Thank you for visiting!

You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, the first novel in my fantasy adventure series. Visit the Edge of the World! Come for the view, stay for the adventure!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Idealists and Visionaries-

For many years I thought of myself as a cynic. When challenged on the matter, I realized that I am really a frustrated idealist. I had strong visions of things as they ought to be, and I was often frustrated by how hard it was to push things in that direction.

Some people actually obstructed the development of my ideals. Imagine that.

I recently took a test to assist in finding my next career. I am planning to retire from this line of work, and I need a next career.

The test said I was a Visionary.

That sounds nice. Like Idealist.

I have yet to see a job description that includes visionary. Much less a visionary idealist.

I can't think of a combination of traits more inclined to buy frustration when dealing with human beings. Especially if you don't like people.

Before there is confusion, let me explain. I like some individuals quite a bit. I like some other individuals enough to enjoy their presence on occasion. I don't mind the existence of other people, generally. I don't dis-like people.

However, I don't like people. I don't miss people in general when I have periods of isolation. I don't long for crowds, for milling masses. I don't feel a compulsion to go to places where there are lots of people bumping and grinding. I don't enjoy the challenge of interacting with people, as in business or politics.

I have no idea what a visionary idealist is supposed to do with himself. What kind of next career is suitable for a visionary idealist who is just plain tired of interacting with people?

My next career will probably have to wait. I suspect I need a job that does not require a lot of interaction with people. Some time to decompress, and a chance to figure out just where I might fit in.

I have never really "fit in" before. I wonder what that might be like?

So, anyway, if you come across any jobs for visionaries or idealists, drop me a line. I could use the help.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bail-out Responses-

I have heard back from my representatives. They say they will not support the bail out. They want to work on a more fully thought out plan that has checks and balances. Good for them. They listened to the multitudes that say "no bail out."

Floating around on the Internet are a lot of bail out plans that give the people the money. They range in value per individual, but essentially they provide enough money for Americans to pay off their debts.

Can you imagine that? A debt-free society.

Of course, everyone then would have really good credit. Maybe not sterling, but pretty good for just about everybody. The companies that have survived this turmoil will of course extend a LOT of credit.

Giving people money does not make them smart. Oh, some smart people are good at accumulating money. However, giving people money does NOT make them smart.

Can you imagine the stimulus to the economy, when just about everybody is pretty secure (with their house and cars paid off) and now in possession of disposable funds? Those mortgage payments and car payments would now be available for EVERYTHING ELSE.

It would be an explosion of rampant spending. The bad-taste of popular culture would go wild! The grill work of fourteen-year-olds alone would jack the price of diamonds by depleting the supply. Bobby gas jockey would no longer be endlessly saving for that bad-ass tattoo. He would have skin art head to toe.

There would be no question that most people would eventually find themselves back in circumstances much like the ones they are in now. It would be interesting to see how long that would take.

It is just a pipe-dream, but what a ride it would be!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Internet Friends-

Internet friends are different from other friends. They are generally distant, and often people I have never met. They sometimes have funny names. Indeed, they could be quite other than what they represent. I might never know.

Yet I find that many are real friends. There are people on the other end of the conversation. They do exist in a persistent other universe.

If I were to go out and regularly attend a church, a class, or even sit at a stool in the same bar for a period of time I would gain friends. They would be associated with whatever activity brought us together, but we could move beyond that to develop deep and abiding friendships.

Some would share elements of their lives with me, and I with them. We would bond in the myriad of ways friends bond in the real world.

How is the Internet that much different from the real world? It is sometimes more immediate, as it allows us to eliminate distance. Though we often just type at each other the technologies exist (and are affordable) to allow us to see and hear each other.

One of my daughter's best friends is an Internet friend. They live practically on opposite sides of the world from one another, yet they share with one another a great deal. They send each other things they have made and things they have found. Theirs is a real friendship.

For me these friendships on the Internet are easier. I have a natural tendency to be reclusive. I am a person at ease with his own company. Yet the Internet draws me to other people as nothing else in my life seems to do. I rather like that, since it allows me to have many more friends than ever before and still live in a manner in which I am most comfortable.

