Sunday, April 30, 2017

Toby...Lives...Again!


Yes, Toby lives!

Disclaimer: I apologize if anyone reading this knows someone (or, in this case, something...) be it pet or person named "Toby" that has passed on, or stopped functioning. My proclamation that Toby lives is limited only to our little Roomba.

Now that that's out of the way, let me introduce you to Toby. Toby is the nickname given to our Roomba motorized floor cleaning system given by Toby's previous owners.

A few months ago my wife and I seriously considered buying a self-propelled robot vacuum unit. We were looking at new models, and boy--are they pricey! We weighed the pros and cons and ultimately, we decided not to get one. It was hard to justify the cost. We have a perfectly-operating vacuum. 

And like other things we've once wanted but changed our minds, the shine on the item faded with time, and we realized we really didn't want it that much after all. That is, until I just happened to stop at a yard sale in our little town about three weeks ago.

"Hey, you've got a Roomba," I said to the family selling their things. "My wife and I were looking to buy one of these, but we never did."

"That's Toby," the woman-of-the-house told me. She then explained that Toby was a gift given to her family by a friend named Toby. They had Toby for eighteen years, and a few years ago, Toby just stopped working.


"And how much are you charging for us to give Toby a new home?" I asked.

"Oh, everything on that table's free."

"Excuse me?"

"Yeah, we're just getting rid of this stuff. You can have it."

"Okay, we'll take Toby," I told them. I gathered up Toby in my arms (complete with his accessories...) and put him in the car. We now had an early-model Roomba. I brought him home, plugged him in, and waited for the battery to charge. Once the Power button changed from Red to Green, I crossed my fingers and pushed the Clean button.

We got nothing. It appeared Toby had given up the ghost. We tried it a few more times with the same result. I almost took Toby and put him in the bin. That is, until I googled replacement batteries and found them rather reasonable. I PayPaled $30 for a new battery and a week or so later, it arrived. Once again, I charged the battery, waiting for Red to change to Green, then hit the Clean button.

This time, success!

Toby lives!

We watched transfixed as the little unit criss-crossed our front room and kitchen, gobbling up unwanted stuff along the way. Yes, if you want a robot floor cleaning system, but are a little gun shy about pulling that "buying new" trigger, you too may be lucky enough to happen upon a free IRobot that only needs a new battery. I mean, it could happen again...maybe.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Not The Best Weekend To Be Without Heat...


It's generally known that the weather in the Intermountain West can sometimes be unpredictable (except every year people seem to forget that fact...). Case in point, it snowed at our house yesterday, not much, but snow nonetheless.

Not a good time to be without heat.

The day before the late April storm hit, we got our furnace checked. Turns out there were a couple of cracks in the system and it needs to be fixed. The problem is, the repairman won't have the parts until after the weekend. Normally, having the heat off a few days before the beginning of May isn't an issue. That's not the case this year.


Another plus to our situation is the home itself. We designed it to allow a flood of winter sunlight in. If the sun were out yesterday, the house would have warmed right up. Clouds prevented that. Today we had sun and things got better. Hopefully, the same thing will happen tomorrow and each day until the furnace is fixed. Of course, by then we could be in the 80s and we'd have no need for the furnace.

Several months ago we were getting hammered by telemarketers selling solar panels. They called almost daily. What I should have told them when they called is what my wife said when she and I discussed all the calls. I should have said that we already have solar heat in our house. Too bad, but after we came up with that undeniable excuse, the calls stopped.

Typical.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Another One Bites The Dust...


I've often wondered what it was like for my father growing up. Unfortunately, he passed away when I was young, too young to consider philosophical questions. I didn't realize when he passed just how much I would miss him as I got older.

But if I had the opportunity to talk to him, I'd ask what it was like to grow up during the depression, flying combat missions over Germany, and watching the world literally transform in his lifetime. My dad only made it to his fiftieth year, but boy--what an amazing half century that was. He saw cars that went from Model Ts to super race cars, from biplanes to watching men walk on the moon.

