Mar 012017
 

WW73

Last week, MBH convinced me to take a little road trip. She pointed out that, since Saturday was the anniversary of my father’s death, it might be a good idea to go spend it with my mom to help keep her on the positive side of the emotional fence. And quite honestly, it would help keep me on the same side.  She’s pretty freaking special, like that. In Love So I hopped into the ground transport and made the eight-hour drive to Houston.

What was even more fun was the fact that my sister and brother-in-law helped me keep the trip a secret from my mom, only asking her to stay at home on Friday because they were expecting a package (she lives with them). So when my BIL let me in, all the while pretending that he was trying to get rid of a solicitor, she was completely surprised.  Wink  Better still, my son came by with my youngest granddaughter shortly after I got there.

During the next few days, I got to spend time with my mom, my sister and BIL, my son, DIL, and granddaughter, my oldest nephew and his new girlfriend (yeah, hang on to her, M.  She’s got a good head on her shoulders). We saw a few movies, (A Cure For Wellness and Suicide Squad), had a barbecue with a lot of family… I even got to play Cards Against humanity for the first time (and THAT was hilarious, as anyone who has played before will already know.)

But all good things come to an end, and Monday was the trip back home. Luckily for me, while the trip back home did represent the end of one good thing, that didn’t make it a bad thing. You see, I don’t sleep well without MBH, so being apart is sometimes a little tough, which made coming home again wonderful. Yeah, I love you wife.  Heart

Baby Bird’s Paper – Last night, MBH and I got a call from Baby Bird. She was working on an important presentation for one of her Psychology classes, and wanted us to look it over for any obvious mistakes. It was a presentation on several studies about the effects of stress on performance, and was filled with phrases like “…High Anxiety (HA) anticipation response accuracy was lower than the Low Anxiety (LA) pre-test, however both HA and LA showed greater accuracy of judgments compared to the pretest and Control Group (CG), and in the HA post-test, the HA testers remained accurate when compared…” and “…investigates the role of intuition in a probabilistic reasoning task by manipulating the time pressure in an effort to discern if the results supported the dual-process theory or the fuzzy-trace theory…”.

In short, it was enough to let me know that she is MUCH smarter than I am.  LOL.  However, I couldn’t help but note the irony of her stressing so much over a presentation about how stress affects one’s performance.   Wink

In other news, I’ve decided to start the garden late this year. The recent trip home helped point out to me that if I had already started the garden, then a four-day absence from home wouldn’t have been possible, and MBH and I would like to take a short trip together later on. So I think I’ll hold off putting new dependents in the ground for a bit longer.  That means I won’t be boring you all with pictures of my growing plants and daily harvests.   Cool

On to the writing news… or lack thereof…

Because of last week’s road trip, I didn’t get as much written as I would have liked. However, End Point Pangaea is getting close to the 50k word count mark. Typically, I tend to easily break 100k with my novels. But I get the feeling that this one is going to be my first novel under that count. The book simply feels more like an 80k to 90k book. Of course, I won’t know until it’s done, but you tend to get a feel for things like that as you write, and that’s what I’m getting from this one. I suppose I’ll just see. For now though, I need to get back to writing, if it’s ever going to get finished.

So to finish off the blog post, here is this week’s Random Pic of the Week:  WW73b1

For this week’s RPotW, I decided to make it truly random. I called up the gallery on my phone, scrolled down at random, and, with my eyes closed, I tapped a picture. This is what you get.  Laugh

Here you see a picture of a breakfast I made a few months ago. Why did I take the picture? This was my first attempt at making my own cinnamon-raisin bread. It turned out pretty good, although I did learn a valuable lesson. Any raisins on the top of the loaf tend to turn into little charred bits of charcoal when unprotected by surrounding dough. After that first loaf, I made it a point to pick off as many raisins on top as I could.

And that’s enough of my insanity for today. You folks stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye

 Posted by at 6:23 pm
Feb 222017
 

Vitamin B3, or Niacin, is a fantastic little vitamin that serves all sorts of functions in the human body.