Though I sometimes try to imagine what the Internet shall do to our various societies, I really cannot guess what will ultimately come to pass. It is new. It is exciting. It is something in which we can all share. I won't even say we should not be afraid. Change of this magnitude will, at times, prove to be quite terrifying.

I, for one, an delighted to live in such times. How about you, my friends?

Monday, September 22, 2008

More about tent poles-

I assembled my tent with the repaired poles. It went together very nicely. I took a little more time, and did each step deliberately.

The two repaired poles worked fine. The one that folds a bit funny due to mixed lengths to the sections still flexed just fine. It is doing its job right now, and doing it well.

Though this was not particularly challenging I really enjoyed learning to rebuild the poles and put them to work. It was satisfying. It is kind of like learning the art of barbecue. I have been experiencing satisfaction there, as well.

One thing I did in assembling the tent that seemed to help was to keep everything slack until I had it all up. Last week I think I had things too tight, which caused me to have to apply too much energy in flexing the poles that broke. I only tightened the various straps that hold the tent in the truck bed enough to keep things in place as I inserted the poles. I think that this allowed the whole tent to flex as I worked and prevented thing from being so tight that I had to hyperextend the poles to get them in place.

Relax. Take time to do it right.

People who need people-

In reading my book on getting a literary agent, I learned about writers networking. A big part of the publishing process is involvement in the writing community. It is building a network of people to aid in the writing process by reading and critiquing your work. It is doing the same for them. It is building contacts and making friends.

I find this a bit daunting. I am far from a social being, and this is very challenging. Perhaps even a bit frightening and distasteful. Frightening because it is not comfortable. Distasteful because I really do prefer a lot of solitude.

It is also a lot of work, in addition to my writing. I am having to assess the whole process, and where I might fit within it. Had I a natural need for people, a social nature, it would be easier. Perhaps even desirable. As it is, I find it troublesome.

The process of getting published through the traditional routes is long. That in itself is not the problem. Jumping into the whole culture so late in life is a big deal for me. Getting the book read, getting feedback, and rewriting. Getting it into the hands of an agent, which in itself is a large task. Getting feedback (if I am lucky) and rewriting.

The publish on demand prospect is appealing, if only because it requires less in the way of networking and such. However, it is not generally a good path for those seeking real exposure.

I would be challenged to build a website and promote my book, largely on my own. I might find some readers, but really could not expect to get the book "out there" as well as the established pipelines of publication.

Then again, publishing is changing, and these new avenues and methods are part of that change.

There is no hurry. I must remind myself that writing the book was a goal in itself. It was a tool to overcome depression. It was largely successful, and has aided me a great deal just for that reason.

To be quite honest I find the self-publishing and marketing process more interesting. Perhaps it is because I can do so much of that through the convenience of the Internet. Not to mention that I would not be compelled to face the challenge of interpersonal interaction.

Ultimately I will face the challenge of stepping out of the comfort zone of isolation. It would be better if I hungered for the fellowship, but I do not. I am concerned about investing myself in others, and having my resources committed to them.

Perhaps that is what I really need. People.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Where is my Bail-out?

Wow. My credit is not so good. Perhaps I need a bail-out. Yeah. I don't even need seven hundred billion dollars. I could be bailed out with just ten million. I think that is enough. OK, twist my arm. Twenty million.

It would be good for the economy. Really.

I am at the same address I listed for all of those taxes that have been taken from me before I ever received my money. You know, the money I get from working.

I really look forward to my bail-out. Thank you for thinking of me in these troubled times. I love my country, and will think of the American people every time I spend it (largely on goods made in China.)

Thanks again. Bye.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Making Tent Poles-

Many modern tents use shock cord poles. These are tubes that fit together with an intersecting connector, and the whole assembly is held together by an elastic cord that runs through the center of each tube. Here is an illustration of a tent supported by flexed shock cord poles.

The poles are flexed, creating stress that can be used to support the weight of the tent. Unfortunately, flexed poles sometimes bend. I had that happen, largely due to impatience in assembly. Sections hyper extended, and the fiberglass broke. I now had a repair job on my hands.

