Friday, February 27, 2009

Road Trip

Part 7 of The Library Chronicles
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One of my favorite duties while working on the Connecticut Newspaper Project was going on road trips. Doing a road trip usually involved a multitude of steps, which varied depending on whether I was doing a pick up or delivery. There was one constant variable that triggered this particular duty: We needed one/multiple issue(s) of newspapers, in order to make an accurate reel of film.

Initially, I was simply the provided muscle/driver for a given road trip, as my supervisor usually booked/scheduled the trip in question. Later on, I became the contact/go-to person when it came to booking trips for pick-ups and deliveries.

Basically, the entire road trip process when something like this.

After we had determined that for a particular run of newspapers we were filming (for example, The Connecticut Western, based out of Falls Village, CT) we needed to borrow a few issues {or in this particular case, multiple decades}, we checked our handy-dandy database to determine what library/historical society had these issues in question.

After making the initial phone call, with me giving the usual spiel that for every newspaper your organization loans us, you get a free roll of microfilm {or in some cases, hundreds of free rolls} and you get to have a final say in how we can process your newspapers, I would schedule a time and day to do a pickup. Usually, I would try to kill multiple birds with one stone and schedule multiple pickups so I could acquire as much stuff as we needed with the fewest trips possible.

Sometimes though, because of where some of these places were, my trips got to be quite interesting. There were times where my trip schedule literally took me from a starting point of Hartford, to the Massachusetts border, to the Rhode Island border and back. Back then I wasn't a very good trip scheduler, but I got better with practice.

Anyways, I would arrive at the particular library {or historical society, or on more than one occasion, a private house} and go about my business of borrowing the newspapers. This is where my hidden telemarketing/salesman skills came out in full force.

Note: For the readers here that only know me from this blog or the chat rooms, I have current and former co-workers who can attest to my incredibly nasty phone skills. Suffice to say, once you've had an encounter with me via the phone, your blood sugar rises 150 points.

After getting what I needed from said institution, and agreeing to every reasonable/unreasonable demand that was made to me before hand, I loaded up the car and continued on my circuitous trip. If it was a particularly long one, I did lunch before heading home.

These road trips were my way of escaping from the tedium of the day-to-day grind of prepping newspapers, inspecting newspapers and inspecting microfilm. By the time I moved on to another department several years later, by my own count I had visited about two dozen libraries and about the same amount of historical societies. To this day, I can still get to these places without getting lost. Sometimes I need a refresher with Mapquest, but for the most part, it's been a piece of cake.

Additionally, I got to know more of this state during those several years, than I did during non-work related activities. I visited almost four dozen towns, driven every major interstate in CT and can also get from border to border to border without ever setting foot on a major highway if need by. I've visited Long Island Sound; the Farmington Valley; the Connecticut River from beginning to end; the very scenic Meritt Parkway; Yale; New London College; Wesleyan University; the Connecticut Shoreline from Westport to North Stonington, (gulp) the Manshantucket Pequot Research Center, and the Barnum Museum.

I've visited large city libraries (Waterbury, Hartford and Bridgeport); small town libraries (my fave was the Meriden Public Library, only because of what one particular newspaper they had); large historical societies (Connecticut Historical Society); small local ones (almost every town in this state has one, which totals almost 169); large newspapers (Norwich Bulletin, The New Britain Herald) and small (The New Milford Times).

