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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Homeward Bound

I like to think of myself as a good writer. I've got some comments on my serial fiction project that can really swell my ego. But sometimes there's someone else who has really said what I have to say, and said it as well as or better than I think I can, at least at the moment. Today that someone is Paul Simon.

But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony I need someone to comfort me.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thought's escaping,
Home where my music's playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.
Silently for me.

I'm on my way.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sierra Foothills

It is really beautiful here. The house on the hillside has a treehouse effect. Sitting on the deck I am surrounded by the tops of the downslope trees, and the sunset was glorious. Old family friends, mountain air, birds and squirrels. It's hard to think of my desert home fondly.

But I miss my sweetheart, and my dog, and my DSL connection.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

On The Road Again

It's a strange thing being a born and raised Californian. Especially since I have always been connected to people from other places, either by being in other places or because I've been a telecommunicating guy since before there was an internet. People from other places don't relate to driving the way Californians do.

I was talking to someone yesterday who is in St.Louis, and someone else who is moving to Missouri came up. Turns out they are moving to southern Missouri, which to someone in St.Louis seems to occur like a long way away. My California mind is saying 'come on, how big is Missouri?' Not because Californians have that 'big state' thing going like Texans have, but we drive. A third of the people in my town spend four hours in their car every day going to work and back. I grew up in this dead backwater because my parents loved it because it was 'close to everything'. Close meaning that with a few hours of driving there is city, beach, or mountains. To a kid that doesn't drive that doesn't mean much, but when you grow up with it you just come to think a certain way. It was not unusual for my family to look at the Sunday paper and say 'oh, that looks like a good movie' and drive seventy-five miles to see it on the spur of the moment.

So today I'm off to pick up my mom. My St.Louis friend would think it was a long trip no doubt. Heck, I'll be there in time for a late dinner.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Jealous of the Young

I got an e-mail yesterday that made me very grateful for the times I live in. I only wish they had started sooner. It was from someone that I would have probably lost contact with completely in times past.

My mom is visiting some amazing friends. They've been friends since high school. Her friend has kept friends all over the country, through decades of the normal moves and changes that life brings. That amazes me. I can't seem to even keep track of an address book.

But this blog lets my friends know where I am, and gives them a way to get back in contact with me, and Yahoo keeps track of my address book for me now. I wonder if there's a way to get all the friends I've had and misplaced to find it.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

For Anyone Who Is Paying Attention

You may have noticed that the blog crashed. More of a fender bender than a crash I suppose. I think something changed in the data feeds from Blogger. I hadn't done anything to my template in quite a while, and suddenly there was a glitch, so I'm blaming them. I skimmed through a bunch of Blogger blogs and every one that I found with the same template was having the same problem.

The template I had was unique in one major way among the out of the box templates at Blogger. I liked the unique feature. If you scroll down on this template to where the sidebar on the right ends you will find blank space underneath it. My old template expanded the main column into that space when it reached the bottom of the sidebar, and I liked that. Unfortunately something changed, and yesterday the post would not squeeze in beside the sidebar, it insisted on starting at the bottom of the sidebar...leaving a big blank space right here! Better a blank space below the sidebar than right in the middle of the post!

Anyway, I like this template, and the effort of putting all the links and stuff back in the sidebar was well spent. I learned some more bits and pieces of html coding, at least as applied to templates on Blogger. I put in a bigger ad block so those of you who are using Google's money to show your appreciation for good blogs have three choices instead of one. I made seperate bubbles for all the cool stuff I have over there, and I really got a refresher in how cool the stuff I have over there is. And last but not least I accepted that as long as the space under the sidebar is not going to fill with widened posts I should fill it with something so I'm going to start looking for more cool stuff I can permanently link over there. Keep an eye open!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Little Frazzled, Little Lazy

I am so routine driven. If my routines get disrupted it is amazing the effort required to keep things happening. Even when the disruption to the routine is in a good direction. We had a memorial for my dad last weekend, and afterward some great friends of the family took my mom home with them for a vacation. So the morning routines at home are off until she gets back, which means I get to sleep in a little bit, get my girlfriend off to work before I go home, and otherwise spend the early morning in a different place and a different space.