Some poles are aluminum, and can bend. I read of carbon fiber poles, which are light but also can splinter like the Fiberglas poles. My poles are Fiberglas. It is likely that a repair will be necessary if you use a tent often.

There are kits available. I thought the one I bought was reasonably priced, at less than ten dollars.

When I laid out the broken pole, and the kit, I could see I would have a challenge. First, I had to disassemble the original pole. I tried to be clever, and break it down only as far as necessary. I clamped the shock cord between two sections, so I could isolate the broken section and only remove the parts necessary to get the broken section out.

Once I had the broken section out, I used it to get a length for the new section. I cut one of the sections from the repair kit to that length, and tried to reassemble the pole. Unfortunately, there was just enough difference in diameter on the new piece and the old connector that the new piece wouldn't fit.

I laid it out again, and thought. Eventually I determined I would have to build a new pole with the kit parts, and salvage whatever else I needed from the old pole. I eventually got a new pole laid out, and the time to thread the cord was upon me.

The kit comes with a wire that will pass through the center of each pole section. The terse instructions said to tie the cord to the wire, and pull it through. Now the way you secure the cord at the end of the pole is to tie a knot. If I tied a knot onto the wire, it would not pass through the pole center hole. Hmmm.

I used thread. I tied thread to the wire, which I had nicked with a knife to provide a little holding barb to keep the thread from sliding off of the wire. I threaded the wire through the tube, and pulled the thread through. I tied the thread to the shock cord, and pulled the cord through.

This is good, up to a point. However, the cord stretches. That stretch loads the cord and that loading is what holds the poles together. So, now the cord must be stretched before threading the next pole. I used a clamp to hold the loaded cord and keep it from sliding back through the tubes.

The process was repeated until all of the pieces were threaded. Now I just had to tie that knot. Unfortunately, when I released the clamp I did not have the cord held tightly enough. It sucked back through the tubes, requiring me to do it again.

Once I got to the same point, it couldn't happen again. I was ready, and holding the cord tightly. I thought.

So, after threading again I used two clamps to secure the cord. This allowed me to keep the cord loaded, tie the knot, and be sure things were secure before removing the clamps. Success!

Last of all was replacing the rubber end covers. I now had a new tent pole, and some spare parts for future repairs. The new tent pole does not fold quite as neatly as the old one, because I ended up with various lengths to the sections due to simply not knowing what I was doing.

For the future I have a few ideas. First, get the measured length of the old pole, and disassemble the whole thing. Using old and new parts, lay out a new pole for that length. Make any cuts necessary in such a way that the folded pole will be easy to pack away. If possible, acquire enough new parts to completely rebuild the old pole, and keep the old parts as spares.

I plan to get two small clamps for the repair kit. I have a small saw that will serve for cutting down tube lengths. I want some stronger thread or fishing line to use for the pull line. I plan to look at upholstery needles as options to replace the pull wire, since they have eyes to which the thread might be tied. I also need to find a source of the end caps. They should be cheap, so I will get quite a few.

Now I have made a tent pole, and can build on the knowledge. Great idea for a YouTube video, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Minimalism in RVing-

Thus far my experiment with a truck bed tent has been positive. It allows me to have a vehicle camping system that also leaves my truck available to use as a truck.

One of my coworkers has a small truck, similar to my own. He has a Six-Pac overhead camper on his. He put the camper on the truck just recently, and this week is camping along with me in the company parking lot. We work nights, and this allows us to get our rest and not put ourselves and the community at risk with sleepy driving. We also reduce our fuel consumption, which is a globally and locally positive thing.

My system requires a bit more set-up than his each time I use it. However, loading and mounting a camper is not particularly easy. Dismounting it to be able to use the truck for truck applications is a bit inconvenient. Much more so than my simple tent. So far my truck tent has met my "minimalist" vision.

In a few weeks I will check out the Little Guy teardrop trailers. My Oregon trip will bring me near enough to the dealer to make a side-trip reasonable. The use of such a minimal system still meets my desire for simplicity, and in some respects is easier and more practical than the truck tent. The down side is the cost, and the increase in overall vehicle size.

