Friday, December 05, 2008

Twitter Me This!

To be perfectly honest, I read a bit about Twitter over six months ago. I went to the site, read their information pieces, and just didn't get it. Not really sour grapes, but their home page -- for non-account holders -- is sparse on details, and not a little cryptic.

Five days ago, I was working on a business blog entry about communication and conference calls, and I came across an article written by the CEO of the international shoe manufacturer, Zappos Shoes. In it, he clearly explained what twitter is, what it does, and what it can do for me. Curious, I signed up.

What I found was the honesty of emails, mixed with the playfulness of instant messages, constrained by the limits of text messaging. It's easy to start, easy to use, and easy to get addicted to if you're not careful.

I spent the first day occasionally checking in, browsing and "following" interesting people. I was thrilled when I saw that I had around 50 people following me. This meant that anything I wanted to say in 140 characters would be seen by these 50 people... if they were at their main screen... or even signed on to twitter. Nevertheless, everything I write is stored so they could scroll back and take a look -- or go to my profile and see all my posts -- if they so desired.

And they probably would. I found myself reading a lot of the older posts of people I found particularly interesting. Am I interesting enough to get the same treatment? Of course I am! A lot of people seemed delighted by the fact that I live near a camel here in Texas. Well, I'm delighted about that myself. Good ol' Cactus the camel!

A highlight of my first day was locating the man who got me into Twitter, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. I clicked to follow him -- his tweeting that is -- and sent a personal note, thanking him for his insightful article. To my surprise, this successful and busy person took the time to write back, twice. How cool is that? It really reinforced his "twitter and business" message: Companies and their executives can become more accessible to their customers for great customer service benefits.

Also that first day, I came across the twittering of Greg Grunberg, the actor who plays Matt Parkman in the TV series, Heroes. I followed him, Brea Grant (Daphne Millbrook), and David H. Lawrence (Eric Doyle - one of the creepiest villains ever). I even had a little conversation with Lawrence!

It's come in handy with my work too. I tweeted a question about webinars to my followers (800 at last count) and got a few interesting responses. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of reaction I'll get when I ask for input on a fiction story.

There is one blemish on the Twittering scene, for me at least. Sometime on the third day, I hit 2000 for people I'm following. Suddenly, I couldn't follow anyone else. I've been blocked from following! It's not the amount, Guy Kawasaki has 33,228 followers and follows 31,938 people! It's not the ratio of followed to followers, I was pushing 4 to 1 most of the time and now I'm almost 2 to 1.

I feel bad because part of the reason for my high following number is I believe anyone who follows me is worth following. My following list is filling up with a lot people that are not followed by me. Seems rude.

What makes this incredibly frustrating is that I was not told of any limits when I signed up, nor is there a "Click to Read Limits" button anywhere on Twitter. In fact, to find out WHY I was getting reined in, I had to do an internet search to find a cryptic, general info page -- inaccessible from the Twitter site -- to find out my infraction. Apparently, you can't follow more than 1,000 people in a certain time period (and no the time period wasn't clear.)

I felt bad at first because I had broken a rule. The fact that I didn't know the rule didn't really alleviate the guilt -- I figured I had skipped over that important part when signing up. Skip to now; I'm not mad, but I am... miffed is a good word here. Isn't it the POINT of twitter to follow and be followed, and connect with as many people as possible?

I'll be fine as soon as the limit is lifted -- whenever that is -- but what about someone else? What if someone's exuberance is squashed by a similar experience? What if they were excited about Twitter and all the interesting thoughts they could read, only to be smacked down. "You like our site too much... stop it." They might never return again.

Despite Twitter's rolled up newspaper to my nose, I'm still pretty excited about the site. I'll continue to follow more people when Twitter allows me to, but I'll keep my enthusiasm muted. If you're on twitter, find me! I'm @tgapgeorge. If you're not on twitter, sign up -- it's free -- and find me!

I'll probably be talking about the camel.

Wondering if Ryan Reynolds tweets...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Changing Widths

I've got to get this off my chest - I almost left blogger for wordpress.

You see, I've always like the simplicity of blogger -- and I have been here for so long -- but it was the size of my posts that were getting increasingly annoying. When I saw wordpress blogs, I noticed that they were typically about 40% wider than my narrow blog. Sure, narrow is great for small posts, but I find myself being verbose every time I try to do a quick post. It's a problem, I know.

