Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Life Is A Highway" (pt 8)

And so begins the final update of my second novel Life Is A Highway, as I've decided to move in a different direction with the contents that make up my second novel.

Essentially, I plan on publishing the stories (either commercial or more realistically, self-publish) as stand alone chapbooks. I've been spending the better part of year ironing out and fine tuning both my writing style and preferred story length.

The writing style is still a work in progress, but the story length has been ironed out to my satisfaction. As it pertains to my blog (and elsewhere in the future), the comfort level is around 5 pages (or about 2,000 words). As it pertains to other things, such as writing to get published, the comfort level will be at the 50-60 pages (about 18,000-20,000 words).

While I won't rule out writing novel-length stuff (I have several chapters written for novel expanding on my story A Betrayal of Vows that is currently gathering dust) in the future, I do want to concentrate on what I feel works best for me.

With that said, the updates will now be focused primarily on each particular long story that I'm working on at the moment. The current story I'm working on right now, is one that I've been giving everyone updates for the past couple of months on, which to refresh your memory is called A Lascivious Limbo.

As always, I thank you for stopping by my blog to read and to throw in the occasional comment. I appreciate each and every comment that is left, as I've picked up some great writing tips along the way.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Fine Art Of Microfilming

Part 10 of The Library Chronicles
Boy am I getting good or what. I'm doing about a one month gap in between library posts. Oh well, better late than never I always say.

Warning: Don't read this if you're in your humble abode and it's a gloriously sunny day outside where you live. For goodness sake, go outside and do something else. I'll understand if you save this for later. Most importantly, don't read this unless you're full of energy. Anything less than 100% efficiency will spell sleepy time for you.

The other sixty-seven percent of my job dealt with most aspects of microfilm. While I didn't do the grunt work of programming (would rather listen to Uncle Bill talk about the definition "is"), I did do a lot of the other peripheral stuff associated with final product.

Such as taking proper measurements. The size of the newspaper was an essential component of programming. A difference of no less than one inch meant that instead fitting what we needed on say, four rolls of film, we would use say six rolls of film instead. More film usually equates with more money. And when you're dealing with a contract that spelled out a finite dollar amount, you squeezed every single penny until it literally cried out in pain.

Another essential component that was directly related to size, was the size of a normal print size e. Measurements were taken with a tiny magnifying glass called a "loop", and they had to be exact. If you said it was one size, and it wound up being smaller, you ran the real risk of having the text come out blurry. Blurry text equals retakes, which equals wasting money. So the size of the e was very important. The best example I can show you is this:

Can you read this clearly? This is what most of the newspaper text looks like on microfilm.

After getting the proper measurements, the next vital component was the page count. The length of the newspaper determined how many reels of microfilm you needed to program. If the newspaper was a weekly from the late 1800's that averaged eight pages of text, chances are that you would be able to program about two years worth of newspapers per reel (that's about 104 issues). However, if the paper was a daily from say, the early 1900's, the page count was on the average about twenty-four pages. Therefore, you would be able to program about one to two months per reel.

Once the programming was done and the paper shipped off to the microfilming company, then I got to work creating programming sheets for the film. Basically, I got to loathe using the mail merge function in Word (also got to loathe using Excel as well). I found it was an absolute thrill in taking a 100 page document and reducing it down to 80 pages.


Anyways, these programming sheets were used to take copious notes while I was inspecting the microfilm. Never, repeat, never inspect microfilm if you're even the tiniest bit sleepy. Anyways, I would look for the following items while inspecting the film:

Scratches; flakes; folded pages; blurred text; pages out of sequence; incorrect programming information; film too light; film too dark; fingers (don't ask). Plus whatever else looked out of the ordinary.

If I found none of these items, or if I found them on parts that were deemed inconsequential, then that particular roll of film passed inspection. On a good day, I would pass at least two dozen rolls of film. Bad day would be less than ten.

This my friends, is what I did for a living from 1996-2001.
Up next: The many wonderful and interesting things I learned about history while working with newspapers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Birthday To.....Me!