And nothing seems to be getting done. All day. Fancy that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

That's craziness?

I need to start watching the news I think. I usually subscribe to the theory that anything really important I will find out about, either through the headlines on my home page or from hearing it on the radio. But I have to counteract the dizzy dimwit on my girlfriend's radio station in the morning. I shut her off as soon as Laurie leaves for work, but it is hard to tell what kind of misinformation I'm hearing through my mostly closed ears.

Last night I caught a few minutes of entertainment news on television, mostly by accident. There was Tom Cruise getting squirted with water. Seemingly every morning I've been hearing how he 'went crazy' over this, so I paused to watch. The guy never lost his smile, and proceeded to ask the question with no answer; "why would you do that?" Since there is no good justifying answer he provided a likely one, the guy is a jerk. This is 'going crazy'? Tearing the guy's throat out and claiming that it was a reflex because you were just talking about the latest Batman movie in the limo and had the Joker's acid squirting flower on your mind...that's crazy, but technically might work as a legal defense. Pulling the kind of prank you might get away with with a close friend on a complete stranger...that's crazy, and the jerk should be expected to take whatever consequences fall out of it. Thinking the guy is a jerk and being willing to say so...that makes sense to me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Heat Is On

The conversation in southern California has shifted from mudslides to brushfires. I don't know what it is about people that keeps us so powerfully focused on the disaster du jour but there certainly doesn't seem to be anything that can distract us, at least not for long.

I've lived in California for most of my life and;
Never met anyone who lost their house in a mudslide.
Never met anyone who lost their house in a brush fire.
Never met anyone who lost their house in an earthquake.

I'm not saying these things don't happen. I know they do. They are just all so unlikely. I'd rather talk about space aliens and the return of Elvis to Graceland. Slightly less likely? I suppose. A lot more interesting though, and when they are all so unlikely I think interesting should be the deciding factor.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Judgment Impaired

This is for anyone who thinks drinking doesn't have such a bad effect on judgment that you ought not drive...though perhaps this guy was just stupid to start with.

I was getting ready to go to my girlfriend's house over the weekend, and she told me that there were some streets closed because of some sort of accidents. Not just one accident. Accidents. On two different approaches to her neighborhood. I made it okay, and didn't think much about it again until this morning when they were talking about it on the radio. One of the accidents was a hit and run collision, and the other was the end of the chase.

Don't get me wrong. I have a sports car that was originally built to go fast, and it has a racing motor with 40% more horsepower than the original. Under the right circumstances I might consider trying my luck if there was an abundance of choices of direction I could go before the cop got close enough to see where I went, but for the most part even I have to concede that the chase can only come to one conclusion when radio armed cops are on the case.

This time there was really no need to even test the guy for alcohol. I would pretty much assume you are drunk when you try to outrun the police in a twenty-eight foot motor home!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Has This Been A Week Or What?

I am worn out. I wrote until two in the morning last night, and just finished another hour or two today. My main project, Arvil Bren's Journal, has been thrown a difficult turn by an array of complications with computers, locations, life, and the most dreaded and irresponsible of obstacles...games other than Morrowind.

My computer has ditched the network somehow, most likely due to the long cable that runs out from the house to my trailer. Fixing it seems like an obvious thing to do...but I don't need the network to play Halo. I can get net access in the house when my mom isn't using her computer and post the Morrowind Journal, but it's a lot easier with the game in the machine so I can look up names and places...which I don't need to do to play Blogshares.

If it sounds like my life is not too tough...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Good Thing I'm Not A Cat

Curiousity would kill me for sure.

Last night I went to the Subway for sandwiches. My girlfriend wanted a 'B.M.T.' I asked what that was. Since she was ordering it I thought it was reasonable to think she would know. "It's Italian. They know what it is." Fundamentally, as long as you get the right sandwich I guess it doesn't matter what the letters stand for.

So I'm in line at the Subway, where I can read the ingredients on the menu board. I can't get 'bacon, mayonaisse, tomato' out of my head, but those aren't Italian and are not in the sandwich. Salami, pepperoni; the initials are not related to the sandwich in any way I can find. And they are a registered trademark. That much I get from the menu board.

