Save ApexDigest Raffle!

September 22, 2006

Mary Robinette Kowal is sponsoring an effort to help save Apex Digest, The Science Fiction Horror Magazine.

Once upon a time when someone needed help, people chipped by throwing a rent party in their home or putting on a play. Now, instead of, “My uncle’s got a barn,” we’re saying, “I’ve got a website.”

The list of items and services donated is nothing less than astounding! Seriously, if you have a jones for fine fiction and want something unique, buy a few tickets and score something amazing.

Molly (TIP) posted back in July about a interesting meme where you go to Wikipedia and search for your birth date without the year and then post about “…3 events, 2 births, 1 death and a holiday, if there is one.”

So, without further ado here is the info about my birth date:

Events

Birthdays

Holidays

So, it is your turn – what happened on your birth date? Leave me a comment with your bits or a link to your post please!

Minor Victories

September 12, 2006

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, mostly because I’ve had a rather good couple of days.

One fun bit was that I took a CPR/AED certification class last night so now I’m certified… or certifiable, depending on who you talk to. 

The class was interesting and the content has changed a great deal since I was a non-attentive fifteen year old boy scout.  What was startling was some of the changes for dealing with choking victims (they added back blows to the process) as well as the number of compressions per minute, which I remember being quite a bit slower.  Taking yoga for the last five months helped out the compressions though; I could have gone on quite a bit longer, which is a good thing.

One of the real startling aspects of the class was that there was very little explanation about why you do something – it was all about how to do it.  I know that the how is important; you need to be able to do this stuff without having to take the time to analyze and figure it out in an emergency.  Still, knowing why you do something gives you the ability to adapt to a non-standard situation; if you know why then you can work out how.

Still, it is a good thing to have some training – I’m tempted to continue on with some of the classes.  Problem is that the classes are downtown so there are rather inconvenient and only on Monday nights, which is just as inconvenient.  Food for thought.  

Most People Are Idiots

September 7, 2006

A couple of days each week after I walk the boy and a couple of the neighbor kids to school I go for a 3.5 mile walk.  While walking this morning, it occurred to me that when people are behind the wheel of an automobile they often fall into one of the three categories:

  • Idiot
  • Ignorant
  • Malevolent

Now, number two, ignorant, is correctable.  You can learn and apply what you learn to bettering yourself and remove this label.  The other two, well, I’m sure some people have changes of heart, I know I have, but they are harder to come by.

Have you asked yourself, what brought this line of thought on in his head?  Relax, dear reader, I’ll tell you.  It all started when a lady (for lack of a publicly acceptable word) tried to run me down in the crosswalk while I was crossing with the light.  Notice in that sentence ‘crosswalk’ and ‘with the light’?  Well, I like to think of myself as a defensive driver and a defensive walker so I was expecting her to do this.  Why, you might ask?  Because she had a mobile phone pressed firmly against her face while she made a left turn in my direction.

Now, initially, I thought to myself, “what an idiot!” but on reflection I’m wondering.  Is it possible that she’s never heard about the studies linking lack of driving attention to mobile phone usage?  If so, then we’d say ‘ignorant’.  Is she incapable of learning?  Scary, but then the ‘idiot’ label would apply.  However, if she knows but either doesn’t think it applies to her or doesn’t care I’m beginning to think that the ‘malevolent’ label is more applicable.  The dictionary defines malevolence as “A desire to harm others or to see others suffer” and intentional ignorance seems to fall into that classification.

For the remainder of my walk, I decided to count the near misses – a total of six.  Three of these involved the driver talking on a mobile phone.  One, that left me laughing for half a block, was a lady walking out of the Challenger school across the grass towards her car which was illegally parked in front of a fire plug.  She was wearing an ill-fitting black skirt that was too small and too short so that her ample stomach oozed over the top of the skirt into a nice muffin top.  She was wearing three inch stilletto heels with no ankle straps so that every step into the damp grass caused her to sink those heels into the wet ground.  She was so intent on not getting stuck and keeping up her end of the conversation that she almost ran me over and when she realized that I was there she didn’t even make eye contact, just navigated around as I stood there in amusement.

