Monday, August 13, 2012

Watch for Motorcycles

To start off with, let me get one thing straight, I have nothing against 'Watch for Motorcycles' stickers, or billboards, or signs, or whatever.  I have a lot of family and friends who ride motorcycles (some of which have been in some bad accidents) and I like the idea of people trying to see them while they ride so that I don't have a premature funeral to attend.

That being said though, I think this 'Watch for Motorcycles' thing has only half for its story being told.

Here's what I mean:  I try very hard to 'Watch for Motorcycles' (like I said, I have some buddies who like to straddle  the engine) but today, as I was driving home, a motorcycle suddenly cut me off.  No amount of 'Watch for Motorcycles'-ing was going to stop me from almost hitting him.  So, I'd like to add my 'car driver's caveat' to the 'Watch for Motorcycles' thing.  That is, 'Don't expect me to watch for you if you're driving like a moron.'

So, I've compiled a few examples to help the motorcyclists.  First, know the conditions, and ride (or don't ride) appropriately.  How many times have we as motorists been driving down a highway or freeway in some heavy wind when we suddenly come up on a motorcyclist driving twenty below the speed limit?  How many times has it been raining and a motorcyclist is driving super slow on the freeway?  Look, man (or woman, whichever the case may be), you made a choice when you bought that bike.  You knew the tradeoffs.  You were buying a vehicle that would surpass mine in both gas mileage and badassery.  The drawback though:  It won't drive well in adverse weather conditions.  I'm all for 'Watch for Motorcycles'-ing, but if your vehicle can't drive the speed limit because of adverse conditions, it's time to be smart and pull it over until those conditions have changed.  It's part of the trade off.  I can keep driving, but will never look like a badass in my Ford Focus.

Another thought, you're driving a vehicle too, that means that you get to follow the same rules that we do.  This means that in traffic, you can wait in line with the rest of us.  I know that some motorcycle motors overheat easily and could explode if they aren't moving.  Two options:  Pull over and turn the bike off, or get out of the traffic.  Any motorist will tell you that when they see a motorcycle flying up the dotted white lines when they're in traffic, they get the sudden urge to open their door to 'see what's going on up there.'  And those who honestly haven't will start thinking about it.  It's rude, and kind of dangerous, so again, drive smart so we can 'Watch for Motorcycles.'

Just a few other things: Drive the speed limit (or thereabouts), don't weave in and out of traffic, and don't hug the line.  All of us motorists get nervous when you do any of this.  We're not sure how stable the two-wheelers are.  We rode bicycles and remember falling over, or weaving a little more than we meant to.  Give us some space around you so we have the opportunity to 'Watch for Motorcycles.'

Anyway, that's my rant.  Bottom line: if you really want me to 'Watch for Motorcycles' then please try to drive as safely and as cautiously as you can.  If you don't, then I can't feel too bad about not 'Watch for Motorcycles'-ing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My New Sport

Let me just start out by saying that CB is small for her age.  Not worryingly small.  She's a bit over a year and still wears nine month clothes (six month in some brands).  On top of that, of her body I mean, her head is just a little big for her age, seventieth percentile or so.  Her legs also look a little short for her body (I'm sure her diaper isn't doing her any favors in that department).  So when I say that she looks kind of funny walking now, it's not me being a mean father, it's that she really does look like a short-legged bobble-head with its hands to its chest (like how a chimp walks).

Now, we're spending a little time here at Grandma's house, who also lives close to Great Grandma, and CB has decided recently (we're talking the last couple of weeks) that crawling is old news.  We entered her in the crawling diaper derby, in which there were three heats for her to compete and she won, and I think the victory got to her head, because soon thereafter (I think the next day) she learned how to stand up without the use of anything.  That's right, CB has learned to pick that huge melon up onto her toothpick body without anything to help balance it.

What does this mean?  Well, it means that my wife and I have taken up a new sport.  We're calling it, "Run Really Fast and Catch CB Before She Falls or Goes Somewhere that will Inevitably Lead to a Hospital Visit;" it's a working name.  Thus far she's fallen down the stairs once (I wasn't present, we're pinning that one on everyone upstairs at the time), constantly trips on stuff (though that doesn't make us lose points), and last night she tripped and plowed right into Great Grandma's banister.  So, this morning, she has a great big purple bruise one her cheek.  The saddest part of it all though, is that even with the clear and present danger, I can't help but chuckle when I see her walk (and to be honest, trip), because she looks like an orangutan (short legs, raised hands, and all) who's had a few too many.  I'm going to go and ask God for forgiveness, if you'd pray for me (and for CB), that'd be great.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sally, Part 44

Sally, Part 43

Or at least that's what Stacey kept telling himself.  The farther they went into the wood, the more eyes appeared along the side.  They varied in size, shape, and color, and Stacey couldn't stop his mind from imagining what kind of ugly creature would have red slits for eyes.  Something with fangs and horns, maybe?  But Stacey still said nothing.  Mattias and Syrin were still unfazed and so would he pretend to be.

Syrin stopped for a moment and squinted at something ahead.  Stacey was so preoccupied with the eyes that he nearly bumped right into Mattias's back.  He barely stopped himself in time and Syrin started walking again without a word or gesture.  Mattias followed and Stacey held until there was space between them.  What had Syrin seen?  Or thought he saw?  It made Stacey uneasy, and if he were forced to be totally truthful, a little afraid. Syrin never stopped for anything, so whatever he saw must have been something to be feared. Thought he saw, Stacey continued telling himself, he only thought he saw something.

The uneasiness still didn't go away though.  Syrin didn't stop walking, but kept looking ahead like he was expecting something.  An owl hooted, Mattias and Syrin never flinched, but Stacey almost jumped out of his skin.  Why did they have to go in this wood? Why did they have to go anyway?  Slavers or savers, Stacey no longer wanted to be a part of it.

Syrin stopped again.  This time, Stacey was ready and tried to see what he was seeing.  The stop was longer this time and Syrin cocked his head to look from different angles.  Still focusing, Syrin made his hands into an odd looking fist and blew into it, making some kind of call Stacey didn't recognize.  Mattias had his hand on the hilt of his sword, making Stacey start reaching for his carving knife.  Syrin made the noise again and started walking.  Mattias quickly followed, and just as Stacey was about to do so, something dark gripped him by the shoulders and carried him into the black of the forest.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sally, Part 43

Sally, Part 42

As they came to the first twist in the path Stacey took a look back at the sliver of sunlight that marked where they'd entered the wood.  It would be the last sunlight he'd see in a while.  Together, they turned the corner and the sunlight was gone.  Stacey felt as though someone had ripped a blanket off of him on a cold winter's day, uncomforted and wronged.

"Is there no other path than through this forest?"  Stacey's voice croaked a little, and he hoped the other two wouldn't notice.

Mattias looked back as warmly as he was able on a path like this, "None less dangerous or uncomfortable.  Don't worry Stacey, we'll be through it before you know it."  He turned back around and walked a few more steps before bringing his head back to Stacey again, "Stay on the path though.  Otherwise, it'll be much longer than you'd think."  With that, Mattias faced the path again, and left Stacey wondering why he hadn't let them kill him earlier.

What was more curious than the lack of light in the forest, was the existence of some.  Not once did Stacey see a beam of sunshine coming through a hole in the canopy, and yet, they all could see enough to recognize the path, even if they couldn't see beyond it on either side.  It was as if there was a magical ray of sunshine that started bouncing between the trees centuries earlier and continued doing so even after the trees grew to their monstrous heights.  Stacey decided not to ask Syrin or Mattias about the light, as Mattias's answer to his last question hadn't really helped him, or even made him feel better.  He'd just trudge on, and be glad there was any light at all.

Syrin led the three, because of his exceptional eye sight, and Stacey took up the rear because of his exceptional... well, because he was Stacey.  It didn't bother him at first, until he started seeing eyes appear between the trees.  Occasionally, he imagined that some of them were just barely off the path, but decided that could not be so.  Wood dwelling creatures are always afraid of and standoffish to people.  Surely nothing would attack, or even come near them on the path.  Nothing would dare.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's Not Just Allergies

My wife shakes me, and I try opening my eyes.  It's as if someone laid a strip of Elmer's Glue on my eyelids.  Ugh, allergies.  Slowly, my eyelids tear the barrier apart and I swallow.  Ooh, my throat hurts from the drainage.  What time do I want to get up?  Never.  I move my legs a little.  Oh, no.  It's not just allergies.  My whole body aches.  Suddenly, I need to blow my nose.  Yep, green and yellow mucus stare back at me.  Why?  We have a cake to make today for CB's birthday.  CB starts to cry and I can feel my forehead, ever so slowly, rip away from my skull.  I have stuff to do, a cake to make, stuff to write, stuff to email, stuff to read.  Why me?  Why now?  Even here at my computer my neck starts to scream.  I took some decongestant before, maybe I need to take some painkillers.  Maybe I need to curl up into a ball and cry.  I really hope this only lasts for today.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

6 Stitches

I've been writing about my baby for a while now, and have realized that most of the exciting things that happen in my life are linked to her.  I've also noticed that it's annoying to constantly write, "my baby,"  so instead, when I write about her, I'll refer to her as CB.

Over the past few months CB has really started trying out her walking skills, and she's really getting pretty good at it.  She still looks like a drunk orangutan, but gets around.  Well, we were at Kohl's and she was doing her usual walk around attempt while my mom and sister were checking out.  CB walked to the carts and stumbled a little, but used them to stand up again.  She then started walking to the double doors.  I walked behind her, trying to make sure that she didn't walk in front of the doors or anything.  She went toward the wall next to wall that separated the doors from the carts.  She reached for the wall, stumbled, and I heard possibly the most awful sound in the world: my baby's head bouncing off the edge of the wall.

