Sunday, January 31, 2010

So What Did You Do On A Typical Night?


So, after spending about a week being babysat by a twit who really needed to be bitch slapped with a 2x4, I was finally left to my own devices. In other words, I was ready to fly solo, or so the owner thought.

It only took me about a couple of days to develop a decent routine so as 1) make my job easier; 2) make the shift go smoother with less hassle; and 3) be the master of my own dominion.

One of the first things I did when I got to work, was to empty the outside trash. Considering how large this gas station/convenience store was and where it was located, there was no way in hell I was going to be emptying twelve trash cans at two o'clock in the morning.

Furrows his brow for a few minutes as he thinks long and hard about how pathetically dull this post is turning out to be. Finally, a teeny tiny little light bulb goes supernova and blows up in his head. In other words, he has an AH-HA!!! moment.

So....enough about the dullness of what I actually did working the overnight. How 'bout something completely different?

Something like...........drug dealers? Yeah, that's the ticket, drug dealers!

By and large, the area where I worked was a strict by-product of the neighborhoods that surrounded it. Back in the early 90's, there was a lot of illegal activity of the pharmaceutical kind going on about a couple of miles from where I worked.

For the most part, the drug dealers that came into my store were pleasant to deal with, respectful and so long as I didn't give them any grief, they didn't give me any. Sort of live and let live you might say. They would come on, spend a few bucks on gas, munchies, buy a roll of dimes from me (in the early 90's, a phone call from a pay phone cost one thin dime), and continue on their merry way.

However, through an extremely weird chain of events, I got to know two of them as regular customers. One I came to know as a semi-decent guy and the other I came to know as a real slime ball.

First up, semi-decent guy. He would come in on my shift about two or three times a week, usually with his skanky druggie girlfriend. He'd buy some gas, smokes and shoot the breeze for a minute or two. Skanky girlfriend was a different story. She was a sight...well, just a sight. Can't really say anymore than that, other than to tell you about an incident between the two of them that happened on my day off.

First off, let me preface this little story by saying that the store was camera'd up to the max. In other words, there were about five security cameras in the store: a couple near the doors focused on the front counter, and three more in the aisles. In essence the store was about 95% covered on the inside with cameras.

On that particular night, the dealer got into an argument with his girlfriend over the fact that he thought she was hitting up on the attendant the other day. Well, she got to questioning his manhood, and he got to questioning her womanhood. They bickered like this for a minute or two, and finally, she says loud enough for the attendant to hear, "Oh yeah? I'll show you what kind of woman I am!" then drops out of view for a couple of minutes....of the attendant that is. Not the camera.

Remember, not only is this store saturated with cameras, but it's a wickedly busy store to boot. I'll leave you to your own vivid imagination on what this "woman" was doing.

In public.

Now for the slime ball. You know how you get an instantly bad vibe on certain people just by listening to them talk? Well this was one of those kinds. The guy used to rub me the wrong way, simply by opening his mouth and talking.

Example: One night, he came into the store with his girlfriend, and they were both arguing about something. They eventually made it to the back of the store where there was a little hallway that contained the bathroom, a locked door to the back room and the entrance to the cooler. So as they were arguing, the dealer wound up trapping his girlfriend in the hallway and wouldn't let her go by. She starts yelling at me to call the police because he wouldn't let her go by. I wound up calling the police, they come, give the guy a talking to and take care of business. Then the next night, he starts yelling at me for getting him into trouble with the police. I'm like, "yah. you're busting your girlfriend's chops and what not, and you yell at me for your screwup."

Drug dealers, gotta love them because they're such kind, wonderful, warm human beings....who had enough bling on them to make you stare at them until they said, "What?", which in turn forced you to think fast on your feet...but that's another story for another time.

Up next: People that make the city such an interesting place to work in.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Really? And You Plan To Enforce This...How?

What you see in the background is Hartford Hospital, located the next block over from where I work. What you see in the foreground is a sign that says "All Hartford Hospital Campuses are smoke and tobacco free."

All well and good if you're inside the building. But pllllllease, oh-ginormous-uncaring-unfeeling-money-sucking-politico-pandering-big-city-hospital, how the hell are you gonna enforce a smoking and chewing tobacco ban OUTSIDE????