I spent quite a bit of time looking over the templates at blogger, and all I could find was either too narrow templates, or ones whose width filled the screen. Neither was satisfactory.

Enter the wonderful internet and the simple search query, "How do I change widths on" Through this, I found a great blog called, The Blogger Guide, The Illustrated Blogger Guide.

There I found step-by-step guides on changing the widths of some of the more common templates for Here is the list.

If you are not satisfied with your girth... I mean width -- heh -- go there and do something about it!

Thank you, IDS, for helping us out,

Now to figure out how to put in a counter...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TGAPGeorge, the Escapist

Woot! Today is a good day. Today I join the ranks of fine authors and video artists at The Escapist Magazine.

I came across the Escapist by way of a post on Digg. It was about the new video review of Army of Two by Zero Punctuation, a game I was thinking about playing. (Never did)

Here's his latest review:

I had never heard of Z.P. or Yahtzee, but one minute into the video clip I almost crapped my pants in laughter.

Since then I have eagerly waited for Tuesdays to read the Escapist's feature articles of the week, and for noon on Wednesdays when they post the new triumph from Yahtzee. So,when it came up, I jumped at the chance to contribute.

So go check out my article Aggro Management at the Escapist magazine. Let me know what you think!

Waiting for server maintenance to be done...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

100 Formula One Grand Prix Winners... Ever

On August 3rd of 2008, Heikki Kovalainen won the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix.

This was a huge day for Heikki. It was his first Grand Prix win ever. The race itself was exciting. There were upsets on the leaderboard, but afterwards the rankings stayed about the same. So other than for Heikki, it was just another Grand Prix. Actually, there was one other special thing about that day.

Heikki Kovalainen’s win made him the 100th driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix in its 50 year history.

That doesn’t seem like a big deal to you? An average Grand Prix season has 20 races. However, only four or five drivers win those races, and they do it year after year.

Let’s put Heikki’s win into perspective.

Worldwide, an average of 2,000 people get struck by lightning in a year. That’s 100,000 people zapped in 50 years.

70 people are attacked by sharks -- again worldwide – in a year. That’s about 3,500 shark attacks in 50 years.

You, me, and everyone you know is more likely to get hit by lightning or eaten by a shark than to win a Formula One Grand Prix. I don’t know the odds on getting hit by lightning WHILE being eaten by a shark, but I’d still lay odds on that happening before I win a Grand Prix.

Almost 50 years ago, Yuri Gagarin was the first man to leave earth and orbit the planet. Since then, there have been over 450 more people that have made it out of our atmosphere.

Can you believe it!? You are more likely to be shot into space than you are to be a Formula One Grand Prix winner.

Congratulations, Heikki! You are 100 out of 6.7 billion.

Drive it like you stole it...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Home Sweet Home Office

First of all, I would like to say that yes, I know how long it's been since my last post, and yes, I realize how this makes most of you feel. I apologize. I'd say that I had good excuses for my delinquency -- I'd say that because it was true -- but despite everything, I really should budget my time better to leave more time for me. I hope this has saved you some comment posting time.

As a writer, I find that there are two kinds of environments that are helpful for me to produce. If I am working on a short story or the notes for a novel, I do my best work in a public place that is relatively quiet, offers refreshments, and has good people-watching potential. It usually works out to be a coffee shop and yes, I know that is a cliche, and no, I don't care. I sit in comfort and study the habits and mannerisms of the people around me which helps to either create a character in my mind, or spark some completely new idea.

For the actual fiction writing as well as business writing, the best place for me is my home office. I have a place that is only for what should be in an office. It's not a storage spot and I don't share it with anything that would require someone else to come in for any reason. It's my sacrosanct holy ground; peaceful, and full of opportunities. It may seem weird that the same setup would work for business writing as well as fiction -- it seems weird to me -- but I have found that the trick that works for me is the music I play when I do one or the other.

While researching I prefer silence, but when I'm ready to craft a blog entry or a Small Business article (or whatever), classical music seems to work best. For fiction, it all depends on the mood I want for the scene I'm writing. If there is a lot of action and I want to convey urgency or danger, I'll play a lot of Rage Against the Machine. For sad or quiet moments, I'll listen to Enya or similar stuff on an iTunes radio channel. All other times, I just start my Top Picks list on iTunes and just see where MSI, Fatboy Slim, Beastie Boys, Beck, Rob Zombie, Crystal Method, or Disturbed takes me.

