Thursday, December 24, 2015

This Christmas Eve

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2015

Launching in January

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

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

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

Star Eagle Six ... coming in January 2016

Monday, December 7, 2015

Because you allow it

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

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

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

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

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