To all my readers and followers, please keep in mind that I have now moved over to my new blog, Father Nature's Corner, so Cedar's Mountain is now on a semi-permanent hiatus.

If you're looking for the wit and wisdom that Cedar's Mountain is known for, please click on the link up above or to the right, and I promise you that you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 22)

"Right now, I would like to offer my sincere apologies for the way we behaved towards you. Only now, has everything been truly explained to us, that you were never at fault for what had happened between our parents. So let me finish this little speech by offering you the one elusive item you were searching for from us for the past four years: Respect. Step-mom, you were the greatest. We love you bunches and we will truly miss you, but most importantly, you will live on forever in our memories as a cherished member of our family."

A steady stream of friends and distant relatives came slowly through the receiving line to pay their respects to the immediate family before paying their prolonged respects to Azalea. There were only three people who weren't completely cracked by her death standing in the receiving line: Walter's ex-wife, Wanda Gibson, and two former co-workers from way back; Ray Jefferson and George Sebastian. Everyone else who was extremely close to her, ranged from slightly incapacitated to completely devastated, so they weren't able to help with any receiving of people for the next two days.

On the second day, Malibu Miller was finally able to pull herself together long enough so that she could pay her respects to Azalea. Walking very slowly, Malibu just about made it through the receiving line, before completely collapsing from the strain of seeing the finality of it all.

Ray and George rushed over to render assistance, each one grabbing an arm for support. George asked if she wanted to continue with the viewing or did she want to be brought over to a chair for recovery purposes.

"I want to continue with the viewing. I'm only good for another twenty minutes before doing a complete crash and burn, so help me over to her...casket." she said haltingly as the finality of the moment began to take a serious hold on her.

Approaching the casket, Malibu knelt down at the prayer podium. Making the sign of the cross, she then pulled out a bandanna which she then wrapped around her hands as she brought them together for prayer. As she began, the floodgates opened and her body convulsed from the overwhelming outpouring of grief that she was experiencing.

Collapsing to the ground from the emotional pain, Malibu was a wreck. George and Ray quickly ran over to help Malibu up, but she had a death grip on one of the casket handles.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Deconstruction And Decommissioning (part 1)

Part 3 of The Library Chronicles.

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Question for everyone: how many of you out there like destroying things? Especially at work and especially with permission? Okay, let me count the hands: 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20....hmmm...looks like everyone does.

Ahhh....celebrating the inner child.

The next major component of my job involved creating the main source of food needed in order to produce the finished product called microfilm: pages and pages of newspaper.

The formula for creating this food source was a bit time consuming and fairly tedious. Time consuming in that there were a multiple of steps to taken and sub steps to be taken if certain situations arose (sort of like a BASIC language computer command: if a+b=c then do d, otherwise if a+b=d, then do c); tedious because some of the newspapers we worked with were old and some cases, fragile.

For the most part though, what follows is what I did for the next five years.

1. Retrieve the chosen newspaper from the attic. Now this wasn't as easy as it sounds. I went up with my co-worker and usually the volumes we needed were high up on the stacks (each stack had about fifteen shelves, minimum space width: two feet) and quite frequently we had no ladder to do this. Spidering was a very heavily used way of climbing.

2. Load up one to two carts and haul them back to the preservation room (again, not as easy as it sounds. For those of you who have done landscaping or home improvement, you'll immediately understand that pushing anywhere from 100 to 300 pounds of bound volumes of newspapers isn't an easy thing to do).

3. After putting them away in the various holding areas (shelves and pallets), I choose a volume to disassemble. I bring it over to my work area and whip out my handy dandy paring knife. Within thirty seconds, I had both covers and the spine covering removed, and I was ready to obliterate the interior.

4. Obliterating the interior simply meant taking a quarter inch section of newspaper and forcibly removing it from its brethren. Usually this process takes anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on the size and condition of the newspaper.

5. After turning a respectable four inch wide volume of newspaper into a ten to twelve inch stack of fractured parts, it was time to trim off the glue from the edge without wiping out the text.

Note: On older newspapers, particularly those from the 19th century, they printed text all the way to the gutter (fold). The worst thing I could do was to chop off the glue and remove a few letters of text from each line.

So I carried my disemboweled volume of newspaper over to a seriously big ass table top paper cutter.

Brief description: this thing was literally four feet by four feet, with a spring loaded pedal clamp and four plus foot arm for a blade. With this thing, you could cut (among other things) about forty-fifty pages at a clip.

6. Trimming the newspaper. This required a good eye and a keen sense of knowing how poorly the volumes were put together. Because this was something you couldn't simply blitz through willy nilly, it took me on average about fifteen to twenty minutes to do.

I got to be really good at what I did on the table cutter. So good in fact, that I was the catalyst for the introduction of a nifty safety feature that was added to the process in 1998.

How did I accomplish this fascinating feat of creativity?

I chopped off my fingertip.

Up next: Deconstruction and Decommissioning (part 2)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Naughty, Naughty

How-de-do.

I haven't done one of these in a while, so please imagine an official sounding voice doing the read through.

The Disclaimer: This post will contain content that will be highly offensive/narrow minded to some readers. If you are one of those select few who are offended by narrow-mindedness, then please click on one of the labels to the left of this post. There you will find something more to your liking.

We've all had naughty thoughts at one time or another in our lives. Today's lively discussion will be about the naughty thoughts (get your mind out of that Maxim magazine) one has about the opposite sex, which in the case of this blog, is female.

Some time ago, (2007 to be exact) I participated in a chat thread called "Are women as sexy as they used to be?" I was of the opinion that the women of today can still be sexy even if they don't blatantly show it all. Sexy is a state of mind and a state of being, no matter what the age.

For instance, I work with women that range in age from the mid-twenties to the mid-forties, and let me tell you there is a world of difference between them.

Sexy is lost on the twenty somethings. Provocative is not. I have met women in that sub thirty age range, who even though they work in an office environment, have questionable tastes in clothing attire. While what they choose to wear would be perfect in the outside world (and I will give you an example in a second), would not be welcomed in the office, simply because of the heightened state of awareness for offensive behavior.

To give you an example (see?), what I'm about to describe I have actually seen, which has made me stop and watch until they got out of sight, before I gave myself an internal slap of the face.

1) Tight form fitting jeans that accentuate the ass and the legs quite nicely.
2) Tight, relatively form fitting shirts, with a neckline that plunges a bit too far and accentuates the.....rack. Yum!
3) Long hair not set (tied up in some form), just naturally curled or straight. Sensual!!
4) Nice set of earrings.
5) Boots that are more appropriate for a night on the town (the shoes, gots to be the shoes!)

Or they'll be wearing a dress that's more appropriate out there than in the office. WOOF!

Basically, the sub-thirty set wears clothing specifically designed to get the guys to stare, ogle, drool and act stupid. In other words, normal.

Brief interlude as a lady walks into view. Georgie leans over to watch until she disappears from view.

The sub-forty age bracket understands the concept of putting out, without putting out. Most of the ones I come into contact with can look exceptionally fine without resorting to the type of clothing faux paux that the sub-thirty regularly engages in.

They keep themselves fit and trim, they exude self confidence and dress well. In essence, being sexy without looking sexy.

Example would be that the women I come across on a daily basis are visually pleasing without being tasteless. In other words, I'm not gonna stand/sit there and ogle, discreetly or otherwise.

Instead, I'll simply give a sincere and heartfelt compliment about their appearance. This is called "playing the game at work." While there is no ulterior motive behind it, it does have its advantages, in that it doesn't put me into circulation, it does keep me in practice and on my toes. What I meant by "on my toes" is that....

A brief pause again as a relatively attractive lady stops by to ask a question or two, before continuing on her way. Georgie doesn't poke his head out, but simply savors the moment.

What I mean by "keeping me on my toes" is that the typical sub-forty member not only dresses to impress, but dresses to be noticed.

Like:

1) Jeans. Comfortable yet not quite form fitting.
2) Casual dresses. Knee length, flowing tastefully. Enough to leave something to the imagination.
3) Hair tastefully done.
4) Footwear tastefully done.

Above all, exudes enough confidence that no mater what, someones head will turn. Like mine.

Which brings us to the over forty crowd, who put out only a little, without putting out at all.

They dress sensibly, work out and exude such an aura of confidence that they can pump up or flatten out a man's ego with just their body language. Additionally....

Georgie gets distracted as an unknown lady walks by, the light scent of jasmine engulfing his table. He looks up in time to catch a sight of a good looking forty something disappearing down an aisle of books.

(lower lip quivers, and suddenly he flips)

Additionally...did I mention the aura of sexuality too? Who boy, do they ooze sexuality. They don't have to do anything beyond being their natural, luscious selves. I mean, have you gotten a look at the average forty something lately? They are simply hot without trying to be.

Like:

1) They dress to kill. Whatever they wear, it accentuates the ass, the legs and the.....rack.
2) Forget everything else, all they have to do is simply walk on by and heads will turn.
3) Oh man the hair. Can you picture the hair? Long shoulder to waist length, braided, dreads, loose, highlighted....
4) Forget that, go back to the rest of the body...