Are you gonna have special security guards stop people who HAPPEN TO BE USING THE AREA AS A SHORT CUT TO DUNKIN' DONUTS from smoking their chemically enhanced cigarette/cigar and issue them A TICKET????

Better yet, are you gonna have those same special security guards issue the people they stop with NO TRESPASSING ORDERS???

Do you have any idea how utterly ridiculous and monumentally stupid this smoking ban is? Granted, you'll be able to force your highly qualified and woefully abused worker drones to honor this infantile ban, because quite frankly, most of them want to eat, sleep, pay their bills and live on the pittance you pay them. But what about John & Jane Q Public, who would no sooner than bitch slap you with a lead pipe until you begged for mercy, if you tried to pull that same kind of schtuff on them?

Folks, here is yet another example of a corporation taking a good idea (no smoking in a hospital building) and using it in a misguided attempt at playing Big Brother. I sort of understand the logic, but people, your hospital is located in the southern end of the city, where the extreme lower middle class work, live and play. No one is gonna pay attention to the ban, just like no one pays attention to the traffic when they're crossing a street.

Outdoor smoking ban.

About as effective as a fire extinguisher at a two alarm car fire.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Right Thing (4)

The action thus far: after Tim had gotten dumped by his girlfriend, he basically spent the week spiraling downwards into a deep dark depression. Concerned, Melvin decided to take matters into his own hand. He called up former friend of Jessie's, Tamara, to help him get Tim out of the house and to the Extravaganza.

They successfully got him out of the house and to the front yard, where they manage to get him dressed and on the road to the park. When they got to the park, Tim was still down in the dumps, but when he saw the concert stage he decided to check out the live music.

Tim started to really get into the music, and between that and the beer, was finally turning back into his old self. Jovial, confident and boisterous, he finally felt like that things were indeed turning out for the better.

Then he saw his former girlfriend. Crushed, he staggered out the beer garden and wandered around the park in a daze. Melvin trailed along, trying to keep both an eye on him and an eye out for Tamara.

While he was searching for Tamara, Tim found her walking into her. After breaking down again, Tamara managed to get him out of harm's way and to a park bench, where they could have more privacy.

We pick up the action at where Tamara is returning from a food booth.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pimping Ain't Easy

No it's not what you think good Lord I got you people trained too well, so get your mind out of the gutter or the drain pipe, or the channel, or the sewer, or the trench, or the trough....

Anyways, about a week ago, I wrote a post about getting my ego battered and bruised again by doing querying. The post garnered some rather witty and enlightening comments, of which one of then was left by Riot Kitty. The comment she left was this:

"Synopsis, cover letter-what the fuck can they really tell you without reading the book?? It's tricky. I'm at my wits' end writing them too."

Which I thought was a pretty good comment to leave. However, the response that I left, got me to thinking about the whole process of querying agents/publishers:

"I agree, the only way that you really can get a better idea about a writer, is to read the actual book. However, in order to get them to that, you have to make your query synopsis outstanding enough or intriguing enough for them to take a chance. I know it kind of sucks, but what are you gonna do? I do know when I was querying some three years ago, there were a few out there who required a couple of chapters instead of synopsis. To use a really bad street level analogy, this is what I equate it to:

Agent/publisher: pimp.
You the writer: potential money maker for the pimp.

In order for you to become a money maker for the pimp, you got to give him enough of a sample to rock his proverbial world, so that he'll want to take a chance on you to become his money maker."

Now, I spent the next day (1/16) while I was out walking to do my morning errands thinking about my response to R.K., and I came to the disturbing realization that I just equated being published with being a hooker.

Has it really come down to this? Is my analogy spot on for the publishing industry (or for any phase of the arts & entertainment industry for that matter), or am I still showing some lingering hostility and resentment from the last time I went through this?

Granted, I'm still considered a newbie to a certain degree, but I got the feeling that I just accurately described the entire process of traditional publishing.

So my good readers, the question for today is this: is my comment an accurate description of the process of being published, and for that matter, an accurate description of any other particular part (say music for example) of the entertainment industry?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Grandfather's Record Collection

Note: this was originally supposed to be a one-shot post, but while I was writing this I discovered in my memory world of information about my grandfather's record collection that I previously forgotten about.