It was a truly enjoyable learning experience, and one that I unfortunately, will probably never do again.
~~~~~~~~
Up next: Some of the nifty restrictions that I had to work with in order to do my job properly.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why Do People Label Others "Racist", If They Hold Conservative To Moderate Viewpoints?

A few of the blogs that I currently follow have touched upon that New York Post cartoon from last week.

For those of you who have not been following the national news because it's been too depressing, here is a brief overview: About a week ago, a chimpanzee viciously attack a middle-aged woman in someone elses home in Stamford CT. Last week, the NY Post came out with a cartoon that showed two policemen with a dead chimp oozing blood on the sidewalk. One comp says to the other, "Well, it looks like they'll have to find someone else to sign the stimulus package."

For the record, I found the cartoon to be in poor taste, insulting, and disgusting. In any event, most of the comments centered on what I just mentioned, but a few did the guilt by association thing.

What I mean is this: Because the cartoon is incredibly distasteful (and racial), and since it was published in the New York Post and since the Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch, it must mean that it met with the approval of Rupert Murdoch, thus Rupert Murdoch is a racist.

Now I know that doesn't make any sense, but stay with me here, because I'll try to elaborate.

On another blog that I sort of follow (heavily female oriented) the blogger made a post about racism, which is fine. She used a picture of a Klan wardrobe, then followed the picture with the comment that "sometimes, racism isn't so easily spotted." Following that comment was a picture of FoxNews and Bill O'Reilly, a news organization and a person who admittedly have conservative to moderate viewpoints on everything.

Explain to me, how is this considered "racial"? Do these same intelligent people who find FoxNews (used to represent Rupert Murdoch) and Bill O'Reilly "racial" give other news organizations like the New York Times , CNN or the BBC the benefit of the doubt and treat them "pure as the driven snow"?

In my humble opinion, the answer to the last question is yes. These same intelligent people who find these organizations "pure as the driven snow", find the previous examples I stated (plus others either you or I can come up with) full of "racial hate".

For the record, I watch FoxNews for my national news and haven't watched Bill O'Reilly for months. I don't read the Times as I have my local version of extreme left-of-center news coverage called The Hartford Courant. I haven't watched CNN since FoxNews came on, and stopped listening to the BBC when I stopped listening to my shortwave radio.

So tell me, what is your opinion on my particular viewpoint?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happie Boithday!!!

¡Hola!
`
Today is my late father's birthday. He would have turned seventy today.
`
There are a lot adjectives that could use to describe my father, but the one word that probably stands out the most and the one that I would use, would be this: modest.
`
My dad was a very modest individual, in that he would never toot his own horn about the things he did, the things that he accomplished or the undying respect that he earned during his lifetime.
`
Let me tell you a little bit about my dad and the huge footprint that he left behind in this world.
`
My dad taught computer science at what is now called Central CT State University. He was one of the very first members of the newly created computer science department when he was hired at the very young age of twenty-five (this was back in 1964).
`
Although he had many accomplishments at CCSU (dept head, member of the faculty senate, etc.), perhaps the one he was most know for, was for something that he didn't teach, but simply administered: the math placement test.
`
I'm not quite sure how the admission process works at todays colleges/universities, but back in the day when you enrolled at CCSC/CCSU, you had to prove that the math skills you came in with were good enough to continue at college with. Thus, you took a math placement test. If you didn't pass this test, you got put into a remedial math class, and were taught the very basics of mathematics. And I'm meaning very basic, like high school algebra basic. Suffice to say, my dad became a very popular individual. A man of very uncompromising values. If you didn't pass, you didn't get to take your chosen mathematics class until you did remedial mathematics.
`
My dad was very well known in the local community. The things he did and accomplished were wide ranging, and they include the following examples:
`
1} Heavily involved in local politics as he helped run two very successful mayoral campaigns.
2} Heavily involved in community sports: woman's volleyball, men's basketball, girls softball, Little League baseball, boys and girls basketball, to name just a few.
3} With Little League baseball, in 1975 he was instrumental in helping to successfully integrate girls into what was formerly an all-boys town sport. Even made the local television news at the time.
`
On the world stage, his influence was far-reaching and just as well known even today. Back in the late 70's, he took over a teaching program at Sam Sharpe University (Kingston, Jamaica), and helped bring wider exposure of the academic/real world communities to people who otherwise wouldn't have been afford the opportunity to experience higher education. He became a very well know fixture in the West Indian community, both stateside and overseas, right up to the day he passed away (His obituary was published in the local daily paper in Kingston, and in the local weekly paper that covered the West Indian community). His influence was such that even people from Jamaica traveled to CT to pay their last respects.
`
I like to finish up this mini-tribute to my dad (a longer version can be found in the Hartford Courant archives: his obit ran two full length newspaper columns and he had a very nice article written about him in the paper. The article was an installment in a weekly column that featured influential local people who had passed away), by pointing out the misspelled title of this post.
`