Two women walk into the picture and confront Georgie over his sudden flipping of the switch. One gets in his face and starts berating him for his suggestive remarks and flip manner, while the other starts to hit him about the face and head. Suddenly a few more women come out to get a piece of the action. Before long all hell breaks loose, with the sounds of screams and someone being pummeled. Georgie has one last gasp and is able to type out a couple more words before succumbing to the deluge.

Somebody help me.

After a while, the noise dies down and the mob of angry women dissipates. A few minutes later, a hand appears over the top of the table. Then another. Finally, a battered and bruised Georgie makes an appearance. Taking out his broken laptop, the screen completely disengaged from the keyboard, he types out his final thoughts, before passing out.

To those who think that being in the middle of a group of beautiful women is a good thing, I say to you....BULLSHIT!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Brief Hiatus

Greetings.

I want to take this time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Or, if you're of the Jewish faith, Happy Hannukah.

I will be taking a blog-free vacation starting tomorrow and will return refreshed and rejuvenated on Saturday, so if you make a comment during that time frame and don't see it there later in the day, this is the reason why.

And with any luck, I hope to get re-engaged with my writing during this absence. I thank everyone for the excellent advice you gave me last week, and I will proceed accordingly.

Here's wishing that you get spoiled rotten on Christmas morning.

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 21)

"Hello? Who's calling please?"

"Hello. This is the Newington, CT police department. By chance does Miss Azalea Gold live there? And if she does, is she there?"

Uh oh thought Wanda, this cannot be good news. Out loud, she said, "Yes, she does and no, she's on vacation. As a matter of fact, she's vacationing in Connecticut, why?"

Silence followed her answer to the officer's query as he decided on what to course to pursue next. Choosing his words carefully, he asked, "Is she black, age about late thirties or early forties, somewhat tall and very good looking?"

Wanda said very quietly, "She's dead, isn't she?"

Again, silence followed as the officer had no idea on how to respond to her answer. Wanda did for him as she said, "Don't worry, I'll make the arrangements down here. When the time comes, could you let me know who'll be shipping her back home, please?"

"Sure thing."

"Thanks."

Epilogue

Two weeks later, they had a two day lavish wake and a beautiful funeral for Azalea. Both families temporarily made peace with each other, but not with Walter, as they believed, right or wrong, the he was the main cause of her death.

The wake and funeral service was S.R.O. as everyone came out to celebrate her lived. She had made numerous friends from her many stops in life. From her days living in and working in the East to the friends she made living and semi-working in the Midwest, they all came out to say their final goodbyes.

During the wake and funeral there were some truly heartbreaking moments of grief. Jey and Jen approached the closed casket, their eyes rimmed with redness from the tears that were still pouring out, was a truly heart rendering sight that no one could forget. But it was what they said about Azalea that really drove that unforgettable point home.

Sobbing heavily, Jey did the speaking for both of them. "Miss 'Zea, I can't begin to describe the pain that I'm feeling right now as I stand here in front of you. Even though I treated you horrible for these past four years because of what I thought you did to my mom, you never let it sow how bad it was that I'd hurt you. You kept plugging away, trying to get the both of us to accept you as a step-mother, even though we treated you like garbage. You kept showering us with love and respect, even though we threw it back in your face."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Surely You Can Answer This One Simple Question?

Yow-zza.

Having just finished editing one of my short stories so as to make it more publishable, I sit here in front of my notebook, thinking about what I should work on next.

Problem: The more I thing about it, the more indecisive I become. How bad did this indecisiveness become?

At one point, I copied all of my long short stories to a floppy yes, I still use a floppy with the intent of rewriting them into chapbook form. Then I decided that I wanted to create a novel featuring those stories, plus a few interconnecting stories written in the second person (e.g.: You're driving down the road...). So I copied those already written stories too. Then I decided on doing something else, so I deleted all I copied to the disk. All of this within the span of four minutes.

In any event, I decided that this small view of a writer blowing his mind out would make a good topic to write about.

Without further ado, a few points that one's very own Thought Police can pounce on to prevent you from intelligently answering this question: "Shall I write, or shall I edit?"

Note: I previously touched on this topic from another viewpoint this past November.

1) Writing a new story, or editing an old one: I actually started writing a new short story about week or so ago, in a different type of genre that what I usually write in (semi-hardcore romance, for lack of a better description). Got only about two pages done before become stuck. I have a basic idea on where I want to go, but don't know how to get there yet. So I then I thought about taking one of my old short stories and working on that, which was the reasoning behind copying the stories to a floppy.

2) Editing an old story or continuing to work on a novel: Another quandary that one can find themselves in (which I did earlier this summer) is to choose between editing a story or work on a novel. During the fall of '07/spring '08, while I was trying to (unsuccessfully as turned out) land an agent, I decided to covert one of my short stories, A Betrayal of Vows, into a full length novel. In keeping with the theme of the original story, I wrote two distinctive plot lines. I wrote until I came to a point where I needed to go back to the original story. Yup, you guessed it, I went back and spent the next two months editing the original story.

3) Working on your second novel or working on your third novel: I actually started a second novel around the spring of '07. I gathered up all of my short stories and wrote about half dozen interconnecting stories as well. The idea was to slowly immerse the reader into the stories until they actually became part of the story (sort of like a Twilight Zone). I was doing pretty good until I got about thirty pages into the story, then stopped. The problem? I wrote myself into a corner and had no way to get out of it (still don't one year later). Solution? Yup, started a third novel. Summer of '07, I started converting a short story into a novel. Wrote about ten chapters before coming to a stop. Why? See #2.

To sum it up, this is the dilemma I'm facing. I have the following six options to work on, all of which are good choices.

A. Write a new story.
B. Edit an old story as a stand alone entity.
C. Edit an old story as part of larger novel.
D. Work on second novel.
E. Work on third novel.
F. Is something that I'm thinking about doing sometime in the new year, which would require creating a third blog.

So many things to choose from, all of which are causing my current state of indecisiveness.

My question to all of my regular commenters out there is this: out of options A-E, what would you choose to do?

And to all of my regular readers who enjoy reading my blog but haven't commented yet, what option would you choose? I would love to hear from you about this as well.

Update: I wound up doing C (editing an old story as part of a larger novel) and D (working on the second novel) during the past few days. It was simply amazing on how all the words start flowing again, once I began my re-write. I would like to think that it was do to the influence of the other wonderful blogs I follow on a daily basis. Many thanks for your kind words and good advice.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Welcome To My World....Pfft~~~~~~~>

It seems like bad news always enters my life in five year cycles and almost always around the Christmas season.

In 2002, Connecticut was going through tough economic times, much like it is now. The short sighted way to balance the budget was to lay off about 2,800 state employees. Not cutting spending or raising taxes, but laying off 2,800 hardworking people, of which I was one of the lucky ones.

Were any potential savings realized? Of course not. Did this help balance the budget? What do you think? Did the General Assembly wise up and change their ways? Are you serious?

It's now Christmas 2008 and once again the state is facing a ballooning budget deficit ($300 million). And once again, the state is looking at laying off state workers to balance the budget.

People, acting like Chainsaw Al and shedding bodies is not going to save money nor balance the budget. It didn't work last time and it's certainly not going to work this time.

In my personal opinion, this is what has to be done in order to help reduce the deficit.

1) Reduce spending. While across the board spending cuts can be made at all agencies, other cuts can be made at the state level, which can trickle down to the municipal level. Make the municipalities grow up and take responsibility for their actions.

2) All contracts, save for A & R, expire at the end of the 2008/09 FY. Negotiate a wage freeze for a year and cut the percentages of the raises and COLA's {cost of living allowance} given, which currently stands at 6%. Slash it in half.

3) Eliminate longevity payments. Longevity is currently given to employees who have managed to officially survive ten years of employment with the state.

4) Merge small agencies with the larger ones that can basically do the same thing. Eliminate positions that overlap and save money. Right now, the state has about 90+ agencies.

5) Don't rehire retirees back. Let the vacancies by eliminated.

6) STOP DEFICIT SPENDING!!!! Take a hard line and tell people, "NO! You can't have!!"

7) Stop listening to the special interest groups and do what's right for the state, not for the special interests.
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This PSA has been brought to you today by the dual combination of an unhappy state taxpayer and a severely stressed out state worker.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 20)

Malibu was the first to recover from her seizure and while she was getting up, an intense feeling feeling of despair engulfed her. So intense were these feelings that she began to cry hysterically before collapsing to the ground in agony.

Jey was the next to get up and after checking on the condition of his sister, he went over to Malibu to see how she was doing. Concerned that something very terrible must have happened to her as well, Jey sat down next Malibu. Picking her up, he rested her head in his lap, which she melted down even further into oblivion. Stroking her hair, Jey was hit with the same feeling of despair that was obliterating Malibu. As was his sister, who came over to Jey, hugging him tightly and crying uncontrollably.

Back in the motel room, the TSYT that was with Walter, shrieked and she ran from the room yelling for someone to call 911. A few people made it to the room and saw the horrible condition that Walter was in.

They grabbed a few blankets and carefully covered him up to keep him warm, making sure that they didn't move him but was also comfortable as well. A few minutes later, the paramedics arrived and took complete control of the situation. Quickly getting Walter stable, they soon had him transported to the local hospital, where he stayed for the next few weeks recovering from his concussion.

