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!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It is not the teller, but the tale-

There existed an era before the Internet, television, and even the telephone. It was a time when stories and ideas were conveyed through writing. Letters, books and scrolls. You have probably seen printed books, written on paper. They are still common, though I wonder if that will remain the case. That, however, will be another story.

Printing is even a relatively new invention. Machines that did the work of the scribe. The scribe. A person devoted to the hand copying of letters, books and scrolls. Tediously placing ink on paper or thin animal skins, the stories and ideas of the past were maintained and transmitted. New stories and ideas were added, over time.

There existed an era before that. A time out of time, in which storytellers collected and passed on by word of mouth the ideas and stories of the past. The divisions we are familiar with did not exist. Science, religion, history, and fiction were all melded into the stories handed down from the past. Into the mix were added new tales to teach and to remember.

I am among those who tell tales. I am a story teller. It is a delightful task, and a mystical experience. Mystical, because I intentionally open myself to the sense of all of that history, and even prehistory. I suspect not all tellers of tales open themselves in this way, but I have a mystical bent. I feel that it enhances my experiences, and hope that it adds dimension to my tales.

Some years ago I would sit late at night and write by candlelight. I would use a pen which had to be dipped into ink to charge the nib for writing. I did this intentionally, writing by the same light that untold generations before me used to write. I did this intentionally, using a technology that was archaic. Pens of metal, pens of glass. Even pens of quills plucked from birds, though those are surprisingly difficult to use.

I was intentionally reaching back across history while writing into the future. Standing hand in hand with a long line of the tellers of tales, stretching from campfires eons dead through the moment of my life and onward into an unknown and little guessed future. I felt it, mostly because I wanted to feel it. Mysticism is rooted in the imagination.

In a discussion with atheists who happened to be scientist, or perhaps scientists who happened to be atheists, I recalled to them a documentary I had watched that described the telling of tales in remaining societies that exist outside of the world of the written word. People who teach their children with spoken words as they sit around camp fires. The tales told contain the whole world.

I proposed that the story is the primary mode by which humans have come to know the world for a very long time. My scientist friends agreed, but seemed to be of the opinion that a more 'scientific' mode of communication would be better. I am not sure what they meant, but they missed my point. I was suggesting that if they wanted their precious science to be known, really known, by the whole of humanity, it would have to be given to them in stories.

They seek to cleanse their science of that which is mystical, hoping to purify it and remove the stain of such artifacts of the past. That is unfortunate, and sad. I believe that science has much to contribute to the tale, but a story devoid of mystery becomes nothing more than a list of words. Yet the ongoing tale has been made strong by the order and structure given by science. We all err if we discount too readily any aspect of the tale.

Indeed, the tale grows rich and diverse in our modern time. It is informed by many disciplines, each a wealth of knowledge. It is made broad by so many modes of telling the tale. Technology has made the world small enough for us to experience a great deal of it in the short span of our lives. By making it small it has made the world even more vast in our experience than the world of mysterious unknown in which our precursors dwelt.

Technology has given us tools to tell the tale in ever changing ways. The transition from scribes tools to printing presses was revolutionary in human history. The transitions of our own day will bring forth revolutionary changes that will challenge the imagination. Yet the imagination is powerful, and will embrace these mysteries and distill them into marvelous tales. Whatever the tools, the storytellers will be there to gather the past and hand it on to the future.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

iPhone fail-

Yesterday my iPhone began running rough. Transitions and scrolling were not smooth. I figured it was some issue with the Internet. Late in the evening it got worse. Then, to bed. I plugged the phone into the charger. Minutes later it rebooted itself. I checked it, shrugged, and went back to my pillow. It did it again. It makes an unpleasant sound in the night when it reboots, so I shut it off.

This morning, upon starting up, it rebooted itself again. I did a search. MacRumors had a thread on the subject. The solution? A restore. Hold down the power and home buttons for about 25 seconds. The phone goes into restore mode. Connect to iTunes on your computer. iTunes detects the phone in restore mode, and provides instructions. My restore took about 40 minutes. It was relatively painless.

Unfortunately, the thread I used to learn the fix did not have any indication of the cause of the problem. I found several other threads with similar advice, but no indication of the cause. We shall see if the problem comes back. Most users complained of this type of issue after doing some unorthodox or unauthorized software or hardware modifications. I haven't done any of that, so I am hopeful I have found a solution.

If you have a smart phone that syncs with some kind of program on your PC, as the iPhone does with iTunes, it is a good idea to let them talk to each other once in a while. Backups need to be run, and software updates made. Though this modern technology is pretty smart, the operator must still be involved once in a while.