My dad was a major stickler for good grammar skills and never failed to point out what was wrong with a particular part of an English paper that I would show him for approval. So as a tribute to him and the knowledge he imparted onto me, I would like to wish my dad a "Happie Boithday!"
`
I would also like to take this opportunity to ask people if they leave comments, to share a memory of a now gone loved one.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Happy Birthday!


This is my youngest child, Jenelle. Today is her birthday and she is exactly halfway to becoming a newly licensed driver in the state of Connecticut.
`
Translation: she's turning 8 years old today.
`
Her favorite activities include dancing (hip-hop, group tap and solo tap, and ballet) and competitive figure skating.
`
As you can see in this picture, she also loves stuffed animals. To that end, she'll be having her birthday party this afternoon at Build-A-Bear with six of her closest friends.
`
This is the first of back-to-back frivolous posts that have absolutely nothing to do with the normal content of this blog. Please enjoy these two blasts from the past to hold you over until Feb 25th, when we return you to our regularly scheduled programming. First, then Second, in that order please.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Life Is A Highway" (pt 4)

The first thing I settled on when I decided to write these two-three page interludes was a theme. I didn't want to make them bright and cheerful, especially since the other short stories I wrote weren't in that particular vein to begin with. Bright and cheerful would have felt very out of place with the overall theme of the book, which was dark and moody.

So I started the first story off not in my usual way, but like what most short stories I've read usually start out as: in the middle of a thought.

Note: At this point (mid-2007), the way I wrote all of my long-short stories was to start with a false ending, then write up to and then beyond that false ending. A prime example of this would be a short story I recently posted here called, "Golden Texas Tea" {click here for example}.


And the middle of the thought was that the reader was driving down a country road, thinking about the argument that they had with their girlfriend earlier in the day. The rest of the first story sets up the basic highway theme, where the reader finds an entrance to the magical (yeah I know, very plain description) highway, which immediately sets him/her off on the journey.

The reason I choose the Twilight Zone/Night Gallery motif was that I felt it was the perfect style to work with. Even though I liked Tales from the Darkside, Tales from the Crypt, and even Night Flight (for those who still remember the 80's), I didn't feel comfortable enough to write in those particular styles. Still don't to this day, as whenever I try to write that way, my stuff becomes too violent/sick.

However, the strange work experience that I got those many years ago (working with old newspapers), I've been able to put to very good use. Because I've been cursed/blessed with a good photographic recall, with minimal amount 1% and less of research applied, I can pull up from the deep recesses of my mind, pop culture/American facts dating back 100 years or so.

Basically, mini versions of the Twilight Zone.

It's not something I would recommend, adding these kind of pop culture references, unless you read gobs of old newspapers. I unfortunately read old newspapers, local and national, continuously from 1996-2001.

Sometimes the most obscure stuff you learn from work, can do wonders for your writing.

The second thing I settled on for these two to three page interludes, was in fact, to make them that length to begin with. When I started writing, I really didn't have any basic idea on the length. But the further I got with the story, the more I realized that I needed a decent stopping point, especially since the story was going to be intertwined with others.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Update: From the last time I gave a project update (2/5) to now, I've written nine more pages of the current story I'm working on, which strangely enough, is the fourth story in the series as it pertains to the connecting short stories. Because of the brief (four sentence) outline I mentioned previously, I should have no problem getting past the part where I got stuck originally. I think when all is said and done, the page count will probably be increased by about 40%.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Anniversary?

Factoids are us.

A friend reminded me last week of a peculiar anniversary that was popping up. My two year anniversary of participating in the Topix chat room forums came and went this past February 10th.

Now normally, this would be a cause for celebration like my one year anniversary back in 2008, but this time, there was really nothing to celebrate. I have evolved to the point in my chat room existence that I now basically go there to say hi to my friends, constructively debate certain topics in my local forum and have insultfests elsewhere.

There really isn't anything left to do or accomplish in the chat rooms anymore for me, so I just simply do those things and let everything else roll on by. Oh sure, I continuously plug my blog and plug my book, have people get on my case for both, and even get trolled over it (matter of fact, I picked up another loser that goes by the name of "MASH HAMILTON" and has a floating ISP of Chaplin/Willimantic CT) from time to time.

In essence, and to paraphrase someone who put it so elegantly elsewhere, I engage in verbal bitching sessions with other posters. Kind of interesting though, in that I now use the chat rooms to decompress, de-stress and basically act like an arrogant jerk towards people who act like a pompous jackass 24/7/365.

In any event, some interesting factoids about me and two years worth of chat room participation:

1) I have four official personas, one of which has been suspended, in Topix.
2) I've had one unregistered persona binged and purged.
3) I created a sixth persona (Prayerful One) that was used for a couple of months in the MSNBC community boards back in 2008.
4) I've made in the excess of 17,000 posts, some of which were actually constructive.
