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!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Travel plans-

I had intended to have collected California Highway 9 and perhaps California Highway 35 by this time of the year. However, an ongoing home renovation and small things like a world-wide downturn in the economy seem to have gotten in the way.

Today we returned some items to Costco. We purchased more bamboo flooring than we needed. Our local Costco is near to the southern end of Highway 9. So, since I was already at the beginning of Highway 9 I took that highway home. We live in Felton, a small town just a bit north and east of Santa Cruz. I drove that small section, keeping in mind how I might collect images of the highway.

Since taking still photos while driving is both dangerous and unsatisfactory with regard to the quality of photographs and the prospects of survival, I have to eliminate that method. In viewing this small section of road I realized I would probably make twenty or more stops just in this small section of just a few miles. Collecting highways in this manner would take quite a bit of time.

Probably more advantageous would be a video camera. Mounted properly such a camera could collect the whole driving experience. It could also be removed from whatever mounting is used to hold the camera during travel. Then hand held collecting could take place. Stops at attractions and points of interest, things like that.

I would really like to have something head mounted, as well. Wherever I look the camera looks. This video would not be particularly appealing except as accent pieces edited into the main video. Such additional video could, with discrete use, add some interest to the overall production.

Of course, the same economic factors that have prevented collecting anything of these small highways will also impact the purchase of a quality video camera. It might well move back the project to sometime after Hell freezes over.

Perhaps quite a while after Hell freezes over. I suspect I have a number of debts that will be due following that event.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Ho, The Internet!

I have read on some writing and publishing sites concern about the coming state of written communication in the future following the advent of the Internet. The checks and balances of the existing publication system are absent from the Internet. Anyone with a computer can publish.

Much like I am doing now.

In this Wild West of the Internet who knows what can happen? Good opinions shall mingle with bad, and probably be overwhelmed and little heard.

With my small readership I don't anticipating swamping the world with my particular words.

Recently on some blogs I follow similar opinions have been expressed. Ranters and self-promoters shall flood the bandwidth and drown out reasoned discourse and more worthy prose.

Perhaps. Many of the more successful (as in readership) blogs I have seen are tasteful blogs associated with arts and crafts. Granted, urban chic bloggers with lots of nude or semi-nude photos will grab the greater spotlight, but some of these humble sites are exceptionally well done and have readerships in the hundreds. A few in the thousands.

Hey, the Internet may well be the Information Super Highway and the path to the Big Time for some. For most of us it is our back fence or front porch. We hang out with the neighbors (all over the world) and chat a bit. Maybe it is our Student Union, or corner bar. BYOB.

We gather from our separate places. We exchange ideas. We solve the world's problems, and create new ones. We get down and get human together.

Sure, it's different. Yet it is much the same.

I'm OK with that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pretty Good Weekend-

This was one of my four day weekends. Though I am weary of my job, I do appreciate the abundant time off it affords. In the past I sold a lot of that time as overtime. I do miss the money, but I prefer the time off.

I had some nice times with the grandkids. Just sitting in the back yard as they play is a pleasure for me. I try to do so every week. They also like to hang out with me when I play video games. They only watch for a little while, but they always seem excited to see me playing. None are quite ready for multi player games, as yet. Soon, but not yet.

World of Warcraft continues to satisfy, even though I have not been able to play as much as I like. We are still doing renovations, and that has taken priority over the gaming. Mostly.

I started a Death Knight this week. Frengie, the female Gnome Death Knight. A plague of cuteness! She really is a contradiction, and funny as well as fun to play. I have not grown weary of playing Nehai, my primary character. However, I thought a Death Knight would be fun, and following that sense of fun I finally got one started.

Linda and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince this weekend, as well. I enjoyed the movie, and really look forward to the completion of the set of films. Then I can watch them in series in a great marathon! What an experience that will be!

Continuing the renovations Linda and I went to Ikea on Saturday. Boo loaned her the money to get the needed shelves, since Ikea had them at half price for one day. We were going to have to wait a bit, due to lack of funds, so this loan was a great thing. We got it done and at half the cost.