I've often wondered if I'd ever experience something like that, watching life evolve before my eyes. All you have to do is look and you'll realize, you're seeing life evolve all the time.

The latest example, another local business is closing. This is not one of those new-ish, slick auto mechanic garages where everything's clean, and the people behind the desk that take your money have clean fingernails. 

Nope.

This business, Haugens Auto Body in Farmington, Utah, is none of those things, which is what make it so special. It's what gives it its charm. And today, was the body shop's last day in operation. From what I understand, the shop and its surrounding area will be transformed into dwellings for a new generation of Farmingtonites.

The city is changing, as are we all. It's getting bigger (as are we all...). It's getting, well...more complicated. There's traffic lights, zones where you can't park unless you live in the area, more people, more pets, more joggers, walkers, and people on bikes. I close my eyes and I see the old Farmington A/G, the old library, the old Trailside, the old Tom Boy Café. I remember the the siren blaring from the old fire station at 7pm on Wednesday night to signal a fire drill. I remember the old Farmington Elementary that was torn down when they built the new one a half mile away. I remember Miller Floral where Farmington Jr. High now sits. I remember the old bakery across the street from the cemetery.

Every one of those buildings (except for the old fire station, which is now a museum...) is gone, replaced in the name of progress. Don't get the wrong idea--I'm not anti-progress. Most of those buildings, if they weren't torn down, they would have fallen down by now. It's just every one of us, at some point, comes to realize that you can never go back.

And, after today, you can add Haugens to that long (and expanding...) list.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Yeah, Ah...We Tried Finding The Problem, But It Worked Fine For Us


I'm taking in the Pontiac tomorrow morning. There's a recall and the dealership will fix that for free. They'll be working on the passenger-side airbag. It needs replacing.

"Hey," I asked the customer service rep when I called in to make the appointment. "Do you think when they're working on that airbag, they mechanics could check out a problem I'm having with my dashboard fan?"

"I'll check," was her reply.

Several years ago I began hearing a clicking sound coming from the right side of my dashboard. It was not something I could ignore--the clicking was loud. I did a Google search and it's not a good sign when you type in "dashboard clicking" and the make and model of your car and there are several links that pop up. Apparently, my car isn't the only one with this problem.

There's a quick solution--click the Recirculation Button right under the A/C button. The fan that allows outside air into the car is broken. As long as you don't need fresh air, you never have to get that fixed. And, from what I read, the broken fan is near or behind the passenger-side airbag. I thought, as long as they're going to be tearing apart the dash, might as well check out the noise.

So, after years of the annoying clicking, I'm finally going to get it looked at and possibly fixed.

Of course, what if it suddenly started to work? Highly unlikely, or is it?

As I left work today, I switched from Heat mode to Cool mode. Doing this un-clicks the Recirculation Button and the clicking begins. Only this time, as I drove out of the parking lot, no clicking.

Uh oh.

What if I took it in and the problem wasn't there? That ever happen to you? Have you ever told the mechanic exactly what is wrong and when you pick up your car they say they couldn't get it do to what you said? I'll bet mechanics hear that a lot. And I'm sure they want to find/fix the problem--it means more $$ for them.

Don't worry--after a few seconds the clicking continued, so all is well because all is not well. It will be interesting to see if they can find it, how much it will cost to fix it. If it's too much, I might just be driving the car home on Recirculate anyway.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Is It Doodling At Church...Or Graffiti?


Last Sunday, while at church, I looked over and noticed a kid start to draw on a chalkboard next to where he sat. I didn't know what he was drawing, but I soon found out. When he took his hand away from his little doodle, I saw it was the logo for my alma mater. 

