The longest day...

Ok, announcements.  First things first.  Buy Ma'iitso Rises.  Its currently only $2.99 on Amazon and $2.49 through timwheatbooks.com   It would be even awesomer if you purchased a signed hardback or paperback via the easy to find links conveniently located above.  Lastly I did roll out some old music last week via the Music navigation at the top of the page.  Its free to listen, cheap to download, and heavier than the Phoenix Cluster.  What's the Phoenix Cluster you say?  Just the most massive galaxy cluster ever discovered weighing in at approximately 2.5 quadrillion times the mass of our sun which is 1.9891 x 10tothe30th kilograms.  My blog fonts don't support scientific notation so I'm just going to use real numbers from here on out, they're much more impressive anyway.  So, to recap, the mass of the sun is 1,989,100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms.  Then we take that times 2,500,000,000,000,000 which means the mass of the Phoenix Cluster is 49,727,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Kilograms.  Let's convert that to pounds and we get 109,630,371,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 lbs which would be how many tons?  548,167,903,333,333,333,333,333,333,333,333,333,333,333,333,333,333 with that little infinity line over the top of the 3, which my blog fonts don't support either.  Weak.  Anyway, that last number is in the hundreds of quindecillions and the music on the Music page is just slightly heavier than that.  Perhaps a short way into the sexdecillions.  Beware.  I told you we were going to be learning today.  On to the blog!  Or are we already there?



June 6, 1944

Ronald James McTiernan was a second generation baseball loving American from Hawthorne, Nebraska.  He breathed deeply and shifted the uncomfortable 75 pound pack that dug into his shoulder blades.  At 5'8" and 144 pounds he wasn't the largest guy around, but he wasn't the smallest either.  The gear was heavy for everyone and the fact that they'd been waterlogged the last 300 yards hadn't helped the situation.  Immediately to his left a man wretched as the bow of the Higgins boat dutifully parted the channel's blue-gray waves.  

Ron, or as the boys back home called him, Ronnie, nervously checked the clip of his M1 Garand for what seemed the thousandth time.  It was ready.  Everything was ready.  It all had to be ready.  He looked up in time to catch a nervous grin from his good friend Sweet Lou.  They had been together through basic training and all through England.  Only a couple of weeks before they had been pursuing British women and antagonizing British men.  Now, though, they stood packed in the tight metal canister with 34 other green U.S. soldiers about to be baptized in blood.  

"Listen up."  Lieutenant Coffey barked the orders as Ronnie suddenly became aware of the tremendous din that surrounded them all.  "One minute out!  Stay tight.  Stay down.  Get onshore and to the rally point to wait for my orders.  Them krauts are gonna be breathin fire on ya, but you gotta get to that rally point!  Remember your training and be safe.  God bless ya boys."

A shell exploded just to the port of the vessel and water sprayed over the men.  Ronnie shivered again, shuffled his feet, and took solace in the Lieutenant's demeanor.  The man showed nary a hint of trepidation or fear.  He seemed more confident in success than if they were going for a three mile hike with no pack.  Ronnie couldn't remember the last time he had trained without that infernal pack.

Allied Naval vessels and Air Force planes had pounded the landing zone for nearly 35 minutes with over 5000 artillery rounds and 10,000 tons of bombs.  Intel indicated that the Germans were a bit sparse in the area and the beating had certainly softened them up a bit.  Multiple explosions surrounded the Higgins, which rocked the boat side to side and soaked the men once again, yet the machine dutifully powered forward.  Ronnie looked to the dreary sky above.  Gray clouds  were dotted with the black puffs of smoke from anti-aircraft fire and he became supremely aware that other than the drone of their 225hp diesel, things had suddenly become very quiet.

"Ten seconds!"  The Lieutenant's voice somehow echoed between the sardine can walls as he turned and made his final order to the coxswain.  "Let her down.  Let's get in the war boys!"

Then it began.

Machine gun fire strafed the front of the landing craft as the door dropped for the men to exit.  Ronnie watched as the Lieutenant's head took the first wave of bullets, causing his appendages to spastically flail wildly as electrical pulses fired throughout the body below.  He winced as the men ahead were mowed down, one on top of the other.  Almost frozen in time the tracers methodically entered the front of the boat ruthlessly destroying nearly every man he had called a pal.  A wave of blood and bits of flesh immediately covered his face and he frantically removed the pieces of his friends.  What was this?  How could this really be happening?

"Ronnie!  Ronnie!"

Private Ronald James McTiernan had never been in battle before and had wondered what effect it would have on him.  He blankly stared at his best buddy who was covered in blood and had a sizable piece of brain fixed to his helmet.  Ronnie blinked and took in the gory site of his closest comrade.  They were the last two left.

"They're reloading Ronnie!  We've gotta go."

As if on cue, another German machine gun nest opened fire on the hapless boat.  Rounds slammed into the steel sides of the small craft and thumped as they penetrated the dead men stacked just behind the ramp.  Ronnie snapped from his reverie and ducked behind the pile of dead bodies, followed quickly by Lou.  His friends had sacrificed their own lives so that he could now survive.  A few seconds passed and the immediate danger seemed to go with it.  

"Over the side Lou!"  He shouted above the unyielding din that seemed to beat him to his very core.  "Our best bet is over the side!"

Ronnie exited the craft, hit the frigid water of the English Channel and immediately found himself sinking to the bottom.  They were supposed to be in knee deep surf, but that obviously wasn't the case.  He opened his eyes and blinked hard.  The salt water stung slightly and he struggled mightily to his feet, jumping toward the surface while pulling hard with his arms.  Round after round of enemy fire pierced the water and zipped past.  He was a good swimmer, but as his lungs screamed for air he hadn't made an inch of headway.  A decision had to be made, and it was simple.  The pack had to go.

Quickly, as he had done hundreds of times before, Ronnie shed the burdensome pack while holding onto the 30.06 Springfield.  He wasn't about to wade ashore unarmed.  His encumbrance relieved, the young man pushed mightily to the surface.  The relative quiet of the ocean disappeared as his head shot above the waves and he greedily gulped lungs full of air.  An explosion to his left sent red frothy water cascading over his head and he instinctively swam for the beach.

Ronnie put his feet down on the ocean floor below and began pushing his way to shore.  Bodies floated everywhere and he collected their blood stained clips along with frag grenades as he went.  Ahead lay Omaha beach.  It was a wide sandy area and McTiernan imagined it would have been a nice place to visit under other circumstances.  At each end sheer cliffs raised from the ocean, nearly perpendicular to the water, and behind the beach a 150 foot bluff gave the Germans a bird's eye view of the killing field.

"Fish in a barrel."  The words were lost to the surrounding chaos almost the instant they left his mouth. 

Ducking behind a twisted piece of metal which had been damaged from the shelling, Ronnie gathered himself for the push forward.  Men were dying everywhere he looked, though a few seemed to be grouping thirty yards ahead.  The Germans had fortified the bluff while riddling the water and beach with obstacles, making the direct assault nearly suicidal.  Ronnie turned and observed the armor floundering in the channel.  Almost none of the amphibious tanks appeared to be entering the battle.  So much for rolling cover.

"Private!"  Ronnie instinctively saluted the Lieutenant now shouting at him while pointing at a specific spot on the beach.  "Keep grabbing those frag grenades and get yourself up against that natural seawall."

Pandemonium surrounded the young man from Nebraska, but he now had a direct order and a purpose.  Determined not to let his new commander down the former standout baseball star collected frag grenades from dead men as he went, covering ground as quickly as he dared.  Then he was there.

"Ronnie!"

"Lou!"

"I thought I lost you in the channel!"

Sweet Lou's voice was music to his ears.  Somehow he had forgotten about his best friend in all the ruckus.

"What are we doing now Lou?"

A heavy explosion rained white sand down on the dozen men huddled together against the natural barrier.  Nearby another group of GI's peaked above the terrain and were greeted with heavy machine gun fire.  The Lieutenant Ronnie had taken orders from slammed his body into the powdery earth, a slight grunt expelling from his lungs.  

"Private!  We have to do something about those machine gun nests.  Do you think you can get any of those frag grenades up there?"

Ronnie smiled as he took notice of the enemy position nearly 150 feet away.

"I'll put em down their throats sir!"

"Do it."

Adrenaline surged through the young man's body.  He had never been so close to death and yet he had never felt so alive.  Ronnie stood, pulled the pin on one of the grenades and heaved it with every bit of energy he could muster.  Before he knew what was even happening he had done the same with two more.  The 1 lb 5 oz MkII grenades, known as iron pineapples for their resemblance to the tropical fruit, sailed through the air as Ronnie foolishly stood and watched.  Bullets whizzed past him from every direction and then he saw it.

Two of the grenades bounced harmlessly off the enemy's fortified position, but one found its mark, dropping neatly through the concrete bunker's window.  The subsequent explosion brought a small amount of relief from the constant rate of fire as Ronnie confidently stood and heaved six more pineapples at the nearby nests.  Three of the weapons hit their mark and a roar went up among the men at their first small victory.  

The day had just begun, but Ronnie McTiernan somehow felt like he was meant to survive.  As the Lieutenant barked orders Ron leaned heavily against the moist sand.  Absolute carnage surrounded him, but inside he felt at peace.  It was truly the longest day.


  "If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel), we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different."  President and Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower

"If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel), we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different."  President and Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sixty years ago this Friday Operation Overlord and the go ahead for D-Day was ordered by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Private Ronald James McTiernan and his story is a figment of my imagination, but the situations he faced and the facts/descriptions told are based off live accounts and research.  The average American soldier was 5'8" and weighed 144 lbs.  The U.S. really dropped 10,000 tons of bombs in the 35 minutes preceding the battle.  The Higgins boat was the name of the U.S. landing craft, and there is really so much more I'd love to put in there, but my blog can't be 100k words.  Maybe I'll do a book about it someday.  Something I don't think people usually realize is that unlike many war stories the story of Omaha Beach often gets watered down with time.  Even the fictional account above is considerably less gory and terrifying than the actual event.  Omaha Beach was a natural landing area and unlike some of the other beaches the Germans had it well defended.  Men who survived the battle acknowledge that despite occasional small victories and moments of heroism, the day was anything but won.  Many played dead in the surf until nightfall, holding only their nose and mouth above the water.  Others huddled behind German obstacles and were eventually picked off by the enemy guns.  It was truly hell on earth.

 Modern day view from the east on Omaha Beach.  From here the German known as "The Beast of Omaha Beach" hunkered in machine gun nest WN62 and was constantly resupplied for hours.  He is single-handedly credited for an estimated 1000+ American deaths in the easy red and fox green sectors of the beach.

Modern day view from the east on Omaha Beach.  From here the German known as "The Beast of Omaha Beach" hunkered in machine gun nest WN62 and was constantly resupplied for hours.  He is single-handedly credited for an estimated 1000+ American deaths in the easy red and fox green sectors of the beach.

With the recent Memorial Day celebration and the upcoming 60th anniversary of D-day this just seemed like a good 1579 words to write.  World War II and the stories real men have told about it have always been of interest to me and I am genuinely grateful they were brave enough to endure the hardships they faced.  Their sacrifice will never be lost on me and when I think about the battles they waged, lost, and won, I almost always think of them the way that I told this story.  Perhaps that's why I love history so much.  It really is a living breathing record of times gone by, not just dates/times/names/places to be memorized.  Actual people with actual thoughts and feelings lived through this and that's something we shouldn't forget.  I hope the truths found in the fictional depiction above were intriguing, but also hope that maybe you learned a couple things you didn't know before.  I grabbed a lot of my facts (that I didn't know already) from The National World War II Museum.  There is a lot of good info there.  Thanks for reading everyone!


Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

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Posted on June 4, 2014 .

Dodo bird. It's what's for dinner.

Yeah, I know this is timwheatBOOKS.com, but guess what?  I write music too.  As of right now I only have my three heaviest projects on the Music page, but as time allows I'll be posting more.  I should have a little bit of something for everyone, although I don't really delve into boy band type stuff, or rap, but i would like to write a techno album someday, I just haven't saved up enough glow sticks or pacifiers yet.  Anyway, three albums are up over there.  The first is from the Absolute Zero days, which actually had the material done for the second album, it just needs to be put back together again, which maybe I'll do one of these days, followed by Counterstrike, and then my solo metal project Anarchosis.  They'll be available for streaming at no cost for the rest of time, or until I die, or run out of money to pay my web-hosting bill.  If you really like one or all of them they'll be available to download for the paltry sum of $3.99 per album and will be a downloadable rar file, and then you can put the mp3's on all your devices and listen to me 24/7.  It'll be awesome.  Onto the blog!

Does anyone read this blog?  My site statistics say they do.  My site statistics say that a number of you do, but obviously if you don't, you'll never see this, so I guess you can shove it, unless you are reading this, then thanks for coming!  The numbers vary from week to week and if something bad happens to me those blogs seem to really take off, but I'll be honest, I don't particularly care for bad things happening to me.  I prefer writing blogs like The Story of My Life.  Naked and Afraid With One Direction and Justin Bieber (which gets a surprising number of hits when someone types in "one direction guys naked" or "justin bieber naked" into google.  Not millions, but not zero either.)  and Bling, Bling Pinky Ring.  That's a Billion With a B Son.  Do I normally talk like that?  Nope.  Am I actually talking?  Nope.  I'm typing.  

So, as I formulate ideas for what I'm going to blog about from week to week I take a number of things into account.  

1.  Do people actually care what I have to say?  The answer to this question is, generally speaking, no, and that's fine.  Out of the 6+ billion people in the world I'm lucky to get 200 readers a week, last week's procured about 70, and I've peaked at just north of 1200.  Those would be good numbers if I were the leader of a cult and had complete control over those 50-200 people's minds, but let's not mince words here.  I couldn't even get a single person to leave me an Amazon review a couple weeks ago, let alone convince them to drink the kool-aid or become my personal slaves so that I can siphon off their hard working dollars and buy myself gold toilet bowls that I have filled with bottles of Acqua di Cristallo Tributo a Modigliani water for the paltry sum of $60,000 per 750 ml by my specialized toilet tank/bowl filler guys.  Slackers.

2.  Is there a purpose to writing this blog?  The official purpose of a blog is to connect with readers and convince them that they like you and want to buy stuff from you.  So far I've been most able to convince people who already like me to continue liking me, although I seriously doubt that they would have stopped liking me just because I don't write the blog.  I could probably send them a text once a year or two and stay just as relevant.  I've actually contemplated stopping writing this thing because I've watched my subscription numbers tank the last 6 weeks or so.  Maybe I suck at it and instead of connecting I'm repulsing, like the feeling I get whenever I see a celebrity or rich person on tv that is 70 years old and has had half their nose chopped off, neck skin sawed in half and tucked behind their ears, eyebrows tattooed on their forehead, and who's face is botoxed into that constantly shocked state.  When I think about that, though, I think about how I feel like writing the blog is an exercise for me.  Kind of like lifting weights to get huge, although if I lifted weights as often as I write I'd be absolutely massive, or absolutely injured.  I don't know if my body could handle fourteen hour lifting sessions quite as well as my brain handles fourteen hour writing streaks.  

3.  How can I appeal to more readers?  I ask myself that question a lot.  I've contemplated a number of ways and have tried a lot.  In some of my most recent blogs you'll notice more media rich content.  People are supposed to love funny videos, songs, gif's and the like, but I certainly haven't seen that affect my numbers a lot and it oftentimes takes me longer because I have to look things up and link them and make sure I'm not stealing from people who are rich enough to care and want to sue me.  I've tried advertising it through facebook, twitter, and goodreads.  I've done it independently as well as in tandems/unison.  It doesn't seem to matter.  I do know a surefire way to get readers.  Have your dog die.  Sir Wheat's Axl Grease saw something like 600 hits and took me all of ten minutes to post.  I only have one dog left, though, and he's turning into a pretty good dog, but I honestly don't care for him as much as good old Axl.  Its OK, they're dogs, one is dead and I won't tell the other one to his face.   I haven't even taught him to read yet.

4.  Should my blog writing be representative of my novel writing?  Some experts say yes, some say no.  I know that my blog writing is not necessarily representative of my novel writing.  I would say that there are similar elements, but I'm certainly not throwing down action adventure stories every week.  I've contemplated doing a series that way through the blog, but I have a lot on my plate right now and nothing close to development that would actually fit that bill.  I have a pretty cool idea for one, but I feel like I'd have to write the whole thing first, since I often come up with awesome ideas in the end of a book that I have to go back and add in the beginning so that they make sense.  It would suck to write it live, week to week, and then miss out on something super sweet.

