Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wanted...New Neighbor


We knew they were moving, out neighbors at the end of the street. It wasn't until today that I saw the "For Sale" sign. I guess it's official.

Forty five years ago my parents bought some land and we began to build a house. After my father past away a few years later, my mom literally "lived off that land." She sold building lots incrementally to keep herself and her three children fed, clothed and sheltered. The first lot we sold was bought by the Seeley family and they built the home now for sale.

The Seeleys lived there for several years. Eventually they moved and sold it to the current owners who have probably lived there for almost thirty years.

So, here's an announcement letting everyone know that if they wish to live on the side of a mountain with incredible sunsets and the occasional sound of tigers roaring from Lagoon, now's your chance!

Believe it or not, my system of picking my neighbors has proved quite successful. I'm personally responsible to choosing three of our immediate neighbors. Thanks to my meddling, the neighbors to the north and south and across the street were told those homes were going up for sale before anyone else knew. The eventual owners had an advantage in the home-buying process. Hopefully they're pleased with their homes and as having us as their neighbors.

And so, you too can join our little slice of heaven on the side of a mountain! If you're interested, the phone number to call (sorry it's hard to see in the photo...) is: 801.451.5290. I have no idea what they're asking or the condition of the home, but I can tell you, their lawn is so well maintained--it's beautiful.

If you want more info, let me know. Come on! Check it out! Buy the house! Be our neighbors! It'll be fun!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Out With The Old, In With The New...Boat


Some things change--some do not. As time goes on, it seems everything eventually changes. Volkswagen gave us a new Beetle, Coca-Cola has tampered with it's product for years, and now the need to change has reached the Boy Scouts Raingutter Regatta.

I guess it was inevitable. 


Though, I must say, I do like the new design. Gone is the block of balsa wood with a stick and a sail. Now the youngsters can build their own balsa catamarans. Basically, instead of one block of wood, they now have two blocks of wood.


This morning I gave my son an assignment. I drew lines on the wood where he needed to remove with a sander (that was conveniently included in the box...). I got back from the play this afternoon and saw that my son had completed his assignment and he did a great job.


Together we finished sanding the wood, then we attached the plastic boat body and we painted it gold. I told my son that our color choices were limited to whatever colors we had in the basement. Since we had gold, gold did just fine.

The big race is Tuesday night. It'll be interesting to see the creative designs the little tykes (or their fathers...) come up with. I say, bring it on!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Ten Books That Stayed With Me...A Facebook Activity

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For those of us on Facebook and other social media sites, there are times when friends as you to participate in various "activities." For the most part, I find myself unasked, which isn't too bad a situation to be in.

But a couple of my literary friends asked if I would participate in a activity that asked to name 10 books that have stayed with me. The tagger then listed 10 of his books and asked several others to do the same.

Easy I thought...

Turns out, not so much!

Ever since I went back to school a few years ago, I have not only fallen in love (all over again...) with reading, but it seems to consume my day. I'm fortunate to be able to listen to audiobooks while I'm at work. On a good week I can finish two or three novels--unless, of course, they're a Brandon Sanderson story.

I got the challenge in the morning and put it off until later, but when it came down to choosing just ten books, it's a difficult proposition. Some of my choices were not my "favorite of all time" books, but I found myself thinking about the stories and the effect they had on me.

Here are my ten (in no particular order...) and I can honestly say each one of them changed me.

Peace Like A River
Les Miserable
To Kill A Mockingbird
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance
Captain Nemo
The Stand
Creativity, Inc.
Gods And Generals
Seabiscuit
The Devil And White City

* Photo use without permission from: http://willvaus.blogspot.com/2012/01/c-s-lewis-top-ten.html

Thursday, August 28, 2014

College Football Begins Today! Happy Day! Oh...Happy Day!