Bright kid.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the culture, to some this kid's drawing represents pure evil. Okay, maybe that's a little harsh. Then again, the way some people look at things, yes...to them, it's pure evil. You see, our religion has a church-owned university, several, in fact, but the biggest is Brigham Young University. 


This boy drew the drum and feather logo for the University of Utah.

Both school were founded by Brigham Young. Both schools have a majority of Mormon students. Both schools have good reputations as quality schools for higher education. There are other similarities, I'm sure, but for many, the two schools are very very different. They (sometimes...) compete for sport supremacy and bragging rights. And the fact that this kid drew the logo for the school not owned by the church during a church meeting makes someone watching either smile, or want to go over and erase the doodle forever. 

I'm probably oversimplifying things. It's likely most people were in neither camps and didn't even see the drawing. But to those of us who did notice and who have clearly chosen a side in this holy war, it was like seeing a gang sign, or a graffiti tag in your part of town.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Watching "Oliver," On My Daughter's Birthday, With Her On Stage...




Last night I had the opportunity to watch an excellent production of Oliver at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre. And to make the night even better, my daughter was in the show. And to improve things even more, it was her birthday.

The show marks an important milestone for my daughter. She was cast as an adult, or more specifically, she was cast as a non-child. My daughter looks younger than she actually is, and it made her day when she found out she would not be an orphan, or one of the street kids. They even gave her a solo, which she rocked (my bias is duly noted...).


The show was wonderful. The leads had amazing voices which were only matched by their acting abilities. It was a first-rate production. And I challenge you to find a meaner-looking/acting Bill Sikes than Silas Stott. Good luck, is all I have to say.

The show runs until May 13th and my daughter's in the Mon/Wed/Fri cast, but both casts are stacked with talent--a bad show you will not see.

Sharing the theatrical experience with my daughter was a blast. Since my birthday falls during the winter holidays and I've done a lot of Christmas shows, I've spent many a birthday on stage in front of an audience. At the theatre last night I told everyone I knew that it was my daughter's birthday. I don't know if it enriched their experience, but I didn't care. I was a proud papa.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Got To Admit...I'm With Stu J On This One


Okay, I admit it--I've been taking note of the NBA playoffs. In the past several years, I've casually watched the scores, and even caught part of a game or two. But things are different this year. There's a new kid in town, and he is woefully misnamed for his environment.

He's the Utah Jazz.

I haven't really followed the Jazz religiously since the days of Stockton, Malone, Hornacek, and Coach Sloan. The reason why is simple.

They broke my heart.

Yes, I was all in back in the day (it's hard to believe those NBA finals years were twenty years ago...). And why not? The team was spectacular. They were a joy to watch, and we in the smallest NBA market got spoiled. We thought our mountain men were so good, they could be world champions, not once, but twice. 

Too bad it didn't work out. Seems there was a team of city men who were even better.

As Game 4 of the best of seven series between the Jazz of Utah and the Clippers of Los Angeles, tom relieve some of the tension of watching the game, I occasionally check the social networks to see what others are saying, and I found a simple tweet by someone using the handle Stu J to perfectly sum up how I feel when it comes to my relationship to the Utah Jazz.

"STOP IT JAZZ. STOP MAKING ME CARE AGAIN."

Getting emotionally attached to anything comes with a price, be it a partner, a pet, a favorite television show, and even a professional sports team. As this past basketball season progressed, the question for our local team would not be if they would make the playoffs, but would they get home court advantage. Not bad for a team shut out the past few years. I thought, "Good for them!" I considered making the playoff would translate to a successful year, even if they lose in the first round, or get swept.

Then, the Jazz go win Game 1.

And that changed everything.

Yes, even if they lose the series it will be a successful year, but this reminds me of a saying by Homer Simpson. He lamented, "Professional athletes, always wanting more." The same could be said for fans of those same athletes--we're always wanting more as well.

