Monday, May 30, 2011

I Was Merely Conducting An Experiment

note: this post will possibly either gross you out or make you spit your coffee through your nose onto the computer screen.

Sometimes during our journey that is life, we take an avoidable detour from the beaten or unbeaten path that we're traveling on. Sometimes that avoidable detour is not our fault, which is usually a good thing, and sometimes that avoidable detour is our fault, which is never a good thing.

Today's post will be focusing on the second part of that last sentence.

I have been cursed by the fact that all of the beaten, burned, bruised, battered, broken, sliced and shredded body parts (internal and external) I've suffered through during my 46 years on this planet, all but one (kidney stones) have been through the direct result of what I like to call "The Self Inflicted Stupidity Syndrome".

One of those annoying aspects of this particularly insidious disease is answering the inevitable questions that come up when people see you walking around with your arm in a sling, or your hand heavily bandaged, or some other malady that is highly visible.

Please note, I said, "people", not "family and/or friends". With family and friends, they know exactly what kind of S.I.S.S. you went through and thus know better than to ask you why. With strange people who happen to be nosy (about 98% of the general public), it becomes more difficult to deal with.


Let us use me as a prime example. Because most of the people I've dealt with over the years who have asked these personal questions have been through my various retail jobs, trying to find a way to tell people "to mind your own F'n business" without getting into trouble was an exercise in creativity.

For instance, I have in the past eighteen years, twice fractured my pinkie knuckle. On each hand, I might add. And each time I did it, I got stupid questions and/or insulting comments about it.

The first time it happened ('92), we won't discuss because no ignorant members of the human race bothered me about it. All they did was express disappointment that I couldn't personally wait on them hand and foot. The second time is where all the fun begins. Winter 1998. Bad snowstorm. No phone service. Called Ma Bell about it numerous times during one calendar week to get it restored (later found out that they never put me on the repair list). Anyways, after one particular infuriating call at work in which I once again got the runaround by Ma Bell, I decided to step outside my work area to calm down. Outside the photo copy department were three pallets of copy paper. Being in a particularly pissed off state of mind, I punched one of the boxes.

Ten seconds later, I poked my head in my work area and told my co-worker that I was going to the E.R. to get my broken hand looked at. Went to the E.R. where some three hours later, I walked out the door sans original wedding band (is probably somewhere in the Hartford sewer system) but with a cheesy half cast wrapped up in an ace bandage and in a sling.


Anyways, at the time, I was working for a now defunct Connecticut grocer called Shaws (yah, I know they're not really defunct, they just wussied out and pulled out of Connecticut when they couldn't compete stores like Stop & Shop) as a cashier, and yes, it was an irritating six weeks trying to ring/scan items with a broken hand. However, what made it really irritating was the fact that people would ask me questions about my hand, especially when I'd tell them that I really didn't want to talk about. I had one jerk, who keep on asking me what part of my arm did I break because I wouldn't answer him. Apparently he was socially inept or something because the longer I gave him the silent treatment, the more invasive the questions became.


I do want to mention that how I handled it at day job was a lot different than how I handled it at part time job. At day job, a lot of people were telling me to file for worker's comp because I got injured at work. Fair enough, but since it was my own DAMN fault, filing was out of the question. So what I did when I got tired of people asking me the question was pure comedic inspiration on my part.

I said this:

"What happened was while I was walking by the pallets of paper, a few boxes jumped out and began attacking me. Naturally, I tried defending myself to the best of my ability, so I started punching back. Most of the boxes were empty, but one was not. A punch that I threw connected with the non-empty box and presto! broken pinkie knuckle!"


Betcha wondering about the title and how it correlates to this post, right? My friends, here is an early sample of G's legendary sarcasm in action.

Back in the late 80's, I was working as a cashier for another defunct grocery chain called "Heartland Food Warehouse" (owned by the same geniuses who owned the now defunct Pathmark stores). One night, I nuked some Dinty Moore stew and when I took it out of the microwave, I grabbed it by the lid. You can see where this is going right? Anyways, I immediately stuck my hand under the sink to wash off the 150+ degree liquid gravy off my wrist and to kill the pain.

When I'd finished, I had a nifty blister on my wrist near the base of my palm. So after temporarily losing my mind by putting a bandaid on it (not all late 20 year olds think they're impervious to pain you know), I went to work the next day. And sure enough, I had a few co-workers ask me, once they saw the bandaid, what happened.

Since I was in full blown S.I.S.S., I decided right away to stop the questioning cold. The conversation went something like this:

Co-worker: How come you got a bandaid on your wrist?
Me: Blister.
Co-worker: From what?
Me: Well, I was always curious on what the temperature was for skin to start burning, so I thought I would try a little experiment by pouring some hot gravy on my wrist.
Co-worker: gives me a very strange look and hurriedly walks away.
Folks, there is no known cure for the Self Inflicted Stupidity Syndrome. We all suffer from it as it's part of our DNA structure. Oh sure, you may think you don't have it, but deep down, you do. You just don't know it. It lays dormant, waiting for that perfect moment where you create that truly memorable faux pas that doesn't quite go viral on YouTube or isn't quite worthy enough for those insipid reality shows, but is remembered by your family, your friends and your co-workers for years/decades to come.