Yes boys and girls, today is my birthday, and I'm turning to the ripe old age of 44. Now some of you young'uns may be lamenting that fact that you're approaching the BIG 30 (or the BIG 25), but trust me on this one, 30 ain't old.

44 is old.

Except in my small circle of friends, then I'm considered the young'un.

"But G, why do you say 44 is old?"

Very easy my dear friends, very easy.

I do payroll for a living, and at the facility that I handle the payroll for, there are supervisors there who make about one and three quarters the money that I make, and yet are 3/4 of my age.

Or in some instances, half my age. Do you know what it's like doing payroll for someone who makes about several hundred dollars more than I do, and was born when I was a junior/senior in high school? That's 1982/83 for those who were wondering just how far removed I am from the educational system.

Anyways, like I said, today is my birthday, and as such, I plan on spending it low key (I hope). I'm at that point in my life where I don't like large family get togethers (or small ones for that matter), so my treat to me, is taking a five day vacation from work, and quite possibly from home as well.

And the picture? The picture has no connect to this post whatsoever. I was actually going through some old floppy disks of mine (circa 2003) and I found this, plus one other. I debated long and hard which silly picture I wanted to put up.

In the end, the cat in the lime helmet won out over Little Nemo created sushi.

However, for those who have a really wicked sense of humor (or really hate computer animated children's movies), then this picture is for you:

Doesn't that look absolutely yummy? Do you know what would go great with for an appetizer and a drink?

A Jolt Float, which is a cola chocolate ice cream float with three shots of Old Grandad mixed in, for the drink.

For the appetizer: mushroom caps stuffed with capers, cilantro, sweet onions, a dash of jalapeno hot sauce, top with melted Brie.

Yummy, yum, yum, yum.

And in keeping with the overall fictional quality of this blog, the drink and the appetizer are courtesy of my warped imagination. The drink appears in a half finished manuscript called A Betrayal Of Vows and the appetizer appears in an unpublished short story called Underground.

If anyone has the courage to actually create and eat/drink these items, by all means, please let me know how they turn out.

Happy 44th to me. I may be F.B. sometimes, but never I.


Jimmy staggered down the sidewalk. Wrapped in a jacket two sizes too small, he lurched from side to side, bumping into everyone and everything. A handful of people gave him dirty looks, while a few others returned the initial bumps in spades.

At the corner of 32nd and Main, his energy level finally dropped to his shoe tops and he collapsed into a pile of broken humanity. Leaning against a lamppost, Jimmy took out a cigarette and stuck it in his mouth. Pulling out the lighter, he was so devoid of strength that he had to use both hands to light his cigarette.
Click here for the full story and to leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Saturday" (pg 10)

The bear grabbed me by the neck and dragged me over to a picnic table, where he sat me down, then dropped his foot on my to keep me in place. I knew better than to struggle with him, so I simply waited until he was ready to speak his mind.

"I can see that I can't leave you alone for one minute, without you doing something to irritate the human race."
"So what? It's not like you can do anything about it."
"Really? said the bear, who had switched positions so that all I could see was him and nothing else. "We'll just see about that now, won't we?"

He grabbed my jacket and yanked me to my feet. He then slapped me until I was dizzy enough not to fight back. Pushing me to the ground, he then grabbed me by the ankles and dragged me to the sidewalk.

Rearranging his grip, he started to twirl me around like I was a hammer. Round and round he went, increasing the speed until I was about ready to spew. With a burst of energy, he flung me high into the air...and in the direct path of an oncoming semi.

I desperately tried to change my direction, but no dice. It seemed that I was on a direct collision course with the truck. Suddenly, I felt an incredible pressure on my chest, followed by a severe body pain, then nothing.

"Wh..what happened?"
"You had a bad dream."

Sure enough, when I was finally able to focus my eyes, I saw to my chagrin that I was wrapped up in my blanket like a mummy, unable to bend my legs or move my arms. I also found myself on the floor, resting on my stomach and kissing wood.

"Are you okay?"

I rolled myself over and wiggled an arm free. Searching my person, I felt something sticking into my butt. Reaching into my shorts, I pulled out a very small branch to a bonsai tree. Looking at it, I suddenly felt myself becoming hot as a voice inside my head was yelling at me in Spanish.