Also note: this entire post was first written on my laptop using my DNS software, and as such I was able to unplug my computer and set it up on a tray in front of my collection, so as to get better prompts for writing this post, before writing it as a blog post.

It's been quite a while since I last talked about music. As a matter of fact, it's been about two months since I talked about something music related, and about five months since I talk about my record collection, so I think it's about high time that I actually talk about my record collection.

My grandfather listened to what would be called today "classic country". For those of you who don't know what classic country is, it's basically any music that came out during the heyday of the Grand Old Opry (of which I have a double disc set best of in my collection). I mean he really was what we would call in today's parlance "old-school".

By the time he passed away in 1989, he had a rather large collection of albums. I would say about 75% was classic country with the remaining 25% were split among other types of genres. Today's post will not only cover the classic country part of this collection, but will dabble in the remaining 25%, because the remaining 25% is as interesting as all get out.

Like I said my grandfather was very much old-school with his country music. Among the many artists that I found his collection were some that I had the unfortunate experience of listening to while growing up. And of course there were others that I listen to rule growing up that I still listen to to this very day, and there are others that I wouldn't even touch with a ten foot pole... or rather a ten foot toner.

For example, he used to listen to artists like: Lynn Anderson, Sonny James, the Statler Brothers, Patsy Cline, and even Slim Whitman, of which I found quite a few examples of. I also found, in addition to the original releases for some of these and many other artists, were a slew of re-issues done on a label called Pickwick Records.

Now being the inquisitive sort I am, when I started going through his record collection some six years later and after finding a slew of records throughout by the same artist on two different labels, one being Pickwick and the other being RCA Victor, I decided to do a little search and destroy on the Internet.

What I found at the time was some very interesting information on this label. It seems that this particular label specialized in doing decent quality re-issues and interesting compilations featuring well-known songs being re-recorded by studio musicians. What I also found out much later was that this particular label specialized in doing out of print titles for RCA Victor including all kinds of Elvis Presley compilations. More can be read about this label on Wikipedia.

Now, my grandfather didn't just only acquire a hodgepodge of country music but also acquired other types of music as well. The main reason he required some strange music was that my grandfather like to spend money on frivolous things.

For example, he picked up a bunch of mid to late 80's rock music. From what I was able to figure out long after he passed away was that most of these albums are what you would call "promos". That is, a record label would send out new releases to various radio stations in order to try to get them to play the music. The odd thing about these record albums was that they were all from one record label: MCA.

In addition to these various types of rock music, I also found boxed set compilations put out by Reader's Digest. Some of it was pop, some of it was big band music, and some of it would be considered old-school country. You name it, my grandfather bought it.

One of the more unusual albums that I found while doing an inventory of this collection was one that was put out by young girl (about the age of ten) by the name of Lena Zavaroni, that was released on the Stax record label back in 1974. Intrigued, I used my favorite search engine (hint, hint) and discovered a rather tragic story about this girl. Click here for that story.

This concludes part one of my Grandfather's Record Collection. Part two will cover the more interesting tidbits about the types of music my grandfather listened to.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Right Thing (3)

The action thus far: after Tim had gotten dumped by his girlfriend, he basically spent the week spiraling downwards into a deep dark depression. Concerned, Melvin decided to take matters into his own hand. He called up former friend of Jessie's, Tamara, to help him get Tim out of the house and to the Extravaganza.

They successfully got him out of the house and to the front yard, where they manage to get him dressed and on the road to the park. When they got to the park, Tim was still down in the dumps, but when he saw the concert stage he decided to check out the live music.

We pick up the action in the beer garden.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Did You Know That Your Voice Can Be Your Own Worst Enemy?


Around December of last year, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I needed help. Not just with my short story writing, or my book writing, or even my blogging, but with everything that I do using my hands.

So when my mother and wife asked what I wanted for Christmas this past year, I said, "Gift cards."

They asked from where and I said, "Staples."

So I got gift cards from Staples and from Borders. I went out shopping and picked up some new software for my computer. The software that I bought was Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice-recognition.

Note: for those of you who may be just visiting here for the first time and do not know what kind of problems I have with my hands, I was diagnosed with C-M-T back in January 2008.