And in the end, is that what we all really crave: acknowledgement from our peers that we did something so memorable that no matter what else we do in our life, we will be remembered for that.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Picture Me Unpictured

After spending the better part of two days creating one video to share with all of my friends, I am now slightly burnt as it applies to the pictorial world, be it moving pictures or stills. Thus, Shooting Suburbia is out and about on recess until next week.

Which leaves me space to fill here.

So, like Friday it was my b'day, you know, and like, people asked what I wanted, you know, like for presents, fer shure. So like, I am sure that I made the point of asking for gift cards from anyone except Borders, so like a Valley Girl I gagged myself with a spoon and got gift cards from anyone except Borders.

Barnes & Nobles and Amazon, to be exact. Dollar value of B&N is 25 G.W.'s. Dollar value of Amazon is a Ulysses Grant.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to offer a few recommendations for books and music. However, there are a few caveats to follow.

For Barnes & Noble, I need another book suggestion to go along with the Beat To A Pulp Anthology that came out in 2009 that I promised everyone and their extended family for the past year that I would purchase.

For Amazon, this is where the fun is gonna be, because I plan on beefing up my music collection. I have three artists already in mind that I want to get (Cage The Elephant, John Fogerty and Trombone Shorty). For the others, I'm looking to touch the following genres:

Alt-country/Americana: Specifically, this is anything that you won't here on commercial radio stations. This is more in line with what you would hear on college radio, or perhaps satellite radio, or even local artists that you may enjoy (think Alison Krauss or Lucinda Williams)

Cajun/Zydeco: I have a sampler of this kind of music from Rounder Records, but I'm looking to pick up another artist or two.

Folk: I have some folk music from a local New England duo called Atwater-Donnelly that I need to convert to CD (a project for another time), but I'm looking for other artists to sample.

As for other genres, you can use your imagination on this, but if you know of a local artist whose stuff is on Amazon, by all means, let me know.

And feel free to explore the links, which not only will give you a basic idea of what I like, but quite possibly might expand your musical horizons as well.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Alduce Me To Introlow Myslef (2)

My apologies if the first version of this post is still in your reader. I didn't like the original video I had posted so I shot another because YouTube or Blogger wouldn't upload my second one due to length.

And here's the video that you've all been waiting for. You got a just a tantalizing taste of it yesterday, and today, you get the entire overstuffed enchilada.

I do want to make you aware of a few things though:

1} Today is officially my b'day as I am now 46 years old young.

2} I am not, repeat, I am not Travis Erwin's long lost cousin seven times removed. You will make that erroneous assumption after about ten seconds of viewing pleasure. Or you might make the assumption that I am Wilfred Brimley's or David Crosby's long lost cousin seven times removed as well. All of which is untrue.

3} This concludes the 3rd annual Blog Anniversary/Birthday Extravaganza on Cedar's Mountain.

Note: I apologize for the poor sound quality of the video. Believe it or not, I do have a quiet voice, so if you have access to a pair of headphones, it will greatly enhance your listening pleasre.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bear In Tree

This is only a test. The real deal will appear sometime tomorrow morning. Please enjoy this brief late Spring interlude to your day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Pen Is Creating Splotches On The Paper

That's not much of a much.---catch phrase I created for myself in my younger days

The above sentence about sums up my calendar week (Wednesday to Wednesday) in all things related to writing.

I touched upon a whole bunch of things, but like a kid with ADD in a toy store, I was too overstimulated to see anything through to completion.

Note, if you're thinking I'm insulting everyone with ADD, you're probably right. However, as one who was diagnosed using the old-fashioned term "hyperactivity" and went through all the drugged out nonsense when he was younger (Ritalin. Is. Good), I think I've more than earned the right. So there.

Anyways, among the things I touched upon and didn't really complete were these brainless top heavy cuties:

1} Short Story. I got to thinking about some of the completed short stories that I got sitting on my computer gathering dust, so I decided to take a crack at finding a few magazines that I might be able to submit them to. However, before doing that, I spent some time tweaking the content to a couple of them. Satisfied at a job averagely done, I went off on my search and destroy at the Duotrope website. Didn't quite find a good one that I wanted for one particular story of mine called "A Troubled Conscience" (story about revenge with some elements of Heaven and Hell woven into it), but because I set the search terms incorrectly, I found a few adult publishers that I might consider submitting my book to. Another one that I tweaked, was one that was originally posted here in blogland about year ago, so I'm looking for a home for that as well.

2} Line 21. Speaking of the book, I haven't made a lick of progress on any more submissions. I guess it boils down to playing by the rules set forth by the various publishing entities/literary agents out there, so patience, which has never been a virtue (good or bad) with me, is something I'm getting used to having. However, I do think that my best shot at getting published would be to concentrate on the small to medium size presses, only because I don't think that my book is the type that any agent would take on. Unless somehow I turned it into a YA fantasy, then they'll jump all over it, because as you know YA is the hottest and most overly saturated market on the planet, thus there's always room for one more dead title.

2a} YA. Yeah, I just insulted YA and YA writers and agents who specialize in YA. However, it's not that hard to come to the conclusion that the market is both extremely hot and extremely saturated. It seems that every success story I come across (and I've come across quite a few) features a YA writer landing an agent or a YA writer getting published.