5.  Should I even continue the blog?  I won't lie, that's probably the first question I ask myself every week.  I've been at this about six months now, and at first it seemed like it had positive impact.  I sold a few books, got some good feedback, gained some facebook followers, collected quite a few subscribers.  The last couple of months, though, I've sold no books, gotten very little feedback, gained no facebook followers, and have shed subscribers like it was a Biggest Loser contest.  I'm in the writing game for the haul, but I'm not necessarily into wasting my time.  I can get practice while I work on The Sentinel, Akarthus, Letters From Maggie, Immortality, and the tentatively titled third installment in the Rex Chase series, Moskchenko.  That's right.  I have five novels I'm developing right now, along with the five children's books and not to mention the music bug has been gnawing at my brain.  The Sentinel is almost done, I have a good start on Akarthus, and Letters From Maggie, Immortaility, and Moskchenko are completely outlined.  Its not like I'm hurting for projects.  I guess what I'm saying is that if you like this blog you should tell me.  I'm inclined to keep doing it, but...

6.  There is no number 6.  I'm not saying that the number itself does not exist, because it does.  I've subbed in enough math classes lately to be certain of that fact AND I can see it right there at the top of my keyboard as well.  So, don't be afraid and I'm sorry if anyone defacated in their pants because they feared the number 6 may have gone the way of the dodo.  Speaking of dodos, I watched this movie with my kids the other day, "The Pirates: Band of Misfits", at least I think that's its name.  Anyway, the head pirate in that movie has a dodo bird that he thought was a parrot and they meet the Queen of England and she tries to eat the dodo and the whole thing is done in claymation, or digital computerized claymation or whatever, and then they turn into awesome pirates in the end and win pirate of the year.  I dug it.  Blog over.

 

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

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Posted on May 28, 2014 .

For my friend, my life, my love, my wife...

It was a beautiful spring morning not unlike others before.  Birds chirped outside and the undeniable smell of fresh cut grass hitched a ride on the cool breeze wafting through the windows.  I woke up a little later than most and wondered if she had said goodbye earlier as I drearily stepped into the shower.  The blast of hot water stimulated my cognitive abilities and a vague recollection of a goodbye kiss on the forehead formed in my brain.  A day unlike any other I had ever experienced before or will again was just beginning.

I made a few phone calls and talked to a number of people about our plans for the day as I finished my breakfast, fed the dog, and made sure the house was ready for visitors.  It seemed like nobody knew exactly what was going on but me and that was fine.  Everything had come together rather quickly and perhaps I had overlooked a few details.  Last second decisions still needed to be made, inevitable problems needed to be solved, and I had no qualms being the man for the job.  I was ready.

In the previous days I had prepped most of the arrangements and I held a supreme confidence that this day itself would come out just fine.  As I stepped from the house in my khaki shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and flip flops, a change of clothes draped over my shoulder, I took a look at my green Chevy S-10.  Something seemed wrong.  I didn't have a flat tire.  Nobody dinged the door.  I looked up at the sky as a layer of clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped slightly.  We were having a cookout later and the ominous prediction of rain had held steady in the forecast for days.  The grill!  That's what I was forgetting.  I needed to throw our gas grill in the back of the truck for the cookout.

Bullet dodged, I fired up the powerful four cylinder behemoth that was the two wheel drive S-10 and started my journey to Springlake.  It was a trip I'd taken many, many times before.  I grew up down near Manito and at the time had a little 15 foot basstracker with an ancient 25 horse Evinrude motor.  A previous owner had scratched off the "2", I guess so that you could go on smaller lakes with 10 horse limits, but the change was very noticeable.  That day, though, I wasn't pulling the jon behind the mighty S-10.  No fishing was on the agenda.

The trip went by quickly and I spoke on the phone with a number of people, continuing to coordinate the day's events.  Temperatures seemed to dip a little more and I had the same conversation again and again with numerous worrying friends and relatives.  I don't remember it being annoying, or even bothersome to me at all, just slightly amusing at the differences in concern.  

A conversation with one of the men went something like this.

Man:  50% chance of rain from 1-3.  Whatya think?

Me:  Yeah, we'll have to see what happens.  Can't control the weather.  You know?

Man:  I hear that.  What are you going to do with all this stuff if it starts pouring?

Me:  I've got a plan.  Most of it'll be ok out here.  We'll just move inside if it starts raining.

Man:  Yeah, no big deal.

Me:  No big deal.

 

A conversation with one of the women went more like this.

Woman:  My husband told me it is absolutely, positively going to be raining and I feel like that would be worse than getting hit in the head with a shovel.

Me:  It might, but not with the shovel part, I guess?  We'll just have to wait and see.  Can't control the weather.  You know?

Woman:  Oh, that would be just awful.  All these beautiful arrangements and your hard work and planning.  The day will be ruined worse than if you were out here strangling puppies.

Me:  It'll be ok.  I would never do that to puppies and I've got a plan.  Most of the things will be alright out here.  We'll just move inside if it starts raining.

Woman:  Oh my.  That would just be horrible.  Rain is the equivalent of billions of tiny sharp daggers falling from the sky that would tragically disfigure and maim all of us leaving the entire group wallowing in a shared pool of blood as we spend our last moments together in agony.

Me:  Yikes.

 

OK, so maybe the women weren't that dramatic.  I just wanted to properly illustrate the levels of concern over the forecast of rain.

So, the hour approached and I was busy, almost too busy to fully wrap my brain around what was transpiring.  I set up tables and chairs and got the grill all ready for cooking.  I set out the food and drinks and mingled with more people, all while keeping an eye on those pesky rain clouds above.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I had a lot of help, I just don't remember who did what exactly and wouldn't want to slight anyone's contribution.  

Now the time was getting really close.  I changed out of my shorts, Hawaiian shirt and flip flops into my Sunday best.  Some of my best friends in the world had arrived and we made small talk even as my nerves started to gnaw at me a little bit.  A few pictures were taken.  We kept looking at the clouds.  Then my brother in law Jessie walked up and said.

"Are you ready, because she's ready."

That might not be a direct quote, but I'd say its reasonably close.  I have no idea what I said back and the next couple of minutes are a blur. 

 I LOST MY SHOE!!!!!!!

I LOST MY SHOE!!!!!!!

It was May the 21st 2005 when Candice Linnea Baxter, accompanied by her brother Joe, made that short walk from the interior of Springlake Missionary Church to the yard outside.  Almost as if on cue, the clouds broke and rays of sunlight shone brightly through the newly greened canopies of the trees.  A very slight but warm breeze ruffled the fledgling leaves and then she appeared.  I can still close my eyes and see her smiling face as she came around the gathered group of close family and friends.  It was going off without a hitch, but then she stumbled.  Her heeled shoe had caught in the soft spring earth and the briefest of gasps went up in the crowd before she closed her eyes, laughed, kicked off the other shoe and kept right on down the aisle.  Onlookers joined her in the laughter and it greatly helped to ease the butterflies in my stomach and growing lump in my throat.  

 Thirty seconds under our belts!  Well, I had on a belt.

Thirty seconds under our belts!  Well, I had on a belt.

Our wedding was eight minutes long and during that eight minutes I made one of the best decisions of my life.  Well, I had actually made the decision months or years before, but that was the moment of truth.  It was the day I made Candice Linnea Wheat my wife and I haven't regretted a second of it since.  I love her more now then ever before and can't imagine it being like this with anyone else.  Happy nine year anniversary to my friend, my life, my love, my wife.

 Beautiful.  I cropped myself out because I just mess it up!

Beautiful.  I cropped myself out because I just mess it up!

 

 

 

 I can't wait to go to work later, and you'll go to work too, and then we'll both work all day on our anniversary.  Wait a minute.  That's not romantic at all.  Maybe I should make something up better, like a trip to Hawaii!  Yeah, that sounds better.  We should have taken a trip to Hawaii.  I could have dug up that old shirt.  Why didn't I think of this before?  Oh well.  Maybe next year for our tenth.  Well, maybe the 25th.  Definitely by the 50th!

No book pimping today.  I love you Candice.  Happy anniversary.

 

Tim

Posted on May 21, 2014 .

Shamazon!!!

The Sentinel is nearing completion!  As I get the editing and proofreading process complete I'll probably tease a little more on here.  Maybe a couple of chapters here and a couple of chapters there.  We'll see.  I'm also mulling around the possibility of a pre-sale on hardback versions.  Since they are the most expensive and time consuming portion of the whole process I'm contemplating a pre-sale where you get an instant download of The Sentinel to read, and an instant download of Ma'iitso Rises.  Then after 150 downloads the project is funded and you'll get a hardback version of The Sentinel as well as an as yet to be announced other project.  It's kind of like a Kickstarter sort of thing, and I'm thinking I would have to charge around $60 to make the 150 number work.  Obviously I would sign everything and include letters of authentication and all that jazz.  I could bump the number up to 200 and drop the cost to $50 and include a Ma'iitso Rises hardback as well, but 200 hardbacks is honestly a lot to sell.  I haven't sold that many physical hardbacks of Ma'iitso.

The main problem with all of this is that I'll need to do it primarily here in the digital realm through my website, and that is where my marketing skills kind of struggle.  I actually am not sure if it's my marketing skills so much as my lack of, or willingness to waste, my internet marketing budget.  I've tried lots of different ideas and read pretty much every article about internet marketing on Google.  Yeah, that's right, EVERY article.  I read pretty fast though.  It's all these articles that I've read which have me putting more pictures and linking videos and stuff in my blog.  According to the interwebs you people need STIMULATED!

WATCH THIS!!!!!!!

AND THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What do those have to do with anything?  Nothing.  I just like people falling down.  

Anyway, since I can't actually reach through the computer and stimulate you myself...  Wait a minute. Never mind.   So, I've done all the reading, and sank some $ in here and there, but I've yet to find a promotion that I've paid for that made its money back.  If I could even pay someone $1000 and then sell just enough books to cover that, I'd be completely fine with it.  I have no problem breaking even on a campaign.  I feel like Ma'iitso Rises is good enough that it will be able to generate on its own once it gets some traction in the paying world of books, which is not to be mistaken for the non-paying world of books.  They are completely different animals.  I've found the people in the paying world of books to be more likely to review/constructively criticize/recommend to others.  The world of non-paying books is more likely to download the book for free and...  never think about it again.  That's just the way it is and for those who've figured out how to play both sides of that fence I give kudos.  

Anyway I've Google marketed and Facebook marketed and Goodreads marketed etc. etc. and I've gotten really good at giving books away.  Shoot, I've given away thousands, but the problem is, is that it never seems to lead to an avalanche of sales.  I'll have a few trickle in here and there as people tell their friends or people get tricked into buying one after the free promotion is over.  Yeah, you heard that right, I've refunded six books because people thought they were getting them for free, and then accidentally agreed to pay $5.  Did I get my ebook back?  Nope.  Did they give me a review?  Nope.  Does Amazon even allow free giveaways to generate reviews anymore?  Nope.  

Wait a minute.  Amazon makes you sign an exclusive agreement with them via the KDP select program which allows you to promote your books, mainly through free giveaways, but they recently decided that those who download the books via the free giveaways can't leave you a review?  Yep.  As a matter of fact, not only did they stop allowing free giveaways to generate reviews, they took away the reviews that I had built up through the free giveaways.  Ma'iitso Rises now has eleven reviews, after I gave away thousands of free books just to generate the other 20 or so reviews that got taken away.  Another awesome thing is that after multiple emails asking why they took down so many of my verified reviews I found out through an author's chat room that it was because they were from free book giveaways.  Another guy in the same chat room says that he still has all of his free reviews, but it was about thirty to one against him.  Maybe he was an Amazon troll trying to keep up the good name of the company.  Who knows?  Anyway, Amazon still hasn't officially responded to my inquiries, at all, not even an automatically generated response.  I'd honestly prefer to drop them completely, but they own something like 84% of the marketplace.  I'm thinking that timwheatbooks.com probably has at least 14 or 15 of the other 16 percent.  At least.  Shoot, I'd settle for 1/100th of 1%.  

So, I'm going to put forth a plea right now.

I've lost a lot of reviews on Amazon because of this free thing, and I think it is stupid, but that's the way it is.  What they haven't done, though, is take down the reviews of people who purchased the book elsewhere.  So, if you have an Amazon account and you haven't already left me a review, and even if you've downloaded it from there for free already.  Click on the link above and leave me one.  I say even if you've already downloaded it for free, because maybe, just maybe they'll change their minds, or the computer won't catch it or something and it'll post.  I've got to get those numbers up a bit so that when I release The Sentinel I have a little better track record.  I know that my 34 reviews looked A LOT better than my current 11.  Hey, wanna do me an even bigger favor?  Ask your mom who has an Amazon account to leave me a review.  What's that you say?  You are the mom?  Excellent.  Have your kids leave me reviews!  What's that?  You're not a mom or a dad and are a test tube baby with no friends?  In that case, shoot me a line.  We'll hang out.  I don't even particularly care how many stars you give me, although I'd prefer 5, but if you don't think it deserves that many, then that's fine.  Reviews don't have to be long either.  One or two lines will do the job.

"I liked this book a lot.  The characters were fun.  The action was good.  I'd recommend!"

Bam!  I wrote that in about 10 seconds and would be totally fine seeing it as a five or four star review.  P.S.  Only one person can use that as their review.  

"I've read a lot of books and Ma'iitso Rises was enjoyable if not ground-breaking.  A nice entertaining read."

Bam!  Another ten seconds and I've kicked out a 3 star review.

"This book sucks.  Tim Wheat sucks.  The world sucks.  Kittens suck.  Rainbows suck.  Flowers suck.  I didn't think it was possible, but I hate life even more now because of Tim Wheat and Ma'iitso Rises."

Bam!  I spent maybe twenty seconds on that 1 star review.  Hey, I'm bound to get a few of those eventually right?  



Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!  Thanks!

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Posted on May 14, 2014 .

Sick sick bo bick banana fana fo fick me my mo mick SICK!!!



 

 

You want to know something I am truly horrible at, other than pool, golf, and tiddlywinks?  I actually don't know if I've ever played tiddlywinks.  It just kind of popped into my mind, so I wrote it.  You know what?  That's how this week's blog is going to be.  First thing that pops into my mind.  That's what I'm going to write, with no editing or correcting or resequencing or anything.  Is resequencing a word?  I don't know.  My grammar check seems to have a problem with it, but guess what?  I don't care.  Wanna know why?  

 

Because I'm sick.

 

 

Actually sick too.  Not sick and tired of people's crap, or sick of the man, or sick of freeloaders or sick of selena gomez.  Yep, just noticed I didn't capitalize that.  Tough.  I also realized that I'm actually in no way sick of Ms. Gomez.  That wizard show she was on was kind of funny.  Her name just popped into my head, so, sorry Selena .  I'm honest to goodness, down in the dumps, icky tummy, achy everything sick.  I've been that way since last Thursday and like I said before.

i suck at it.

I remember when I was a little kid, and not like 3 years old little, I don't remember that.  I'm talking about when I was probably 8-18 or so.  Anyway, I remember that all I had to do to get better then was go to sleep.  I'd get 15 hours of sleeping done, wake up, eat some jello my mommy gave me, drink some sprite my mommy gave me, and go back to sleep for another 15 hours, then BAM!!!, I'm all better.  That was awesome and that's the way I prefer to get it done, but it just doesn't seem to work that way anymore.  

Instead I wake up and its like 

Me:  Man.  I feel bad.

Kids:  We still need stuff!

Work:  You still gotta come here.

Me:  Yeah, I know.  This sucks.

Now, I'm not going to say that my family didn't cut me a break, because they most certainly did.  They're actually pretty good about taking care of themselves when their mom or I aren't feeling well, even at ages 5 and 7.  Obviously the 7 year old is better than the 5 year old, but I actually think they kind of like it because they get a lot more yes answers than usual.

Kids:  Dad, can we have ice cream for breakfast?

Me:  (Head propped on three pillows because snot is pouring out of my body, which is curled into the fetal position underneath two blankets while laying on a heating pad and freezing while sweating to death.)  Yes.  Please only ask me questions if you're dying.

Kids:  Dad can we play in the highway?

Me:  Yes.  Don't die.

Kids:  Dad, we broke your chainsaw while we were playing with it in the highway..