Can I tell you that I'm having a fantastic day? At work today I realized that today was just one of those days when everything aligned like a harmonic convergence. First of all, once the workday was over, a 4-day weekend begins. Second, I'm going to submit a short story to my publisher this weekend. Third, it's payday, and fourth (and perhaps most important...), 

College Football Begins Today!

All these things made my workday a much more pleasant experience!


I know, I'm a sucker for my team. It's where I graduated with my first degree. I rooted for them when they during the terrible years and I reveled in the wins when they were one of the best teams in the nation--twice they were the best team in the nation, based on theirs---and everyone else's record.


Sure, they've had a couple of losing seasons, and they may break my heart again this year, but considering they're playing some of the country's best competition, I'll take it. After all, I'm still a sucker for the underdog (Go Wildcats!).


It's just after halftime and the Utes are rolling, 42-7 and one day, they'll do this against the best the Pac-12 has to offer. That may take years, but as for me on this beautiful August evening, I'm a happy man and a Utah Man!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Craig Nybo's Gangrene Film Festival...An Event Of Awesomeness!

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 (click to enlarge picture)

The Gangrene Film Festival 

In two days an event takes place, in a town surrounded by towering mountains and a big stinky lake. People will gather, children will stare in wonder, adults will cry tears of joy and all involved will be moved on a basic level--for this weekend marks the return of the Gangrene Film Festival to Layton, Utah.


It's safe to say that without Craig Nybo there would be no Gangrene Film Festival. I heard about the festival years ago and since I've never gone, I knew the people behind it must have a sense of humor I would appreciate. Earlier this year I met Mr. Nybo, someone I should have gotten to know a long time ago. Had I done so, my life would have been much more enriched--enriched with entertainment, creativity, and friendship.

A few months ago I asked Craig about the Gangrene Film Festival and a possible artistic collaboration. The man's eyes lit up and he spoke of it as a proud father would of his child. He got me so excited to join in on the phone, but as it happens so often, obstacles have been placed in my path that prevents me from attending this year's edition.

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So, if you're around and want to have some kick-butt entertainment as well as hearing from many brilliant authors and creative types, please check it out! You can access their website: HERE and click the top picture for details. 

The Gangrene Film Festival--It's Infectious! 

(sorry...)

* Photos used without permission from: http://www.gangreneproductions.com/festivals/

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Salt Lake Comic Con Schedule...Sept 2014 Edition

(click to enlarge picture)

It's almost here! The 2nd Annual Salt Lake Comic Con is only a week away! I have been asked to participate on four panels. Here's my schedule:

(click picture to enlarge schedule)

There's some interesting panels for me this time around. Geek parenting? Steampunk, Cyberpunk and Punk Rock?  A roundtable discussion of long-form storytelling? Structuring life to support creativity? I mean, how great is that? Answer--very great!

This event still blows my mind! This edition is slated to be even bigger than the FanX Comic Con held last April and that one was epic! I'm both excited and honored to be a part of what will be the state's largest convention and could possibly be the country's largest Comic Con. That would be cool!

So, if you're going, please stop by a panel and say "hi" or drop by our author table. I'll be with some of the most amazing authors our fine state has to offer, all under Dave Butler's Banner of Awesomeness! Look for his author table--I should be there.


I can't wait! 

Oh, and I hope it's okay to (very poorly...) photoshop my mug among the other guests this Con has to offer. If not, I'll make the changes.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Brandon Sanderson's "The Way Of Kings"...Thoughts On A Big Book

7235533*

I've come to the conclusion that I will probably not read every book Brandon Sanderson writes, which, considering how long it takes to write a 1000+ page book, I should be able to keep up. Unless, of course, if the man can write faster than a normal person can read. Then there's no hope for any of us.

I've read a few of Sanderson's books, which is like saying I've seen a few Michael Caine films. My favorite Sanderson book (so far...) is Steelheart. Today I finished all 45+ hours of Sanderson's audiobook The Way Of Kings, Book One of The Stormlight Archive. Folks--that's a lot of reading, or in my case, reading pleasure.