Small hint people: YA is not the be all to end all. If you keep pushing one particular genre down the collective throat of the reading public, you're gonna wind up turning off an important and necessary segment of the reading public that you will need in order to keep all of those retail functions that are out there viable. What segment? Why, the ones who actually buy the books to begin with.

3} Dandelion Tears. Why is it that whenver you get stuck as a writer, the only way you can get unstuck is to write something so far out of your comfort zone that more often than not it helps move the story along? For me, it seems that whenever I get stuck while writing this latest project, two things usually happen. One, I start writing the story by hand. Tedious I know, but it works because it forces me to concentrate on what I'm thinking about for a plot and what I'm deciding to write for either dialogue or scene. Two, I write a scene that is far and beyond my comfort zone. With this story, I opened and closed the previous chapter with a scene that is far and beyond my comfort zone, and I opened the next chapter also with that same type of scene. In all honesty, I'm never comfortable reading about that particular scene nor am I comfortable writing about that as well, but apparently it did the trick as I'm starting not only to make decent progress with the story, but I'm outlining a little bit as well.

I originally wrote this post to be published two week ago, but as many of you know, I had a short story of mine accepted since then, plus a few other ideas cropped up (one of which I'd elaborated on in the previous week that is briefly touched upon in point #3) that caused this post to be pushed back to the end of the month. So, it's sort of accurate, because I'm still doing the same thing two weeks later what I originally wrote about two weeks ago.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alduce Me To Introlow Myslef (1)

Three years ago today at the exact time that this particular post pops up, a brand new blog entered the realm of creative nonfiction.

Called Cedar's Mountain it became the new home of the many random thoughts that were twirling around in my head back in 2008.

Some three years, five blogs and 817+ posts later, this blog has managed to outlast quite a few others that not only I used to read, but the owners made frequent comments on mine. In fact, some of those owners are still up on the wall as followers, mostly as a lasting reminder of people who for a short period of time, touched me in a particular way.

However, let us not dawdle on what was or what could've been. Instead, let us look at the here and now of today.

Today's post was supposed to contain a very special surprise for everyone and in fact, it was something I've been planning for the better part of three weeks. But as they say, all good intentions get squashed in a reality check, and mine is no exception.

The surprise I had for everyone was that you would actually not only see what I look like (like you haven't already at Shooting Suburbia), but for the majority of you (which is all but one person from blog land) would've gotten to hear my golden pipes for probably the first and only time here.

To quote Neil from The Young Ones, "Oh, have we got a video?"

Yes, you would've gotten a video.

Like I said, all good intentions get squashed with a reality check. I had asked my brother a couple of weeks ago to help me with it, and he agreed. And I even reminded him last week of it, and he still agreed. However, his memory ain't like mine, because on the weekend I wanted to do it, he had a wedding to attend. But, I had a backup plan that made itself known early last week, in the shape of my daughter's school recital. I managed to score a super cheapy video camera to use and I would film myself. Brilliant right?


Neophyte here, because when I went to use it this past Sunday, I couldn't. Why? Didn't know how to work it. Found out why I didn't know how to work later that Sunday night when my brother gave me a crash course on how to operate it.

Now that I got the crash course on how to use, the problem now is finding the when to use it. But, that problem is mine to ponder, fix, think, mull, muse, turn over, and smack around a couple of times. Hopefully sometime this week, I will bring you part two of this post in which you'll actually get to hear my golden voice and see me in recorded color.

And run screaming into the day (or night, depending on when you read this) afterwards.

Wait a minute, I just realized something (gotta love Tuesdays): I'm taking this upcoming Thursday and Friday off for a super long B-day/Memorial Day Weekend.


So you'll probably get this world premiere video of me on Friday.

Be very, very afraid.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Stubborn Side Of Writing (4)

Note: It's my 3rd annual Birthday/Blog Anniversary Extravaganza, in which I go hog wild by posting something abbey-normal (at least for me) almost every single day this week. So let's begin the dual celebration of my 46th b'day and Cedar's Mountain 3rd year of existence by creating a truly unique post that shows off both my creative writing skills and my marketing skills at the same time.

A wren flies low along the suburban landscape, dodging pedestrians and the occasional bicyclist as it slogs its way to an emergency staff meeting. A few minutes later, it spots a small gravel road just off to the right protruding from a small grove of trees.

Briefly glancing over its shoulder, the wren quickly accelerates and zooms down the gravel road until it comes a park entrance. Quickly slamming on the breaks, the wren bounces off the Welcome sign and lands in a shrub that was specifically designed to stop its momentum. Shaking its beak, it quickly regains its equilibrium and launches itself at breakneck speed into the park.

Exactly thirty seconds later, the wren spots both its quarry and its destination. Again slamming on the brakes, the wren plows into a rather well built young woman of ethnic ancestry before quickly bouncing off and landing with a loud splash in the pool.

The young lady interrupts her tete-a-tete with a young man to check out who made the splash. She quickly spots the wren thrashing about in the pool, and in one fluid motion, scoops the bird out and places it directly between herself and the young man. They both listen intently to the bird for several seconds before the young lady looks up and sees that they're being watched and quickly taps the young man on his shoulder.

