Monday, July 31, 2017

Cat-Owner Chores...


I grew up with dogs, one dog really. A Shih Tzu/sneaky neighbor dog mix. She lived for seventeen years. She was a good dog. My wife, however, did not grow up with dogs.

She grew up with cats.

Because we've been married for almost a quarter of a century, we have one dog and two cats. Over the years I've learned a thing or two about living with cats.

I should say I wasn't completely unprepared for the cats. My mom had a few around her house, but they weren't indoor cats. I'd never had an indoor cat. And after we got our first cat (the exact date of when the cat came into our lives is still up for discussion...), we really didn't have an indoor cat. 


Teewinot, named after a peak in the Tetons and the area where we got him, is such a perfect cat, except for ripping up several window screens. He has a fairly predictable schedule. He likes to hunt in the evenings. In the summer he comes in about the time I leave for work. In the winter, he comes in in the middle of the night. He'll go upstairs and sleep on one of the kids's beds and he'll stay there until the afternoon when he goes outside to hunt.

He didn't even need a litter box.


Then we got another cat and she's changed pretty much everything. Gracie was a rescue cat. She's been a great pet, don't get me wrong, but this animal definitely needs a litter box, or several. Cleaning out that box was something I never did as a kid, but I do now. The picture of the door is the cat's room. It doubles as our laundry room. Of all the people/pets living in our house, that cat has the biggest room (in comparison to her size...) than any other person/pet. Of course, to the cat, that's the way it should be.

Tonight I cleaned up the cat's room and Gracie just watched. If I clean it regularly, it's not that bad. The problem is, after I clean it, I don't want to do it anytime soon. Hence, the dilemma. I won't show you what's behind the door, but I can say it's clean now. And it will be that way until at least tomorrow. My cat chores are done.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hanging Out...Talking About Writing


As far as a regular participant goes, I've been bad. I haven't gone in a while to our bi-monthly screenwriter's group meeting. Many times I haven't been able to attend because I've been doing shows, but I haven't done a show for a while. I decided last Wednesday I should go.

We meet in the office where the organizer, Blake works. On the walls are framed movie posters, mostly movies that appeal to the geeks and nerds inside us all. And many  times we discuss those films, but we also talk about other things, too. Normally, we have either a feature film to critique, a TV episode, or a short. Last week we had none of those--it happens sometimes. During those times the group improvises. 

Because screenwriting is, at its core, storytelling, we discussed some of the points on how to best tell a story. We talked about conflict, what's at stake, themes, character types, and how all those ingredients can be combined to create magic. Every movie begins with a story. Every great movie begins with a great story and every crappy movie usually begins with a crappy story.

In the past the group has critiqued some of my the stories, and by "critiqued," I mean ripped apart. They were not unkind, but then group is honest. If your story stinks they will let you know. It's a good thing, really. If a story is not where it needs to be, at some point someone needs to tell you that. I know this group will (because they have...).

I'd like to attend more. I should. They discuss sound principles and they're students of the craft of filmmaking. I hit a home run with the very first screenplay I wrote. Of course, that was over a decade ago. Will it happen again? I really can't say, but I'm confident that if I do get another script made into an award-winning movie, I'll have the guys and gals in my screenwriting group to help thank for it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dave Butler's "Witchy Eye"...A Book Review


Imagine an America where, instead of states governed by a central government, you have kingdoms rules by kings. Oh, and there's magic, too. Throw in a dozen or so colorful characters, an army of human/animal hybrids, and a few undead assassins and you have Dave Butler's Witchy Eye.

Of course, I'm not doing the book justice. It's an amazing alternative history set in 1800s America. The book's hero is Sarah Calhoun, fifteen, growing up in Appalachia embarks on a journey to New Orleans to find a soldier, a man who fought with Sarah's father. Sarah, who wears a patch over her eye, is not only the daughter of a famous general, but also a queen.

Butler weaves the Sarah's story, the story of those vowed to follow her, and those in her company seamlessly. One aspect of the story I especially liked was the lack of an organized and well-defined magic system. I've heard the author speak several times on the topic. The magic in Witch Eye is always understandable. Butler uses magic the way a cook used different spices to flavor the meal, or in this case, the story. Too much and it ruins everything.

