Friday, February 23, 2007

I hate being sick-edited-

And since I"m too weak to care much, I'll be making this a Cliff's Notes version (apologies for the graphic language).

- I've uploaded some videos to YouTube. Just click here.
- My mom had a cow. No seriously, one of her cows had a baby calf.
- I finished reading Conquistador by S. M. Stirling. It was okay, but it was nowhere near as good as the Nantucket series he wrote.
- I think I just vomited a little bit.
- I've only eaten Saltines and a bag of Cheetos today. And I still feel like shitting my brains out.
- I finished listening to Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan.

That's it. I'm too pooped to do anymore.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This is a REAL viral video

I can NOT get this song out of my head. Props to Pillar93.

War Wagon Update - 2-22-2007

I now have written over 12,000 words (that's just shy of 30 pages).

I hit a serious snag this past couple of weeks. Partly due to being sick (hard to focus with no energy) and partly due to not knowing where the story was going next. Add to that the fact that I felt very good about the ending of my first batch of writing, I didn't want to muck it up by adding some half-brained thought.

So I let it rest. I carried it around in a folder, thinking I would have time to edit it at the local diner I frequent for breakfast. Well, other things interjected and I never got to that point.

This morning (last night actually) I had another one of those "epiphanies" for a story idea. If was only half formed until I began to think about it and try to fit it into my existing storyline.

The process I use to flesh out my story is a bit difficult to describe though. It's like staring at a bright light before going outside in the middle of the night. Your night vision is gone directly in front of you, but if you pay attention to your peripheral vision, you'll begin to see things. It's kind of like that. You intentionally try to NOT focus on what you want to see.

Anyway, it worked.

I was able to push past my physical and mental blocks and get more written. I jumped ahead in the chronology of the story, but I'm not sure if I'll go back to cover the few months (or years) I skipped over.

I also wrote some today during lunch at work. I know I pushed myself and the story a bit further than intended, but I felt I had to "make-up" for my lack of production in the past weeks.

So, I've moved along, made progress, and things are again looking good.

Now if I can only keep the ball rolling.

Do you lean forward or lean back?

I never knew the difference between the two until Nalts (of GooTube Conspiracy fame) pointed it out. You "lean forward" when you watch online video and "lean back" when you watch TV at home.

At my age, I grew up with "walking remote" and "real remote." I was the "walking remote" for many years. With only 5 channels, it didn't take long to chose a station, but, seeing as I was the low man on the totem pole, Dad made me change the channel.

Since then, technology has progressed to include LCD, plasma, 1080i, DVR, TiVo, YouTube, and Google Video. I could list more, but this post isn't about that.

This is about the savior that online video has become for me.

Here's an example of my viewing as a child:

Dad and I sit down to eat dinner at a 1950s era metal table. I sit with my back to the TV (a remote less tube with buttons on the side for a max of 20 stations), so I have to constantly turn to see what's going on. Dad decides what we watch, usually M*A*S*H or Three's Company, and when the channel needs changing, I'm the one to do it. By 8 pm, I'm in bed wishing I could stay up to watch more of V. Sometimes I'd come out for a drink and try to stay for the end of the show. It never worked well. If I missed an episode of Taxi or some other "cool" show, I was out of luck. VCRs weren't commonplace enough to tape something on one TV and watch something on another. Hell, TVs weren't commonplace to have more than one in a house.

Here's an example of my viewing as an adult:

My wife, child, and I sit down to eat dinner at a 1990s era wooden table. We all face the TV to watch our 20" LCD with built in analog and HD tuner. Changing the channel is so simple, the three-year old does it, but fortunately doesn't decide what we watch. It's usually M*A*S*H or MacGyver on DVD, or Friends if my wife picks. Movies are also in the mix. By 8 pm I'm finished with the dishes and the three-year old is in bed. If I miss an episode of a "cool" show like Heroes or CSI, I can set the VCR and satellite receiver to tape whatever I desire.

What will the future bring? I had thought for many years a TiVo or DVR would be added to our entertainment center. I'd even dreamt about adding some sort of wireless box that would allow us to watch the recorded shows on any TV in the house.