How will this conclude? What's the end game? It's simple--the team either wins a world championship, or they don't. If they do, the fan rejoice and all is right with the world. If they don't the true fans will hurt, but look forward to next year. Others will turn their back, vowing never to trust again. I wonder, when the season's over, what Stu J will do... 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Fyrecon...What Are You Doing This June?


This summer, those in the Intermountain West will have the opportunity to attend a convention, something new, something exciting. This thing's got the potential to be epic. Introducing 

Fyrecon, Writing and Art Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy

Each convention I've attended (and it hasn't been that many...) has been established. They've been around for years and the have the advantage of knowing what happened at their events the year before which helps them prepare for the one ahead. With Fyrecon, since it's the convention's first year, there's a big unknown.

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And I'd be worried about that if it weren't for the people organizing it and the people attending. The line-up for this event is first-rate. There will be New York Times Bestselling authors, editors, as well as incredibly talented artists, and experts on many different subjects.

From the presenters I know personally, I can tell you they love interacting with the public, answering questions about the craft, and offering advise whenever they can. I foresee this convention offering attendees an excellent chance to really interact with both the presenters and other convention-goers.

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You can get all the information: HERE including class schedules, a list of presenters, times, and costs with updates being added as new developments arise. If you're in the Intermountain West this June, I'll bet Fyrecon will be something you'll never forget!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Trying To Get A Simple Picture...Of Our Dog


Four days ago, I needed to post a picture for my Pic Of The Day. Since I hurt my calf muscle last week, I haven't done a lot of walking, and when I don't do a lot of walking, I don't find interesting things to photograph on those walks. And when that happens, I try to find something around the house to photograph.

Where's the dog?

Four days ago our dog got her hair cut. I thought I'd get a cute picture of the pup and post it. I take pictures all the times of our two cats. The difference between our cats and our dog is the cats many times just sit around being very photogenic. 

The dog, however, well...she has other plans. 

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I tried again and again to get her picture, but every time she was looking at me and looking very cute, she'd turn away. I have proof. The iPhone has an interesting little feature. When you take a picture, it records a mini-video lasting maybe a second. The image you see when the video ends is what you're stuck with. I took a video of my iPhone pictures and you can see, the dog would not cooperate at all.

The most frustrating part wasn't that the dog kept looking away as soon as I pointed my camera at her. The most frustrating part was once she turned away from me, she would look at my son (engaged in a little video game playing...) and just stare at him. She'd stare at him for like ten seconds at a time. I'd call her name, she'd look at me for a split second, then turn and stare at something else, anything but my phone.

I've learned, with photography, patience is a valuable commodity. It took several tries, but eventually I got a picture that was good enough (i.e. in focus...) to use as my Pic Of The Day. As Pics Of The Day goes, I got a lot of feedback on my dog picture. People love pictures of dogs and cats.

Right now, as I type this, one of our cats is just staring at me. If the light were better, I could use either my phone or my Nikon and snap off several pictures of her--she wouldn't care at all, but if I tried photographing the dog, Heaven help me to get a good shot. Just one more difference between cats and dogs.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Seriously...When Was The Last Time You Bought A Landline Phone?


I'm old enough to remember when you couldn't go to a store and buy a phone. Every phone--every single one--had to be purchased through the phone company. And if you've ever walked into a cellphone store nowadays and thought their selection was "lacking," you have no idea how things used to be. The phone company--where we lived it was Mountain Bell--had maybe three phones to choose from, that was it.

So to see a store in the mall in the early 1980s selling telephones, different kinds of phones, it was amazing. You could get phones that sat on a desk/counter or ones that hung on the wall.  The possibilities were endless, or so we thought.

As time when on, you could buy phones anywhere, even convenience stores, hardware stores, and grocery stores.

Apparently, those days are pretty much gone.


We still have a landline. I know, it's kind of a dorky thing to have, but we do. We inherited the phone number from my mom when she passed away. It's the number I had since we moved to Farmington in 1969. I like having a landline and we'll probably keep it. The cordless phones we've used for a while are beginning to go--those batteries don't last forever. It was time to get a new phone.

