Sunday, December 27, 2009

my shiny new year begins

I’m back!

Um, yah, okay then . . .

Seems as though this November, and my ill conceived participation in NaNoWriMo, beat the living tar out of me as a writer.

I won NaNoWriMo though . . . woohoo . . .

But at what cost? - This blog was abandoned and my current works suffered the consequences and have not seen nearly as much time or effort as they deserve.

Despite being referred to at times as "the writing machine", I'm just a man with all the DNA strands of any other, though not in the exact same sequence, or precisely the same twists. So, after puking out 50,000 plus words in November, my December writing recovery has been long and hard. I feel I’m over the NaNoWriMo burnout now, and will likely never do it again. I am much more the steady turtle writer, not the sprinting hair kind.

So, for 2010, I’m going to - not just try but, - Going To - blog every Sunday here to keep you abreast of the trials and tribulations of this here writer. Perhaps my words will paint a portrait of the middle-aged artist striving to convert words to cash, even though selling pencils on street corners is generally accepted as a far more lucrative career choice.

Stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on the whole 2010 travail week by week, which I will be titling (2010: the year I make contract). Titling things is the prerogative of the writer. Feel free to groan . . . and yes, I do realize it was that bad.

Anyhow, I’ve spent a good deal of the Christmas Holidays working out goals and writing schedules that balance home, writing, chores and family issues and I aim to see them happen without losing more of my thinning hair, or going more insane than I already am, which is already quite sufficient for a writing career.

With that I’m marking today as the start to my shiny new year. Yes I know it’s still 2009, but who decided this arbitrary number, date and year system anyhow? Guys on sticks, Mexicans, Romans with delusions of grandeur? - don’t really care how it got locking into the current system - my start to this coming year, is now . . .

So, I’ll start by filling you in on the plan so you can keep score at home and see if I’m shooting par, making eagles, or triple bogeying . . . and I can't explain why I just used golf metaphors - I actually don’t like golf at all.

Anyhow, the gist of my master 2010 plan is this - I’ll be writing short stories in the morning and completing my current novel in the afternoon. I have two collections of short stories I want to compile and sell, and one novel which is getting closer to completion every day but still needs revisions and expansion before it becomes a viable product. These are the projects I set for myself, and by gosh and golly, I’m going to do just that if it kills me, which I kind of hope doesn’t - because that would put an end to the whole deal . . .

So, without further doo, I’ll get to it then and let you know each week how it hangs . . .

. . . or something . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 25, 2009

t - 7

In exactly one week I’ll be trying my hand (well, both for typing actually) at NaNoWriMo 2009. It will be my third attempt.

I did it two years ago and won. The second novel I’m working towards finishing for publication is the product of 2007. In 2008 many factors conspired against me and I wrote about 1,100 words and that was all - an utter failure.

Now it’s 2009 and I have my big Science Fiction novel all shined up and ready to crunch out in 1st draft. I’m hoping it will come in around 80,000 to 100,000 words and be a good length for general consumption.

My current novel, Typhoon Rising, (well, actually novelette), I’m working on now is only about 60,000 words - like “novels” of old (in the sixties) used to be, and loved, I may add. In today’s world, if you don’t hit 80,000 words minimum, almost nobody even wants to look at your manuscript, let alone publish it.

On the home front my daughter has had a running fever as high as 104.5 and only dropping to about 103 (despite the fever medications) for the past three days. I’m happy to report that this morning, after an actual sleep through the night without pumping her full of drugs, she is only sitting at a mild 102.

I’m pretty sure it’s not H1N1 since she has had only fever and nothing much else. Having a sick kid on your hands is stressful and tiring though, and this week’s writing has suffered for it.

However . . .

. . . this next week will see me finishing the last chapter of Typhoon Rising in second draft form, and writing a short horror story for our Halloween scary story night coming up this Friday.

Then, with a bunch of review on my next novel Saturday, and I will turning my brain and fingers over (starting early Sunday morning November 1st) to the process of writing an 80 to 100 thousand word first draft of my third novel; Terminal Radius.

I am hell bent to win NaNoWriMo 2009.

Wish me no cramps.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 18, 2009

reno madness

No not some gambling addiction I've suddenly aquired - but rather a house renovation blitz I’ve been on for a week and a half.

This past while we’ve had the ducts cleaned out, an energy audit, a new water heater installed, a new furnace installed as well as a new programmable thermostat. Looks like I’ll be getting a fair chunk of bucks back in Government incentives and tax write-off incentives though so the pill may be jagged, but not quite as large and hard to swallow as I first thought.

I went out yesterday and bought some house sealing stuff: foam insulation, weatherstripping, r-5 insulation and the all mighty Duct Tape - how can you do any work around the house without it?

So, this week coming up will see me doing a lot of draft sealing before I get the auditor back to see if any improvements were made to these leaking places.

As for writing, I’ve been pretty distracted this past week (as noted by the activities listed above) and accomplished pretty much nil - not a good trend, and one I aim to throttle starting tomorrow, fresh and mostly house repair free except for some duct tape and weatherstrip maneuvers.

We still have to get somebody over to repair and seal our fireplace chimney, but that should do it for renovations for this year.

If we somehow uncover a pile of cash between now and March of 2011, we can replace some of our old downstairs windows and get 80 bucks back for each one. Not a bad deal me thinks.

Well, as the world turns, so does my stomach when there is nothing in it except coffee - so I’m off to the kitchen to make me some food.

Oh, and reading night (our monthly gathering of like minded crazy people) last night was good. I may not be Mr. Social, but it is good for me (so I’ve been told repeatedly) to get out and see other human beings at least a few times a year. Almost reached my quota then.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 11, 2009

would that I could create time

Sounds like a great idea, but it’s beyond my powers to alter the universe just so I can get a few more hours inserted for my benefit into each day . . .

Anyhow, it’s Sunday (hey, I didn’t miss it this week) and I thought I would give an update about my James-Bond-like life . . .

. . . Ahem.

Seems our rat has managed to damage his hind foot somehow and is now limping around his cage. Not good. Must have had a bit too much to drink one night and fallen down one of the sets of stairs in his cage - I think he will be all right.

As for writing, I’ve had a heck of a time finishing off the novel’s second draft and it looks now, with more interruptions on the way this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend plus furnace work and energy audits next week, that I’ll have to shoot for November 1st as the cut-off to have it done. One whole month past my self-imposed deadline.

But, I have another novel (my third) all planned, and I am going to get it cranked out during this year’s NaNoWriMo. It will be a month of insane first-draft cramming - but it will give me another huge project to work on after my current novel is completed - my goal is to have one novel ready to circulate per year. I would like to use NaNoWriMo each year to get a first draft done leaving me the remaining 11 months of the year to rewrite it and get it publish worthy.

And that contest short story will have to wait until, well, another contest. I just can’t get my second draft of the current novel done, and a short story of merit, in 2 ½ weeks before NaNoWriMo.

Oh well, such is life.

By the end of next week we should have our new furnace installed too - just in time for the coming winter season. And it better damn well last 20 years, not 17 like the last one!

Oh, I should mention that I’ve passed the 40 novels-read-for-the-year mark this month already - which puts me way ahead of my pages/year read goal or 10,000, so that’s a plus.

Well, looks like stuff needs doing, so I’ll be scooting along then to get doing it.

Until next Sunday . . .

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

short story: Cat Noir

Yup, a special mid-week post! Saturday Scribes was a bit late in positing their prompts on the weekend, but they did and the short story that follows came from;

Theme: What goes bump in the night

Words: darkness, razor, wisps, slithery, circling, black, patter, drainpipes, dripping, prickle, tangled, buried


Cat Noir
by Paul Darcy

Oh, how I love the sound of nails on a chalkboard. For most it sends a prickle down the spine, but for me it’s like a beautiful symphony; relaxing, invigorating even. Besides, it’s how I sharpen my claws to a razor fine edge before the hunt, and this night is special; Halloween. It’s the one time a year when my powers reach their fullest potential, and he is truly within my grasp.

It has something to do with gravity waves emanating across the dimensions and fueling the demon within. But whatever the actual reason, I don’t look to deep for the answers. I do what I do for the fun of it and not to probe the mystery behind my dark powers.

The old abandoned school is my home. Let’s just say there are still children there who, on occasion, visited here against their will. But you won’t find them - well not all of them. Their memories are buried here as well, under the rubble where nobody dares look. And no one is foolish enough to venture here anymore, not even on a dare, since I took up residence. The locals know, and those that don’t add to my collection in the end. But they are inconsequential. My true goal it to have my way without interference, but that will only happen when he is torn down.

This year will be different.