My home office is where I do the bulk of my work, whether it be writing or managing ShinyPen. To really be effective while in my home office, I feel that it needs to truly be an office replacement. Thankfully, in these high-tech times this is a simple and inexpensive thing to do. I have the basics like cell phone, home phone, internet, and computer, but those things an office do not make. I have found that there are several websites and companies out there with solutions to the various office needs that I have while at home.

When I need to manage files, especially large ones, I use Usendit. Basically, I upload a file to their server (using a simple web form) and they send an email with a link to whoever I want. They click on the link which takes them to a page on Usendit's website, and all they have to do is right-click save-as.

Often I am not the only person working on a project and for easy file sharing, I use foldershare. This is a great website that sets up a connection with one folder on my computer and a folder on whoever I invite. Then whenever something is changed in either folder, the program automatically downloads the change and updates the other folder. It's like sharing a folder but with the security of having two copies.

Communications are even easier these days. Other than my phones, I have windows live chat, aol chat, yahoo messenger, and googletalk. I can instant message to my heart's content. For higher-level communication -- and more professionalism -- I can setup a conference call with any number of people in minutes. I use AccuConference for all my conference call, web conference, or video conferencing needs. Good price, good quality, and great people. If you've never tried one, do a video conference. They're easy to setup and very cool.

For my phone system, I have a virtual pbx system. This is not a VOIP thing, it's more like my own personal switchboard lady at my beck and call. For a mere $10 a month, I can get any regular or work-related calls sent from whatever number that was called to my cell phone, or my home phone, or any phone I choose. I am able to do this magic with ringcentral.

A final home office solution that works great for me is gotomypc. This is a great program that lets me access my computers from any computer anywhere in the world -- as long as I have internet there. It's not like a basic access thing, or just a list of my files or applications; it's like using my computer with super-long keyboard and mouse wires. Basically, the program takes over the computer in front of me and it's just like mine is there.

These programs and websites work great for me to be able to be at work, even when I'm not at work. My setup is so good, I can't tell between work and home... except for the obvious difference that I'm working in my underwear at the office. You heard me!

The solutions that I have found work for me, but I went through many other "solutions" to get to this setup. I'm accustomed to change and know that time marches on, so I'm always looking for the next best thing.

If you have solutions that work as good or better for you, let me know!

Can't wait for no-pants tuesday...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cold Oil... Cold War

I'm not the type given to conspiracy theories. Aw hell, sure I am. Oswald was set up; SOMETHING happened in the Roswell skies, and we know where Osama Bin Laden is -- at least we did until we killed him. One thing along those lines occurred to me several days ago: gasoline prices.

We now know that in the 1970s, when America had a gas shortage, it was because OPEC, the Orgzanization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, tightened gaskets in their oil fields and deprived us. It was all about profits, but we learned two things that year; OPEC can play god with the energy markets and America can be brought to its knees with a turn of a wrench.

That is history, but history seems to be repeating itself. Here we are in 2008, oil production is slow and demand is high with gas prices to match. But there might be a problem. As recently as 2005, OPEC was pumping oil at a record rate. Even, Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of oil and the only one with any extra production capacity was running at 90%.

Jump to this past May when President Bush basically pleaded with the House of Saud to increase production to alleviate our high gas prices. The Saudis said they would increase supply by 3%. At first blush, we all thought this was America getting told to go *&%/@ ourselves, but that might have been the most honest answer they could have given. 3% may be all the extra production they can possibly muster.

It was postulated in the late nineties that OPEC lost control of oil due to the privatization of nation's oil concerns and market forces dictating prices. While that may have happened, OPEC didn't seem to have had any problems weathering that storm. However, I'll bet it tolled a bell, and they heard it clearly. Ever since, I think they have been scrambling to get back their former power. But if they feel everything slipping though their fingers, where is it all going?

We might have a problem here. Something is lurking under the black pools that control our existence. We think we know what it is, where the danger lies, but we really don't.

While OPEC may have flexed their muscles a few times in their forty plus years of existence, we all knew their primary motivator was money. Yes, they are raking it in hand over fist right now, but they are smart enough to know that, especially in an economy, what goes up, must come down... and it will come down hard.