Where to go to get one? That question is tougher to answer than you might think. My wife checked out Home Depot--they advertise phones on their website. When she asked if they sold phones at the store, the Home Depot employee gave her a strange look. He said he didn't know. He sent her to an area in the store where they night be. They had no phones. She next tried Kohls, I mean, they sell housewares. But they don't sell phones, either.

Tonight we checked out Costco, that huge megastore that has everything, including a lot of electronic gadgets. We found some landline phone, actually three models. We picked the the cheapest one. We have replaced our phone, but it seems we're back to only having three phones to choose from.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

And Then Someone At Work Springs For A Pizza Lunch...


As far as my work week goes, Thursdays are my favorite. When the unheard bell rings releasing me from my cubicle commitment, I'm done for the week, having done my forty. Maybe it was because on Thursdays I tend to think of other things, of what I need to get done during the upcoming weekend. Maybe it was me thinking about staying up late (possibly doing some writing...) and sleeping in tomorrow morning. 

But I wasn't thinking about doing something nice for someone else.

This morning, my co-worker Renee asked us all what type of doughnut we all wanted. She was going on a doughnut run. A few minutes later she asked us all what type of pizza everyone wanted. I guess treats changed to lunch. About an hour later our little group of eight were enjoying delicious Dominos pizza.


Why don't I ever think about treating my department to lunch? Of course, there's a financial cost to treating everyone for lunch. In the past (and currently...), that's always been my excuse for not doing something like this. But what crossed my mind today was that I never consider buying everyone pizzas. 

I think we all know people who seem to always be looking for opportunities to serve, and if you know someone like that, I'll bet they're always happy. Serving doesn't necessarily mean buying stuff. Serving can be as simple as a smile, or a kind word. Watching my co-worker buy us all lunch today reminded me of what more I can do. So, is that worth the price of five Dominos pizzas and a couple of bottles of pop?

Maybe so.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Being In Front Of The Camera...


A few weeks back I was interviewed. There was a camera, a director, and some instructions given. The authors at Bard's Tower, during the 2017 edition of Salt Lake Comic Con FanX, were asked to give writing advise to the masses. Last week one of the authors found his interview on YouTube and posted the link on Facebook. After a short search, I found my video among the others and brought it up.

You know that feeling you get when you hear your voice come out of a tape recorder? Or, for those who don't know what a tape recorder is, your voice coming from a video off your phone? It feels weird, strange, not your own. And when you add the miracle of moving pictures, that strange feeling can be compounded.


So, I pulled up my video and watched it--it's what you do when someone went to all that trouble. What did I think of my performance? Let's just say you can tell being in front of a camera is something I'm not prone to do.

I thought, because I've dabbled on stage for the past twenty years, that I might do better in front of a camera, but it is what it is. You can check out my video: HERE.


Another author at Bard's Tower was Ramón Terrell, a great guy who happens to be a trained actor as well as a gifted storyteller. Now, he looks like he feels right at home in front of a camera. You can check out his video: HERE. I mean, just look at the guy. 

I suppose being in front of a camera is like writing or singing or pretty much anything you do...the more you do it, hopefully the better you'll get. You can check out all the videos from all the amazing authors: HERE. Better yet, subscribe to the Writing Tips: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Genre Fiction YouTube channel. There's some great advice, even if we are (mostly) not as good in front of a camera as we are creating stories.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Daniel Swenson's Book Cover Reveal For "The Shadow Above The Flames"...Awesome!

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Did you feel it? Around 9am, MDT, a blast wave spread across the valley, boomed against the mountains and just kept going.

Did you feel it?

Today Daniel Swenson unveiled the cover for his upcoming novel. It's beautiful, a great cover. You could almost feel his excitement oozing from the Facebook post this morning--it's a feeling authors live for, spend months preparing for, and sometime wonder if it'll ever happen.