I waited for the voice to subside, before I answered my wife.
"Yes, I'm okay. You're right, it was only a bad dream. Good night."
"Are you going to come back into bed?"
I thought for a moment and said very quietly, "No, I'm going to stay here for the rest of the night."
"Okay. Good night."
I didn't say anything. Instead, I rolled over, tucked that small branch under my head, and spent the rest of the night worrying about that big brown bear from across the street.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cedar's Mountain Was Born On This Date In 2008

It was a difficult birth, to say the least. Minutes after making his appearance, he began bloviating and try as they might, Mother Nature and Father Futility couldn't shut him up.

The opening salvo in the war of witty insults, snide comments and intellectual tom-foolery soon followed, and while not profound by anyone's stretch of the imagination, it did set the tone for what would be a full frontal assault on good taste, politically correctness, censorship, criminal stupidity and chat rooms.

If polluting the blog world with his witty repartee wasn't damaging enough, then scaring the general public with a picture of himself with his family (circa 2001) surely must have did the trick.

Once he fired off that opening salvo, he got right down to the business of blogging. That summer was a harrowing one indeed, as his writing was, for lack of a better phrase, seriously wanting.

How wanting you may ask? Well, I present to you the reading public, links to five of the first eight posts that were made on this blog.

1} The first topic of choice was the Topix chat rooms, in all of its brutal ugliness. This was the first of thirty-four posts on my experiences while participating in the world of chat rooms.

2} The second topic of choice was the weather, specifically Cedar Mountain. This was actually a two part post because I decided at the time to post twice a day, every other day. This lasted until early September, when I began suffering extreme burnout.

3} The third topic of choice was humor. Two very fine examples of chat room related humor are presented here in their entirety. The original, then the response.

4} The fourth topic of choice, of which I've written the most about, since this is the main crux of the blog (having made 206 inter-connected posts which includes 32 posts of a story that was nuked a few weeks ago), is writing. The first post was an explanation as to why I got into writing in the first place.

5} And finally, the fifth topic of choice, was work. 'Nuff said.

Yes indeed, it has been harrowing at times, but overall for the past year, it has been a very rewarding experience. If I had to do all over again, knowing then what I know now, I would do it the exact same way.

So to all my good friends, please join me in wishing my blog a very happy birthday.



"Get away from me," said the bartender as he took a half-hearted swipe at a buzzing fly. Yawning, he returned to his previous position on the stool and resumed his nap.

Within a couple of minutes of resuming his nap, a motorcycle roared pass the front door. Startled, he fell off the stool and got bombarded with booze as a few dozen bottles fell from the shelves and exploded on impact.

Lying there semi-conscious and soaked, he heard the front door blow open and the music of LL Cool J overwhelm the bar.

"Good Lord, she's here!" he thought excitedly.

Slowly pulling himself upright, he looked up and found himself staring into a very tired face.

"Hi there." she said rather flatly.
"Hi there yourself." he said brightly.
"What happened to you?"
Picking a few shards of glass out from his shirt, he said, "A few bottles fell from the shelf. Nothing to worry about."

Looking around the bar, she asked, "Where's that music coming from?"
"From you."
"From me?"
"Yeah. It's your incidental music. If you want it to stop, just make the universal stop gesture."
"No foolin'?"
"No foolin'."

So she did, and sure enough, the music stopped. Sighing, she took off her gloves and goggles, and placed them on the bar, before dropping heavily on a stool. Turning around, she was surprised to see a drink already in front of her.

Pointing to the glass, she asked, "What's this?"
"Peach Schnapps."
Sighing again, she took the drink and went for a stroll around the bar. After she finished checking out the various art deco prints, she came back to the bar and sat down on the stool. Turning around, she was surprised to see a large slice of marbled cake, covered in chocolate frosting and adorned with a candle.

"What's all this?" she asked.
"Birthday cake. Compliments of the proprietor." he said.
Taking out a lighter, he lit the candle and proceeded to sing the usual song associated with that particular type of pastry.

