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?”
“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


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 ...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Have a seat

No, I basically can't.
You can't what?
I can't sit down.

Having had a recent outpatient surgery for something very minor but something in an awkward place, I've essentially haven't been able to sit down for nearly two months. Sounds horrible you say? What's the big deal you say?

Well, in comparison to someone who is fighting a disease such as cancer or heart or kidney disease, it's nothing. It is however something I've never experienced before. I've never had any type of surgery in my life; heck, never been to a hospital. I think that's quite an achievement for someone of my advanced  years. One of the issues concerning this is ... I don't know how to react to this stuff.

Although I'm a very active person, as a retail manager who routinely walks thirty-five to forty miles a week on the job, you find out quickly how limited you are when you can't sit down, and I mean literally. Think of all the things you do during the day even while you're at work. You answer phones, work at a computer, have meetings, take conference calls, chat with customers and fellow employees.

Well, I can't do any of that sitting down. Ever try to do computer work standing up? It's not easy when the desks aren't built for that height. As a writer, one needs to work at a computer. For the first month I tried writing while standing at the island in my kitchen. I also flopped myself over my leather ottoman and tried to type with the computer on the floor. That's really hard on the neck and shoulders. The only other position is to lay down. That doesn't work too well either. Want to have some fun? It's a blast to go to a restaurant and eat standing up.

I did find out however that I am very tired at the end of the day and have slept very well. The reason? I've stood up all day. That gets exhausting. Those small breaks you get during your day when sitting down, no matter what you are doing lets you rest. You can't rest standing for sixteen to eighteen hours every day for two months.

Fortunately, my tushy is finally beginning to heal and though very uncomfortable, I'm starting to sit for very short periods of time. It's still not easy as this ramble is typed standing around the kitchen table. My writing has taken a hit as I had hoped to have the second science fiction title published by now. Oh well, that'll have to wait.

It's coming ... please keep the faith...and have a seat round the fire.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


I have been very lucky throughout my life. I've face no serious injuries nor had invasive surgeries to mar this awesome physique. I have always been able to fend for myself be it a physical or mental challenge. I've always been quite proud of that fact.

In my line of work I see a multitude of people coming and going. Most of them are fine on the surface. They seem to be able to have unfettered locomotion. I've always found it curious when someone needs me to carry something out to their car, especially when I'm several years their senior. I'm not one to ask for help in something like that. Why? Because I've always been fortunate to have my health.

Well, recently that feeling of invincibility has been stripped from my facade. My minor outpatient surgery of recent weeks has left me vulnerable to the slings and arrows of old age. Yes, I'm still a strapping and vibrant (cough, cough) young man approaching sixty, but I am not a person unable to lift anything over twenty pounds. It's a rude awakening when back in the day my normal workout was routinely tossing ten, 80 pound bags of concrete mix into someone's pickup truck, then running back to the other end of the store and loading fifty wet bags of mulch into someone else's trailer. Back in those days, most of the mulch bags were 3 cubic foot, not the twos you routinely see for sale now. It was a workout that rivaled any trip to the gym.

Now, My Beloved isn't fond of me picking up a loaf of bread unless I've had four slices of toast out of it. She worries, and with good reason. After twenty-five years she knows me. She knows I don't like restrictions. She knows I think I'm invulnerable to ravages of age, that I'll not face the foibles others face. It is humbling to have to walk past something on the ground and ask another person to pick it up. It's frustrating to ask someone in the store to climb up the ladder and get the heaviest damn thing up there and bring it down, because even though I'm the oldest person in the store, with few exceptions, they call me for that type of thing. 'Cause 'I'm the man!

Well, this 'man' has learned a humbling lesson. I have been around a few who needed my care to nurse them through their ailments and frailties, but I have never walked in their shoes. In the beginning, this rambling blog was dedicated to my life and observations, what I learn and feel as I walk through the decades of my life. Often I pass along thoughts on the world, but rarely do I pass along hard lessons learned. Consider this a hard lesson learned when it comes to the frailty of the body as time passes.

