Meanwhile …

I’ve taken a (more than) brief hiatus from the blog, but I’m back now. Since my last post, I have:

  • Moved to Texas (undecided as to the advisability of messing with it).
  • Eaten excellent brisket and tacos (related to the above).
  • Welcomed baby no. 3
  • Transitioned to working from home (not the first time so I’ve been able to apply what I learned last time.)
  • Maintained my (mostly) healthy relationship with alcohol.
  • Gotten caught in the rain (no pina colatas though).
  • Continued taking arms against the same old sea of troubles.
  • Read The Crooked House by Agatha Christie (self-recommending).
  • Watched Amazon’s Jack Ryan series (it’s good, but not great).
  • Killed a cockroach just to watch it die. They’re pretty plentiful in Texas.
  • Started and stopped and then started again on my untitled Zoltan novel.
  • Seen baseball-sized hail come down from heaven.
  • Watched the setting sun wash larger than life clouds with pink, orange and gold.
  • Watched, John Carter  on Netflix good for laundry folding and not much more. There’s a lot of money the on the screen, though. Fun to look at without a ton of substance.

In short, I’ve seen things you people couldn’t believe including but not limited to:

  • Attack ships on fire on the shoulder of Orion.
  • C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.
  • Something something tears in the rain.




I Wonder

Some say that since the development of the scientific method, we are living in a different era where (at least among academia) while there are many open questions in the universe, we have a firmer foundation upon which to make decisions than our forefathers. Even though so much of our understanding of reality is currently incomplete, they argue that, because science gives us the frameworks of reason and empiricism with which to interrogate the natural world, we will only expand our understanding of it as time passes. 

This view of science as making inexorable forward progress reminds me or the progressive view of history. There may be temporary setbacks along the way, but we all know things are inevitably moving toward a collectivist paradise. Eventually, we’ll be living in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Money won’t exist (except for those Ferengi with the weird noses) and we’ll all have the ability to pursue our higher, self-actualized selves.  The wheels of history don’t ever revert in a major way, it’s just a question of how long it takes to pass the star fleet entrance exams.

Similarly, Science may take a step back or sideways, but the stuff that’s “settled” today will stay settled mostly in 100 yrs. Why? Because we used science to get where we are now. 

Now, I have a lot more faith in the wheels of science than history. But I wonder sometimes. I wonder, if those areas of science we haven’t yet reduced to engineering are waiting on major upheavals. Is there a Krakatoa in bio-chemistry waiting to explode the entire field? Is there a tsunami coming to wash away astrophysics? I don’t know but I do wonder. 

The Money Hole – Aussie Edition

From The Spectator-Australia David Archibald This is a tale of idiocy, full of facts and foreboding, signifying that the end times must be surely upon us. A bloke bought a sheep property of half a million acres in western Queensland for $2.0 million. Instead of running sheep on it, he now gets $350,000 per […]

via The stupidest thing the federal government does — Watts Up With That?

“If you love America, you throw money in its hole!”

Our House Caught Fire!

Everyone is fine and the damage is minimal. We were very lucky but we’ve been dealing with insurance and talking to contractors about repairs. 

Good insurance is, if you can afford it, totally worth it. Our claims adjuster has been very fair and helpful thus far. 

But that’s mah explanation for why the blog has been dark recently. I hope to recommit to posting more regularly soon.

Read My Shoddy Work: “The Night Shift” Part 10

Unlike some of you out there, I don’t exist on a spectrum. I exist on a bi-modal distribution. But despite our differences, I hope you’ll give my feeble attempts at art the due consideration they deserve (i.e., skim it till you get bored and move on to whatever else the internet has in store for you).

Anyhoo, I’m pleased to share the FINAL installment of Zoltan (Hungarian Demon Hunter Extraordinaire)’s battle against the forces of darkness.

If you haven’t been following along, you can catch up by reading Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4 , Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7 , Part 8 and Part 9 here.

The holy water caught Constantin squarely on the forehead and made a sizzling, crackling sound. The vampire’s handsome features were now a crackling mess. His coal black eyes rolled in fury and he made as if to pounce on Maria. Sophie cried out in pain. Zoltan didn’t waste the opportunity and landed a crushing blow on the vampire’s jaw with a fist wrapped in rosary beads. Constantin stumbled back. The rosary beads left angry smoking dents in the vampire’s face.

“Stinking cattle!” he swore.

In the microscopic interlude, Zoltan retrieved his sword and struck again. This time, the vampire couldn’t avoid the blow. The silver blade came whistling downward in a perfect arc and embedded itself deep inside the vampire’s skull. Maria heard a sharp gasp coming from Sophie.

There was no scream, no roar of fury. Constantin slumped unceremoniously to his knees and collapsed to the floor. Zoltan put his foot on the vampire’s face to retrieve his sword. Black blood and smoke were oozing from the head wound.

“What do we do now?” Maria’s voice was shaking with adrenaline.

“We finish our work.” Zoltan rolled the vampire over to lay flat on its back and pulled one of the large wooden stakes from his jacket. He placed it over the heart.

“Would you mind holding dis?”


Once they had cleaned up the mess in room 1213, they wrapped Constantin in bedsheets for transport. Sophie had not stirred through this entire process. She was breathing steadily and sleeping peacefully. Maria thought she could already see color returning to the girl’s cheeks.

“She did not drink his blood,” Zoltan remarked “she is out of danger. We were fortunate in dis.”

They dragged Constantin down the hallway past the sleeping forms of the hospital staff to the elevator. They went to the top floor and then Zoltan carried shrouded form up the stairwell to the roof.