Me:  Are you dead?

Kids:  No.

                         Me:  Good...

As far as I'm concerned my boys are 1000 times smarter and 1000 times less psycho than that dude in Texas Chainsaw Massacre and he got to play with chainsaws that whole movie.  So, yeah. as long as no dying is involved.

 I got kind of lucky with the whole work thing too, as in I wasn't scheduled for anything on Thursday, Friday, or Monday that I couldn't easily get out of, and that's what I did.  I got out of it, and not because I can't go to work sick.  I've done it tons of times before.  This was a special kind of sick.  The doubled over in pain nothing stays in your stomach you don't want to be farther than 10 feet from the bathroom kind.  Miserable.

After fighting the good fight, medicine free for two days I finally decided to get something to help.  Actually, I tried before that, but we don't get sick very often and the closest medicine to being in date was the pepto bismol with a date of Aug 2011.  I still almost drank it.  Anyway, I wasn't sure what to buy, but as a I struggled to the counter at the CVS loaded with Kaopectate, Gas-x, and other remedies I made eye contact with the 16 year old clerk.  He obviously felt bad for me and offered to help me carry me stuff.  Mind you, I had one bag, and I almost took him up on it.  If he would have offered to drive me home I would have taken that.  I know buying Gas-x certainly didn't have me feeling very young.

My wife was a trooper too, but was scheduled to work just about every day.  She went to work, then came home and made me jello, although she did forget to bring me that bomb hospital ice so that I could chew on it and my mouth wouldn't be so horribly dry, but I forgave her for that.  Anyway, she was nice to me, and didn't make fun of me, and got me stuff I needed.  I think I'll keep her around a while longer.

I am actually feeling better as I write this, and I did go to work today, which was only semi-crappy.  I'm still not 100%.  I'd put myself at 77.3%.  Walking up three steps to get back into the house is still wearing me out, and reading to the kids today at school almost killed me, but I'm at least able to fake it now.  I've weaned myself off the Gas-X and Kaopectate and have even managed to put whole entire meals in my belly without expelling them immediately, which is nice.  Moral of the story.  Don't get sick.  It sucks.

 

 

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!  Thanks!


Posted on May 7, 2014 .

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K

Welcome to timwheatbooks.com!  Let's say that you haven't read Ma'iitso Rises yet.  Well, today, May 3, you can click on the link below and download for free from Amazon!  So, even if you bought a hardback or paperback from me it would be awesome if you downloaded a free copy here and then left me one of those precious reviews.  The more people the better and maybe Ma'iitso Rises can climb up the Action/Adventure charts a bit!  OK, onto the blog!  

So, I'm laying on the couch the other day, mindlessly flipping through the channels when I stumble across Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.  I absolutely loved this movie when I was a little kid!  I know that I've watched it since I got older, but I decided to go ahead and check it out again.  I wasn't disappointed.  

I don't care what anyone thinks, that movie is pure genius.  If you didn't like history as a kid, or even as an adult how can you argue with making it more interesting by going back in time and meeting Mr. The Kid, Socrates, Sigmund Freud Dude, Miss of Arc, Abraham Lincoln and the world's most bodacious barbarian, Genghis Kahn?  I mean, in a matter of a few hours Ted Theodore Logan and Bill S. Preston Esquire went from only knowing that Caesar was a "solid dressing dude" to passing their history report with a 100%.  

When they tried to study by just getting out the book it went something like this:

Bill: Okay, Ted, George Washington. One: the father of our country.

Ted: Two: born on President's Day.

Bill: Three: the dollar-bill guy.

Ted: Bill, you ever made a mushroom out of his head? It's like, just like...

Bill: Ted. Alaska.

Ted: Okay. Um... Had wooden teeth, chased Moby Dick.

Bill: That's Captain Ahab, dude.

COMEDY GOLD!!!!!  Alright, now I know that not everyone thinks this movie is as awesome as I do, although I can't say I understand it.  I'm not sure what's not to like about Mr. Anderson/Neo/Johnny Utah/Johnny Mnemonic/Keanu Reeves and well, Bill S. Preston Esquire (I have no idea who that dude is, Alex Winter?  Perhaps?  I'm not looking it up)  traveling around in time via a phone booth that George Carlin brought them so that they can collect historical figures, bring them back to San Dimas, and pass their history report with a 100%, thereby securing the most excellent future that their band Wyld Stallyns has created that aligned the planets and brought peace on earth.  Plausible?  Yep.  Likely?  I assume so.  If anyone can bring peace on earth it's Ted Theodore Logan.  I thought it was excellent then.  I think it is excellent now.  

You know what else Ted did that was excellent.  No, I'm not going to talk about The Matrix.  Those movies were pretty good.  I kinda dug em.  They couldn't hold a candle to Point Break, though.  

I mean, you have Keanu and Swayze surfing around in the ocean, saying "bra" a lot, kind of arguing about that one chick from A League of Their Own, and robbing a few banks while donning president masks along the way.  What could be better you say?  Oh yeah, Keanu is really Special Agent Johnny Utah, and he's actually there to bust Swayze.  Throw in a little Gary Busey and you've got some high quality acting going on bra.

You know what?  Point Break is awesome, and so is Ted Theodore Logan, but in all actuality, he can't hold a candle to Swayze.  I mean, Thor, is the lead actor in the latest Red Dawn movie, and Swayze played that part a million times tougher thirty years ago.  I mean, then he was a bad dude in Roadhouse and Donnie Darko, showed his softer side in Dirty Dancing and Ghost.  Honestly, though, my favorite Swayze role, hands down, is that of Adrian, alongside Chris Farley's character Barney as Chippendale's dancers.  I've seen this SNL skit tons of times and it makes me literally lol every single time.  I'm laughing just looking at this picture.  I can't help myself.  Chris Farley always made me laugh.  I have to embed the video.

 

Man, I watched that video, and then a bunch of other Farley videos.  That guy was better than Ted and Jed (that was Swayze's name in Red Dawn).  With lines like "fat guy in a little coat" and "what'd you do!", not to mention "Living in a van!  Down by the river!"  Oh man.  I'm kinda bummed both these guys are dead now.  Huh.  

Anyway, while I was embedding video I decided to look up Alex Winter, and yes, his name is Alex Winter, and guess what I found out?  Bill and Ted 3 could start filming as early as this year!  The script is done.  Keanu and Alex are both in.  They have a director.  Excellent and most non-heinous!  Alright, so what's holding it back?  Ohhhhhhh, money.  They should start a kickstarter fund.  I mean, how much cash can it take to film a Bill and Ted Movie?   We can film it at my house and it'll still be awesome.  I've never directed a movie, but how hard can it be?  Alright, that's my next project.  Who has Keanu's phone number?  I need to shoot him a text.

 

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!  Thanks!

Donate


Posted on April 30, 2014 .

The Story of My Life. Naked and Afraid with One Direction and Justin Bieber.

Blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog.  Think the Cadbury Bunny.  I ate about 1264.7 of those this weekend.  I had approximately 1264.7 pounds of ham too.  Buy Ma'iitso Rises today.  If you haven't read it yet  buy a signed copy right NOW!!


I don't have a lot of pressing issues on my mind this week.  I didn't have any run-ins with dirty unbathed hippies.  The wife is good.  The kids are good.  Beauregard Duke of the House of Wheat is even managing to behave more often than usual.  Book creation is happening all of the time.  It's sunny outside and I've been getting a lot of work done on the farm.  The Cubs can't hit, which I believe I predicted a few short weeks ago.  All in all things are alright.

I have a confession to make, though.  Even with all of my railings against reality television in an earlier blog, I have succumbed to the infernal beast and become an honest to goodness fan of one of the shows.  I know.  I know.  I can hear people now.  "Hypocrite," screams one person.  "Poser!" bellows another.  "Stupid buttface punkapotamus loser!" comes the catcall from the cheap seats.  Easy guys.  You don't have to call me names, although punkapotamus is a pretty solid effort.  I almost feel badly about my new guilty pleasure, but then I find myself typing the name of my show into the search on my television's guide channel and get disappointed it isn't on tonight.  Life is hard.

So, without further adieu I am here to proclaim to the world.  I AM NO LONGER A CLOSET FAN OF THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL'S "NAKED AND AFRAID".  There you have it.  I'm out.  

One night I was sitting on the couch, mostly ignoring the tv.  I don't remember what my wife had on, but it was probably something terrible, and then she switched the channel.  I will admit, the first thing that caught my eye was that there was a naked butt on my screen.  Wait a minute.  I don't have skinemax.  Why are there naked butts on my tv?  Then this naked girl and naked guy walk up and shake hands.  I had no background on this show and had never seen it before, but two naked people trapped in the wilderness for 21 days.  I decided to give it a go.

Flash forward a few weeks, and now I can tell you all about it.

First of all, they drop off these naked people, a guy and a girl, in the middle of nowhere.  Everyone who is on the show has submitted their survival resume' and they are assigned some random score on what their chances of survival are.  Actually, the score is supposed to be scientific, but I haven't noticed it having any actual bearing on whether or not the people will make it the full 21 days.  OK, so the people are dropped off, they take off their clothes, and then they meet.

For the most part, so far, a lot of the shows have been on islands.  I remember one in the jungle, but it seems like most are on islands.  So, the two naked people walk up to each other and say hello.

NAKED DUDE:  Hi naked lady.

NAKED LADY:  Hi naked dude.

Now, generally speaking a lot of these people are a little awkward, or weird anyway, so the greeting is usually kind of dumb.  Next the pair get their one survival tool that they are allowed to bring.  OK, now, I used to think that they got to choose their own device and I would wonder what would happen if they both brought a firestarter.  That would suck.  Then, on one of the episodes the guy said 

"Hey naked lady, let's look in the bags and see what we brought."

I don't know if that means that the producers put their survival tool in there, but it kind of doesn't matter.  Alright so, usually, one person has a firestarter, and the other has brought a machete or hatchet or something.  The problem is, is that half the time these supposed "survivalists" don't even plan ahead for stuff or think of simple solutions to their problems.   Like in this one the two naked people had to hike through switchgrass which was cutting the daylights out of their legs, and the dude was just walking with his machete in its sheath, letting his legs get all cut up.  I was sitting there yelling at the tv.  "USE YOUR MACHETE TO CUT THE GRASS AWAY!!!!  THAT'S WHAT IT'S FOR!"  They didn't hear me though.

Another time this one dude gets naked, and he's a ginger.  It's sunny and 104 outside and they don't have sunscreen.  I know what I would do if they dropped me off on an island, naked, afraid, 104 degrees, sun beating down...  I'd get in the shade, find a big leaf, and wait til dark.  Not this guy.  He got so burned trying to build a shelter that he couldn't move for 3 days.  Stupid.  

I could go on and on about this show, but I'm not gonna.  You'll just have to watch it.

I have another confession.

I'm a sucker for facebook adds.  It's like Mark Zuckerberg has tunneled into my mind and knows exactly what intrigues me.

"'EPIC PHOTOSHOP FAILS'  Click Here."   "He said 'This'.  Her reply couldn't be more perfect.", "Two drunk knife fighting monkeys fall down a flight of stairs."  "Mexican Fighting Midgets Ride Mechanical Bulls,"  "Twelve Irishmen On Acid Bong Entire Bottle of Whiskey.  You'll never guess what happens next," and the list goes on and on.  I didn't even know that I was a facebook ad addict until Marky Z changed the rules on an update and started alerting me when things that I would probably like were available.  Maybe I need counseling.

Guess what.  I have yet another confession.

I like "The Story of My Life" by One Direction.  Yeah, I know that One Direction probably had nothing to do with writing it.  Yeah, I  know I'm not a 12 year old girl.  Yeah, I know that they wear skinny jeans and I think that skinny jeans look really, really, really, really, really, extra stupid. Yeah, I know that they kind of go against everything I've ever stood for in music.  But, well, that song is just good.  Don't worry, though, I haven't gone out and bought an "I love Harry" t-shirt yet.  Just a keychain.  

You know who else I like?

Justin Bieber.  

Nope.  I just sat here for five minutes and tried to think of some story about how I liked Bieber, but I couldn't even make one up, and I'm relatively creative.  He sucks that bad.  

You know what would be kind of awesome, though, is if Harry and the Biebs got dropped off on one of the islands together and did an episode of Naked and Afraid.  I'm assuming that they would count Jbieb as the girl, even though Harry is pretty girly too.  It's really kind of a toss up.   Bieber would probably bring eyeliner as his survival tool.  Harry would bring skinny jeans, which actually would keep his legs from getting sunburned, so he has a leg up there.  Pun intended.   I'm imagining Harry actually being a lot manlier than the Biebs and beating the crap out of him sometime before the 3 weeks is up and little Justin just sits around and whines that he wished he didn't have to choose between eyeliner and hair gel.  Maybe that's why I like that 1D song.  Hey, it's better than Bieber.  

I think that's it for the confessions this week.  To recap.  Naked and Afraid is a great show.  If I were on it I would only work at night so that I could conserve energy and not get sunburnt and I would make water/shelter/fire a priority, not weaving baskets, or building a chair to sit on, or trying to chop down a coconut tree..  If you have ever seen the show, you'll see that those are actual examples.  People are dumb.  OK, I also like facebook ads and One Direction.  Well, I don't really like One Direction per se, just that one song.  The Biebs still sucks, the Earth is probably still round, cadbury eggs are good, peeps are weird, and I like ham.  Life is good.

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button below.  Thanks!


Posted on April 23, 2014 .

Crouching camel, hidden sea lion.

OK, last week=bummer city.  This week=morevacationfun!!  Which is way better.  Buy Ma'iitso Rises.  I'm poor and I need money.  I don't know if we can afford to feed our children if you don't!  OK onto the blog!

I recently spent a little time at the zoo and though I admit being a human is pretty sweet, I wouldn't mind taking my shot at a few other species in the animal kingdom.  On the flip side of that coin, however, there are some animals I wouldn't trade places with for all the money in the world.  OK, that's a lie.  I think I could do anything for a day in exchange for all the money in the world.  If I had all the money in the world, though, wouldn't that make everyone else broke?  So, if I had all the money, people would be coming to me all of the time asking me to give them some more dough and I'd be like "Whatya need it for?"  and they'd be like  "To get a tatto of my girlfriend's name directly across my forehead," and I'd be like "That's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard."  and they'd be like "No way, this one time I watched this youtube video of this guy whose shotgun jammed so he decided to look directly down the barrel instead of just checking the breach, but then he got lucky and it just shot his hat off,"  and I'd be like, "You're right that is pretty stupid, but I think you've got him beat by just a hair,"  and they'd be like "No way because if we ever break up I can just go on one of those tv shows where they do awesome cover ups of crappy tattoos, and I'd be like, "Yeah, but forehead tattoos are probably a bad idea anyway, even if they are of a snow leopard leaping across a ball of flames flanked by palm trees, because you might want to get a job someday,"  and they'd be like, "Nobody has jobs stupid because you have all the money and we just come here and ask you for it," and I'd be like, "Oh yeah, my bad dude," and although I wouldn't mind taking a run at philanthropy as a career I don't think I'd particularly enjoy holding the purse strings to the entire world's coffers and having to decide who should get how much and when and then there are those forehead tattoos...  Run on sentence gets me again.  And a fragment.  Or two.  Or four.  I really just do this so that I don't have to proofread.  Everyone will just think it's a joke.  Or I'm kidding.  I'm not kidding.  Maybe.  Anyway, having all of the money in the world might actually be more work than its worth, and I think that economies would crumble and stuff, so I'll settle for, let's say, a trillion dollars.  So, counting down from five, here are the animals I think it would be awesome to be for free, and why, followed by the animals I would trade places with for a day if offered a trillion dollars, or maybe a hundred dollars.  I would take it on a case by case basis.  

5.  Duck:  

A duck you say?  Yeah.  I think it'd be cool to be a duck.  I think the main reason I think it would be cool is because I was pretty young when Howard the Duck came out and I really liked it.  Then I got older and saw it again, and it was horrible.  That still hasn't swayed my opinion, however.  Ducks can fly, which is awesome.  They have feathers, and I've had pillows made of feathers, and those things are comfortable.  Lastly, I like their language.  



Person Who Is Talking To Me:  "Tim, how are you doing today?"  

Me:  "Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack." 

PWITTM:  "What!?"  

Me:  "Quack, quack."  

PWITTM:  "That's absolutely insane bro!  I've heard a lot of crazy things in my days, but that takes the cake!"