The police who were investigating the accident found Azalea, buried deep under the road, not too far from where the bulk of the car wreck was. As she was being dug up from the road, the police canvassed the area to see if anyone knew who she was or where she had come from.Questioning a few of the locals who saw her walking, the police quickly determined that she owned the car that was parked illegally four streets away.

Since retrieving the keys would was downright impossible, the police jimmied the lock so that they could find some identification for this Jane Doe on their hands. Three minutes later, they had all the info they needed in order to notify the next of kin.

Dialing her home number, they reached the only detached person there, Walter's ex-wife Wanda. She had driven over a couple of hours ago, when her son Jey called to say that something horrible had happened to everyone at the house.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Time Is Here By Golly*

*Tom Lehrer rules. No ifs, ands, or buts, he is the reigning king of novelty songs. Accept no other.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
First off, I want to thank Miles McClangan of Jungs Programme Notes for giving me the idea to write about Christmas parties at work. He is without a doubt, the most cerebral blogger it has ever been my pleasure to come across.

Now, onto the topic at hand: Staff Christmas parties.

Thursday will be the first staff/office Christmas party that I'm going to appear at since 2001. That one was my most memorable because our agency party was held at the State history museum's main lobby area, while a large tour group was visiting at the same time.

The main reason why I haven't attended one since then, is that every year afterwards, something has gone completely wrong in my life during that particular time frame.

Here is the complete rundown, starting with 2002 (perhaps a harbinger of things to come, if you've been following the deteriorating economic news).

1} 2002: First week of December 2002, then current Governor John Rowland announced that due to the lack of concessions by the state labor unions, layoffs would commence on January 1, 2003. 2,800 people were laid off, of which I was one. Overall, my agency lost about 1/3 of it's staff. I didn't go to the party, and my supervisor wound up mailing me my present. She got the boot two weeks later and left in late January 2003.

2} 2003: I had just came back to work in July of that year, and I wasn't in any kind of a mood to attend either Christmas party that was going on, one at my location in Rocky Hill or at the main branch in Hartford.

3} 2004: Keeping with what was going to be a new holiday tradition, I declined to attend the staff party at my new agency (Corrections) and instead took a half day and went Christmas shopping. Interesting tidbit as earlier that week, the entire building had one, where all the floors had food set up. I happened to wander down to take a sample, and got yelled at by some simpleton who said that no one could touch the food until the precious commissioner had hers first.

4} 2005: I declined to attend the staff party, and instead went Christmas shopping. At this point, I was starting to have a few personal problems take hold, so I thought it would be better not to show up.

5} 2006: With my personal problems still in effect, and having been raked over the coals in November do to a work related problem, I was very much in an anti-social mood. So instead of attending, I held down the fort and got a ton of work done.

6} 2007: With my personal problems having been long resolved, I was in the mind frame of not wanting to socialize much with my co-workers. I already was dealing with them on a day to day basis, and the last thing I wanted to do was socialize with them even further. I got chastised a little by a few friends for being anti-social, but I stuck to my guns.

7} 2008: A new batch of co-workers, and was back in the mind frame of not wanting to socialize again. However, my dept. had a team development day while I was on vacation this past August, made me reconsider going. Another co-worker of mine, who I respect very much, basically talked me into going. With the very real possibility of layoffs happening in 2009, I might as well acquire some good vibes going into the new year.

Which brings us to the fact that this party is going to be potluck. My donation to the party will be one of the two things I make extremely well: deviled eggs.

Because I don't do anything normal, especially cooking, I will be tweaking the recipe. The normal recipe for deviled eggs, besides the eggs, calls for mayo, pepper, mustard and paprika (for garnishment).

So, my deviled eggs will contain the following ingredients:

1} Cains mayo: I like Cains, as it has a very distinctive and natural flavor. Runner up would be Hellmans. Anything else just bites.
2} Hot sauce: I enjoy using hot sauce as a substitute for pepper. I have a few sitting in my fridge that I'll have to give careful consideration to: Goya, McIlhenny (garlic flavored) and Pickapeppa (Jamaican).
3} Gourmet mustard: Last time I made it I used Jack Daniels old #7. Because of the price, I'm going with Inglehoffers stone ground mustard. Will give it a good punch.
4} McCormicks seasoning: Substitute that for the paprika.

We're also having a Yankee swap as a grab bag. A Yankee swap is simply this: all the grab bag gifts are put into a pile and everyone is given a number. The first one draws his/her gift and opens it. The second person draws their gift and opens it. If they don't like the gift the got, the swap with first person, who takes another gift from the pile. And so on, and so on, until everyone has a gift.

When all is said and done, I will have (hopefully) rejoined the human race at work.

Salud.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(12/17/08): I actually shocked a close friend of mine today, by stating that I would go to this little shindig. She has been trying for the past two years to get me to go to these things, so when I finally told her that I was going, she was floored. She's also going to get even with me at an upcoming b-day party this weekend, but that's for another time.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm.....CLERICAL MAN!!!!!

Part 2 of the Library Chronicles
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Yes, Clerical Man. Champion of the oppressed, Righter of Wrong, and Defender of non-P.C. values!

(sigh)

Anyways, the first order of business was to inspect microfilm. At that meant using the microfilm machine, which was located on the seventh floor. Now, because of the peculiar design of the room (sunroof), it was virtually impossible to make the room dark enough to view the film properly.

So I did what any enterprising person straight from the real world would do in this particular situation: I solved the problem. Searching the room, I found about a half dozen old manila file folders and a roll of masking tape. After about twenty minutes or so of positioning the folders, taping and trying to make the area as dark as possible (the better to fall asleep in), I had my own little private Idaho.

Right.

So off to inspecting I went. I took detailed notes as I merrily cranked away, looking for scratches, redundancies and other assorted gobbledygook as I tried to fight off the heaviness of my eyelids. Gang, let me tell you, if you have problems sleeping, looking at microfilm is the best cure for what ails ya. Better than anything else that you could possibly imagine to help you fall asleep.

After a couple of hours spent reading about the 19th century, and specifically about Deep River CT, I was ready to curl up on the nice large wooden (oak?) table, stare up at the sunroof and take a long, long nap.

By then, my boss reappeared and decided to take me back down to the Preservation Dept., to show me the other 'wonderful' things she had in store for me.

Once there, I got introduced to world of computers, word documents, databases and other assorted clerical schtuff. "Big deal." you're probably saying to yourself. Well to me it was, as from 1983 to 1996, I had about 2% contact with a computer on barely a monthly basis. So I was clueless as to using a computer, e-mail, Word, Excel, FoxPro, and assorted goodies.

In any event, I got a crash course in all of the aforementioned items. I had baptism by fire in all of this schtuff. No user guides, no tutorials, nothing. Just trial and error, along with later picking a co-workers brain, got me the experience I needed.

Since I was the lone clerical person for about five or six months, I had everything dumped on me. Inspecting film? Yup. Number crunching as to figure out page counts so as to program microfilm? You betcha. Writing letters to libraries and historical societies, begging them to lend us their precious items so as to record them for posterity? Without a doubt. Becoming bored as all get out from doing this schtuff? Absolutely.

So after getting a crash course in doing the clerical aspect of this adventure, it was time to turn to the other major component of my job...

wait for it.

Yes, it was time to slice, dice, julienne, french fried, chopped, puree,d mince, wholesale wanton dismembering and disemboweling, our friend the almighty newspaper.

Up next: Deconstructing and Decommissioning.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Delusional Zealotry

How-dee.

I was composing another chapter of the Library Chronicles when I came to the realization that in order to do it right, I needed to spend a full day writing it out. Thus, it is being shelved until Saturday.

In it's place, is still yet another snippet of my life as a hardcore chat room aficionado. On November 9th of this year, a thread popped up called "End Thanksgiving Cruelty", which was about the killing of turkeys. The debate went relatively well until a poster came aboard that we'll call B.i.B.i.

She immediately started spamming the thread with her inflexible viewpoint on vegetarianism. Suffice to say, she made enemies out both types of posters that were on there: meat eaters (like myself) and non-meat eaters. After about two weeks of this nonsense, she disappeared. Mostly because she annoyed a few posters to the point that one of them decided to start posting as her by using her real name. Well, she got completely bent out of shape about it. We tried to warn her about using her real name in the chat rooms, but because of her clouded judgement, she ignored us.

Note: Never, ever, ever use your real name in a chat room. Make one up, or modify the one you have (like I do).

For the next couple of weeks, things were quiet as the rest of us took over the thread and turned into a nice chat thread. We even had someone from one of the national forums stop by to chat for a while. Things were just getting back to some kind of semi-normalcy (after a couple of days of tense conversation over a few minor problems), when all of sudden, Ms. B.i.B.i. made a noisy return by spamming the thread with about 2o comments or so, all cut and pasted.

At the very end of that rant, you will see my response plus everyone else's, once they get a load of the garbage she posted. It ain't pretty.

This my friends, is what happens when you come on a thread and start hurling bombs all over the place. Hysterically telling people that they're wrong simply because they disagree with your viewpoint and insulting them to the nth degree is not how you go about convincing other people of your viewpoint.

This person has earned the reputation (right or wrong) of being a psychotic bitch. Sorry gang, but that's my personal opinion, which a few other people actually share with me. Now this person is such an annoying whack job and bugged the absolute shit out of me so bad, that I actually went and did something that was completely out of character for me. I won't tell you what I did, but suffice to say, it was pretty serious.