I've known Dan for a couple of years. I first saw him at the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con back in 2013 (if it wasn't the first on, it was the second Salt Lake Comic Con...). My first impression was that he was one lucky guy--I overheard him talking about all the great interviews he got, all the guests he was able to talk to. I didn't know at that time he had a podcast, and a very successful one at that. Of course, it wasn't luck that got him into the position to interview celebrities--it was hard work.

There's a lot I didn't know about Dan back then. 

But that's the great thing about conventions--there are times when you can just talk about common interests. I don't know exactly when, but the writing bug bit Dan and, unlike so many, it took hold and he ran with it. He worked his butt off, put in the time, and produced a work of art that goes on sale June 6, 2017. You can actually pre-order his debut novel through Amazon by clicking: HERE. The book is published through Immortal Works Publishing--a great new company. You can visit their website: HERE.

The cover of a book is like wrapping paper to a present, or frosting on a cake. It surrounds the prize or gift inside, but can and should be appreciated on its own. It also represents long hours, and even more importantly, times of self-doubt that can be soul-crushing. But when you see the cover, it becomes real, and when you hold the book in your hands, it represents a dream realized.

When the blast wave hit this morning, I felt it. It's the first of many.

Monday, April 17, 2017

What Is It With Writers...And Cats?


We have two cats, one that lives mostly indoors and spends a little time outside, and another that does the opposite. The outdoor cat, the one below that we picked up from as a kitten from my cousin's farm in Driggs, Idaho, he leaves me pretty much alone, except waking me up at 6am on non-work mornings.


But the white cat, the one we rescued off the street, she...well, she sometimes won't leave me alone. The picture above shows her actually sitting on my binder that contains my computer.

Since I began seriously writing, I've gotten to know a lot of authors. I've also noticed a lot of them have cats. Like me, they occasionally post picture of their pets (or, are we the cat's pets...?) on social media. 


Buy why writers? Is it because we spend a lot of time in our own brains trying to get the words out of us and cats--for the most part--are content with letting humans do what humans do? Is it because cats are cerebral that fascinate us by the way they act and what they do? I don't know what it is.


There have been times when I've had to kick the cat out of my room and close the door, mostly because she will want to lay atop me. And because writing with a laptop on my lap is my preferred way to write, cat and computer cannot exist in the same space. One must choose--who says art doesn't require sacrifices? The other day while writing, the cat came over and I knew she wanted to climb onboard. I quickly grabbed the computer and opened it up. She decided not to let a computer get in her way at all. What did I do? Snapped a few pictures, of course.

Yes, there seems to be something about the craft of writing and owning a cat. Is the result a net gain, or net loss when it comes to the output? To me, it's a mixed blessing.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Meeting A Fan...At A Bookstore


Back at the beginning of this month, I was with two of my children at Barnes & Noble. The boys were finishing their deserts and I did a little wandering. When you write, one of your dreams is to go into a bookstore and see your book(s) on the shelf. Years ago I even took a picture of where my books would go. I think I even parted the two books showing a space where a novel by Scott William Taylor would sit (but hopefully, not too long...).

Bookstores are, in a way, like a finish line for a writer, even though getting a book published is more the like the start of a new leg of the race, not a finish line. Still, the building, the books, the space on the shelf, remains a goal. Even with none of my books inside, it's still cool to see books written by my friends as part of the store's collection.

I was looking around when I noticed a patron walk in. Two weeks earlier I sold my book, Speckled to her at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX. She has a distinctive hairstyle--that's how I recognized her.

"I remembered you," I said and I think I startled her. "You bought my book at FanX." 

She looked at me, then said, "You wrote, Speckled."

"Yeah, that's mine."

"I can't believe it--I have that book in my car right now. I just finished it and I loved it!"

I stood there, stunned. It is not an everyday occurrence for me, being recognized, and in a bookstore, no less. 