I have now walked a quarter mile in their shoes, and I have not enjoyed it one bit. This shall pass in a few weeks, but the lesson has been learned.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Inside the rails

I am an aging, middle-class (I guess) male who has lived a healthy life. Now, don't take that to mean I've always made the best health choices throughout my life. For twenty-five years I smoked. I have been smoke-free now since January 5th, 2:15 am in 2002. My Beloved still thinks I eat like a nine year old, but most of what my diet consists of when she's not around is what I grew up with. I eat cereal nearly every morning, usually a sugar-coated concoction of some kind or Rice Chex filled with raisins. The breakfast meal also includes toast with butter and coffee when I'm not scheduled early for work.

The one thing I've always hung my hat on is that I have never (outside of having my tonsils out at the age of seven) been admitted to a hospital. Oh, I've taken the trip to the emergency room plenty of times over the years for a variety of broken bones, deep cuts and athletically ripped muscles, but I have not been on the inside of the bed rails.

On most of my trips to the hospital I have been on the outside of the bed rails looking in. Well, today I had my first inside the rails trip. The difference is significant way of looking at life. Now, I'm not struggling with an insidious disease or condition. I won't make that comparison. Many people face life and death on a daily basis due to their circumstances, often beyond their control. This is not one of those struggles, but what it did do for me was put me in a situation where I was not in control.

I am used to doing things. I'm not used to laying in a bed and forced to do nothing. I'm not used to nurses sticking me with needles and having leads taped to my body. I'm not used to being wheeled around the hallways of a surgical building with the breeze wafting up my gown. And boy, do they keep those hallways cold. Apparently my doctor told My Beloved during the after-consultation that I was a lightweight. I was out before I even entered the surgery room. Today starts several days now of recuperating; more sitting around doing nothing and forcing my wife to be my go-fer. Well, in my case it is more not sitting on my butt ... if you get my drift. However my ordeal will be over shortly and things will return to normal for me, and the quicker the better.

And speaking of people I know who are facing the struggle of their lives, my author friend Brandon Hale is winning in his battle with cancer. He has a different view on the world and is the author of the Day Soldiers series. I urge everyone to give it a read and discover a brilliant author.

Although I was inside the rails I can still make the claim of not being admitted to a hospital. (Hey, you take your claims to fame where you can get them).

Monday, June 27, 2016

The 1%

We have all been inundated by them. We hear about them constantly in the news. The term has leaped in popularity. The 1% ers.

But this ramble isn't about THAT one percent. It's about the other one percent. You don't know who they are? Most don't, but they have a tremendous influence on our lives ... a negative one.

Yesterday at the store I was working diligently to put product on the shelves. It's that time of year where we are getting ready for back to school. Yes kiddies, you haven't been out a month and already the notebooks are hitting the shelves. But I digress. One of the challenges to the volume of work to be done is speed. One must slice open boxes with precision, time after time after time. In the past, that was easy, but somewhere down the line, that changed.

Why? Because some asshole somewhere couldn't figure out how to properly use a sharp razor knife and likely cut himself into oblivion. By his (and I'm using that term as a general term for mankind) utter stupidity I am forced to now use a safety knife that couldn't cut wet butter. With my old handi-cutter, I can take the top off a box in literally three seconds. What a safety cutter does is shield the blade so you can barely get it to the cardboard. What we lose in productivity we make up for in the cost of the one percenter to keep his job which he isn't likely qualified to do. He not only costs the company money from lack of productivity, he also cost them money to pay for his workman's comp claim he brought on himself.

Think about the products you use around the house. Ever try to cut through scotch tape with the plastic cutter that comes with it? It stretches out most of the time and never cuts. You can thank the one percenter for that. Now-a-days we're forced to use products that don't work because someone stupid can't cut paper with scissors.

Ever wonder why lawnmowers have all those warning labels on them? There is a well-known story of two highly intelligent individuals who thought it was a good idea to trim their hedges with a running power mower. Yep, you guessed it; lawsuit. Now, I'm not against companies making safer products. Look at where the automobile has come from? The real problem is the one percenter who doesn't use a product the way it was intended and then points the finger at the manufacturer.

Even wonder why most commercials for products come with half the commercial filled with a man talking so fast not even his own mother could understand him? Warning labels.

It's time we take our products back from the one percenters and let natural selection take its rightful place again in the world.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Heavyweight Champion of the World

A couple years ago when Michael Jackson died I was wondering what towering figure would possibly cause more of a stir when they passed away. My immediate thought back then was Muhammad Ali. Unfortunately, the time has come and an inspiring figure from my life has now faded into memory.