One thing I've found out about myself that when I listen to an audiobook epic fantasy novel, I quickly get lost--mostly with the characters. When I read a book, my eyes can identify the different characters (even though in my mind I'm always mispronouncing their names...). I can also go back and read a paragraph or a page of text if I feel like I'm getting lost. I suppose I can do that with the audible version--it's just not as convenient.

Needless to say, there were several times when I didn't know what was going on, but I kept going, kept listening until the very last word. And why?

Because I like the way Brandon Sanderson writes. 

He's so good that even when I'm lost, I still want to listen and by the end of the work, I know what's going on (even though much of the stuff between the book covers went in one ear and out the other...).

I know this is a series with many many chapters in the story to come. Will I read them all? I hope so, but of course, there's always that "Mr. Sanderson writes faster than I can read" issue.

* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7235533-the-way-of-kings?from_search=true

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cap't Monkey And Tooele Boy And The Unusual Contraption...A Short Story





Weekly Writing Challenge!

I think I've skipped a couple of weeks doing the weekly writing challenge. I need to get back into it so I can try and keep those creative fires burning.

And, it's been even longer since I utilized two of my favorite characters in a weekly writing challenge so I think I'll bring them back! And if you'd like to give this little challenge a try, here are the rules:

1) Use the above photo in your story along with five randomly chosen words.
2) Keep your word count 500 or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday night to link up your story.
4) Use the Blue Link to add your story at: Leanne's, Debb's or Tena's websites.
5) Have fun, don't stress, and let those creative juices flow!

This week's random words are:

Magician
System
Tour
Mint
Birthday

And so, the odyssey continues!

Cap't Monkey And Tooele Boy 
And The Unusual Contraption

"I say, Cap't Monkey," Tooele Boy exclaimed as the two meandered toward a city park. "What on earth is that contraption?"

"About which contraption do you speak? I see several confusing items that I imagine might cause you confusion." Cap't Monkey surveyed the green grass, the people involved in various sporting activities, and the numerous shops that lined the park.

"That's very true," Tooele Boy said with a chuckle. "But the object in question is that large rope and wood structure situated in the middle of the park. For the life of me, I can't understand what its purpose could be."

Cap't Monkey stopped walking. "That's an interesting question. The object could be anything. I think we should come closer in order to properly investigate." They crossed the lawn to the curious object. Tooele Boy had a million questions he wanted to ask, but previous experience with the captain taught him it was better for the man to think things through.

After a moment, Cap't Monkey spoke. "Let's see...what have we here? The shape resembles a chicken coop of some kind. Of course, it would take a magician to create a chicken that large. The rope system reminds me of my time at sea during , specifically the epic Disneyworld Tour of '96."

"Ah, yes. I remember reading about your awful bout of scurvy in the subsequent year's medical journals."

"Indeed, my friend--not as glamorous as it sounds."

Tooele Boy nodded in agreement. "Cap't Monkey, look!" The men watched as a small girl approached the contraption, then proceeded to climb higher and higher on the rope ladder until she reached the top after which she then sat on the topmost log and screamed at the top of her lungs, "Yay me! I did it! I climbed to the top! It's my best birthday ever!"

Both men stood in place, shocked at the turn of events that unfolded before them. Finally Cap't Monkey turned to his companion and said, "There you have it, my friend. The child answered your question just as a mint fly can detect unripe vegetables in a garden. What you see before you is a child's birthday throne. They're quite popular in Malaysia."

"Is there anything you don't know, Cap't Monkey?"

"I'm sure there is, Tooele Boy...I'm sure there is."

Word Count: 393

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Some Thoughts On A Thirty-Year High School Reunion...


We arrived late due to traffic and not reading the schedule. We missed the pre-meal mingle. I recognized some right away. Jim, for example, must have found the elixir that eluded Ponce de Leon. The rest of us vary in the effect the ravages of time have had on us. 