He looks up and looks to where the young lady is pointing. He swears under his breath but before he could do anything else, the young lady touches his cheek and leans in to whisper something in his ear. When she finishs, she gives the young man a peck on his forehead, then readjust her tank top and fluffs her hair. She gives the young man a brief glance, who gives her a thumb's up as he's putting away his cell phone.

Standing up, the young lady quickly walks over to a stool and takes a seat. Clearing her throat, she then takes a deep breath, waves her hand and says, "Howdy!"

You say howdy back, and the young lady says, "Well, I'm just tickled to death that you want us to do a promo today, so if you got everything all set to go, we'll get this shot and in the can in one take. Do you have a copy of the book with you?"

You hand it to her and as she takes it from you, you point your camera, give her five finger countdown and point.

"Good afternoon everyone! My name is Molly, and along with my bff's Teddy and Jasmin, we are the prime players in Georgie B's latest chapbook, Betrayed!. In the book, I play the part of Gwendolyn, a sex crazed hot-blooded girl toy who decided to ditch her husband because not only couldn't he satisfy her needs like a woman could, but also he was a hot tempered abusive pig, in spite of being the sexiest hairdresser on the planet. But enough about sensuous little me. Teddy, could step into view and tell the good folks out there what your part is in the little shindig?"

Walking into view, was Teddy. Tall, muscular and tanned, he really did look like he was every woman's deepest fantasy come to life. Until he spoke.

"Hi, my name is Ted, although my close friends call me Teddy. In this book, I play the part of Ray, the antithesis of what a hairdresser should be, which is macho, a flirt and boy toy for all the ladies. In short, all the things that I'm not. All I want in the story is to be with the woman of my dreams for the rest of my life, but sometimes, God in her infinite wisdom chooses to throw us a change up in the game of life. I wind up competing for the affections of Gwendolyn with her bff Bobbi, who is played by Jasmin."

On cue, Jasmin walks in. Tanned to a golden brown that matches her heritage and built like she could blow the engine of a speeding muscle car the second it drives by, she gives Ted a peck on the cheek and Molly a kiss on the lips before taking a seat on the stool. Running her hands through her hair, she licks her lips just enough to make you drop the camera.

She continues running her tongue sensuously over her lips until you get the camera back into position, then lightly exhales.

"My name is Jasmin, and I play Gwendolyn's hot blooded girl toy Bobbi in the story. I am almost like my character in real life, except I swing both ways. I'm vivacious, bodacious, luscious, sensuous and the best thing to happen to the menage a trois in quite sometime. I'll be looking forward to performing just for you in the privacy of your own home. Or office, or car, or park, or wherever you enjoy reading a hot and steamy novel."

Jasmin picks up a copy and gives the cover a passionate kiss before tossing it to Teddy, who immediately drops it and shoves his hands in the water. Smiling, she says, "So if hot sex, hot action and pulpy-ish violence is your bag, pick up a copy of Betrayed! today. You won't be disappointed!"

Molly steps back into the picture and says, "Thanks again for letting spend a little time with ya'll today! Hope to see you again real soon! Bye!"

And as you kill the camera and turn to walk away, the sound of the two women oohing and ahhing leaves you with a most tantalizing mental picture for the rest of the day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Picture Me Stoked

Well, not really, since I don't have anything that tops last Sunday's eye popping good news. However, because it is Sunday, I regret to inform you that I have survived the Rapture because gosh darn it, God in his/her infinite wisdom has dubbed me and 99 1/2% of the rest of the world worthy of living to the end of our existence, whenever that end may be.

Because I survived the Rapture (emotionally, spiritually, mentally and most importantly, financially), I must of course give thanks by offering up the final chapter of The Spirit Took Flight And Touched The Canopy Of Life for your enjoyment.

And now, I leave you to your own devices, because having survived the Rapture has left me in a state of flux, I must dig out those wicked sermons on penguin lust as delivered by Fundamentally Oral Bill.

While I'm experiencing those sermons from one of my favorite bible thumpers, I leave you with the 100% original and non-harmful version of The Rapture:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Your Unofficial Guide To Home Tutoring (3)

I am not here today (well, only the words that popped out of my brain that you're about to read are here) but over at the anti-Cedar's Mountain, Partially Yours.

Today's installment is once again brought to you by my very good friend Dean Davis who, if he was a teacher when I was in school, probably would've made school a helluva lot more enjoyable for me.

Also, you'll find a link to part 2 that Blogger ate up for a snack a week ago, because as you know, I don't post without telling people I'm not gonna post.

Also, please note the following warning:

Do not, under any circumstances, read this post while eating. Reading this post while eating will probably in a best case scenario, make you queasy for the rest of the day, worst case scenario, make you salute the porcelain Gods right where you sit.

Duly noted on this day, May 20, 2011, a proper and legal warning was given for the post over at Partially Yours by this post here on Cedar's Mountain.

Enjoy chewing it back!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Must Have Discipline

The other day I decided to comment on a blog post written by David Cranmer. It wasn't much of a post, as it was basically a nifty little update on what he was doing for writing projects, followed by the every popular question of, "So, what are you working on?"