Changing tack to a different angle that, I promise, will coincide with the previous line of thought, let's talk about the Soviet Union. In 1982, Gorbachev become the leader of the USSR. By 1985, he and Ronald Regan began a standoff of sorts, where war was fought everywhere but in the open, or in any official capacity. There were many battles with many countries involved, but all was kept "under the radar" to avoid the very real mutually assured destruction that both sides could deliver with their vast nuclear arsenals.

The way the cold war ended and the USSR was defeated boils down to the difference between two fundamental schools of thought: Capitalism and Communism. Basically, one worked and the other didn't, especially when the two were pitted together. Communism, or the sharing of all resources equally, is simply not setup to be anything but a non-profit. Capitalism has a lot more wiggle room.

In an opening move, Regan spoke with OPEC and got them to open the oil floodgates, dropping the price per barrel. While this would make it more feasible to keep the Soviet war machine going, it also trashed their income; the Soviet Union's primary export was oil. After that, we built up our military, then they did the same. We assembled thousands of nuclear missiles and they matched ours. By the late eighties, the Soviet Union was pouring all of their resources in the their war factories to keep up with the U.S. This meant that their food and other essential infrastructures suffered greatly. Eventually they were forced to quit so as to avoid economic ruin and collapse.

We hit them hard where they were weak and brought them crashing down.

OPEC has always maintained that they do not control the world's oil, but that hasn't really been true until recently. Therein lies the rub... who does? The importance of this question can be seen every time you go to put gas in your tank, every time you buy milk, every time you look at your electricity bill. Gasoline is the primary drive of our economy and way of life. It takes gas to power factories and power plants. It takes gas to power farm machinery and deliver food to... everywhere. When gas prices go up, so does everything else.

What better way to tank a Capitalist country than to make it too expensive to run properly?

Gasoline is our weakness. Raising its cost so very high is the exploit. So who is doing this to us? Not OPEC. They may be on different cultural or religious grounds, but their lifestyle and livelihood is tied tightly with ours. Like the war on terror, I don't think this can be attributed to a country, or group of countries. It has to be individuals. I'm not saying some countries aren't contributing, even consciously. Take Venezuela for example. They hate us -- at least the President does.

To fully exploit our fatal flaw, several things would have to happen. OPEC would need to weaken its grasp, as well as come close to running at capacity. Other nations would have to produce their own oil supplies enough to take up the slack. Finally, oil would have to be highly reactive to trading, both as a commodity and in futures. All of which has happened.

What would it take then to push us to our knees? Money, lots of money. Money controlled by individuals working together, or separately toward the same cause. Money that, ironically enough, may have even come from us that we spent on oil. If these individuals work the stock market smart enough, they can continue to drive up prices until we are in the same position the Soviet Union once was. We will have to choose between military or food, security or survival

Some "out of the box" thinking inspired a small group of individuals to attack America in a way that was never done before by flying planes into buildings. Since then, we have made it all but impossible to attack us in a similar fashion. Well, some people may have done more out-of-the-box thinking again. This time, it could be more devastating than we ever feared.

You don't have to blow-up the United States of America, you can marginalize it into to a gasping, impotent, harmless bystander.

The solution to keep us strong? That's going to take some more thought.

Sorry for the delay. I've had a lot on my plate...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fun With Wood!

When I was six or seven years old, I met my neighbor, Tom. Tom was retired, seventy or eighty years old, and had converted his one car garage into a semi-pro woodworking workshop. It was amazing, even to this day. All of his equipment was old, but very well cared for and, when they were purchased, top of the line. Good, expensive equipment do not a workshop -- or woodworker -- make. It's what you do with that equipment that separates the amateurs from the craftsmen.

Tom had built his shop around the equipment. His main workbench was custom made (by him) to include his table saw, band sander, drum sander, and easy access to all of his carving tools. It was strewn with wood scraps, old designs, half finished projects, bottles of glue and solvents, and sawdust. To me it was an incomprehensible mess, but he knew exactly where everything was. What stood out to me as a seven year old, was a large table press whose long turning handle had a hand carved lion's head on one end. It was beautiful in its simplicity.