So people, please take this bit of advice when it comes to chat rooms: Do not, I repeat, do not under any circumstances, use your real name in the chat room. You may piss off someone (like me) to the point where they go to the edge and give very serious thought about dropping off, or you may piss off someone who simply doesn't care about the end result and will get even.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 19)

"This is exactly what I needed for thinking purposes!" she said while getting out of the car and changing into her sneakers. Grabbing the cell, she then locked up the car and began a short walk to cleanse the mind and lift the spirits. As she walked up the semi-closed side street that ran next to the mountain, Azalea could see how Walter had truly loved to walk up here.

No sound from the surrounding neighborhoods, or from the downtown area for that matter, just nature in all of its glorious beauty to behold. Her spirit truly became free, walking through the trees and the fresh mountain air as she slowly lost track of time.

At the quarter way point in her journey, she came across the closed portion of the street that ran next to the mountain. Peering into the darkness, Azalea began to receive a funny vibe from that particular direction.

Deciding that she was worrying too much about nothing, she climbed the concrete barrier and continued with her walk. Slowly making her way up the road, fully overgrown with trees and bushes, she could hear people in the backyards off to her right. Spying through the trees, she saw people who were having pool parties, or were having barbecues, or they were just simply enjoying the cool mountain air.

Now more melancholy than ever, she made it to the other barrier that signified the end of the closed road. Taking the worn out path that ran to the left, Azalea figured now would be as good a time as any to stop and rest before heading back to the car. Sitting there quite lost in deep thought, she didn't see or hear the car that was speeding down the road without its lights on, until it was too late to escape.

The car exploded on impact, instantly turning the mangled wreck into a raging fireball that consumed everything in a half mile path of destruction. At that very instant of impact, four other people became strangely affected.

Back home, Malibu and the kids were sitting on the couch, eating popcorn and watching a very bad movie, when all three experienced a very strange sensation. At the precise instant of the accident taking place, each of them felt an overwhelming surge of pain and deep sadness. So strong was this pain that each of them lost total control of their body, tossed their popcorn, slid off the couch and had a brief seizure.

At the motel room, Walter was sitting at the desk, looking at his cell while debating to give Azalea a call, when at the precise instant of the accident he experienced an intensely strong and painful seizure. It was so strong that Walter snapped his phone in two, slid off the chair, cracked his head on the edge of the chair, and landed with a sickening thud.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What In The World Is Oozing From Your Ears?

Hey-lo.

Once again, I find myself searching for something meaty to write about. And occasionally, I find that what I got rumbling around my head, doesn't quite cut it for a stand alone post.

So without further ado, random snippets about my life.

1) Writing: This past weekend, I finally got motivated enough to actually start writing my first original story in over a year. What motivated me, you may ask? Well, it was something very small, but quite earnest: the comments I got for a short piece of creative non-fiction I wrote for this blog a week ago. They were positive enough for me to try hand at writing in a different style. It may not work, but at least I'll have the satisfaction of creating something besides this blog.

2) Speaking of this blog, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to stop by and read my little blog. I would also like to thank the two new followers that I'd picked up over the past week, as well as the new readers that I'd recently found out that they've been visiting here too. I found that simply posting a link to one of those neat websites that promotes blogs, helps me present my blog to a whole new world of readers out there. I highly recommend trying http://www.reddit.com/ for your blog (many thanks to Sy for the suggestion). I also recommend visiting other blogs and making yourself known. You just might find someone like me stopping by for a visit to say "hi". Who knows, I might find your blog interesting enough to feature a link on mine, or at the very least, stick it in my profile.

3) Novel: My novel is going better than I expected. Many thanks to all of you out there who have made a purchase, either from me or elsewhere. You are truly appreciated. It's going to be a long road, but I hope you'll stick it out with me. I'm getting a quite a few hits to the other blog and I appreciate that as well. It may not translate into something right off the bat, but if it helps bring at least one person over here that might take the plunge later, then it did its job.

4) Chat rooms: I spent a long holiday weekend trying to make peace with a particular poster who I had raked over the coals this past spring (please see the Topix label for all of the gruesome details). It was really draining as this particular poster is one of the more cerebral, yet slightly off-balanced, person that I've had the (mis)fortune of meeting. I did not succeed in my endeavor, but I hope at the very least that we came to a mutual understanding about things. I also had the unfortunate experience of having a Internet troll come visit my blog and leave nasty comments. Because of this, I am now moderating my comments. Not happy about this, but I will not let someone turn my blog into a spam playground.

5) Relationships: My RW friendships are going through a period of down right now. With the holiday fast approaching and the uncertainty of work, everyone's stress level has increased dramatically. So for the time being, I'm trying to give everyone a slight reprieve from the land of me. Hopefully, once everyone starts getting their stuff sorted out to their satisfaction (which includes me), things will get back on track. Cyber space, different story. With the exception of that one particular cerebral poster, things are going along swimmingly. I managed to reconnect with a lot of old faces from my past, and hopefully, people will forgive and forget what happened previously.

6) And finally, the real me: The real me has been trying to merge together both worlds (Real World and the Cyber World) and for the most part its been working better than I had expected. I'm behaving myself at work, mostly because I'm trying to get a particular item removed from my files, and I'm behaving myself online, which I hope in the long run translates into something permanently sustainable.

However, as you are no doubt aware, me behaving myself makes Cedar's Mountain a non-lively blog.

Expect me to rectify that in the very near future.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Done Got Myself Tagged For The Third Time. Kewl!

How-dy.

Laura from "Under The Sheets-Shhh" tagged me today with something called the Kreativ Blogger award. Among other things, it an award give to bloggers that "show an ability to write in a unique and interesting way in a voice that is all their own."

Now as being one of five who was tagged, I have to say six random things about myself. Since I've been talking about myself since day one, this is going to be a bit difficult, but I'm going to give it the old college try.

1) I grew up listening to 60's folk music/70's country music. A lot of people find it odd when I tell them that my four favorite musicians from that period are: The Kingston Trio, The Seekers, Peter, Paul and Mary, and The Statler Bros., especially after I get done listening to say, The Dead Kennedys or Motorhead.

2) What I read for certain genres would make you scratch your head in confusion. The very first genre I really got into was True Crime, and the various offshoots thereof. Right now, what I do read, when I got the time, is Historical Fiction, regular Fiction and the odd Non-Fiction. I started exploring the Romance genre for the first time in my life this past summer, and let me tell you, trying to find something that a guy could read without being laughed at, is an exercise in creativity.

3) I am very much into vinyl. I have about 2,000 LP's and about 700 45's which I'm currently putting to C.D. You name the genre, I probably have a representative of it. Among the genres I have in my collection, besides the requisite rock, are: soul (70's & 80's), funk, English punk, California punk, heavy metal, old time country, pop, novelty, jazz, true R & B, barbershop, classical, 80's country, and zydeco, just to name a few.

4) I am cursed with a photographic memory. Which means that at work, I have all 420 employees that I do payroll for memorized. Which also means that the new mini series that I'm doing here, called informally The Library Chronicles, will be done from memory with a detail that will leave everyone wondering just exactly what is wrong with this person.

5) I dig children's programming from the 70's through the 90's. Some of which I watched while growing up and some of which I watched with my children while they were growing up and some of which I got hooked into while an adult (Shining Time Station comes to mind, with Ringo Starr as opposed to George Carlin).

6) And for something completely different, and very personal (many thanks goes to Merelyme for giving me the confidence to do this). I was diagnosed with CMT back in January of this year. Right now it's centered in my hands, which has created numerous problems, most of which are only going to get worse as I grow older. I do expect it to spread to other parts of my body, namely my legs and feet, and we shall deal with that bridge when we cross it. The one thing that it hasn't affected so far, is my ability to type. Don't ask why, as my hands have lost about 15% of their muscle tone, have dead spots in the fingers, dexterity is zip and my hands are permanently humped. However, we have persevered and God willing, will continue to persevere and pound out pleasant and thoughtful things for you to read in your spare time.

Once again, many thanks to Laura for the tag.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 18)

Entering the car, Azalea fired up the engine and took off in a southerly direction. After driving for about ten minutes, it dawned on her that she had no idea on where it was exactly that she wanted to go for a walk. Spending a few minutes turning that question over in her mind, she decided to go to the town were it all began: Newington.

To get there in a timely manner, Azalea hopped on the interstate and was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of traffic for this time of the evening. Wow, this traffic is much heavier than I remembered when I was here last, thought Azalea while changing her normally thuggish driving style faster than a Democrat changing his views to win an election.

Carefully staying in the extreme right lane for the first ten miles of the trip, she gradually became more relaxed as the landscape became more familiar. By the time she hit the capitol area and its confusing interchange, Azalea was back to driving like her old native self again.

Recognizing the exit that she needed to travel on towards a possibly new life as a single woman, Azalea became much less animated and a bit more melancholy. Zipping down the highway, the building where she used to work was dark and abandoned, with construction equipment at the ready for possible use in demolition. A fitting end to a building that housed such a screwed up agency, she thought.