I decided to chime in with one of my uniquely strange comments before continuing on with the rest of my blog reading journey. I came back the next day to see what kind of response David had left and although it was a thoughtful and pleasant comment, unbeknownst to David, it managed to strike a small nerve.

I want to make it clear to everyone that I hold David 100% blameless for what I'm about to write for a post. He is a fantastic person that I have the absolute respect for, and more often than not, he can get you to think and look at a particular issue in completely different light than what you're used to.

Anyways, his response struck a nerve (I have a bad tendency to read deeper into things than I should) and really got me to thinking about why I write more than 85% of my fiction/blog posts by hand before transferring to the computer. I have previously mentioned that I write my stuff by hand because I have a medical condition that has (and continues to) wreck havoc on my hands. I make no bones about this and sometimes I come off super aggressive (or anal, your choice) when I state this preference. And I'm sure that when I make that reiteration, people roll their eyes and say to themselves, "Not again."

So after turning this question over in my head for about a week and looking at it from all possible directions, I figured out the other reason as to why I write the bulk of my stuff by hand first before slapping it on the computer.


Writing by hand forces me to concentrate, to focus, to take my time, to make sure that what I'm saying actually makes sense. For those of you who probably don't know this (which is probably everyone), I was diagnosed many decades ago as being "hyperactive" (read: ADD). And just like with today's unimaginative and unmotivated medical community, I was drugged out in order to conform to the norms of the times.

I won't bother with giving you my opinion on the various side effects of unchecked ADD, but I will state that as an adult, I have learned to develop tunnel vision as it applies to certain things in my life.

Like writing.

Early on in my writing career, I had a knack of doing multiple projects at the same time, mostly for a need to stay busy. However, being a jack of all trades in writing usually means being a master of none. So I spent the last few years being the master of a few in my own unique way. Which meant focusing on one story at a time and one blog post at a time.

Even when I was going through that punishing phase in 2009 writing 45+ pieces of short fiction in the span of six month, I concentrated on one story at a time, no matter how long a story took to write.

Which is why I'm loathe to start a story, of any kind, before I finish whatever current piece of prose I'm writing. My slush pile is littered with all kinds of incomplete stories simply because I allowed myself to be sidetracked from one project to another.

So writing stuff by hand allows me both the freedom to be extremely creative and tightly focused at the same time. I'll round out this post by giving you an example of this philosophy in action.

I became stuck for about a couple of weeks on my latest project simply because I had no idea on where I wanted (or needed) to go. I would open up a blank document and literally vapor lock while thinking.

So one part of the solution to that problem was to take my current project and separate the chapters according to the two official plot lines being written. This allowed me to easily focus on each plot line without either losing sight of the overall picture or getting lost in the process.

The other part of the solution was to write the rough draft by hand. Which meant moving my ass outside to write. Outdoors allows me the freedom to let my mind wander all over the place until it latches onto an idea worth pursuing. In this case, I took the idea and I'm currently running all over the manuscript with it.

It has allowed me not only to move forward with the book, but it has allowed me the flexibility to use the same idea and custom design it for each plot line.


We all need it for whatever our chosen endeavor may be.

Some of us just happen to apply it in ways that make people who witness it sadly shake their head as they walk away mumbling under their breath.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Guess No One Will Be Getting Pink Slipped

About a week ago, I wrote about the tense labor negotiations going on between the 13 labor unions and the governor's office as it applies to the current $3 billion dollar deficit that the state is facing. In the comment section of the post, I promised to update everyone should anything change.

Things changed.

Last Friday (May 13th), negotiations came to successful conclusion as an agreement worth $1.6 billion dollars in concessions was reached. I don't know all the details that I will be voting on in the next couple of weeks, but the basic outline (courtesy of the Hartford Courant) is as follows:

1} The state agreed to a 4 year no layoff agreement that covers through 2014 (the current one was set to expire June 30th, 2011). In exchange, the union agreed to a 2 year hard wage freeze for all employees and managers. This includes yearly raises, yearly cost of living increases, no bonus for being at the top of your salary grade and no semi-annual longevity payments (this last one would save the state about $20 million per year).

2} After those two years, three percent increases starting each July 1st for 2013 thru 2015.

3} Increasing the retirement age for those who retire after 2017 by three years, for all three current retirement plans. There is still a tentative proposal from 2009 in which employees can retire only if their total years of service and age adds up to more than 75. A rumor has it bumping up to 90.

4} There is an agreement with the collective bargaining group called SEBAC (comprised of all 13 state bargaining units) that is set to be reopened on 2017, but this will be extended by five years and there will be some changes made (this agreement covers things like health insurance benefits, and one of the proposals being batted around was to convert our expensive health benefits to something along the lines of what Federal employees pay).

5} Previously, those employees who were in hazardous duty positions (like correctional officers) could retire after 20 years of service. Now if you want to retire, you have to work an additional five years. Great if you're less than fifteen years in, terrible if you're sitting with two years or less.

There are other provisos that were being bandied about, like 12 furlough days and extending the 3% percent contribution to all employees, but those apparently never came to fruition. I will say that even though layoffs won't occur through the traditional sense of the word, they will occur. Although the proper buzz word is "attrition". In other words, if a person retires/terminates/quits/gets merged out of existence, their position will vanish.