It is debatable if Michael Jackson rose to the same level as Muhammad Ali. In my mind he was nowhere close. But, it was a different time and a different world when Ali, then Cassius Clay burst onto the scene. He was the first to be openly brash and the first to challenge the world with cockiness as the 'Mouth of the South' when he knocked out Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

The difference between then and now is simple; there was only one heavyweight champion of the world and nearly every living soul from Asia to Africa to America knew who it was. Boxing was a sport followed around the world and the heavyweight champ was king, not like now when there are about six different organizations who claim to have a heavyweight champ. Muhammad Ali defined a generation of fighters never before seen and perhaps, never to be seen again.

But unlike most who talk the talk, Ali walked the walk. Whether you liked him or not, believed in him or not, he followed his convictions which ultimately cost him the title. He wasn't perfect. Like all of us he knelt at times to his demons as we all do. But to his credit, he learned to rise above them and made a difference in the world and the lives of many. To me, so many of those who are called 'famous' or 'legends' of their genre never rose above what they did on stage or on the field.

Ali became someone who transcended the world of boxing and sport and became a true icon. The fact the he changed his name and religion never mattered to me. He used his name and his fame to become more than just a boxer. Now as I have said in this blog in the past, as a rule I have never been one to look up to famous people. They were not my heroes. However, I remember the days when boxing was on broadcast television. I was too young to go to venues to watch a fight. Hell, I was just a kid, but I remember vividly waiting for his fights on television. I remember the Frazier fights, the Foreman fight but I also remember the devastation I felt the night he lost to Leon Spinks. It was the fist time in my sporting life I can remember true heartbreak.

Muhammad Ali set the standard for the modern athlete who has become nothing more than a braggadocios sabre-rattler. Gone is the good-natured challenges between sportsmen. Their challenges are now nothing more than two bullies arguing in front of a camera just to be noticed in front of fans who are witless lemmings.

The Greatest is gone and I feel a little older because of it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Why can't Johnny vote?

As I was driving home yesterday I heard a story on NPR radio concerning voting rights in the state of Ohio. Apparently a judge has struck down a portion of a voting rights law that was passed in 2005. (Okay, I'm going on memory here so don't feel the need to point our every minor detail. That isn't the point of this). The Attorney General and Secretary of State must now not enforce a provision of is package of laws that states that one can not register to vote and vote on the same day.

The reason behind this ruling is that it discriminates against minorities (African-Americans were specifically mentioned) and low income groups. This judge ruled it unconstitutional and also that it violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Now, since I am not a lawyer I will not argue the constitutionality of his ruling. What I will argue however is that this practice is not discriminatory. If I were an African-American I think I would be insulted by this statement.

Well, why would it be discriminatory? Don't people of all races know an election is coming up? Don't people of all races have a television set that has the ability to turn on a news channel? Don't the vast majority of people in the United States have access to the internet? Sure they do. All of these resources are present for everyone, White, Black, Latino et al. It's what you choose to do with these resources and how to make use of them that sets any one individual or group apart. There are plenty of African-Americans that understand the voting laws and, guess what? Go down and register to vote so they can vote on election day. Hell, it's more than just one day now. You can vote ahead of time.

I believe this is only discriminatory against those people who are either too lazy to get off their butts or are simply too stupid to be aware of the society around them. If you are more interested in watching the Kardashians than the nightly news, that's a 'your problem' issue. Once again we have someone or a group of someones pointing the finger at someone else blaming them for their own lack of knowledge and inaction. You're a victim only because you want to be and you're only way out and to feel better about yourself is to blame others.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A step away from forever

Our venture into a world away from home.

I see the shoreline, the water’s edge as it laps against the white sands once held only in my dreams. Long has it been since I have gazed upon the edge of the world in its vastness. The salt spray tickles my nose, its scent of ocean caressing shore is pungent as it lingers above that which locks me firmly within its grasp.

I step gingerly upon the oceans residue and feel its warmth upon my skin. I bury my toes deep and feel the grainy texture, soft as a mother’s touch. I stride more confidently out to the water’s edge. Nature’s touch again brings its caress as the lapping sea spills its white foam surrounding me for the briefest of moments before retreating again to the depths of a turquoise shelf.