This is not then end of Sarah Calhoun. More books are on the way, which makes me happy. There are so many small details interwoven into the storylines, I could read it again and again and get something new each time. Butler created a world full of wonder, intrigue, goodness, and horror. where good battles evil, power and pain. And he's done a masterful job of it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Of All The Pictures I've Ever Taken...These Are Some Of My Favorites


More than a decade ago, I convinced the kids to come outside for a photoshoot. Back then I shot on film with my trusty Olympus OM-10, and since film was expensive, I didn't ask the kids to pose very often. Thanks to digital, they're probably be tired of me wanting to take their pictures.


But that's what fathers with a love of both photography and their kids do--we take pictures of the family.


I've taken a lot of pictures over the years, before and since that winter day all those years ago, and I can say with surety that looking at these pictures makes me happy. These are some of the most favorite pictures I've ever taken. I love them.


Last year I asked the kids to come back for another photoshoot. You've seen those shots where people re-create an old photo. I didn't match things exactly. My oldest was wearing red in both the before and after shots (smart kid...), but that was just coincidence. 


The picture of the kids is a physical object. It's in a box with many other photos of them, my wife and I, and other family members. There's something about holding a picture of the way life once was that's special, and when the subjects in that photo mean so much, it's that much better.





Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Few Close-Ups...


When you sit at your desk, surrounded by 1/2 high gray cubicle walls during a ten-hour shift, sometimes you've got to look at things differently, or you'll go a little nuts. That's what I did at work today. On a break, I broke out my telephoto lenses for my phone and took some pictures.


Some turned out pretty good.


I thought it would be cool to see what my geode owl looked like close up.


And here's the normal shot.


Of course, I like things that are red and white, a Coca-Cola logo, the Danish Flag, colors of the University of Utah. Personally, it's my favorite color combination.


Sure, it's kind of a pain to dig into my backpack and find the pouch that has my iPhone lenses then attach them to the phone, but every once in a while, you get a cool view. It makes life a little more interesting. I should do it more often.

While on my breaks, of course.






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pretty Sure It's Not Supposed To Do That...


I wasn't sure what I was seeing, because the machine was acting in a way it's not supposed to act. It took me a second to realize that. 

Our break room has four microwaves in the "Microwave Alcove" (that's what I've named it...). Three work--the one with the teal post-it note doesn't, hence the note. I usually use the black one. I don't know why. Maybe because it's different, like the way lions and other predators attack the victims that are unusual. 

But, yesterday I chose the microwave in the upper right-hand corner. I walked up to it, pushed the button that opened the door and took a step back. Opening the door started up the oven. It's not supposed to do that. I'm no microwave oven engineer, but I think the only thing that's supposed to do is turn on the little light. But this time, the inner tray began to turn and the sound that the ovens make when nuking the food kicked in, too.

I closed the door closed as I figured out it wasn't working right. A co-worker came in and saw me standing there. "Those microwaves are haunted. Some people downstairs said that our microwaves are haunted. I think they're right," she said.

I agreed.

I checked it today. It still acted weird. Is it haunted? I can't say. I'm neither a microwave oven engineer or a microwave oven ghost hunter. Chances are, though. Pretty soon there'll be another post-it note on another machine.

video

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Just Watched "Footloose"...The Original


A few years ago a group of people met in a theater rehearsal hall. The director asked us what made Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol such a classic, a story that's endured since the mid-1800s. It made me think about why I like that story so much. For me, it's because it's timeless. It speaks to generations of people. Children can understand Tiny Tim and the wonders of Christmas. Young parents can relate to making things special for Christmas--even on a budget. And older readers understand better than most the word "regret" when it comes to decisions made earlier in life.

What does this have to do with the original version of Footloose?

Good question.


Tonight after I got home from work the movie was on. It's been years since I've seen it. I may have not watched the whole thing since I did back in theaters in the early 1980s. Boy--it was corny. Which surprised me. I remember a different movie. I remember a show about teen angst, "us against the world" attitudes, good music, and good dancing.


Well, it did have those things, but it was not the fantastic film I remembered. It hasn't really aged well. I suppose that's why they made a new one (which, I haven't seen...). When I saw it today, I saw it through different eyes, a parent's eyes. A community where people are shunned because they think differently is no longer far-fetched. We're seeing it today. Just try and give a speech on a college campus if your views are not the same as everyone else. People burning books and making acts illegal just because they're unpopular. Sure, it was campy in the movie, but it's human nature.