I have found that just a little regular maintenance on my tools keeps them sharp and ready to use, whether a knife or an iPhone. Just a suggestion. Keep up on your updates, and backup frequently.

Monday, December 12, 2011

News from the Edge of the World-

One of my readers reminded me that I haven't done an update on my current novel in progress. It is the fourth novel in my Edge of the World series. Up until recently I had been making good progress on this novel, and regular updates were occurring as I wrote. Then changes came upon me.

Good changes. The Endless Move to Medford, Oregon, had another phase begin. Our plan had been to sell our home in Felton, California (near Santa Cruz) and move to Medford to ease our retirement life. Living in Medford is a lot less expensive. Additionally, we anticipated buying two homes, one for my wife, my mother-in-law, and myself. Another for my daughter and her family. Hopefully, with a situation to provide temporary housing for my sons, should they need a fall-back position.

The first phase had some bumps, and consumed the better part of a year. Selling a house in a bad economy is challenging. That challenge was met, and we got moved. We bought a house, and for a time lived all together in too little space. That was phase two. Phase three began about two months ago, and we eventually completed the purchase of a second home here in Medford and got my daughter's family moved in.

Phase three, unfortunately, consumed a surprisingly large amount of time. That challenged the writing process, which fell by the way-side. Additionally, cold weather moved in. My place of writing has most recently been my van, the Mobile Man Cave. It was quiet, and away from the crowded house in which we all lived. Phase three cleared the house and allowed me to 'move in,' but the change left me without the privacy of my little cave. I am still getting settled, and reforming my writing habits.

On the positive side, I have been collecting notes and developing my plot lines. I have made minuscule progress, but progress nonetheless. Now the Holiday season challenges my work. That, and I still don't have a place of my own. The departure of my daughter's family has caused a flurry of re-decorating and moving stuff. I am still trying to find a place of my own to use in winter months.

The work will continue. Book four will get a name, and be brought to a point of conclusion. The tale will be left with several directions which can become additional books, depending on how things progress in growing my readership.

That has proven to be a great challenge. I have faced some discouragement in learning that my paltry beginning marketing efforts have netted few results. For a naturally reclusive person this social networking is a difficult task. Lacking funds, I must market at a grass-roots level. That is not a bad thing, just not particularly fast.

During this process I have discovered an online community of self-published writers. Some have gained a degree of success, after considerable time and effort. Most are where I happen to be. We are essentially hobby writers seeking to make something of our work. When I elected to accept that perspective I overcame my discouragement. I could continue in that vein, and strive to gain a readership over time.

It is unfortunate that I cannot easily transition into a retired person able to rely on an additional writing income. I now have two homes to pay for, rather than one house paid off that was rather overloaded with family. This new situation is much better, but I need income. I am looking for work. Writing would be preferable, and I would gladly put in the hours pounding the keys if I could make the money needed. Unfortunately, it does not look like that will work.

So, book four will progress, and be finished. I will continue. However, the Endless Move to Medford is demanding my finding employment. That will impact my writing. Until my readership increases and funds allow me to pour some more resources into marketing, my writing will remain a hobby. A pleasant hobby, one which has put me in contact with some very nice people, but still a hobby.

Spread the word! I don't mind stocking shelves, or any one of a number of jobs I have recently applied for. I would rather, however, be writing. Writing stories you all would enjoy reading. Michael Lockridge, at Barnes and Noble online. Adventure is waiting!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Not to Wear-

I am not particularly fond of network television. I am not particularly aware of fashion. My taste regarding (and application of) clothing is rather rudimentary. Clothes keep me warm and help me to not be unduly offensive to other people. So, I have not gravitated to such shows as What Not to Wear. My wife, however, has been watching the show for some time.

Since moving to Medford, Oregon, and getting settled in our new home I have spent a bit more time watching some of the shows she likes. My own pursuits tend to be a bit reclusive, and the lack of shared experience can be problematic. Watching the shows she likes is a way to correct this. Hence, I have come to watch What Not to Wear. I have found it surprisingly interesting, but not for the fashion aspect.

The premise of the show is that people nominate a friend or family member for a make-over. The two hosts of the show gather up the nominee and proceed to teach that person to shop for fashionable clothing. Then comes a reworking of hair and make-up. The show is seemingly exclusively focused on females, presumably because a large percentage of males are fashion neanderthals, such as myself.