Quick as I could, I took her up in my arms to see the damage.  Sure enough, there was a growing puddle of dark blood on her forehead.  I stood, trying to tip her head back so it wouldn't get in her eyes (I don't know what blood does to eyes).  My wife came over, apparently more interested in CB's blood getting on Kohl's carpet, rather than the fact that her head was bleeding, as she told me to carry CB out of the store so that we didn't ruin their super fine, already stained, dark grey carpet.  My mom got kleenex from her purse to stop the bleeding and we rushed CB to the Instacare.

The nurse came out and looked at the wound while my wife filled out paperwork.  The nurse explained to us that we'd need to hold CB down, and that it might be traumatic.  I then went back to talk to the doctor, who seemed to feel a little inadequate for the job, and sent us to the ER.

By this time, CB forgot about the gaping hole on her forehead and wanted to play around the emergency room.  All the staff were really nice to her and us, but we figured she didn't really need to be pulling on chords to machines we didn't even know what did, so she got mad at us while we held her.  The doctor came in, explaining that what the Instacare folks told us wasn't really true, about CB needing anesthesia, and that we could just hold her while he stitched her up.  CB screamed the whole time, but once it was over, she was back to stumbling around again.

I won't lie, my wife held it together throughout much better than I did.  I allowed my little girl to get hurt.  I recognize that all kids get hurt, it was just my first time, and I didn't like it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What's the Deal with the Guys in Ties and White Shirts on Bikes?

So, my cousin came home from an LDS mission a week ago, and spoke in his church yesterday, so we went to hear him speak and to have a little social gathering at his parents' house.

I've thought, every now and then, that I ought to put something on my blog about LDS missionaries, as they tend to be the face of our church, and the main contact people have with us.  For a few minutes, I sat with my uncle (the returning cousin's dad) and he and I talked about how long it had been since we were missionaries.  It's been five years for me (I'd guess he'd rather I not say how long it's been for him, so I won't).  Five years is a long time.  I barely remember what happened two days ago.  So, I figured that I should probably write about this while it's still stale in my memory, before it starts growing mold.

All my life, I'd grown up hearing about missions and thinking that I would probably go on one.  It was much the same as one thinking that they'll get a job when they get older, it'll just happen.  When I turned nineteen though, the reality of it hit me.  You see, going on a mission in our church isn't just a few weeks building a school in Mexico.  It's two years for men, and one and a half years for women.  We don't choose where we go, and literally none of it has any kind of a vacation flare to it.  It's right when most people get to do some pretty fun things, nineteen for men and twenty-one for women, and people can still go up until they're twenty-five (couples can also go on missions, but they're different in nature).  So, when I was nineteen I really had to think about if I really wanted to go.

Talking to those who had gone on missions was interesting.  There's always a light in their eyes when they remember it.  I know that sounds really corny, but if you've ever heard someone talk about it, you'd know it's 100% real.  They always remember it with fondness, which was always odd to me, because of what they said they did.

A missionary's day starts at six.  There are no 'sleep-in' days.  They exercise, eat breakfast, get ready, study the scriptures by themselves for an hour, and then study scriptures together.  After that, it's knocking on doors (basically cold-calling people), talking to people on the street, teaching lessons, and helping people (as in, helping them rake their leaves, or shovel their walks, or tear down a barn, etc.).  Their day ends at nine, unless they're teaching someone, then it ends at nine thirty.  Once they get home, they plan for the next day and go to bed by ten (maybe ten thirty, it's been five years and I can't remember).  The only different days are Zone Conferences (where a group of missionaries get together, share testimonies and listen to speakers) and Preparation Days (when missionaries do their laundry and go grocery shopping, and write letters to their family and friends).  Missionaries still work on both of these days, they just take a few hours out to do other things.

Along with all of this, missionaries are only allowed to call home on Christmas and Mother's Day.  That's only four times over the whole duration.

When I thought about all of this, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go.  I thought a lot then, prayed a lot too.  After some experiences that are too special to share on my blog, I decided to go.  I went because I knew God wanted me to, for whatever reason.

I know why people talk about their missions the way they do, because I do it too.  You learn to live on your own.  It was rough not being able to talk to my parents very often, but I'm more independent now than I would have been.  You learn to live with someone, even if you don't like them much.  You don't get to choose the guy you're working with, so you learn to work with him.  You learn to keep working, even when someone tells you you're spreading the message of the devil, or they just slam the door in your face.  You learn to press on.  Most importantly though, you gain a relationship with God at a very young age.  You learn to trust in Him.  You learn that He exists, and that He not only loves you, but loves everyone, and it makes you want to love them too.  It may not have been easy, but I loved my mission.  I know I wouldn't be who I am now if I hadn't gone.

If you read through this because you wanted to know something specific about missionaries, but this post didn't answer it, put a question in the comments and I'll answer it if I can.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fill in Your Own Happening

I went back to my desk, sat down, stared at my computer for a moment, and then smiled.  It's funny how life programs you, I tried to hold back that smile, but it came bursting through anyway.  The news was just to good, to exquisite to hold in the smile that beamed from my chest.  It radiated through my body and out my fingers and toes until I was sure that someone walking by might think I had a lantern that glowed inside of my cubical.  It seemed to bounce off the sound absorbing gray walls, off the picture of me catching a very small fish, through the handle of my coffee mug, and back into me again.

Had I known happiness before this?  I couldn't be sure.  I didn't remember it if I had.  It seemed that bad times stuck in my head better than good, and things hadn't been good in a while.  After I lost my last job, and my wife left me I went through what some might call a bit of a rough patch, if I were being totally honest, I'd say I went through 35 whiskey bottles, 83 cases of beer, 41 plates, 17 doors, and 7 women whose last names I don't remember (or possibly never knew), all in about three months.  It was alcohol, destruction, and sex for those months that acted as very small band-aids on very serious lacerations.  At the end of it I realized what had happened.  I realized the mistakes I made and I sobered up.  That's about when I got this job.

I've really only been working here a short while, but after getting news like that, it might be my favorite job ever, just because I received the news while in this building.  I knew my luck would turn around.  I knew that if I started living right, if I started sobering up and going back to church that God would smile on me, and surely he did. 

After a while I stopped trying to hide my smile.  I was happy, damnnit.  Happier than I'd been in a long while, and it was due, and I wasn't about to try and hide it.  It was a good day, the start of many good days.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sally, Part 42

Sally, Part 41

Syrin was the first to stand, wordlessly commanding the other two men to follow.  All three had finished their cherries long ago and were as ready as they'd ever be.  Stacey wondered why Syrin had stood.  Maybe this mission was real, and Syrin's desire to save his brother overcame his love of the soft grass and cool breeze.  Stacey could think of no other reason.  Even slavers had to enjoy slowing down for a moment.  He wanted very strongly to believe that they were going on this journey for the reasons Mattias gave, and for a moment, he almost allowed himself to.

The forest looked terribly ominous.  Behind the timberline was nothing but black, even the brilliant sunset to the east could not break through the thick branches.  Stacey wondered if there was another way, but said nothing.  As they approached the first two trees, unofficial sentinels guarding the path, Stacey thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye, a small person, but when he turned to look the vision had vanished.  He immediately told himself that he must be seeing things, but the jumping of his stomach would not listen.  This forest is not where he wanted to be, but Mattias and Syrin kept moving, and his legs could do nothing but follow.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Oh, Mcdonald's

Yesterday, I woke up at 3:35 AM to drive my dad to the airport.  On the way back home, being the amazing husband that I am, I thought, "Hey, my wife loves fast food breakfast, I should stop and pick her up some."  So I did, and ended up with one of the best fast food cups I've ever owned.

It's really not funny unless you know the story though (as most of you will).  Several years ago, there was a woman who got coffee from Mcdonald's.  As crazy as this might sound, the coffee was hot.  We learned later that the lid may not have fit exactly right either, but this is still ridiculous.  She spilled the coffee on herself and it burned her. Don't get me wrong, I've spilled many a hot beverage on myself and I can feel for this woman, but I never would have thought to do what she did.  She sued Mcdonald's, and because Mcdonald's is a huge corporation, they paid her off.  In many ways, the day I found out made me a little sad.  It was obviously a stupid law suit, and just because I think Mcdonald's makes sub-par food, doesn't mean that they deserve to be sued.

For years I've thought of that law suit being one of the many indictments of humanity.  I assumed that we must really be going downhill is someone can sue a restaurant for burning themselves.  I got a little bit of my faith in humanity back yesterday morning, for on my cup was written, "BEWARE: COLD ZONE.  Careful - the beverage you're about to enjoy is extremely, impossibly, awesomely cool."  I laughed the whole way home.  Did they pay that woman a bundle of money?  Yes they did.  Did they take the hit and just move on?  Apparently they did not.  They saw, out of the wreckage of a frivolous lawsuit against them, a way to make one hilarious cup.  I may not love your food, and I may think you're a soul sucking conglomerate,  but you had one funny cup there, that on a deeper level, made me respect you a little bit more.  I'm usually not Mcdonald's, but today I am, I'm lovin' it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Know My Weakness

Everything I hold hear.  That's what they've got in their hands and I'm just the short kid, jumping as high as he can, trying to reach it, but their arms are just a little too long.  It's demeaning is what it is.  I've spent my whole life building my reputation, my wealth... it's difficult to think that someone can just swoop in and take it away like this.  Makes me wonder what's worth it, if anything is worth it.  If they can do this, what stops them from doing something else once their demands are met?  I've tried to think of a way out, I've talked to them, I once even tried to threaten them, but it was no use.  They know my weaknesses.  It's a rigged deck, and they have all the cards.