We begin our sojourn, my Beloved and I along the banks of the world. We stride hand in hand as the cradle of the world’s life ebbs and flows around us. A tidal pool, lost from the ocean’s embrace as low tide abandons its child, simmers in the early morning sunlight. The waves push and pull across our feet beckoning us outward as though they were driven by God’s own breath.

The minuscule shells, remnants of a world unseen tumble their way up the shelf and ride back down again toward the bottom below. Their number uncountable, they splinter and crumble as they continue their never-ending journey upon the beach they will one day become. My tender skin protected from winter’s wrath by the tools of my trade, thick-soled boots and socks that bandage my skin have left me vulnerable to each step I take barefoot upon the world. I cringe with each step as their edges rake beneath my alabaster feet, the morning sun warm upon my shoulders ... and it is magnificent.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The band "Indie"

My Beloved and I were out again with friends last night. We took in a local watering hole that featured a band. It was a rocking good time into the evening with food and fuel ... okay, read that 'alcohol'. As we listened to the band, a foursome of gentlemen about my age I began to realize the similarities between what they do as musicians and what I do as an Indie author.

It occurred to me as I listened to well-crafted 80's classic rock tunes that rolled through the night air that I was hearing men who had long practiced their craft. I began to watch their fingers as they strummed across the strings of a bass guitar, the sticks that flew atop the drum skins and a voice that reverberated along the walls and ceilings of a packed house. These men had obviously practiced their craft for many years. They had developed a strong local following.

So what is it that keeps them doing it? They aren't going on tour or fronting for a world-famous band. Yet, how much less talented are they? My answer? They're not. They simply have worked their way through life with a passion they devoted themselves to. This passion took a second seat to families and jobs that payed the bills. So what's the difference?

The difference is being in the right place at the right time. It's about being discovered. There are thousands of talented groups just like this all over the country. That's what it's like to be an 'Indie author'. We live our lives and go to jobs that pay the bills. We strive with a deep passion to continue the work that drives us in the evening hours; the page of the written word. Authors and musicians face the same struggles. We are singular yet we number in the hundreds of thousands. We are mostly undiscovered and we await our time in the sun, when the cover is lifted off our work and the light of our talent beams across the stars of the known universe.

Like those who seek out new musical talent, I challenge readers to seek out indie authors you've not read before. You'll likely be surprised at the 'hidden' talent that has been smoldering below the surface just waiting to be discovered.

And just so you know ... the Jack ... is the band we rolled with last night.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Ghost Fleet, the current WIP

   With the recent release of Star Eagle Six, book one of my sci-fi series Home World, work is underway on book two of the series, Ghost Fleet. We'll see how it goes with the writing but I am tentatively shooting for a launch in early summer. 

I hope you enjoy this brief excerpt from Ghost Fleet.

          The darkness was offset by the two glistening moons as they paraded across the night sky, their light casting a shimmering cloak over the starlight behind them. Below, the charcoal colored buildings of Fleet Main absorbed the reflected light from the rare, twin full moons. Fleet Main was planted on the outskirts of Galway, the most populated city of New Caledonia. With it’s placement negotiated in the formative years of the Home World alliance it had become the central core of the defense of the alliance.
Admiral Duley Connor was doing his best to clean up his desk before he retired for the night, and things weren’t going well. He was the command lead for three of the nine Home World fleets, and his were the most successful. They often had the lead for the heaviest Lorilon engagements and his Third Fleet was currently in the midst of the fight. He hadn’t received transmissions from Stuart Joseph in over three days. He leaned back and tossed his pen on the desk.
“Damn him.” Duley Connor had a distinguished career running breakneck up the ranks. He flew by officers who had more experience, more connections. On his way up he learned to work the system but along the way, he’d changed. He looked out the wall of dark windows into the night, his office overlooking the central pools of the ringed courtyard. He could see his reflection against the dark sky. He pushed his fingers through his thinning silver hair. Those heady days of running up the ladder were gone. Somewhere along the line with the glad-handing and deal making he became more of a politician in a uniform than a leader of men.
He pushed himself away from his desk letting his tired gaze fall on the orange moon of Mourne, her rocky reflection in sharp contrast to her pale sister Gullion’s soft light. Joseph was stalling. He was sure of it.
“What the hell was he waiting for?” Connor asked himself aloud. “Because he ignored my direct order." A sharp knock on his partially opened door grabbed his attention, pulling his thoughts back into the room.
“What is it Mairead?” Duley turned his chair slightly, angling it toward his assistant. “I thought I told you to go home hours ago. It’s almost tomorrow.”
“I just needed to get some of my own work caught up too. Sir, a communique from Third Fleet, eyes only.”
“Really!”Duley’s eyes shot up in surprise. “Bout damn time!” He pushed himself away from his desk and stared at the huge com panel on the wall. The bottom of the glass screen was nearly pristine in its blackness except for the single red dot that pulsed twice in three second intervals. He was standing in front of the panel moments later. He placed his hand over the bio-sensor and the unit responded immediately.
“Connor, Duley. Authorization accepted.”
“Computer, open eyes only communication. Authentication alpha 3 zeta.”
Connor listened to the brief message in its entirety, his head down, his arms crossed. His longtime friend was hard to read even in person. A long distance communique made it even more difficult. As Joseph’s words fell away Duley reached out touching the now-black panel shutting it down. He turned and walked to the dark windows and looked up again to the celestial chariots racing across the night sky. Joseph was possibly the best fleet commander in the Alliance, his friend, but now, he had no choice.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A step in the right direction