A cool wind whipped at their faces. The night was ending and Maria could see pale blue hints of dawn in the eastern end of the sky. They dragged Constantin into the middle of the roof and opened the sheet to reveal the vampire’s grimacing form. The stake protruded out of his chest awkwardly. His inhuman talons were clenched in impotent rage.

“How old was he?” Maria asked. “I mean how long did he -”

“How long did he live as a vampire?” Zoltan supplied. “Hard to tell exactly. Two maybe three centuries. Da retractable talons take several decades to develop.”

“How will we explain? When he’s gone?”

“The elderly nuns that sit on the board of dis hospital were apprised of the situation before I arrived here. They vill make no trouble now dat da vampire is destroyed. My order is vell known to dem. Dr. Constantin did us a favor by casting a spell of sleep on the entire floor. Dey will all wake up with the dawn and remember nothing of our exertions.“

The eastern sky was turning gold and red now. Zoltan lit a cigarette.

“How long have you been doing this?” Maria stared.

Zoltan sighed, “Since the late 15th century.”

The forthrightness of the reply made Maria laugh. After the previous night, the idea that she was speaking to a more than 500 year old man wasn’t so far fetched.

“You’re older than that monster we just killed! How?” she asked.

“Members of my order are burdened with physical durability and longevity beyond the average person. I’m not invincible but, I can recover from that which does not kill me outright. I heal faster. Run faster. I’m stronger than most. I can hold my breath pretty long too.” His eyes twinkled a little.

“Even when you smoke those things?”

Zoltan examined the cigarette between his fingers. The sun had breached the horizon.

“Not getting cancer or heart trouble is one of the small compensations I receive for spending half a millennia hunting vermin in the shadows.”

“What will happen to Sophie?”

“Hard to say.” The morning sun struck the roof and the sky was on fire with glory.

He continued, “She’ll mostly recover of course. At most this will be a distant dream to her. She’ll very likely live out her life free from dis kind of assault. Free to make mistakes, free for good or ill. Free as it should be.”

Zoltan gazed up at the dawning sky. The sunlight struck the vampire’s motionless corpse. Maria watched as the battered pale skin cracked and smoked. The combustion set the clothes on fire briefly. Constantin’s skin turned to ash quickly and fell away. Centuries of torture and bloodshed ended.

“What do I do now?” Maria was crying a little.

“Go home. Live your life.”

“What if I can’t? What if it’s too much?”

“I’ll be around.” Zoltan flicked his cigarette into the wind and watched as it swept the ashes of Dr. Constantin away.

Accepting Submissions Now: National Personal Restraint Award

We’re always giving out awards to people who do things. People who go above and beyond to write their names in eternity. War heroes, scientists, leaders, and philosophers that have saved civilizations or charted new frontiers among the stars. These men and women deserve the praise they get, but I’m not here to talk about them.

I’m here to shine a light on the people who went out and didn’t do things. I’m talking about the people who, by keeping their mouths shut and their hands folded, made our society a little more live-able.

I’m talking about the dad who gets hit real good in the eyeball with a frisbee and then doesn’t scream and swear at the 9-year-old responsible. I want a medal for him. I salute the herculean labor you undertook to keep a lid on the blinding rage.

I want a medal for the mom who doesn’t flip the table over when a teacher recommends her 7-year-old be medicated for ADHD and instead calmly questions the wisdom of  slowly replacing recess with standardized test prep. She gets a medal.

When your wife/girlfriend makes you late for the 323rd time in three years and you don’t raise your voice to the heavens in wordless frustration and then drive off into the night a la ‘Everyone Loves Raymond,’ you should get a medal!


The Absent/Crappy Father in Children’s Movies

I’m working on putting together a movie review podcast with some work friends and I’ve noticed a trend. The Dad character in family movies either sucks or he’s absent. Think about it. Beethoven, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, Angels in the Outfield, Free Willy, Air Bud, the list goes on and on. My question is why?

Initially, I wondered if it’s because fathers (on average) tend to be more distant emotionally. That’s probably part of it. Movies often take a feeling or experience that has universal familiarity and then exaggerate. Also, men tend to be more likely to abandon their children.

It also happens that, literally all the movies I’ve noticed this trend in take place after the initial success of the Star Wars trilogy. George Lucas’ sci-fi blockbuster was heavily influenced by the writings of Joseph Campbell and the concept of The Hero’s Journey in particular.

In that framework, the Hero is often orphaned or separate from his father. The repair or replacement of that relationship is an essential part of the Hero’s Journey. However, I’m not sure the writers of Air Bud were thinking on that level. I think they wanted to make a movie about a golden retriever.

Another thought occurs. Movie makers need you to care about what happens to the main character. Its how they make money. Sweet delicious money. If the main character is a child, a distant or non-existent father is a very effective way to make the audience feel for little Jimmy. That sounds a little closer.

I know what you’re thinking. Why not kill the mother or make her too wrapped up in work to attend little Jimmy’s softball game? Some family movies do have a deceased mom. But when they’re alive, they usually aren’t emotionally distant from little Jimmy. Why? I think it would bum everyone out too much.

Like I said at the beginning, women (for all their faults) are less likely to have a low attachment to their kids. In most cases, the bonding starts before little Jimmy is out of the womb. When we do come across an emotionally distant mom, we wonder what deeper problem she has.  With men, the defect is all too common.


Letting The Words Pour Out — madgeniusclub

Very good sentences as they say.

This is a post on how to write fast, if you want to. Note that I’m not saying you should write fast. Some of you should, some shouldn’t. I don’t know how your mind works, I can only speak to mine. There have been awful writers who took forever and there have been awful writers […]

via Letting The Words Pour Out — madgeniusclub