Tom carved a wicked cool "crusaders style" sword and shield for me. He carved an amazing bas relief carving of two doves and a heart for my parents anniversary. He quickly produced... so many things for each and every time I wandered into his backyard. He was incredibly generous, talented, and kind. If he had thought of it, or seen this video, he would have made an expanding table, but it would have been ornately carved on all visible surfaces.

It wasn't until over fifteen years later that I began to cut and carve my own projects with hand tools. I eventually got some beginner level equipment and began to fashion a workshop of my own. I started watching shows like Woodworks and New Yankee Workshop for ideas, tips, and tricks. I started going to stores like Rockler's and Woodcraft.

I also set my sights high for my first big equipment purchase: The SawStop Table Saw! This bad boy is about $500 dollars more than the best table saw out there, but it's SO worth it! Using electrical impulses, a little computer monitors the blade. If two teeth come into contact with something that conducts electricity, i.e. a finger, then the computer fires a charge which propels an aluminum brake into the blade, stopping it instantly. The remaining momentum of the blade jerks it down beneath the table.

Normally when you get a finger in the mix, not only does the blade cut through it, but it goes to town on your other fingers too! Finger reattachment surgery costs $15,000 and up! Compare that to the extra 500 bones shelled out at the beginning. Oh, and of course the brake, computer, and blade are toast after an accident, but to replace all three costs around $50 bucks. Not a bad charge to have a "mishap," rather than a amputation. Make sure you check out the "Hot Dog Test" video!

The first thing I think I will make with it is this freakin' sweet walking table. What a great idea!

I think Tom would have liked it too.

Making things out of things since 2001...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Snakes on a Plain!

If you have read my previous post, you'll know that this week is apparently "Horrible Back Pain Week." This means that all sorts of random stuff crops up, all requiring the use of my back.

Yesterday was no exception. I was talking to my mom on the phone and letting the dogs out at the same time. (You Freudians can do what you will with that) I stepped onto the porch and happened to glance to my right. A few feet away in the yard was a coiled, HUGE snake. No wonder the dogs were barking.

Needless to say I was caught off guard, and I casually apprised my mother of the situation. I said, "HOLY S**T, MOM! There's a giant SNAKE here!" Mom is so proud, I'm sure.

I rushed the dogs in, never letting my eyes leave the reptile. It didn't move and -- having just at that moment LOST my MIND -- I almost nudged it with my foot. Instead, I asked mom to help me out. "But, Honey, I've got a dinner thing in two hours."

"Yeah? Well, I'm staring down a 4-foot long snake. Just go and type 'deadly snakes that are enormous' into google for me. I would do it, but I don't want the thing to escape and lurk under my porch all summer."

I described it to her and she came back with "I don't like the sound of that triangular black head.

I think it's probably a Cottonmouth."

"Okay, so... can I shoot it?" Keep in mind that yes, it's pretty rural out here, but I live in a mini-suburb surrounded by lots of rurality.

"Yes, dear, but a shovel or axe might be better. Now, don't hurt yourself and I'll talk to you later. Bye!"

I laughed at the absurdity of my mommy hanging up like that, leaving me to deal with a hungry hungy herp, but look at it this way: My mom has that much faith in my ability to deal with... whatever. Thanks Mom!

As luck would have it, there was a dirt-rake and an axe just around the corner. So I grabbed them, checked on the dogs to make sure none were writhing around from poison in the house, and grabbed my Glock just in case. (I live in Texas. Yes, most of us have guns. USA! USA! USA!)

In my mind, I was desperately searching for the correct rhyme for this situation. "Red and yellow, it will be mellow, red and black... kill jack?", "You'll turn black?", "Put it in a sack?", "Your acne's back?" For future reference, kids, it's "Red and Yellow, kill a fellow; Red and Black, friend of Jack."

I got ready and just as I was making my move, the dang thing bolted around the corner to hide in the plastic doghouse. Well, that wouldn't do, so I pulled the doghouse to the middle of the yard, pulled the snake out with the rake -- man, was it strong! -- and lowered the axe a few inches behind its head.

Thinking my job was done, I was taking a closer look, when the body moved. It was trying to slither away! It wasn't going anywhere -- I did say "trying" -- but still, I was impressed. I grabbed a trash bag and spent a few minutes fighting my back and a headless, yet determined, snake. Finally got the body in the bag and went for the head.