I have not done this before with any ramble I have written, however with president Obama landing this day in Cuba, I though it would be appropriate to repost a ramble I wrote back in December of 2014. It is relevant to the day now more so than ever. 

...from December 2014

In my lifetime

I have lived in a world that has changed dramatically throughout my lifetime. I was born in the days of the Cold War. For you environmentalists, I'm not talking about the fight over global warming. The world war had ended only a decade before (give or take), and the world was divided into two camps. It was us versus them. It became a decades long struggle for territory and political gain. It took many years and thousands of lives before the game was settled, at least for some.

Fifty years has come and gone and a tiny island is cemented in the past. The lone satellite of Cuba has remained committed to its fervent revolution. Well, at least its leaders have. Fidel Castro has remained a thorn in the side of the most powerful nation in the world. And his people have suffered for it.

So what has changed? How has the foreign policy of the US tilted that nation away from its revolution? It hasn't. That's the point. It's always been said the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. Although I have no 'dog in the fight', this has always been a subject that has sparked my imagination. I fully understand there is a long line of Cuban nationals living in the US that will do everything in their power to fight the change in policy. I won't fault them for it.

What I will ask them to consider is this: where is the outrage of the Cuban people who still live on the island? Why is it the only ones objecting are the ex-pats and their families who are tucked away on US soil? Their outrage is at history. Fidel Castro and his regime is faltering. The island is changing right before his eyes; an agonizingly slow process, but it is a process nonetheless.

Where better to be than at the vanguard of this change? The US has been able to do little to the Cuban leaders other than to keep their people impoverished. It's time for a change. The change will take time. Not everything will happen overnight, or in a year, or even in a decade. But their revolution is grinding to a halt. Its legs have given way and all that will be left as the Castro brothers die is a vacuum to be filled by someone else.

If you want to effect change on a tiny island ninety miles off our shores, it seems the only way to do that would be to actually stand on the island, without a rifle in your hand. It's time the Cuban population who lives in the US swallow their hatred so they can help their people into this century.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mr. Irrelevent

Irrelevant: not applicable or pertinent
                having no value

In sports there is a term bestowed upon the last draft choice of the NFL. The tradition began in 1976 and has continued on. It is a sad term to place on someone who still has a fighting chance to continue his career in his chosen profession.

A more pertinent application of this term would be to bestow it upon the NIT basketball tournament. Many years ago it was considered the preeminent basketball post season finale and the winner was considered the defacto national champion. It wasn't until sometime in the 1960's that the NCAA tournament became the place to be. It has eclipsed the NIT and there is no looking back.

March Madness is a terrific time for fans of college basketball. It is the 64 or 68 (depending on your point of view) best college basketball teams in the country all vying for the national championship. So what has become of the NIT? It has become possibly the most irrelevant sporting event in America. I can think of no other event in sports, although I'm sure someone will tell me one) that has such little meaning. (Okay, I thought of one, the Pro Bowl).