The saddest part?  It's difficult for me to even say it.  The bullies are my parents.  That's how they know so much, that's where they get their power.  The best part is that they do this and tell me it's for my own good, like I don't know what decisions I want to make.  It's despicable is what it is.  The two people who are genetically designed to love me, and here they are, holding this over me, all so they can impress some friends.  What parents treat their kid this way?  It's criminal, when you think about it.  It's blackmail and theft.  It's wrong.  If they weren't my parents, if I was over eighteen, I could get a lawyer and win with any jury, but as it stands, I'm only sixteen, and I have no money for a lawyer.

I guess I might as well accept my fate.  It will destroy me, but I have no other choice.  I'll be going on  a date with Tara Limb this weekend, the ugliest, smelliest, dumbest girl in school.  Thanks Mom and Dad.  I thought you loved me.

Awwwww, youth.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fallout 3 Vs. Fallout: New Vegas

The Elder Scrolls IV: OblivionFallout New Vegas

Image found here.                                                   Image found here.

The image of your father's dead lab partner still burns in your skull as you race for the vault door.  The whole vault is after you, though the reasons why are hazy, something about your father (they're after him too, though he's already gone).  You've never been out of the vault before, but now, you have no choice.  You must run, or you will die by the hands of the only community you've ever known.  As you go through the door, you get your first taste of real sunlight.  You're eyes finally adjust, but all you can see are destroyed buildings, and a wasteland as inhospitable as a nightmare.  This makes you reflect on your supplies: a vault jumpsuit, some rat meat, and a pistol with about eleven bullets.  It makes you want, so badly, to find civilization.  You need people, not just because you need a friend, but because they are the only way for you to survive.

What makes Fallout 3, arguably, my favorite video game of all time?  This opening.  When Fallout: New Vegas first came out, a lot of my gaming buddies asked me how it stood out against Fallout 3.  I fumbled around with each of them until I finally figured out which I liked better, why, and why some might disagree with me.  The evolution of my thoughts is what made this take so long to write, but now, I think I have my thoughts in order enough to compare the games.

Mechanically, both Fallouts are incredibly similar.  There's a huge world to explore, one in Washington D.C. and the other in, you guessed it, the desert of Las Vegas.  Both environments are interesting and unique, full of fascinating people, terrifying monsters, and landmarks that make it all believable.  It was fun for me to come to certain metro stations in D.C. while my wife was around because she spent a summer working in D.C. and often knew the stations I was at, along with where she worked.  All the important buildings were there.  I don't know much about the surroundings of Las Vegas, but when I played, my wife and I had taken a trip through there just a few months before, so it was fun to see what was left of some of the towns in the game when we'd seen the town in real life just a little while before.

Both games have tremendous arsenals, but New Vegas's is much larger.  There are more subsets of guns and a larger variety of bullets.  There are also attachments and augments for your guns in New Vegas, where there really aren't any in Fallout 3.  These changes will be a welcome expansion for the gamers who love huge arsenals, but for me, it was too much.  I didn't need that many options, I really just wanted a sniper rifle and an assault rifle.  So, the change wasn't bad, it just wasn't my style.  For a lot of gamers it was probably a very welcome change.

The graphics are just about the same in both.  The art style tries to make your surroundings look real with a bland pallet and dim lighting.  The people look the same in both, including somewhat unnatural looking movements and lack of facial expressions.

Maturity wise, both games are also similar.  New Vegas does have more frequent cuss words, including a lot of 'f-bombs' in one particular area, and it does have 'dancers' outside of clubs while you're on the strip, so it would probably be considered 'more mature' than 3, but for me, that was a little bit of a turn off.

And the main similarity is in gameplay.  You have weapons, you run around, you kill/run away from monsters, and you do side quests while dodging the main quest line for as long as you can.  It's really what makes both games so great.  Both have melee combat the feels clunky and unpolished.  Both have the V.A.T.S. system, which allows you to forget about aiming and let your characters shooting expertise take over to hit specific body parts, and if your character's stats are good enough, make them explode into little pieces that you can find later.

So, what really makes these two game so different?  The opening and reason for your character to do what he/she is doing.  3 is a game of survival, and trying to reunite with your dad.  It's full of moments where you feel unprepared and a little nervous about what's on the other side of that tunnel.  New Vegas gives you a totally different feeling.  It starts off with your character getting his head blown off, some old guy putting it back together, and the rest of the game is about you seeking revenge.  It does have more compelling decisions at the end, but getting to the end felt pointless to me.  I didn't care about seeking revenge, I don't care about that in real life, so doing it in the game wasn't all that fun. In my opinion, the base storyline of the game goes to Fallout 3, and it is so much better that I felt like it spring-boarded the game well above New Vegas.  It's one of my all time favorites and will probably always be, because even on my second play through, stepping out of that vault still gave me butterflies.

The Bottom-Line:  I'm playing through Fallout 3 again, and will probably do so several more times, while I took Fallout: New Vegas and sold it so that I could buy and Assassin's Creed game.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Things that 'Involve Me'

May, 25, 2013

I started at my computer anxiously.  I'd heard there was a change.  Why?  Why do we need a change?  Wait.  Don't get frustrated already, I haven't even seen if what they say is true.  Open a browser, type it in, type in my email address and password.

Wait for it... Oh, come on!  Why did they have to change?  And to this.  What is this?  All new things that 'involve me' at the top?  Why would they do this?  I liked the icon, I liked seeing the little red surrounded number, now this.  Oh, and they changed how it looked.  How will I ever learn to navigate this stupid website.  Next thing you know, we'll be paying to use the thing.  I won't pay it though, there's no way.  This doesn't mean THAT much to me.  I'll just find my games on NinjaKiwi, and keep up with my friends on Google+, I've been thinking about switching over anyway.

I just can't see why they changed it, I LIKED 'timeline.'

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Camping! and stuff.

So, as I said before, I went camping with a few of my buddies from high school.  Before I left I got this great idea to write a short story about a guy who got buried alive (this is important later in this blog).  So, before I left, I wrote a bunch of it.

To say that the trip was eventful would be a gross understatement.  Let's start before I even get to my buddies house (the beginning of the trip).  As I brought my backpack over me, to sit shotgun, I knocked my rear view mirror hard enough to dislodge it.  To be fair, I should have seen this as the omen that it was, but didn't.

We stayed the night at my buddies and played MW3 until it was time to leave.  We loaded up and drove down to Goblin Valley, where we camped.  The first day was incredibly hot.  Unseasonably hot.  I brought jeans.  Luckily, my buddy let me borrow an extra pair of shorts he brought.  We set up a canopy and tried to nap, first in the tent, which was far too hot, then under the canopy, which was less, but still far too hot.  After I read a little and my buddies went exploring, the wind started to blow a little.  So, we took down the canopy and laid in the tent.

We finally fell asleep a little when the wind blew harder.  I asked my buddy, without opening my eyes, if his tent could handle this kind of wind.  His answer was something like, "Oh my gosh!"  Which opened my eyes to a dust devil there in our tent.  All four of us tried to close tent windows as quickly as we could, but the damage had been done.  The tent that we all tried to keep so clean was filled with dirt.

After a while, we cleaned it out and went hiking around the goblins.  The goblins really are an amazing testament to how amazing erosion can be.  I probably would have enjoyed it more if my left I wasn't constantly watering and burning from allergies (which never really stopped the whole trip, no matter how many pills I took).

We went back to camp, made dinner, and slept through the night.  In the morning, we had planned to go canyoneering down a slot canyon my buddy had looked up on line.  We drove there.  On the way, my friend driving got a speeding ticket.  Yep, one cop on one long road, and he got us.  When we finally arrived, we followed the directions to the letter, and ended up not finding the slot canyon opening, but hiked up and down the canyon.  Don't get me wrong, it was fun, and super pretty, but it sure would have been nice to find that slot canyon.

On our way back we stopped for a bite to eat in Hanksville (super good burger joint, if not a bit overpriced).  We enjoyed the AC and slowly made our way back to camp.  Ominously, one of my friends said something about how we should take the tent down so it doesn't bow away.  We all told him he was mad (not in those words though) and left the ten up.  As we drove up to the campsite we saw my friend's overturned tent.  "Oh well,"  we said, "we'll just have to flip it back over."  Oh no, my dear reader, that wasn't the problem.  The wind had torn the fabric, ripped pole pieces completely apart, and bent several others.

This was it.  With the wind still blowing dust, we gathered our things and drove back home to play more MW3 at my friends house.  Oddly enough, through all the crap, it really was a good campout.  I think we all enjoyed ourselves.

Now, I was going to write all this yesterday, but I decided instead to write some more of my buried alive story, which I finished just before this post.  I plan to try and get it published in a magazine.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Going Away

Well, today's post will be short.  I didn't post yesterday because Baby J wasn't cooperating with my writing for the day, so I spent what little time I had starting a short story that I hope to get published in a literary magazine about a guy who gets buried alive. 