After he'd finished, he said, "Make a wish and blow out the candle."
So she briefly closed her eyes, then took a deep breath and blew out the candle. She then grabbed a fork and the cake, and walked over to the pool table, where she spent the next half hour shooting pool and eating cake.

When she'd finished, she ambled back over to the bar and sat down. Turning around, she again found to her surprise two envelopes, each decorated with a blue yarn bow. She was about to ask what they were when the bartender beat her to the punch.
"B'day card and present. Again, compliments of the proprietor."

She opened the card and read it. Smiling, she then opened the other envelope and found to her surprise, a gift card from Barnes & Noble. Finishing up her drink, she first put the two cards inside her jacket, before putting on her gloves. When she pulled out her wallet, the bartender simply shook his head.

When she got the front door, she paused for a minute, then said, "Tell him thanks for the pick me up."
"Most definitely," said the bartender, who then snapped his fingers. Instantly, the hard thumping rhythms of LL Cool J came pouring out of the woodwork.

Smiling again, she put on her goggles and left the bar.
(c) 2009 by GBMJr. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sunday At G's (pt 2)

Click here for Part 1
Welcome back to the walk around my neighborhood. I trust that you're sufficiently rested up and rearing to go. The next picture that you see, is a southbound view of one of the side streets that I usually walk down on my way to the center of town. The house that you see in the foreground has been, to the best of my knowledge, been up for sale on and off for the past two years.

Next up is a view looking east down another major side street. It may not look it, but during the week, a lot of people use this street in order to bypass the serious rush hour congestion that permeates the downtown area. They'll usually come down this road and will make a right turn at the stop sign that's about thirty feet behind me.

When they hit the stop sign, they'll see this funky yellow colored house that's been on the market for about two years, by three different Realtors. It's a small house with a decent backyard, but in a horrible location as it's about two hundred feet from the major intersection in Newington. There is no safe way to get out of that driveway, so whoever buys it will have to spend an ungodly amount of cash to fix that problem.

Right now, we're about fifty feet from the crosswalk. This monument, along with the accompanying flagpole (that does have a flag attached to it) is dedicated to all of the local citizens who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. There about 100 names listed on the monument itself, all male.

And finally, we are at the crosswalk. This the view looking west up one of the main thoroughfares. And as you can see, Newington isn't immune to the current economic downturn as that "Retail/Office Space" sign plainly attests to. And yes, that is a Starbucks that you see. In spite of me avoiding Starbucks like the plague, how about we take our break there and enjoy the nice spring weather for a while. My treat.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The warm summer breeze blew through the mountain, gently bending the branches this way and that, while the leaves swayed to an internal beat. A solitary figure finishes the last of her lunch and buries the chicken bones so that the animals can’t get at them.

Standing up, she stretches her lithe body in an attempt to rive away the muscle knots that had cropped up while she was eating. Twisting her head to and fro, she pauses for a moment as the pine scented breeze gently caresses her senses.
Click here to read the full story and to leave a comment.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Saturday" (pg 9)

It took three or four minutes to shake the cobwebs out, fifteen to get the legs to function and twenty-five before I was able to stand without falling down. Walking with a herky-jerky stride, it took me another twenty to get out of the field and onto the road.

Back on the road, I continued with my herky-jerky stride but amped up my pace, after hearing the church chime quarter-past eleven. I must admit I did have heads turn in my direction as I walked past, once people got a good look at me and saw a living example of Pigpen in their midst.

I finally got to the bank, after dodging a slew of people who chased me away because of my smelly clothes, with about fifteen minutes to spare. As I went to open the door, I found to my surprise that it was locked. Looking through the window, I saw the branch manager waving her finger, then pointing at the drive thru.

Shrugging my shoulders, I staggered over to the drive-thru window like it was suggested to me. The teller gave me the careful once over and said condescendingly, "You can't do your business here. Go inside the bank to do it."

"I would love to," I said condescendingly as well, "but YOUR branch manager locked the front door and thumbed me over to the drive-thru. So here I is. Deal with it."

The teller snorted and stepped away from the window. I turned away for a moment to warm up my hands, and when I turned back, I was face to face with the original malcontent that started this crap in the first place: the bonsai tree from my neighbor's backyard.