Linda put up my books while I was setting up camp here at work. They take up a lot of space. I really need to thin them out. I am not really using many of them, and they take up space that could be better used. Plus, others could get some use out of my books. I don't know, maybe I could even sell some.

While setting up camp one of my tent poles broke. I have become rather good at repairing them, and had it fixed up in twenty minutes. I keep a collection of parts to aid in repairs, as they can't be expected to last forever. I also replaced my air bed, yet again. This is the fourth Northwest Territories air bed, all replaced under warranty. Not a great product, but I get six weeks to two months out of each on my $20 investment. Not so bad, I suppose.

Now I am back at work, and looking at my weekend I have to say it was pretty good.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Your dream may not be my dream-

In the early 1970's I served in the U.S. Army. By virtue of the time of my service, I am a Viet Nam Era veteran. I did not go to Viet Nam, though the war continued through two of my three years of service. I was sent to Germany.

My fortune in the service was even better than that. I was stationed on Ramstein Air Base. We were housed in Air Force barracks. In the same sized room shared by two airmen the Army placed only eight soldiers. It was roomy by Army standards. Sailors would have found it palatial.

I shared my room with only three other people for the better part of one year. Our unit was a detachment and of fewer people than the artillery batteries that shared the building with us. So, fewer people per room.

One of my roommates was Tex. He was from Texas. Unlike the bit in Forrest Gump where the nicknames did not correlate with the origin of the soldier, we were not so creative. Tex was from Texas.

Tex was using the Army as a stepping stone to his dream. He was going to school while serving his country. He was studying business and management.

His dream? He wanted to get one of those quick stop markets. He wanted to run it himself, and anticipated a pretty good living. He was devoted to this dream of his.

While I don't see much to dream about in owning and managing such a store, Tex was passionate about his dream.

At least he had a dream, something he could envision and make come to pass. I can't recall having anything like that.

Those years for me were more of a quest. I was seeking meaning and purpose on a grand scale. Unfortunately the scale was so grand that I never quite grasped what it was that I was seeking.

I did know that owning and managing a quick stop market was not what I was seeking. My hunger was for comprehensive and absolute knowledge, a goal made unachievable by my finiteness and mortality.

Over the years I have learned much, but I never learned how to manage a quick stop market.

Maybe Tex was right.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Trash Nazi and the Empress of Costco-

We all bump into each other, often in a professional capacity. It was in her professional capacity that I bumped into The Trash Nazi.

The title appears to be a pejorative, and perhaps it is. Still, I respect the Trash Nazi. She works at the kiosk at our waste transfer station. She takes her ignoble task seriously. She measures the loads, demanding conformity with regard to rules and regulations. She charges the full price for loads, and insists on things being done properly.

Others who have worked the kiosk are less serious about the task. It is a rather lowly task, in the scope of all the things people do for a living. It is certainly not a romantic position. As a consequence some perform the task with less attention to detail.

They don't measure loads. The set a price that is close to, but not quite, the full price that is charged by their more diligent peer. So what if you are an inch or two over the fifteen dollar load level? Fifteen bucks! What the heck.

Not so with the Trash Nazi. No. If it is anything more than a fifteen dollar load the price jumps to the next level. Eighteen dollars is her call, and not a penny less!

I rather like the lady. To stand in the kiosk of a county dump and hold to high standards takes a woman of character! This lady is worthy of respect!

I met another such woman about a month back. Floor supervisor at the Costco in Sand City, California. We were there for flooring. We got half of our purchase in our little truck, and could fit no more. We called in a back-up truck, but it would be a while in getting there.

No problem. Let them know when the truck arrived. So, I did.

Her crew was at lunch. I would have to wait. She was polite, but firm. Some such people would have demanded that their crew break from lunch and serve the customer. Many customers would have expected that.

She insisted I wait until they finished their break. I have been a working guy for over thirty years. I know how important breaks can be. I agreed to wait, and respected her for respecting her crew. She was knowledgeable, pleasant, yet firm. Quite admirable.

Trash Nazi. The Empress of Costco. Two real women.

It's all about respect.