The truck does remain a truck, however, with the little trailer behind.

I am also looking into camp stoves, portable kitchen elements, collapsible equipment and much more to assess the least expensive and simplest ways to do things without sacrificing a reasonable level of comfort.

To recruit my wife into some of these adventures will require refining camping to make it comfortable for her. I am thinking cabin tents, inflatable big beds, adequate bedding and other such items, a serviceable bathroom system, and temperature control. Fortunately, all of those elements are available, and can fit in the back of my truck.

Selling my wife on all of this may take some time. During that time I can enjoy the exploration and experimentation.

Some of my friends do this on bicycles and motorcycles. They don't mind the discount in comfort in exchange for the increase in mobility and simplicity. I am coming in somewhere between the two-wheeled experience and the more sophisticated house-on-wheels.

It is a continuum, finding a comfort zone between simplicity and complexity in camping styles.

This is fun, and that is very good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I don't wear jewelry. I never really have. Which leaves me confused as to my fascination with hunting for gold.

I have done a little panning. It is fun, but I haven't returned to the hobby for quite some time. At present I am fascinated by the use of metal detectors to find the precious metal.

Not long ago I saw a show on television on gold hunting. Indeed, all of the treasure hunting shows are interesting to me. Stones and metals. However, the gold hunting seems the most interesting.

Metal detectors. I looked into it. The guy on the one show I watched has classes. He teaches gold hunting, and his students are successful. I looked at his web site. His classes come free with the purchase of a metal detector from his shop.

Nearly $5,000. Even with the training, that seemed a bit steep to me. Especially since one of his best students has accumulated not even enough gold to pay for the machine.

So I looked some more. Prices dropped, but were still steep. More searching.

Radio Shack. $89. That seemed more like it.

As I thought about it, I decided that it might not be the hobby for me. Still, at that low price I could at least get a very basic tool.

Who knows? I might get lucky.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Picasa Web Albums - Michael Lockridge - Everything Else

Picasa Web Albums - Michael Lockridge - Everything Else

I ended up with this while trying to get a photo onto the previous entry. There seem to be issues with doing that from some computers I use. My home computer allows it to be done more easily.

I was trying to show the arched door area of my Sportz II truck tent. It is visible in the above listed photos.

Tents 101-

Well, I am learning a bit about managing a tent. So far my experience with my Sportz II Truck Tent has been quite positive. As far as tents go, it has been comfortable and convenient. For the most part, the assembly and breakdown of the tent has been rather easy, as long as I take my time.

The only real problem I have had is with the shock cord poles for the tent opening and inside riser. The main poles (3 of them) have assembled well with minimal fuss. I have had to struggle with the pole that arches the rounded area that serves as the door.
Two of those poles have splits in sections of their fiberglass tubes. I am using the tent currently without the inside riser pole, which stretched the roof of the tent on the inside. It is not essential. That pole is serving as the arch support.
I assume that breaking these poles is rather common. So, assuming that, I also concluded that replacement parts must be available. A quick search, and I learn that they are, indeed, available. So, I must limp along with taped-up poles, until I can get to the appropriate sporting goods store.
I am not sure that the arch pole was the right length. I may experiment with some of the materials once I get some spare parts, and see if a different length would serve better. At present I will probably build another pole to serve as the arch, and use the slightly damage pole as the roof riser. I do not think the minor split on that pole will matter much.
Electrical tape does not suffice to make the split sections rigid enough to accept the stresses applied when used as arched supports for the tent. The split section still folds and the arch loses integrity. I wonder if this problem with the model II tent led to some changes in the model III? Until I get to see one, I won't know.
I do know that I have learned a bit about tents, and expect to learn more over time.
It's kind of fun.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Night life-

Well, I have been on the night shift for around two months. I seem to be stuck living at night, even at home. Up until now I have been experiencing some personal conflict over this. I guess I feel a desire to return to the regular schedule while at home with the family.

My body does not seem to want to do this. Perhaps I will just have to go with what is happening and not fight it. I will remain nocturnal both at work and at home.