I won't say that my work life is peaches and cream right now, but the stress level has dropped considerably. It remains to be seen whether or not the stress level stays where its at or if it increases again because this agreement doesn't get ratified by the rank and file.

Update (5/17): The summary of the agreement that was reached on the 13th can be found here (for how long I do not know, so click it while you can), and most of the points in this post can be confirmed, plus a few others I did not know about.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Picture Me Successful!

Yes, it's time for the most important meal of the day: the incredibly late morning brunch. Today's entree is, as a matter of principle, located at Shooting Suburbia, and it's called "The Spirit Takes Flight And Touches The Canopy Of Life", part fo'.

For the appetizer, we have, to borrow a catch phrase from Sandra Seaman, a Snoopy Dance.

For the first time in almost a year and a half, yours truly got another story published.

Early this year, I decided to start exploring the short story market for the few shorts that I'd written last year and polished to an ultra shine. In order to do that, I needed to start paying attention to the weekly e-mails that Duotrope were depositing in my inbox. So after doing a brief search and destroy, I found a quirky magazine that seemed like a good fit for one of my stories called "Red Stripe" (plot: the last day in the life of a punk rock singer called Krystal Methadone), The Cynic Online Magazine.

In early March, I fired off an e-mail with my 4K word short story. Two months later and almost giving up any hope of having my story accepted, I perfromed one of my once a day check of my Hotmail addy, and lo and behold, I found an acceptance e-mail and brief contract attached to that e-mail.

My story "Red Stripe" will be published in the June issue of Cynic Magazine. Shortly thereafter, I will post a permanent link in my Published Writings page.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Your Unofficial Guide To Home Tutoring (2)

I'm not here today.

I'm over at my other blog today.

No, not Shooting Suburbia.

I'm at Partially Yours with the latest installment of "Your Unofficial Guide To Home Tutoring", written by Dean Davis of Living World Ecology Center and transcribed by G with permission from the aforementioned Dean Davis.

One more thing: Forget about that mean old triskaidekaphobia that's been busy lurking all around you today. Instead, think about this nifty little phobia.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pink Slipped

I believe that blogs (or at least mine) are the perfect escape from the stresses that invade our day to day lives. I try to follow that particular mantra and for the most part, I do succeed. I blog about almost everything and anything that my warped little imagination can conjure up. However, there are times when I simply have to write about the stresses that can cause me to become slightly unglued in the real world, which in turn can cause me to become unglued in the cyber world.

Today is another one of those times.

Over the past couple of years, I have blogged about the current economic woes that my state is going through. I'd last blogged about this two thousand pound elephant about several months ago, and I was of the opinion that our labor unions should give serious consideration about the workers before they reject any kind of concessions out of hand.

My friends, zero hour has arrived. After the majority party did its best imitation of big brother in D.C. and passed a budget with no input from the minority party that had a gaping $2 billion dollar hole in it, the majority party's esteemed guv'nor began negotiating with the labor unions. With talks almost at a standstill, the first round of pink slips went out yesterday (not sure how long this link will last, so click while you can).

Now personally, I'm somewhat torn about this particular sequence of events, and I'll elaborate in a moment as to why. My view as a taxpayer is basically, it's about time and as a Republican, my view is: Why are the state Dems professing outrage that things have gotten to this point? In all seriousness, the Democrats have controlled our General Assembly since the early 90's and their head-in-the-sand approach to fiscal sanity got us here to begin with. You guys want to blame someone, then take a good long hard look in the mirror and you'll find the culprit.

Now, why am I torn about this particular sequence of events?

Well, on one hand, back in 2003, I got laid off from the state during the last economic downturn, and because I was a relative newbie, I never saw the layoff notice coming until I was having a face-to-face meeting with the head of the agency. In all honesty, I found it to be a very traumatic experience and it took me six months to become employed by the state again, and over a year and a half to recover from the financial hit. After I got back on my feet, I vowed never again to be put into that position. The next time this happened, I wanted to be the person who if need be, did the bumping on someone else to stay employed.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot (I have about 11 1/2 years of seniority), I should come out of this latest headache relatively unscathed. However, I do have friends and co-workers who I like very much, who will probably be affected by this. Some of them have less than five years in. Others have as much time as I do, if not more, but because of the particular union they're in, can't transfer the seniority from my particular bargaining unit (say clerical) to the one that they're in. In other words, if they have say, 12 total years in, but only five with that particular union, then according to the rules, they have five years of seniority, not twelve.

For those people, I feel their pain, because I was there eight years ago, and unfortunately, people have started to pick my brain to find out what it was like to go through that trauma. For the majority of everyone else, I either don't feel their pain or don't care. I know it sounds callous, but I'm looking at it from a realistic point of view: I'm the only breadwinner in my family. Thus, I'm more than willing to protect what I got by any contractual means necessary.

It really does suck having to experience this stuff again, but I'm hoping that somewhere down the line when the dust finally settles, I'll start enjoying my job again. In the meantime, I'll keep looking at my employer not through rose colored glasses, but with the crystal clear glasses and dorky Buddy Holly frames that make me, me.