This year, my nemesis is going to die.

The curtain of night veils the sky in black and I slip out through the crack by the gym next to the broken plastic drainpipes which never stop dripping no matter the weather. Like spilled ink traveling silently over a page, I glide across the overgrown schoolyard without a trace. The yard, once a playground for youth is nothing more than a tangled wasteland of thistles and scrub now, and I begin my search.

Every year it is the same. The smaller ones come out first in costume, mad patter of tiny feet to the doorsteps, while the big ones huddle in small groups on the sidewalks, talking and smoking and oblivious to the peril I could put them in. I do love crossing their paths, then watching the expressions on their faces afterwards. The little ones are especially tasty to me and I can’t help imagine sinking my claws into those cute cherub-like eyes, and tasting the juices within - but not this night. This night my energies are to be spent on but one purpose, and I sniff the air for clues.

Down by the water, I catch my first real hint of him. Stalking along the banks, quieter than death itself, I pass along the riverside and search for traces in the circling, slithery wisps of steam rising from the steady, slow moving waters. He is masked, but the night is young and I am patient.

The smell of smoke irritates my nose and I creep out of its way. Any other night and the offender would be floating down the lazy river, throat and eyes torn out. But tonight the lucky offender is spared my wrath.

Completely aware of him now, as he hides in the mist trying to wait out the night and escape me, I bide my time and gather my energies. A breeze wafts up and colder air blows in. My muscles are bunched up like coiled springs. He can not hide much longer. In fact, as I grow stronger I can see the traces of him, glowing a pale white like the pallid skin of dead children’s faces.

And as suddenly as lightening he appears behind his veil, and I attack. Faster than any eye can see I have him in my grip. But he is strong and the battle will not won easily. My claws rake his pale flesh and my teeth gouge deep furrows in his being, but he is so much bigger than I and the certainty of finishing him off is not as potent as it was in my mind earlier.

Through a second sense I can hear people running from the area trying to protect themselves from the collateral damage or our struggle. The sound is fury, and the powers unleashed by my demon are titanic. Several times I’m sure I could finish him off, only to find he has slipped my grasp and hidden again for a spell. My energies know no bounds this night, but despite my best efforts he has survived again as the sun begins to brighten the sky and sap my powers once more.

Back at the school I scratch the blackboards in rage. He has escaped me again, but there will be another match. Until next year then I’ll do what I do best and those unfortunate enough to encounter me will suffer.

Now I rest until the night arrives once more, and hunting time comes again.

Monday, October 05, 2009

is it monday already

Yup, you could say I blew it.

My weekly blog post for ‘Sunday’ is a day late . . .

No real excuse, except I was waiting for the Saturday Scribes writing prompt. Then I was going to slap up another flash fiction piece here for your amusement . . .

. . . alas, no prompt appeared, so you’ll get the standard post then - except it’s one day late.

So, what’s been going on?

Well, had the furnace guy over and it looks like between the government, and the company doing the selling, I’ll be getting about 1,400 back. But we need one of those energy audits, which costs like 350, and the another 150 when they return to see if you improved anything, so - doing the math - I will ultimately get about 900 bucks off of the total purchase.

I’m getting one of those high efficiency jobs with a variable speed DC motor (costs 1000 more, but we’ll be making it up with the rebates) to save on gas costs and electricity. Seems that overall we will be saving about 50 bucks a month with this fancy combo. Sounds good to me as saving is the buzzword these days around our house with our limited income.

On the writing front (that horrible trench warfare with plenty of gas and noise - hey, I write alone) I’m making steady, if slow, progress on completing my second draft of Typhoon Rising. Why the slowdown is because the last chapter spawned into two chapters and I’ve actually had to insert new sections and rearrange what was left. No easy task and what I raced through at the end is, well, not all that good. It’s more an outline than a 1st draft.

I did start another short story though, the one I want to have ready for the competition come Nov 1st. Not sure I’ll make it. You would be surprised how long it takes to polish a short story worthy of making the grade.

As for NaNoWriMo - I’m still on the fence with this one. I should do it, but I’m not sure I can fit it in. Leaning towards a yes to get my third novel in at least 1st draft phase. I’ll let you know if it happens.

And Fluffy the rat is doing very well these days. Whatever ailment he had is completely cured and he is his old begging-for-treats self.

Well, much writing to do plus all the other stuff that gets in the way.

Until next Sunday . . .

Saturday, September 26, 2009

a flash of fiction

Looks like flash fiction is back on the menu for Saturdays. This was a prompt from Saturday Scribes with a theme of 'choice', and using the words 'boardwalk, sparks, circling".

Flames of War and Hope
by Paul Darcy

I could see the sparks circling high above the burning boardwalk. The air raid sirens had fallen silent now, but the city’s emergency vehicles and crews made almost as much noise in the dark of night. Underneath, like a dying breath, the eerie wails of despair and pain from victims wafted out in the smoke and ash. But there were other sounds as well, the sounds of children’s laughter so starkly contrasting these sounds of despair.

I used to walk my dog this way before the war. I’m not sure what happened to him after my home was bombed killing most of my family and blowing a hole in my world to rival any I could see in the city streets. Watching the fires attended to, I sat upon a precipice, looking over the edge and my eyes began to well with tears.

But, almost to my surprise, they were not tears of fear or pain or anguish. They were tears of joy, joy that in the midst of this evil I could still hear the laughter of children. Not all hearts were reduced to cinders, and I knew hope and love, despite the odds, could prevail over despair if you let it.

Turning from the flickering light of many fires, I walked towards the children, to join them in their games, and I began to smile for the first time in days.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

revisions and updates

Well this week didn’t fly by quite as quickly as the last - but it is gone, never to be seen again.

And it looked like our last pet rat Fluffy was on his way to rat heaven where all the cages are open and there is never a lack of something to gnaw on. But, I still had some antibiotics left over from one of our deceased rats (Harry) and I’ve been feeding it to Fluffy by spiking his yoghourt treats for the past three days - and he seems a lot better this morning as I found him begging at the cage door for treats - his natural happy self again!

Last night we were out at our yearly dinner dance tennis banquet. When we came home afterwards the baby-sitter said, “wow, you guys have a really big mouse” - how cute is that? When I explained that Fluffy was a rat, not a mouse, she looked like I was lying. Oh, the innocence of youth.

Let’s see, this week in writing - I’ve revised a few things and got some more done. First revision came from the realization that, despite my best efforts, chewing gum and walking is just too damn hard for me.

So, instead of trying to re-write my novel and work on a new short story - I’m sticking to one writing task at a time until its completed - well until a certain phase is completed.

Right now I’m getting my novel in second draft form after which time I will spend my energies whipping up a short story idea to enter into a contest. I have been told in the past to enter contests, but always shied away from the idea. Well, come end of October that will no longer be the case. I will be entered - and should I win, or even get a honorable mention, that would be very cool.

Any way it turns out, I’ll be off to the next hurtle and moving onward. The permanent state of the writer I’m afraid.

And I had some more discussions with the person (librarian in fact) asking if I would come to our local high school and talk to their students taking the grade 12 writer’s craft course. I would love to do this and it looks like it may well happen. Fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted.

Well, I think I’ve captured about all of it for the week. Oh, and chapter 13 of my current novel will be re-written for next week, and I’ll then be on to the final chapter. WooHoo for me!

Then it’s edit again, re-write a third time, edit once more and polish one final re-write - then off to submission land it goes. Then for me - it’s on to novel number three.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 13, 2009

events two

Sunday already?

Wow, how the time flies during the week when you are not commuting and squatting in cubicles . . .

. . . been pretty busy this week actually on re-writes of chapter 13 of my novel. It’s surprisingly slow going - but I’m getting there, however tedious and painful the process.

Two events took place during this week, and I feel the need to relate them - oh, and to have something to post here, of course.

Event one was our regular monthly reading night. I read chapter 8 of my second draft, and it was received well. I have some sequencing issues with the story at this point, and reading it aloud to the group helps immensely in getting it all sorted. It seems I can get the group somewhat emotionally attached to minor characters and then rip their hearts out to good effect. Maybe a little Joss has rubbed off on my work . . . Anyhow, I thank the group for their input - it will make all the difference in the end when it’s in published novel form at your local bookstore (he says using “the secret” to make it so . . .) Yes, my permanent state of being is tongue-in-cheek, which makes eating and talking a challenge, but I manage somehow.

Event, the second, was going to a friend’s wedding. She is one of the nicest people I know and I was happy that my wife and I were invited to share in her day. I met her about 15 years ago, at my old workplace when she was working there as a coop student, and found out that she was a fellow writer. One thing lead to another and I asked her if she would like to come and participate in our reading nights. To our group’s delight, she did come out all those years ago and has become an occasional member and friend to us all ever since.