Continuing down the highway, she passed new houses that were being built in an area that was formerly occupied by trees and plants. Rounding the bend and heading through the traffic light, she also saw wholesale changes to the highway landscape. Buildings that formerly housed profitable businesses now sat empty and abandoned, like stripped empty carcasses that the wolves leave behind after having their fill.

Getting more depressed the further she traveled, Azalea soon spotted the exit for Newington. This was like a ray of sunshine for her as the gloomy clouds of negativity she'd driven through completely vanished and her spirits soared to the heavens on silver wings.

Hitting the stop sign, she turned right and zipped towards downtown. Entering the center, Azalea was absolutely floored by what she encountered: people. Smugly satisfied people, bustling businesses, great scenery and most importantly, a rural quietness amongst the busyness of the suburbs.

Taking a right at the local church, she continued to marvel on how busy the downtown area was while driving towards that wonderful oasis in the southern end of town: Cedar Mountain. Two more minutes of driving, coupled with some rights and lefts, she finally arrived at the street where Walter and ex used to live those many years ago. Coming to a stop near the end of the street, Azalea parked the car and rolled down the window, absorbing the sounds and smells of the mountain.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Simply Indispensable

Part 1 of the Library Chronicles.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Note: I will at various points during this story, drop into "state speak". "State speak" is a specialized language that state workers use when they are talking to fellow co-workers or other state workers, complete with customized dialects for a particular state agency. If you have questions about what I'm saying, and if I don't make it clear enough in whatever particular post you're reading, please don't hesitate to ask. I'll be more than happy to elaborate.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The first order of business was to get the nickel tour from my supervisor on what it was exactly I would be doing. So, off to the dusty, smelly, fetid attic where all off these wonderful newspapers were kept.

I thought to myself, 'this can't be that bad, she's making it out worse than it could be.'

Well guess what folks, it is that bad. I set foot in that attic and the first that I experienced was a one minute coughing attack (asthma, it's a good thing). The second thing I noticed was that just to think of even touching the the volumes of newspapers was to acquire dust and red rot all over your clothes, glasses and hair. After about fifteen minutes of walking through the aisles that were the width of my stomach (yes I am fat. 5'7'' and 170) and having the driest throat possible, I was taken to where I would be situated for part of the day.

There were only three ways to get to this office, which was tucked away in a seldom used corner of the seventh floor. One way was to take the public elevator to the sixth floor and walk up one flight. Another was to take the freight elevator directly to the seventh and cut over. Lastly, if you really wanted a good cardio workout, was to take all seven flights of stairs up to the office.

So this office, which was incredibly hot in the summer time (only a.c. we got was from a vent that pulled it in from the book stacks), and incredibly cold in the winter time (again, only heat we got was from the stacks), was my cramped little home. I had this incredibly old fashioned hand-cranked microfilm machine, in which to inspect and approve microfilm, a computer that I shared with three others and a table that doubled as my desk. And a sunroof, can't forget to mention the sunroof (more on that later).

Anyways, we traveled down to the preservation area, where I would be doing the bulk of my work from. It wasn't much: four large work areas, a multitude of sharp instruments to play with, two more offices and a few more computers, big old table top paper cutter (more on that latter), a couple of very large manual presses, a couple of pallets and about 35 volumes of newspapers to destroy.

One odd feature about this particular room was that twice a year maintenance would come in and climb into the ceiling to shut off/turn on the water to the outside.

This was now my whole new world. The initial purpose of my was to 1) destroy newspapers for microfilming, 2) inspect microfilm and take notes, 3) do road trips to pry other newspapers from other libraries and historical societies, none of which had the same agenda as we did.

However, as everyone out there knows, if you show even the tiniest inkling that you have other useful skills, you become the go to guy in perpetuity. I showed strong math skills and a super smooth phone manner that could make an alcoholic give his bottle of booze to me, so naturally, my job description got immediately tweaked.

Because I was really the only member of the dept that actually did this kind of work (everyone else were catalogers), I became.....

wait for it

CLERICAL MAN!!!

Yes, I was faster than a rolling cart.
Strong enough to push that rolling cart filled with 300 pounds worth of newspapers.
Able to lift five thick volumes of newspapers at one time.
It's a film, it's a grant, it's Clerical Man!! (do do dooooo).

Next up: Clerical Man.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Qui Transtuit Sutinet

My home state has been in the forefront of ass-backwards behavior, dating back to the mid-17th century.

Take our state motto, which coincidentally is the title of this post, for example. "Qui Transtuit Sutinet". Literally translated, it means "He who transplanted still sustains".

Excuse me? He who transplanted? Transplanted what? And if he transplanted something, does he still sustain it? These are questions that people in my state have been asking for generations, and for generations, no one has given a reasonable answer/explanation for it.

Moving on, we come to the official state items: the flower (Mountain Laurel), the bird (American Robin, bleah), and the tree (White Oak). I have no problems with those, it's the other official state designated items that leaves me scratching my head in bewilderment.

Our state animal is the Sperm Whale. I'm sorry, but when has this animal ever been spotted this far north? Would it make much sense to pick an animal that is indigenous to this particular state, instead of an animal that there's minimal connection to at best?

Our state song is "Yankee Doodle". Yankee Doodle....You would think that they could come up with a better song than one that has been screwed up by multiple generations of kids who sang, stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni! Connecticut has had a multiple of talented home grown songwriters throughout the centuries, that they could of chosen from. Like Gene Pitney for example.

Our next item that my state screwed up on, is our state hero, Nathan Hale. I guess that a failed spy could be considered a state hero. However, considering how rich and flavored our state history is with all other kinds of historical figures, perhaps someone else could have been chosen. Not trying to sound political correct, but what about the people who were involved with Amistad? Surely they would be more worthy as state heroes then Nathan Hale?

Next item that the state picked, which clearly showed that politics were involved, was the official state ship, the USS Nautilus. I'm sorry, but a submarine from Electric Boat simply doesn't cut it. What about, say the Freedom Schooner Amistad? It's based in Connecticut, has a rich detailed history that was successfully re-habbed and is now used as a goodwill ambassador around the world. You know, something with HISTORY to it. I don't particularly care about a nuclear submarine. Call me old fashioned, but our distant past should be honored, not something from the present.

Our state gem is garnet. Whopee. Don't know nothing about it, so we'll pass judgement on this.

Now we're getting down to the plain stupid. Our state insect is the European Mantis. WHAT??? A state insect??? Do we really need a state insect? I mean, does the designation make it a protected species? Especially one that ISN'T native to Connecticut. I'm sure we can come up with something more worthwhile, like say, a honey bee? It's endangered and it's more important to the agriculture than the mantis ever is.

And finally, our state fossil, Eubrontes Giganteus. We have a state park exclusively designed for that fossil, called "Dinosaur State Park". Located in Rocky Hill, it's basically a very large dome encasing the fossil and some foot tracks.

Yah.

So there you have it folks. A state that is one of the original thirteen colonies; has a rich and detailed history dating from the 17th century; and they made some dubious picks for official state products.

A decent flower.
An average bird.
An average tree.
An animal that isn't even indigenous to this state.
A useless children's song.
A teacher who failed miserably as a wartime spy.
A nuclear submarine.
A useless insect.
A dinosaur.

I'm sooooooo glad that I live in a state that cares soooooo much about its rich history.

Almost makes me want to cry in my locally produced ale from East Hartford, and eat my locally produced Grote & Weigel hot dogs, my locally produced ice cream from Manchester, and enjoy the local music scene.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Unfortunate Change

Howdy.

This a rare day of back to back postings, however, I made a small change to my blog which has necessitated this second post.

Occasionally, I have problems with trolls in the chat room forums. And up until today, they've kept themselves in the chat rooms.

Today, I had one follow me over to my blog from a link that I had left about Thanksgiving on a thread that the both of us happen to post on.

I had to nuke two of his comments here because he decided to bring his trolling activities from there to here. I know who this person is and I will deal with him accordingly.

Which brings me to the change I've made here. Until I can resolve this problem to my satisfaction, starting today (11/27), all comments will be moderated. I don't want to do this, but this person has left me no other choice to pursue here.

I apologize in advance for any inconvenience that this might cause. I pride myself on freedom of speech here and it really pains me to do this, but I will not have my blog polluted by someone who has nothing better to do with their time on this planet.

Happy Turkey Day!

Do the world a favor today and practice population control by decimating one segment of the poultry population.

Your choice of turkey or goose.

Or, if your speed is non-poultry, then practice population control by decimating the porcine population by 1%.

In any event, have an enjoyable day, and remember to be careful out there, because death by constipation doesn't look good on a death certificate, and will definitely tarnish your memory for generations to come.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 17)

Right then and there, Walter knew that his number was up, possibly for good. A feeling of doom, accentuated with panic, soon began to engulf him as the real possibility of being pummeled by multiple in-laws, was starting to become very real.

"Azalea! What a pleasant surprise it is to hear your voice!"

"Stop, just stop. Enough with the fake superlatives already. Please, just stop talking in gibberish and answer this one question truthfully, okay?"

Mostly silence and heavy breathing answered her in return. Briefly putting the phone down, she squeezed her eyes for a good thirty seconds in a futile attempt at regaining her composure before continuing with the conversation.

"Are you still there? Better make it easy on yourself and answer me!"