But thanks to NBC and CBS, that won't be needed. Instead, I watch shows I miss online, either at home or at work. With the proliferation of online video, I'm more often leaning forward to see what happens next in Vegas or Miami. This morning, I watched Jericho on the laptop (17" widescreen) that I was able to take where ever I wanted thanks to the wifi connection. The resolution is better than the VCR and I could move it with me. Tuesday I watched Heroes in much the same way.

My biggest disappointment so far? Two things. One, my connection at work is too slow to stream the video so I have to rely on YouTube (Jericho can be found here). Second, ABC doesn't let you watch earlier episodes of LOST. I'd like to see what the big deal is, but won't start in the middle of season 4 (or 3 or whatever it is).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dreams of a boring day

I'm hoping to have a more usual, boring day today. yesterday was a tad too dramatic for my liking.

1 - Robert B. Payne came to check out the heat pump. Our last power bill was back to the high $400 it was before we got a new one installed two years ago. They came around 0800 and didn't leave until noon. Original diagnosis was there was no freon in the unit. Upon doing a leak check, he discovered a valve had seized closed, restricting the flow of freon, resulting in the lines to freeze, thus causing the defrost to kick in repeatedly. He had to drain the freon, cut out the bad valve, replace several "driers," the connecting lines, and refill the freon. The seized valve was over $800 retail but about $500 under our service contract. Added to the bill was his labor, the other parts he replaced and a case of filters. Final bill was about $850. Everything appears to be working correctly, didn't hear it run much last night, so I can only hope it's working the way it's supposed to.

2 - Mike Long (the guy that built our shed last year) gave an estimate of $4,400 for the shingle and trash removal on the house. About what I expected, so hopefully that will get done this year.

3 - Elizabeth was sick this weekend and again yesterday. Not sure if it's the chocolate shake she had from Carl's or a stomach bug. We've restricted her diet to plain food (crackers, jello, and bananas) for a bit. Will continue to monitor the situation and move from there.

So, I'm hoping for a slow day today. Jericho is on tonight, so I'm hoping to catch up with that tomorrow. And the napping I did this morning helped.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Another ultrasound today

Just a short note to say we took Elizabeth to the OB doc for another ultra-sound on the new baby. We were able to hear the heartbeat and everything sounded good. Elizabeth was a bit nervous when the doctor came in, but seemed to handle it pretty good when it was clear she wasn't the one getting a "check-up."

Elizabeth also knew it wouldn't roar like a lion or bark like a dog. Which means she's getting smarter by the day to know it should sound like a heartbeat. Little whipper-snapper better make good grades and get a good job so I can live in retirement somewhere warm.

Potential Tactical Situation Debriefed

So Saturday night I met up with Dad and Yvonne (and Elizabeth) for dinner. After dinner we headed over to Carl's for some ice-cream. Technically it's frozen custard, but it's damn good. So good, I stood outside in line in the freezing temperatures for a chocolate shake. So good, it's not the first time I've done that.

Anyway, before Carl's, I had to stop at the ATM to get some money. And as usual, I was carrying.

The unusual part was seconds before I got into my car, the lady in the car behind me, got out, and walked up to me. Now, I only got $40 out of the ATM. Not a lot, but it's a little unnerving to be approached by a stranger after getting money from the ATM. And it was dark.

As she got to within a few paces of me, I, for the first time ever, felt the need to put my hand on my gun. I didn't unsnap the strap or draw, but I felt uncomfortable enough to put my hand there.

Well, it turns out she just wanted to know if she could deposit "cash" into the machine. English was clearly not her first language and communication was difficult. And the fact that she's been to an ATM that didn't take cash for a deposit struck me as odd. She made it clear enough that she didn't want to deposit a check, just cash. Well, I saw no military stickers on her car (to get on a military base, something common of Credit Union members in our area seeing as this is a Naval Credit Union).

So during the discussion, if you could call it that, I continually looked around for approaching cars or pedestrians. There was a BBQ place next door that was open, but the front doors weren't quite situated well enough for there to be witnesses if things went south. Same goes for the nearby busy road, close, but not close enough for help.

In the end, she walked up to the ATM to see if it would take cash and I got into my car and drove to Carl's.