Now, if you know me in person, then you know I don’t make friends easily. But I’m glad I overcame my aversion to allowing new people into my life in her case. Her stories are funny, she is always smiling, her outlook is continuously sunny and she is a great addition to our ancient coven - our reading group has been together, I’m thinking about 23 years now . . .

And not only am I working on my novel, but I’ve had two really cool story ideas that need writing. One will be for a contest which is due by the end of October, and the other will be an attempt to get back into the short story publishing business again - it’s been far too long since a short story of mine has appeared in print. I would like that to change in the near future. It would be nice to go into those high schools for talks (gee, coming up in the months ahead) and show them exhibit A - a current published short story!

Well, I’m sure I will have more exciting news to relate next Sunday, so I’ll step off the box now and get another coffee before diving into more novel re-writes.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 06, 2009

the writing continues

Well, as promised, I’m back on Sunday keeping you abreast of all the exciting activities taking up my writing, and real, life these days . . .

I’ve been taking a kind of half-vacation before school starts on the 8th and so have been only writing 1,000 words a day since Sept 1st. And so far I’ve managed it with some pretty good results which I am sure to share this Friday - our writing group’s reading night.

You see, I’ve been reading all about WW2, because it’s one of my interests. Why does this period in history interest me so much when it horrifies most. I guess I’m drawn to the ultimate question of why such horrible atrocities were perpetrated in the first place, and then equally drawn to the heroic sacrifices so many made to stop the insanity.

My daughter got her new cello as well - she is growing so fast. I’m so proud of her and she is playing so much better each year. It’s amazing, really. But, to my credit, I played the first several notes of Twinkle on her cello to the amazement of all. I could probably play that device, but two in the house out of three playing is expensive enough. So, unless I get $100,000 plus for my first novel, cello for me is out for the foreseeable future.

I’m also going to my first gathering, this coming Sept 8th, of local writer’s in our area. There is an assignment I’m working on for it. It’s almost the same as Saturday Scribes where we are given certain words and have to come up with a story of poem or something written using them.

My tale is about murder and mayhem and a not quite reformed war criminal - which has nothing . . .okay, everything, to do with what I’ve been reading lately. How the pirates snuck in there, well I’m not sure.

And It looks as though my writer’s talks to students will be expanding this school year as well - how cool is that? I’ll be doing a talk to our local high school for their young writer’s program as well as talking to two separate high school classes (one English and one a writer’s class) in another high school near Toronto.

I’m thinking, once I get enough professional cred (that’s a cool slang word, isn’t it?) I may put together an actual program and charge schools a fee for me to come in and discuss the whole art and science of the professional writing business.

Well, time is running out on me this morning, so . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday it is

No, not Yoda speak, or even a simple statement of fact, but a decision on my part and one I hope you might like.

After blogging for and entire year straight it’s a little hard to go cold turkey on emptying my brains onto the internet, and since this place will by my conduit to fans fo my writing (yes, I love deluding myself), I had best keep it up so as not to disappoint.

So, what I have decided is that every Sunday’s will be my blog day here at the Twisted Mind. Heck, if preachers can spew out something once per Sunday - how hard can it be?

Yes, that special place in hell is getting prepared for me, I just know it.

And so you know, I’m starting up the novel re-writes on September 8th - the day school starts this year and routine timing, save strange days, will be the norm once more. Until then I’m enjoying the last days of summer with gaming, visiting and doing some house tidying.

I have a five drawer filing cabinet in my lair and I only ever had access to two drawers of it. But my wife will be getting her own three drawer next week which will then allow me to be able to hide away a lot of my stuff in the freed up three drawers, stuff which looks like a cluttered mess on my bookshelves.

Well, with that said then, expect to see something here every Sunday from now on. It could be a short story, novel excerpt, weird science article, dance trance tune, cartoon strip, audio file, photograph, entertaining real life story - whatever takes my fancy that week.

So, instead of until tomorrow, I’ll be replacing that with . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Friday, August 28, 2009

earth shattering KaBoom?

Day 365 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Holy Crap!

I actually did it!

Blogging for 365 days in a row . . .

In truth, since I set this goal, I knew I would make it.

Um, yeah . . . like you, I’m excited about its end too.

And for this last post, I was thinking maybe some great photography, or perhaps an audio bit, or a song, or a novel announcement . . .

. . . instead, you are getting only these written words with no added bonuses.

A letdown I know, but after 365 days of this, I’m not really up to much except ending this insanity.

So, year in review?

Well, I got a new computer, ditched the mind-and-body-crippling cube-squatting job, became a full-time writer, gave a talk in a high school and finished Fallout 3 . . .

Great accomplishments, or routine activities in just about any person’s life?

I’m not sure, and I don’t think it really matters one way or the other. What matters most in the end, I think, is the setting of reasonable, if challenging, goals and then the attaining of them.

So I was reading David Gemmell last night (Dark Moon) - man what a shame he died so young - this man was an epic fantasy writing genius. I beg you to pick up just about any of his novels and enjoy - if you like epic fantasy, that is.

Well, as you can read this post is about as dull as a rusty butter knife, and I think I’m going to end it - now - to save you any more pain.

Thanks to all those crazy enough to pop by here regularly and see what I put up on display.

I’ll be back on occasion (just not every day) to relay information about how my new career is progressing and other interesting tidbits, like maybe some more weird science articles or short stories, but for the foreseeable future I look forward to enjoying some blog-off time.

My Mornings, from now on, will be exclusively novel writing times - maybe in another 365 days I can show you a nice shiny new book cover with my name on it - even if I have to draw it myself . . .

Been a slice!

Until . . . tomor . . . er . . . the next time . . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009

second last

Day 364 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I only seem to have one thing on my blogging mind today - the fact that tomorrow this insane marathon comes to an end and I can say, “I DID IT”.

But that is not until tomorrow, of course.

Today I still need to come up with something entertaining to have you, my loyal, and very, very few, count-on-the-fingers-of-either-hand, readers coming back and seeing the closure of this silly episode in my life.

I’m really looking forward to my novel writing being the main item in my coffee-and-morning activities starting soon, and not having to crank out another blog.

It all starts in earnest on September 1st. And, as some of you know, it’s very important being earnest . . . not some John . . .

I’ll be giving myself a break until then - but afterwards it is going to be all fun business.

How can business be fun?

Well, when it’s something that entertains oneself, and may possibly pay a few bills along the way, I would classify that as fun and, um, business.

Oh, looks like I have to be on my way - my daughter is making pancakes.

Until Tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

school days approach

Day 363 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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At this time of year, end of August, I start hearing on the radio that catchy jingle “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” - meant for Christmas, twisted to mean it’s such a joy for parents to have the kids getting back to school.

Kids do need structure and something to do, but getting them up in the morning and off to school is no easy task.

We have the wardrobe bought for our daughter already so that is good. She has a new backpack - what is up with this anyhow? Back when I was at school nobody had a damn backpack, now it’s a requirement. Silly. Oh, and she has a new lunch bag because last year’s lunch bag is almost destroyed, not to mention ripe.

While the weather holds I’ll be walking her to school and back, which gets me out of the house and doing some exercising - a good thing for the writer hunching over a keyboard for long periods each day.

With my wife starting work (today, actually she begins with an orientation day) I’ll be taking on the main cello lesson driver position for my daughter. I’ve already been brought up to speed on what it is I need to do. Today will be the first go.

And it’s a little hard to believe and entire year has almost gone by since I started this crazy marathon.

Only two more of these posts to go and then I can celebrate - which I already did in anticipation of completion by ordering Science News for myself.

Summer holidays are great for family activities, but hell for the writer. I look forward to things getting back to a sort of routine for my daughter and wife so I can get back to finishing up my current novel and starting on the next one.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

vinyl groove gizmo

Day 362 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’m about ready to order a gizmo made by Ion, the makers of cheap but expensive USB turntables, which allows you to plug in your analog music machines and pipe it through to your computer to turn into digital tunes.

It will be a long a painstaking process, but I have about 200 albums which need to be on my writing computer - just because.

It will be so good to get my BTO and Foreigner and Kajagoogoo and Nik Kershaw on my machine for writing time. I really miss not listening to these bands and the many many others, and no I don’t feel like subscribing to iTunes, or any other version, when I have all this great music just sitting in vinyl and waiting for me to digitize.

I’ve, over the years, bought all the Alan Parsons Project and Kate Bush on CD, but it’s just too much money to try and pull that stunt with all my vinyl collection.