After another minute of heavy breathing, she heard a loud click, which confirmed her worst suspicions about Walter. Staring at the phone in utter disbelief as her previously rock solid marriage crumbled to dust, Azalea collapsed to the concrete extremely hard. Immediately sitting upright, she then painfully wiggled her way to the balcony fence, stuck her extremities between the gaps, and lost it.

Sobbing quite heavily while slowly rocking back and forth, not too many people paid much attention to her. Most figured that she was some kind of drunken loser, with the crying and rocking. A couple of people did stop to see if she was okay, to which the reply was, "No, I'm not. But thanks for your concern."

Twenty-five minutes later, an emotionally spent Azalea ceased her rocking to and fro, and instead starting banging her head against the rail. Every couple of minutes she would stop, stretch her arms to get the blood flowing, before continuing with the head banging.

After about twenty minutes of this self-infliction of pain, Azalea decided to stop. Not only was this act of self punishment wrong (since the root cause wasn't her fault to being with), but she was in the major throes of a splitting headache. Resting for a moment, she felt that a short walk would help cleanse the mind, ease the headache and focus her concentration on what her next move with Walter should be.

Standing up, Azalea became suddenly became quite wobbly. Taking hold of the guardrail, she slowly made her way back to her room. Grabbing some essentials, she locked the door and took her time walking to the car, in order to get some functionality in her wobbly legs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chat Rooms Are Chock Full Of Natural Warmth And Goodness

Baloney.

If you think that chat rooms are populated with people who are nothing but friendly, respectful of other people's viewpoints, actively pursue the Boy Scout mantra and love their fellow man, then you've been living a sheltered life where your computer skills are negligent, you still do dial up for the 'net AND you have everything routed through your phone line.

It's a cutthroat world, populated by wannabes, keyboard commandos, trolls and the like. These people, who in real life are probably the nicest people in the world and wouldn't dream of dragging your name through the mud in the real world, would do so in a New York minute in cyber space.

Chat rooms are da bomb. Where else can you find people to share your interests, debate various topics with gusto,meet new people and make lasting friendships.

Right. No doubt that you can meet new people. But do you really want to talk to people who may oppose your viewpoint? Of course you don't. You want to talk to people who think just like you do. Anybody else simply don't have their head screwed on tight.

You can go exploring the different forums and get exposure to different cultures. You can respectfully disagree with someone and still maintain good terms with them.

No, you don't respectfully disagree with everyone. You tell them why they're wrong and bludgeon them with half truths, insults and blatant lying, in order to prove what you just said is right.

You can practice your writing skills and sharpen your debating skills until they sparkle. You can gain the trust and admiration of your fellow posters.

Really? How much practice do you need to say 'STFU' to someone? Debating skills? Forget you. Remember, loudness is better. Squash them like a cockroach.

You can gain knowledge from your fellow posters, perhaps they can give you pointers on how to accomplish a particular feature in the chat rooms.

Yeah, I can give you pointers all right. Like how to swear without using swear words. Like, "Yo mammy is a female dog!", "Your pops is pimping out your momma for food." and "You're a piece of excrement!"

You can play games with your fellow posters.

Like, "If you were on a deserted island, and you can have only one person to make your fantasies come true, who would it be?"

Hey! You can't say that!

Listen, take your pollyanna attitude and stick with the sun don't shine.

Excuse me?

Come here (grabs the other person and yanks him closer).

Help!!!!

(the person gets stuffed into an old trunk, which is thrown into garbage truck)

Now, as I was saying.....

KA-BOOM!!!!!!!!!!

Smoke eventually clears and nothing but a smoldering six foot crater is left behind.

The Writer: The point is that chat rooms can be whatever you choose to make it to be. Chat rooms can open up a whole new world for you and help expand your horizons, or they can be the worst thing you ever experienced in your life.

(brushes off a few bits of bone and flesh)

Chat rooms: they're not just for wannabe social outcasts anymore.

Disclaimer (of sorts): The story you've just read is mostly true, no names were used to implicate anyone whatsoever.

Friday, November 21, 2008

11/21/08: Darkness At Cedar Mountain

Autumn in New England.

Crispy nights, filled with a smattering of stars and bare trees stretching their branches to the sky, summoning the spirit of the headless horseman.

A mild breeze blowing down a quiet suburban road, leaves swirling around in a small cone shape funnel as a person walks down the side of the street, bundled up from the cool autumn breeze.

I had just finished this week's feeding of the family (aka grocery shopping) and was about a mile or so from home, when a small wave of sadness came over me. Usually my thoughts really don't bother me much when I'm driving home from shopping, because usually I'm doing this in the daytime.

Night time it's a different animal. My section of town contains this blog's namesake and the local quarry, and at night, it really can do a number on your state of mental health. I'm really not sure how to describe it to everyone other than it plays out like a modern ghost story, without the ghost.

A dimly lit deserted street, a mild breeze blowing, a dark and foreboding mountain, bare trees, and a soundless neighborhood, all conspire to prey on whatever small negative thought you happened to have going. Like a virus, it quickly spreads until it threatens to destabilize your current state of oneness.

Anyways, I pulled into the driveway and got out. Looking up, I saw that the sky tonight had only a few stars out to illuminate the night sky. Looking across the street, the trees were completely naked (courtesy of Mother Nature and her windy temper tantrum this past weekend) and the branches stuck out at grotesque angles, like a bad painting from Night Gallery.

It really did start to pray on my mind as I simply stood in the driveway for a few minutes, inhaling the night time atmosphere. Looking down the street, all I felt was the mild breeze blowing in my face. No other sound could be heard beyond the inflated turkey stationed at the lamppost.

It took me quite a while to bring the groceries in as every time I went to the car to retrieve the groceries, I paused long enough to inhale the atmosphere and do a little more pondering of the days events. Bit by bit, the stillness that surrounded me began to take hold and penetrate my psyche.

But eventually, I was able to shake off the unpleasantness that permeated my being, by simply walking into my living room and watching my little four month old nephew sleep. Spending those few minutes watching my nephew sleep in front of a blaring television without a care in the world, brought me back to the here and now.

Even though the mountain's mystical natural power took a firm grip on my psyche and threatened to turn me into a quivering emotional wreck, the power of the baby was too much for it to overcome.

My peace of mind restored, I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn't completely swallowed by unholy temptation that is Cedar Mountain.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 16)

Hitting '2' on the speed dial, Azalea soon had Walter's cell phone ringing in her ear. Patiently waiting for the other end to answer, a million thoughts went racing though her mind about what she was going to say when he answered. As the phone was being answered, she decided to shoot from the lip before Walter did.

Part 3

"Hey, love of my life! How are you doing? I'm returning your voice mail and I must say I can't stop thinking about you either. I miss you tons. Have I got a surprise for you!" Pausing to catch her breath, the next two sentences that she heard, hit her like a quarterback being sacked.

"No, I'm not the love of your life! Who is this anyways?" said a very hot female voice.

Stunned and speechless, Azalea felt herself becoming angrier by the minute as the unknown voice continued to pour it on.

"Look, I don't know who you are, but you better keep your sorry ass away from my man. He's a one woman man who doesn't need another skirt chasing him. So whoever you are, get lost!!"

Finally regaining her ability to speak, Azalea gave the unknown female what for.

"Look here you dim bulb, this is Walter's wife Azalea! I don't know who you are or why you're speaking on my husband's cell, but your sad sorry ass better be far away from that room when I get there, or I will permanently scramble your brains! Now I suggest you hang up that phone, because when I call again in ten seconds, Walter better be answering the phone, not you."

Sure enough, ten seconds after redialing, Walter picked up on the second ring.

"Hello?"

Silence was all that greeted him as Azalea came to the grim conclusion that Walter was a cheat.

"Hey! Whoever this is, you better cut the silent treatment right now or else I'm going to terminate this phone call."

More silence ensued. Disgustedly, Walter said, "Right. I'm going to terminate this call now!"

Azalea finally spoke, her words dripping with icy venom. "Don't you dare hang up this phone, you lying sack of shit!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Did You Become A Writer And What Did You Do In Order To Get Where You Are Today?

First off, I would like to thank a fellow blogger, Merely Me (you can access her blog by viewing my profile for the link), for giving me the basic idea for this post. I had made a rather lengthy reply to a recent post of hers, and after thinking about for a day or so, I felt that my comment would make a very good topic to write about.

I never set out from day one with the goal, "I'm gonna be a writer!" In fact, I got into writing way late in life, like about three years ago. But it wasn't because I suddenly decided to sit down at my laptop one evening and began to write. I decided to write because of two important reasons:

1) I was going through some personal strife.
2) And the easiest outlet/therapy for my strife was to write.

So, in the span of about 10 months, from December 2005 to September 2006, I wrote one novel and a half dozen short stories. And like a neophyte, I thought that they were already perfect, thus off to submission land they went.

Fast forward to February 2007. The event: chat rooms. I discovered chat rooms (or message boards if you prefer) that month and from that point on, things changed for the better. I started off by making long, detailed oriented posts that basically put people to sleep {overwriting, sin #1}. As I got more used to the fact that the Topix chat rooms had a 4,000 character limit, the more I was able to condense and zero in on what I wanted to say {editing, flash non-fiction} with fewer words and greater use of a thesaurus {redundancy, sin #2}.