I have been gaming rather intensely the last two weeks. I am trying to accomplish some things in World of Warcraft before the expansion. I have a couple of months. Since this game is a big part of my life, I am excited about the expansion. I am hoping that the added solo content proves satisfying.

Though the game is massively multi-player, I often just play on my own and don't go with groups or join raids. That is a big aspect of the game, but I really enjoy exploring and advancing some select elements of the game that suit my own style. Raids and groups require commitment, and I want to be free to enter the game and leave the game whenever it suits me.

Now that I will have a huge block of time in the night, I need to assess some writing goals. I just read How to Get a Literary Agent, and will next seek a good reference for Publish on Demand. I am not yet at the point where I have something ready to submit, so this is a good research time.

My next major event is a trip to Oregon to visit my family. I will provide some details in the near future. I am making this trip a bit more of an adventure. I think it will be fun.

I think I may be ready to sleep, now. I am going to try.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I have long known that I harbor far too much bitterness in my heart. Until recently I felt justified in holding onto this bitterness. The offenses I felt bitter about were real, and ought not to be. My anger was justified.

Recently I have been examining that bitterness, not as a treasure but as a disease. I struggled through anger and depression beginning two years ago. I thought I had the anger licked, and I could hold the depression at bay. Still I held to my bitterness, because it was righteous.

Yesterday I looked at the term on the Internet. I confirmed my recent suspicions. The anger still lived because it was one with my bitterness.

Bitterness is like drinking poison so that someone else would die.

That observation summed it all up. In my righteous anger I have held onto bitterness over past offenses. I would sip at this brew of anger and poison myself.

What is the solution? I must forgive those who have offended me. Not because they have repented. They have not, and very likely will not. I must forgive them for my own sake. They shall remain the vile and offensive creatures they have proven to be. I must forgive them for their past offenses, and for their continuing offenses as they occur.

This is hard, because I know I am right. However, being right is not all there is to this equation. I need to reach past being right and seek to be well. Bitterness harms me, and administering the dose myself is ultimately foolish.

I shall not name names here. Oh, I am tempted to do so, and enumerate the many wrongs I have suffered. However, that is simply chewing on the poisonous past. No, I must take some time to forgive them in earnest, so that I may heal.

Yep. I wish it didn't seem so hard. I would love for this to be a simple one-step-and-feel-good process. I know it will not be. This is real, so it is going to hurt.

Reality is like that. I will try not to be bitter about it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Techno-ego and screen burn-

Like so many people who know a little about something, I am subject to feeling I know more than I do. I am staring at the result of this techno-ego. I have "screen burn" on my LCD display!

In the days of CRT (cathode ray tube) displays there was a real concern for screen burn. High speed electrons were fired from behind at the surface you looked at, creating the images you could see on the screen. There was significant energy in this system, and it could eventually burn the screen.

The LCD (liquid crystal display) works a bit differently. In essence, the energy levels are lower. You can't burn the screen.

To prevent screen burn in CRT a program was created to serve as a screen saver. They became cute add-ons, and were very popular.

I found them annoying.

So, armed with my knowledge of LCD screens, I turned off the screen savers. "Don't need 'em." Yep. I knew so much!

It turns out that a single image displayed over a long time can cause a "persistence" on the screen. I am looking at one right now. I kept the same background on for a long time. Recently I thought I saw evidence of bruising or some other damage to my screen, but nobody in the family was aware of an accident. Confusing!

Just moments ago I noticed that some of the white "bruise" lines coincided with highlights on my regular background image.

Quick! Search the Internet! This is what I found! Damn! I thought I was so smart!

I have changed my background image and started a screen saver. Fortunately, the condition should be reversible.

Of course, that would eliminate my justification for getting one of those nice new 24" monitors.

Maybe this is a permanent problem! Heh!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Highway Travel Photos-

I haven't yet come up with a good way to gather highway travel photos. If I am solo traveling I can't safely be taking pictures and driving. Sure, I can stop often. I probably will. However, I really want to capture a good sampling of the highways I travel.