So, for 60 bucks, I’ll soon have the gizmo to do all this conversion for myself. Oh, and you can plug in any analog unit including tape decks so those old cassettes I still have will get digitized too.

And no, I do not have any 8-tracks.

I’m old, but not that old.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, August 24, 2009

some fluff some facts

Day 361 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’ve been on my own for the past eight days, and although it’s been nice and quiet, it’s also been kind of desolate.

So I look forward to the return of the girls today and all the noise and mess they bring with them.

As social animals, I’m not sure it’s a good thing to be on one’s own for an indefinite length of time. I think, in the long run, that would lead to madness.

And now, thinking about that, I feel sorry for our lone surviving rat, Fluffy. He’s been on his own, with our family of homo sapiens talking to him and giving him treats for a couple of months now. I’m sure he is coping, but I can see the look of loneliness in his beady little rat eyes. He pines for another of his kind, I know it.

Compassion.

I wonder if humans are the only ones to possess it? How egotistical for us to think so.

Did you know Elephants, not humans, have the largest brains of any land animal?

And did you also know that mole rats are mammals, but they are cold-blooded, proving that the saying ‘all mammals are warm-blooded” is utterly false.

See, and you came here today expecting to learn nothing new.

You just never know what you might find once you apply the proper leverage to that rock.

I’ll leave you with a saying my old shop teacher used to say, advice if you like, but it stuck with me all these years.

“Never push or pull indiscriminately on a wrench”.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, August 23, 2009

motivational stickers

Day 360 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I took some advice and incorporated stickers into my writing routine for a reward.

I know it sounds kind of 3rd grade, but when my calendar starts to fill up with these colourful little representations of hard work, I start to feel good about what it is I’m doing and can actually see how much time and effort is going into my writing career.



In the pile you can see stickers called, ‘Solar System’, ‘Bold Butterflies’, ‘Colorful Smiles’, ‘Happy Books’, and of course, the ever ubiquitous and popular stars.

If I write two hours a day, and each star represents 15 minutes on my hourglass timer, then I should have enough stickers to last me for over two years . . .

Yes, I believe in overkill.

Actually this pile of stickers, for me, means that when I have finally pasted them all to my calendar, I will be well on my way to a paid living cranking out words to entertain.

At least that is the plan.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Short Story: Mi-Go Spelunking

Day 359 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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This is the short story in which Morley Fenn makes his first appearance, briefly at the end. It’s got death, horror and empty craniums - what more could you want? Enjoy.


Mi-Go Spelunking
By: Paul Darcy

Spelunkers, like swimmers, should always obey and follow the buddy system. But, like all manly men, Jake Talbot was beyond taking such childish precautions and had good luck throughout his life ignoring rules such as these, until now.

Several hundred feet into the tunnels, and with his ankle swelling up and hurting like a bitch, he was not so sure today’s choice was a wise one. His cell phone didn’t work all the way down here and there was no way, in his current condition, that he could traverse the steep and uneven declines he had already climbed down to get where he was. The last section, where he fell, was the absolute worst.

So, Jake thought, the only solution was to go deeper into the tunnels where the way was more even, and try to find an alternative way up and out. These caves had several exits he knew. What he didn’t know was how to actually find another one once he was deep down inside of this one.

He had water and food which would last him a few days if he stretched it out. That was not his real problem at the moment though. His real concern was that the batteries in his flashlight, plus the extras, would only last about ten hours. So, Jake had no real choice about sitting around hoping another spelunker would happen by, which was unlikely. He had been sure to go spelunking during early mid-week to avoid others. That choice may cost him a great deal, perhaps even his life. But he was Jake Talbot, and no bad decision or swollen ankle was going to claim him.

Rising from the cold rocks, Jake hopped onto his one good leg and tested his swelling ankle. Jake could not put his full weight onto it, but if he hop-stepped forward quickly and caught his weight with his good ankle he could make adequate time. There was also nothing down here to forage for in the shape of a crutch just a ton of rock and damp and the occasional spelunker’s trash in the form of candy bar wrappers or empty plastic water bottles.

Hobbling along, Jake made decent progress and the pain of his swollen ankle was bearable but certainly not getting any better. When he stopped for a sip of water, he gave it another inspection and did not like what he found. It had puffed up even more and spread down to his foot. His shoe looked like it was stretching to the breaking point. Jake loosened the laces a bit to relieve the pressure. Goddamn, he swore to nobody in particular, this day was shaping up to be a real ass-licker.

Still, Jake was determined to get the hell out of here and make his way to the hospital. But so far, any side fissures he had tried lead to nowhere, or choked off so he could not proceed. After about three hours of travel Jake was beginning to despair for real and no amount of cursing or self-bolstering of his courage was helping at this point.

Jake took another break to chew down some food and have a drink. He was wondering if he should actually backtrack and try to make it up the steep track he took down here. Could he even get back there now? Shit, could he even remember the way and his ankle was getting worse not better.

That’s when he began to hear something. It sounded like a hum or buzz, like a far off hornet or bee’s nest. Great, he thought, all he would need to do was run into something like that in his condition. A swarm of hornets and me, unable to run. Fucking great!

But, instead of a constant sort of buzz, it changed pitch and occasionally stopped altogether then would start up again. Very odd, he thought. Maybe it was the wind whistling down some convoluted pathways through the stone. Yeah, he told himself, that must be it. And where the wind came down here, there may be an opening to the outside.

With renewed vigor, despite the spikes of pain with every hop-step, Jake did his best to find the location of the buzzing. But every time he thought he had tracked it correctly, it seemed to come from someplace else and he was forced into more side passages. What he failed to keep a good track of was not only his direction, but also his upward vs downward advancement. If Jake had, he would have noticed that he was much farther underground now than when he had started.

He was rounding a jagged corner when he could have sworn he saw movement up ahead at the far edge of his flashlight’s range. It may have been a shadow or rock cast by his jerky flashlight movements, but had he to testify in a court of law, he would have sworn that he did see something relatively large moving just at the edge of his flashlight’s range.

The buzzing was getting louder now too, and he could make out distinct differences in some of the tones. If he didn’t know better he would almost think there were multiple sources and that they were moving around. Jake just made it to the next corner when his flashlight dimmed so much is became next to useless. Something, bats perhaps, moved quickly upwards in the distance with a flapping of wings and disappeared upwards and out of sight. He shook his flashlight hoping to get a better view but it’s batteries were all but dead. The buzzing disappeared as well. Was it possible for Jake to hear the sonar of a bat? It must be, for what else could he have been hearing if not the wind? And at this point Jake had definitely ruled out that possibility.

Struggling to fish the extra batteries out of his pack, Jake dropped one of them and heard it rolling away down the uneven tunnel. “Shit,” he exclaimed doing his best to follow the dropped battery’s sound while struggling to keep from falling again. After a few desperate moments, the buzzing returned and much louder than ever before. He had to find that goddamn battery!

Echoes of buzzing threw off his sense of hearing and direction and once the battery settled Jake wasn’t sure exactly how far or to which side of the tunnel it may have ended up. IN desperation Jake tried putting one new battery in with a dead one, but the flashlight did not burn any brighter. It was pointless. He needed that new battery and what was that horrible buzzing.

With no other options Jake got down on his hands and knees and made his way slowly forward sweeping and probing the floor with his hands as he went. All the while he was expecting some vampire bat swarm the descend upon him and suck all the blood from his body while he writhed in agony on the cold stone. But, it didn’t happen. That did not stop his mind from displaying before his mind’s eye new horrors.

After several futile minutes Jake’s hands and knees were bloodied and killing him, and he had not found the damn battery. He was about to give up when the rocky tunnel floor, at first seeming solid, suddenly gave way beneath him. Jake didn’t even have time to swear before his head struck solid rock and he blacked out.

* * *

Jake wasn’t sure what woke him first, the loud buzzing or the pain he felt all over his broken body. But, instead of waking in the dark at the bottom of some hole, he found himself in a dimly lit cavern. What he was looking at scared him into a kind of numb shock. He was lying on some kind of manufactured table and around him odd equipment blinked and hummed. There were rows of glass jars, and wires and tubes with coloured liquids running through them from one piece of strange equipment to another.

Through teary, blurry eyes, Jake could make out some sort of large flying creatures in the cavern as well, the source of the wild buzzing he know knew. He couldn’t focus on them properly through. When he tried to look directly at one it seemed to be fuzzy or distorted like it his vision was impaired. They appeared to be multi-legged and segmented like a giant wasp, but they were very dark and mottled and the head was unlike anything he could think of in the animal kingdom. The strange thing though was that the rest of the cave was not out of focus like these flying, buzzing creatures.