Now, what did I do right? I was prepared enough to not only carry, but to be wary enough of any situation. Women can mug you just as easily as men. Probably more so as they don't appear to be as threatening. I did a decent job of keeping my immediate area in mind during the conversation. While her lack of language skills did take some focus, I kept the eyes working the back of my head. I also kept an eye on her body language, even though nothing seemed odd.

What did I do wrong? I should have unsnapped my strap on my holster. A quick draw would have been out of the question if she had drawn a knife. Granted, she kept her hands in plain sight the whole time, but she would have gutted my like a dead fish if I couldn't move fast enough. I also left my car running. I did keep a wary eye on it, but I should have locked it like I normally do.

What will I do next time? Probably be more overt in putting my hand on my gun. And unsnap the strap since you can't shoot from the holster. I'll also try to keep enough cash on hand to stop at Carl's. That should prevent a last minute stop to the ATM.

Oh, and I got a chocolate shake and Yvonne got a hot fudge sundae made with strawberry ice cream.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

War Wagon 2-16-2007 Update

So, I've been fighting a head cold for the past few days and haven't written much. Not much at all. I haven't even edited much more than changing the character names of a few people in the story.

So now I feel all yucky. Partly from the head cold, partly from not working on my story. I'm not where I had hoped to be, but there is some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

First, we have a bit of a blockage in creativity. I still know where I want the story to end (geographically) I just need to get the characters to that point. Right now, they haven't traveled beyond their immediate area (they need to travel several hundred miles to get where I want them). My big stumbling point at the moment is how to get them there. I have some ideas, but nothing that seems to fit with the story.

And yesterday I made the mistake of reading the last few lines of what I have written. It felt like a great ending point, something I didn't expect, nor like. So now I'm thinking about ending the story there and filling in the rest with other things, mainly details (something I kind of skimmed over while writing).

I think I'll have to sit on this for a bit before I can decide what to do next.

Second, I got some feedback from Epheros. Well, "some" is a major understatement. I sent him 2 pages of material and he sends back 4 pages of notes. Umm. Wow. I didn't know what to do with that. I've read his comments a couple of times and I'm a bit taken aback by the simplicity and complexity of the comments.

Some of my flaws are simple to describe and (in theory) are easy to fix. Number one being my passive voice. "He was driving the car" versus "He drove the car." I did a bit of looking and I'll try to stick to the "SVO" method a bit more (SVO = Subject Verb Object).

And he had some detailed ideas that needed to be thought out. Where was this character going, why was there no emotion here, too much drivel there, etc. All points well made and well taken. Criticism I don't like much. Constructive criticism I like.

Anyway, enough of this, I need to get back to my editing before I loose my edge for the day. The Vicks VapoRub under my nose will last only so long.

War Wagon
Pages = 26 (includes title page)
Words = 9,536
Characters = 40,228 (not counting spaces)
Paragraphs = 364 (there's a lot of dialogue)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Updates all around-edited-

Weather - We had some nasty weather Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. We lost power around 0400 Wednesday and didn't get it back until 1500. And for an all-electric house, that means no water and no heat. We did fill the tub up the night before, so we could use the bathroom as needed (I always hated the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" line). Work was closed for both of us but I would have called in if we had opened. No sense me attempting to slide to work in a car. Some friends were nice enough to invite us over for hot showers and warm couches. The rest of the day was spent trying to get generators running to keep the food alive in the fridge.

Work - -edited-

War Wagon - Kind of at a stopping point for the moment on this one. Not that I'm giving up, but I'm trying to go back to edit things before I forget them. And I'm quickly learning that editing your own work is hard to do. I have images in my head but the words just don't come across the same. I think it's about time to call in some outside help (Epheros, expect an email). And the picture above will give you a hint of what the story is about.

Family History - Some family got together recently to go through some family photos to archive and identify them. I'm hoping to get some of these to include in future newsletters (I write a family history newsletter in case you didn't know).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Weathering the Storm-edited-

-edited-Yvonne called and said the roads were getting bad. Glad I did too. The road we live on was pretty scary to drive on.

The other storm that's brewing is the teacher in our county that was not only pushing a student in class, but caught on video doing it.