They led our party to a table. We ate as a slideshow looped on a screen in front of the room with images of days long past. I scanned the room and recognized some, others I had no clue who they were, but one thing I did notice...we all looked--well, for lack of a better term, a little broken. Not broken as in "doesn't work," but broken as in kind of beat up.


Some of us have gone through broken dreams, and broken bodies, and probably most have experienced broken hearts--not how a teenager would understand the term, but how those who have lived and worried about a sick child, or wondered how the mortgage would be paid or experienced the day-to-day events that come with age would define "a broken heart." And even though we seemed to all have a good time, I think many would admit that they were a little tired.


After dinner we played a game (or some of us did...), but mostly we reminisced and spoke to each other as memories churned from the depths of our experiences and reminded us just how long it has been. From each corner of the room came laughter as we got to know each other again. I had SO many good friends in those days, so many times we sat in classes and attended games and plays and concerts, all in a building that no longer exists.


Against a wall stood a row of tables on which were placed objects that held so much importance to many of us during our tenure as students of Davis High School. Lettermen and cheerleader jackets, a set of pom-poms, but at the end of the table were flowers and a video screen showing the faces of friends no longer with us. Their smiles bring a sense of melancholy, but one face in particular is haunting.



As the night ebbed, we said our goodbyes. I spoke to many, but not everyone. I tried to thank those who put in the hard work so the rest of us would have a good time. To be honest, before the reunion I was a little nervous about going, but as we walked from the Timberline Steakhouse in Ogden, Utah, to our car in the parking lot I was glad I came and glad my wife was able to come with me. It did, however, make me wish more of those good friends from decades past could have been there and had a good time, too.

video

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cleaning Out The Gutters...



Okay, so this is not a picture of our rain gutters (of course, there's a little bit of the home's roof on the left...), and this is not a picture of what we cleared out of the gutters today, but it does show something. Today it took our family an hour or so to clean out all the pesky pine needles out of our rain gutters.

The other day we bought a power washer attachment we thought might work to clean out the gutters. I had my doubts that it would work because the pine needles that migrate and end up in the gutters are so long! And when you get hundreds and thousands bunched up, they don't want to go anywhere and they're so thick, the water just pools and ends up flowing over the top of the gutters.

But when I fired up the power washer this morning, it did a pretty good job of blasting the darn things out of the gutter. I ran into trouble when I couldn't reach the far end of the house. The pressure just couldn't cut it. I ended up climbing out on roof and finishing the job up there.

I'm not a fan of heights. In short, I avoid them. The east side of hour hose is only one story up. Lucky for us, that's where most of the needed settle and I've cleaned out that side several times. The west side of the house, however, it's higher. I've only been on that side of the house once or twice in the past eleven years.

The entire process took about an hour and it involved the entire family. I hope the kids will remember today, remember when we cleared out the rain gutters. Hopefully will be using our new found washer each year so I'll be able to do it by myself. And when they think back on today, I hope they remember that it was kind of fun.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Still Geek-ed Out By Technology...The Peter Pan YouTube Video


 When I consider the the technology of today, I can't help but think about how my dad would have LOVED to be living right now. From the stories I've heard, he was a "techie" before there was a term. I mean, the man built our TV, for crying out loud.



And when I think about just how much of impact one person with a phone and a computer can have on the entire planet, it's overwhelming.



So, what does this have to do with pictures of Captain Hook, Smee, and pirates? Our local theater is putting on Peter Pan and a few of the actors got together and in a few hours using an smartphone and a computer, created three little stories/advertisements.



You should watch the YouTube video! The link is: HERE. I thought they had used a nice camera (not that cameras on phones these days aren't nice...), but I was surprised when I found out they filmed it all on a phone.


If my dad were around today, I think he'd absolutely love what can be done!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ken Sanders...A Rare Book Store


Maybe it’s because bookstores are disappearing off the face of the earth, but when I come across a used bookstore, some of them resemble an abandoned church, or a place of worship that’s fallen in need of repair. Last week I visited such a building, a temple of knowledge.