And that my friends, is a sobering reality check if there ever was one.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Play Me A Melody

It's funny how certain words, phrases, conditions, or even a particular issue will more often than not lead to a particular song rambling through my head.

For instance, as I was writing the handwritten version of this post, I happened to glance out the window and I saw that not only was it seriously overcast but the cloud looked like they were about to puke their stomach contents after twenty hour booze and junk food binge.

The first song that entered my head, in fact the only song that usually enters my head when a rainstorm is about to hit, was the song "Rain" by Dickey Betts. The song itself is the second track on his fantastic album "Highway Calls", and it basically sets the mood for the entire album.

The song itself conjures up memories of a summer rainstorm. You know, the kind of rainstorm that you don't really mind getting caught in. The kind where you simply soak up plain goodness of one of Mother Nature's ultimate conundrums.

Work has a tendency to bring out the strangest songs as well. One of my favorite out of work songs is "Workin' For A Livin'". Don't ask me why, but it does resonate in a way that very others can. And thinking about that song quickly brings about a strange montage of songs that includes "I Hate My Life" (Theory Of A Deadman), "Why Me?" (Planet P), "Everybody Plays A Fool" (The Main Ingredient) and "Smiling Faces, Sometimes" (The Undisputed Truth).

Lately, a particular song has been worming its way into my subconscious and I'm not sure whether I should be annoyed or amused.

The song in question is "Daydream Believer" by The Monkees. It seem that whenever I find myself with a moment or brain vacancy (you know, when you hit that state of being when absolutely nothing is swirling around in your head) this song floats to the forefront and proceeds to lay waste to my sanity.

Doesn't really matter what I'm trying to do, be it writing a blog pot, writing a story or even something as simple as trying to find a particular plot thread, the second I try to focus my thought...BAM!...there it is.

Speaking of writing, sometimes when I'm trying to find that right frame of mind to write a given passage, I'll let my memory wander through the plethora of rooms that contain all of those musical tidbit to see if it can latch onto a particular song or even a particular lyric that I might be able to use as a motivator.

More often than not, I usually find that a song will kick in when I least expect it to.

And that my friends, is really the best end result you can truly have.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother' feliz; día de s!

Over at Shooting Suburbia we have part three of "Taking Flight And Touching The Canopy Of Life".

Over here, we have the above photo going out to all the mothers and grandmothers (of both genders I might add, because single parent households are just as good as two parent households) today. And even if you don't have little childrens, but have aminals instead, this photo goes out to you as well.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Your Unofficial Guide To Home Tutoring (1)

Note: Today is post #650 for Cedar's Mountain. Can I get a classic Phil Rizzuto "Holy Cow!" from everyone?

I briefly alluded to in my last post that volatile period of my life (2007 thru early 2010) when I was a denizen of the chat rooms. Over that three year span I had met dozens of fascinating individuals, some of which managed to stick with me long after I'd left the chat rooms. One is a good blogging buddy of mine and the remaining, who number about 12, I have daily/weekly contact in Facebook.

One such individual is Dean Davis. Dean, who is the actual author of the series of posts that you're about partake in, is truly a one of kind of individual. A cool techie who has the ability to be a major thorn in the side of a few certain websites (both on the public and the private face of those websites), Dean is what I like to call the common man's answer to Jack Hanna. Dean has, for the past two dozen years or so, worked with all kinds of animals and reptiles and in fact, its one of his main jobs during the summer. Incredibly knowledgeable, he is a blast to learn from (he runs a company called Living World Ecology Center and if you click on the link, you'll be able to contact via the e-mail).

During the off season, his other job is tutoring the unfortunate students who have been removed from the public school system in the county where he lives. This job is where his incredibly twisted and incredibly pointed sense of humor comes out in all its gruesomely fantastic glory.

Because of that type of humor, while fantastic to read (he puts every other humor oriented blogger I've read to shame) would not quite fly on my main blog, for reasons that will become once you start reading the series. Thus, the entire series will be posted over at Partially Yours.

It is my sincere hope that you find what I'm about to post, as funny as I do (had tears rolling down my face and had my asthma kick in from laughing so hard).

And now, if you follow me (for those of you who can) two blogs down on the right, I present to you part one of "Your Unofficial Guide To Home Tutoring"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Knock, Knock....Knock?

Shows you what kind of week I'm having: this post was written about 14 hours ago because I completely forgot about the fact yesterday was Tuesday and today was coming up and I had nothing on tap.

Nada. Zip. Zilcho.


Well, the honest truth is that I was mentally writing a post for Friday, which will feature content from one of the few people that I still maintain heavy contact with from my chat room days. This person's sense of humor is so wicked, so biting, so insightful that I daresay it puts everyone else to shame. But more about that on Friday.

Today is Writing Wednesday, and on Wednesday, I'm supposed to blog about writing. Problem is, I have nothing really meaty to write about. But I do have some randomy snippets that I can insert that will fulfill the basic requirement of 0% nutritional value and 100% junk food value.

1} Nacho Supreme from your favorite Mexican eatery, aka Line 21. Received another form letter rejection, this time from the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Professionally done, I might add. Haven't sent out any more yet because I'm looking to hit small publishers this time around and I need to do a little research. Small publishers might take a little longer to do, simply because some do not accept simultaneous submissions, so for this particular round, I want to concentrate on those who accept simultaneous submissions.