The hosts are witty and constructively critical. More importantly, they are compassionate and seem sincere in declaring their charges as 'beautiful,' and seeking to help that person to find their beauty. I have been fascinated to see how relatively small are the changes these people make in the dress and rituals of preparation to achieve a significant result.

What is the cost of all of this? The hosts provide a $5,000 card for shopping. The hair and make-up stylists are contracted, and quite skilled. On the whole, it is not something most people could afford to do for themselves. Still, the message is better than I expected.

I perceive fashion as a dictatorial market driving force, compelling people to constantly replace the material things in their lives with new material things, ultimately to the point of excessive debt and impoverishment. It is a social force that allow people to establish a pecking order without resorting to violence and bloodshed.

The show in question presents fashion as a mode of self-expression within the confines of a nebulous set of rules, establishing self-esteem and esteem among other people. I suspect that the quest for the definition of the set of rules is part of the fun, if this kind of thing can be fun. I see that it might be, but money seems to be the key to success. How unusual.

In a similar vein I recall finding a bin of socks in a sporting goods store, at a very nice discount. I asked why the socks were discounted so much. "Oh, those are last year's stock." was the answer. Fashion, in sporting goods. How is it I never saw that before? "I can't use those crampons this year. They are last year's model! What will all of the other ice climbers think?"

I may never be sold on the idea of fashion. I certainly don't expect to ever be fashionable, and am untroubled by that prospect. I am, however, a bit more positive on the idea of encouraging people to embrace changes in their lives to find better ways to live. If fashion can serve in that capacity, perhaps I can embrace it to that degree.

I still have little fondness for network television. However, my wife seems to enjoy sharing her viewing experiences, and I can't deny that I have found some things interesting. People doing puzzles on an island. People traveling around the world at an insane pace. Women going shopping and getting their hair and make-up done.

It could be worse. She could like Jersey Shore.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Endless Move to Medford-

The Endless Move to Medford (Oregon) entered into a new phase several weeks ago, and that phase is just coming to a close as we near Christmas. As a consequence, I have had less time for blogging, writing my novel, and promoting my completed writings. I thought at this point I should get back into the swing of blogging with an entry about the move.

I retired two years ago from a career in corrections. I worked the line in the Santa Cruz County Jail for twenty years. Twenty years of direct inmate contact proved to be all I could handle. There is a degree of stress to the job. I was ready to get out of jail and move on to a new phase in my life. Unfortunately, our house in Santa Cruz needed some serious repairs, and costs in that area are high. Living there on my pension was not a viable decision.

So, a move was in order. The sale of our house, which required borrowing some money and getting the repairs done. The sale of our house in a very bad economic time. It was tedious, and difficult, and quite challenging. It was done, and we finally got moved to Southern Oregon. In fairly short order we found and purchased a house that would work for us.

My daughter and her family moved along with us. Indeed, they preceded us to Oregon by the better part of a year. There was a long transition period where some of us 'camped' in the house being sold, and the others made due with temporary housing of various sorts. Career changes. Changes in location. A lot of stress, and it is much better looking back than going through. However, it is done.

Too many people in our new house, but again we were living in a transition. The final phase was searching for and purchasing a second house. Now that is done, and my daughter and her family are pretty much moved in. They still have the task of settling in, but we are well on our way to completing this long, long move. The adventure included a great many changes.

We rented a total of five storage units over the course of the move, sometimes moving things between units and sometimes from state to state. We rented a number of moving trucks. We boxed and loaded and stored and un-boxed a lot of stuff. There are still a lot of things in boxes. The move seems endless. The garage of our present home is a warehouse in which items are moved about in what  is sometimes like a game of real life Tetris. Yet, over time there has been progress.

Our real estate agent in Santa Cruz was Bill Cree. Our real estate agent in the Medford, Oregon, was Tom Kohan. They were great to work with, and went the extra mile in providing great service. We met and worked with a lot of other various people in this whole, long process. Almost every experience was pleasant, though often expensive. Resources came and went, what needed doing got done, and we moved ever toward the goal.

The support of family was also of great value. Financial assistance. Assistance in moving. Lending items during the transition to help smooth out the bumpy ride. The extended family also bore a lot of stress as a consequence of our move, for which I am sorry but thankful for the diligent shouldering of the burden. Now that we are on the other side of the move I hope that we can begin repaying the investment, even if it is only in the form of paying it forward.

Hopefully we will soon complete this project, this Endless Move to Medford, and begin settling in. There are new projects on the horizon. I have more books to write, and need to find some kind of work to provide resources to build toward the future. The future, with new challenges, and more transitions.

It should prove interesting.