5) I have made the same amount of enemies as I have made friends.
6) I have actually met one of my Topix friends this past summer.
7) I've had several derogatory threads made about me, one derogatory persona made about me using a picture from my blog, three people who have followed me from the chat rooms in a vain attempt to harass and ridicule me, and one person who came this close to being sued for copyright infringement (who interestingly enough, made a brief appearance over this past weekend, throwing a hissy fit because she blamed me for her own stupidity in getting herself purged).

With that said, I will say "Happy Anniversary" to me. Here's to wishing that my time in the chat rooms for 2009 continues to as smooth as the latter part of 2008 was.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And You Started A Blog Because.....

I wonder if anyone else has experienced this particular issue in which I'm going to talk about today?

I currently have 43 blogs that I have bookmarked in my favorites, and for the most part, I follow them all. However, out of those 43, I have five that can be classified as dead, one on life support (I'll explain later), and one that is on hiatus.

The one on hiatus is easily explainable, in that the person running it, is currently experiencing a monetary boom in the real world, and thus can't give it the proper attention it richly deserves. This is what he has stated in his very last post. He also stated once things get situated to his liking, he'll slowly get back into the swing of things with the blog (and I'm sure he'll correct me if I got any of this info wrong).

The other, which I consider to be on life support, hasn't been updated in a couple of weeks. I would like to think that the reason it hasn't been, is because the real world has once again taken precedence over the blog world, which is as it should be. This has happened periodically with this person and I'm sure once things get situated, the blog will be its lively self again.

The other four though, present a sticky problem. Three of them, I found because they were nice enough to pick up my blog as a follower, so I returned the favor. The other two, I simply found because one left a comment on my blog and the other left a comment on another blog that I follow.

What do you do if the blog that you're following/or is following you, hasn't been updated for months on end? Do you try to make a comment to see what's been going on (tried that a couple of times)? Or do you simply drop the blog from your reader and move on?

The problem I face is that with these particular blogs, the blogger has seem to have vanished from the prying eyes of the blog world, without so much as a brief post saying, "sorry, but I feel that I can't do this blog anymore."

I have blogs bookmarked that on average, haven't been updated for over a month and a half (or in one case two and half months). I even have one blog that the blogger apparently nuked without really telling anyone about it, save for a brief post stating they were thinking about merging it with another.

On one hand, it would make sense for me to stop following those blogs. On the other hand, if I did that, then on the off chance that these people somehow decide to update their blog, I would miss the update. Right now, these blogs are out of sight (because I have them in a folder called "Blogs That Are No More") and thus out of mind.

And there you have it, one way that a blogger can blow his/her mind: trying to decide to keep a blog bookmarked, or getting rid of said bookmark.

What would you do?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pleasure

The cool breeze gently nudges her awake from her early afternoon nap. Stretching and yawning, she sat up and runs her hands through her silky blond hair.

Properly fluffed, she reached down to pick a daffodil, when two squirrels ran up her arm and sat on her shoulders.

Each one briefly whispered in her ear. She smiled and nodded in agreement. The squirrels scampered back down and disappeared into a nearby grove of flowers. One minute later a dozen or so came scampering out of the grove, each carrying a baker's dozen of flowers in their mouths.
They broke off into separate groups, running up her arm and coming to a res on both of her shoulders. Then on a mutual signal, the group executed a high speed weave of flowers throughout her hair.

Three minutes later an intricate weave of lilacs, peonies, daisies, daffodils and mountain laurel was finished. The squirrels then took their leave, pausing long enough to give her a peck on the cheek, before disappearing into the woods.

She takes a handful of hair and inhales. The melded aroma proved to be a powerful intoxicant as she took off running towards a nearby field of sunflowers. Her long blond hair, trailing behind on a cushion of air and flowers gently swaying in the cool mountain breeze, blended in so well with the sunflowers that it looked like she was wearing flowers for hair.

After reaching the other side of the field, she came to a stop in front of a lake. Crystal clear and sweet tasting water, the edge of the lake was rimmed with pine, oak and birch trees, with small bonsais scattered amongst them.

She gazes out through the light mist that glided across the lake, feather touching the surface as though not wanting to spoil the rich blue water with added moisture.

Closing her eyes, she begins to fluff her hair as she silently calls out to the mist. Up hearing her request, the mist seamlessly changes direction and slowly wraps itself around her with its natural coolness.

She cries out as the coolness of the mist makes initial contact, but soon she's enjoying the tranquility as the mist penetrates her thoughts.

She reaches up to brush away a few strands of hair from her face and to her amazement, her hand passes through her head. Taking a closer look, she sees that her body is now becoming one with the mist.

She smiles as the mist tells her that she is now the chosen one for the lake. Turing back to the shore, she blows a kiss to the woodland creatures that had gathered to watch the coronation.

With a clap of thunder, the mist expands and obscures the view of the new chosen one and the lake. When the mist clears, the only thing left behind is a single electric yellow sunflower, standing majestically on the shore.
~~~~~~~~~~
(c) 2009 GBMJr.