I don't know what's scarier, that I've not heard about it in the news yet or that I fear the reaction in the community. The teacher was white and the student black. I hate to even consider the issue of race, but I fear it may go in that direction.

Anyway, NCIS is on and I've got a date with a bowl of ice cream.

War Wagon Update

So I've been writing a little today (and some last night). I think I've moved beyond my character dilemma by, well, postponing their introduction. I'll leave their survival in the hands of future keystrokes. I'd like to keep her alive, but I don't know how to introduce her at the moment. So I've shelved her for the time being.

As to the rest of the plot, the two main characters have survived the first night after the attacks, and in a "Jerry Maguire"-like moment, the male had an epiphany and drafted plans for justice/survival. And I'm doing my best to build some sort of romantic relationship between the male and female, but, well, I'm not exactly a romantic type so it's a bit hard to think like that.

Anyway, enough of that. I'm nearly at 10,000 words (10% of my goal) and still haven't added as much detail as I'd like to what's already written. Only pounded out about 1,400 words today. not much, but I'm still working past the momentary character-block and a bit of "synergy" loss on my part. Guess my epiphany is fading itself.

But don't lose hope. I still know what I want to do and I plan on doing it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Project: War Wagon

So I've officially given my latest addiction an official name, Project: War Wagon (kudos to Epheros for the formatting idea). While I doubt this will ever get published, I figure everyone has to start somewhere before they get to the top of the midden heap.

As to the details of the project, I'll be keeping those pretty close to the vest at the moment. Yes, I'd like to blab to everyone what I'm thinking, but I'm a bit superstitious about dooming myself too early (something I already fear I've done by even talking about it). Aside from my Monk-like OCD, I also don't want to reveal too much of the plot or story without changing names. Since I'm not overly creative, I've used names of real people as well as used their character traits. not something I'd suggest (except for biographies) but something I had to do to get things rolling.

So, the War Wagon is rolling (not to be confused with the John Wayne movie) and I'm hopefully aboard for the long haul.

Maybe I should stop blabbing here and get to writing.

But I can't. I'm at a crossroads in the story, and just can't decide. So I'm keeping the flow going by writing here about nothing.

Feel like you've wasted your time yet?

No? Want more?

Well, I think I'm done, sorry.

Besides, I need a break from the chair and cube. And another Diet Coke is calling my name.

And Epheros, you may be getting an email shortly about my plot dilemma. I think it's becoming more of a question of how to introduce than should they live or die.

Weekend Update

Couple of things to get off my chest before I burst.

First, some prayers have been answered. I'm not a religious person (I consider the Bible a work of fiction), but I've been known to pray on occasion. Generally when I'm in some sort of peril or stressful situation.

But the past 6 months or so I've taken some time aside from my day to pray. Nothing formal, nothing regular, just something I decided to do. Something I felt like I needed to do. I think I had reached a stressful point in life and needed some guidance. Well, none came, but I kept at. I haven't prayed as much recently, likely because my prayers weren't being answered.

Guess that defines my level of faith. It's as strong as my attention span is short.

Anyway, one particular prayer was answered in a rather unexpected way. So, I'm glad to report that good things do happen to good people.

Now if I could only feel good about praying for good things to happen to me......

Second, my writing is continuing. I've got a good 7,000+ words down on paper. According to this source, that's the size of a novelette. Wow. I'm impressed with myself. To help ground myself, I've set a goal of 100,000 words. Huge, I know, but it should keep me on an even keel. And besides, it's easier to take words out than put them in, right?

And to think I haven't even gotten to where I want to go with the story. And that's a little scary. Even scarier, I haven't filled in the gaps of the existing story (like descriptions of the setting, details on the plot, details on the characters, etc.).

Grammar and spelling is decent though, guess that's a good thing.

Finally, again related to my writing, I need some help. Yes, I need help already. I need to know what to do with a particular character. Keep them alive, or kill them. Sounds simple, but it's a question that needs to be answered. We'll call the character "Sixx."

You decide if she becomes "Deep Sixx."

Post a comment to let me know how you feel.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Can you get high from writing?

Yesterday morning, I woke up with the usual remnants of dreams floating in my head as I scratched my ass and headed to the shower. While I was soaping up, it started to dawn on my that, while these were the usual dream left-overs, I should do something with them.