I was in high school when Footloose hit the theaters. The fact that they filmed it an hour down the road gave all of us Utah teens a kinship to the film. Not that I did what they characters did in the movie (never played "chicken" on tractors, never went to the next town over to drink/smoke/dance/get in fights--in that order--in my life...). Though I don't live where it was filmed, I do travel to the valley from time to time. It's amazing how life has changed. 


But, there's something in the film with which all teens can identify--society telling them what to do when that's the last thing they want, and perhaps something they need.


Watching the film this time, put me back there. Is this a classic? Will people gather in a theater rehearsal hall in 170 years from now and talk about what makes Footloose endure? And I wonder if parents, when they saw it back in the day, thought it was a good film, or did they think it was kind of corny.


Good question.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Oh, Pioneers...


Today, we slept in. We had the day off. We barbecued dinner. We even watched part of a parade.

We celebrated Pioneer Day.

It's our state's holiday, which is weird because it's not the day Utah was officially added to the United States. Our statehood date is in January and no one celebrates it. On this date, July 24th, in 1847, a group of pioneers came through a canyon and declared that the land before them wouldn't be wanted by anyone else.

So they stayed.

And because of the decisions made by men and women long dead, I slept in, didn't go to work, barbecued dead animals, and watched part of a parade. Volumes of books have been written--some stories are even true--about the pioneers. Movies have been made about them, buildings have been named after them, even schools bear the names. It's hard to understand the impact those brave souls have had on the world. I know my life would be completely different without them, same could be said for my wife. Therefore, my kids' lives would be something they wouldn't recognize.

I suppose it's not weird that our state holiday is not the day our state entered the union, but the day the pioneers settled in a valley after leaving it. It's so easy to look back and see how people changed the world. It's harder to look to the future and imagine ourselves doing it. But, in one-hundred and seventy years, will people look back at those of us living today and think we were amazing? Will they write stories about us, name buildings and schools after us?

I don't know, but I'll bet whoever is living here then will make any excuse to sleep in, take off work, and barbecue dinners. Parades, though--I'm sure those will be illegal.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I Saw The Ad...And Heard The Screams


I'm pretty sure I heard the screams, the anguish of millions of children as the messages permeate the airwaves. The message is simple:

It's time...

Time to shop.

Why is summer the shortest three months of the year? How can three simple words change a child's relatively happy demeanor into something resembling a puddle of sadness? I remember those days, back when I had summers free of responsibility--school or otherwise. The ads would hit in July, when memories of leaving school that last time before summer vacation were still fresh in my mind.


But those three words were a wake-up call, something to slap you around letting you know that the happy days of summer are really an illusion, that life can take away as easily as it can give.

Yes, I saw the ad and heard the screams. The commercial wasn't for the kids--it was for the adults. It was a wake-up call for them as well. Time to go save on those things every child needs. Of course, many parents can't wait for school to begin anew.

And just maybe, some of the screams I heard came from them.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Calling All Sponsors...There's Someone You Should Know About!


My friend Daren posted a request on Facebook. He's looking for sponsors to help his son compete on the world's stage and become the best surfer he can be. He asked, so I'm doing what I can to help.

I've written about this young man before. His name is Jordy Collins and he's a surfer from the San Diego area. He's quickly becoming one of America's best young surfing talents. I don't know much about how people get sponsored, or what exactly that all entails. I only know that traveling all over the world to compete must be an expensive concern. 

I wish I had a company that could help. I suppose I am--in a way--my own businessman. I'm a self-employed writer and I put words together to form stories (and blog posts...). At this point in my career, those words are not generating income to the extent that I can sponsor anyone.

Though, it would be cool to have this on a poster with the caption: 

Jordy Collins: 
Sponsored by Author Scott William Taylor


Maybe one day.

If you'd like more information, let me know by e-mailing me at: scottwilliamtaylor@outlook.com, and I'll get you in touch with those involved. You could be sponsoring a world surfing tour participant. You might be sponsoring a future olympian. But I know that if you decide to help, you'll be supporting a good kid from a great family in helping him become the best he can be.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Washing The Car...


A few weeks ago I wrote about how we came to purchase my father-in-law's car. Getting a new car is an interesting experience. You need to get used to it, the way it drives, the size of it on the road, how fast can it overtake a car you're passing on the interstate.

There's one thing, however, that I didn't expect when we brought it home.

The need to keep it clean.