Hmmm….  I suppose before I go any farther with this, I should do the whole “I am not a doctor or medical care specialist of any sort. Anything I say regarding the matter is for educational and/or entertainment value only. I am not offering advice, making suggestions, or in any other way indicating that anyone should do anything that I write about here. I am only passing on my personal observations on what I have done, and what has happened to me.”

There. All the crazy legalese is out of the way. It’s insane what the gooberment requires you to do before talking about medicine or nutrition. After all, someone might accidentally interfere with all the money that the pharmaceutical, “health”, and medical industries make by fleecing er, helping all of us to a “healthier” lifestyle.

Uh, oh. Sorry, but I seem to have stumbled up onto this soapbox somehow, when all I intended to do was tell you about something that happened to me recently. As I was saying, B3 serves all sorts of functions in our bodies. But did you know that it also has an interesting side effect once you’re body reaches its saturation point with it?  It’s call the “Niacin Flush”, and occurs to various degrees to different people. For some, it manifests as a slight warmth and reddening of the skin on the head and upper body (a flush).  It usually lasts somewhere between fifteen minutes to an hour or so, depending on many variables.  I’ve read that some people actually find the feeling to be quite pleasant.

But Yours Truly has a history of allergic reactions that includes breaking out in hives all over my body. So when I began to feel that warmth, I started getting a little concerned that I was heading into another reaction.  After a few  minutes though, I realized this was something different. For one thing, my hives are accompanied by an insufferable itching sensation, and almost always first begin with itching and swelling in the tender areas of the body (inside elbows and wrists, backs of knees, behind ears, around the eyes, and yes, the groin – after all, they aren’t called the “tender bits” for nothing).

WW72aBut this was different. It was more like a sudden sunburn on my forehead that soon spread down to my upper torso and arms.  And there was none of the insane itching or racing heartbeat that always accompanied my allergic reactions.  But lucky me, I did still get a slight swelling of my face, eyes, and wrists. (see the pic to the left, here.)  Nowhere near as bad as when I get a true allergic reaction, but enough that I decided to show my wife just in case it was some new presentation of my allergies.

Within an hour or two (I’m at the outer range of the timeline for such things – like I said, lucky me…), the swelling and “flush” were mostly gone. Of course, the next morning, I began my typical Holmsian investigation of what all I had done the night before it occurred and quickly stumbled upon reports of the Niacin Flush. The vast majority of the articles I found indicate that it is quite harmless, and while the swelling that I had is rare, it does occasionally happen.  I imagine my predisposition to such reactions because of my allergies likely makes a difference, as well.

Bottom line, while the reaction was a little disconcerting as it was happening, at least now I know what it was, and will be prepared if it happens again (which most accounts seem to agree, it likely will).  So that was my excitement for the week.  And I get to combine my regular blog post with my RPotWHeh

So enough about the weirdness of my reaction. On to the writing updates.

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is now a bit over 46k words in length, and the plot still flows smoothly.  Ask yourself, how would a society develop if we began to dump murderers and political dissidents into the late Triassic Era?  How would they and their families adjust to a world of dinosaurs, where the world is barely evolved, with no grains, fruits, or vegetables as we know them?  Fun stuff.   Wink

BoRThe Sekrit Projekt (phase 1) is now done and out of my hands. There is nothing more I can do with it until I hear back from those who are farther up the food chain. Now I can only wait to find out if it moves forward.

Y12 – The only other thing worth reporting is that there are now six reviews on Year 12, and three reviews of Chucklers, Volume 1, all of which are five star reviews.  Yay!

And speaking of Y12, I had been getting a bit depressed about not getting any audiobook auditions for it.  I posted an audition script for it in mid-January and received a single audition. But after that, nothing for almost a month.  I was beginning to think no one was interested in working on it. My original narrator no longer works for royalty share, and as much as I like his work, I simply can’t afford to pay up front. But I remembered that I had saved some of my favorite auditions for HPM back when I was taking auditions for it, so I thought I would investigate whether any of those narrators still worked for royalty share. Imagine my surprise when I found that somehow, Y12 had been marked as no longer taking auditions! I have no idea how or when that happened, but it sure explains why I haven’t received any more auditions!  So I’ve now reset it to accept auditions, and we’ll see whether or not that makes a difference.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Well, that’s enough for now.  Time to get back to writing.