The pain was growing more intense now and Jake had a hard time focusing on anything at all let alone this strange place with the buzzing nightmares. The last image Jake recalled on this world, was one of the buzzing insect things hovering over him with some kind of hooked instrument. The horror and anguish were too much and Jake knew no more.

* * *

The pain was gone, but so was Jake’s normal perceptions. He was sitting on a shelf beside a lot of glass jars - each one looked to be holding a human brain in pale yellow liquid. Tubes and wires sprouted out of each canister.

Jake screamed, but instead of a human sound, what he produced was a buzzing which vibrated the glass his brain was trapped behind.

* * *

“And that’s the way you found him?” asked Morley Fenn.

“Yes,” stammered the shocked boy of twelve, “I didn’t do anything to him, I swear.”

“It’s okay, son,” Morley said. “Nobody is accusing you of foul play. You can go home now, and thanks for reporting this.”

Taking down notes, Morley recalled several other cases in the files from years back. Humans found, sometimes in bad shape, sometimes not, but having one thing in common - their brains completely removed and no trace of how it was done.

Just what the hell was going on around Chilton county? Strange lights in the sky, noises from the Bulford crags, people disappearing without a trace, and now this. It had been a bad year for Morley, but private investigators went through cycles. His luck would change. One day he would find out what really happened to his girl. Sandy Brooks didn’t leave him as the locals had believed, he was sure of that. They were to be married.

No, something, this place perhaps, took her away. If Morley had to spend all his waking hours putting clues together from all the strange cases in the county, so be it.

Next on his list for today, old man Brown. He said his cows were being rustled. Could be locals, could be something else.

Morley snapped his notepad closed and headed out to his 37 Ford Coupe. Sometimes he wondered why he stuck around here: looking at a snap of Sandy in his sunshade provided his answer. He cranked the car over and squealed out of the drive of the court house lot.

Friday, August 21, 2009

dead easy

Day 358 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Today’s blog is dead easy.

I only have to tell you I’m guest appearing at The Rose City Sisters FLash Fiction site today and then let you follow the link to do some more browsing.

It’s a bit of a cheat, since the story already appears here, but it should give me some more exposure - and exposure if good, unless you’re a vampire - which I am not.

I may post a Morley Fenn story tomorrow because a few missed the first one involving the Dark Young during reading night a few months back.

And I can’t believe it’s almost the end of this damn marathon.

I know you and I both can’t wait.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, August 20, 2009

district 9

Day 357 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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So, I went out last night and saw me this film called District 9.

Wow, is my first response. It was pretty damn impressive, if filled with unanswered questions and a few niggling issues I had with it.

It’s shot in a sort of CNN news coverage way, and believe me, if you have that motion issue with video games then this movie on a 50 foot screen will make you positively ill with all the hand held and motion shots.

I don’t want to give much away except to say it’s not a Hollywood glitz movie by any stretch, and it deals with how I think, and obviously the makers think, we humans would behave in this very situation.

It’s a bit gory too, but not overly much by today’s standards. The CGI is very realistic and there weren’t actually any moments while I was watching when I was thinking - hey, that’s just CGI crap.

Overall, go out and see this movie - if you don’t suffer motion sickness that is, because it is worthy of your time.

And please, for the love of all things art like and shiny I hope they - NEVER, EVER, EVER make a District 10.

EVER!

Just let this film stand on its own and let it be.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ten to one

Day 356 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It seems like I’ve been doing this blogging-every-day thing for two years straight already, but the numbers tell me otherwise. Including this post, I have ten to go until I reach one full year.

Still, it will come to an end soon, and I will be relieved to not be tied down to it every day. I’ll still post on occasion, just not every gorram day.

Yes, I have been re-watching Firefly, but for some unknown reason I found it not as enjoyable as the first time through. Familiarity breeding contempt, perhaps?

And yes, that was a Culture Club reference. My mind works in mysterious ways.

I’m still searching for a series of TV show that can top, for me anyhow, Buffy. It was all that was right on TV. And yes, even the last season, though not as good as the others, had plenty of great moments.

Don’t even speak to me about Angel, and I have yet to see Dollhouse if I ever will.

But now it’s back to the written word and trying to create something other people might actually like to read and enjoy - hence, not blog posts with no purpose except to achieve a set quantity goal.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

3 days

Day 355 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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until one of my short stories comes up on another’s site - per request.

How did this happen?

Well, once you announce to the world that you are a writer, sometimes a few of those around you hear what you say and ask questions, or request product.

It’s the same way I got the gig to go into high school and talk to young adults about the art and pain of trying to be a published writer.

It was Twitter actually what got me the request.

Somebody liked what I tweeted, checked out this blogsite, liked what they read - and then asked if I would participate in their author site with a sample of my writing.

Connections.

Every artist needs them - as well as circuit boards, unless you write longhand . . .

Oops, slipped into the cryptic again . . .

Anyhow, I’m not going to go so far as to have business cards made up, or wear t-shirts that announce my profession, but I’m going to answer truthfully when people ask me what I do from now on.

And there is this mytique about being a writer and damn few people understand what it’s like to be one or how anybody could be one, etc.

Truth is, it’s just damn hard work, and it takes a long time to produce worthy product and generally longer to convince others to publish what you wrote.

If you worked out the pay scale in dollars per hours, I’m pretty certain it would work out to be more like pennies per hour - at least for the first few years or longer.

Still, it sure beats the hell out of commuting and cube squatting - beats the living hell out of it in fact.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, August 17, 2009

klaatu verada ni-cough-er-cough-ahem

Day 354 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Just about says it all for campy movies for me.

So yes, I was watching “Army of Darkness” last night and it always makes me laugh out loud.

In the beginning of the movie, when Ash first arrives in the past, it is dead obvious his shotgun is not on his back in its leather case. In fact we can see the empty case over and over again in many scenes until suddenly he shoots Arthur’s sword in half.

So just where was he hiding that 2 ½ foot long firearm? I’ve heard of horseshoes before, but this is ridiculous . . .

It reminded me of the animated 60s Spider Man where Spidy is swinging along with his camera, then no camera, then camera, then no camera, etc.

Self-imposed flubs aside, this is a damn fine fun movie to sit back with and just unload - a shotgun or rifle works best, for the unloading part that is . . .

In fact the last scene of Ash in the S-Mart wielding the lever action rifle and blowing away a demon witch girl is just too much for me - and I love it.



Shop smart, shop S-Mart.

Give me some candy, baby,

Groovy.

And it you like Campbell in this movie, you aught to see him in “Bubba Ho-Tep” which is superior and just as campy and possibly even more fun.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, August 16, 2009

rat buddy

Day 353 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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That’s what I call him, even though his name is Fluffy.



As you may, or may not, be able to tell he is our pet rat - the last of four rats we’ve had and he is having the good fortune of being the longest living as well at the current doddering old age of 1 year 8 months.

As you can see, pet rats (lab rats) are not the gross brown Norwegine horrors rumaging through your garbage and growing bigger than cats. They are cute, hairy little guys that do not bite and make great pets.

Domestic rats have been bred for the laboratory (for over 100 years now), so we homo sapiens can perform horrible experiments on them in the hopes of extending our own lives. We do these kinds of thing, in case you didn’t know.

Anyhow, these little hair balls live about 2 to 3 years, which is not a long time.

But time enough to get attached to them and find them to be an integral part of the family.

We have a nice rat home too. It’s a three story rat high rise rat unit, suitable for two rats.



Rats love living in cardboard boxes because they can chew them to shreds. Rats love to chew things - and you thought puppies were bad.

He is to be our last rat buddy. Our next pet, if we can ever afford one, will be a dog.

Either a whippet or a border terrier.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, August 15, 2009

hot peppers two

Day 352 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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How could I even begin to call myself a true pepper grower if I didn’t have in my garden some hot Hungarian ones?

Seen below here is one of our two hot Hungarian pepper plants, which seem to be doing better than the Jalapenos - as far as growing peppers early is concerned.



I’ve already tried one, and yes I nibbled first. To my satisfaction I found them to be quite hot indeed. Not hot enough to make you sick, but eating one will likely make you sweat and look for beverages in a hurry.

I’m not sure what exactly I’m going to do with them. They will likely end up being consumed by me with cheese and crackers, unless I can find a recipe for them. My family likes a bit of spice, but not too much. I fear putting one of these in a recipe will not make them happy.

True story:

Back when I first started into my cubicle life I knew a Hungarian worker and he used to bring in these peppers by the dozens each day, when they were in season.

I recall watching in horror and fascination as he would proceed to consume one after the other during lunch like they were carrots. Sweat would break out all over his body and he looked like he was about to spontaneously combust. He never did though, and as far as I know he is still alive and kicking.