The reason today's will be short is that I'm preparing for, you guessed it (or maybe you didn't), the annual camping trip with my buddies.  I'll be packing and cleaning the house while my mom watched Baby J for the rest of the day.  I'm not too excited about cleaning and packing, but I'm super stoked to go.  This'll be the third year we do it, and every year has been great.  We've cooked out, talked about things we used to do, talked about things we do now, went skeet shooting one year, hiking, and generally acted like guys generally do in the outdoors.  Like last year, and the year before, I do expect to start missing my wife, and now Baby J.  So that'll be tough, but it's only once a year, and it's always so much fun.

Anyway, I'll be off.  Hope all of you have a great day.  I'll see you when I come back to civilization.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ring Around the Rosies

We knew it had reached our house when we saw the sores on mother.  It was no secret, not by now, that this was the beginning of the end of her.  We'd seen it before.  Too many times not to know.  She tried to hide them with long sleeves, but we all lived in the same one room apartment.

Ring around the rosies

It's funny how when children ask questions of their parents they feign ignorance.  We asked, as innocently as one might imagine, what the sores were on her arms.  "Nothing." Her answer was an obvious lie, but we couldn't give a follow up before she grabbed us and drug us out to the little garden patch, and quickly cut some flowers.  "Keep these in your pockets.  It's nothing."

Pockets full of posies

We watched, little flowers' heads drooping from our front pockets as Mother's fingers and toes turned black.  Mary, her friend, came over to care for her as we children watched our mother cough and writhe in her bed.  It seemed like just another spring day when Mother coughed for the last time.  The Priest came and told us she was with God.  Her body went to be burned though, just like our house and the rest of our neighborhood.  We watched it from a hill just a little ways off, our house I mean, burning to the ground.  They said it was to get rid of the disease.

Ashes, ashes

It didn't get rid of it though.  My brother and two of my sisters got the sores and began coughing horribly, just as mother had.  Eventually, each one of them died.  Most of the people I knew died.  Each one thrown into the fires and burned.  And one day, I looked at my leg, and found a sore.  That's the day I threw the flower Mother had given me away.  Nothing could protect us from this.

We all fall down

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's Not My Wife's Fault After All

My wife is a known bed hoarder.  She starts out by saying that she wants to 'cuddle,' and by the end of the night, I'm laying on one foot real estate, trying not to fall onto the floor.

At first, I thought this might be a choice that she was making.  I thought that she might just want to take as much of the bed for her tiny frame as possible, and that she wanted to leave me out in the cold.  I thought that, until the events of last night made me rethink my position, and come to the conclusion that bed hoarding is actually something that my wife might not be able to control.

We spent yesterday afternoon helping my sister and her husband put a grow box in their garden.  Good times all around.  We brought Baby J's sleeping stuff, because we knew that she'd need a nap.  Accidentally (because we're not masochists),  we left her sleeping paraphernalia at my sister's, and were forced to get her to sleep without it.

To say the least, I am one tired guy.  I'll actually be a little surprised if this post makes any sense.

Anyway, the way that we finally got her to sleep was by letting her cry in her room for a while, and then transferring her to our bed to sleep betwixt her mom and me.  She fell asleep there, and, because I'm paranoid of this, I tried very hard not to roll even within the vicinity of her.  By about four this morning, I woke up to realize that Baby J had moved toward me the entire night, and that I, subconsciously, kept moving away so as not to roll onto her.  I, the 230 pound guy in our house, was restricted to one foot of real estate, while my 100 pound wife and 19 pound daughter shared the remainder.

My conclusion: Bed Hoarding is genetic.  It's not my wife's fault, she can't help it, and Baby J picked it up from her.  I weep for Baby J's future husband.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sally, Part 41

Sally, Part 40

Stacey quickly hung his sack on a tree branch and gathered as many cherries as he could in his shirt.  They were sweeter than he'd anticipated.  Immediately, he started thinking of what he'd do with something so delicious.  Maybe in different circumstances, maybe if he had the opportunity to cook with fresh produce, with fresh picked cherries like this, he'd be more fond of the land, but next to a suddenly kind Syrin, and below an untrusted Mattias, Stacey could only enjoy his sweet, red dinner without the daydream of cooking with them.

Mattias dropped down, sack in one hand, and the bottom of his cherry filled shirt in the other.  "I fear we'll not eat like this again in some time.  Glad this tree hadn't been picked by the shepherds yet."  His lips were already dyed from eating some while in the tree.

Both of the other men grunted in agreement, but didn't stop popping more into their mouths and spitting out the pits.  The three sat there, at the base of that tree, eating greedily for over an hour.  No words were spoken after Mattias's observation.  All three thought of the road ahead.  Of course, Stacey knew little but that he was on a dangerous journey, but the other two walked it in their minds.  The mountains just ahead, the swamp that lie on the other side, the forest beyond that, and the slavers' camp that would be in the fields beyond the forest.  Stacey was right, it would be dangerous.  There would be little chance to sit beneath a tree, or truly enjoy a meal, or even walk without watching to see if they were being followed.  None of them could think of anything else, and none wanted to talk about it, in case one of their colleagues had figured out how to, so they sat in silence, enjoying, as best they could, a last quiet moment beneath the blue sky, and yellow sun, amid grass and the distant baa of sheep being herded by loving shepherds.  It was too fragile a scene for words, so they just sat, and soaked in what they could.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Short of Phoenix

The motorcycle sputtered and burped for the last three miles as the pin on the gauge pushed up against empty until it bowed and almost broke.  He'd hoped to make it as far as Phoenix, but was nowhere near.  It's not like he had anything waiting for him in Phoenix, but sometimes all a man has is a hope to keep him going.  Unfortunately, hope doesn't make up for gasoline.

He could see a hill in front of him, so he popped the motorcycle into neutral and walked it over to where the road dropped in altitude.  He looked out and saw a slaughterhouse and a tight grouping of houses.  He thought he saw a gas station, but didn't dare to hope that much.  A little hope will keep a man going, too much hope and he'll burst and die.  Besides, he had no money, and few business men make it to a million by giving things away for free.

With a grunt, he pushed the motorcycle once more and down the hill he went.  Maybe there wasn't a gas station, maybe he didn't have money, but at least he could ask the slaughterhouse for a job.  He could hope for that.  That wouldn't break him.

Friday, May 4, 2012

That Prius Must Pay

It was a Tuesday afternoon.  I was alone.  Lost in a sea of hoods and tailpipes on Main Street.  Each driver seemed determined to get in front of another, but was disappointed in the gridlock.  How long had I been driving?  How long would I be on Main?  I tried to look ahead of the wide hipped duely in front of me to figure out how many blocks I had left, but to no avail.  I tried to look for landmarks to help me figure it out, but either I hadn't noticed these shops, or couldn't remember where they were compared to the street I was supposed to turn on.

Why were things so backed up?  What had happened ahead?  Was I driving into a trap?  Would my family ever see me again?  I tried again to look ahead of the duely and was sharply cut off by a Prius.  Damn.  The blue stood against the white of the duely and I only felt more lost with rage.  In this horrible gridlock, how could they be so rude as to cut someone off?  It made my blood boil, and eye twitch.  Surely, the driver of that Prius must pay.

I slowly cam to a stop with my pack of cars and the one awful Prius as we approached a stop light.  Its red lights looked like deamons' eyes, peering down and looking for the next soul to corrupt.  Exhaust from a big red truck a lane over and a few cars up filled the air, and we all felt forced to roll up our windows before being engulfed in its toxic gas.  Surely nothing good could come of this.  My heart was pounding, beads of sweat formed on my brow and I could feel my hands and legs tremble under the pressure of the situation.  I could literally feel my mind lose control of my body when suddenly, the light turned green, all of us went, and I carried on with the rest of my day.

Things can get so intense sometimes. :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sally, Part 40

Sally, Part 39

Once again, Stacey found himself wanting to believe and believe in Mattias.  He sounded so genuine and kind.  It took effort for Stacey to shrug off this encouraging statement and remember that Mattias was lying, and that he'd probably never see the ocean again.  This only made him feel worse though.  He never said goodbye, and here on land was the last place he wanted to be buried.  All the while though, his hands kept up their pace.  After working for demanding captains, Stacey had learned to separate his hands from his thoughts and picking fruit was a easy enough that the skill transferred. 

Mattias was soon up in the tree as well.  After masts and ropes, Syrin and Mattias easily found places to grip and scaled the tree without trouble.  Stacey considered climbing up as well, but worried that he'd over-estimate the strength of a branch and come tumbling down.

Syrin dropped out of the tree just as Stacey finished filling his sack.  "Find enough?"  Syrin's eyes were sincere.

"Yeah.  Just finished."

"Good."  Syrin hung his sack from a branch, held the bottom of his shirt up to make a makeshift basket, collected several cherries, and sat at the trunk of the tree.  Stacey just stood and watched him do this.  Syrin's sudden kindness had made him a little nervous.  In the past he'd been little else but cold, and Stacey wasn't sure what he was supposed to do in this situation.  "Well?"

Stacey wasn't sure what Syrin was asking, and must have shown it, because Syrin continued.  "I'm afraid this is dinner for the day.  I wasn't sure if there'd be enough cherries for it, but there are.  So, I recommend handing your sack somewhere and eating as much as you can.  We have a long night ahead of us."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Top Dog

Top Dog had been in charge of the pack of wild dogs for many years.  Over that time he was able to talk them away from hunting for what would feed the pack, and to obsess over The Allusive White Rabbit.  In his tenure he ate most of the food that had been hunted before he came to power, and was seldom called out on it because most of the pack did little but chase The White Rabbit, and occasionally hunt for something else when they were starving.