Two Page Shorts

Hiya's.

Today I'm going to introduce a new feature to my blog that is called, "Two Page Shorts". The name comes from the fact that sometimes when I write nonsensical stories by hand, they invariably come out to about two pages in length.

So sit back and enjoy this new addition to my blog, which will feature various musings from the deep recesses of my mind.

Peace.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Prepping Newspapers For The Runway (pt 2)

Part 6 of The Library Chronicles

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Since this is part two of the previous post, it would behoove me to once again post the disclaimer.

Warning: What I'm about to describe is not, repeat, not for the faint of heart. This should not be read if you're even the teeny bit tired. This should be read during the day, on a empty stomach, when you're full of energy. Seriously, what I'm about to describe to you, will make watching synchronized swimming seem thrilling and suspenseful.

After getting out my implements of destruction that I would be using for prepping the newspaper, I would get one more item situated properly before I got down to the thrill business of doing my job, which on bad days would make me wish I was sitting in a college classroom listening to a professor drone on about why space cadetting was a good thing to do.

Radio.

The radio was my lifesaver while pursuing this endeavor, as it basically kept me awake and in a groove. Throughout the seven years I was doing this job, I listened to everything under the sun. I discovered and listened to college radio. I developed a better toleration of jazz. I developed an intense dislike of talk radio. I played two very large TimeLife music collections (about 150 tapes) from beginning to end. I listened to the NCAA's. I listened to the baseball playoffs. And when the radio wasn't available, I listened to the computer (favorite stations back then for me were: KTUH University of Hawaii, Triple J Australia, WFMU New Jersey).

So with everything now into its proper place, off to work I went. What follows will be a brief description of what I typically did to one page of print. Multiply that by 1500, and you'll get the basic idea on how mind numbing it became and most importantly, it will give you a background and a better understanding on future topics.

1) First thing I did was take out an "E loop" and measure the height of a typical letter 'e'. This was done so that the proper reduction level can be used for filming. If you used the wrong reduction level, the text became very blurry, thus impossible to read. The "E loop" was basically a chopped version of a rifle scope, complete with a cross hair sight and a dial to focus. And like a good scope, it cost an arm and leg as well ($150-$200 for an item with the diameter of a golf ball).

2) Once that was done, I took out my handy dandy pad and started taking copious notes on every little deviation on every single page. You name it, I made a note of it. To this day, this seven year span remains the only time I took detailed notes at any point in my state career. To this day, I detest making detailed notes. Instead, I simply write a one or two word phrase for what I need to do.

3) While I was doing that, I took out a blank calender and got it ready for use. In addition to taking copious notes, we had to also determine the publishing frequency and the page count of the newspaper in question. This was done by reading the masthead for pertinent information, or if the info wasn't available there, I checked the publisher's statement found (usually) on page 2. Once I was able to establish the frequency, it was easy enough to go along with what was stated on the masthead for dates and check off the days as I prepped. The page count was easy enough to track, depending on the frequency of the paper.

4) Now that I have everything out that I needed for note taking, I next got at the ready, scotch tape for repairs, a micro spatula to apply the tape to the newspaper, and a bone (to get rid of the shine).

Once these four initial steps were done, the following redundant steps were executed for each and every page:

I} Checked the date and the page count for the issue, and noted them accordingly on the calender. Also checked the title, just in case it changed during the particular year in question.
II} Checked the size of the print and noted it on the calender.
III} Gave the page a thorough going over and noting (if any) every single imperfection on the page.
IV} If there were any tears or holes that needed to be fixed, I fixed them using scotch tape, a micro spatula and the bone.

These four steps were done without fail with each and every single page that was worked on.

Were there hazards in doing this monotonous job? Sure there were. You got dishpan hands, due to washing them at least 20 times a day (lots of lotion was used); you frequently got a backache from standing over/hunching over the newspaper; and you frequently lost track of real world time. I cannot tell you how many times after I got done working a run of newspapers from the 19th century and had to ask my co-worker what day it was.

As with the last scintillating post, I will stop here and clap my hands a few times and say, "WAKEY, WAKEY!!!"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Up next......ROAD TRIP!!!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Economic Meltdown, Who Ya Gonna Purge?

Disclaimer: While this post will not contain offensive language, it might just bore you to tears. Or make your jaw drop from disbelief. In any event, please read this when you have lots of energy. Thanks.