So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye

Feb 152017
 

We had a great time last week with wonderful friends from the old stomping grounds in Houston.  Needless to say, after living in the Houston area for most of our lives, we ended up leaving a lot of folks behind when we moved up here to Oklahoma.  Luckily, Oklahoma isn’t so far that we never get to see them, and some (like our friends from last week) don’t mind driving up for visits.  We’re incredibly lucky in that respect.  For while we love where we live now, we do miss being able to see friends and family whenever we want to.

On the up side, I can honestly say I now live less than five miles from renowned author Mercedes Lackey.  How cool is that?  LOL.  Not that I’ve ever met her, but as an author myself, the thought that I might is pretty cool.

Other than that, (and the writing, of course), I don’t have a lot more to talk about.  However, I’ve decided to begin a quick section on the blog here based on random recent pictures from my phone.  (Yeah, I’m weird, but you should have figured that out by now.) So here’s today’s Random Pic of the Week, and a few words about it. This picture was taken last Saturday, February 11th.WW71a

During the spring, summer, and fall, we try to walk Bella and Cricket twice a day. But here in Oklahoma, we actually get all four seasons, and during the cold winter months, it’s simply too cold and dark in the mornings to walk them.  So when the weather is nice on the weekends, we like to make up some of the missed time with them by going to nearby Claremore Lake and taking extra long walks with them.  Endomondo tells me that our typical course takes us about 2.5 miles.  It’s not a huge gain for them, but they definitely seem to love the extra smells and activity.  And they get to see other people and animals, too.  They aren’t the most social of animals, and being able to expose them to joggers, walkers, and other people walking their dogs is definitely good for them.  They get to learn that strangers aren’t necessarily all out to murder their pack.   Heh  Who knows? Maybe someday soon, they won’t feel compelled to growl and bark at that murderous mailman that comes by every day.

Now on to writing news…

EPP – I’m having to split my time between writing projects.  The end result is that nothing is moving incredibly quickly, but everything is moving forward. End Point Pangaea is moving along, and I had a major plot point reveal itself to me last week. Yes, remember that I’m a pantser when it comes to my writing, so the story often unfolds for me as I write it.  Usually it’s just an organic evolution of the story as I flow from one scene to another.   But on occasion, there is a major “Ah hah!” moment, where some pivotal scene comes to me that opens all sorts of other ideas to me.  This was one of those occasions, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all unwinds.

CL – Not much to report on Crazy Larry this week.  Quite honestly, between having friends out, and playing catch up on the larger projects, CL didn’t get the love that it should have.  I’ll have to rectify that situation next week.

Y12 Year 12 is doing relatively well… six reviews so far, all five-stars.  And the sales are beginning to show signs of life.  Yay!   Grin

BoR – Yes, the Sekrit Projekt is back in play.  Cool  The first pass at this one was rejected.  Without revealing any details, they simply didn’t like the story line I proposed.  Luckily, they didn’t completely kick me to the curb, and suggested something else.  I worked up a few ideas on character and setting, but got stumped on the actual story.  Late last week, I received a query wanting to know how it was going, and I had to sheepishly admit that I had hit a brick wall.  Rather than being dumped, I was offered a brainstorming session.  After an hour and a half on the phone, I was full of inspiration… well, I was full of something.  I’ll know in a few days whether it was truly inspiration.  It was either that or gas.   ROTFL  At any rate, where just last week I was drawing a complete blank, I now have a full plot, characters, intrigue… I can truly say that I’m really excited about this one now.