In one of the creepiest moments of my life, the head turned towards me and gaped its mouth! A body less snake was trying to eat me. Yes, I wet myself a little. Now, I didn't know anything then about killing snakes, so I figured it was just reflexes. As I learned later, a snake can stay alive for hours without its body and CAN bite you and KILL you. THAT's Determination!

I won't lie, I felt pretty manly dispatching a poisonous snake, protecting the homestead and the dogs, but at one point I seriously thought about herding it to the property line. However, I had already made many overtures to the snake about killing it and I didn't want it to come back and bite me, or sue me for pain and suffering. So now I will just be haunted by the ghost of a snakehead floating around the yard.

I got on the internets today and did some research. The most probable reason the snake was there in the first place was because of the hordes of toads roaming around. These toads have caustic glands that will injure and kill the stupid dogs that try to gum them. The snake that most commonly eats these toads is... the Blotched Water Snake... a non-venomous toad-only-avore.

I believe that I removed the only thing between my house and a biblical-like plague of toads. Yeah, I feel a little sheepish.

Is the "toad-licking" craze still going on?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Oh, the Pain!

I have recently come to realize that my bed is trying to kill me. For a long time now, I have had chronic neck and back pain. I've always thought it was because of my strenuous lifestyle, (no laughing please) but it's really my bed.

Yesterday, I awoke with HORRIBLE lower back pain. I couldn't stand up straight. I couldn't bend over. As if that wasn't fun enough, my neck decided it didn't need me to look more than a couple inches to the left. I felt like an old man!

Not this Oldman,

but this kind:

As it would turn out, I had to leave my house instead of quietly, painfully, sitting at my computer all day. So I ventured out. My first stop was the post office. It's a normal post office where you walk through some double doors into a large room with P.O. Boxes, then go through another set of double doors to get in line to talk to someone who works there.

Well, I had made it past the first set of doors and was shuffling to the second set. I was slightly stooped over because if I didn't, I would have had a back spasm and collapsed on the postage meters. I got to the next set of doors and was carefully pulling one open when a lady passed me going out.

She was in her forties, dressed like a nice, normal housewife. What was not nice and normal was that she was glaring at me! She had this look of disgust on her face that took me aback. She obviously wanted to spit something at me, but instead she merely glared and walked on by.

I wanted to turn to see if she was going to hit me from behind, but my neck said "no". The pain from my neck jolted me up straight and I convulsed from the shooting back pain. I shuffled and groaned, slightly stooped, and prayed for a car to crash through the building so I would have an excuse to lie down on the floor.

I hadn't gone but a few feet -- I won't tell you how long it took to do that -- when I noticed a man in front of me. He looked to be about eighty years old. He was slightly stooped over, semi-shuffling, making quiet groans every step or so. He looked like I felt. It all clicked into place...

That housewife thought I was making fun of that poor old man.

Just get me some ibuprofen and leave me alone...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Heroes Series [Ezra]

Yesterday I came across a story on that was about ten months old. It was originally printed in the OC Register, about a ten year old boy named Ezra who had brain cancer. What made the story extra-special was that when Make-A-Wish came round to offer a wish, he asked to go the offices of World of Warcraft game designer, Blizzard. He made this wish because he and his dad had become avid gamers in World of Warcraft.

Now in World of Warcraft, Blizzard created a fantastic game that for 3 years has entertained over ten million people. However, while it's never happened to me, I've heard of many bad customer service experiences about Blizzard. I'm sure that when servicing millions of people, you're going to have SOME mistakes, but unfortunately bad mistakes are quite loud.

In any case, what I read in the story made me very impressed with both Blizzard and Ezra. Blizzard welcomed this little gamer with open arms. They toured the facilities of course, but also opened up the game for him by letting him explore the highest reaches, by giving his character all sorts of great gear, and even let him design a weapon, a quest, and a Non Player Character -- which Ezra voiced himself! They didn't have to do any of that, but they did, and did it very well. I'm proud of you Blizzard!

And Ezra was excellent as well. He was polite, well-mannered, strong, and resilient -- showing far more courage and tact than men four times his age. When he was offered to design the weapon, he didn't create some uber-pwnage god-stick, he simply put together a very cool (little more powerful than average) crossbow. Blizzard wanted to attribute the weapon to him personally, but he humbly declined, not wishing to appear egotistical. A Class-Act all around! (And he looks wicked cool with an eye patch!)