The third involving a mobile phone was what appeared to be a young mother leaving the same school driving a behemoth of a SUV (a Cadillac Escalade).  She looked at me, directly at me as I was walking across the crosswalk, MAKING EYE CONTACT, and then pulled out anyway, forcing me to step back to avoid being her hood ornament.  All of the time, she is smiling and talking on her phone.  Definitely a ‘malevolent’.

I’ve just started this walking route; it will be interesting to see if these near misses are normal.  Perhaps I’ll think of something I can do to help … educate… these idiots.

Despicable

August 25, 2006

Lord, I am messed up.

I’m angry, frustrated, and hurt.

I’m turning into something I despise.

On the positive side, I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t read any websites or web log posts from Bloglines until I had wrote SOMETHING for at least thirty minutes.  I’ve got a crappy short story and a start on a second one done now.

Nice preparation for NaNoWriMo though.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a rather intense storm pass through that
was rather pretty (no, I don’t have any pictures; use your
imagination).  Lots of dust and flying debris about the building at
work, but not a lot, if any, rain.

However, when I arrived home I discovered several largish branches in
my front lawn, broken from my neighbor’s tree, as well as the pool
cover partially removed from the pool.  It is one of those above
ground, inflate the ring and fill it up types and has been a great deal
of fun for the boy and his friends this summer… but I digress.

So, I went in, cleaned up the trash the dog had dug through while I was
away and promptly sat down to play a game or two before attacking the
yard work and house work.  About fifteen minutes into my solitaire
marathon (I set a time limit though, because otherwise I’ll play for
hours) the phone rings and I pick it up without thinking… probably my
first mistake.  One of my neighbors down the street is calling because
one of her neighbor’s has had a tree blow down onto his house and call
I call around to get people to help him?  Since it is one of my
responsibilities as a member of the Elders quorum presidency, I grab my
chainsaw and toolbox and drive down the street; no use wasting someone
else’s Monday night without seeing what was up.

So, Mr. S’s house had a ancient metal travel trailer next to his
driveway with a apparently very healthy cottonwood or poplar tree next
to the trailer.  As healthy as the tree appeared, it was no match for
the winds earlier in the day as the tree had toppled, hitting the
trailer and then settling on the roof of Mr. S’s house.  The house
wasn’t damaged, yet, but if the trailer let go of its burden the tree
would continue onto the roof.  Mr. S, a neighbor’s son and a neighbor
across the street were on the roof, cutting small portions of the tree
off with a limb saw in the hopes of reducing the mass of the tree so as
to save his home.

That isn’t the funny part.

I wasn’t much help from the ground and they already had plenty of
people on the roof and a few on the ground catching the falling pieces
so I opted to replace the dull chain on my chainsaw.  Now, I’ve taken
the bar off of this chainsaw a total of ONE time and that was a while
ago, so I pull the manual out of the plastic bag and found the diagram
for assembly.  Take off the housing, work the chain out of the gear,
work the new chain into the gear, reassemble the bar which has now
fallen off of the chainsaw, balance everything including the chain
guide while I find the housing I dropped and work it on, clamp it down
and set the tension. After ten minutes, I had it all done!  Yay me!

I set the choke, got it running, killed it, got it running again and warmed it up.  Heh. 

“I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay…”

Anyway, I walk over to my best bud Bill, who had arrived a few minutes
earlier, and told him of my new chain.  He’d tried to use it a few
weeks ago but it was with a dull chain so it was less than successful. 
Feeling all cocky, I walk over to a branch, apply the chain saw to it
and… nothing.  A few seconds and all I’ve got is a mark from the oil
on the chain.  Strange.  So I try a smaller branch.  Same problem.

Then, and only then, did I realize I’d put the chain on backward and it wasn’t going to work for ANY branch.

If you are playing along at home, this is the point when my tool geek cred took major hit points.

I was saved though by the arrival of the husband of the first neighbor
in his van, carrying two chain saws, one of which sported an enormous
bar, probably three feet long.  I stowed my puny, chain maligned saw
back in the case and went back to helping move branches for which I am
adequately qualified.  I’ll fix my chain saw later.