After spending about a week or so staring at it, I decided to load it into my computer. Then, after five minutes or so, I stopped the process and put it back on the shelf, where I spent another three or four days staring at it.

Finally, I decided to once and for all, to load the software and get on with it. In the meantime while all this waffling was going on, I happened to mention in this post that I picked up this particular software over the holidays. Well, my good blogger friend, Mama Zee, asked in the comment section of that post that she couldn't wait to read my review of this software, and my good blogger friend Jane Turley, happened to ask if I was able to get it to do a particular something that she wasn't able to get it to do.

So as to kill two birds with one pebble, here is my personal take on the Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 voice recognition software. This review will contain some pluses and minuses, and the fun part of this review will be you the reader trying to figure what are the pluses and what are the minuses.

1} It took overall about 15 minutes or so to load.

2} The basic tutorial took about twenty minutes or so. The one main thing that the tutorial does is that it analyzes the way you speak, and adjusts accordingly on what it thinks you need to use. For instance, I talk relatively fast. If you ever get the chance to have a verbal conversation with me, the one main thing that stands out is that I talk fast. I also talk like I got marbles in my mouth and talk in incomplete sentences. So the system was initially set up that speed was more important than accuracy. That lasted, oh about one day. I'm a major perfectionist and I quickly adjusted it so that although the speed was still there, there was a little bit more accuracy to it.

3} It's not quite user friendly. The handy dandy user guide that you can download is about 130 pages, most of which I don't really use with this Standard version (there are Professional and Medical versions available as well). Also, the online help guide that you can use whenever you get stuck, is about as crystal clear as say, the help guide that you get when you're using Word or Excel. Some of the commands I had to learn by trial and error, which was fortunate for me, since I can still use my hands on the keyboard. I hate to think what kind of grief a person would go through if they used this product and didn't either have any use of their hands at all or at the very least minimal usage

4} You can schedule data collection, accuracy training and even have it fine tuned to your writing style. Problem is, in order to do that, you need a password for Windows. If you're like me, chances are that when you bought your computer/laptop, you had the main operating system (in my case Windows XP) already loaded and/or you're the only one using your computer, thus no password is necessary. Another potential problem in not having a Windows password (and thus not being an Admin on your own computer) is that if you ever need to uninstall the software because you bought a new computer, you'll have a problem in doing so.

5} It does take up a bit of memory. Initially it takes up, according to the box, 2 GB of memory. This may be true, but I'm not quite sure about this, at least as it applies to my computer. Also, whenever you decided to save the updates of your user file, it uses each time .1 GB of memory. And speaking of computers, if you have a notebook, it does make it bit sluggish and act weird.

6} You have to close out programs in a particular order. I discovered that if you don't close out those out in a particular order (usually anything first, then Dragon last), the Dragon program has a tendency to make your programs go through that wonderful thing called "Program not responding" aka the Deep Freeze/End Non-Responsive Program Now. If you close out your Dragon first, please wait for about one full minute before you close anything else out. And yes, that includes shutting down your computer.

7} As for actually using it, I've mostly confined myself to re-writing short stories with it and a few blog posts. I've also used in the comment section on both my blog and other people's blogs (good idea), and I've used it in the chat rooms (bad idea). The problem with using it with original stories, is that it forces you to completely change your writing style.

This is the normal formula for writing: Brain to fingers to keyboard to screen. Pretty simple and straight forward.

The formula for writing with Dragon is this: Brain to mouth to microphone to screen.

Essentially, it makes you not only think about what you want to write, but how you want to say it. I don't know about you, but my writing style is a complete 180 from my speaking style. This forces you to adapt your speaking style to your writing style.

8} Vocabulary. As the system gets more in tune to your style of speaking (the English version actually contains five different English dialects: US English/Canadian English, UK English, Australian English, Indian English and Southeast Asian English), the vocabulary expands and modifies greatly. You can tweak the formatting styles to your personal preference, but for the most part, it's pretty good.

And Jane, to answer your question, I can't get it to recognize George Carlin's 7 dirty words you cant' say on television. The only dirty word that it will recognize without me manually fixing it, is Damn

In spite of all the grief I've gone through and some of the unpleasant surprises I've discovered (note, do not go clicking the various menu items if you don't want to go through the aggravation of a fifteen minute tutorial to reset your user file again, because it will force you to do just that in before you can continue to use it), I do enjoy using the software. It is an excellent tool for me, because usually when I get home from work, my hand are basically shot for the day. And it is an excellent tool for anyone who has problems with their hands, be it genetic (like mine) or non-genetic.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How To Stay Young

1} Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight, and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is what you pay 'them'.

2} Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3} Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's

4} Enjoy the simple things

5} Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6} The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7} Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8} Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9} Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10} Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

And if you don't send this to at least 8 people, who cares? But do share this with someone. We all need to live life to its fullest each day!!

Worry about nothing, pray about everything!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Please Query With A Short Synopsis

Nothing can strike more fear in the mind of an aspiring writer than the phrase please query with a short synopsis. For the aspiring writer (like myself), it literally triggers the debilitating disease called "writing by paralysis".

Working in a business environment, I can generate reams of thoughtful and concise business correspondence. In my off time, I could write a reasonably fluid short story or blog posts that make sense and refreshes the brain cells. But ask me to explain in great detail about what my story is about, and I quickly develop "writing by paralysis". Doesn't matter if it was a short story, a piece of flash, or something longer, I literally could not get a grip on a pen to put words down on paper.

The only reason that I can come up with as to why, is that somehow in my mind, I equate queries and synopses with job interviews. As a rule, I interview very badly for potential jobs, unless I actually know the person I am interviewing with. Same goes for querying. The only magazine (or in this case, e-zine) that I felt comfortable querying was Beat to a Pulp. And that was due to the fact that I had gotten to know both David and Elaine over the past year and a half or so, through their respective blogs.

Now if you thought I was having a major panic attack while just writing a simple query, then writing a synopsis literally made me run away from my computer for about 2 1/2 weeks. The main reason as to why I had a problem writing a synopsis is this: I didn't have the confidence and know how to condense a 90,000 word manuscript down to about 8 to 10 pages (one rule of thumb I learned early on, was to write one page of synopsis for every 20 or so pages of text).

So here I am, an aspiring writer who after a three-year hiatus has decided to have his ego battered and bruised again. Unlike last time, when I was really clueless on how to write a query letter, let alone a synopsis, this time, I have a basic idea on how to write a query letter. Instead of trying to figure out how to do it from a couple books, I found one good agent blog (Nathan Bransford) that is as informative as all get out.

If a newbie like myself can't get any good tips and ideas from a blog run by a respectable literary agent that has as a minimum, 120 commenters per post and has recently set up a discussion forum for all things related to writing, then I might as well call it a day, shut down my blogs and crawl back into my spacious cave to while away the hours until I die from a lack of get-up-and-go.

As for having an idea on how to write a synopsis, that is all different animal altogether. I think that this time, I have a better grasp of the concept called "synopsis", because I now realize that a synopsis is nothing more than a 4,000 to 8,000 word short story. If I approach it like I'm writing a short story (not too difficult of a concept for me to grasp), then I shouldn't have a problem in doing it. I think one idea that most of these writing books could explain more clearly is that a synopsis is nothing more than a good short story. If you approach it like a short story (complete with a basic outline) it should be a snap to write.

A synopsis is pretty much the same concept as a short story: the basic plot; the beginning; the slow build up to the middle; the middle itself where some of the action takes place; the buildup to the ending; and the ending itself. If you can write a short story (and using me as an example, I've written all types ranging from 2 to 32 pages in length), you could write a synopsis. Shoot, if you can write a basic outline and create a storyboard, then you've got 50% of the problem solved. The remaining 50% is simply filling in the details that explains your novel from beginning to end. The key is not to get too wordy while doing it.

So as you can see, I managed to present to myself (and to the world at large) a pretty rational and concise argument on writing a query and a synopsis. In the coming months, we shall see if we can successfully pull this dual animal off, and like previously with my self publishing ventures, I'll be bringing everyone along for the ride.

Of course, the key to any successful querying/synopsis writing endeavor, is actually having a finished product to show everyone.

Now where did I put that pesky manuscript......

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Right Thing (2)

The action thus far:

Tim bought lunch for his girlfriend Jessie and went over to her house to drop it off. He found her in the backyard playing an intense game of tongue hockey with her BFF Lisa.

Suffice to say that Tim was dropped faster than GWB's popularity numbers during his last term.