Eventually, Top Dog died, and a new Top Dog was to be chosen.  The new Top Dog chosen was a dog of high moral ideals, who had been one of the few to ignore The White Rabbit and stand up to Top Dog.  He had many ideas about what the pack should be doing, and how to quickly get them out of the food shortage that they were in.

When he first became Top Dog he tried to implement his plans, but found much resistance from many of the other dogs who were still obsessed with The White Rabbit.  The new Top Dog, instead of listening to their concerns, called them all idiots and accused them of being blind to his predecessor's tricks and lies, leaving them offended, and when he tried to explain his ideas they would close their ears and talk of how he had been rude to them about their wanting to catch The White Rabbit.

Soon, the pack did not listen to Top Dog, but continued to chase The White Rabbit, all the while Top Dog would bark and whine as loudly as he could, but to no avail. 

You may be Top Dog, but if you cannot disagree with someone without offending them, you might as well be the same leader that was there before.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Last Minute Camping Trip

We were camping when the bombs hit, and not even to try and escape them.  It was a last minute decision.

"What should we do this weekend?"
"I dunno.  Maybe we should go camping."
"In May?  Won't that be a little cold?"
"A little, but we'll take our warm sleeping bags.  It'll be fine."

I checked my email before we left the house, updated my facebook status.

"Going camping with my wonderful wife.  See you all when we get back."

Sometimes I wish I'd known what was going to happen.  Maybe I would have tried a little harder to get my buddy and his wife to go.

"Hey, Cindy and I are going camping this weekend, do you two wanna go?"
"Nah.  I think we're just going to stay in this weekend.  Do a movie marathon, or something."
"Okay.  Well you two have fun with that.  See you when we get back."
"See ya."

But I didn't.  I didn't say goodbye to my family, or my friends.  I didn't tell them how much I loved them, or how much I'd miss them if anything happened.  I didn't think anything would happen.  I was at work on Friday.  Cindy packed us up because she had the day off.  We barely took enough food for the weekend.

We went to our favorite spot:  A little meadow that we'd gone to dozens of times.  It had great ground for setting a tent on.  Almost no rocks and softer grass than you'd ever find in the city.  Almost no one knew about it too.  I don't think there was ever a time when we saw someone else.  Funny, that.  We wanted so badly to get away from everyone, but now we'd give anything to find some civilization.  What I wouldn't do for a coffee.  What Cindy wouldn't do for a dress.

The spot was so far out in the woods that we didn't recognize the bombs for what they were.  We thought there was a small earthquake, or maybe lightening booming over the mountain.  We didn't even think much of it, just put the rain tarp on the tent and kept on with our pick-nick.  Of course, I'm not sure what we would have done if we'd known what they were.  We couldn't have saved them.  We couldn't have saved anyone.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sally, Part 39

Sally, Part 38

A couple of pans strapped to Stacey's pack clanged together as he jogged a bit to catch up.  He took a quick moment to look back at Andrill and realized that he'd never been this far inland.  He already missed the breaking of the waves, the clang of the bells and the call of the gulls.  Where he was now seemed too quiet.  Was there ever a sound out here?

Because of his days at sea, he had a hard time appreciating the beauty that people talked about here in the plains outside of Andrill.  Everything seemed the same pallet of green, and the ground never changed.  Stacey always believed that the sea had its own spirit and temperament, which is why it was calm sometimes and raged at others.  This land seemed soulless.  It didn't seem to care who was walking across it, or what was done around it.  It made Stacey feel alone.  He thought he would at least have one friend on this journey: the land, but without a soul, it was no companion, and he was left with two slavers on his own.

The three men passed by sheep herders and the occasional cherry tree, each one looking alone in a vast plane of grass.  These were planted by the herders at strategic points along their normal paths, so that they would always have a back up supply of food if ever they ran low.  They were also good places to hide from wolves and gave them a better view if they were ever in trouble and needed to find a friend nearby.  Most were well off the road, and Stacey just happened to notice them  in the distance.  The last one they saw before the tree line that signaled their assent into the mountains was just on the right side of the road.  Stacey could smell the cherries as they approached and decided it was the best thing he'd smelled in days.  Of course, those days were spent in the lingering stench of Andrill, so saying it was the best really wasn't saying much, but the smell was welcoming and made him feel better about being alone with the other two.

Syrin and Mattias both slipped off their packs, took out empty sacks, and began filling them with low hanging cherries.  Stacey gladly followed suit.  Syrin was quick to give up on the lower cherries and climb up to find more.  Mattias was closely examining a cherry when he spoke, "Out here's not the same as the ocean is it?"

The way he said it made Stacey unsure if he was being talked to, "No, not really."

"Makes you feel like you've lost a friend, doesn't it?"

Stacey stopped picking.  As usual, he was amazed at how well Mattias knew him.  It really was hard not to like him, "It does."  The words were soft, and hard to say.  He never knew how close he'd felt to water until Mattias asked him that.

"We'll try to get you back to her quickly.  I promise."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Calculated Risk... Twice

It wasn't his decision alone.  He had counsel, friends, family, and some training, but he'd never seen anything like this before.  Sure, there were other patients with some of these symptoms in the medical books, but how could it be concluded that what was done for them would work for her?  It couldn't be.  And besides, he wanted this to be his culmination, his capstone on a career that would keep him in textbooks forever as the man who saved the unsavable, and doing what others had done before would not make him memorable.

So, after weighing his options, after looking at the patient and talking it over with his counsel he decided on the action.  To be fair, he probably should have asked the patient.  Maybe the patient didn't want this.  Maybe the patient knew a little something about her own illness and consulting with her might have been a good idea, but she was never asked about it.  She hadn't gone to medical school, she hadn't been appointed, she wasn't being paid to look over her charts, so she wasn't asked.  Instead, they found a plan of action that they thought might bring her back to full health.  It was risky, but if successful, she would be better than she was before the illness and the doctor would get his name in a magazine, so they went ahead with it.

The scene would have made any common man gasp, a doctor, holding a handgun, slowly raising it, and firing one distinct shot into his patient's leg.  As we'd expect, the shot was followed by a scream from the patient.  Nurses and civilians alike came to see what the ruckus was about to find the doctor standing with a smoking gun, explaining that what he'd done was extreme, but necessary.  He told them it had been a calculated risk, and that he was sure it would make her better.

But it didn't make her better.  She had the same symptoms she had before, but now she was losing blood through a gunshot wound that was supposed to help.  The doctor, his counsel, his family, and friends all studied the bullet hole.  What had gone wrong?  They'd done research, they'd thought out their options, they thought this gunshot would solve everything, but it didn't.

What happened next would be talked about in medical schools the next day, but over time would be forgotten.  It's not that it wasn't a horrible tragedy, or that something couldn't have been learned, but that the doctor had some very important friends, and they wouldn't allow people to remember what the doctor decided to do next.  We could speculate that it was the doctor's pride, or that he'd figured out what had gone wrong with the first procedure, but if I were pressed to give my real feelings about why he did it, I'd say that he didn't know any better.  He'd never dealt with an illness like this one, and he got nervous.  Her family was asking that he do something, she was asking that he do something, and instead of going to a specialist, or admitting that he didn't know what to do, he went forward with his plan.

He'd looked her over before the second procedure.  He examined her gunshot, and her illness.  Checked vitals and without warning, raised his gun again, and shot her in the other leg, explaining, amid her screams, that he'd shot the wrong leg, and that this one would surely cure her. 

She still lies ill on her hospital bed.  And just as expected, his procedures were talked about for a short while, but soon fell silent when other procedures came up.  For most other doctors, this one action would have been the beginning of the end of a career, but not for this man.  He had friends in high places, and this would only be the beginning.

Thank you Dr. Obama, for shooting us with a 'stimulus package'... twice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Big Red Slide

The details are already a little fuzzy.  I didn't go because I wanted to write about, or because I wanted to remember it forever.  I went because the weather was nice and I thought it would be fun for her, for our little girl (Baby J).

We walked from our pick-nick, over to the red slides.  I checked the temperature with my hand (a precaution I'd learned earlier this year on another slide).  It was cool, and slick.  I set Baby J up at the top as she squealed with excitement.  Mom crouched at the bottom, ready to catch.  I asked J if she was ready.  Her gaping mouth told me that she was.  Down she went, my hands ready to catch her, in case she lost her balance, her hair blowing in the wind, and Mom's hands holding her at the bottom.

"Was that fun?  Do you wanna go again?"

Standing up and looking back at Dad was her answer.  Over and over I helped her to the top and over and over she sped down toward the outstretched arms of Mom, giggling in her little pigeon cooing way.

I hadn't thought of it then, as we were just at the park, helping J slide down some slides.  But I hope she knows that even when she grows up Mom and Dad will always be there.  Dad's hands for when she loses her balance, and Mom's to catch her if she goes down.  Or maybe we shouldn't allow it to go that deep, and just hope that she always knows we love her.  We love her enough to help her go down the slides at the park.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sally, Part 38

Part 37

Mattias waited for Stacey to finish and the two of them found Syrin waiting for them just outside the bar, holding backpacks that made Stacey's back sore just to look at.

"Took you long enough."  Syrin handed one pack to Mattias.

"Just needed some breakfast.  Which way are we going?"

"I tried to gather where they thought we were going and who they were exactly, but they've got the usual pigeons payed off too well."  Stacey was amazed at how heavy his pack was, but equally amazed at how light it felt on his back.  Syrin was an expert at weight placement and didn't want Stacey slowing them down.