Just off of State Street in downtown Salt Lake City you’ll find Ken Sander’s Bookstore. It's a rare find for rare books. The place is packed with literature, and other oddities. You walk the aisles and books seem to be so packed together, you fear the my spring from the shelves.


I picked up a Zane Grey book, not the ones printed in the 1920s and 1930s (those were too expensive...), but a newer one. I've never read a Zane Grey novel so now's my chance.


If you're in downtown Salt Lake, to go to 2nd East between 2nd South and 3rd South--you'll see it. But, I've heard that they might have to move, so you'd better hurry!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Beginning of..."The Compassionate"

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Sometimes there's a story sitting somewhere in your brain that keep gnawing at you, bugging you until you pull out the computer and start typing. I have a problem that there's a lot of these little stories currently in my mind. This afternoon I decided to start on on of them. 

What will happen with this? I have no idea. But I do need to start a new project. Here's the first couple of hundred words.

The Compassionate


Jason turned to face the quiet monitor as he waited for the alert he knew was coming. After all, in a city of four million people some of then had to have died overnight. Jason didn’t receive notifications of every death in the city; his were narrowed to a specific group. He was not notified of murders, of suicides or the death of any child.

Actually, if the victim were under the age of sixty-five, the alert would be routed to someone else. No, Jason’s assignment—his job—was to deal with the passing of the aged, a job that was practically non-existent in the modern world in which Jason lived.
           
He finished his breakfast, a mixture of soybean and nuts at the kitchen counter of his small downtown Boise apartment. Through the walls Jason heard the electronic existence of his neighbors. The air around Jason lacked the external noise of a world fighting for recognition. To his knowledge, Jason was the only one who chose to live pretty much digital-free, his only piece of electronic communications equipment (aside from his phone) was his home’s Comm unit, and the only reason he had one of those was because the law required it.

A pleasant ping echoed in the small room (that tripled as his kitchen, dining room and living room) notifying the occupant of his next job.

“Please identify,” the computerized woman’s voice spoke its gentle order as the screen on the Comm fired up.

“Jason Tipton,” the twenty-seven year old said as he finished his meal. After a pause the machine responded.

“Jason. You have a 10 a.m. appointment to meet with the family of Karl Preston at 145 S Sycamore Drive. Directions from your location have been downloaded to your phone. Mr. Preston expired at 2:37 a.m. this morning. Please notify your superior if you have any questions and/or concerns.”

The voice died and the screen shut off allowing Jason to see his reflection in the darkened glass.

“10 a.m.,” he said to no one. “They must be anxious to meet with me. I wonder how much money’s on the line with this one?” And the location, Jason thought. That’s not a senior facility. After working five years as an End Of Life Compassionate, he knew every location that housed the elderly in the city. It had been years since he got a call from a private residence. Suddenly his “normal” workday was becoming anything but.

* Photo used without permission from: http://lifenews.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/elderlypatient16.jpg

Monday, August 18, 2014

Did You Know There Were Two Red Iguanas?


There are always a few places to eat that rise above the rest. Where I live, one of these restaurants is The Red Iguana. I’ve blogged about this particular eatery before, but it wasn’t until today that I learned there are not one, but two restaurants bearing that name. Today I had lunch with my department at The Red Iguana 2.


The place is great, with stellar service and wonderful food, at least the Chile Verde Platter I had was delicious! We gathered to wish our current boss on her new adventure and to welcome her replacement. If you've been to the other Red Iguana, this place lis arranged quite different. It's an open space, a single room. Of course, if you're hungry, the space doesn't matter that much.


I don’t know how long The Red Iguana 2 has been around, but I’m pretty sure that the people waiting in line for a table at The Red Iguana 1 probably don’t know there’s another fantastic restaurant serving the same food only a block and a half away.


And where else can you enjoy delicious food all under the watchful eye of Salvador Dali?