This concludes the peppers in the garden series.

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, August 14, 2009

hot peppers one

Day 351 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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As the weather is nice, and the camera is working, and I can transfer images to my blog - here is a picture of the Jalapeno peppers I’m growing beside the house.



As you can see they are flowering up nicely, but the season is slow this year because we have not had boiling, hot temperatures so far - not that I’m complaining, but if peppers could give voice mine would have been yelling at me to bring them hot cocoa and sweaters this past few weeks.

Anyhow, once these plants start producing peppers they spew them out like crazy and you end up liking them a lot - or giving then away to friends.

Me, I like to just cut them in rings and eat them with cheese and crackers . . .

. . . or put them in sauces and stir-fries of any kind - or even eat them raw . . .

. . . Which reminds me of a true story from last year.

Early in the Jalapeno season 2008, I picked a small Jalapeno pepper and took a tentative nibble of it. It was actually sweet and not at all hot. So, I promptly chomped the whole thing down.

A few days latter I picked a slightly bigger one - and made a very bad assumption. I assumed it would be mild like its sister pepper.

Fail!

I chomped the pepper in half and began to chew - a moment later, as the whole mass was crushed up in my mouth, I realized my near-fatal error. This pepper was so damn hot I nearly threw up. This was the closest to swooning in agony I’ve ever come. Thankfully the water hose is right beside where I grow these peppers and I was able to flush my mouth out before passing out from the pain.

Moral of this pepper tale - don’t chomp before you nibble . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, August 13, 2009

the flat screen

Day 350 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’ve blabbed about it and what a great deal I got, so I suppose I should show you a picture of what I bought to watch my DVDs on.



Okay, it’s not a Sony or Toshiba - it’s a Prima. But let’s face it, there are only 3 manufacturers of flat panel TVs on this earth. One in Japan and two in Korea I believe. The Prima set is made by the same manufacturer as the Panasonic, so I think it should be okay quality.

And flat panels have been out for over a decade now the so the technology is nothing new.

I’m actually getting used to the size of the screen now, and it feels just about right. You see, I don’t have perfect vision for distance and the larger screen helps me pick out things I’m sure I’ve missed for many years when I watched on the 24 inch I used to have.

The only thing I’ve never liked is how movies are 2:35 ration and the TV itself is only 1:78 ratio. So, you still end up with a strip of black above and below the actual images on your TV. I can get rid of that by using the ‘zoom’ function but then you are cutting off some of the picture.

But that is not a complaint and most (well newer anyhow) TV shows are shot in widescreen now and the realeased as DVD sets in 1:78 filling every pixel your widescreen TV without distortion.

And that is what I watch most of anyway, TV shows.

And now, it’s back to writing.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

fence material

Day 349 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Had I known how cost effective a chain link fence is compared to the six foot high solid wood fence I build was years ago - I would have gone that route first and saved myself the aggravation.

But, there were other factors involved eight years ago when the behemoth was constructed. Those factors don’t apply anymore and so a four foot chain link will do.

It’s black, keeps rodents at bay, and the wind, no matter how hard it blows, doesn’t stand much chance of blowing it over.

Oh, and I finally got my entire CD collection ripped to my computer. It’s so much better for writing to have everything there shuffling up surprises during the session.

And, almost at an end here with this silly marathon. I can’t believe you’ve hung in there that long and I must say, it’s been one hell of a long grueling trip to write something here everyday. But, so far, so good and yes, I look forward to not having to do it.

And maybe good was not the appropriate word here - more like endless filler.

Which means I’ll leave off today so I have something to write for tomorrow.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

game purging

Day 348 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It’s going to be a lot harder than I thought - dumping all those old computer games I’ve accumulated over the years.

As you can imagine, I’ve got a lot of old games for Win 95/98. And the funny thing is I still like almost all of them.

I was going to pitch them out and keep the cases for those DVD sets I have where the inner tabs break off and leave the discs poorly held or not held at all. Some of my Buffy sets are like that.

But, as I looked over my collection with that intent, I found a lot of stuff (like most of it) that I don’t want to part with. Command and Conquer, Birth of the Federation, Master of Orion 2, Diablo and Diablo 2 are just a few that come to mind.

I know I should just get rid of them all and be done with it. I have a bunch on new games, like Fallout 3, which thoroughly entertain me during my free moments with the family away and the writing all done for the day.

But I find I can’t.

Funny how you can collect so much stuff, not use it for years, but when the time comes to part with it we manage to convince ourselves that we will use it again and so hang onto it.

And, to top it all off, it’s even harder to part with those old games because I have an old Win 98SE machine to play all of them on - - so pitching them out begins to render my backup machine obsolete - well, it can be used for my writing too if this one blows up.

Silly really to leave all this cleanup to my offspring - so, I’m going to just make myself do it before the next decade pass and I accumulate even more.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, August 10, 2009

news free

Day 347 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’ve made it a point not to listen to, read, or watch any news in the past four weeks. And despite being pretty much out of the loop with regards to worldly going’s on (like I ever really was before anyhow) I’ve not missed it one little bit.

I actually get whatever small bits of news I oversee dribbled to me from those I follow on Twitter. How is that for bizarre.

Did you know the black hole in the center of our galaxy is a mere 4 million solar masses? Did you know Andromeda’s is 30 million solar masses. And did you know a monster lurks in the heart of galaxy M87, which weighs in at around 1 billion solar masses?

Now you do - and that’s the kind of news you really need to know.

Oh, and if our sun were a mere 20 times more massive than it is, when it burned out its fuel, it would collapse into a black hole.

Wouldn’t that be an event on our horizon . . .

See what I did there?

Yes, blogging for a year has affected my mind - and not necessarily in a good way.

Now, back to the books - those I’m reading, and those I’m writing.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, August 09, 2009

another old fool

Day 346 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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is going to start blogging every day for an entire year.

Oh, what a torture this individual is setting for himself - I know, from firsthand experience.

Is it good writing practice? - Um, not really.

Does is lead to loads of great blogs? - Um, actually it seems to just lead to lots of filler.

Does it lead to tons of followers? - Um, in my case it leads to stagnation and repulsion I fear.

Oh, and happy birthday to you - you crazy old coot.

I know, I’m older than you are, but what is six weeks? - Um, don’t ask mayflies.

Anyway, as you can see today, there is a great lull in my force powers to churn out yet another blog post of some entertainment value.

Actually, I’ll likely use a bunch more picures to close out this lunatic marathon over the next three weeks.

But, it will eventually end - um, and that’s a good thing.

Thank (insert whatever you want here)!

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, August 08, 2009

but the second one stayed up

Day 345 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Fence, that is.

As you can see from the picture below the fence is up and it’s looking good and solid. In fact, it was hopped a couple times and, besides a slight wobble, it’s solid as a rock.



The picture was taken from inside the yard and so the angle is slightly different from yesterdays shot. I suppose I should have thought of that, but you can get the idea.

Well, the final construction started well and all was going according to plan until the pipe cutter I borrowed, and returned, from my neighbour was needed again to cut off the line posts to proper height.

It wasn’t until I put on the top rail caps that I realized the fence posts were about two inches higher than they needed to be.

We waited around for an hour, but he did not return.

He did not.

We tried a hack saw and found that a quick way to frustration as the pole was wobbling all over the place despite one of us holding onto it. We gave up on that idea after a futile few minutes. So next, we walked to a place in town I thought rented tools, but the store only sold them.

I was not amused.

Next we went to the local Canadian Tire to see if they had a check pipe cutter. But, the one large enough to do the job was 40 bucks. Um, no thanks.

Anyhow, the next plan was to locate and then drive a ways to a real tool rental place. We picked up the same pipe cutter my neighbour had (for ten bucks) - I should have just kept the damn thing for the day, but I was being all neighbourly and wanted to return it promptly, which I did.

The rest was just slug work, and if you are going to try this at home kids, make sure you have fingers of steel to twist all those darn ties. Plyers help but you need to do a lot of twisting with the old digits.

After I thought we were done the fence was looking a bit out of shape. The height was good but the bow in some of the sections was unacceptable. So, we ventured forth again to get a turnbuckle and a bottom tension wire which we installed.

This cleared up most of the issues and what you see is the fence in the shot. It’s dead straight, solid as a rock, the chain itself touches the ground and is flush with the top rails - damn, it almost looks like it was constructed by two people who knew what they were doing and had built one before.

Not!

Two chain link fence rookies did this.

And tonight is reading night and my good friends’ birthday - well tomorrow actually, but he looks a year older after yesterday’s fence building.