"Then I guess we take the pass and hope for the best."

"I guess so.  Wish we had time to figure out the safest path."

"If we wait any longer there won't be a safe path."

"True enough."

Without any kind of warning, Mattias and Syrin started walking North, away from Andrill, away from the sea, away from ships and crews and everything Stacey knew.  In the distance Stacey could see two mountains stabbing sharply into the sky.  "The pass."  He help but feel a little nervous.  If even half the stories he heard about mountains were true, he couldn't think of a reason to walk toward them.  Maybe Mattias and Syrin planned to feed him to something there.  The idea of being eaten by something that lurked around the cold hard rock made him shiver.

"Keep up Stacey."  Mattias and Syrin were already several yards in front of him.

"Sorry Mattias.  Just day dreaming a bit."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Josteled from Youtube

I was at my desk watching Youtube when it first happened, surrounded by grey cubical walls, and Monday laden coworkers.  I wasn't supposed to be watching Youtube, but I guess those rules are a little meaningless now.  I've tried to think of what movie I was watching, but I honestly can't remember.  Maybe something with a Sesame Street character... or babies.  I've tried at night while falling to sleep in an attempt to remember what life was like before... well before my attention was commanded away from Youtube.

My workspace was two cubicals and a wide walkway from the window.  The thud against that window was loud enough that I could hear it through my headphones.  I still remember thinking that Mike must have bumped his chair against it again, but then I heard another thud.  Taking off my headphones, I cocked my head around the grey wall to see what the noise was.

I'd always joked about it happening.  We talked about it like it was an inevitability.  We made movie parodies, sang songs, and even read books on how to prepare for it, but it was really more a joke than an actual fear.  Yet, there, at the window, stood what the jokes had all been about.  It had come, and it didn't matter then, just like it doesn't matter now, how it started, or how it's possible.  What mattered, and what still matters, is running, surviving, saving loved ones, and letting go of who you can't save.  There at the thick paned window was a rotting rendition of what was a human.  I ran.  We all ran.  And we haven't been able to stop since.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Marble the Fat (Some Writing Advice)

We'll label this under non-fiction (if I labeled anything but my Stacey stories or my dating advice).

I thought up (what I think) is some pretty great writing advice yesterday.

You may or may not, but probably did, have a writing teacher who, at some time, gave you the advice to "cut the fat."  For those who didn't, it's a pretty common way to say that you have stuff in your story that doesn't fit, or isn't helping move the story along, so you need to cut it.

As a nerdy/snarky teenager I once told my teacher that I couldn't cut the fat because it was adding flavor.  We had a really good relationship, so she gave me a similarly snarky remark back and I ended up cutting it, but it was something that always stuck with me, because I had read some stories that had some fat that made me want to cut it (think Moby Dick, the chapters where whales are classified), but other times it just made the story more fun to read (no particular book comes to mind, but there's a reason for that).  But what made the difference?

I went on a mission for my church, where we were allotted very little money, and found 'fun' ways to still eat well.  One missionary and I decided we wanted steak, so we went to the grocery store and bought some that were... we'll came them reasonably priced.  It was pretty awful.  Both pieces had a very thick line of fat going down the middle of them, and the meat that was left was pretty tough.  It was a steak that was too bad to forget

On that same mission experience, this awesome guy took us to the nicest steak joint I've ever been to.  The steak was fatty, but when it came you couldn't tell that it was.  It was three inches tall, juicy, unbelievable, and write-home-about-good.  At the time, I had no idea there was fat in it.  It looked like a very lean, very tall piece of beef, but tasted better than any other steak I'd ever had.  It was too good to forget.

After I got home and got sucked into the Food Network, I found out that the steak was probably incredibly fatty, but that the fat was marbled.  I didn't know it was there, because I never actually found it in the steak, I just had it dripping down my chin.

And so, yesterday, while thinking about those experiences, I came up with a new saying, because my cocky little teenage self was partially right, fat is was gives flavor, but it shouldn't ever be found.  Instead, we as writers should learn to 'marble the fat.'  If someone can find it, we've done it wrong, but if they can't, but they can tell it's dripping with flavor, then we know we've put some fat in, but in just the right places, and with just the right amount.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Missed a Week. Surprise. Surprise.

Well, I've been gone a week and feel I need to explain myself... I probably should have got a note from my mother.

My wife is a high school teacher, and last week was her Spring Break.  It was not a Spring Break for me because I am a dedicated author, but she insisted it be a break for me too.  Naturally, I resisted, and she gave an Indian Burn, and I took a break too.

I must say, Indian Burn aside, I really enjoyed the break.  The first couple of days we spent playing Pandemic with my parents and packing to go visit my wife's parents.  It was really a lot of fun.  We planned a bunch of stuff to do, and did pretty much all of it.  We say Mirror Mirror (I do not recommend it), and The Hunger Games (I do recommend it, but only if you're cool with a shot by shot remake - minus some stuff that makes you care about the characters more - of the book).  We also played an incredible amount of games of Pandemic with my wife's mom, her brother, and her brother's friends.  I got some time to play a little Modern Warfare 3 with my buddies, we slept in, went to the pool for me to do some exercises and to test out the new baby life jacket, and the only thing we really missed out on was a picnic, because it snowed, because we live in Utah.  And, to be honest, I was cool with not going on the picnic, only because we did so many other fun things.

Yesterday had more to do with our little girl.  She had a "I can't breathe, because I'm choking" moment Sunday night/Monday morning which scared her and terrified Mom and Dad.  After some reading, we think she was choking on her own spit because she's teething, but whatever the reason, it took a long time to calm her down and I felt a need to sleep in after getting very little sleep that night, and therefore, did not blog.

I know some of you are interested in my personal life, so I should probably say that our baby is kind of crawling now, though she likes to hold on to fingers and walk more.  She's learned how to do the first part of Patty Cake all by herself (the actions I mean, not the singing).  She knows to put her hands up when we ask her how big she is, so that we, in chorus, can say "so big."  She's adorable... but I'm biased.

And that's it.  I promise more exciting fiction (or maybe non-fiction) tomorrow.  Have a great day.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Allow Me to Circle Back

It happened in the same place I eat my lunch every day: the second bench on the right on the jogging path in Hilkadia Park.  The day wasn't extraordinary, nor was the grass, or the trees, or my turkey on rye, but the event has shaped my life for months now, and it's made me think about if there was something I did to help it along.  My conclusion:  there is not.  I've done nothing to make this happen.  It was just fortuitous, and grand, and rough, all at the same time.

I've never been married.  There was this one girlfriend, this one time, who I fell in love with, and who I thought I'd buy a ring for, but life happened, and time happened, and school and jobs happened, and we ended up in very different places, and I never bought that ring.  So, I had a hard time getting close to anyone after that.  I tried to shake it.  Tried to find another person who made me feel the way I'd figured I should feel, but that never happened.  Not for me.

It did, however, happen for her; about two months after we broke up she was engaged.  Five months after that, she was married and about ten months after that she had a baby.  An ugly baby.  I Facebook stalked her.  To be fair, she had an ugly husband, so the baby shouldn't have been a shock to me.  I'm getting off topic.  Allow me to circle back to the day when things changed.

As I said, it was Turkey on Rye Day.  I thought that I should have put more mayonnaise on it, and maybe some mustard, or guac, but like most people, I had no guac in the fridge that morning and so my sandwich was a bit dry.  I was about half way through it, thinking of its sad state, when she walked by.  If I wasn't me, if I wasn't there, sitting on that bench, eating that desert-dry sandwich, I wouldn't believe me.  I really don't blame you if you don't believe me, but I tell you, I fell in love then and there.

It was like butterflies flying through rainbows arching across a burst of sunlight over a lake at 5:32 in the morning that makes you think of glass and Gandhi.  Yes, sir.  Dark curly hair that bounced about halfway down her silk blouse covered back, that pointed directly at a firm, run-every-morning butt, that connected to slim beautiful legs, that ended with red high heels that carried the love of my life.  I was awe-struck.  Thinking back, I'm sure I was quiet a sight, mouth agape, eyes fixed, turkey on rye hanging in the balance.

I often think about going and talking to pretty girls I see, but that didn't even cross my mind.  I never actually thought of it, but I wonder if, subconsciously, I thought that the moment would break like glass if I moved, that she might shatter if I stopped her in her stride to try and talk to her.  So, I just sat.  A man on the edge of his seat eating a turkey on rye, or rather, holding a turkey on rye mid-bite.

And so, just as she walked into my life, she walked out of it, curls bouncing, framing her porcelain, Oil of Olay Commercial Face.  But, I've started to work out now.  I've started to dress better.  I've started to put more mayonnaise on my sandwiches (I'd hate to try and talk to her with a dry mouth).  I've started learning french.  For some reason I think she might speak french, and I hate to try and talk to her and not be able to.  I think I'll learn Portuguese next.  She might speak that.  I also make sure to sit on that very same bench every day.  Not really sure if she'll walk by again, but it's my only real shot.  I'll talk to her next time.  I know I will.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sally, Part 37

Sally, Part 36

Stacey laid in what was pointed out as his bed and tried to sleep.  His mind never stopped though.  At first, he would just watch Syrin's ritual occasionally, not as amazed as when he first saw it, but it was too fluid and beautiful not to pay attention to sometimes.  After Syrin went to bed though, Stacey thought of other things.  He wondered what it was he was doing.  Did he really think he could even slow down Mattias and Syrin if they turned out to be slavers?  Would he have the courage to try in the moment?  Did they really trust him, or were they just stringing him along until they could sell him, or kill him quietly?  This last one made him look over at his sleeping compatriots.  They didn't seem like killers.  Not really anyway.  With this last thought, Stacey finally rolled over for the last time and found sleep.

