Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

For heavens sake

What would you look like in heaven?

I had that thought earlier today for some strange reason. Let's say for instance I died and the first person I met up there was my dad. What would he look like? Would he look like I remember him in the last few years of his life? Would he look like my dad when I was twenty? He lived for seventy-five years. That is a long time.

How would other people see him? Would someone he knew in the army see him as he was known then? I thought it was an interesting question. How would anyone look to someone else in heaven? If dad had a best friend he only knew as a kid, why wouldn't that friend see him as a child from their days of youthful glory?

After some time of contemplation, I think I came across a scenario that I hope would be true. It's very simple really. I would hope that whomever I see in heaven, God rest my soul, I would see that person at the happiest time we shared in our life together. After-all, why wouldn't you want to see someone any other way?

I only hope God sees it that way.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A letter to my daughter

We all suffer at some point from the 'slings and arrows' of everyday life. We view ourselves as the center of everything, which is okay, because to ourselves, we are the center. We have no other point of reference with which to look at the world. We can't look at ourselves from someone else's eyes.

It takes a unique perspective to see ourselves, our loved ones and everything else we do from a different plane. To most, that plane is simply unavailable. In recent years, we have the ability to see ourselves with photographs, and to some extent, how others may see us from social media sites such as Facebook  and others. That however is largely framed by how we present ourselves to others who may then use our own words and likenesses. Some may be flattering while others, not so much.

Life in real terms is about perspective. I view the world one way and you another, yet, we both take up space in the same physical plane. The distances we may have are measured in feet and sometimes miles. I live over here and see things one way. You may live over there and see things another way. To that point, our lives may themselves seem like they are miles apart. But in reality, we share the same life, the same troubles, the same foibles, the same successes. My neighbor is your neighbor, good or bad.

What we make of our lives with this perspective is a matter of what we choose. We all live on the same dot, suspended in a sunbeam is a miniscule corner of a place no single mind has the ability to fathom. Life can be hard, life can be difficult. Life shouldn't always be a mirror. I wish a mirror would show what can be, not a reflection of what we think we see. If change is what you desire, stop looking to the past; turn around, and look to the future.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Free ebook

Just to let everyone know who follows my meteoric writing career (yeah, right), the first book of The Crystal Point Legacy series is currently free.

The Dream Valley is available at Amazon, the iTunes store, Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

Hope you all enjoy it. It is an epic fantasy book. Get it while it's hot!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Who is that, anyway?

Good morning my brother. I thought of you this morning as I was heading into work. I was listening to Mike and Mike on the radio, ya know just keeping up with the world of sports. I only heard a short stint but it was a good one, one of your favorites.

Instead of getting a listen to news of your Yankees and the big drug scandals, I was treated to Frank Caliendo. I know he was always one of your favorites. He is so talented. I remember how we would talk about hearing him, though I don't think we ever had the chance to listen to him together. Not like the times we would listen to George Carlin records, or Bill Cosby. Funny!

Caliendo has some new voices he's working on. Some of them were sportscasters, though none were quite as polished or immediately recognizable as his famous John Madden, although his impression of Mel Kiper Jr. was nearly spot-on. He did a small bit of Madden at the end. Remarkable. He threw in some Jim Rome as well. He said Rome never quite appreciated his bit but Charles Barkley loved his skewer of him.

In the end, he let loose a new one I hadn't heard; he did a remarkable Morgan Freeman as he plugged his latest show at the Borgata in New Jersey. I think you would have been impressed with that one. He nailed it.

Talk to you later...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A new cover

One of the things you learn as an author is ... nothing you ever do or write is perfect.

If you ever go back and re-read what you wrote years ago, you might actually choke on the words. "Wow, I really wrote that?' You might shudder or you might think, 'wow, that was really good. I rocked it!' Times don't really change the writing much. More often than not it's the other things that get influenced as times change and readers adapt to popular culture.

My novel White Staff took a cue from the title of Star Wars. The graphic was developed to resemble that original movie. That was then, this is now. To give the readers of fantasy a more genre-specific style of cover, a friend of mine came up with a new design.

And here it is ...

I think it better reflects the nature and character of the story. I hope you agree. I think she rocked it!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

End of the Road

Sometimes being a writer lends itself to unique opportunities. I have been fortunate recently to take advantage of one such opportunity.

I am a contributing editor to a newly published anthology. It is a collection of 33 short stories from various authors who write across a wide range of genres. All the stories have a theme of 'end of the road', hence the name of the book. It is currently published through smashwords.com and will soon be distributed to various outlets such as the iTunes store, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and others. At a slightly later date, it will also be available though Amazon. This is a free ebook.

I think you will find the writing excellent and the stories unique and compelling. I hope everyone gets a chance to pick it up. Check out my offering: A Touch of Cold.

Did I mention it was free? Yeah, it's free!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rod -n-roll

It is a beautiful weekend in the capital city and there is a real treat for car lovers this weekend. The Good Guys are in Columbus!

For those who aren't familiar, https://www.good-guys.com/ is an association of automobile enthusiasts that show, swap and sell vintage cars and street rods. I have always loved street rods. Some of my favorite movies from years ago have great scenes of these slick machines running up and down the streets of SoCal. I remember Hollywood Knights, American Graffiti and others. Some day I'd love to own a classic rod. (Sigh, that's a really big wish).

That got me to thinkin'. If we jumped fifty years into the future, what cars do we have today that would be seen in that same vein? Likely not too many. Many look just like each other now-a-days. Some might consider something like the HHR or the PT Cruiser. Newer models like the older plates that came back; Mustang and Camero or the Challenger. I think few of the jelly-bean shaped cars would draw much attention.

I think of course the very expensive cars like Porsches and Lamborghinis would draw the attentions of crowds 50 years from now, but I don't think very many everyday cars would have the cache that some of the older ones do now.

Well, here's hoping I'm around to find out. Wouldn't it be cool to climb back into your favorite car from 2013 in 2050? I think that would be awesome. Incidentally, the first car I ever owned is now 42  years old; 1971 Torino. It was candy-apple red with a black vinyl top. Sweet!