"You? What the heck are you doing here?"
"Trabajo aquí por horas. ¿Ahora, qué puedo hacer para usted?"
"Nothing, I want the other teller."
"Apesadumbrada, ella fue en rotura. Soy el. Reparto con el."
"I will not deal with it. You're the one that put me here in the first place. I don't know what your major malfunction is, but I will not deal with a mini-mini me. So get me the branch manager."

The tree looked at me like he was noticing for the first time, just how incredibly angry I really was. Even though he had no facial features to speak of nor did he have a voice per say, I was able to tell that right now, he was ready to faint.

Instead, he steeled his nerve and with the strongest voice he could muster, he yelled, "Seguridad!"
'Security?' I wasn't able to get any further with my thought because I felt the hot smelly breath of a familiar enemy on my neck. I turned around, and sure enough, I was fact to face with that stupid bear again.
(c) 2009 by GBMJr. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Writing Is Becoming A Little.....Odd

I'm not saying that's a bad thing, just a casual observation on the state of me.

I've been creating new pieces of flash fiction for my other blog, and as of late, the content has gotten, well, a little odd.

For those who are relatively new to my blog, about three weeks ago, I posted a story over there that was a bit graphic. By "graphic", I mean sexually explicit, not violent. Anyways, it necessitated labeling the other blog "Adult Oriented", so as to avoid censorship problems in the future (if you click on the link, you'll have to answer "yes" to the question, before you can read the story).

But this post is really not about that, it's about the general path that my writing for that particular type of style (flash fiction) has taken. Since I decided to concentrate on flavoring my writing with varying degrees of sex, it seems to be the only thing I can comfortably churn out.

It hasn't gotten as graphic as the story that ushered my other blog into the realm of naughtiness (thanks to some very fine writing tips from a few of my readers), but it's explicit enough to get the point across without turning people off.

The funny thing is, I've found that using certain fantasy elements (specifically vampires) almost requires throwing sex into the mix, be it overt or suggestive. In fact, using those fantasy elements has helped me so much, that I think I might have finally found my preferred writing style, at least for my flash fiction.

I'm not sure what kind of question I'm trying to ask here with this post. I'm not sure if there's even a question contained within this post. I think that this post is more of a "thinking-out-loud-so-as-to-try-to-make-some-sense-out-of-what-I'm-currently-writing", than anything else.

But, if you can find a question buried somewhere in this post, by all means, please let me know what it is, and I'll try to answer it for ya.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Train, Train

The sun, suffering from the linger effects of an eclipse, stuck its head out and illuminated the sky in a sickening hue of bloody orange and electric purple. Satisfied at uglifying the sky, he got straight to work to screwing up the rest of the world, starting with the train station.

Burt opened his watch to check the time and was instantly blinded by the sun bouncing off the cover. Dropping the watch, he covered his eyes and inadvertently spurred his horse, who took off like a cannon shot.

Click here for the full story and to leave a comment

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunday At G's (pt 1)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the wonderful spring weather here in Newington, and alluded to taking a camera along the next time I ran my Saturday errands. Well, I took a camera along, but it wasn't on Saturday, it was on Sunday morning.

I would to share with my friends and readers, a view of Newington as seen through my eyes. So put on a pair of comfortable walking shoes and come join me on one of my weekend walks. You won't be disappointed.

I'm glad you were able to find my street without too much trouble. The neighborhood is somewhat quiet this early in the morning.
And if you look off to your left, you'll see a spitting image of what I've previously used as a header. This view is much better, I believe, than the one I used before. The sun and and the shadows are mixing quite well. Off to your right is a small glimpse of my backyard, and off to your left is Cedar Mountain.
So if you come along with me, I'll show you a few sights of the neighborhood. The scenery is quite spectacular here as the people on this street really take pride in their landscaping abilities. Like at this house here.

Of course, at many other houses in the neighborhood, a sense of community spirit is abundant like at this house with the American flag in their front yard.