More Cheap Cuisine-

This week it was another trip to Safeway. I got some more Imported from Thailand Rice Noodle Soup bowls. At about a buck each these are a fabulous bargain. Flavor, texture, ease of preparation and very cheap.

One of these is almost a meal. What to add? That I considered on my cheap shopping spree. The Dollar Tree had something to add. Monet Vegetable Entertainer Crackers. I had little hope for these when I bought them, but I am committed to mastering Cheap Cuisine. I was surprised.

These crackers are crisp, flavorful, and of course they are cheap. I consumed about a quarters worth along with my soup. Quite tasty. The flavor complemented the soup, the crispness was welcome as a contrast to the largely liquid nature of soup, and the bulk helped round out the soup as a meal.

These crackers beg for a dip or some cheese. I look forward to sampling them with some of my other cheap meals. I really think that they will be a regular part of my camp larder, so long as the Dollar Tree has them in stock.

That is one of the quirks of the Dollar Tree franchise. Not every item you find there will you necessarily find on a subsequent visit. Many, perhaps most, will be there time and again. However, it is never a sure thing. Sure enough to demand repeated visits. The bargains are too good to miss. Just don't depend on the Dollar Tree in particulars.

So far these are the best crackers I have found for a buck.

Stay tuned for more Cheap Cuisine.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Music and Managing Depression-

A couple of years ago I came close to a mental and emotional collapse. I had allowed myself to get out of balance. I was striving to do all of the right things; work hard, care for my family, contribute to society. However, in doing so I had become engaged in a program of self-sacrifice that denied me much of what I needed emotionally.

I was doing good things for noble purposes, but my self-denial was such that I was destroying myself from the inside. I risked collapse. I was deeply depressed, and beginning to have difficulty managing my emotions at work. In time I sought counseling and got things on a better track.

Part of my program of recovery required me to understand and manage my depression. In studying depression I found a bit of advice that was interesting. To break a depressive cycle it can be beneficial to listen to music. Loud music, or more correctly listen to music that is played loudly.

Over the two years since my near breakdown I have made considerable improvement. I have taken time to consider my own needs, and though I am far from self-indulgent I have focused on taking care of my needs sufficiently to break the downward spiral and begin moving upward.

Recently I have had to reconsider one of my plans, largely due to the changes in the economy. I had intended to leave my current career, since it is in part a contributor to my depression. It is stressful and insufficiently rewarding. However, the downturn in the economy created an employment scenario that is also stressful. I have reconsidered my retirement, and will strive to maintain my employment for as long as I can bear it.

Since that decision I have had more depressive moments. Moving on had become an important part of my depression management program. Now I was not moving on, and I needed an alternative management strategy.

For Father's Day I received an iTunes card from my kids. My daughter Beth also made an iPod available to me. I began downloading tunes and after loading up the iPod I began listening to music. A lot of music.

It helped. Granted, it is just a temporary fix, and sometimes only affective during the time I am listening to music. Still, it helps. That is good.

Besides the therapeutic value, it has been fun. Shopping for tunes one tune at a time, putting my library in order, and learning the iTunes system has been fun. That is also good.

My new course is to continue my employment, and begin looking for a new job. I will have the option of seeking a position that is sufficient to meet the needs of my family, and also meet my own needs. Until I find something that is adequate, or even fabulous, I will remain employed and free of the stresses of not being employed.

Now I just have to find some money to buy iTunes. Panhandling, maybe?

Got any spare change?

Another Cheap Cuisine entry-

Today it was Chow Nissin Original Pasta Tomato & Basil. This product has a few steps, and takes six minutes to cook in the microwave. It is microwave only, so this does not qualify for camp cuisine.

Too bad. I like it. For a dollar meal it has good flavor and it is quite satisfying. The dried tomatoes had a good flavor, and were not lost in the noodles and sauce.

These pack light, so they are not a bad choice for my present application. However, preparation does need a microwave. Coleman still does not have a camp microwave, at least not yet.

They have almost everything else.

So, for cheap this meal rates well. For flavor, I give it a high grade. As for campability, it fails only due to the impracticality of taking a microwave camping.

Oh, wait. Look here. I feel so behind the times! >.<