Me:  "Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack."

I rest my case.

4.  Tiger:  

This is an easy one.  Tigers are awesome.  Tony the Tiger is awesome.  Bouncing is what Tiggers do best and although the movie Bounce kind of sucked, I don't hold that against Tiggers.  Diego is very cool, good with babies, and a saber toothed tiger, so I think that counts.  Tigress did some pretty serious kung fu and anyone who follows in the path of David Carradine is awesome in my book.  Then there's Richard Parker (Life of Pi) who kind of brings the others down as far as being awesome goes.  He had no reason not to eat that skinny dude on the boat pretty much the first day.  I mean he was oppressed his entire life by people.  You can't tell me he wouldn't maul every one he saw no matter the consequences.  Anyway, tigers can swim forever and I've seen one eat an alligator on youtube.  I think.  That might have been a panther, or a leopard.  Whatever.  They're all pretty much tigers anyway.

3.  Sea Lion:  

Easy one.  Sea lion's look like they're having a pretty righteous time pretty much all day every day.  When they're asleep they look like they're having a righteous time.  When they're swimming along, they look like they're having a righteous time.  When they're laying on top of a rock with a big grin on their face, basking in the sun, their whiskers shifting side to side as they wiggle their little black noses, they look like they're having a righteous time.  Shoot, they even look like they're having a righteous time when people are throwing whole raw fish, guts and all down their gullets.  I really was looking for a way to fit the word righteous in there, but not like Moses was righteous or Righteous Brothers righteous, more like Bill and Ted "WHOA. RIGHTEOUS!!!!". Anyway, one time my friend got served an entire fish at a restaurant in Jamaica, and she didn't look like she enjoyed it that much, so sea lions definitely have the jump on humans there.  Lastly, I kind of wanted to put regular lions in my list, but I already had tigers, so I think the lion kingdom is pretty well represented by the lions of the sea.  

2.  Camel:  

Camels just look like they're relaxed all of the time.  It seems like if I were a camel for a day I'd just chill out and tell people stuff that would make them relax, like

Me:  "Yeah, I'm a camel.  I have two big humps that I store water in."

Person Who Knows Things About Camels:  "Actually camels don't store water in their humps.  The humps are just where they keep their body fat so that it isn't throughout the body heating them up."

Me:  "Oh yeah.  Well I can drink 53 gallons of water in three minutes and store it in my 5 stomachs."

PWKTAC:  "Camels can drink that much water that quickly, but don't store it in extra stomachs.  Their red blood cells are actually oval shaped instead of circular and this is one of the things that physiologically allows them to store so much water so quickly and keep it for long periods.

Me:  "What do I know.  I'm just a camel.  You're the person who knows things about camels.  And talks to camels.  Weirdo.  Stop stressing me out."

AND NUMBER 1:

 Monkey  

Duh.  This wasn't even really a contest.  Monkeys have tails and can swing from anything.  When they fling their poo its pretty gross, but it still makes me laugh.  They can jump about ten times their body length and their babies just hold onto their bellies while they party and fly around the room.  If I personally had one tenth the energy of a monkey I'd probably own the whole world, but, oh yeah, I forgot that I don't really want to do that.  Oh well, that's not the monkey's fault.  They come in all sorts of awesome different colors and breeds and in the Wizard of Oz there were those flying monkeys, and in the newer one with Franco he had a bellhop monkey, although that monkey was kind of boring and not what I would expect from a talking monkey.  I would have thought they'd be a lot more hyper, like the monkey I most recently spoke with at the zoo.

Me:  What's up monkey?

Monkey:  I'M SWINGING AND SWINGING AND SWINGING AND SWINGING AND JUMPING AND SWINGING AND SWINGING AND FLINGING POO AND STOP!!!!!   (The monkey nervously sits and checks me out through the glass.)

Me:  Flinging poo is gross monkey.  

Monkey:  How do you know?  

Me:  I just know.  I'm evolved and use tools and have thumbs and stuff.  

Monkey:  I bet you've never even done it dork.  You know where you can stick your thumb?  I bet you can't even swing from your tail.

Me:  I don't have a tail.

Monkey:  LOSER!!!!!  STOP HASSLIN ME HUMAN!  (He's been sitting still too long)  SWINGING AND SWINGING AND FLINGING AND SWINGING AND JUMPING AND FLINGING AND SWINGING AND SWINGING!

Now that I think about it monkeys are kind of mean... 


OK.  Animals I don't want to be and the simple justifications.  

5.  Elephant:  

They put food in their mouths wither their noses.  My mother never would have allowed this.

4.  Tarantula:

 It sucks when you're the most hated member of the kingdom.

3.  Rat:  

Although I enjoy the song "Rats" by Pearl Jam.  I don't particularly care to be one.

2.  Bed Bugs:  

What a useless creature.

AND THE NUMBER ONE MEMBER OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM I WOULD NEVER WANT TO BE AND MY LEAST FAVORITE PART OF OUR RECENT TRIP TO THE ZOO.............Drumroll please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1.  Dirty Unbathed Hippies:  

Hands down, the smelliest members of the animal kingdom at the entire zoo were the group of 6 or 7 dirty unbathed hippies that we ran into on a number of occasions. When we walked into the house of monkeys, or whatever it was called, I commented on how horribly it smelled, but that wasn't the monkeys.  That was the dirty unbathed hippies who probably hadn't showered more recently than the monkeys.   To be specific, I don't have a problem with hippies in general, just the dirty unbathed variety who actually smell significantly better when surrounded in a cloud of cigarette smoke, the mere presence of which proves that the dirty unbathed hippies collectively had enough cash to buy soap and/or deodorant/some sort of stinky b.o. masking agent, and yet chose to buy multiple packs of cigarettes instead.  If you want to smell "natural" and "earthy" in the commune, more power to you, I won't go there, but if you want to mingle with others in public places then please be courteous and schedule your monthly/quarterly/semi-annual bath the day before, or even the morning of.   I would never want to be a dirty unbathed hippy and I don't think it would actually be possible to pay me a trillion dollars to become one for a day because I couldn't get that smelly in a day.  Maybe in a week?  Maybe two weeks?  I'm not sure.  I take showers.  They feel nice.


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Posted on April 17, 2014 .

Sir Wheat's Axl Grease

I don't have a lot to say about Axl right now.  He was a ridiculously good dog and his body was just too worn out.  He was born January 11, 2002 and died April 9, 2014 at 8:45 A.M.  It has made me truly sad today and I don't feel much like writing.  So, in lieu of a long drawn out thing I'll share a few of my favorite pics of the old pooch.

The only known picture of a baby Axl  As I sit here and look at it, I realize it is likely this was taken almost twelve years ago on the nose.  

My kids could ride this dog, poke him in the eyes, pull his tail, scream in his ears, and he would be nothing but gentle with them.  Nights at our house would consist of Axl walking from room to room to make sure everyone was ok.  

When you spend all night protecting the castle you've gotta sleep all day.  Life is rough when you're an old dog.

Axl the wetnosed reindog.  

After a hard day swimming at the pond he'd often pass out just like this for about twelve hours.  This dog loved to swim!

He's in enough pain that he doesn't want to eat or drink.  He can't stand without help.  His blood pressure is so low he should already be dead.  He still rolled over right after this picture so that I could rub his belly, which I did.  I'll miss ya buddy.

Posted on April 9, 2014 .

Yeah, I'm a tease...

I had a few blog ideas this week, and then I thought.  "You know what I get asked about all of the time?  The Sentinel."  I'm not sure if people actually believe I'm working on it.  So, to prove progress is being made (and save a couple hours of blog writing and use it for book writing), I'll be teasing the opening to The Sentinel.  This hasn't gone through an extensive editing/proofreading/review yet, but it'll probably read just fine.  Oh yeah, and here's the cover too.  ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Prologue

St. Thomas, Nevada.  November 7, 1914

 

“I got you!”

“Did not!”

“Did too!”

“Did not!”

“That’s enough boys.  If you can’t play together nicely then maybe you shouldn’t be playing together at all.”  Lindsey Baxter scolded her two young sons before addressing her husband.  “Jeff, do something about these boys.”

“Boys,” their father lay on the ground and slightly raised his head while tipping the brim of a large straw hat.  “Do as your ma says.”

November weather around the sleepy little town could often range widely, but this particular day was sunny and eighty-three degrees.  Not a cloud interrupted the brilliant blue sky, and rains in the previous weeks had caused the nearby Colorado River to swell.  These rains had brought the family ten miles south of their home.

“Didn’t you bring us down here for the fabulous hunting?  Why are you just laying around sleeping?”  Mrs. Baxter’s tone was noticeably annoyed.  Though she had grown up in the West, she held no love for the great outdoors.  “I really don’t understand why you need me here at all.”

“Linds,” Jeff referred to his wife by her pet name.  “First, it’s two in the afternoon.  Even in this beautiful weather, the animals are going to take a nap in the middle of the day.  Second, the boys are only eight and six; they can hunt with me in the morning, but are too tired by night.  Lastly, I need you here because I love you.”

She smiled at his final remark.  Though his first two points had been manufactured, he saved himself with the last.  Her demeanor lightened as she spoke again.

“Believe me, if I didn’t love you we wouldn’t be here.  I thought the rain was going to make deer hunting a breeze.  We’re already on our third day and I haven’t even seen one.”

“Well, we’ve had a couple of setbacks, but I’ll leave the boys with you tonight and go out on my own.  They’ve spooked three doe already.  Don’t worry; we’ll be on our way home tomorrow morning.”  Confidence oozed from Baxter's delivery.

“I think you’d better get going then.  I’m ready to sleep in our bed.”  Lindsey stood over her resting husband and gave him a light kick to the rear.  “Let’s go Mr. Great Deer Hunter.”

“Fine, fine.”  Jeff groaned as he stood and dusted himself off.  It seemed the southern drawl of his youth became more pronounced as he grew more annoyed. “I’m tellin you though darlin, the deer ain’t runnin this time of day.  I’m just gonna get out of sight and lay back down for a nap until its time.  I’d rather be here with the three of…”

At that instant a thunderclap pierced their ears, and a bright flash of lightning raced across the sky, terminating in the canyon below.  Both Lindsey and Jeff instinctively grabbed their ears, while their two young sons became quiet, looks of wonder on their faces.  After nearly thirty seconds Mrs. Baxter was the first to speak.

“What was that?”  Her tone had gone from annoyed to concerned.

“Dad!  I saw it!  I saw where it landed.  It’s just down in the canyon.  Can we go see it!  It must be a meteorite, or a ufo, or maybe even an alien!”  Their oldest son had a vivid imagination.

“Tone it down a little Willy.  You’re scaring your brother.”  Jeff’s drawl disappeared as he became serious.  “I couldn’t see where it landed.  Did you get a good look from over there?” 

The two boys had been playing nearly fifty yards away from their parents, and had a better view of the canyon below.  Both replied in unison.

“Yes!”

“OK then.” He clapped his hands, playfulness returning to his voice.  “It looks like a little family adventure.  You coming Linds?”

“No thank you.  Just being out here with you wild men is enough adventure for me.  I don’t need to chase down any aliens or meteorites.  You boys have a nice hike down into the canyon, though.  Don’t forget to bring back a deer with you this time.  I’m ready to go home!”

“When we discover gold that has fallen from heaven and disappear down the Colorado without you; you’ll be sorry.”  Jeff smiled as he packed water onto their mule, and checked the saddle’s buckles.  “We should be back by the morning though, babe.  We’ll hike down tonight, hopefully bag ourselves a deer, and by this time tomorrow; we’ll be on our way home.”

Lindsey smiled as the rugged looking man took her face in his hands and kissed her deeply.  Though they had married nearly twelve years before, and had suffered through the deaths of three of their five children, love still existed in droves.  She couldn’t imagine her life any other way.

“Be careful.  I thought I heard a mountain lion last night.”

“I heard it’s the grizzly bears that will sneak up and eat little boys.  You and I should be fine, but they love tender little boy meat.”  Jeff teased his young sons whose faces showed genuine concern.

“Be nice Jeffrey.”  Lindsey feigned disapproval, though his ability to relate to the children was one of his most endearing qualities.

“Dad, you’re just teasing.”  The older of the two boys accused his father while adding, “We don’t even have grizzly bears this far south.”

“I don’t know.  Some of the old timers say that grizzlies used to roam the mountains all the way down to the Mexico border.  Just to be on the safe side maybe I should pack the forty-five caliber Colt and take it with us.  We could use…”

“You most certainly will not be taking my Colt.”  Lindsey interrupted her husband while pretending to be upset.  “How dare you even suggest leaving me out here unprotected?”

“What do you think boys?  Should we take the Colt with us, or leave it here for mommy to protect herself?”

Both children paused, and seemed to contemplate the question intently.  The younger of the two furrowed his brow, pretended to stroke his nonexistent chin hair, all while watching his older brother.  At eight years of age, the eldest of the Baxter boys was incredibly bright, and arched his left eyebrow before speaking.

“I think we should be able to protect ourselves from grizzlies with the shotgun and the rifle.  Mom should keep the Colt just in case.  It’s only a forty-five anyway.  A grizzly bear would run right through that.”

“Thanks a lot.  I feel much better now.”  Lindsey smiled as she ruffled her oldest son’s tousled blonde hair.  “You were right, though, nobody has seen grizzly bears this far south in a long time.”

“It’s all settled then.  We leave mommy to the grizzlies and we’ll go collect our heavenly gold.”

“Do you really think its gold papa?”  The younger of the two boys spoke hopefully, his eyes shining brightly.

“Gold doesn’t fall from the sky stupid.  Dad is just playin with…”

“That’s enough.”  The eldest son’s sentence was interrupted by his father’s simultaneous rap on the back of his head.  “You don’t tell people they are stupid, and its playing, not playin.  Your mother works hard for you boys to speak correctly, unlike your ignorant old man.  Now apologize to your brother.”

“I’m sorry.”  Both boys stood, their heads down, looks of dejection on their faces.

“So.  Which one of you wants to shoot the rifle first?”  Instantly their demeanors changed and his two young sons raised their hands, clamoring for his attention.  Jeff smiled at their eagerness.  “I guess we’ll have to hike down this canyon first and see if we can find ourselves a deer.”

“Do you think we’ll find some gold too?”  The younger of the boys smiled sweetly and expectantly.

“I sure hope so son.  I certainly hope so.

 

***

Though the trek down the side of the mountainous terrain was not overly difficult, the three Baxter men made slow time.  Jeff was proud of his two young sons.  They rarely complained, and listened intently when he gave them direction.  Along the way they had seen an abundance of wildlife, including a close encounter with a mountain lion which still had the boys buzzing with excitement.

“Dad!  How many mountain lions do you think live in the canyon?”

“Yeah, do you think that the mountain lion heard us talking about them?”

“Do you think the mountain lion is going to attack mommy now?”

The questions hadn’t stopped, and though Jeff had spotted the beast before they were in any real danger, the boys had become enthralled. 

“Take it easy guys.  I doubt there are any more mountain lions around.  I don’t think they speak English.  I doubt he goes after Mommy because she has the Colt and those cats aren’t stupid.”  He attempted to divert their attentions.  “How far do you guys think before we get to our sky gold?”

“Not far dad” his eldest son replied.

“Nope, not far dad” echoed the younger.

“That’s good, because it’s almost time for some prime deer hunting.  I’d be willing to bet that’s what our buddy the mountain lion was out here doing.”

“I think so too.”

“Me too.”

Jeff smiled again as they rounded a bend in the trail and the canyon floor opened up around them.  His sons immediately made their way to the edge of the small stream that had dug through the rocks over millions of years.  Suddenly, though, their mule stopped in its tracks, refusing to go any farther.

“Come on old girl.”  Baxter pleaded with the stubborn animal, gently rubbing its neck.  “We still have to go back up in a little while.”

“Dad!”

“Dad!”

“Come look over here!”

“Come look over here!”

Laughing as he tied the obstinate beast to a bush, Jeff turned to look at his sons.  They stood near the edge of the small stream, but that wasn’t a problem.  At their feet, however, was a freshly killed mule deer.  Without thinking, and with incredible speed, he removed his Springfield M1903 rifle from its leather holster.

“Boys!  Get back here right now!”  He had received training on the rifle at the tail end of his military service, and upon his honorable discharge, had kept the highly accurate weapon.  He now turned, and for the first time in his life, used the M1903 with the deadly intent with which it had been designed.  Horror filled his very existence as he took aim at the massive beast sprinting towards his two young sons.  “BOYS!”