"Wow, thank you," I said. She continued.

"I took your book to work with me and people wondered what I was reading. I loved the way your stories were so uplifting--the first one, about the village elder who looked at the stars (Stars) was my favorite."

I did not know how to react. I probably just stood there with a stupid grin on my face. Her voice carried and my son heard what she was saying. It was almost a surreal experience, my words affected this person I'd only met once in my life.

She said she was going to write a kind review on social media and I should be on the lookout for that. I've since searched for her review and as of yet, she's not posted it. And, to be honest, that's okay. I was lucky enough to hear it in person.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Ten Commandments...And This Guy


Because it's Easter, the movie, The Ten Commandments, is on TV. I'm sure there were other big budget films like The Ten Commandments made, but those aren't shown every year. Personally, I think Ben-Hur is a better Easter film. And for one with a bum leg, it's a good show to have on TV. Tonight's broadcast is sixteen minutes shy of five hours long. As I watched the show, one actor caught my attention. I don't know if, over the thirty-plus times I've watched the movie, I've ever noticed him before. As I watched him tonight, he made me smile.


There's a lot to like about this movie. It must have been the Star Wars, or Jurassic Park of its day. I can't imagine audiences not going nuts when they saw the City of Sethi's Glory, the Burning Bush, the Pillar of Fire, and--of course--the Parting of the Red Sea. It probably blew their minds.


And, depending on your perspective, it's either held up well, or not at all. It must still have some draw since it plays every year. Nothing in the last sixty-one years has replaced it. On the flip side, oh--the green screen shots! It could be due to the age of the film, and I understand, it was the best, cheapest technology at the time. But by today's standards, it's awful. The acting--if you like that style--is okay, but it's dated as well.


For me, the film has a lot of great quotes. When Yul Brynner says, "No doubt." I know it's strange but I've always loved that. I've also liked the line Joshua gives as an excuse for saving the old woman caught in the rock--"An old woman"--one of my favorites.

In graduate school I read that if you want to read a novel like an English professor, you've got to read Shakespeare and the Bible. I wonder if something similar is found in the film world. If you want to watch a movie like a professor of film, must you watch The Ten Commandments?


Next time you find yourself watching The Ten Commandments, watch as the grain reserved for the Gods falls into the hands and arms of the starving slaves. Check out this guy. I don't know who his is--I tried looking him up on IMDb, but of many names listed, they didn't identify him. I like him because he personifies the message of the film, that no matter how bad it gets, when you consider just how blessed we are, you'll raise your arms to the Heavens as well. May you and your loved ones have a blessed Easter weekend.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Pop Goes The Calf Muscle...


For all my fifty-one years (except when I was an infant and I couldn't walk, of course...), I've been able to run. I wasn't the best runner, by any means, but I wasn't the worst. Running to me has been as natural as talking. So, when I had some tightness in my calf muscle lately, I took it easy at the gym this week. No running, just walking, inclined walking, and a little elliptical action. The good news was after going slow, the calf felt better.

That was, until I began crossing a busy road this afternoon and something popped. That something was my right leg calf muscle. I almost thought someone hit my leg with a pipe or something. It was the strangest thing. I made it safely across the street, but I was in no way walking normally. I was reduced to hopping.


My wife suggested I go to the local InstaCare. After I told her my symptoms, it reminded her of when she felt the same way and it took her six months to fully recover. Yes, getting it checked out by a professional sounded like a good idea.

The diagnosis: a strained muscle. The physician said it could have been worse, and she counseled me on what to do if it got worse. I came home and elevated my leg and thought about the day that was. I began it at the gym. I'm ending it with a wrapped and elevated leg. And any running will have to wait.


I know people who have battled physical issues their entires lives. Fortunately, I've been blessed to avoid major health problems. But, as I age, enjoying good health is something I hope to appreciate, and not take for granted as I've done so much in the past.