By the time 2008 rolled around, I was well on my way to becoming a master at writing blistering non-fiction posts for the unseen masses. I excelled at making my point with as few words as necessary and also holding the attention of quite a few people who publicly told me that they enjoyed my writing.

In essence, Topix had become my personal training ground for improving my writing skills. Whereas other people probably did it the old fashioned way (writing stories, using writer's groups, taking classes, getting feedback, etc.) to get where there are, I did it the Internet way. I still use Topix as my personal training ground, but now it's used more to refine and sharpen my writing skills for the unseen masses.

This is now due to the fact that I moved on to the next stage of my schooling: blogging. I moved over to the blog sphere in May of this year (please see any other label on this blog for further details) and once again, began to work my craft for the unseen masses.

And just like in the chat rooms, it took me a while to get the hang of blogging. As I blogged and gained more confidence in my abilities, I began to explore other writing related blogs. As I explored, I gained important tips, skills and knowledge from writers other who have been doing their craft for a much longer period of time.

It's been a wonderful learning experience for me, but I believe that with the background I possess (chat rooms and blogging), my writing will offer a unique perspective/fresh outlook on whatever basic idea that is out there to write about.

So, how did you go about getting to where you are today?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Got My Job The Old Fashioned Way.....Connections!

The oldest running joke in the world is that in order to get a job within the government, you need to know someone.


"Hi Bob!"
"Hi Jim!"
"You hear the latest about Vinny?"
"No, why?"
"He got a job with the government."
"That moron? How he get a job?"
"His cousin, three times removed, is dating the sister of the local bookie, whose step-brother is a barber for a guy, whose second cousin is friends with the first cousin of a girl, who's a secretary at a temp agency, whose owner is a step-sister to a guy, who's a clerk at DMV, whose brother is dating a girl whose sister is a florist...."

You get the basic idea.

While this may be true to a certain degree, it still boils down to the fact that while you may have gotten your job through non-traditional methods, you still have to prove your worth (unless you have a relative or a friend to protect you from yourself).

Yes I did get my first state job through a very tenuous connection (my mother was in a bible study group and was friends with my soon to be supervisor), but it still boiled down to me having prove that I could do the job.

The job, as it was originally designed, was to haul down very old, very dirty and very musty volumes of newspapers and get them ready for microfilming; to tag along as the Lenny to my supervisor's George on tips to historical societies and libraries; the serious number cruncher and the all seeing, all knowing inspector of microfilm.

Another long running joke is the private sector is that all government workers are highly overpaid and grossly under worked.

Let me put that ugly myth to rest by saying this: for the privilege of slaving away in a dusty, moldy, fetid attic; destroying large volumes of newspapers for hours on end; looking at unlimited rolls of microfilm until the very sight of a box containing such put me fast asleep; and making deliveries to all points of the state for the fantastically unheard sum of...

(wait for it)

$5.50 per hour @ 34 hours per week/68 hours bi-weekly. Roughly $748 per month. An excellent sum to support a wife, one kid and a mobile home.

This is what happens when you stupidly quit your higher paying previous job without having anything else lined up in the wings.

Yup, I was now on the long and (hopefully) fruitful path to state employment....
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Next time: Simply Indispensable.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

People Who Got Nothing Better To Do Than Bad Mouth Co-Workers

aka "Getting Their Panties In A Bunch".

No disclaimer on this one. Content will be relatively clean.

I work for the wonderful state of Connecticut, where they have rules in regards to ethical behavior, specifically selling stuff for personal gain on state time. So I got this book out for public consumption called, "Shades of Love", and I have copies of it for sale at work. I sold a few due to word of mouth and the like, and things were going pretty decent.

Until this morning. This morning, while I was talking to a co-worker prior to starting my day, my supervisor came up to me and said, "We need to talk". I immediately thought I'm in deep shit for something. So the first thing I asked was, "What I do wrong?", to which she replied, "This has a happy ending to it."

Long story short. A few assholes in the department next to me and elsewhere complained about me selling my book, and complained about some free advertising that I had in the cafeteria. So my boss, being the decent person that she is, and wanting to prevent me from doing something stupid, told her supervisor about the complaints she was getting about me, and wanted to know what she should do. Advice was given and off she went to talk to the head of Human Resources and the head of Labor.

After all was said and done, their blessing was given because they could see I wasn't doing anything wrong. Matter of fact, they were impressed with the fact that I was able to self publish my novel. But basically, I didn't pester people to buy book (potential violation #1), I didn't use any state equipment to solicit sales (potential violation #2), and I didn't hang my display outside of my cube (potential violation #3). Plus, someone else put a postcard and business card up in the cafeteria, which wasn't an issue either, because what someone else wants to do in a private business is fine with them.

The only thing that was suggested to me, which I did, was remove the price list. Now you would think that people would have something better to do than to bitch about me selling a book, which isn't being pushed on anyone, and that I'm only telling people about it who are genuinely interested about it. Most everyone knows I've been trying to get my book published for quite a while, so it's not like I'm trying to shove something down peoples throats.

In any event, you would think that this would be the end of the matter, right? That me taking my sign down (and the cafeteria lady taking hers down independently of me) would stop the tongues from wagging and things would get back to normal, right?

Wrong.

A couple of hours after this all this crap goes down, I send an e-mail to a friend saying "an average Thursday morning to you". She says thanks, then proceeds to tersely tell me to watch my back and that she'll e-mail me tonight. Puzzled I say "got it." and think nothing more about it. Next thing I know, she responds in part, "From a friend to friend.....stick to your state paying job."

I respond with this little symbol :\

I'm not sure what the hell happened on her end, but whatever it was made her mad enough to say what she said to me. Now, I love her like a sister, so when she said what she said, it really hurt me a lot. I'm not sure how I will handle this, if and when she contacts me.

In any event, it seems to me that these assholes should be worrying about themselves and their jobs, instead of bitching about someone selling a book out of their cube. Considering the amount of stupid fundraising that goes on at my agency (and elsewhere), for both personal and professional reasons, to bitch about me smells just a little bit fishy. And to get someone else into trouble over it, is doubly stupid and infantile.

This book, for what it's worth, has gotten me into a wee bit of trouble in the past couple of years, and I thought that the last time this happened, I was able to mitigate the damage and repair the friendships with the other people involved.

Now I'm not so sure. I may just go simply underground (much like a few other people in my life do) and not communicate with a few of my friends until this blows over. I'm just tired of getting hammered for stuff that isn't quite my fault.

But all I can say is this, and this is directed to the pricks who beefed about me in the first place: Get a fuckin' life. Worry about yourself, instead of worrying about what other people are doing. Enough with the office politics, because this ain't worth the aggravation for no one. What happened here, only reinforces my opinion that people at my job are petty little individuals who are hell bent on making things miserable for the world around them.

I congratulate the people who were too chickenshit to confront me face to face. By doing what you did, you just proved to me once again, that a good chunk of my co-workers are mean, petty, and shallow individuals.

I really do love my job.

Honest I do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 15)

"Good. Here's your key. Where you'd park?" She told him. "Pull out and head to the right, then go all the way to the rear. Room number is 524, on the second floor. Have a nice stay."

"Thanks, I will." she said over her shoulder as she left the lobby and walked back to her car. Stepping outside, she was met with a very cool breeze blowing across the lot, which felt luxurious but also left her feeling melancholy, like something was pulling her to an empty sea of nothingness.

Jumping into the car, Azalea followed the clerk's directions and in no time at all, was pulling into a space near the room. Rolling the windows up, she popped the trunk before stepping out into the cool summer twilight.

Inhaling the clean country air, she became overwhelmed with the sad memories of days gone by. Whether it was because of homesickness or the fact that she wasn't with Walter, Azalea really couldn't say, but within a few minutes of taking in the spectacular view, she started crying. Not heavy, but lightly silent, like the morning mist on a cool summer day.

Walking back to the fence so that she could get a better view of the scenery, Azalea dried her eyes while trying to convince herself that nothing was wrong. Look, get a grip on yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong going on in your life right now that you should be crying about. Nothing. Sure you miss your husband, that's only natural. Sure you're homesick. That's only....only.... Her pep talk came to sudden halt as the floodgates opened and she experienced a public meltdown.

Running back to the car, she grabbed her luggage from the trunk, while trying to stem the tide of tears long enough until she got back to her room. Quickly running up the stairs, she unlocked the front door and chucked the luggage across the room. Slamming the door and locking it, she crashed on the bed to finish her meltdown.

Twenty minutes in, her cell phone rang. Flipping the cover, Azalea saw it was Walter's number. Pressing 'talk', she yelled in between sobs, "I'm not ready to talk to yet!!!", before slamming the cover closed.

Fifteen minutes after that, she was able to calm down enough to carry on a normal conversation with Walter. Drying her eyes, Azalea grabbed her cell and went to the balcony, to get some fresh air and regroup a little more before calling Walter back.

Flipping the cell, she saw a voice mail waiting for her. Punching the various buttons to access it, she soon heard a very animated Walter leaving a very provocative message. Blushing deeply while listening, Azalea couldn't help but smile over what he had said. Hanging up, she was finally ready to give him a call back.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How To Fly Solo When Other People Won't Even Give You A First Glance

Last week, was without a doubt, the most stressed out week I've ever experienced as a writer.