Both young men stood, almost a hundred yards away, frozen in fear.  Charging in their direction at nearly thirty-five miles per hour was a massive, angry grizzly bear.  Neither boy moved as the incredible brute bore down upon them.  All they could hear was the beating of their own hearts, and the splashing of their impending attacker’s immense paws.  Death, it seemed, was near.

Gunshots rang out, but the advancement of the centuries old killer didn’t slow.  Baxter had fired four of his five shots, and with the immense animal bearing down on his children he aimed carefully.  Staring down the battle sight of the military weapon he breathed in deeply and blew it back out.  Calm came over him as he pulled the trigger.

Hurtling through the air at 2800 feet per second, the 30.06 caliber projectile was true.  It crashed into the side of the enormous bear, just behind the shoulder blade, with the kinetic energy of nearly one hundred arrows.  Slamming into the shallow waters of the stream, the great beast roared loudly as its body slid to a stop.

Death averted, the brothers snapped from their frozen state and ran toward the man who had saved them.  Baxter moved with speed and determination, covering seventy yards before his sons had gone thirty.  He dropped his weapon and wept openly as he scooped the two boys into his arms.  They had never seen their father cry before, and both soon followed suit. 

After a full minute had gone by Jeff set his two sons down and what he saw next chilled his soul.  Thirty yards ahead, the magnificent grizzly bear stood.  Satan himself seemed to appear behind the animal’s eyes as the great beast shook the tremendous head millions of years of evolution had afforded it.  Fumbling to pick up his rifle Baxter commanded his children.

“Run boys.  RUN!”

In the waning light of the day Jeff struggled to re-load the bolt action weapon he wielded.  The bear closed distance with incredible speed, and before Baxter had time for a shot, the fifteen hundred pound beast buried its head in his stomach. 

All of the air left his body and the Springfield rifle flew through the air, landing fifty feet away.  His two children watched in abject horror as the bear slashed at his body, using its razor sharp claws as primeval weapons.  A blood curdling scream emanated from deep within their father, and pierced the late afternoon sky.  Then, almost as quickly, the sound stopped as the vicious bear grabbed the helpless man in its jaws, by the throat, tossing him nearly twenty feet.

Mercilessly, and though Baxter’s body made no attempt to move, the bear pressed the attack, when the two boys witnessed something they would never forget.  As their father’s killer advanced on his lifeless body an apparition appeared.  The gray haired man, wielding nothing but a bowie knife, leapt on the back of the great beast and began attacking it with the fervor of a banshee. 

Roaring, the monster stood to its full height of nearly ten feet.  The gray haired man loosed his grip, and athletically dropped to the ground.  He immediately attacked with the knife again, plunging the blade deep into the massive animal’s back, just above the tail.  Almost instantly the grizzly swung its claws, pivoted, and returned to all four legs. 

The gray haired apparition was faster, though, and dropped to his back.  Laying flat on the ground he attacked again, working the knife deep into the beast’s inner right thigh.  He deftly wielded his instrument of death, and used the momentum of the enormous animal’s movement to pull himself free of its clutches.

Badly injured, the grizzly momentarily halted the fight, moving off ten yards.  Both boys stood frozen once again, barely able to fathom everything that had happened in the last few minutes.  The bear grunted and groaned as it sat down on its haunches and began licking at the large wound on its inner thigh.  Blood spurted from the fatal injury to its femoral artery.  Time was no longer on its side.

With an immense serenity their gray haired savior approached the terrible animal.  As he neared, it fell to the ground, only seconds from death.  Baxter’s two sons watched as he took the ferocious beast’s massive skull in his hands and spoke to the animal in a language they couldn’t understand.  He gently caressed the bear’s head while he spoke into its right ear.  Though they did not understand, his tone was soothing, and after thirty seconds the dreadful creature stood, and ambled into the nearby stream.

His well tanned skin glistened with sweat and he watched the bear until it had disappeared under the current.  Quiet filled the canyon now, and the sound of his own breathing was all that he heard.  Turning, he moved toward the young men, and though their terror had subsided, the brothers still stood, frozen in place as he approached.

“You boys have names?”  He delivered the question with the slightest hint of a southern accent and the eldest son replied.

“My name is Willy, and his name is Tad.”

“And your father’s name is Abraham Lincoln then, I presume.” 

Willy knew that they had been named after the 16th president’s children, but he replied flatly.

“No, his name is Jeff.”

“OK then.”  The man’s smile was whiter than any they had ever seen before, and his eyes were bright blue.  “Let’s see if we can help him.”

As the three moved toward the body of Jeff Baxter the scene was grisly.  His bowels protruded from the wounds inflicted by the bear’s slashing claws, and great puncture wounds were clearly evident in his neck.  Their father’s face was a mask of blood, and Tad cried uncontrollably at the sight.

“Papa.  Papa.  Wake up Papa.”

“Shhhhhh.”  His voice was soothing and without knowing why, the brother’s trusted the stranger implicitly.  “I think he’s going to be alright boys.  All you have to do is trust me.  Just stay right here and don’t move.  I’ll be back in a jiff.”

With that the Good Samaritan leaned over, picked up the body of the badly wounded man, and quietly carried him toward the stream.  The canyon was almost perfectly still now.  Only the sound of the water gurgling across the rocks disturbed the tranquility.  Willy and Tad did as they were told, holding their ground, but watched as their father was carried into the water.

Their rescuer disappeared, Jeff in his arms, under the water, and after a minute had gone by, the boys became apprehensive.  Tad fidgeted nervously, scanning the area for predators, and Willy took a few steps toward the water.  He craned his neck, attempting to make out the men’s outlines in the mountain runoff.

“Willy, he told us to stay put.  I think we should stay put.”  Tad had spoken and for the first time in his life, Willy obeyed him.

“You’re right Tad.  I’m sorry.”  Almost another five minutes passed, and the brothers’ apprehension soared to new heights.  “It’s been almost five minutes.  I haven’t seen hide nor hair outta…”

At that moment a soaking wet mass of tousled gray hair emerged from the water.  Slowly he made his way across the current and approached the two boys, the lifeless body of their father still in his arms.  Gone, though, was the mask of blood.  More importantly, however, the wounds to his belly and neck seemed to no longer exist.  Looks of astonishment were evident on the sibling’s faces as the man spoke.

“I think he’s going to pull through boys.  We should get him home, though.  Do you live around here?”

“What did you do to him?”  Willy spoke up, asking the question both children wondered.

“It was nothing really.”  He flashed his pearly white grin as he spoke.  “I learned a few things from a great Navajo medicine man a number of years ago.”

“We’re from St. Thomas.”  Tad answered the first question.

“St. Thomas?  What in the blazes are you doing way out here?” 

“We are out hunting for deer” Willy answered.  “Father thought that we would have good hunting after the rains.”

“Your father is a wise man.  I suppose I will take you all the way back to St. Thomas then.”

“Actually, our mom is at our camp at the top of the gorge” Tad interjected.  “You could just help us up there, and we’ll…”

“Shhhhhhh” Willy interrupted.  “Remember what father told us?”

“Oh yes.”

“Your father told you never to go with strange men, or bring them to your mother.”  He spoke the words as the boys nodded their heads.  “Like I said before; your father is a very wise man.  Just once, though, I think it would be in his best interest if we got him to safety.  I’ll place your dad on the mule as comfortably as I can and we can proceed up the mountain.”

“Won’t it be dark soon?”  Willy asked the question.

“I suppose it will be young Willy, but that is of no matter.  We’ll have a full moon to navigate by tonight.  The two of you can ride on the mule as well.  We’ll be in camp before you know it.”

The two boys relented and within minutes the mule was loaded and ready to go.

“What about our deer?”

“Yeah, what about our deer?”

“Yes, the reason for all this trouble; a lousy deer.”  He paused before continuing.  “I suppose I could field dress it pretty quickly and we could load it onto the mule, but you boys would have to give up your seats.”

“That’s what I want to do.”

“Me too.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do.”

 

***

 

Neither boy complained on the entire return trip to camp.  The man with gray hair had set a grueling pace, expecting the brothers to fold, but they had surprised him by striving to persevere.  He garnered a respect for this family he had not afforded most in recent years, and when they had arrived in camp, the mother hadn’t let him down either.

She was a fiery woman who listened intently to the imaginative story of her sons while keeping a wary eye on the stranger in their midst.  He had unloaded the still unconscious Jeff Baxter into her personal tent, and though she was cautious, something about the unfamiliar man instilled trust.  Both boys should have been wiped out from the day’s ordeals, but adrenaline kept them awake, and as Lindsey tended to their father they sat with the stranger by the fire.

“So you boys were just down to hunt some mule deer huh?”  He struck up conversation.

“Not just mule deer.  We saw gold fall from the sky!”  Tad’s description caused the other two to laugh.

“I told you it wasn’t gold Tad.  Seriously, though, we saw a meteorite or something shoot through the sky, clap like thunder, and land down there” Willy spoke excitedly before lamenting.  “We forgot to see if we could find it.”

“Do you mean these?”

From his pocket the gray haired man pulled two smooth objects.  The glow of the fire coupled with the full moon shining brightly, danced across their glossy finish.  Colored a deep black, the objects seemed to have inscriptions upon them.

“You found them!  Are they meteorites?”

“Are they gold!”

“No.  No.  They aren’t meteorites, nor are they gold.”  The stranger laughed as he moved the two objects in his hands.  “It’s going to be a little hard for me to explain to you what exactly they are.”

“Can I hold one?”  Willy’s desire for knowledge fueled him.

“Can I hold the other one?”  Tad mimicked his brother’s wishes.

“Well, I don’t see why not.  Be careful, though, they’re delicate.”

“They came shooting from the sky and crashed to earth without getting a scratch.  How delicate can they be?” 

“Very astute Willy” laughed the stranger, “very astute indeed.”

He handed each boy one of the oval shaped objects and their faces told the entire story.  Tad’s expression changed very little as he felt the heat of the item.  Willy’s expression, however, changed dramatically.

“It’s heavy.  Way too heavy for its size.  I mean, this rock is only about twice the size of an egg, and the same shape, and it must weigh ten pounds!”

“It weighs exactly three thousand, nine-hundred grams, or roughly nine pounds.” answered the stranger.  “Also, it’s not a rock.”

“What’s a gram?”  Tad asked.

“They use it to measure stuff in Europe.”  His brother replied quickly so he could ask more questions.  “If it’s not a rock, what is it?  Why is it so warm?  What do these markings on the sides mean?  Why does it feel like mine is pulling itself towards the other one?  Why would…”

“Take it easy Willy.  You’ll blow a gasket.”  He smiled again at the eagerness.  “I’ll answer your questions, but I want to show you something while I do.  You’ll have to give them back to me, though.”

Tad handed his object back promptly, but Willy held onto his, wanting to inspect it more, before reluctantly submitting.  The deep black color of the two mysterious eggs seemed to blend into the night, and the boys watched them intently.  As the stranger stood, he spoke with a purpose.

“You see boys, these two objects are quite important to me.  A very long time ago I used them to help achieve a very specific goal.”  As he spoke the stranger touched the two objects together, twisted each a turn counter to one another, and released them.  To each boy’s surprise, they began orbiting one another in the sky.  “You see, they aren’t rocks at all.  Have you ever seen a rock do that?”

“You’re doing a magic trick.”  Willy spoke the words hesitantly.

“I love magic!”  Tad’s youthful exuberance was refreshing and the gray haired man smiled once again.

“This isn’t magic boys.  This is science” he explained.  “These eggs are made of a very exotic element, and this element is made up of almost pure energy.  The reason they feel warm to the touch, is that the energy stored inside always keeps them warm.  These particular objects always come in matching pairs, and when I touch them together in a specific way they become active.”

“So that’s what the writing on the sides is about?  Activating them?”  Willy’s question was thoughtful.

“Very good Willy.  See, you understand them quite well.  They are warm because they are energy, and they are attracted to one another because of the same energy.”

“I noticed that they are moving around each other in a specific pattern.  What would happen…”

His question was interrupted by a long snore from Tad.  The activities of the day had taken their toll on the youngster.  Before continuing the stranger laid the boy’s head on a rucksack he figured was meant for a pillow.

“They are moving in a pattern Willy.  It’s the sign of infinity they are making.  Do you want to see something really neat?”

“Yes.”

“OK, come here.”

Willy stood and walked to where the two objects moved through the sky. 

“Without touching the other, I want you to take one object out of its orbit, and touch their main inscriptions together.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Watch me.  I’ll do it once, but it takes a total of three times in short succession.”  The stranger pulled one of the objects from the sky, and as the other still circled, allowed their largest inscriptions to glance off one another, then released the original object back into its orbit.  “Do exactly that three times, and then you’ll see something truly amazing.”

Anticipation mounted quickly as the eight year old Willy grabbed the energy mass from the sky.  He held it solidly in position as the other came into contact.  Three times the objects touched, and he quickly released his grip. 

Both of the glimmering black orbs vibrated in mid air before coming together.  Willy took a step back from them as they hovered side by side in the sky for what seemed an eternity.  Almost imperceptibly at first, the two objects moved up, separated, moved opposite one another, and proceeded to outline the shape of a box in the air.  Coming back together they hung for exactly one second longer.  What happened next caused the youngster’s jaw to drop.

In the sky, as clear as if she were standing in their midst, appeared a little girl.  She wore a green dress, which showed from underneath her wool coat, scarf, and mittens.  Her cheeks were rosy, and she smiled as she held two identical objects in her hands.  She threw them in the air, and attempted to bat them to the ground.

“What, what, what…  What is happening?”  Willy’s tone was fearful.

“Don’t be afraid.”  The stranger’s voice was soothing and he could see the young man’s demeanor shift back.  “What you are seeing is a representation of another person who has found a set of these bundles of energy.”  At that time a large man entered the picture, seemed to scold the girl, and she hid the objects in her pocket.  “Would you like to see another?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve got it.”  The stranger reached out, motioned with his finger, and the scene in the sky changed.  It was replaced with a single object, buried in the sand on a pristine white beach.  “Now that one.  That’s the one right there.”

“What do you mean?”  Willy’s inquisitiveness had returned. 

“Thirty nine of these objects exist; nineteen pairs and one all alone.  It’s the key to the whole thing.  If you can’t tell from the holographic image that one is quite a bit larger than the others and it has…”

They were interrupted when Lindsey Baxter stepped from the tent.  The stranger who had saved their father’s life quickly snatched the two floating eggs from the sky, and the images disappeared.  As his mother walked over, Willy met eyes with the stranger who winked, and held a finger over his mouth.  He understood, and vowed to himself that neither he nor Tad would utter a word.  It was a vow he was willing to take to his grave.

 

 

********************

 

 

STAY TUNED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button below.  Thanks!

Posted on April 3, 2014 .

If only I were 116 years old...

Welcome to Wednesday everyone.  Just so you all know I'm on vacation, sitting on the beach drinking cool drinks with the sand between my toes while playing in the water and riding sharks while I hobnob with the folks at NASA and bring them up to date with my latest earth orbit delivery vehicle specifications and sign autographs because everyone just figures I'm an astronaut.    Be jealous, at least for a second, until we get to this week's subject.

The Chicago Cubs.

I am a Cubs fan and I have to live with it every day.  I'm not a buy a Darwin Barney jersey because it's the cheapest one, because he sucks, show up at a game once a year, hang out at the Cubbie bear until the 3rd inning, get blasted out of my mind, and then leave after they quit selling beer in the 7th kind of fan.  I'm the guy who watches almost every game, compares stats, reads advanced scouting sheets, looks at the analytics and yells at the tv when one of our pitchers thinks his 95 mph fastball is somehow more special than everyone else's, and maybe this time he'll be extra sneaky on an 0-2 count and throw it for the third time in a row because he'll probably get it in on the hands of a Cabrera or Pujols or Trout, or whoever, and then, oops, it turns out those guys can turn on 150 mph fastballs that are only an inch away from their bodies.  Sigh.  Yep, that's me, a masochistic nerd.  