And that’s it for today.  I hope you all have a wonderful week, and I’ll talk to you again soon. Stay safe!  Bye

Feb 012017
 

 

It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  Remember that water heater that was leaking?  Well, while the leaking was down to a minimum, the pilot light kept going out on it. So that had to be replaced after all.  And after it was replaced and the plumber was gone, I let the water heat up, then went through the house testing all the faucets to make sure the hot water was flowing the way it should.  As you might imagine, there was a bit of air in the lines, and the pipes rattled quite a bit at first, so I left them on for a few minutes and went out in the garage to sweep up the water that had leaked out when the plumber removed the old water heater.

Imagine my dismay when I finished sweeping, and after only a few minutes opened the door from the garage into the laundry room to find the floor covered in water!  Eek!  See, our laundry room has a storage cabinet with a sink in it, and the faucet is one of those kitchen faucets with the extendable, hand-held sprayers. Evidently the air in the line caused enough vibration that the connector for the faucet came apart, letting the line spray water into the cabinet beneath it, flooding it, and pooling on the floor of the laundry room.

Luckily, it was easy enough to fix, though it took about every spare towel to sop up the water.  But hey, I was already in the laundry room, so cleaning them afterwards was simple enough.   Laugh  Wet towels went from the floor directly into the washer, and voilá… problem solved.

WW70But we also ran into issues with MBH’s car.  A few months ago, she had several dashboard lights come on… the check engine light, the LSD (limited slippage differential – used for added traction on slick roads), and the VSC (vehicle stability control – also related to traction control). So those three lights came on for about a day, then just as mysteriously, they went out.  About a week later, I took her car in to the “local” dealership (and living a bit off the beaten track as we do, said dealership is about a forty minute drive) for a recall on a completely unrelated issue, and while there I spoke to the mechanic about it. Since the lights were no longer on, he couldn’t hook it up to the diagnostic computer and see what it specifically was, but he mentioned that he had seen some of those lights come on in relation to a bad gas cap.

A day or two later, the lights came back on again.  This time they were only on for a few hours before they went out.   Question

Hmmm…. well, maybe it was worth trying that whole gas cap thing.  I had heard of a bad gas cap causing other problems in the past, so I figured “why not?”  Before I got the new gas cap though, the lights came back on… and this time they seemed to be staying on.  They stayed on for a few days before I got the new gas cap and put it on.  From what I had read, it could take several times of driving the car before the lights would go back off again, if that was indeed the problem.  Nearly a week later, the lights were still on.

Now, you have to understand, as far as MBH or I could tell, the vehicle was driving just fine.  It wasn’t sluggish, smoking, missing, running hot… there were none of the basic indicators that you typically see when your vehicle is giving you trouble. Just those freaking lights. (sigh)  But not wanting to do some sort of hidden damage to the vehicle, I broke down and took it in to the local mechanic.  After waiting for a couple of hours, they came back with a report…

The code on the check engine light told them to check the code related to the VSC light.  The code on the VSC light told them to check the code on the check engine light.  And the code on the LSD light told them that the rear oxygen sensor was bad.  Bottom line, they didn’t know for sure what was causing all of the lights to come on, but they were sure that the rear oxygen sensor was bad, and it was going to cost over $300 to fix it.

When I asked if that would take care of the other lights, the best I could get out of them was “it should, but we can’t tell for sure until we do it.”  I called MBH to let her know and, being the practical woman she is, she asked what I should have already asked the mechanic.  “What does the rear oxygen sensor do?”

So I asked the mechanic.  His answer (paraphrased… if I remember correctly) “There are two oxygen sensors in the vehicle. The front oxygen sensor is tied into the proper mix of oxygen in the engine, and can cause the car to start backfiring.  The rear one detects proper mix in the exhaust and catalytic converter.”

When I asked if it’s detrimental for the car to continue driving the way it is, he told me that if it was the front sensor, he would say yes.  But with the rear one, it probably wouldn’t hurt anything at all.  So for the time being, MBH has a well-lit dashboard.  ITMT, I’ve been looking at online videos on how to replace the sensor myself, and it doesn’t actually look all that difficult… as long as everything goes smoothly.  I saw one video where the sensor had been on so long that it stripped the threads when it was removed.  If that happens, then you could end up having to take the car to a muffler shop to have them weld a new sensor housing into the exhaust.  Of course that’s assuming the sensor is on the housing.  That’s the other issue.  There is conflicting information as to where the sensor actually is.  So, project for the near future.  Wish me luck.