Oh, and the tree was untimately felled without destroying the house,
which was good, and without further damage to the ancient travel
trailer, which was bad as he was going to try to salvage it.  It has
one destroyed wheel, a three foot dent in the top and one set of
windows now broken out, but he feels it is still “travel worthy”.  I’m
thinking it must have some special significance, like the only time
he’s been kissed or something, because it is just trashed.  Oh well, not my problem… yet.

That’s just… wrong.

July 15, 2006

So, I’m walking into Home Depot earlier today on a quest to find a replacement air filter for my now non-functioning lawn mower (didn’t fix it). This was my second trip out searching for something and I wasn’t in the worst mood, but I wasn’t in the best mood either.

Walking in front of me is an adult female wearing a tank top and shorts made of some sort of silken material, colored a very light purple. Now, today the temperature hit 102-103 degrees Farenheit and at this point of the day it is probably about… 95 degrees. Still quite hot, sweating temperatures.

Now, the reason I’m describing this scene is because as I walked in, I noticed that this lady in front of me is sweating in the heat and, well, the center part of her shorts were soaked. It looked like she’d wet her pants! I couldn’t decide whether to pity this lady or laugh…

I laughed.

I am SO going to hell…

A bit more personal

July 3, 2006

Most of the posts lately have been a bit more wordy and on the personal side. I won’t guarantee that I’ll keep it up so if you don’t like it I may go back into dormancy.

Dunno.

Pearl Jam… rocks.

July 3, 2006

I’m watching Pearl Jam on VH1 Storytellers (and taping it for further enjoyment) and I’m just amazed. I’ve enjoyed listening to select songs by Pearl Jam over the years but just haven’t got into the group for some reason.

Watching them live is just amazing. They are witty, smart and they just rock – and they seems to really enjoy it. There is just something about watching someone who really enjoys what he does and is good at it. You catch the their enjoyment and get carried away.

I have a good friend that plays guitar that way. He plays because he loves it and he is amazingly good at it. He gave up the idea of playing music as a profession years ago but never gave up his love for it and it shows. I’ve sat with him while a group of us sat and chatted and he just played, providing a wonderful soundtrack to a pleasant evening.

Another friend loves bikes in a similar way. He’s great with cars and a wiz at drawing blood, but his love is bikes. He’s got a dozen or so, from nice mountain bike to a vintage bike that he just got at a garage sale. He knows everything about different types of bikes, the history, which type is better for which usage, etc.

The wonderful thing about these two great friends is watching them pass their love of their different passions on to their children. Their kids don’t all enjoy the same passion at the same level but they all seem to understand and a couple of them are tuning into what is great about their parent’s passion. I’m proud of these guys for the time they spend with their kids and the patience involved.

Me, I don’t have something I do like that. I have lots of little things that I do kind of well, but no one overriding passion … at least, none that I know of. I’m a generalist, not a specialist. I’m that way at work, in my personal life, in my hobbies. I have about a two year attention span; I’ll find a topic, subject, line of work that is interesting to me and I’m good for a couple of years but then I get bored and start to branch out and explore different topics/directions/etc.

I’m somewhat envious of my friends’ passionate commitments, but not enough to do the same. Call it a personality flaw.

The Nature of Love

July 3, 2006

So, all of Saturday and most of Sunday I spent sick, in bed, feeling miserable. At times I ran a decent temperature as well, which while I don’t enjoy being sick the fever-induced dreams are always fun. Kind of like a 3-D, full sensory movie that I get to direct.

… but I digress.

What I was going to put forward here is a thought that kind of bubbled up over the weekend and is still peeking in and out of the dark crevasses in my head. It has to do with love.

I’m not referring to the ‘love at first sight’ passionate type but more of the father for child, neighbor for neighbor, friend for friend type of love. I noticed that, from my experience, when you have love for your fellow human being you are willing to sacrifice and do things for that person that you probably wouldn’t do for a complete stranger.

Is the reverse true then? Does everyone create a feeling of love by doing things for people they don’t know very well? It is a common enough theme in the movies; bad kid has to do community service and comes to care for those he’s working to help. Is that true? Does it have to be voluntary or does it work with involuntary service?

I don’t know the answers here. I do know that I am closer to those I serve, but I serve voluntarily and it may just be that is my nature. I loved my son since the moment I saw him and it didn’t take time and service to get that way so obviously there are exceptions.

Anyway, that is something to think about. Time for bed.