My book order finally came in last Tuesday, so on that day I became an honest-to-goodness published writer. Granted, it was with a publisher who in some circles would be considered a vanity press and in others would not, but fact remains that I decided to take the plunge and present my book to the people that really matter: the general public.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Yes, the general public. For they are the ones who will truly decide whether or not my writing is good enough for them. They are the ones who have experienced my writing first hand in multiple forms. For some, they were exposed to my first attempts at short story writing and the original first draft of my novel. They saw something in that early tangled mess and told me so.

Others were exposed to my 13,000+ posts that were made in the Topix chat rooms and liked them enough (at least the ones that actually had a point and made sense) to tell me what a excellent and reasonable voice I have.

And finally, others were exposed to my writings via this blog, which has been around since Memorial day weekend 2008. I must be doing something good here as well, as I'm averaging about 100 visitors a week to my tiny slice of the blog universe. If people didn't like what they were reading, they wouldn't keep coming back.

For all of these people, and many others who know about me via word of mouth, either in the Cyber World or in the Real World, they are the ultimate decision makers in regards to my novel.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Back to the topic at hand: self-publishing my novel. I spent a fun filled Wednesday afternoon opening a business account (note: you can't have a savings without a checking or vice versa), getting a new mailing address, and creating a brand new blog to sell it.

On Thursday, I started a simple, but hopefully, effective grass-roots advertising campaign. First, the wonderful cafeteria lady at my office building was kind enough to tape up the postcard and business card I gave to her, on the front counter near the cash register. That way, when people were waiting in line to pay for their food, they could read the short synopsis of the book, and get a chance to meet and great the author (I'm there two or three times a day) as well.

Secondly, I've been able to make quite a few friends at some of my favorite blogs for the past six months, and they've been gracious enough to post a link to my blog on theirs. For the people who were nice enough to do that, I give you all a great big THANK YOU! for doing so.

Finally, I would like to thank Blogger as well. They have a feature called "scheduling posts", which lets a poster create multiple posts and have them post in the future. The previous week before I got my order, I had enough time to create several posts and date them for future use, because I knew that with things in the real world starting to heat up, there was a good chance that I wouldn't be able to update my blog properly.

I have two more scheduled posts that are coming up on 11/11 and 11/13 (note: my scheduled posts always have a time of 7:00a on them), so by next Saturday, barring any unforeseen issues, I will be back to my normal routine of posting in the evening.

So to sum it up, I am now officially a small business owner (really small as my office/warehouse is my bedroom and dining room). It's exhilarating, exciting and just a little bit scary, because to be honest with everyone, I never really gave any thought about becoming my own boss.

I figured that since I had the magic touch in other aspects of my life, that getting a book published would be a snap. Find an agent, get a publisher, get published. Simple, yes? Well, if you've been a follower of my blog from the early days, you know it ain't that simple.

I won't rehash the gory details, but I will say that if I knew then what I know now, I probably would still be having this conversation with everyone, because I would still be going the self-publishing route. I wouldn't be spending the ungodly total sum of $7,000 in order to get my book out, but I would be spending something in order to do what I wanted to do.

Self-publishing isn't for everyone. You need to look deep within yourself and ask, "Do I have what it takes to move forward with my dream, knowing that it will become an uphill battle in the process? That most people within the industry won't really take a second look at your book unless you can show really good sales for it (like at least 1,000 or more copies and great word of mouth)? That all you'll ever be is a good niche writer with a small and devoted following?"

If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, then self-publishing is for you. If you can't, then get ready to spend years fine tuning your craft, doing submissions and receiving multiple rejections. It's long tortuously slow process not for the faint of heart, and its designed mostly to crush the spirit of the average writer who dreams of success.

While this may sound like sour grapes coming from someone like myself who hasn't paid enough dues in the way of being rejected or being published, it isn't. I am by nature, an impatient individual. For me, two years worth of rejections from agents and publishers, was a long enough wait before deciding to go out on my own. For others, it may not be. Only you can be the judge on how long you're willing to suffer through the callous industry called publishing.

In any event, no matter what avenue you decided to take, pursue it to the best of your ability, because at the end, the reward of being published is all that really matters.

Friday, November 7, 2008

On Being Georgie B

Have you ever wanted to participate in chat rooms, but were afraid to try for fear of something bad happening to you?

Just started to write short stories and wanted to know how not to go about it?

Or you've finished a novel and wanted to know what it was like for someone else to go through the process of trying to get it published?

Or maybe you're starting a blog and wanted observe someone else doing it, so that you could avoid the potential pitfalls?

Or maybe you just wanted to see how someone from another part of the country plays nice (or not play nice) with the world around them?

Don't have time to actually come around and visit the blog as often as you wanted to?

Well then, may I suggest an inexpensive (read: cheap) Christmas/Hannukuah/Kwanza/or whatever holiday you observe or not observe gift for yourself: a subscription to Cedar's Mountain.

Yes, have Cedar's Mountain delivered right to favorite reader or e-mail addy, with almost no effort on your part.

You will be guaranteed to have fresh new material delivered right to your doorstep 3 to 4 times a week (basically every other day). Where else can you get a skewered view on life, blogging, chat rooms, writing and working for state government, plus one page of a short story, delivered absolutely free to your door.

And, that's not all you can do here. If subscribing isn't your cup of tea, and you do enjoy visiting my blog from time to time, why not become a Friend of Cedar's Mountain. If you have a blog in Blogger, then by doing the simple click of adding my link to the blogs you follow, you can become an instant Friend of Cedar's Mountain.

Try it today, you won't be disappointed.

And for a gentler slice of life via the West Coast, please give Under The Sheets-Shhh a try. You won't be disappointed. I gave it a try, and I'm glad that I did, because I'm now a follower of that nice little West Coast blog.

Don't Get Your Panties In A Bunch

Have you ever wanted to stop some mealy mouthed bloviator dead in his tracks? Wanted to eloquently tell someone to STFU? Wanted to make someone look like a fool with minimum effort? Snappy answer to a stupid question?

Well, look no more. Georgie B has the perfect insult for you. Guaranteed to solve all the aforementioned questions (with the exception of the last one) with minimal effort on your part.

The cost of this insult is so low, I'm ashamed to tell you it. But it can be had for the very low, low, low, low price of reading the rest of this post.

In the strange world of chat rooms, where black is white and you can't say "cracker" or "boobies" without being censored, a clean and effective rant stopper is absolutely priceless weapon in your arsenal.

That seven word post title, "Don't Get Your Panties In A Bunch", effectively stops any rant and inserts a welcome swerve into the argument. No matter what the person may be bloviating about, they immediately stop and try to turn the tables on the insulter by any means necessary.

Any means necessary can usually mean questioning your sexual orientation, which in and of itself, is a highly tired and utterly lame attack.

Another good comeback for use in disarming an obnoxious poster is to use their own words against them.

For example: the other day a poster on a thread about Sarah Palin happened to venting on how he was going to be making a whole lot of hankies for all the McCain supporters the day after the election, except that he didn't say McCain, but instead said crybabies. So I said, "So you'll be making a lot of hankies for yourself?"

Got a funny face icon for it.

Another effective weapon to use is sarcasm. Normally sarcasm is very hard to inflict in a chat room, simply because there's no audio infliction to it. There are really only two ways that you can show that you're being sarcastic.

One: put an obvious tag in somewhere in your posts signifying that you're being sarcastic.
The second way requires a bit more skill. Write out your response in such a way that no one, even the occasional poster who happens to wander by, will have no doubt that you post is oozing with sarcasm.

For example: This was my favorite response for most of 2007, with situational tweaking as needed.

AAARGH!! Skewered by a rapier-like comeback!!! Oh wait...it's just a mosquito bite.

By 2008, that slowly fell out of use, as I started to encounter posters whose collective IQ was either their shoe size or the cup size (depending on the gender). So we basically went with the following sentence:

"Excuse me?" or "I'm sorry, was I supposed to be offended by this?"

Which was soon followed by a lengthy, scathing rebuke of whatever point the poster was trying to make.

Another way to get chuckles at the expense of the other posters is to use offensive language. You really have to be careful in how you express yourself, because using foul/nasty language will get you warned and your post yanked.

That's where the handy dandy thesaurus comes into play. You will be simply amazed with the amount of synonyms you can come up with and use in order to severely insult/degrade someone and not get into any kind of trouble for it. It's not something for the faint of heart, simply because it takes the burning of more than a few brain cells and a healthy dose of knowing how to work the system.

If you keep these simple rules of thumb in the back of your mind while exploring the chat rooms/message boards, in no time at all, you'll be well on your way to making a bunch of friends, a boatload of enemies and having a blast while doing it.

But the most important thing to remember is this: never take anything too seriously in the chat rooms, because after all, it is just that, a chat room. So long as you're careful about what you give out for info, you'll never have a problem in being there.

In addition, you can take comfort in the fact that there will always be a friendly voice/person in the form of me, happily bouncing around the chat rooms. I'm easy to find as I post under this name and I make all the threads I post on, public.

Happy chatting!

We return you now to your regularly scheduled programming: How to become independently wealthy by actually taking responsibilities for your actions.

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-16 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at georgebjr2006@gmail.com