As we continue our walk, we take a left onto the secondary road/main drag for my neighborhood. This road is somewhat busy during the week, but very dead on the weekends. This particular view is looking southbound, which is the direction towards the center of town. Unfortunately, my thumb got in the way of the lense, but you can get the basic idea on how quiet the area is.

We now will take a short break from our walk. But please stay tuned though for future episodes. I promise you that you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why Don't You Listen?

When I used to live in East Hartford, I would get phone calls for a particular Chinese restaurant located in the next town over. This happened on the average about 5-7 times a week, which was due to the fact that our phone numbers were very similar (same seven digits, different order).

It always used to amaze me whenever I got these calls, because for the most part, people were so intent on putting their order in that they wouldn't pay attention to the way that the phone was being answered.

I mean, if you were ACTUALLY LISTENING, you would instantly realize that you had a WRONG NUMBER when the phone was answered with a simply "Hello?" as opposed to the name of the business.

Even after I'd moved out of East Hartford and back into Newington, I would still get these calls, although with much less frequency.

"But G, if you've moved away, how were you still getting those calls?"

Easy. When I moved back to Newington, I liked my old phone number so much, that I had it converted to a cell number.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday (5/5). I turned on my cell phone that morning as I normally do, and within one minute of turning it on, my voice mail's ring tone kicked on. The first thing that came to me was that my wife had left me a voice mail, but she said no.

So I listened to it and lo and behold, the rest of this post is directed to the jerk that left me that one minute voice mail.
When you got to the restaurant to pick up your food, when did it dawn on you that maybe, just maybe, you dialed the wrong number?

Was it when you were arguing with the counter person? Was it when you were sitting there waiting for your order to be cooked? Or was it when you were on your way home, driving like a thug because it finally dawned on you THAT YOU F'd UP?

Do you actually engage your brain before opening your mouth? Or do you just ignore what someone says on the phone in order to get the first word in?

I mean, really, how hard was it to take ten seconds on your miserable little existence and actually listen to what someone says?

The number that you called wasn't answered with, "Chinese restaurant, how may I help you today?" It was answered with, "Hi! You have reached the voice mail of G. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message at the tone, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can."

Big difference in greeting little boy.

I think I've wasted enough of my valuable time trying to make you understand why a square peg does not even remotely fit into a round hole. So I'm gonna have a casual conversation with someone who has an I.Q. greater than yours.

My ten month old nephew.

Friday, May 8, 2009

"Saturday" (pg 8)

After taking about a half dozen steps down the hill, I suddenly remembered why I normally didn't do that in the winter. I forgot about that particular point until after I had slipped, slid down the hill at a high rate of speed, and hit a small bump which propelled me into the late morning mountain air.

Zooming through the air, I told myself that the landing was gonna be harsh, as the parking lot came up fast and left no doubt in my mind what the end result was going to be.

Just when I was about to really eat pavement in all of its hideous forms, I got nailed with a gust of wind. It circled around my body, creating a small cushion that I rode all the way down.

Hitting the ground with both feet churning, I did several somersaults before landing flat on my back about twenty yards from where I'd first touched down.

Lying flat on my back afforded me the luxury to clean the pine tar from my hands and face, unstuck my glasses, and most importantly, rest my battered body for a few minutes.

I must have rested longer than I thought because I felt a wet tongue licking my face. Normally, I'm very cognizant of my surroundings, no matter what the state of mind I happen to be in, but this time, I wasn't. Opening my eyes, I was suddenly staring face to face with a pair of coal black eyes, a short nose and razor sharp teeth.

Casually rolling over, I took my time sitting up, partially not to have any violence inflicted on me and partially to get a better look on who was in front of me. Imagine my surprise when sitting in front of me was that same stupid bear from earlier.

"Why are you here? Haven't you done enough damage to me?"
The bear simply sat there, staring at me with those coal black eyes. After what seemed like an eternity, he got up, walked over to where I was and sat on my legs.

I screamed in pain each time that he readjusted his weight. After several minutes of this, I was about ready to pass out from the hurt he was inflicting on my knees and feet. Realizing that I was slipping into unconsciousness, he leaned over until our noses were touching. Clearing his throat, he answered my question in just three words.