Today's post will be about the current state of economic destruction as it pertains to the state of Connecticut. On February 4th, our esteemed Governor of Connecticut, M. Jodi Rell, presented the FY2010-FY2011 Biennium budget to the masses for consumption. The budget (click here for the budget highlights, and click here for the more detailed version) is frightfully long on specifics and unfortunately short on happy news.

Since I'm a state worker and thus my immediate future is intimately tied to this budget, I would like to offer my two cents on a few of the items that are being proposed here.

  • Consolidation of state agencies: The Governor is proposing to consolidate/eliminate 20 state agencies, with a potential combined savings of approximately $27 million over the next two years. As it stands, most of what these agencies do are duplicated within other agencies elsewhere. In addition to the monetary savings, there is another potential savings....
  • Eliminating 865 jobs: The Governor is proposing that 865 jobs be eliminated, through a combination of eliminating vacant positions and layoffs. This is about 1/4 of the total amount of people who were laid off in 2003. This total can possible rise due to another factor....
  • Concessions from the state unions: The Governor is proposing a two year wage freeze, along with a two year suspension of binding arbitration (a perpetual budget killer). As expected, the unions immediately started to whine about this, which only goes to show you how out of touch the union leadership is with the rank and file.
  • Eliminating Boards and Commissions: The Governor is proposing to eliminate about 70 boards and commissions, plus the 900 appointees that are required to staff them.
  • Selling state assets: The Governor is proposing to sell state assets, in order to help with the budget. One example is the leftover/unused property that the state acquired for transportation projects that either never materialized or didn't use all that was required. Potential savings there is estimated to be $6 million.

These are just a few examples of the items being presented to the General Assembly. And just like up in D.C., the General Assembly is dominated by one party. Unlike in D.C., down here the Democrats have a veto proof majority.

And like the gang in D.C., the gang down here is in the hip pockets of the labor unions. Let's hope for once that they remember who they're actually working for: the people who elected them, not the people who buy them.

Anyways, my main concern with this entire budget is that the union is going to attempt to play hardball. I feel that way because the lesson that was painfully learned in 2003 when they last tried to play hardball with the Governor (in this case John Rowland) and 2,800 people lost their jobs, will be once again forgotten and more than 1/7 of the 2003 total will be laid off. By the way, of those 865 job cuts, about 50% of them are paper cuts. In other words, they are vacancies that are being eliminated. The remaining 50% are humans.

It's gonna be a stressful Spring/Summer.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Loves Winter, But I Hates Snow

I love the winter season. I love the way it coats the mountain in a soft blanket of white snow, tucking it in for the night and giving the mountain a warm glow.

What? A warm glow? Pfft. The warm glow comes from the campfires that stupid people light to keep warm because they were stupid enough to hike up the mountain in a snowstorm. Frostbite here we come!

I can stand out in my front or side yard during the evening and just revel in its quiet beauty and silent strength.

Right. Quiet beauty and inner strength. Oh yeah, the quiet beauty of seeing your car buried in a foot of snow at the bottom of the driveway, and the inner strength that you'll need because the snow blower died and you got nothing but a shovel to dig yourself out with.

I look up and down the street and it takes me back to my childhood when the only thing I had to worry about was how large I wanted to make the snowman.

Sure, worry about the snowman and not worry about getting buried by a blow when it throws a three foot high snowbank at ya, which buries your sorry butt up to your neck.

I can hike up the mountain and go sledding down the side trails for hours on end.

Yay, sledding!! Whoops, look at that guy take air! OMG, face first into the pine tree!

I can go for short walks around the neighborhood, and know that I'll find peace of mind while doing it.

Don't forget the cars that are stuck in the snow drifts off to the side! Man those people will have a long walk home, simply because the roads ain't plowed!

Hmmmm.....I can drive without worrying about where the road is and...

That's because there is no road! Do you think that the town/city/state has the smarts to plow the roads properly? Of course they don't! They would rather have stupid drivers like yourself travel down the road and plow for them!

But I can....

But nothing smart guy! Snow sucks! Unplowed roads suck! No power sucks! Frozen pipes suck! Get with the program, snow sucks! Sucks! Sucks! Sucks! Understand?

Not in the eyes of a child. In the eyes of a child, the snow is a wonderland of magic, of a fresh new beginning. To make snow angels. To make snowmen. To build forts and have snowball fights. To experience life uncorrupted by the world around them.

In short, snow is the best free thing a child can have and that a parent can give to a child. Understand?