Do I love the pain?  I must, because it's not even on my radar to change.  A part of me died in 2003 when our shortstop of whose name I no longer speak kicked that ball and even though we had Prior and Wood in games six and seven and even without Rafael Palmeiro (who we had via trade but exercised his 10/5 rights and I'm still mad at him because he could have just shot some roids and came on over and helped win a championship) and even through Moises Alou's baby tantrum when a fan interfered with a ball that could have been a fantastic catch but shouldn't have had an impact on the game and if I'm talking about Moises Alou I can't help but mention he and Ramirez bought non-refundable plane tickets home after game six, but don't worry, they assure us that they did it all the time which I understand because why would you expect to win with one of the best pitchers in the game that year on the mound for you the next night and even though Dusty Baker can't manage his way out of a box and my friend The Kriz and I were screaming at the TV at some of his horrible moves...  Wait a minute.  I lost track of what I was talking about.  Probably one of my longest run-on sentences ever right there.  And I ended a sentence with there.  And these aren't even complete sentences.  Sigh.  Anyway, despite whatever I was just talking about, I remain the eternal optimist.  This year, or next, or maybe the year after that, or possibly even the year after that is going to be the year, though, and all of these facts I'm about to throw at you will no longer be relevant and the murder rate in Chicago will no longer be a national talking point because the city could quite possibly burn to the ground.  

106 years ago on January 1st the ball dropped in Times Square, New York for the first time to signify the new year.

106 years ago the average life expectancy in the United States was 47 years, probably because only 14 percent of American households had their own bathtubs, 95 percent of births took place at home, doctors didn't actually go to any kind of medical school, and women washed their hair an average of 1 time a month.  Gross.  I wonder if they shaved their armpits.

106 years ago sugar cost 4 cents a pound, eggs were 14 cents a dozen and coffee was 15 cents a pound.  Think of the Starbucks profit margins back then on a Caramel Affogato Java Chip Frappuccino with an extra double shot of espresso.  (At least I assume they were around, I didn't fact check that.)

106 years ago you were most likely to die from dehydration and fever which were directly linked to influenza, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.  Often these diseases were intertwined and complimented nicely with a handy little case of diarrhea which oftentimes was considered chronic and people would live with for weeks, or even months.  Gross.  Again.  Especially because of the whole bathroom and cleaning yourself thing.  

106 years ago you could buy heroin over the counter and oftentimes it was lauded as a cure all.  Have a stomach ache?  Take some heroin.  Headache?  Heroin will fix it.  Smashed your toe with a hammer?  A couple heroin pills should do the trick.  Girlfriend broke up with you?  Take some heroin and go visit a brothel and the sporting ladies will help cure what ails ya, well, because prostitution was still legal too...most places.

106 years ago rural mail delivery service was still only a decade old and most people had to travel a day's time to pick up their mail.  I wonder if they were as frustrated as I get when my router gets screwed up and I have to get off my butt, go downstairs and unplug it, wait 15 LONG SECONDS, and plug it back in, or when my browser on my phone locks up and I have to shut it down, do my google search all over again, and then it won't even sync with the right gmail account to pull up some vital stuff that I was working on.  #firstworldproblems

106 years ago they didn't have hashtags.

106 years ago today would mark the 106th backwards anniversary of the first time I used a hashtag in a blog.

106 years ago on February the 12th the New York to Paris auto race via Alaska and Siberia began in New York city.  George Schuster was the winner in a mere 88 days.  This has also screwed up my entire learning that Pangea was a long time ago, which 106 years is kind of a long time, but I was thinking more along the lines of a REALLY long time, like, at least twice that long.  Perhaps George had a flying car or Marty Mcfly loaned him his.

106 years ago King Leopold II sold Congo to Belgium, and no, not a crappy dvd bootleg of the movie Congo, the actual Congo.  I wish I had a country to sell.  I bet they go for pretty decent bank.

106 years ago the Cubs didn't have a mascot.  Now they do.  His name is Clark.  He's for the kids.  Unless they had Renteria, Miller, Epstein, and Hoyer spending their days developing and creating him instead of working on baseball I have no idea what the big deal is.  

And finally.

106 years ago, on October the 14th the Cubs took the 5th game of the 5th World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers.  With a team .OPS of a paltry .632 the team was best known for its pitching with a combined earned run average of 2.14, and the Tinkers to Evers to Chance double play combination.  I expect the Cubbies to approach those ops totals this year.  The ERA, not so much. Oh well. #I'mgoingtokeepwatching #canyouputapostrophesinhastags #becauseilovethecubs #evenwhentheyareterrible #hashtagsareweird #clarkisforthekids #dontgetyourpantiesinabunch#Idoubtanyplayersorcoachesworkedonhim #vacationsareawesome #IwonderwhatthelongesthashtagofalltimeisandiftheyaregenerallyonlyonehundredandfortycharactersbecausetheyareatwitterthinganditsactuallykindofmindbogglingtotypelikethisbecausemyfingersaresotrainedtohitthespacebarinbetweenwordsbutifIcanpossiblybeintherunningforaworldrecordofhashtaggingIsupposeitisworththeeffortjustlikewhenIhavetogodownstairsandrestarttherouterwhichonehundredandsixteenyearsagoIwouldnothavehadtodobecausethesestupidhashtagswouldnothaveexistedandIprobablywouldhaveevenseenthecubswinonebutthatisokbecuasewearewinninginthenextcoupleofyearsanyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second.  Thanks!

Posted on March 26, 2014 .

Bling, Bling, Pinky Ring, That's a Billion with a B, son...

We're halfway through the week everyone!  I'd like to thank the Retired Teacher's Learning Institute of Spoon River college along with everyone who attended last Friday's presentation.  I thought it went well and I look forward to seeing some of you down in Rushville!  Oh, and I sold out of paperbacks!  Alright, that's it for announcements.  Onto the blog!

So, I was laying in bed last night thinking about what I'm going to do with my billion dollars once I have a perfect bracket in Warren Buffet's March Madness Billion Dollar giveaway.  I know the odds are somewhere in the neighborhood of nine quintillion to one, but in the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas, "So you're telling me there's a chance."  Also, I read somewhere that if you actually have some basketball knowledge those odds come down to a hundred billion to one or something.  See, I already increased my chances by, like, a flabillion percent, give or take.  

Luckily for me, a million years ago, I must have already signed up for a yahoo account, because I got to skip that laborious process of entering the contest, and got right to the big balla money making.  Anyway, that song by Lorde, or whatever her name is, was running through my head, (you can call me green bean), and I contemplated getting a tiger with a gold leash, and maybe a cadillac or two.  A caddy seems a little on the skimpy side for a new billionaire, though.  I'm thinking more along the lines of a really nice truck, a Tesla S, a 67 Camaro, and then whatever the wife wants.  I'm not really a huge car guy, although I certainly have an appreciation for the feats of engineering they represent.  Maybe I'm undershooting a little bit here.  I'm probably only in for about $200,000 on land based transportation, which is practically nothing.  I would assume I'll be heating my house by burning hundred dollar bills and will probably be fueling my vehicles that way too.  Maybe I can still find one of those Vector, 1000 horsepower, hand built supercars from the 90's sitting around somewhere and waste some money on that?

OK, so after I get my tiger and my cars, then what?  Well, then I decided I should probably go ahead and pay off my debt and whatnot, but we're out of there pretty cheap.  I'm assuming I won't have to call into work or anything.  I'm thinking maybe I'll just go in there, throw down $50k, lock the doors, and let the employees eat and drink whatever they want.  Before I even get that far, though, I guess I have some other business affairs I should get in order.  For instance, where do you even put a billion dollars?  Should I ask for it in 100's, or 50's, or can I get some of it split up into gold bars, or platinum or something?  Well, that probably wouldn't exactly be the most prudent thing since I don't know anything about the precious metals markets.  Maybe they've been volatile lately and then instead of having a billion dollars I could lose a bunch right from the start and only have nine-hundred million or something.  That would suck.

Then I remember the thing that super rich money winners always complain about.  Taxes.  I wonder what the rate is on my billion?  Wait a minute.  I wonder if Warren is even giving out a billion, or is it like the lottery that says it's a billion and then, oh no, wait, it's really only a one-time payout of 600 million?  So now I'm down to 600 million and I haven't even paid my taxes?  That stinks.  I just lost 400 millions dollars, and just a few minutes ago I was upset over maybe investing in gold and losing 100 million.  100 MILLION!!!!  Chump change.  Alright, so I assume my billionaire benefactor, War-dog, is going to try to screw me over, he didn't get to be the Oracle of Omaha because he's a sucker.  So, I get my 600 million, and then the government is going to be in my pocket for another 240 million or so.   That leaves me with 360 million free and clear.  

360 million measly dollars?  It wasn't that long ago I was going to be a billionaire.  Does anyone even know how much tigers cost?  I'm pretty sure he'll be one of the first things that I cut out of the budget now that it's tightening up a bit.  I can't even get anyone in the house to help me feed and water the dogs.  I have to think the tiger would be a little more labor intensive.  Well, unless I bought 1000 acres, fenced it all in, and then get myself a herd of deer or something that the tiger could hunt.  I would assume he would hunt deer, but I wonder if you can even buy wild tigers that still like to hunt, or if they're all lazy "tame" tigers that just like to sit back and have steaks thrown into their mouths and gnaw on Roy's face every once in a while.  (Sorry Mr. Horn.  That wasn't very nice.  I'm glad you lived through the tiger mauling.)  I know I don't particularly care for deer, maybe I could just get him a herd of  cows.  I prefer beef myself.  Oh no, can tigers even hang out here in the midwest?  I'm thinking they are more of an equatorial pet.  That settles it.  My pet tiger Rodolfo is going to have to wait until my finances are a little more stable.   Chalk that up to some savings!

If I'm not going to have a tiger, though, I'm not sure what else awesome I should get.  I mean, everyone who has 360 million stashed under their bed probably has a sweet house.  I want to be more original.  Maybe instead of stashing the money under the bed I should build myself a bunker or something, like those doomsday preppers.  That's what I'll do.  Ok, I'll buy a really big iron pipe, or culvert, or whatever it is those guys put under ground, and get ready for the apocalypse.  How many AR-15's do you think I'll need to defend myself from the zombie hoards?  Since I have plenty of money I could probably just go ahead and get my dealer's license and get some fully automatic weapons though.  I watched World War Z, a semi-automatic with thirty, or even hundred round magazines just isn't going to cut it.  Ooooooohhhhhh!  You know what would really come in handy when those rabies infested, bite crazy, sub-humans find the fresh air intake on my secret underground lair and start stuffing their dirty underwear down it or mindlessly throw themselves into my vent fan and get chopped into bits while fouling the air inside of my cocoon?  Some of those motion detecting sentry machine guns from Aliens!  I could just set them up all over the perimeter outside and live in comfort with no fear of being eaten or turned into a writhing, undulating, brain dead, single minded purveyor of all things dreadful, like Justin Beiber.

I don't see much that could go wrong with having fully automatic, motion detecting machine guns that indiscriminately gun down everything in their path.  

My brain is starting to hurt.  Being rich is hard.  

I bet, even after building my underground fortress, fully furnishing it with a bowling alley, a full size indoor baseball facility, 60 bedrooms, 30 bathrooms, and stocking it with enough food, water, booze, and ammunition to allow my Aliens inspired sentry units to kill off the plague of non-survivors, I'll still probably have 350 million or so dollars left.  Richard Pryor made this look so much easier.  

I guess, at some point, I'm going to have to decide who gets to come down into the zombie proof lair with me.  Obviously my wife, kids, mom, dad, sisters, all in laws, and all of their kids make the cut, but who after that?  I suppose I would probably just do it like everyone else and take doctors and scientists and stuff.  They all could have been infected too, though.  Oh, no!  I just thought of something!  What if, instead of zombies its a comet or something like that?  Underground might not be the best place to be in the long run.  I'll need a back up plan.

I wonder if I can buy a destroyer or cruiser, or maybe even an old battleship from the Russians?  Those guys will sell anything.  Then I'll be covered in case a tsunami washes over the Rockies and Appalachians and we have to sail our way out of the midwest and start civilization all over again.  It looks like I can pick up a fully loaded Arleigh-Burke class modern American destroyer for about 2 billion.  I bet I can get an old Russian one for a hundred million.  I'll go ahead and get three, just to be safe.

Now we're talkin!  

I wonder now, though, if the Navy will even let me sail my three destroyers up the Mississippi river so that I can put all my stuff on there?  Maybe my fully automatic firearms license that I picked up for the autonomous, motion detecting, sentry machine guns will cover warships as well?  Now that I think about it, though, It might not even be possible to sail one or three of those up the Mississippi.  I'm not sure what the draft is on those things.

You know what?  This is just getting too difficult.  I think that instead of turning in my winner I'll go ahead and post it on here and let you guys deal with all of these headaches.  I'm cool with being poor.   

 

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second.  Thanks!



Posted on March 19, 2014 .

The Dumbification

Ma'iitso Rises is still $2.99 this week.  Head on over to the Shop section of the site to download it now!  Also, I'll be at the Retired Teacher's Learning Institute in Havana this Friday where I'll be giving a 45 minute presentation and doing some meeting and greeting.  Hopefully I'll see some of you there.  Onto the dumbification!

The dumbification is a perceived disease I've become aware of in my time in the service industry.  Everyone always thinks that everyone else is stupid, especially if they are younger, and they also believe that this malady is affecting more people today than in the years before.  I am not a subscriber to the theory of an exponentially increasing dumbification since I've been in contact with dim witted individuals my entire adult life.  They are always out there somewhere.  I can only go back about 16 years on this one, but I assert that the dumbification has to have begun sometime before then and seems to be holding steady.  I offer the following stories as proof.

The Apocalypse is nigh:

Me:  Hey 99, (we called this man 99 because he constantly jabbered about the world ending on December the 31st 1999.  Other than that belief structure he was normal in every way.)  What are you going to do now that the year 2000 has come and the world is still here?

99:  It seems my calculations were slightly off.

Me:  That's OK man.  Math is hard.

99:  I believe I was only off by one number, though.  The world is going to end on December the 31st, 2999 and I will ride a comet to the edge of the universe.

Me:  That sounds awesome AND you get to keep your name.

The Thick Headed Alcoholic

Super Drunk Guy: My sister is taking me to rehab tonight. Can I get a free shot?

Me: No.

SDG: OK, well how about a free shot?

Me: No.

SDG: Well, what if I paid for it?

Me: No.

SDG: Come on, one free shot before rehab.

Me: Fine. How about Patron?

SDG: Perfect.

(I put water in a shot glass with a lime)

SDG: Man that was smooth.

Me: The smoothest.  Have fun in rehab.

One Half + One Half = ?

Angry Swearing Guest: You messed up my togo order.

Me:  Where is it?

ASG: In my car.

Me: OK

ASG:  Do you need it?

Me: Yes

He returns with a box that is pretty majorly damaged.

ASG:  I ordered a full rack of ribs, this is two half racks, and you didn't give me two orders of fries.

Me: I saw you eating the fries, also, what's the difference between a full rack and two half racks?

ASG:  Well, I mean, I ordered a full, and you gave me two halves.

Me:   Fair enough.

Ignorance, meet hatred, with a side of stupidity:

Me:  Thank you for calling (insert restaurant name and location here).  This is Tim, how may I help you?

Angry Racist Dude: I wanted to call and tell you I won't be coming into your restaurant tonight b/c you serve racemixers.
Me: We serve what?
ARD: Racemixers.
Me: What's in a racemixer? (I thought it was a drink)
ARD: You know, when a F'n N eats with a white girl.
Me:  Ohhhhh, so you're just calling to tell me you're a racist?

ARD:  WHAT!!

Me:  You heard me.

ARD: I, I, (mumble,mumble)

Me: Ok, well, good luck finding somewhere to eat.  Bye.

Yeah, I have the only 9 digit phone number.  Deal with it.

Me:  (taking a togo order). What's your phone number?

Phone guy: 815-654-354.

Me:  That's not enough numbers.

PG:  815-654-354

Me:  That's not a phone number.

PG: Yes it is.

Me:  Nope

PG: Is too

Me:  Still nope.  Bye.

I didn't know I couldn't do that:

Me on the phone with the owner of the restaurant:   You have to get down here, my drop for the night is $1000 short and I have no idea where it could be.

Owner:  Are you sure?

Me:  I've counted it a bunch of times and I know I don't have it.  You have to get down here.  I swear I didn't take it.

Owner:  Let me call you back.

(A few minutes pass and the phone rings)

Me:  Hello.

Owner:  My son took the $1000 out of the drop earlier tonight.

Me:  So I've been here sweating this out for hours and he's probably out doing cocaine with strippers.  

Owner:  Probably.  He said he didn't know he couldn't do that.