When I get to the counter I have given not thought one to what I want on my sandwich, but now I have someone to ask. "I'll have a BMT on wheat, and something else on Monterey chedder. What's that stand for by the way?"

"What does what stand for?"


"It's Italian. I don't know." Clearly neither eating them nor selling them requires this piece of knowledge.

I was able to sleep last night, but first thing this morning I was on the internet. Biggest, meatiest, tastiest. How lame is that?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Glad I Didn't Say That

My girlfriend said she was gonna do some laundry and asked if I wanted anything washed. I emptied my pockets and shucked off my jeans. I piled the stuff from my pockets pretty much right in front of her. It's still right here on the computer desk; pocket knife, cards, little cash, some change, a die, a gum wrapper. I tossed the pants into the laundry pile.

A while later I see her getting ready to take stuff to the washer. She's standing there going through my pockets. About ten clever things go through my head, but fortunately none fall out my mouth. Jeans. Watch pocket. Where I keep my house keys. Damn.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I Guess I'm Not That Bad

I've been thinking that I might be too into games. Morrowind and Blogshares I play pretty much every day, at least some. Chess I play at least three or four times a week. Other games come and go. Morrowind and Blogshares do add something to my real life through my websites, but I still had to wonder.

But this morning I was getting batteries at Radio Shack and saw one of these.

Air cooled. I'm waiting for version 2.0. Hopefully it will have a built in chiller and an on demand iced tea delivery system.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Fortitude By Remote

Yesterday was hectic, and I didn't get the Morrowind Journal posted until ten o'clock. Today is filling fast. It's funny how all of my best intentions would come to nothing, but the things that I promise to do get done as long as there is someone to hold me to them. In this case about 200 someones per day.

There's an old adage that says the difference between 'a writer' and 'someone who writes' is that someone who writes might be found waiting for inspiration or creativity to strike where a writer doesn't wait, a writer just writes. These blogs are transforming me from 'someone who writes' into a writer. Today it is a bit of a painful transition.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My How Times Have Changed

I always used to wonder how there was so much free stuff on the internet. I figured it was like television. Advertising paid the freight, and the competition was to provide content that would bring viewers to the advertisers. I think that has to be how it worked in the good old days.

Not any more. I set out to send my sweetie a birthday e-card this morning. The days of free e-cards are apparently over. I recognized the names of the big guns in the industry. Same places I used to send free cards. I also used to at least glance at the ads on their sites. Their ads now are the really obtrusive hijack your browser type that no one in their right mind would click on. I would have to think that their advertising revenue is up, so why no more free cards?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Useful Skills Only

I don't believe in teaching dogs tricks. Jack knows the basics, like sit and down and wait. His vocabulary includes important words like 'off', for when he is no longer welcome on some piece of furniture. He has also picked up some words that are important to him, like 'snackie' and 'dinner' and 'breakfast'.

Now he is learning a new command; 'close the door'. It isn't a trick, it's a social skill. We keep the bedroom door shut, but not latched. If it is latched Sneakers the cat will scratch the carpet when she wants in, and we don't want that. A few inches to accommodate a slim cat body is not a big deal, so we just let her open the door for herself.

Then there's Jack. He learned early on that the door might be there so he doesn't try to barrel on through. He knows the door can be opened from either side with his agile snout. He also likes the door wide open.

It took a while, but he now has me trained to place a line of snacks across the floor where he gets them one at a time as the door shuts. He expects me to do it every time he opens the door, but I'm holding out.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Serial Fiction

I've got some new links so it's once again time to beat the serial fiction drum. Over in the sidebar there---> is a list of links to serial fiction sites.

Serial fiction is an on-going story. How often they update varies, but all the stories listed here get updated regularly. They offer a brief escape to an alternate reality that over time becomes a very detailed and interesting place, and a couple of the characters have become my friends...the kind of friends you look forward to seeing because they always seem to have gotten up to something interesting.

I've got a couple reasons to beat the drum today. One is the new links, obviously. The other is that I've been talking to other serial writers as well as my own readers, and the power of comments and dialog is really showing up clearly. So here's the thing. Joseph Stalin said "Every government is a democracy; the peasants can vote with their feet." Of course he promptly instituted border controls that took that away, but that's off my point. My point is that the internet is ultimately democratic. The sites we 'vote for' with encouraging comments, links to their site on our various pages, and clicks on their ads will thrive. Sites with no links, no comments, no ad revenue will eventually fall into neglect.