The inner voice jumps down from the shoulder and stomps away in a huff. Opening the door, he takes one step outside and immediately falls into a deep pile of snow, and isn't found until the spring.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Life Is A Highway" (pt 3)

The basic I idea I came up with was this: since all of the stories I had written had a running theme of doom/despair/unhappiness, I thought I would weave one longer story of gloom throughout the novel.

I know what I just wrote sounds very confusing, but bear with me on this, as I'm gonna do my very best to clarify.

Because I like a challenge I started off with the basic premise of writing the story in the second person. Example is the first sentence yes, I know it's a run on. I wrote this back in '07. of the opening paragraph: 'Driving down the road one sunny Saturday morning, you're lost in thought as you make your way through the meandering countryside, trying to forget about the argument you had with your girl earlier."

With each section of the story, I made sure to put in both a Twilight Zone feel to start with, then have it morph into a Night Gallery feel. Finally, at the end of each section, I have the reader get put into each upcoming story. Again, as an example, the last two paragraphs of the first part, which has our intrepid reader being put into a story called, "Golden Texas Tea":

'The waiter says it will be about ten minutes before your food is ready. In the meantime, relax and enjoy your drink. As you start to enjoy your drink, out of nowhere some melancholy music starts to play and suddenly everything starts to go a little fuzzy. You try to get up but somehow the music and the drink conspire to melt the ability of your body to function properly. As you start to drift off into another world, loud voices start to engulf your entire head until it's about ready to explode. You try one last time to clear the cobwebs out and the only thing that comes into view is a very large circular movie screen.

Just before slipping into unconsciousness, you hear a female voice say, So look, I'm fine. There is nothing wrong with me. I'm not depressed, nor worried, stressed, hurt, thinking about killing myself, or angry at the world....' {the preceding paragraphs are (c) 2008 GBMJr}

In this instance, the reader starts out first by witnessing the beginning of the story. As this particular story progresses and as this novel progresses, you'll see how I'm putting the reader more into the start of each story, until finally, the main goal (I hope) is to have the reader be part of the last story.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Update: I'm still working on that second story. I now have 29 pages written and the outline is helping quite a bit, as it's forcing me to flesh out the story so as to make it more cohesive, and to have it make more sense. Nothing worse than writing a story that makes no sense. For the moment, because of what has gone on for the past week, I have only worked sporadically on this story. This is due to the fact that I don't want to go completely overboard with the violence, as I don't want my real world to bleed too much into my writing. This was one half of a running theme to the pounding I've been taking online (the other half being too much sex), so I want to make it realistic, but not cartoonish.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

East Of Yesterday And West Of Tomorrow

Libraries.

I love my local library.

Whenever I get stressed out, or when I need to take a break from my computer, or even when I just need to unwind for a few, I go to my local library.

I have been doing this ever since I was about ten or eleven, when I really began to enjoy reading. I had no real friends to speak of while growing up, so the library became the next best thing to being my friend.

I would go there and peruse the aisles of books, looking for something that peaked my curiosity. Even at that young age, the genres I would read were clearly defined and for the most part, have stayed that way thirty-five years later.

My favorite genres then were non-fiction and true crime. Still are to this day, although most of the true crime stuff that has been published for the past fifteen years has been more pop-culture oriented than anything else, therefore in my opinion, suck. Because of this, I have branched out into sub-genres of true crime that are really more suited for the college classroom than for regular consumption. As for non-fiction, I was more into historical non-fiction while growing up, but quickly branched out into other types.

Of all the non-fiction I've read (even today), there are two from the 80's that still stand out that I would highly recommend for reading today. One deals with Hollywood (no, not Ken Archer), specifically child actors. Richard Moore was a child actor in the late 30's/early 40's, who appeared in the Our Gang/Little Rascals comedy shorts. He went by the stage name of Dickie Moore, and usually played a clean cut rich kid. Anyways, his autobiography (which I thought was pretty good) was called "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, But Don't Have Sex or Take The Car". The title alone is what grabbed me to begin with.

The other one was autobiographical in nature as well. If you remember when Judge Judy first came on the scene, she had written a book I think shortly after her t.v. career took off. In it, she chronicled her days as a Family Court judge in New York. Again, I thought it was a good book and again, the title was what grabbed me to begin with. It was called, "Don't Pee On My Leg And Tell Me It's Raining."

The other genres I got into as I got older: westerns, fantasy, historical fiction, regular fiction and mystery, were ones that I explored in more detail in the following years, once those two initial genres started to wear out their welcome.