Melvin watched as Tim first turned into a blubbering idiot pining for someone who didn't want him anymore, then as a serious waste of human flesh.

Concerned about his friend's mental state of being, he reaches out to a former friend of Lisa's named Tamara and asks if she would like to help him with getting Tim out of his room. She gives it zippo for thought and says that she would be more than happy to help.

We pick up the action at Tim's front door.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Scary Thoughts For The Day

I was feeling a little down the other day at work, so I decided to shoot my friends an e-mail. I titled the e-mail Scary Thoughts For The Day, and this is what I wrote:

1} I've been doing payroll for exactly six years today.
2} I will be coming up on four years at my current agency this May.
3} I will have been employed fourteen years with the state this March.

I sent this to my two closest friends, Dee & Sister G, and waited to see if I would get a response. I wasn't really expecting any because it was near the end of the pay week, and I knew that both of them would be wickedly busy.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I got a response from Sister G, and this is what she said:

1} I have been friends with G since February 6, 2004.
2} What's scary is that I'm still friends with G today January 5, 2010.
3} The most scary part of it all is the first thing he said to me was, "filing can be fun" and I wanted to punch his lights out...lmbo (for those who aren't familiar with text, the acronym stands for laughing my butt off)

Twelve minutes later I got this response from my friend Dee:

1} I have been with the state nine years, four months, twenty-four days and three hours.
2} Can't remember the day I first met G, but can remember saying to myself, "gee what an odd looking person with suspenders, who wears suspenders?" And low and behold many years later still friends with suspenders man :)

With those two responses, the opening salvo to a one-hour incredibly-riotous-tears-rolling-down-the-face e-mail exchange between three people who really couldn't help themselves that day. The topics that were covered were as diverse as you could possibly get. We talked about sex, warped imaginations, the alternative lifestyle, music, Steve Urkel, bathrooms, looks and even Austin Powers.

Note: I have an incredibly small circle of friends. How small? You can count them all on one hand. These people were the ones, who in spite of the fact that sometimes I would forget to put brain in gear before engaging mouth and saying some incredibly stupid things, stood by me through all my peaks and valleys of the past six years. By the same token, I try to stand by them the same way they stood by me, through all of their peaks and valleys of the past six years, and for the most part I would like to think that I succeeded in doing so.

With this e-mail exchange, we happened to touch on a particular part of our lives (we all first met at the same agency in 2004) in which at the end the bad memories more than outweighed the good memories. So we took those bad memories and used them as cannon fodder, and in the process had a ton of fun and learned a little bit more about each other.

For instance, my friend D is what you call 'a quiet type'. She very private, very religious, mellow, and slow to anger. But hidden beneath that mellow exterior, is a person who has an incredibly sick sense of humor (and I mean that in a good way). She has said stuff that at times has made my jaw drop to the floor in amazement, and that my friend is very hard to do.

My other friend, Sister G (I called her sister because we both share the same zodiac sign in the same month, she is one year older than me and we bicker like siblings) has a sense of humor which is more in line with mine, which is to say that it's funny, provocative, and full of double entendres. She has said things over the years that has made me think about choosing my words very carefully before responding, because if I didn't (which was quite frequently), I would be taken out to the proverbial woodshed.

Both of my friends have that special knack of making a person feel good about themselves. I am forever grateful that they managed to let me (and to a smaller degree my family) hang around with them for so long, because in doing so they have taught me how to let things simply roll off my back and roll with the punches.

They are two truly special people and honestly, I do not know where I would be today if I had never met them when I did. When you experience something bad (like I did in '03 when I got laid off from work), you never think that any good can come out of it. Sometimes though, a very small seed of good can happen. This was one of those times, because even though the worst thing that happened to me crushed my spirits for six months, it ultimately put me on the track to meeting them and made me what I am today.

Believe it or not, there is a question that goes with this post: Do you have friends that can do exactly what I just described? Can they, with just a simple twist of the word, lift your spirits for the rest of the day?

Saturday, January 9, 2010


part 2

So....after I got my body acclimated to living the life between the hours of 9p and 6a, it was time for me to be trained to in fact, work during the hours of 9p and 6a. It wasn't so much running a cash register, the gas console and the lottery machine, it was all the schtuff that needed to be done on a nightly basis.