It's not the newest car, but it's in very good shape, thanks mostly to the care and upkeep of my in-laws. They keep their cars well maintained, and clean, inside and out. It's not that we throw piles of garbage in our cars, mind you. We just don't take them to the car wash as often as they do. And since we don't have room for all of our cars to be in a garage, they're subject to the weather and our sprinkler system.

Point is, they get dirty.



I've driven a dirty car around a lot. Heck, I drive a car with one door a different color than the other three. But there was something bugging me about having my father-in-law's old car be dirty. It just didn't feel right--like something was wrong. I ran a few errands this afternoon so I decided to get it washed. It only takes a few bucks.

Even after washing the car, it's still not as clean as it has been the past several years. I didn't wipe it down, but I can see out of the windows. Maybe this is the car that will make me change. Maybe I'll be washing the cars more often.

I suppose, time will tell.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Catching The Sun...


About a week or so ago I stood on my back porch and snapped a few pictures. Due to the location of the sun, and other factors, I watched as it slowly set in the western sky. I got out the good camera with a zoom lens and caught some of the beauty blazing before me.

It turned out pretty good.

I took several shots. If the porch had been higher, or the trees lower (darn trees keep growing taller and taller...), I could have taken even better shots. But I'm okay with that I got. Each day the sun sets a little more south. It will soon disappear behind Antelope Island until finally, on the shortest day of the year, it will set almost off the island entirely.

Sunsets fascinate me. They're like the biggest work of art on the largest canvas we'll most likely ever see. Some nights are not as brilliant as others, but every inch of land, every drop in the ocean will get the chance to witness a sunset every night. It's a gift, something telling us the day is done so lay down your shovel and rest to prepare for the next day.

I've missed a lot of sunsets, but I try and take pictures of as many of the good ones as I can. I think on my cloud and computer backups I've got more pictures of the sun setting than any other thing.

And I'll be fine for it to stay that way, if I can see pictures like this in my viewer.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scouts Building Edible Structures...For Pioneer Day


How do you help a bunch of cub scouts celebrate Pioneer Day the week before the state holiday?

You help them build mini-log cabins out of pretzels, frosting, and graham crackers, of course.


Thanks to my wife, I was able to keep the attention of several kids under the age of eleven for the entire meeting. We had the pack meeting business, flag ceremony, reciting of scout motto, oath, law, etc., and after the awards, I talked to the scouts, their parents and siblings, and the other scout leaders about pioneers and how important they were in our state culture. If it weren't for the pioneers, much of the western United Sates would be incredibly different.

The top edible shelter is the one I made. I know I could have taken more time, spread the frosting between each pretzel, you know, to eliminate any huge gaps that would allow wind, rain, and/or slow to creep into my structure. But, I wanted to build something a child could build.

I'd say mission accomplished.


I love watching the kids create on their own. It was bound to happen--some of the kids didn't make anything. They just ate the glob of frosting and snapped up the pretzels. Others explained to me what they made, like the kid who explained that his pretzel and frosting house only had three walls because the missing wall was the door and the extra pretzels on the roof helped to divert rain from those who found shelter underneath the roof pretzels. 

Last year I helped the kids build little covered wagons. This year, log cabins. I wonder what amazing edible, buildable things we'll come up with next year.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Yeah, I Thought Of That...Too


I remember getting the idea--it's simple really. What if you could invent an attachment for an smartphone that would allow anyone to take and record an ultrasound picture or video? I even did a little research, and by "little," I mean I searched the web to see if, 1--it had already been invented, and, 2--a basic idea to see if it was even possible.

Turns out, it is, and it has been.

I've had other ideas that have been created. Back on April 7 of last year, I blogged about another one of my ideas that someone actually produced. Like last year, I'm not too upset about the smartphone ultrasound device being made by someone else. Because it actually exists now, that means I had someone else's idea long after they not only had the idea, but produced it as well. And, like most of my ideas, they usually just swirl round in my brain going nowhere. 

I knew an invention like this would take some pretty serious cash to even get it started, or someone with case who believed in the idea to support it.

I heard a podcast this morning from Mike Rowe. He's the "Dirty Jobs" guy who can tell a story in a charmingly folksy way. Today's story centered around inventors and he had some pretty amazing stats of those who invent things. Turns out, people who come up with new ideas don't stop at one--they have several patents to their name.

And even though my name doesn't appear in the patent office, I know at some point, I've had ideas that came to me. Unfortunately, they came to others, too, and many times, they came to them before they came to me. It's just as well. At least someone is making their ideas become realities.