There are many, many people rooting for Ezra's recovery -- myself included. You can catch up on Ezra's story and get updates at the Gadgetress Blog.

Don't make me [MIND BLAST] you...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ruins Terra et. al.

While I've been writing fiction since I was very young, my stuff did not get out of the "It's Crap, but my mom will tell me she loves it" stage until after college and my first post-college job. I wrote occasionally, doing mainly short stories, but also thinking about working on "the novel" -- or as I like to call it, "the giant elephant sitting and pooing in the corner of the room."

I didn't really start working or producing as a writer until I joined a writing group here in Fort Worth, Texas. Ironically, this name of this group of talented writers is called "Writing Group." For any fledgling, failing, flailing, or floundering authors out there, I highly recommend you join a quality writing group. That and read Stephen King's non-fiction book, On Writing. The individuals in this group are wicked smart, fun, caring, and can be brutally honest about each other's work. That honesty and other external input, I find, is greatly needed to produce good writing. Since we meet every two weeks, I am also driven to write and consistently come up with... something, where I might have wussed out and done nothing before.

It was also because of my writing group that a story of mine, "Airholes," was cleaned up and improved. They even gave me some suggestions on where to submit and that is how I got my first publishing! In Ruins Terra, "Airholes" is comingled with some great stories by authors like Adele Cosgrove-Bray, Jenny Blackford, Leila Eadie, Kfir Luzzatto, and Brendan Connell. Let me take this moment to thank the editor of Ruins Terra, Eric T. Reynolds, for including my story and Jonathan Shipley for introducing me to the anthology. You can read Jonathan's story in the twin anthology, Ruins Extraterrestrial.

As this blog turns, I will be including some short stories I have written -- and put to the writing group test. We'll see how you like 'em!

Lead a dog to water and he will lap it up and slobber on you...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Brittish Brilliance!

There are many things I like. There are many things I think about, follow, muse, reflect upon, and watch. I wouldn't call myself a rennaisance man because while I am interested in and do many things, I'm only good at a handful... unlike DaVinci, that overachieving know-it-all.

One thing I do know how to do is write. Which is good for blogging, emails, and get well cards. Another thing is I can appreciate really good content, even if it's off the beaten path -- even if it's not mine!

For those of you who don't look at the Digg List everyday, or who hate video games and the people who play them, I am going to introduce to you one of the funniest Britons since Monty Python -- or Mitchell and Webb, but they are still in their first season. Believe it when I tell you that I will be talking more about them in the future. Oh, and Graham Norton. He's hilarious as well!

Anyway, what I really wanted to cover was the extending of a helping hand to those who really, really need it by introducing you to Zero Punctuation, hosted at The Escapist Magazine (with new ones every Wednesday). Here is Yahtzee and his latest Magnum Opus!

(A word of Caution: Yahtzee is British, but that just means that his occasional cuss word is spoken in a Brittish accent.)

Wasn't that simply brilliant!? I've seen them all and can't get enough. I don't think he invented the phrase, "Pants-On-Head Retarded," but he uses it often enough.

And I for one salute him for it. Thank you, Yahtzee!

Write like you don't have a backspace and edit later...

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Not long ago, I was giving out some very good advice to a friend knowing full well that the friend would not follow it. Oh sure, they were interested and said the ideas were sound, but I knew they couldn't be reached. It doesn't matter that we've been in this spot before, they asking and me giving advice. It doesn't matter that I'm dead-on 98% of the time, that I called it, or predicted it, or simply flat-out told them what would happen if they did... whatever. I know that I'm right so much because I get the fallout report. I get to hear what happened, exactly how I predicted it, know what they did or did not do contrary to my advice, and how it all played out just like I said it would.

It is UNBELIEVABLY difficult to not say, "I told you so."

But I don't and I'm sure they appreciate it. I get something out of it too: I get to know how right I was.

It's been a long time since I blogged and the fault is all mine. I've been putting my creativity in other places.

SHINY LESSON #1: Blogging is like pumping iron. While it may seem that blogging would take you away from your writing projects, be they a novel or press release, it actually helps to make you a better writer. Like pumping iron: it may take away time from practicing football or wrestling, it may even sap your energy, but the end result is that you are a much better player or wrestler because of time spent in the gym.

Feverishly working to finish an article...