I haven't found a camera that is programable to allow a photo to be taken every minute or so. I actually have found devices on the Internet that allow for such photography, and I could probably cobble together something that would work. I even have ideas for mounting the camera in the passenger seat to capture the viewpoint of the passenger.

Another thought is capturing videos of the highway. Digital cameras often can take still shots and videos. This idea allows for a pretty simple system. The camera is mounted to capture the passenger's perspective, the video is started, and I would drive until I come close to the video capture limit of the camera. Then replace the video card and batteries and continue my journey.

The video idea has merits, but would require software to be able to pull good still shots from the videos. One drawback would be the real-time nature of the whole video. Most people would love to view a collection of still shots, since they can scan the collection and view them at their own pace. A video, especially several hours of travel video, might be a bit tedious.

So far I haven't determined just what I will do. I need to select the method and get the equipment together. That will require funding. I will have to make a few initial explorations to come up with a suitable system. I am sure it will evolve over time.

I have even had the idea of multiple cameras, positioned to capture images at the same time but with a different view. A camera looking forward and one looking out of the passenger window, for example.

We shall see what I come up with. Presently it is just a dream, a speculative project.

California Highway 120-

I have, from time to time, used the Google mapping system to explore potential road adventures. Since I reside in Felton, California, I have focused on those highways within reach. I have written about a few.

Highway 120 has a lot of promise. Coming from the west I would begin a journey on this highway in the California Central Valley near the town of Manteca. The route would go east across the Central Valley, passing through Escalon and Oakdale on the way to the mountains. The Sierra Nevada range. High into the mountains, and across through Tioga Pass. Then on to Lee Vining near Mono Lake. Then on to Benton, and the end of the highway as it junctions with highway 6.

Mountains, Valleys and Lakes. Lots of towns, mostly small towns. I think this is one interesting highway.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Travels Remembered-

I recall loving the journeys of my youth. I traveled with my parents, and sometimes with my grandparents. I remember desert road, and mountain roads. I recall sleeping in the back of a station wagon on a long trip from Los Angeles, California to Grants Pass, Oregon. I recall another long journey (at least to me) traveling to see my great grandmother in Arizona.

I have vague recollections of ghost towns and old gold mines. I recall a house made of bottles. I remember being terrified when my grandfather lifted me up to look over the edge of Hoover Dam. I also remember the Grand Canyon from the eyes of someone very young.

I recall having to wait for the rising sun to climb high enough over the desert to allow us to drive on into the east. The road ran directly into the rising sun, and blinded the drivers trying to move on.

I remember crossing the desert to come upon a mesa that grew taller and taller as we drew closer. I recall the long haul climbing the face to get to the top.

I recall the Redwoods, following winding roads past places full of wonder. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Tunnels that went through trees. A gift shop built right into the base of a tree.

Ah, gift shops. I loved the tacky collections of kitsch. I bought a dried seahorse in that gift shop in the bowels of a redwood tree. What a seahorse has to do with redwoods I do not know.

I have always been souvenir challenged. We visited a shop in Seattle with the promising name of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. A place full of shrunken heads and geoducks and mummified wonders. I bought a box of Mexican Jumping Beans.

My mother was perpetually frugal, and our family travel budgets were never limitless. We did not often visit those snake farms and other emporiums of wonder that dotted the roads. We didn't stop at those orange shaped stands that cropped up so frequently as we journeyed the length of California's Central Valley.

Still, I looked for those orange stands, and wondered about the treasures inside.

I remember the scent of coffee in the restaurants where we stopped to eat. The affordable places, with simple food. I still love to start a journey by getting about an hour on the road early in the day and then stopping for breakfast at some place that is joyfully coffee scented.

Most of all I loved the changing vistas. Oh, I am sure I did my share of "are we there yet?" For me, though, I seem to recall a love of just going.

California Gold Country. Oregon Caves. The San Juan Islands. Crater Lake. These were magical places when viewed through the eyes of a child.

I have another journey to Oregon coming up in a month. I think that I will really enjoy that trip. I am ready for another travel adventure.

Perhaps I can find someplace along the way that sells dried seahorses or Mexican Jumping Beans.

You never know.