Thus it came to pass that I found myself being trained by a jerk who was about a decade younger than me. I shouldn't say trained, because to me, training denotes learning an entire job from scratch. Instead, I would call it "babysitting" (hence the title of this post), because really, this is what this little pea brain did, he babysat.

Note: If it sounds like I'm being harsh on this individual, I am. This "adult" was/is the type of person that after talking to him for ten seconds, you just want beat the absolute snot out of him.

I should explain about where I worked and the person who babysat me at the time, because having a basic overview of my working world back then will give you a better understanding of this and subsequent posts.

The c-store I worked in was one (and still is) of the busiest 24 hour stores in the Hartford area, simply because it was directly off the interstate and centrally located for that area. what surrounded the area was a UPS hub, a regional farmer's market (where most of the major Connecticut produce companies have operations and where you can buy locally grown produce too), a few restaurants (including a dinner theater), a couple of motels, a small airport and a large industrial park. It was also surrounded by the poorer and eclectic part of the city, thus the store had more than its fair share of pimps, hookers, drug dealers and other assorted zanies. So it was always, repeat, always busy there (which really surprised me). As for the jerk who was training me, he had a tendency to shoot his mouth off at the wrong people and get into all kinds of trouble.

Example: On one of the nights he was training me, he happened to say something to an obviously upset and greatly agitated man. The man responded in a way that left no doubt in my mind that if this jerk didn't keep his mouth shut, that this man would shut it for him. Fortunately, he didn't say anything else and the customer eventually left the store.

Anyways, this is what I was suppose to do every night:

1} Get all the various credit slips separated and organized.
2} stock the cigarettes.
3}Spray and clean the counters.
4} Dust the front candy rack and all of the aisles.
5} Empty all 10 outside trash cans (prior to starting my shift).
6} Sweep and mop the floor.
7} Stay on top of the coffee, especially during the morning rush hour.
8} Stay awake.
9} Stay out of trouble.
10} Make up the cash drawer for the morning.
11} Stay awake.
12} Play nice.
13} Close up the car wash.
14} Did I mention that I was supposed to play nice?
15} Did I mention that I was supposed to pay attention?

And I did all of this for a big fat whopping $280 a week.

Up next: what I really did on a typical night.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

FSG Is Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Today's post will mark the official return of Flashing Georgie's Shorts. After a five week hiatus, my world famous short story blog is back in action. New and improved, it will contain the following features for your enjoyment and enlightenment:

1} The medium short story that was and will always be the trademark on what I write, will now be featured in serialized form. Each week's post will have links for the prior installments, so that you can stay up to speed. Also, each week's post on this blog will contain a brief summation on the action leading up to that week's installments.

2} To break up the pacing between stories (ain't nothing worse than ending one story and going right into the next one without a break), the occasional piece of flash fiction will be featured, as well as brief excerpts on whatever I happen to be working on at the given time.

3} I gave it a lot of thought and have decided to post my stories in the form of two pages per installment. Thus, a ten page story (like the first one being featured) will last five weeks, as opposed to ten weeks. Also, I'll be showing only one post at a time on the blog.

4} The one thing that will remain the same, is that it will continue to be posted every Wednesday.

The first story that will be appearing on FSG is called The Right Thing. The background on this story was pretty much the same as with the other stories that appeared on FSG: I got inspired by something that happened during my day-to-day activities, which in this case was doing my Saturday morning errands and stopping at CVS. At my stop, I happened to observe a rather good looking lady in her mid-30's doing some shopping with her husband and son. This lady made such a lasting impression that was I inspired to write a story about her.

What made this story particular story different from the other forty-one stories that were previously posted, was that it featured some background flavoring in the form of our town's local 4th of July celebration called "The Extravaganza!". I believe this was the very first time that I used a well known event (albeit local) as a major backdrop for a story. The other item that made this story stand out, was the fact that it blew up in my face. The further along I got in writing it, the more difficult it became to keep it under my self-imposed cap of four pages.

So, without further ado, here is the first installment of my short story entitled The Right Thing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Shooting Suburbia 2: October~December '09


The next installment of Shooting Suburbia features more of my hometown, with a couple of shots thrown in from work. The majority of these where shot durning the dog days of autumn, when the temps were hitting the mid-50's as late as Thanksgiving weekend.