Overall, the project was a huge success and I am extremely happy with the end product. I defy the winds to blow this sucker down . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, August 07, 2009

all in a row

Day 344 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Since I’m in the midst of fence construction, I thought I would give you a couple of pictures so you, the humble reader, can see how the project is proceeding.

The shot below is looking along the line of posts that we (my good friend and I) put up yesterday.



It was nice to find that the ground was not strew with rocks and rubble and so digging the post holes was not a hardship. My friend had some horror tales of doing this kind of thing in other locations - I’m glad my place will not be included in his horror list with regards to that.

It took us about three hours to complete what you see. The back of my yard spans only 46 feet, and we will be using my neighbours existing chain link post (which you can’t see because it is behind this shot) to fix the other end so we only need to dig 5 holes.

Next, as seen in the shot here, we mixed up some ready concrete stuff (which always blew dust at us every bag we opened).



Each hole is about two and a half mill . . . er, feet deep. Gawd how Douglas Adams (GRHS) has influenced my mind . . . Anyhow, each hole has around 100 pounds of concrete in it so the posts should not be falling over anytime soon.

The only fear is frost which may heave the posts if we have a crappy cold winter. But, in our neighbourhood (which we’ve been in eight years now) I’ve not seen a lot of leaning 4 foot chain link fences and so the likelihood of it heaving is very small.

Today we will be putting up the chain part and I’m sure you will see the finished product in a picture here tomorrow.

Now, I need to really finish my Morley Fenn short story for tomorrow night.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, August 06, 2009

been 4 months

Day 343 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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to the day since I left the cubicle.

I haven’t really looked back on my feelings about it, until today that is.

I’ve not really paid much attention to GM in the news after I left (well except for the bankruptcy issue which could have screwed my accrued pension), but I assume they are still a company and have not been liquidated outright.

I give them between 5 and 10 more years before they totally dissolve, or are absorbed by another company altogether.

But today’s short post only focuses on my feelings about the whole transaction. It’s been a little scary and unsettling, but I’m slowly adjusting to the new reality for me.

I was told that for every big change in your life it takes one month per year + 3 to make the transition. Let’s see, I was a cube-squatter for 20 years, plus 3 more months for a total of 23 months to make the new reality sink in and get comfortable with it.

After 4 months I’m still grappling a bit with the new routines and new life. There was much financial crap to get through and thankfully that is almost put to bed now, with a few more details left to iron out.

But come this September, after this silly blog marathon ends, I will be focusing 100% on the new life of writing and being an at home dad - both positions I enjoy about 1000% more than the old cube-squatting one.

It’s still a little scary, and outward pressure from sources which tell me I should be getting another job soon, have me not feeling totally comfortable yet.

I’m doing my best to ignore those bad influences and just get on with my new work.

I’m hoping to have a collection of short stories about Morley Fenn compiled within a year, as well as finishing my current novel and first drafting my second.

By writing every day I will meet these objectives, and may even exceed them.

Well, with that in mind, I’m off to polish my current Morley Fenn tale so it’s ready, at least in first and a half draft for our reading night this coming Saturday night.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

games closet

Day 342 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Here is a shot of the games closet in my lair.



It’s taken quite a few years to accumulate these games and most I still like to play when I get a chance to play them with others.

I think everybody must have a cubbyhole of some kind to stash their non-computer games, don’t they?

Starting at the top you can see the old Arkham Horror, still a good game but not in the same league as the new version you can also see on the right hand side with the three small expansions.

Then there is Carcassone, a game my daughter loves because you get to connect tiles to make castles and farms and roads. She usually beats me at it.

Another two games of epic proportions are Twilight Imperium and the expansion, plus War of the Ring. Both worthy games which need multi-hour sessions to complete. The are complicated games with many rules, but that aside, they are much fun - if you have the time.

I also have Runebound with some card expansions. My daughter also loves to play this one and asks to pull it out whenever she has the urge, which is more often than myself. A fun game also by Fantasy Flight Games.

Then there is Axis and Allies Pacific (flawed, but fun for a little while) and below, which didn’t make it into the shot, the original Axis and Allies as well as the newer expanded version which includes destroyers and artillery.

Tikal I really like, but the rest of the family would rather pass on it. Balderdash gets a lot of dust, but Settlers of Catan gets played once in a while.

Starfareres of Catan is fun, if flawed with three players, but it hasn’t come out in a while. Risk is, well Risk - good to blow off some time, but ultimately flawed.

And yes, you see and old CD-Rom drive and two small hard drives. Cast offs from computers of the past, but still operational and can be used as backups to my old system if some component should fail.

Now, isn’t it time to step away from the computer and TV and pull out one of your board games, call some friends and get to it?

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

morning brew

Day 341 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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The picture you see below is the actual system I use to make my morning coffee.



I probably use double what any sane person needs for one 14 oz. Mug, but I seem to really need a strong shot in the morning to get my old neurons firing for my writing time.

Well, it’s what I tell myself anyhow.

I can quit any time I like . . . really . . .

Ahem, as you can see I use an old Melita drip filter holder thing - they have an actual name? I find my coffee machine totally inadequate for squeezing the maximum coffee goodness into one cup. The machine has a way of diluting the pure caffeine essence no matter how much coffee I scoop into it.

And so I use the drip method.

I think the only thing that would work better would be dumping the coffee straight into 14 oz. Of boiling water and then drinking it unfiltered.

But that would be gross, wouldn’t it? And gritty.

Now to enjoy my strong brew and get that writing muscle exercised properly for today.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, August 03, 2009

not that big really

Day 340 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Of what do I speak?

Well, the new LCD TV, of course.

It’s only a 32 inch Widescreen. I see you shaking your head and wondering why I would get something so tiny when clearly I need something in the 60 inch range.

Fact - I’m only about 8 feet from the TV while viewing it, and watching the last few days (after my writing is all done mind you) I’ve found 32 inches to be quite adequate. In fact, when we first watched a show, upon bringing it home and setting it up, we actually thought it looked a bit too big for our space.

So, to have gotten something in the 40 inch + range would have been downright silly. The unit I got has a built in progressive scan DVD player as well and the TV itself will display up to 1080i signal (should Blue Ray become the norm in the years ahead and I actually buy a player), but usually converts whatever you stick into it to either 480p or 720p.

Am I happy with it?

This is the question my wife asks me several times a day.

Um, yeah - very happy, thank you.

And the price was so low, with a full 1 year parts and labour warranty, that I couldn’t pass it up. How low you ask?

Well, let me just say that I spent a little over half of what I paid for our old 20 inch Sony many, many years ago.

Incredible how electronics have fallen in price so much over the years. Now, if gas prices would do the same . . .

Anyhow, now I get to watch all those movies and widescreen TV shows I have on something that doesn’t make me squint and pause the program to try and make out fine details.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, August 02, 2009

back on the fence

Day 339 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Or I should say, back to building a fence, but that blog title would have been far too dull.

So, yes, the fence I had to tear down (the six foot wooden one) needs to be replaced and my neighbour has offered to foot half the bill.

Going out today then to acquire the chain link parts and pieces and then conscript a friend to help me put it up.

Not going to be fun, but once it is done then it should never blow down in the winds, being chain link and all.

And, I got up late today so things are getting a wee rushed again. I’ve got some more fence planning, measuring and checking to do before the purchase. Then there is the writing, which I want to have finished before lunch.

How did I ever get anything done before I was retired . . .

Don’t those words just make you want to cane somebody?

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, August 01, 2009

the new short

Day 338 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It’s been percolating in my mind for the past several days - that new twisted short story - and now it must come out.

It's a situation I haven’t read yet (though it has probably been done before - haven’t they all?) and is just begging to get out of my cluttered mind and free itself.

It will be set in the world of Morley Fenn, and it will be he that investigates the mystery.

So, with August hot off the press, and my mind working overtime on this idea, I need to scurry off NOW and get it down.

Oh, and on a practical side note of everyday life, my wife scooped a permanent job for next year so our financial woes will be lessened and my writing career can be given a good run before I need to go out and get a job packing groceries.

Also our neighbour has offered to pay for half of the fence I had decided not to build - so, fence is back on the menu boys!

Which means I need to contact my good friend (a real "Builder the Bob" type) and see when he is free to help me with the construction.

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, July 31, 2009

so ends July

Day 337 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Not exactly an end of the month review since it’s a day early, however, thought I would share a few details of leaving the rails - as it were.

As far as reading goes I’ve got the yearly target beat already - 5 months early. So, good for me on that count.

The writing though has taken a beating this month and I’ve actually accomplished about 50 % of what I intended.

I endeavour to do better in August.

Some good news came along yesterday too.