But the news isn’t all bad.  We’re getting ready for good friends to visit from Houston.  We have some really great friends that we left behind when we moved up here, and it’s always exciting when we get to see any of them.  But are some that are so close that they might as well be family.  That’s the way it is with the couple that are coming to spend a few days with us this weekend.  They’re just all-around wonderful folks, and MBH and I are really looking forward to getting to spend time with them.

Now, writing news…

CV1 – I received a request for interview last week from Nick Kelly, who had read Chucklers: Volume 1.  Needless to say, I was tickled that someone would like the book enough that they would reach out to me that way, and the interview was a lot of fun.  You can read it here if you’re interested.  And afterwards, Nick was kind enough to leave a nice review on Amazon.  Thanks, Nick.  Smile

Y12 – Speaking of reviews, they’re finally beginning to come in on Year 12, too.  And while I know it won’t last, so far all of them (only three so far, but still…) are five-star reviews.  So thanks to those of you who like my writing enough to leave a review.  It helps with the visibility in Amazon’s rankings, and that helps with sales, which helps with the rankings, which helps with sales… well, you get the picture.

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is moving again.  I had a bit of a slump, but I’m pretty sure I’m over it, and the story is flowing well once more.

CL Crazy Larry is moving slowly but surely, too.  I’m not really going to make this one a top priority, because as a novella, it’s honestly not going to make me much money.  And let’s be honest, if I’m going to treat the writing like a business, I have to be a bit mercenary with some things.  I will definitely finish it, and I will definitely publish it.  But short stories and novellas simply don’t make money like full-blown novels do.  I mean, sure, they’re shorter, and somewhat easier to write.  But the overhead for them is almost as much as for a novel.  I mean, you still have to pay for your outside services (editing, formatting, cover art), but you can’t charge as much for them.  And unless you charge over $2.99, you only get 35% of the sales from Amazon, which means it takes even LONGER to recoup your initial expenses.  But I still want to get the story out there.  It will answer a lot of questions for those of you who have read the other titles in the HPM world.

And that’s it for now.  Time to get to cleaning for our guests.  Hope you all have a great week.  Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you later.  Bye

Jan 182017
 

Yesterday started like most other days.  At 5:45 AM the alarm goes off.  MBH gets up, feeds the girls and grabs a bite for breakfast, while I lay in bed for another few minutes trying to get my mind reconnected to my body. MBH finishes her breakfast, showers, gets dressed for work, and heads out the door.  In the meantime, I’ve usually managed to motivate my lazy butt out of bed and in front of the computer to begin my writing.  It might be actual writing, or researching, or world building, character building, editing, or any of the many activities that goes into creating a book.

Yesterday was mostly about world building.  At any rate, after a couple of hours in front of the computer, I usually need a break. So I will grab a bite for breakfast and take a shower before getting back to it.  And that’s exactly what I did.  I noticed, in an abstract kind of way, that the shower wasn’t as hot as usual. But it wasn’t too bad, and I thought maybe it was because the weather’s been cold, and maybe MBH took a longer shower than usual.  In other words, it wasn’t anything more than an item of note in my morning.

Then later in the day I went to rinse some dishes in the kitchen and noticed the hot water was barely tepid.  That was when I realized something was wrong.  When I went into the garage (where the water heater is) I knew for certain there was a problem.  There was water pooled on the floor under the door to the water heater closet.  It wasn’t a huge amount, but it was enough to tell me that we had trouble.  I opened the door and found that the drip pan under the water heater was full, and draining onto the floor, and that the pilot light was out.