"Now I have."

I looked him square in the eye, opened my mouth to say something...and passed out. Seeing me unconscious was his cue to leave. He got up, wiped some of the snow off his fur, and walked away.

However, he only got about two or three yards away, when either out of concern for me or not wanting to be blamed for something that went horribly wrong, he turned around and came back. Once he got to where I was, he slapped me a couple of times and sat me up. When he was satisfied that I wasn't going to pass out again, he took his leave, this time for good.
(c)2009 GBMJr. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Inspired by: "Click, Click, Boom" by Saliva

Elijah arrived about twenty minutes before the start of the fight. He found an opening that was far enough away from the other horses, but close to where he wanted to be, just in case that if he needed to make a hasty retreat he could, and tied up his horse.

He gave the horse a playful scratch behind the ear, before taking off through the trees to where the still that he saw on the way in was.
Click here for full story and to leave a comment.

You Can Bet Your Bottom Dollar That Your Bottom Dollar Can't Be Bet

Title of the post has a major disconnect with the content of the post.

Or does it?

Back in February, I made a post about the current state of the State as it pertained to the economic meltdown that was (and currently is) sweeping the nation. Last month, the powers that be (labor unions and the Governor's office) came to an agreement that will save about $637 million in the next two budget years.

So, as a state worker, this is what I got to look forward to for the next two to three years. I'm so blessed.
1} To start with, this agreement freezes wages for one year and requires us to take seven furlough days, one before the end of the '08/'09 FY and three in '09/'10 & '10/11. Financial hit: minimum 6% reduction in income.

2} It creates a new retirement incentive program to encourage those who are eligible to retire to do so now. Under this program, three years of service credit will be added on. However, payouts for leave accruals (sick, vacation, comp) will paid out in 1/3 installments starting in 2012. Basically if you retire now, you'll get the last of your money in six years. They did this previously in 2003, and the last payments were made in 2007.

3} All insurance premiums will rise by $350 a year (this should be neat) and co-pays for drugs will increase. Also, generics will be mandatory unless the doctor can medically prove that non-generics are necessary.

4} The establishment of a "Rule of 75", which means that in order for a retiree to start collecting health benefits, the age and years of service must equal or exceed 75.

5} This next one is a goody. All current employees with less than five years of service and all future employees will be required to contribute 3% of their earnings annually to fund retiree health care during the first ten years of their employment. Sound familiar boys and girls? Sort of like what D.C. wants to do with illegal immigrants.

6} No layoffs for two fiscal years. Under this agreement, the protection only applies to employees hired before 7/1/09 and would not bar the Governor from restructuring agencies or eliminating positions, provided the affected employees could transfer to a comparable position elsewhere.

7} It also contains additional provisions in case the economy keeps heading to Sulfur Springs. Like more furlough days and delays in scheduled payments or pension contributions.
We're voting on this garbage today. 'Course, it doesn't do nothing to reduce the ranks of upper management (where there is real savings to be had).

Gotta love it.
Updated (5/9): The majority of the bargaining units approved the concessions. For full details, click here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

You're Weird Sir.

This post is dedicated to the people who write noir fiction in all it's gloriously hideous forms, because they certainly have made my world a little stranger and a little darker because of it. Thanks.

My mind wanders a lot. Usually when I'm bored, and especially if I"m bored AND at work.

So the other day my mind was wandering, as its apt to do at work, when I came up with the brilliant idea of writing a blog post. Problem was, I didn't have clue on what to write.

Enter Elaine Ash's blog. The other day, she made a post about the Museum of Death located in Hollywood. That post led me to make a rather strange comment about myself, which in turn led in a roundabout way, to the general topic of this post: Books, specialized topic: Genres, sub-topic: True Crime.

Note: the comment was about perusing old coroner reports while working off site at the library.

One of the genres that I got hooked into at an early age was true crime. I believe the first thing I read was "Helter Skelter" (didn't everyone read that when they were young?). I think was intrigued me the most, was the censored crime scene photos, because it was the first book that I could recall that had those kinds of photos.