AND the coup de gras:

This is absolute proof that the dumbification has existed for years and isn't isolated to the young/old/poor/rich/men/women.  Everyone can be affected, and even a college education or upper echelon position in a prominent company doesn't mean the dumbification hasn't taken hold.  I once worked at a restaurant on the riverfront.  At this restaurant I mainly worked as a bartender/server/trainer, but toward the end of my tenure I was also given additional responsibility, along with a nice pay raise.  I was offered this position by the area director himself, and needless to say, it angered my immediate superiors.  They were my bosses still, but I made more money than them.  We clashed on a few occasions, but I was a young man then.  I didn't really care what those guys thought.  One day, I walked into work, and sitting at a table in the empty dining room is an especially cranky assistant manager, our diminutive general manager, the area director who hired me, his boss, and a woman I'd never met before, who was in fact my boss', boss', boss', boss', boss.  They called me over to the table.

I figured I was in some kind of trouble, but I wasn't sure why.  I sat down and the assistant manager, who I especially didn't get along with, began pulling papers out of a manila envelope.  Part of my new duties was to do the beer/liquor order and keep inventory.  I had only been in the job for five or six weeks, and these were the weekly numbers.  He then pulled out another set of papers.  On these were the inventory he and the general manager had done four times in the prior two weeks.  The numbers did not match.  Not only did they not match, but they were off by A LOT.  We're talking about being short three cases of Bud Light, three cases of Miller Lite, a case of Sam Adams, eight bottles of Absolut, three cases of zinfandel, and the list went on and on.  I don't remember what the total value of the inventory was, but it was in the tens of thousands of dollars, and I was being accused of stealing it for some kind of epic party or something.  

At first I was kind of taken aback.  My first thought was that I had made the GM and Assistant so mad at me that they had stolen all of this stuff and were now going to pin it on me.  I didn't really know what to do, so I just picked up my checklist, and invited everyone to do inventory with me.  We started in the bar area and after counting just a few items, and having them match the numbers on the GM/AM checklist, I knew what was going on, and couldn't wait to wipe the smug looks off their stupid faces.  We kept counting and the different levels of bosses just kept nodding their heads in agreement as the numbers matched up with the accusation that I had been stealing from them.  At some point, though, I was having a hard time suppressing my own smile, and the boss', boss', boss', boss', boss called me out on it.  She said something to the effect of

"I don't know what you can possibly think is so funny.  Once this is over with we'll be calling the police and pressing charges."  

I literally laughed out loud and said something to the effect of...

"You're right, I don't think its funny that of the six of us I'm the only one who knows how to do an inventory, or maybe even count, but here we are anyway."

Everyone glared at me and my perceived arrogance.  So, we continued, and after everything was counted and the management team's numbers were confirmed it seemed I was doomed to be on my way to jail.  That's when I decided to interject.

"OK, that's the front.  Now let's go count the closet and cooler."

I could see the blood drain from the Gm and AM's faces.  I whistled and told smart alec jokes as we first counted the locked closet where we stored all of our reserve liquors and wines, and then moved on to the cooler where all of the backup beer and cold wines were kept.  I made a big show of the rest of that little experience and made sure to let my superiors know that the dumbification had hit them all square in the face.  The boss, the boss' boss, the boss', boss', boss, the boss', boss', boss', boss, and the boss', boss', boss', boss', boss all went along with the rest of the count, and I wasn't sure why, unless it was just in the hope that my numbers would still be off enough to get me in trouble.  At the end of the day we were short a bottle of courvoisier and I quipped on how it was strange that I was always short a bottle right after the area director visited.  Because I was young, I also made a point to tell every one of them that I thought they were stupid.  That really served no purpose other than to anger them, and I can see now was actually the dumbification trying to get a foothold in me.

I learned some things that day about the dumbification.  It crosses generational gaps and is highly contagious, moving through like minded groups like a deadly pathogen.  I know for a fact that four out of the five bosses there that day had college degrees.  It would seem that having the ability to count would be a necessity in graduating from college, but the power of the dumbification is able to overcome all of that.  I won't lie, the dumbification has gotten its hands on me more than once in my life.  Don't be afraid, though, because succumbing to the dumbification is done out of choice, and is easily counteracted.  It is pretty simple really.  Read books, learn new things, go new places, try different things, meet different people and keep an open mind, because the minute you close it the dumbification sets in and you end up like angry racist dude on the phone, drunk, unable to count or add, high on cocaine and magic mushrooms while talking to a glue sniffing fairy and riding a unicorn on a comet away from the end of the world with a stolen $1000 in your pocket and rainbows shooting out your behind.  I've seen it all before a hundred times.  

 

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second.  Thanks!

Posted on March 12, 2014 .

Alright, Alright, Alright...

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for all of the kind words and messages in regards to last week's blog.  I wasn't expecting the avalanche of well wishes and am glad Lucy could reach out and touch all of you as well.  So, from everyone in the Olson/Wheat/Miller/Stoner clan, I thank you.

I do have a little bit of business to get out of the way here too.  Congrats to Simone Everly, our giveaway winner from two weeks ago.  Your book is in the mail!  Also, the .pdf version of Ma'iitso Rises is now available in the SHOP section of the website.  This week only it will be on sale for $2.99!  That's an entire, full length novel for wayyyyyyy less than three dollars!

ONTO THE BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!

I love music, but I don't watch the grammy's.  I very much like movies, but I don't watch the Oscars.  It seems that a large percentage of the time my own personal tastes have absolutely nothing to do with who wins or loses at that sort of thing.  Probably because they all take into account a bunch of stupid politics whereas I mostly just like stuff that is awesome.  I mean, EVERYONE in the music industry thought that Nirvana's In Utero sucked when they first heard it, and that album RIPS.  So, when I woke up the other day and read that Matthew Mcconaughey (I did have to look up how to spell his name) won the Oscar for best actor I was strangely proud, like my big brother had just done something really super sweet.

You see, I kind of feel like old Matthew and I have done a little bit of growing up together.  Even today if someone asks me how I'm doing there is a pretty decent chance I'll answer, l-i-v-i-n.  (There's also a chance I'll say "You know, strikes and gutters", but that has nothing to do with Matty Mc C and a lot to do with The Duder.  Maybe another blog...)  Anyway, I remember seeing Dazed and Confused for the first time at a friend's house when I was a senior in high school on VHS.  After that, another friend of mine got a copy and we used to watch that movie incessantly.  I'm pretty sure he put it in every night before he went to bed.  Set in 1976, it was a story about the last day of school before summer vacation and the trials and tribulations of growing up.  Wooderson (Matty Mc C, I feel like we're close enough for me to call him that) was an iconic character in that film and I've probably seen it no less than a hundred times since.  The post high school David Wooderson with the thick Texas drawl is a grownup trapped in the past with a bunch of great one liners.  "It'd be a lot cooler if you did."  "That's what I love about these high school girls, man.  They get older.  I stay the same age."  "Love those redheads."  "Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey.  Watch the leather, man."  "You just gotta keep livin man.  L-I-V-I-N", and of course "Alright. Alright. Alright."

 It always seems like my good buddy Matty is at his best when using that Texas drawl, and it also seems like any time I see him winning something or just being himself he kind of reverts into David Wooderson.  Although he's moved on and played a lot of different characters over the years, it just kind of feels like that's who he actually is.  A hard workin, hard playin, young man from the south who drives a seriously fine American muscle car.  I actually took the time to listen to his Oscar acceptance speech the other night, and although I've never met the man I could relate well to his speech, especially the part about who his hero is.  Its something I've kind of thought about myself over the years when people say their hero is God, or their Dad, or their Mom etc. etc., and those answers aren't bad.  They are in fact great answers and if that is who, in your heart, you really strive to be, then so be it.  

I myself, though, lean more toward the mindset of Matty McC.  Every day I'm trying to be a better version of myself.  Every day I'm pushing myself to do something new, or learn something difficult.  I use the fantastic examples of my mother and father and others, but it would be hard to pinpoint one actual hero.  It's more like a conglomerate of heroes.  In ten years, I just want to be better than I am today, and I realize that over the years my goals as a person have changed drastically, and that is kind of awesome.  If we all set a goal or measure of success, and then reach it, then we just kind of stagnate.  It's not about money.  It's not about fame.  It's not about others perceived vision of your own successes.  It's about becoming better every day, staying true to yourself, and striving for what drives you from deep within.  For me, it's a lot of things.  I, quite literally, would like to know how to do just about everything.  

When I say everything, that's what I mean.  If the power steering pump goes out on the Durango and I've never fixed one of those before, well, then it's high time I learned.  If I need electricity at a remote location, well, then it's time I sit down and read up on alternative energy solutions.  If the drain in the kitchen is screwed up, well, then it's time to take an entire wall apart, rip up half the kitchen, replace the broken piece, and then be glad that I already know how to redo all of the drywall, tiles, and re-install the cabinets, sinks, outlets, plumbing etc.  If I would like to run a remote server from a backup laptop at my house that I can remotely access via the web from any location, well, then I guess it's a good thing I know how to use Google.  If someone wants to know how they can record their full band live in their basement for less than $1000 and have it actually sound decent.  I could probably help with that.  If I decide that I want to write a book, and then another, and then another at the same time, all while starting a publishing company, that kind of turns into a media company, then I'm going to try my hardest to do just that, and do it well.  The list could go on forever and it always seems to evolve.

A while back I jammed with a couple of young men.  During this session, at different times, I played the drums, bass, guitar, and sang.  When we finished one of them asked me this.  "Man!  How did you learn to play everything so well like that!"  The answer was pretty simple and it is the same thing I tell my kids when they are learning to read, or do math flash cards or whatever.  Practice.  Hours upon hours of practice.  Am I a big rich rockstar?  Nope.  Do I even make a living off of music?  Nope.  That's not really the point, though.  The point is that it's a set of skills on which I've spent thousands of hours and countless sums of energy to be competent, and it feels good.  What drives me and keeps me going is that I haven't learned it all yet.  I'm not even close, and for that, I'm grateful.  When I'm an old man I want to be able to look back on my life and say "I did everything I did to the best of my ability and fought every day to do it better the next."  Until then, I'll defer to my good friend Matty McC  "You just gotta keep livin man.  L-I-V-I-N.  Alright.  Alright. Alright."  

 

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second.  Thanks!

Posted on March 5, 2014 .

Lucy Ruth

Usually when I write these blogs I try to keep them light and witty, focusing on funny stories and personal observations while trying to relate to you, the reader.  Tonight as a sit here writing, and even though I have a number of good blog ideas, I just can't seem to be funny or witty.  It has been a long week.

I've mentioned here before that I have a tight knit family.  Not only do I value highly my relationships with my wife and children, but my father, mother, three sisters and I are all still very much a functioning unit.  Although separated by states and miles, everyone can be counted on to help the others at all times.  It is a blessing, but it is also why last Friday was so hard.

We got a call from my mother around five that my littlest sister was about to be taken from antepartum over to labor and delivery to have her first born child.  Normally, this would be a joyous occasion, but as I saw the look on my wife's face and heard the anguish in my mother's voice, a knot started forming in my stomach.  My wife hung up the phone, and since she is a nurse on that floor, I asked her some tough questions.  None of the answers were good.  A little baby, no matter how wanted or loved, simply could not survive being delivered at 21 weeks.

We gathered ourselves quickly, dropped the boys off at their grandma's (Thanks Grandma) and got to the hospital.  My wife was scheduled to work in a couple of hours and since the situation was a little uncertain, we drove separately.  So, as I walked in by myself, knot in my stomach growing, I prepared for what was coming.  The first person I saw, standing by himself in the hallway, was my brother-in-law.  I swallowed hard and approached the man who almost instantly captured my sister's heart a few short years ago.  He's a man I could best describe as a little goofy/fun, with just a dash of childlike innocence.  Without saying anything, I gave him a hug and he broke down sobbing in my arms.  Instinctively, I grasped him tighter and whispered, "It's alright.  I've got you.  Everything will be alright."  I recognized the words immediately.  Every time my little ones, especially my youngest, would be crying uncontrollably I would always say the same thing and it seemed to calm them.  I doubt it worked quite the same on my bearded, heartbroken, 6'2", 260 pound brother in law, but I hope it was of the slightest comfort.

He had to get back into the delivery room so I made my way down the hallway preparing for what was next.  I saw my father first.  He is a man who feels deeply, but almost always holds those feelings to himself.  His eyes were red and puffy and he could only point me on to where my mother was waiting.  I fought the growing lump in my throat and entered the room where my mother and brother-in-law's mother were together.  My mom immediately sprung from her seat, started crying uncontrollably, and gave me a huge hug.  

Let me be clear.  I hate to cry.  It doesn't help me in any way and generally speaking is not a part of my process.  I don't feel better when I do it.  I just feel worse.  It's not a macho thing and it's not that I'm afraid to do it.  It's just not constructive for me and only serves the purpose of making me feel like I might throw up.  I'd rather beat on the drums, lift some weights, hit the heavy bag, get punched in the face, well, pretty much anything, but when my mom is crying like that and shaking in my arms, I just couldn't stop it.

The next few hours are a bit of a blur.  My sister who lives in Indiana was making her way over.  My sister in Alabama was staying in contact.  Various clergy members of our childhood/parents current church as well as from my sister and brother in law's current church came for support.  I mostly sat with my father talking about just about anything to keep his mind, as well as my own, from constantly running.  In our own ways we are both problem solvers, but this was a burden neither of us could take and shoulder ourselves.  As my youngest sister and brother-in-law went through the delivery and birth of their first child, we all waited and prepared ourselves as best we could.  At approximately 9:00 P.M. the doctor came out and told us that Lucy Ruth Olson was born alive and that we would be able to go in and visit in a few minutes.

All of the banter, talk, and plans stopped.  Silence dominated our little group and only the sounds of sniffles interrupted.  It was awful.  Minutes later, me, my wife, little sister, and other brother-in-law were allowed in to see the newborn.  Just walking down the hallway was hard, but as we entered the room I saw a slightly different scene than I had anticipated.  My baby sister and brother in law held their 12.4 ounce perfect little child, smiles adorning their faces.  I remember that feeling of seeing and holding your newborn for the first time.  It's indescribable and amazing, like seeing the hand of God himself deliver you the most precious gift you could ever receive.  I remember it being hard for me to believe I could possibly love someone so much who I had literally just met.  It was clear they were cherishing every moment.

Little Lucy lived for one hour and forty minutes and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.  I am so proud of my little sister and brother in law.  They have handled this entire situation better than I could have ever imagined and have certainly done it better than I could.  This is the same little girl, (and she would probably still do this today) who would run from the green bean patch if a bug got near her, leaving me and our other sister to do all the work, which was more like me doing all the work.  She is the same little girl who couldn't touch dry towels and would roam our house in her sleep.  Sometimes we would hold full conversations as I convinced her to go back to bed and she told me that I wasn't her boss.  This is the same little girl who has always put everyone else's needs above her own and reminds me so much of my mother and grandmother.  Even as I easily held her daughter's fragile body in my hand and marveled at how perfectly formed she was, emotion broiled inside of me.  I have never felt such sadness, which morphed into helplessness, and finally turned to anger.  How could this happen to these two good people, two parents who would have no doubt loved and sacrificed everything for this baby?   I mean, no child could ask for a better/more devoted set of parents, meanwhile another heroin addict screams obscenities at those trying to help her while showing no interest in her drug ravaged child.   It just didn't seem right and I felt like punching through a wall, but then I would see how they were dealing with everything and feel ashamed at my own weakness.   I am humbled that as I had feelings of anger and  frustration my little sister and her husband handled the entire process with grace and dignity while leaning on each other and their faith.  

I went home that night a fairly defeated man.  I hugged my kids a little harder and put them to bed.  I went through the normal nightly routine of letting out the dogs, locking the doors, etc. etc.  I sat with my wife and discussed a million different subjects.  I did all of the things I normally do.  Everything felt a little bit different, though.  In her short time Lucy Ruth reinforced upon me a valuable lesson.  Life is precious and often too short.  It is a lesson that first drastically impacted me when my perceived immortality left as I dealt with my own cancer at the age of twenty.  Over the years, though, life can get busy and we can take things for granted.  I am going to try my hardest, each and every day, to remember this lesson.   Thank you Lucy Ruth.  Your Uncle Tim loves you very much.

 

My sister and brother-in-law wrote this for the memorial/celebration.  I felt I should include it because its really good.