Nowadays, the first thing I do when I enter the library is make a beeline to the new title section. There I find most of the above mentioned genres that I frequently like to read. After checking out the new titles, the next thing I like to do is wander the aisles to see what I can find that interests me, which of late is becoming harder and harder to do.

After doing that for anywhere from ten minutes to a half hour (great way to lose yourself), I wind up calling it day, because as stated in the previous paragraph, trying to find something that interests me is becoming harder to do.

Most of the time lately, I leave with nothing to show for my efforts beyond having clean slate to start with again. I'm usually able to purge out whatever stress is bothering me, and I leave the library refreshed, rejuvenated and recharged.

So a question for everyone here is: What is your favorite thing to do at the library and does it help you to relax?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sometimes, Writing Can Be An Animal Of The Female Persuasion

Continuing on a theme from the last post (of which I spoke in generalities), this month for me has a been an adventure, writing-wise.

For the past three weeks or so, I've been hammered and vilified for my writing, my book and my blog.

I've been called: a sick, immoral person; a person who craves attention; a hack; a cyber bully; a person who needs psychiatric help; a pervert; and my personal favorite, "toxic".

My writing has been described as: putrid; whiny; horrible; and needy.

My blog has been described as: putrid; craving attention; horrible; and my personal favorite, "being all about me".

I've been a devotee of chat rooms since Feb '07, and with the exception of a self inflicted gunshot wound in Sept/Oct '07 and Jan-May '08, I've been basically flying under everyone's radar.

Until now.

The anonymity of the Internet makes it so incredibly easy to play what I like to call "Keyboard Commando" (basically, someone who is all hot air and hot stuff on the 'net, but can't back up their mouth in the real world. for the most part, someone who posts unregistered with a fake name). They bloviate, reel off either one line insults or detailed diatribes, and basically do hit and run posting. What I mean by "hit and run" is that they'll come by, make a couple of inflammatory posts, then leave and not hang around to see the response.

Now at first glance, you might be saying to yourself, "Georgie, how can you tolerate these personal attacks?"

The answer might surprise you. For the most part, I'm tolerating these attacks pretty well. The only person who has inflicted the most hurt, has been my ex-friend.

With the rest of the posters who have been laying into me, they've been doing it with tunnel vision. To whit:

1) Overboard with badmouthing of my book. Granted, no one likes to hear that someone doesn't like what you wrote. But, to go so far over the top and make about 30+ posts about it (and posting an excerpt designed to prove your point), only defeats the purpose. Makes you look like a whiny self centered brat.

2) Overboard with badmouthing of my blog. Yes, I've had people badmouth my blog. They say it's all about me and my need to be the center of attention. Well, aren't blogs about what the person who created them had in mind? This particular comment has continuously blown my mind because it makes no sense. In any event, to keep badmouthing my blog, only makes some people curious enough to check it out. For that, I actually thanked the posters because I've gotten an uptick in traffic to it again.

3) Overboard with saying I need to be the center of attention. This one makes no sense either. If you think that I need to be the center of attention, then why are you making me the center of attention? I mean, I've had well over 150 posts directed at me during this current onslaught, and about 65% are saying that the world does indeed revolve around me. And so far, these people by saying that over and over again, are proving what their insult was intended to be.

4) Finally, going overboard with saying that my writing sucks. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, "And your point is what, exactly?" My writing may not be the greatest there is right now, but it has gotten substantially better since I wrote the book. I did have editing help with the book (serious hatchet job done. more details can be found under the labels "Agents", "Writing", and "Novel"), but the end result is mine, and mine alone. How I wrote back in '05/06 shouldn't be compared to how I write now. I was very much a novice/newbie back then, but in the past 3 years, I've expanded my knowledge and continuously worked on my writing skills.

Yes, writing can be a bitch. And to open yourself up to ridicule in the chat rooms, is not what I would recommend as option #1 in trying to establish yourself as a writer. But I figure if I can draw a few extra faces to my blog (and thus, expose people to my writing and perhaps to other blogs) because of what's been going in the chat rooms, then I consider it a good trade off.

Extremely painful to be sure, but a good trade off.

I hope.

This concludes what turned into a two part, major league rant about my month of January. My apologies for it. Hopefully, this will be the last time in a very long while that I'll be covering this particular issue. I sincerely thank you for putting up with my little diatribe. Since everyone commented on this issue at my last post, I will completely understand the reluctance of commenting on this one.

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) 2008-17 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