In any event, I was hooked. I read what I could, when I could. As I got older, my tastes got a little more mundane. I never really got into the sensationalized true crime stuff, but preferred to keep with the seldom known and the historical.

In that vein, here is a sample of what I have in my bookcase from that time period of my life (1970's to about 1995):

True Crime Series by Time Life Books (defunct); How to try a murder by Michael Korland; The Encyclopedia of Modern Murder by Colin Wilson & Donald Seamans; New York Notorious by Paul Schwartzman & R. Polmer and Death in the Priory by James Rudchuck.

As you can see, most of this is PG-13 at best, and I have no problem in actually letting my 16 year old son read this. However, the stuff that I bought in the last five years, is something I keep tucked away in my room, because quite frankly, the stuff would give him nightmares.

I also haven't, until now, told anybody about them, simply because I don't want people to get the wrong impression about me. So, like I do with my music, I'll do with my books. I'll give you a brief description about them, tell you why I bought them and any other tidbits I can dig up about them.

1} Scene of the Crime: Photographs from the LAPD Archive by James Ellroy. This one I found while I was perusing Border's one day, trying to decide on how to spend some lottery winnings. This one is pretty decent. It has a nice intro by Michael Bratton, a nice essay by James Ellroy and a slew (no pun intended) of crime scene photos. All are captionless, but there is a fine epilogue and a lengthy detailed case description for the crime scenes. Published in 2004.

2} Death Scenes: A Homicide Detective's Scrapbook text by Katherine Dunn. Some of you may have seen a glimpse of this through a link from David Cranmer's excellent blog, The Education of a Pulp Writer. I found this one, again wandering through Border's. This is put out by Feral House Publishers, and if you go to their website, you can purchase an autographed copy for about $150. They specialize in this type of graphic stuff (one particular title covers the Mexican gore tabloids. You actually have to sign an age consent form in order to buy it). Anyways, this is definitely one of the more creepier ones out there. An excellent research aid covering California crime in the early 20th century. Not for the faint of heart. Published 1996

3} Killers by George Grant. Once again, found it going through Border's (see a pattern here?). I was always fascinated by serial killers, and this book covers over 200 of the most notorious gangsters, serial killers and murderers on both sides of the ocean. Pretty tame stuff, as the photos are PG-13 as well as the captions. Published 2006.

4} Texas Death Row by Bill Crawford. This I found in the aforementioned place. I got this one, simply because I'm pro-death penalty. It covers every single execution in Texas from 1977-2007, in chronological order. It's somewhat dry reading, as it's presented as an effective analytical research tool. Basically, a typical entry reads like this: name of prisoner, crime he/she was convicted of, how long they spent on death row, any last statement, and any last meal. Published 2008.

5} Shots In The Dark by Gail Buckland and Harold Evans. See previous titles as how I found. This one like the others, appealed to me simply because it was about crime scene photography. This book gives a very good overview of the history of crime scene photography, with a heavy focus on New York. The book is very balanced throughout and is broken down in chapters such as: Looking Crime Squarely in the Disturbing Eye; Crime Scenes; Killers and Sensational Cases, just to name a few. Published 2001.

I enjoy reading most genres, but true crime has always been my favorite to read. Haven't read much of it lately, since most of it nowadays is stuff that has been squeezed drier that a rock.

That said, I do hope that this small glimpse into what I like to read, doesn't change your opinion about me.

Friday, May 1, 2009

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming Yet Again


The trials and tribulations that is the world of me have taken another strange twist. Yesterday, the adaptor to my laptop had unfortunately bit the dust after two years.

Which means that until I can get another one (which will make a very good post about crappy customer service), I won't be able to visit any of my other 40+ blogs with the degree of frequency that I usually do. For the time being, I'll be maintaining my blogs from the household computer (which kind of sucks since the parental unit installed monitoring software to prevent my two kids from freely surfing the 'net, which is a good thing).

The other unfortunate side effect is that my writing has come to a screeching halt, since I'll only be able to write with pen and paper (the horror!) for the next week or so.

As always, I thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope to be able to return the favor very, very soon.

We return you now to your regularly scheduled programming.

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