Mattias roused Stacey the next morning, Syrin was already out of the room, and Mattias was completely dressed, "I thought you'd wake up on your own eventually, but it seems I was wrong.  Breakfast is ready downstairs and our benefactor says a couple of nasty looking gentlemen came back last night looking for us, so we might want to shove off some time soon."

Blinking, and then rubbing his eyes, Stacey finally got Mattias into focus and swung his legs off the edge of the bed.  He sat for a moment, rubbing his eyes some more and then got up and put on his clothes.  Breakfast was better than he thought it'd be, but certainly worse than he was used to.  The smell of blood and vomit permeated his sausage and eggs, but he was grateful to have anything, so he tried to ignore the horrible stench of his food and the bar, and shoveled it in like any other slaving criminal, thanking the bar keep when he was done.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Maybe I'll Worry About this Other Stuff Tomorrow

I keep opening my eyes and staring into the darkness.  The last time I dared look at the big red numbers on my nightstand it told me it was three in the morning.  I couldn't dare look over again.  I'd close my eyes and peer into darkness again, but it was soon filled by a wave of thoughts and feelings.

The comings and goings of the day had been interesting.  I almost wrote difficult, but that would give the wrong impression.  Nothing wrong happened.  It was just a day filled with thoughts and feelings that I was trying to work through.  I was trying to work through them at three in the morning and beyond.  Another glass of water?  No.  I'm not thirsty, I'm exhausted.

Why can't I sleep?  The most amusing is thinking about swimming at the public pool for exercise.  I don't swim well.  I never have.  But swimming is a low impact workout that should help with my back problems.  So, after doing some water exercises what do I do?  I swim laps, in the slow lane, on my back, trying to make my shoulders relax as I envision drowning when I forget to breathe and I sink a little, and then think of a shark coming out of the water and biting into my torso when I forget to kick.  I still managed two laps.  In bed, I think of asking the lifeguard if a predator (aside from the homo sapiens) has ever entered the pool.  I envision his answer.  One makes me think of an alligator attacking me, another makes me think of an anaconda attacking me, the last turns his face into a mixture between a piranha and that deep sea fish on Finding Nemo, with him answering, "Just me."

Some less amusing ones are politics, religion, or general principles that I've been debating with people on the internet, which lead me to other debates in my life, both online and off.  Some make me remember things I've learned and need to do differently, others make me wonder why people won't listen to reason.  I try to clear it all out, but it won't go.  It seems that once one thing leaves my mind there's another thought that has been dying for some face time who shoves him/herself into my mind and it's me thinking about that all over again.

I hear a noise.  It sounds like branches hitting our window.  The wind has  been blowing.  It also sounds a little like people robbing us.  What if I saw a dark shadow coming down the hall?  How should I protect my family?

I try to think of what I'd do with a million dollars, but that dream won't stick.

More thoughts flood and I get more tired.  I need sleep.  I need to wake up in the morning.  Stabbing through the darkness comes a tiny voice, "Bah, bah."  She's obviously talking in her sleep.  Butterflies come and carry away everything I'm thinking about.  How would a predator get into the public pool without someone noticing?  Things always seem to work out don't they?  Our house would be hard to break into, wouldn't they choose an easier house?  I have a beautiful little girl.  Maybe I'll just be grateful I have her, and worry about all this other stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sally, Part 36

+Sally, Part 35

All three men poured out of the hole and started retracing their steps through the alleys as quickly and quietly as they could, all the while, listening to their pursuers cuss them.  Syrin was incredibly nimble, often jumping over obstacles that Stacey and Mattias had to go around.  Occasionally he would start moving toward a wall, and then stop when he thought of if his comrades could climb it like he could, and then he would start down the alley again.  Finally, they came to a building with boxes stacked and leading up to a second story window.  Syrin scaled it easily while Mattias helped Stacey up them.  In time, all three were standing in a room with three beds, one dresser, a couple of backpacks, and a little stool next to a bucket.  Syrin immediately went to the backpacks while Mattias laid on the nearest bed.

"What is this place?"  Stacey was still standing in the middle of the room, breathing heavily.

"It's the upper room to The Mace and Sword."  Mattias's eyes were closed and his hands were behind his head.

"Won't they look for us here?"

"Probably, but not tonight.  Our benefactor, downstairs tending bar, believes too much in the cause to care if this is a good idea."

Syrin came up with his daggers and started his nightly ritual.

"We just got up here, and he's already starting with this?"

"It's how he makes it through.  Keeps him focused."

"Syrin!  We almost died.  Can't you just take one second and..."

"He can't hear you.  I once tried to talk with him, but he never missed a beat.  It's like he's in another dimension or something."

Syrin startled both of them, "Hardly.  I just didn't want to talk to you, just as I don't want to now."

Mattias and Stacey were both dumbfounded, and then Mattias started to laugh and Stacey followed suit.  Syrin never cracked a smile, but continued undaunted.

"We'd better get some sleep.  We have a lot of miles to cross tomorrow, and we won't do it if we're tired.  Go to bed.  Syrin will sleep when he's finished."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Acient Text

I felt so lost before.  It felt as though I was just drifting through space with nothing to live for.  All that changed though, when I finally met Charles.  It was 8455 AD and I was living on Earth at the time.  Charles met me while I was waitressing at the Sleepy Starship.  Charles said he had gotten off late that night and just wanted something to eat, and the diner was the only thing open in town.  He didn't seem all that amazing to me at first, just another man ordering another cup of coffee when he should have been sleeping, but as I poured, I could tell something important was on his mind.  He didn't look at me, or the coffee pot, or the eggs, who's yolks had split and were all over his plate.  He was looking beyond all of that.

It took three cups, but I finally got the courage to ask him, "Is something wrong?"

He blinked a few times and looked up at me, "Sorry.  No, nothing is wrong."

I started pouring the cup, "You just seem a little distracted."  To be fair, I was a little worried.  I thought he'd drive himself into a ditch with how out-of-it he seemed.

"Oh, in a way I am, I guess.  I'm working on the dig site just north of here,"  We all knew about it.  Some guy had been hunting up there and came across some pre-3000's stuff.  It was in all the papers.  Charles was one of the archeologists called in to work on it.  "There are several amazing pieces, all of them extremely well preserved.  I think we may start to actually know what life was like for them."

The old world had always amazed me.  No one else was in the diner, so I sat down to ask what he'd found, "So, what was it like for them?"

"Oh, I don't think I can really say that just yet, I can just tell you that we might be starting to understand."

"Well, what did you find?"

"That's the thing of it.  We're not completely sure.  We think it's some kind of scripture."

"Scripture?  You mean they had religion back then?  We never thought they did, right?"

"That's right, we always thought they were too undeveloped to believe in a deity, at least not in the same way that we do."

"So, what does the book say."

"We've only been able to decipher some of it, but there seems to be some kind of ritual in it where it actually specifies that the ritual is what's the most important thing in the book."

My head was swimming.  I'd never heard of anything like this, but it sounded too amazing not to look into. 

Of course, you all know the rest.  Eventually that whole book was deciphered, and it just made too much sense to ignore.  I'd say that's the day my life turned around.  I didn't know it yet, but those people, so long ago had found what life was truly about.  I read the whole book, and the ritual several times before we ever tried it out.  I invited everyone I trusted over to my house.  We read through the translation and all did it together.  No one at that first meeting was the same after it.  Some laughed, most cried.  We had finally found what we were looking for.  I didn't feel much of anything until I saw Charles, across the circle from me, tears streaming down his cheeks.  He felt it too.

Charles was an expert on the old language.  He was on the team who translated the scripture.  I once asked him how the ritual was pronounced in the old language.  He smiled a little.  I was always asking him stupid things like this, things that really didn't matter, because, who cares what they called it?  But he answered me, "The Hokie-Pokie."  I'm not sure why, but knowing that sealed it all for me.  I truly had found what it was all about.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sally, Part 35

 Sally, Part 34

Stacey couldn't see Mattias's expression in the dark, but he really didn't care.  Sally was dead, the ship he worked for had been taken over, and his best cooking pot was back on a hostile ship.  As far as he could tell, he had nothing left to live for.

Mattias didn't say anything for a long while, and Syrin still seemed to be peering out the hole in the wall.  Finally, Mattias gathered his thoughts and started, "Stacey, I'm sorry you heard that.  I really have no way to prove to you that what you heard was a lie, other than by telling you that it was."

"How am I supposed to believe you?"  Stacey's anger was coming up again.  "You're not even human."

At this, Syrin turned around, "Not human?  What are you trying to say Pudgy?  That only humans can be trusted?  Do you know what race of man continued to beat me long after I was conscience?  Do you know what race it was that killed my mother?  Do you know..."

Mattias cut him off, "Syrin, I understand your anger, but like you, Stacey has a history too.  We cannot expect him to try and understand us if we do not try to understand him.  It's true Stacey.  I did try to deceive you and the crew.  My race is, if nothing else, not understood by most races here.  We've come here for centuries trying to help where we can, but sometimes our help is seen as something else, so we often wear disguises so that we can move around unhindered.  Even after I got to know you I was still uncertain about telling you this.  I've found that races here do not trust each other, and I did not want to risk you not trusting me, though it seems my plan has backfired."