Time will tell how the recovery goes. Thankfully, I have a loving supportive family. I'm not scheduled for any writing conferences in the next month or so. And my job requires I basically sit at my desk all day. So, even with a strained calf muscle, I'm very lucky.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Am The Murderer...Of Words



 Today I finished the first edit of an entire novel. It's not a professional edit; I'm not a professional editor, but for the first time, I read aloud the entire 52,139 words that make up my second completed novel and the first one I've considered submitting for publication.

When I read the last word, I realized something.

I a a murderer of words.

As I read through the novel, it was the first time I saw those words since I wrote them last November. Doing this exercise tells you a lot of things. It is sometimes surprising when you read a passage that seems to be above your ability. It does happen. It's like you're reading someone else's manuscript, someone else's words.


Of course, there's the opposite. You read stuff you can't believe you wrote, and not in a good way. I found I wrote a lot of extra words, a lot of thoughts--especially at the end of sentences--that just didn't need to be there. I've attended many lectures where authors said they had to do a lot of cutting from their original manuscript before the book was published. I can relate now. And, I'm sure I'll relate even more if I happen to sell this story and have it professionally edited. Hopefully, we'll see.

So, for the past three days, I've read my book and deleted--or, murdered--a lot of words, so many words. But, from their deaths, a better story, an improved script will emerge.

At least, that's the goal.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Well Played, Mr. Brown...Well Played


As I left the house this morning, I noticed someone had visited our little street. They left their calling card, or calling flyer. Ours was taped to our mailbox. I looked down the street and noticed everyone else had a similar yellow flyer taped to their mailboxes, too.

What could that be? I asked myself. For the past few weeks heavy equipment has been parked in front of our house and there's a strip of ripped up asphalt that runs the entire length of our street. Were the flyers a notice to us that the road construction needed redoing? Were they telling us to not use our water for a day or two?

What did those flyers say?


I thought these were from the city, or the construction company, but no...they were from a solicitor. Scott Brown (someone I don't know...) had paid our street a visit and let us know he had something to sell. And what he was selling was curb appeal--literally. Scott applies house number on your porch and/or curb for a price. I have to say, I loved the opening line on his flyer.

Reflective home addresses will be install, not painted, on the curbs tomorrow.

At first, I thought, "Great--we're getting new numbers." The writing had such surety, such power behind those words, it sounded like it was a service, maybe our tax dollars hard at work. Mr. Brown made me think this was not a sales pitch, but an official notice. After all, the first paragraph goes on to say how helpful and useful these house numbers are. I mean, they're visible in car headlights at night, which may help police, fire, and ambulance services find your home easily at night when most home addresses can be hard to locate and/or find.

I know this because the flyer tells me so.

But as I continued reading, I saw this is something Mr. Brown does, with the homeowner's permission, of course. I've got to pay to play. To be included, we just fill out the form, and put it in a place where it can be easily seen.

Maybe, if we do purchase, I'll tape it next to our No Soliciting sign.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I Sure Hope They Made It...


We have one little apricot tree, a single tree that--weather permitting--produces quite a few apricots. They're small, but good.


I grew up across the street from where we live now. Decades ago, my parents bought about ten acres on the hillside and Dad built his house in an apricot and cherry orchard. There's still a few of those at least fifty-year old trees remaining. Those living in the house Dad built now watch after the old tree.


Funny thing about apricots, sometimes the fruit doesn't survive the spring. Since we live in the mountains, and since the weather in those mountains can be a tad fickle (but not as fickle as some think it to be...), we get the occasional snowstorm in April/May. It happened last Saturday.


Tonight I hiked up to our little apricot tree to do a little inspection. I saw several baby apricots--I'm sure there's a scientific name for them. And since my arboreal knowledge is slim at best, I have no idea if the fruit has survived the storm. Perhaps seeing the little apricots means they have. I do know one thing, time will let us know if they survived or not.