Note: If you have problems accessing the link, by all means, please let me know, and I'll feature the feed where Shooting Suburbia 1 is now hanging ten at.


Shooting Suburbia 2

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sniff! Sniff! Ewwwww.....What Did I Step in?


How is everyone today? I trust that ya'll had a great weekend and that nothing unseemly happened to you while you were experiencing that great weekend to begin with. And if something DID happen, spill the details...I need a good story idea.

Anywho, I am back after my much needed four day Cyber World break. It's an odd thing as I've heard the Cyber World occasionally described as "a good mental floss break" from the Real World. I suppose this time around, the Real World was "a good mental floss break" from the Cyber World.

So, let me tell you about what I did on my Real World vacation. Betcha find highly amusing, or slightly troubling.

The original idea for taking the mental floss break was to play catch up on my writing. I didn't catch up in my writing. Why? Because I found a major malfunction which is so far has taken me the better part of two days to fix.

How it happened was pretty ingenious on my part. I edit the living daylights out of my manuscript whenever I get a free moment, and Friday (the 1st) was no exception. I was sitting here in my den doing some editing when I noticed (funny how you find things for the first time months after you originally wrote it) that I had a continuity problem in two of my chapters. Somehow I managed to go from the evening of one day to the morning of the next day without really explaining why.

So after printing out the entire secondary plot (some 30 pages) and giving it a good read through, I sadly discovered that I got seriously lost while writing the interior. The basic problem was this: I have two different time frames going, one of which is covering 4 days, and the other which I originally envisioned covering exactly one day; and I was switching back and forth as needed within each chapter (also going from 1st to 3rd p.o.v. as well). The problem became that I was going into a second day with the secondary plot without explaining why (and trust me, this was so confusing that even I didn't understand it. If I didn't get it, chances were that no one who mattered would get it).

Suffice to say that I F'd up royally on the second plot. So back to the drawing board I went. I've spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday breaking out both parts within the chapters by putting date tags for each section within the chapter, which I hope will get me back on track to finish the novel. Especially since I'm at the equivalent of here at the original story.

And boys and girls, this isn't the first time I had this problem with a story, no sir. You would think that after making this my particular preference while writing, I would learn how to do it correctly from the mistakes made with my first book (did the exact same thing, except it didn't come out as well), but no. I didn't quite make the lesson stick, because I was 3/4 of the way done (about 80 pages/35,000 words) with the story before I found the critical errors.

The only writing, that I in fact did, was to tweak a-caked-in-mold-spores-that-are-being-eaten-by-dust-bunnies-story that I was going to use as a connector for a book called Life is a Highway (see example here). What I decided to do was to take those five connecting stories I wrote for that, and use them for FSG as connecting stories there. The first one should appear sometime in late February.

The only other item I completed that is worth mentioning, is that I finally loaded (but not begun training on yet) the Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Speech Recognition Software that I bought over the Christmas weekend. I'll elaborate more on this in the coming weeks, but suffice to say I've taken the first step adapting to what is sure to be a fascinating and yet tortuously slow decline of my body's various parts.

As they say, even the most thoroughly constructed plan can sometimes blow up in your face, leaving you drenched in....yeech, gray matter, red matter, white matter and often simply just plain matter.

Friday, January 1, 2010

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Post...Because We Can


Good morning to one and all.....hope you're recovering from yesterday's shindig without the pounding headache and major cotton mouth that is usually the end result of attending those types of get-togethers....unless you're waking up in a strange house, in a strange bed, with strange people lying on top of you....then, by all means, please continue to have loads of fun and remember, Trojan can fulfill all of your special needs.

In any event, because it is the New Year's weekend, yours truly is taking a much needed siesta from the Cyber World.

I will return on cue (we hope) with brand new post on January 3rd.

To hold you over, I leave you a rant about voice mail.

Feel free to leave a comment about either post, but since I'm taking an actual complete break from the Cyber World (no blogging, no Facebook, no e-mail unless it's someone saying I won a contest with a story of mine, and definitely no chat rooms), your thoughtful comment will be shredding the concrete half pipe until I return.

Peaches, Licorice and Tequila Jello Shots to one and all!

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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