I don't understand why it is played, other than another chance for money. The winner is essentially the seventieth best team in the country. What is that to celebrate? If you were in charge of the winning school, would you hang the NIT championship banner from your rafters? I sure wouldn't. Years ago they used to play a consolation game where the teams that lost to the two teams playing in the championship game fought it out for third and fourth place. Can you say, irrelevant? Yes. It was so irrelevant they no longer play the game.

I think it's time we retire the NIT or bestow on its winner the title of Most Irrelevant College Basketball Team of the year. They can then go on the Tonight Show, just as Mr. Irrelevant has done for years and relive their glory. Wouldn't that be fun?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


As someone who was brought up in a religious family, there is something I have always wondered about when it comes to those who hold the belief that there is not God or gods of the world. Since this is the Lenten season, I thought this ramble was rather apropos.

I have only known a couple people personally who proclaim themselves to this belief system although I know there are many more. I have heard them in the public forums; news, entertainment, social media and the like. My understanding is this is a belief that there is no God. I also realize a belief in a god or God as I know him is deeply personal. We may never in this life be able to prove one way or another that a spiritual omnipotent being is real or not. It is a matter of faith.

One characteristic of atheists I have found seems to be one of intelligence and compassion. I have never met a self-proclaimed atheist who is rather, how shall we say, dull. Most as well seem to have a caring spirit for others. So here is my conundrum; why would someone who has this belief have these qualities.

The world is often seen as being divided into the camps of good and evil. On the surface they are clearly defined lines. If one struggles to stay true to these camps based on their beliefs, it is obvious the reasons a religious person would strive for good; it is the promise of the afterlife, or heaven, or whatever that belief system entails. But what of atheists? I assume there are good atheists and bad atheists. If one is a 'bad' atheist he risks nothing as there is nothing at risk in the way one lives their life. But what of the 'good' atheist? Why is he/she a good person when there is no fundamental reason to be so?

With seemingly no consequences to their actions, why would someone of this belief reach out to others to help, be it the underprivileged, the homeless or anyone else? Would being an atheist lead one to be more self-centered than anyone else in the general populace? If so why not? There is no reason based on the natures of good and evil to be any other way. Is that not the driving force behind how people live their lives?

Perhaps the Lenten season will bring me some insight into this question, or perhaps someone will reach out to enlighten me. Either way I'm sure it is a question I will ponder from time to time.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


It is fair to say I have never been one of those guys who watch or follow basketball. It's just not my thing and really never has been. Of course being only 5'8, that might have something to do with it. But even before that when I was sure I would grow to a strapping 6'3, bball just wasn't something I was drawn to. Not sure why as I do like to participate in a variety of sports.

Within the last week or so the NBA had their All Star game. (I didn't watch). The only time in the past few years I have seen any NBA action is the Christmas Day game and that is because we visit family who has the game up on the tube. (I guess tube is a little dated. Perhaps I should say screen. Okay, screen it is. However 'boob screen' just doesn't have the same ring to it).

The day after the game I tuned in my sports radio show on my drive into work. All I heard was talk about the game and a certain retirement looming over the sport. Although I know the sport and the major participants, I've never understood the culture that surrounds it. I listened to the hosts and it was nothing but a couple guys that sounded like they were 'wanna-bees'. I wanna be part of that culture. It was basketball slang and a show not suited to a general sports audience.

Now I know I'm an old guy but listening to two guys try and sound hip to that world just didn't live up to how I wanted my morning to start. Unfortunately there isn't much on the radio these days that holds my interest. It was a long ride into work that day ...

And don't even get me started on the 'sneaker' thing that ties into the basketball world.  How someone needs +$200 pairs of sneakers every time another 'star' puts out a new set is ridiculous. Are there really 125 different sets of Air Jordans through the years?

I just don't get it ...

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A day of love and loss

It has now been three years this Valentine's Day that a voice that eloquently graced these pages fell silent. To readers of this blog, you know him best as North of 50. To myself and my family, he was the keystone of our family, the one in the middle that seemed to hold us all together.

To that end, this holiday has become bitter-sweet for many of us. We see the primping and gift-giving that surrounds us this February 14th. We long to reach out to our loved ones and embrace them with the love, fun and frivolity that Valentine's Day has come to symbolize. But for my family it is tinged with sadness at my brother's passing. His children that have come together as couples feel the pang of loss on this day.