It would appear my wife has been offered permanent employment - she was only contract and subbing last year - so this is welcome news indeed.

So, the plan to dump my old employer and seek out a new life was not so insane after all. I’m not surprised though as my wife is very determined and very smart - kinda knew that when I made my decision earlier this year to jump ship and try this writing thing full time.

Which means, starting next month, I’m going to give it a try at “full time” again, less the one week of planned vacation already scheduled.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, July 30, 2009

giving in

Day 336 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Urges.

We all get them and mine are appearing in the form of must-write-short-story impulses right now.

So, I’m thinking, I should indulge myself and crank out another short. I already thought of the idea before I woke up this morning. It will be another tale of Morley Fenn, private eye caught in a harsh universe where Cthulhu is more than just a Mythos.

I know, I know - the novel!

I’m having a hard time buckling down to such a huge project this summer. As I’ve previously mentioned, and so I think, with my days kinda screwed up as they are with vacations and the house a bustle of activity, I’d set my sights on shorter works until September when I will then get down to this novel business - and finish it once and for all.

It may be a running away from the larger work during this summer, but maybe it’s what I need for the moment.

July is almost over and August’s schedule of activities is even more intense.

Waiting for September then, and come November 1st where I’ll start shopping my novel around and beginning on another.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

such a small thing

Day 335 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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As you can guess from the image provided below - today is ‘War of the Ring’ day.



Dawn rises cold on the battlefield of Middle Earth, and the free peoples wait, mostly unaware, as the hordes of Sauron amass for the onslaught . . .

. . . or something.

This game by Fantasy Flight Games is pretty good at wiling away a few hours (like up to eight, depending on how long you deliberate between actions) and keeps the flavour of Tolkien’s world well.

The gist of the game for the free peoples is to secret the ring into Mordor where it needs to be destroyed, while Sauron’s target is to crush the free people’s resistance and ultimately capture their strongholds to win - either that or corrupt the ring bearer so much he goes nuts and hands over the goods to its maker, Sauron.

So, without further delay, I’ve got many jobs to complete this morning, including my writing, before the war begins this afternoon.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

hafta reburn

Day 334 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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In the transfer of music from my old machine to my new machine much, of my collection was lost, or just plain refused to transfer.

It was a comedy of system errors between corrupt burned CDs to my machine wanting to reboot for no reason half-way through a transfer, etc. I was frustrated back then and gave up on it.

So that was then, and now that it’s now, I’m back to ripping all the stuff that didn’t make it over on the initial horrendous transference.

It’s been going pretty quickly because I think the new machine is a tad bit faster than the old, plus it has a lot more RAM to play with during the process.

You see, I really need my tunes in order to write. I’ve become so accustomed to listening to everything from Bach to Kraftwerk while I construct stories and novels that I was feeling a loss with half of my collection missing.

I’m happy to report that I only have about 30 more CDs to rip and my collection will be complete once more.

Now, back to the white screen and the words which will soon be filling it.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, July 27, 2009

like sands through the hourglass

Day 333 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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These be the daze of my life . . .

Okay, I may have glimpsed a Soap on TV once, or twice, during my lifetime.

Anyhow, this is my new timer for my writing sessions.



And you are immediately asking - How did I find it?

Believe it or not, I was at Chapters yesterday and voila - they have these things. A bookstore carrying hourglasses - I was like, okay then - um, how much?

It’s not a true hourglass though because it only times for 15 minutes - however, that is the perfect amount of time for getting one star on my calendar for writing.

Oh, and for scale - the Talosian is about 3 inches high which makes the 1/4 hourglass about 5 inches high . . . no telling how high I am, but I'm not in the picture, which avoids the whole issue . . .

So, I’m keen on using it today (first time) and getting some of my writing up on a website which requested that I do so. Me, getting a request for my writing - very nice and odd and exciting and, oh, it's not for money . . .

I’ll post the link once it actually happens.

The life of a writer may not be as exciting as a stunt double or a mercenary - but it does lead one into very strange other worlds and neat little adventures on occasion.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, July 26, 2009

concentration camps needed

Day 332 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’ve been drifting pretty badly this summer so far.

There have been relatives visiting, with more on the horizon, and it’s taking its toll on my concentration for writing.

I need to go to a summer concentration camp and get sorted out.

But it looks like that is not going to happen anytime soon as half of August is booked with ‘other’ activities already.

I’m actually looking forward to September when the little one is off to school again and my wife goes back to work leaving me and my muse alone in the quiet house to churn out the pages of fiction.

This does not mean I have done no writing or reading this summer so far, but it means the amount I wanted to get done is far short of the goal I set myself.

But I’m wondering just how hard I should beat myself up over it.

After twenty years of cube squatting, I think I deserve a bit of a rest period before diving headfirst into the shallow end.

So, I’m going to take it a bit easier until the end of summer. I’ll still get my second draft completed and have my novel ready for shopping around by November, it’s just that most of the work will be done come September and October.

I think I just want to spend time with my family, and since we are all home all day this summer for the first time ever - it seems a shame to waste it by hiding myself away for hours in my lair.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, July 25, 2009

science news

Day 331 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Is soon to be mine again through the generosity of my lovely wife.

She is playing a wedding today and earning enough money to get me Science News magazine for a year. It’s a once a week magazine which reports on tons of current science discoveries of every kind.

I had a subscription for two years about five years ago, and then I didn’t renew it because of the cost - which is pretty steep. But it does come out once a week so that’s 52 magazines a year. Lots of material to stuff into my Twisted Mind helping me produce fiction.

So, I’m off now to hit the intertubes and get a new subscription.

If you write Science Fiction this is a fantastic source of mind fuel.

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, July 24, 2009

two due list

Day 330 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well I signed my final papers ever, which transfers my accrued pension amount into my own control, from the company I used to sit in a cubicle for and perform non-value added activities while sneering and rolling my eyes at high-ranking executives for their constant boneheaded maneuvers.

You can see it was always a match made in hell.

You can also see why said company fell off a cliff and is still in free fall as far as I can see. Yes, they can call themselves “New”, but let’s face it - a dog poo by any other name . . .

Good riddance - and no, I will never buy another of their products because all of the ones I’ve owned so far have fallen short on reliability and personal satisfaction.

And it would seem, as of today, I have one week (self-imposed) to hammer out a completed second draft of my novel.

This is going to be a tough one, but I’m determined to make it so. I have to keep in mind that it is a second draft and not the final product and just let it happen. It will be edited and re-written again.

So, with this happening in writing land, I’ll get to it then. Once week sounds like a lot of time until you look back upon it and think - where the hell did the time go!?

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, July 23, 2009

behind the curtains

Day 329 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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So I mentioned 10 bookshelves in my lair.

And you probably rolled your eyes and thought - another exaggeration.

Well, here is a picture of the wall behind my writing center. It shows half of the bookshelves in my lair, and pretty much encompasses the to-be-read books waiting for me to get at.



Yes, I have a book collection problem.

This after purging around 500 books from my collection over the past two years.

Of course, if I hadn’t bought another 300 more during that time, then the shelves would not be double stacked on the other 5 bookshelves you don’t see.

And today is the final day of paperwork for me and my former employer.

I’ll be taking my accumulated pension amount and removing it from the bumbling corp and putting it into my own hands.

Once this takes place (actual money transaction date Sept 1) all will be finished and I never have to think about that horribly stagnating and mind numbing place again.

Well, early bank appointment and then much cleaning left to be done before the ladies return from their vacation.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

even more visuals

Day 328 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Above is a close up shot of my lair and working area (well, playing area too I suppose.)

In the shot you can see some of the following.

My yellow pile of star stickers which I use to put on the calendar upon completing tasks for the day.

My 14 oz vacuum walled stainless steel coffee mug, full of coffee as you can see - cream only, no sugar.

Four pens - because I believe in quadruple redundancy in my writing implements.

One of my two thumb drives to keep backups of my writing - double redundancy on backups.

Fallout 3 and expansion plus Heroes V. Some games to enjoy after the day’s tasks are completed.

Now for a more expanded view of the lair working area.



You can clearly see the dark hunter’s green walls that match the computer desk top.

My new computer complete with 19 LCD and Talosian guardian on top.

Posters include an original 1970 LOTR poster, big poster of the solar system, a calendar from my insurance broker (lame, but functional), and of course a map of the province of Cyrodiil (if you need to ask . . .)

Well, this concludes today’s visual.

Now you have a better idea where I spend time agonizing over my writing. What you don’t see behind and to the sides of the lair working area are the 2,000 plus books housed in the 10 bookshelves that line the walls in the lair as well.

Until tomorrow . . .