So make it YOUR internet. Exercise your power. Vote! I do. I use 'My Yahoo' as my browsers home page. My bookmarks show there. Those are links that promote the pagerank of the sites I prefer to visit. Every ISP gives you some sort of page you can do that with. I make comments. Even just 'great post' can let someone know the writing and editing they are putting in is appreciated. I use an extra click to get back to my home page. Before I click the little house I click an ad...a lot of times I even see something interesting that way.

My ad is right over there by the way. ---> I have lots of readers and get plenty of commentary, but dropping a few of Google's pennies in my pocket is always appreciated.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Pop Goes The Weasel

Or the internet computer, whichever.

I have two computers. One that I use for games and writing. To play games it has to be fast. To keep my writing in without a lot of concern it has to be stable. I get both those things by not connecting it to the internet. Once in a while I would hook it up to upload files to my backup server, but I kept it clear of all the constant pinging in the background messengers and such, and safe from viruses and worms. There is no firewall that can match unplugging the network cord for protection.

I said I have two computers, and talked about one. The other one I use for a paperweight. Up until yesterday it was my internet connection. E-mail, messengers and viruses mostly. Every month or so I would just reformat the drive and start over. It was about half a step above a dumb terminal. Now it is a dead terminal. Power failure, and when the power came back on, it didn't. Dead player.

I have a lot of spare parts, and I'm sure I can cobble it back together. Here's the real problem. I now know how great it is doing my surfing and blogging on my superfast game machine. I might have a permanent paperweight.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

It Would Be So Easy...

To hate women.

I stopped on my way home this morning to put gas in the car and air in a tire. Initially I went for air first, but seeing the fifty cents or free with gas sign I recognized gas first would be better. Backing away from the air machine involved backing across a driveway. Naturally in the midst of this someone turned in the driveway. Two cars needing to occupy the same space at the same time; me, the harmless simpleton who has nothing in particular going for me except the fact that my car was already there, and Miss oh-my-God doesn't he know I'm on my way to work.

So as soon as I'm back far enough to turn for the pumps she roars by in front of me, and I peacefully go about getting gas, thankful that looks can't really peel paint off a car. She glares and glowers in a variety of unattractive styles the whole time she is putting gas in her car.

The many wonderful women in my life are now saying 'you can't hate women in general just because one is like that'...and they are right, to a point. But the thing is society in America trains women to be like that. Boys know by the time they are fifteen, twenty at the oldest that running around giving people looks like that will get you in fights, and unless you by chance are the toughest guy in town (limited odds there) you will soon be giving those looks out your earhole. Girls know boys don't hit girls.

Looks like that are really meant to be knocked back from whence they came. I wonder if there is some peaceful way to get that across.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

We do have lives

Good ones.

Last night I joined the chatroom where the Blogshares brain trust hangs out. Keeping a creaky database with about a zillion interacting dimensions running seems like a full time job plus, and these guys are all volunteers. They do it for the love of the game, and as a service to the Blogshares community. I had a good first month, and stopped in to boast a little, and thank them a lot.

Thanks are often deflected, and last night was no exception. The comment was made 'well, we have time, we have no lives.' My answer is that everyone has a life, some people just make more unusual choices than others. The Blogshares community has a lot of levels, but at the core is a group that spans the globe in reality, but is tighter knit than a squad in a foxhole under fire. That's a reward few can find in their 'life'.

So this morning I was back there. A glitch in the Blogshares universe was in the way of my next doubling of fortunes and I was checking for a solution. The craziness of Blogshares had a chance to show through. I sold the 'most expensive chip ever'. T$ had just bought a chip after a blistering three day auction that made it the most expensive chip ever. Manhattan offered to pay him double what he paid to claim the honor, but he refused. So I sold Manhattan a chip for a dollar more than T$ paid for his. Opportunism reigns supreme in Blogshares. So does that kind of freewheeling camaraderie that is seldom found in 'real' life.

Unusual choice, but not a bad one.