For me, it is something I have been able to begin to look past. Nothing will ever take away his memory, his smile, his intellect. But my life and the life of his children must move forward. It is the natural way of things. Some may think that harsh. I do not. We were raised in a religious family. Death though sad, was also a celebration of God and his calling of a soul home to heaven.

So why do I write this post? For me it is a way to reach out to my nieces and nephews and family that called Don father and uncle, that they may themselves begin to again embrace this holiday as a celebration of their love for each other. My brother celebrated family like none other. Family is everything to him. Know that each of you now should embrace again the spirit of this holiday and turn your hearts away from loss and remember his embrace shall be with you always. His life was about celebration, a celebration that continues until that day when we all embrace him again in God's love.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Man's Man

As one slides along on our blue marble ones perspectives tend to change over time. That is a natural occurrence, at least I would hope so. Not only does society change and evolve but so does its stereotypes of what we as people should become. At the end of it all, we are who we think we should become.

My world is not the world of my father or my father's father. They lived in different times and had different struggles. But I ask myself, what do we have in common? I would classify my father as a 'man's man', but his world is not my world. Although times and attitudes change, I find myself asking what does it mean to be a man in this world? In my opinion, it means to be well-rounded. So, what does that mean? It means a man isn't stuck in a single world. He has evolved through experiences and is adaptable to be able to fit into many worlds.

We all live in our own world built by our experiences. One is not necessarily any better or worse than another, but why would one limit themselves to only one set of experiences? Why can't the man who grew up farming the land not feel like he could attend an opera in New York City and fit the circumstances? And in reverse, why couldn't a big city man feel relatively at home in the mountains of Tennessee? That's what I mean by someone who has grown into his own and become a man's man.

As I began to ponder this existence I started jotting down a list of many of those things I believe every man should experience in his life. Now, this is not an all-encompassing list and I will surely add to it as I continue my walk through this life with My Beloved.

Love a dog; bury a dog.
Learn to play a musical instrument
Be in a play or theater event
Build something completely from scratch
Renovate or refurbish something
Witness a birth
Swim in an ocean
Pilot a plane (even if it's just for a few seconds)
Change parts on a car
Play a competitive team sport
Help a child with their homework
Explore a cave
Hike a trail
Sleep outside in a tent under the stars with a child just for fun
Learn to dance
Learn to fly-fish
Grow a beard or a mustache
Learn to drive a stick-shift
Help someone who could never pay you back

These are just some of the things that would give a man a wide-ranging set of experiences and broaden his perspectives on the world. And a note, I have not yet done all these things. Some I may never have the opportunity to do. We'll see. I hope my future is not so limited.

Many people have their own thoughts as to what it means to be a man. To be a man is to be confident in one's own skin without being abjectly arrogant. These are my thoughts, ever evolving as they are.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Home World Series

When one has been writing as long as I have, over twenty-five years actually, one starts out with a clear vision in mind of where you want to go. Over time, the future wanders in the mind's eye. The majority of my work has been in the fantasy genre. As a matter of fact, the project after Star Eagle Six is revisiting book three of the Last Elf Prophesy series.

I have always felt there is a kindred spirit between the fantasy and sci-fi genres. Many who read one often read the other. So to that end, I proudly introduce the first novel of a new sci-fi series, Star Eagle Six. It is now available for purchase at Star Eagle Six,

   The vastness that surrounds me is beyond my measure. I stare into the void safely tucked away within my cocoon, that which shelters me from the cold expanse of the universe. It is my only salvation. I stare blankly at the panel before me strung with instruments that are nothing but a memory. They call out their song but I do not recognize their words.
   The warmth of the yellow star that illuminates my cockpit falls away leaving me in cold shadow. I am a stranger to this space. My memory fails. I have no recollection of the events that have brought me to this point, this time. My future is a canvas as blank as my past. What is to happen to me? Where am I to go? Should this ship be my coffin or my salvation? I remember, I am at war ... Star Eagle Six, is anyone out there?

I sincerely hope everyone who reads this book truly enjoys it. Writers put their heart into every word penned (or typed) onto the paper. It's what we do. Every book should be an experience for the reader and I hope you truly enjoy this experience.