As I was enduring my usual 45 minute commute, I realized that I REALLY should do something with these random thoughts that floated into and out of my head. And by the time I got to my desk, I was determined to write something down. Even if it were just an idea, or a sentence, or even an opening paragraph, I HAD to write something down.

So I sat down and wrote 2,016 words.

And I just finished writing 2,585 words over my lunch hour.

Granted, these are very rough drafts, no quotes for conversations, no italics for personal thoughts, no expounding on visual details. VERY rough drafts.

But it's a start. One the likes of which I've not seen in years. I once wrote a few pages of an idea and kept going until I got to a spot in the plot that I couldn't figure out what to do.

Well, now I think I can include that story in this new one. I just need to get there.

And the odd part is (or good part I guess) I think I can finish this story. I've had a bit of a "secrete twist" floating in my head for a year now and never had a good story to use it with. Well, now I do. I just need to finish the story.

But it keeps growing and changing as I write it. Could this be what "professional" writers experience? Is this a "writer's high?" I've experienced a "runner's high" before when I ran cross country in high school, and this is pretty close. I felt like I could keep on writing for another hour even though time wasn't really a factor. I wrote for an hour, but it only felt like 15 or 20 minutes.

Did I lose all perspective of reality when I was creating this story? Is this something else writers feel when they're in "the groove?"

Even now, as I'm writing this post, I feel like I could go on and on. But it's the fear that I may loose the reader or lose my flow or get interrupted by the phone or ....... blah blah blah.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty stoked so far. I'll try to come in early tomorrow to get some more written. Between now and then, I'll need to decide where the plot is going. Generally speaking of course. Nothing is set in stone so far.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sulu steps off the bridge to visit Earth

It appears the makers of Heroes have a sense of humor (and are Star Trek fans). Hiro's father, played by George Takei (aka Sulu), was on the show and apparently had quite the personalized license plate:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Les Stroud in Africa this week

Les is getting dropped via hot air balloon into South Africa. He shows some obvious concern over the lions in the area. Here's to hoping he'll make the 7 day trek safely!

More Heroes in Jericho

While I'm not much of a fan of gimmicks, I've fallen for the Heroes 360 and the Jericho Countdown.

I've fallen for the Heroes show big time, so it was no surprise when I found the Primatech Paper site. From there, I discovered their "hidden" screens, complete with logins and passwords. Inside you find "extra" information about some of the characters (see image below of Wireless). Nothing too terribly exciting, and nowhere near the intensity of the graphic novel.

Oh, if you want to skip ahead on the extra info on Primatech, just go here.

On the flip side of Heroes is Jericho. I was pretty much a hard-core NBC watcher until CSI arrived. Since then, I've been migrating to an almost exclusive CBS TV schedule.

And I've now brought Jericho into the fold. One of their "gimmicks" is the Countdown series of Webisodes. Again, nothing too exciting, but you get a bit of a scientific perspective on nuclear blasts and the resulting chaos. Added to this is the presumption that Hawkins is a hunted man. Of course you can't see him, but it's implied. Here's a collection of Countdown episodes available.

The big thing for me about Jericho, aside for it being a pretty decent show, is the availability to watch it on the web (that's lean-forward viewing). I was able to find all 11 episodes on YouTube (obviously a copyright violation, but I don't care) and the quality is so-so. But the CBS site has a great stream and good quality.
Oh, and check the profile of this guy for the full episodes on YouTube.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sticking it to the man

Taken to a new level....

Important Heroes Message

Well, not really, but it said it was.

Important Message from Primatech Paper

Thank you for your interest in Primatech Paper and taking the time to complete our employee application.

As our company continues to grow, we are always on the lookout for sharp-minded people to help pave the way for the future.

Please retain this email for your records. A Primatech Paper representative will be contacting you in a few weeks with the next steps.

Important Heroes Message

Well, not really, but it said it was.

Important Message from Primatech Paper

Thank you for your interest in Primatech Paper and taking the time to complete our employee application.

As our company continues to grow, we are always on the lookout for sharp-minded people to help pave the way for the future.

Please retain this email for your records. A Primatech Paper representative will be contacting you in a few weeks with the next steps.