"I'm still not sure how I can know if you're telling me the truth about the slaves."

"You can't.  What I taught you on the ship, all of that is true.  It's truly what I believe.  I believe all men should be free."

Syrin was growing impatient, "Look, Mattias.  He's just like all the other humans.  He'll never trust you.  Let's either leave him, or kill him.  We've got to get moving while we still know where they are."

"So what do you say, Stacey?  You trusted me once.  Will you trust me again, and help us with this?"

"I can hear them coming back, hurry."

Stacey had trusted Mattias once, and believed in what he taught.  Perhaps Mattias was telling the truth, but then, if he wasn't, maybe Stacey could sabotage those plans before they got too far.  "I'll go with you, but you'd better be telling me the truth."

Stacey's eyes had started to get used to the darkness and could faintly see a grin spread across Mattias's face, "I am.  Don't you worry."

Syrin stepped out from the hole, "That's all very well, now let's go."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Baldur's Gate III?

Okay, I know that I said that I'd be using this as a way to practice my writing skills, and I am, but this bit of news was just too interesting (to me) not to write about.

About a month ago, I was cruising Gamespot (something I do more often than I'd like to admit) when I came across an article about how a lot of sequels were coming out and being talked about when they made reference to Baldur's Gate III.  That's right all you long time gamers who hadn't heard about this yet, it looks like a Baldur's Gate III is in the works.  This, or course, made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I clicked the link faster than you can say "Bob's your uncle!" and got nothing but,

And a quote from Baldur's Gate II.  And that was it.  No link.  No real information.  Just the BG skull and a quote.  That was cool though.  I knew that BGIII was being worked on, and that was good enough for me.

Last night, I visited Gamespot again, and remembered BGIII and how I wanted to know more about it, so I looked it up.  Nothing really, but I did find a link back to where the skull and quote were.  Sure enough, more information existed.  Is BGIII coming out?  Yes, but not for a while.  More information had come out about what they are during currently, and what was it?  Remaking Baldur's GateI and II, including expansions.  The website reads, "Running on an upgraded and improved version of the Infinity Engine, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition™ will include the entire Baldur’s Gate adventure, the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion pack, and never before seen content including a new adventure and new party member."
I don't know if I can fully express how excited this made me.  I didn't game much growing up, but I did get Baldur's Gate I and II, and loved both of them.  I remember playing for hours, soaking in the story, trying to talk my way out of conflict, and listening to Smashing Pumpkins in the background.  It had wonderfully memorable characters, and the idea that more characters are coming only makes me happier.

The big drawback, and why I felt like posting something about this:  they have only announced one platform.  Those who know my gaming habits are probably thinking it's coming out on Playstation, because I don't own one.  Oh, no.  Not yet anyway.  The only device (and that's what it should be called) that has been announced is the iPad (it honestly took me a while to finish typing that).  I don't own an iPad.  I've never wanted an iPad.  I have no use for an iPad, until now.  but I'm certainly not paying $500 just to play Baldur's Gate.

So, this is my call to Overhaul Games and Atari:  PLEASE, have it come out on Xbox Live.  If and iPad can handle the game, Xbox Live could.  I would gladly download it.  It's a game that should be regularly paused to decide tactics in battle, so I'd gladly use Left Trigger (or whatever) and use my joystick as a mouse.  I have no problems with that.  I don't even care if it comes on PC, I just want it on Xbox Live.  Anyway, if you're a non-gamer, and still read through all this, thank you.  If you are a gamer, are you as excited about this news as I am?  Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sally, Part 34

Sally, Part 33

"Nice spot Syrin.  How'd you see it?"  It was too dark to see in their hiding spot, but Mattias was still smiling.

"I figured this would happen, so I walked through these alleyways before meeting you at the bar.  There are more of these than you'd think, but this was the first one we made it to where they wouldn't see us duck in."

"Well, good.  You okay Stacey?"

Stacey sucked in a large breath of air before answering, "Yeah, I'm fine."  Another long breath, "I just need a moment."

Syrin made his way to the opening and poked his head out.  "It looks like they're gone.  You wanna answer that question now?"

"Um... well, it doesn't seem like I have much of a choice..."

"You do," Mattias touched his shoulder, "Syrin just doesn't trust anyone.  It's his brother you know?  So, the more people who know what we're doing, the better the chance is we'll be caught and killed, and if that happens, his brother's death will be all but certain.  He's just a little extreme."

"Extreme?  I think it's extreme of you to keep so many people alive.  I don't know of many ghosts who get back at the people who stabbed them in the back, and Stacey's in a great position to do just that."

"I disagree.  They've seen him with us.  Him going to them would be the same as him putting a gun to his head."

"I guess."

"So, with that out of the way, what do you say?  Do you want to risk life and limb to give a slave his freedom?"

The words sounded bitter to Stacey.  He couldn't believe Mattias was still hiding behind the guise of 'Freedom Bringer.'  Without thinking about the repercussions, Stacey answered, "Freedom.  Give freedom?  I know what you are.  I heard some men talking on the ship.  You don't give people freedom, you only steal slaves from one slaver to sell to another.  And what's worse is how you enslaved all of us on the ship, by making us think we were free.  I don't want to work for you, just to help enslave more people.  And I don't care if Syrin kills me for it, I'm tired of you lying to me."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Little Girl

I'm in the living room when I hear her start to cry a little.  I look at the clock.  An hour.  Not her best, but certainly not her worst.  I close up whatever it is that I've been working on and tread softly by the door to her room.  Maybe she'll fall back to sleep.  Still crying.  Okay, I guess it's an hour long nap this time.  I open up the door and say what I say every time I wake her up from her nap, "Is there a pretty girl in here?"  The crying stops.  I walk over until I can see her big toothless grin, which breaks into a squeal when she sees me.  Her arms flap, her legs kick, her blue eyes shine, and I can't help but get butterflies and forget about how disappointed I was that her nap was only an hour.  It's probably just biology, but it's amazing how a little smile, a little giggle, a little coo or squeal can make you forget about the messy diapers, the late nights, and the inexplicable screams.  I'd like to thank God for my little one, my little girl.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sally, Part 33

 Stacey, Part 32

Stacey and Mattias turned to see a large man barrel through the bar door to meet two of his fellow searchers.  "There they are."  His massive index finger pointed squarely Mattias.

Mattias quickly followed Syrin's lead, "Yep, like halflings during conscription."  He pulled Stacey to his feet and the three of them headed toward the side door.  Stacey heard a loud blast, shortly followed by a bullet whizzing by his ear as he ducked through the door after Syrin.  He then heard Mattias throw a chair to the ground, another gun shot, and the three of them were tripping on crates and barrels as they tried to make their way to the adjoining alleyway as quickly as they could, their chasers following closely behind.

To put it kindly, running wasn't Stacey's strong suit.  It seemed that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't keep up with Mattias and Syrin, and only Mattias was kind enough to slow down occasionally and help him forward.  At any rate, he wasn't outrunning the shooters.  Syrin seemed to be picking through the alleyways as if he'd ran down them countless times before, Stacey panting behind and Mattias occasionally knocking things over to slow down their assailants.  Bullets ricocheted off the buildings just as Stacey and Mattias rounded another corner.  Several times Stacey could hear a loud crash and cursing, followed by scrambling.  Once he happened to catch a glimpse of Mattias smile spread at one of these times.  As much as Stacey hated that Mattias was a slaver, times like this made it hard not to love his undaunted spirit.

Suddenly, it seemed as though Syrin disappeared into a wall to the right.  Shocked as Stacey was he kept running, and when they got to that point Mattias shoved him at the wall and followed into what looked to be an invisible slot.  If someone were to be walking, and stop at just the right time it could be seen clearly, but to three burly men brandishing pistols it was easily ran past without a second look as two men watched and one man tried to catch his breath.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Jake, the Bat Brandishing Friend

My mouth sputtered and more blood fell on the hardwood floor and my hands that were trying to support my weight.  I tightly closed my eyes and opened them in hopes that my vision would become less blurry, but it didn't help.  With what strength I had left I tried to look at Jake, my childhood friend, and current attacker.  He seemed so kind when we first reunited that it was almost difficult to believe that the man brandishing a baseball bat was the same man who rang my doorbell only a few months ago.

"John, now think hard.  Are you sure you've tried everyone?"

I knew it wasn't the right answer, but it was the honest one.  "Yes, Jake.  Yes."  He moved like he was going to take another swing at my head with the bat, so I closed my eyes, but felt his steel toed boots on my ribs instead.

"John."  His voice elvevated, "John, I don't want to do this to you, but you need more people.  You wanted to make money, right?"

"Yeah."  My ribs screamed, and a stream of blood fell from my lips like syrup.

"Alright then.  You want money, I want money.  The way for us to get more money, is for you to get more people."

Tears welled up in my eyes as my brain searched its catalog of names.  Nothing came.  My chin began to quiver, "I can't think..."  His bat stopped my jaw short of finishing.

"John."  He was shouting now, "I'm not gonna let you finish that sentence.  Who else do you know?  Imaging how hard it was for me to think of you.  Now, think hard.  Who else is there?"

When he came to my home that first time, it was just after I'd lost my job.  I hadn't shaved in weeks.  I didn't see a point when I never got any interviews.  His smile was so warm, his laugh so inviting, and when he said "It's not a pyramid scheme." it sounded too genuine not to be a part of.  Of course, I'd never heard of a pyramid scheme turning out this way.