2} Extra Large Pizza with Everything x2, aka Dandelion Tears. Remember when I said that I was finally able to channel my anger into my writing and thus jump start my writing again? Bullshit. Over the weekend, the aggravation from this past Friday reared its ugly head, so when I decided to sit in front yard and partake in the excellent weather, what did I do? Did I write? Hell no! I got everything at the ready, took out my pen and paper, took one look at the birds congregating in my front yard......and promptly took a nap.

Twice. Once on Saturday and once on Sunday. By the time I finally got around to putting pen to paper, it only lasted fifteen minutes as the family returned home from camping. Thus, peace and quiet effectively destroyed and with it, any intention of writing shot to pieces as well. I did manage to write exactly four paragraphs spread out over two pages. Yippee. I should add that I'm doing a monster edit because I belatedly decided to give a certain character a name, so again, yippee.

3} Jello shots with your favorite beer, aka other kinds of writing. I had some time on my hands this past week, so naturally I started freestyling a short story, with the intent of posting it on my other blog. Got about a page and a half handwritten completed. In keeping with the general theme of wayward clergyman (sorry Gumby, you weren't the inspiration for this one) that I seem to be enamored of, this one features a twenty-something who looks like he just got back from one of those 48 hour parties (yeah, you remember those parties, right?). My friends, this has the makings of being one truly butt ugly soon as I can get around to finishing it. At the moment, I have him swaying behind the pulpit with flask of tequila in his hand to refresh his morning espresso while jamming to an I-pod.

4} Waking up on a strange couch with two beautiful women under your arms and having no idea how it happened, aka bloggng. Well, blogging is looking purty good so far. Got an idea for my 3 year anniversary this month. That's right, I said 3 years. Anyways, it remains to be seen if I can pull it off, or even do it for that matter.

5} Waking up on a strange couch with three beautiful women, two under your arms and one resting her head on your stomach. Suddenly, the one resting on your stomach snuggles up and her head is now resting between your legs. You look down and realize that although this doesn't seem right, it certainly feels right, so....I'm glad it's Hump Day.

Aren't you?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Birds Need A Vacation Too!

Hey Mr. & Mrs. Bird! Are you tired of listening to your kids squawk, "I'm bored! I'm hungry!"?

Looking for that perfect vacation spot in which to ditch the kids for some quality down time?

Looking for a place that has all the amenities of home with none of the headaches, and more importantly, will wait on you hand and foot?

Looking for that place where you need to meet up with that special friend?

Then book your next trip to G & J's Excitingly Exotic Emporium of Ecstasy! Yes, G & J's is just minutes from any direction on the compass that you happen to be flying on a given day. Located at the foot of the ever popular Cedar Mountain resort, we offer all the comforts of home. Fresh shrubbery and greenery as far as the eye can see. Luxurious accommodations that feature three, count 'em, three bird feeders that are guaranteed to satisfy even the most finicky of eaters.

At G & J's, you'll never have to worry about dealing with the same old boring neighbors, because G & J's features the kind of flora and fauna that attracts visitors from far and wide, so you're guaranteed to meet a different bird every five minutes. Plus, as an added bonus, Cedar Mountain features enough acreage that you can take that special second honeymoon without worrying about the kiddies bugging the crap out of you, because the kiddies will be occupied exploring the other end of the mountain.

We take our clients privacy concerns very seriously, so when you're taking that second honeymoon, or even that first honeymoon (VA VA VA VOOM!!!!!), our crack security staff will make darn sure that no matter when you visit, you'll be able to enjoy the views such as these in totally secure and pleasurable comfort.

And should you feel the need to freshen up after a morning (or afternoon or evening) full of extracurricular activities, we feature our ever popular birdbath. The water is created fresh daily by yours truly, so no matter when you need to partake, it will be ready for you. And as you can see, it's quite the popular attraction.

So when you're thinking about that next trip to your mother-in-law's, or that "special" business trip, and you need a place that is discreet beyond belief, give G & J's Excitingly Exotic Emporium of Ecstasy a try. Minutes from anywhere and everywhere, it is the place to be if you're the bird of the world.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Picture Me This


Over at Shooting Suburbia, we have the latest incarnation of "The Spirit Takes Flight And Touches The Canopy Of Life".

Over here, well, we have this:

In the hospital the relatives gathered in the waiting room, where their family member lay gravely ill. Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber. "I'm afraid I'm the bearer of bad news," he said as he surveyed the worried faces. "The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant.It's an experimental procedure, very risky but it is the only hope. Insurance will cover the procedure, but you will have to pay for the brain yourselves."

The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news. After a great length of time, someone asked, "Well, how much does a brain cost?"

The doctor quickly responded, "$5,000 for a male brain, and $200 for a female brain."

The moment turned awkward. Men in the room tried not to smile, avoiding eye contact with the women, but some actually smirked. A man unable to control his curiosity, blurted out the question everyone wanted to ask. "Why is the male brain so much more?"

The doctor smiled at the childish innocence and explained to the entire group, "It's just standard pricing procedure. We have to mark down the price of the female brains, because they've actually been used."

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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