So after some fumbling around, I figured out how to get the pilot light re-lit.  I didn’t think that had anything to do with the leak, but it definitely accounted for the lack of hot water.  I was about to put the cover back over the pilot light when the flame flared from that pretty blue gas flame, to a bright yellow.  It was only for a second, but it was enough to get my attention.  A few seconds later, there was another flare… then another.  Kneeling down to peer into the hole, I could see that there was water dripping down from the actual tank of the water heater, directly into the flames.   Eek!  It was time to call a plumber.

I checked with my neighbors, and got a few recommendations for the same plumber.  I called, got a ballpark figure for a replacement water heater, and after nearly passing out from the sticker shock I made an appointment to get them out this morning.  When Mr. Plumber arrived, the whole thing turned into a bit of a good news / bad news morning.

WW69Good news…  It looks like the problem isn’t the water heater after all. Instead, it looks like the “T&P” valve (the temperature and pressure valve, in the picture here) is bad, and it will only cost a tenth of what the water heater would cost.

Bad news… Mr. Plumber doesn’t have the part.

Good news… he can get it in less than an hour.

Yay!!  Problem solved.  Less than an hour later, he was back, and had completely replaced the valve.  Additionally, he tells me that the dripping I saw was relatively common, just condensation from the tank in the cold weather.  So I text MBH to let her know we’re about done, and she asks if I could have him take a look at a minor problem we’ve been having in the kitchen.

See, the hot water in the kitchen only seems to be about half what the pressure is at any other faucet in th house.  Additionally, the dishwasher doesn’t really seem to clean very well.  So I ask Mr. Plumber if he would mind taking a look at the problem.  He clears everything out from under the kitchen sink, goes to shut off the water, and finds immediately that it won’t shut off all the way.  The shutoff valve is bad.  He explains that this might be the cause of the pressure problem, though there’s no way to know for sure.  But if it won’t shut all the way off, then it might not be opening all the way, either.  Sounds logical, right? So once again, it’s good news / bad news.

Good news – a possible easy fix is in sight.

Bad news… you guessed it, he doesn’t have the part.

Good news… the part will only cost another $60 plus labor (and since I had been braced for a MUCH higher water heater replacement cost, that didn’t sound all that bad.)

Once more, he drives off to get the part. Once more he returns.  Once more we play good news / bad news.

He goes to shut off the water at the water heater and notices that the brand new T&P valve is trickling water down the side of the water heater.  Not much, mind you… just a drop or two every few seconds.  But there is a very slight leak.  And this time, we’re starting the game with the bad news side going first.

Bad news… we still have a leaking water heater.

Good news… it isn’t the T&P valve.

Wait, that’s good news?  In a manner of speaking, yes.  Since the problem isn’t the T&P, it means that the water heater itself is defective. It means that Mr. Plumber runs the numbers on the water heater and can tell that there is a replacement warranty on it.

And good news… with the warranty, it’s only going to be about half the cost of what I was originally going to have to pay.

Bad news… it’s still going to be about half of what I was originally going to have to pay.

Good news… since the water heater is barely trickling, replacement can be put off until such time as we can be better prepared for it.  So while it’s not completely fixed, it is repaired enough to function for some indefinite amount of time.

So he shuts off the water, goes back to the kitchen, and replaces the defective shutoff valve under the sink.

Bad news… while it does give a slight increase in pressure to the hot water side, the hot water is still about half that of the cold water.

Good news… Mr. Plumber seems to see this as a bit of a personal challenge.  He tests the flexible line leading from the shutoff to the faucet.  It’s clear.  He tests the water pressure from the hot and cold side by side at the line and finds they’re both good. He tests everything he can, eliminating all possible problems south of the faucet itself.

Bad news… that means that the problem is the faucet itself.

So after about three hours with Mr. Plumber, we now have a better idea of what’s going on with our plumbing, and a plan for later, if the water heater gets worse.  I also have a faucet to replace in my future.  But I should be able to handle that on my own.  (Wait, isn’t that what Custer said just before Little Big Horn?)

All right.  Time for me to get back to writing.  So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next week.  Bye

 Posted by at 2:58 pm