"A little of our story.....

We were both blessed with Godly parents who love us so well and do more for us than we deserve……it seems like there is no greater love than that. 
As most of you know, we have 17 nieces and nephews who light up our lives even in the midst of trying circumstances. We can both remember them being born and loving them with a greater love than we had ever felt. 
Then God brought us together, not when we thought the time was right but when He knew we were ready to meet. We love each other with such great a love that at times we can hardly form it into words. 
And then there was Lucy, sweet baby Lucy Ruth. We had her name picked out before we even knew we were pregnant. We would talk, read and sing to her often and at times she probably thought her parents were a little crazy, which many of you know we are. We would look at the sonograms in sheer awe while she kicked, punched and moved around on the screen. We began to form this love for Lucy that seemed so great for someone we had never met. Then we met her on her birthday, February 21st, the day God knew she would be born. Our love for her was instantly magnified. She was beautiful! We joked about how her long fingers were definitely not like those of her Daddy’s “sausage fingers.” She did however have Daddy’s ear lobes and her Mama’s lips. Her little features also resembled those of some of her cousins. We had almost 2 hours with Lucy before she went to be with Jesus and they were the shortest yet sweetest 2 hours of our lives. You see we had high hopes for her. She was named after Tricia's grandmother Ruth who was the type of person any parent would want their daughter to model. We just weren't prepared for Lucy to meet her great grandmother so soon. 
This past week has been the toughest time in our lives by far. Multiple times we pleaded with God to save our baby, even in the delivery room we prayed for a miracle. We held on to every heartbeat, praying they wouldn’t stop. But that wasn't God’s plan for our daughter and we may never know why. Our hearts are broken but we are reminded of Psalm 34:18 which says “The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” One thing we can be certain of is that we are loved by a greater love than any of our earthly relationships and boy have we ever felt God’s love holding us now. God’s plan for our lives is perfect and this is part of it. He has never left us, in fact we have known His faithfulness and presence in our lives every step of the way, especially now. 
God has given us family and friends that have gone above and beyond when caring for us. We have received countless messages, encouraging verses, texts, calls, cards, food, gifts, visits, offers to help and the list goes on. We’ve found that the official love language of Christians must be cookies, delicious chocolate, peanut butter, caramel cookies which always vanished as quickly as they came. Several friends and family members gave us scripture to encourage us through our time and we posted them daily on our hospital board. One verse that we clung to was
2 Corinthians 12:9, But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for loving us so well and for continued prayers. We so appreciate how you've helped carry us through this and could never repay your thoughtfulness. You have been Christ to us and it has meant more than you know.
We wanted to have this celebration service today because we want you to remember Lucy as a baby who lived. Although she passed away from this earth, she is a new creation in heaven and that is something to celebrate! We will forever treasure the time we spent with Lucy here and look forward to seeing her again in our permanent home!"

Posted on February 26, 2014 .

A Lifetime of Learning

First of all I'd like to thank everyone who shared last week's blog!  I thank each and every one of you, but there can only be one winner.  Drumroll pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaasssssseeeeeeeeee!  Congratulations Courtney Ewing!  I will get a hold of you in short order and get you your very own signed copy of Ma'iitso Rises.  Enjoy!

Since last week was so fun and people seemed to enjoy it, I'm going to go ahead and give away a free book this week as well.  Soooooooo, share away on facebook, twitter, your blogs, the newspaper... I don't care where, as long as I know about it I'll put you into the running!  Thanks guys!

OK, now that all of that business is out of the way we'll get onto the blog stuff, A Lifetime of Learning.  

My seven year old's mind is like a sponge.  We play this game sometimes called Questions, where I ask he and his brother questions, and they receive arbitrary points for correct answers.  They then can ask me questions in an attempt to stump me, which sometimes they do, and I lose points and they LOVE when I come in negative. My little one usually quits after a little while, but my older one loves it.  He is in 2nd grade and is capable of doing large number addition and subtraction along with beginning multiplication and division.  He reads five-hundred plus page books and comprehends them fully.  (He has read a lot of Ma'iitso Rises)  He can tell you who the Axis powers were in WWII and who their leaders were as well.  The same is true of the allies.  The kicker is, is that most of this information are things that he has decided to learn on his own.  I mean, he literally asked me to tell him the story of World War II on a ride home from Grandma and Grandpa's one day.  It took the entire hour, but I managed to fit a lot of info in there, and he listened to every word.  The reason I tell you this is not to brag or anything like that.  It's because, despite all of his knowledge, he managed to bring home a report card with B's on it and scored below average in a number of areas on his standardized tests.  This is 4+3 and simple reading comprehension.  He should blow it out of the water.  So, as we tried to understand why he did poorly on the tests and asked ourselves some of the standard questions:  Maybe he has adhd?  Maybe he has some kind of testing anxiety?  etc. etc., it reminded me a bit of a kid I used to know.

This was a kid that didn't study a single thing until minutes before tests.  He was a kid who, as a fourth grader, was told that his reading comprehension was poor, then, years later, went on to get a perfect score on the ACT in reading comprehension.  From time to time this kid would get a little out of control at school and his mom would have to come hang out with him all day, and THAT was embarrassing.  One time the kid didn't want to learn about something incredibly boring so he memorized Pi to 100 digits (3.141592653589793238462643383279502... that's all he can remember right now).  Another time the kid had gotten too many detentions one week, all of them for disrupting class, and was one away from getting in school suspension, which would have caused him to sit out of the next basketball game, which was a big deal to him at the time, and all he had to do was be good for two more class periods, but he was still dumb enough to throw a football across a classroom during the second to last period of the day, which he knew full well would get him a detention, and it did.  This kid once tormented a teacher until the man was inches from his face, screaming at him, then politely asked the teacher to please stop spitting on him, which earned him a detention.  He was a kid that spent an entire week hatching a plan to cheat on a difficult exam, but accidentally ended up learning the hated subject in the process.  Another time the kid wanted to read more books than the library would allow him to check out, so even though he knew it was stupid, he just took them anyway, and when a random locker search went down at the school, got three days in school for stealing books and had to sit out more of his beloved basketball.  As he got older and found different ways to vent his energy, learning subjects he disliked got easier, until college.  In college, much of what he was being taught bored him to death.  He would try to find ways around the boredom and in classes like Sociology 314 would only go on test days, essentially earn a 96% in the class, but since he didn't read the syllabus to see that there was an attendance policy, would receive a substantially lower grade.  By that age, for the most part, he was able to force himself to learn things, however, his gpa didn't exactly mirror his actual knowledge base.

Now, that little kid is thirty-five years old and I still love to learn new things all of the time, just like my son.  So, I guess the dilemma I wrestle with is how to make sure he understands that doing well in school is important, even if it is boring.  How do I relay to him that even though you don't feel like you're learning anything, you actually are?  I don't remember when that realization hit me, and I'm not sure if it actually ever did.  When I try to remember things I learned in college the gaps are substantial, although I know I had to have learned SOMETHING!  (Its also possible that has something to do with extracurriculars as well)  So, if anyone out there has a cure for boredom.  We're all ears!

A Lifetime of Learning is a concept that I've been thinking a lot about lately, but not the concept of forced learning.  As I got older I was certainly able to force myself to learn things I didn't care about, but the best way to gain knowledge is to actually want to do it.  So, I've been developing a few strategies to turn forced learning into fun learning and have received positive feedback from my test subjects.  You can look forward to some of those coming out in the following months.  Just remember that when kids or old guys get bored they do something like this, Potassium Video     What those guys did was to demonstrate the reaction between a small chunk of potassium and water.  What I did was about the size of a baseball and in a pond just outside of the high school.  Detention?  Nope.  Got away with that one.  Guess what?  You probably just learned a little bit about chemistry.  Learning is cool.

Posted on February 19, 2014 .

Reality TV and Me

Share today's blog on facebook or twitter and get put in a drawing for a free signed book!  OK on to the blog!

I do not like reality tv.  I do not like it, you will see.  I do not watch it when I pee, or ride a bike, or climb a tree.  I do not watch it in my socks.  I would not watch it with a fox.  I would not could not in a box, or down the street or on the docks.  I do not like reality tv.  I do not like it.  Please die.

I think I messed up the last rhyme.  So, as you can see from my Seusstyle introduction, I am not a fan of reality television.  For all of you who love it, don't worry, I haven't started a campaign to have it eliminated, and I promise I won't.  My disdain for the genre, though, does not mean that one can not learn from it.  I myself am not much of a reality television watcher, but I believe my wife could watch it all day long, and because of her fandom I have been regularly exposed to the beast.  Here are a few of my observations/disappointments/what made me want to write about it, etc. in no particular order.

1.  The Real World:  This gets a mention mostly because it has been stupid the longest. Regrettably I learned more from Dave Chappelle's 4 minute spoof on the show than in its two thousand seasons.

2.  The History Channel:  I remember when they used to have shows about history on the history channel.  I'll admit that when American Pickers and the like first started airing I enjoyed the nostalgia, but that time has faded as the scripts, er, I mean, reality, have all become the same.  We find old stuff and act really excited...

3.  Survivor:  I actually kind of like the idea behind the game, but that's what it is, people playing a game.  I don't find it any more intriguing than watching tournament poker or the Scrabble world championships (I actually would watch the Scrabble world championships).  My wife was watching it once and I happened to look up and say, "That's Jeff Kent."  She had no idea who that was, so I thought it was kind of cool that a hall of fame caliber second baseman could just blend in.  My biggest problem with this show is when people get all hurt and offended that someone else lied to them or stabbed them in the back, because they were such good "friends".  Newsflash.  I've never met a million dollars, but I want it as my friend more than you, the person I've known for two weeks.

4.  Toddler's and Tiaras:  Little girls painted like whores and forced to parade around on stage.  I extremely dislike this one.  

5.  Chopped:   Chef Bald Guy:  Your dessert has excellent texture, but I can't get past the strong taste of turnip and feces.     What I wish the contestants would say:  You gave me 30 minutes to make a dessert using two turds, a turnip, three slices of cheese and a weather balloon.  I couldn't add enough sugar to suppress the turnips and turds.

6.  The Bachelor/Bachelorette:  Let's see.  You have one person who dates a bunch of other people for a few weeks and guys in a control room edit it in such a way as to create suspense so that the one person can eventually choose one other person to give a rose to.  Sounds very realistic, awesome, and I don't see how anything could go wrong.  I'm assuming that's how it was pitched to ABC.

7.  The Real Housewives of Wherever:  Follow my mom around circa 1988 or so if you want to see a real housewife.  She'd run every one of these actresses, I mean housewives, in the ground.

8.  247 Kids and Counting:  Please stop.

9.  The Jersey Shore:  What was the point of this show?  All Jersey people are really, really, really, really stupid?  That's the most I could ever get from it, and it makes me feel bad for actual contributing members of The Garden State.

10.  I can think of more: The Vanderpump Rules, Dance Mom's (Abby Lee and all the parents make me throw up in my mouth a little), Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Little People, Big World etc. etc., but I have to get to the show that made me start thinking about this subject.

Sixteen and Pregnant/Sixteen and Pregnant Two:  Never mind that none of the girls on this show are sixteen anymore.  I'm sure they all used to be.  Shoot, I used to be, although I've never been pregnant.  My wife was watching this one the other night as I worked on a book, and there was the usual.  Legal wranglings over custody, boyfriends who want nothing to do with their kids, little girls with developmental problems, and a heroin addict/still giant whore who screams at her mom all of the time, has absolutely NO business even being around kids, but has managed to teach her small son that she doesn't have custody of to say F#%$ in context.  I know, I know, that was a run on sentence, and I'm not the cussing police.  Long story short, its a train wreck with nobody running in to save the day.  I guess it makes for suspenseful TV, and maybe some young girls see it and get wise.  At least I'm hoping that is the point.  What it made me think of the other night, though, was my wife, and myself, before we had kids, and how we actually pulled that whole thing off.  It was a crazy few days, and an advertisement for birth control if you're at all squeamish or not sure of your relationship..

Now, I'm not going to go through the entire labor process because it lasted from five o'clock Wednesday, until 11:18 on Friday, and I didn't sleep hardly at all during that time.  I'm not really speaking much to the girls here either, because, well, I'm not one.  I'm talking to all of the guys who think they're grown ups.  If you're not willing to go through this, which is just a tiny snippet, then just put it away right now.

Like I said, I'm skipping through the whole pregnancy/labor/delivery process even though it permanently changed me.  I went from being a 28 year old kid with a pregnant wife to a man in charge of life and death decisions for two other people not capable of making their own.  It was harrowing, and, with help, I pulled it off.  I'm not sure I could have done it at sixteen.  As I finally sat with my wife, exhausted from being awake for two days, and convinced her the baby would be Ok, the end seemed to be upon us.  Then she thought she had wet the bed.  No big deal, that wasn't anything compared to what we'd just been through.  So, I peeked under the sheets.  That's not pee.  That's blood.  Lots of it.  We called the nurse.  She looked, and I can still remember the terrified look in her eyes as she left the room to get help.  Apparently it was a busy night because she only came back with one other nurse and a promise that the Dr. had been emergency paged.  She showed up pretty quickly, took one look, and demanded the nurses get more people.  A nurse left, and returned in just a few seconds to say that she'd called for help, but nobody seemed to be coming.  The doctor was mad and insisted that this was a bad situation and my wife needed to be picked up off the bed while at least two nurses pushed on her stomach.  Every second actually risked death.  So, without even thinking I said.  "I'll pick her up."  The doctor insisted we needed a lift team.  I remember saying.  "You said seconds count.  Show me where.  I'll pick her up."  That was all she needed.  The doctor showed me where to lift her and I held my wife in my arms in a half curl/bent over position for at least five minutes while the nurses pushed clots out of her body and the doctor fished the softball size purveyors of death from within.  My wife remembers it being longer, but I'm not exactly sure how I held her that way for even five minutes, covered in blood, while she cried out in otherworldly pain.  Crisis averted I took a step back, and my clothes from the neck down to my pants were literally soaked in blood.  We threw away my clothes, cleaned me up, put on some scrubs, and the doctor assured us that my wife was fine.  It was one of the longest and shortest ten minutes of my life.

So, what does this have to do with sixteen and pregnant or reality tv at all?  Nothing really, except for that that show made me realize I'm glad, for everyone involved, that I was 28, not 16, and taking on those responsibilities.  It makes me hope that maybe young men and women watching that show see how tough it actually is and think about what they're doing.  Maybe the thought of being covered in another person's blood clots can make someone think too.  I remember being 16, though, and I wasn't exactly well known for thinking before I acted.  So, I guess, I actually get that show, right down to the spoiled brat heroin addict that teaches little kids bad words.  I just wish the script writers would have her grow up already.

 

 

Posted on February 12, 2014 .

I like to drink peeeeeee!!!!!!

Bo:  I like to drink pee straight from the source.  Oh yeah.  I like to eat poop that way too!

Axl:  I don't mind.

I see people do this on Facebook fairly often and since I have a dog that is really gross, I thought I'd try my hand at it.  Let me tell you, this was not an easy picture to get.  Beauregard Duke is on the left and is about 10 months old.  He did not want to sit still with a sign around his neck.  Axl is on the right and is twelve years old.  He doesn't care what is around his neck, but wishes that he didn't have to sit up for a picture.  His life mostly consists of lying down and getting his belly rubbed.  So, yeah, Bo likes to drink Axl's pee and eat his feces, and Axl could care less.  Its a relatively disgusting relationship they have.

These two are essentially my second and fourth dogs of my grown up life.  My first dog was a black lab named Eddie who was given to me when I was 20 years old.  I had him for about a year before I left on a long baseball road trip and he ran away from his caretakers.  He was a smart dog, but also stupid as could be at the same time.  His big thing was that he absolutely loved to hump pillows.  He had one in particular that was his favorite, and if you couldn't get him to come in from outdoors, or he had run away, all you had to do was whistle and let him get a look at that pillow.  He was guaranteed to come running.  Anyway, if let outside that dog would run from anyone but me, and when I was in Los Angeles he made a break for it.  It was a bummer, but if he wouldn't have left I probably never would have gotten Axl.  

Axl is my second dog.  I'll come back to him.

My third dog was an Australian Shepherd named Maddie that we rescued from the pound.  She ate doors and trim and was a master escape artist.  She could get out of any kennel, chew through chains, pull her head through any collar, and jump over six foot high fences.  It was just a matter of time before that dog got away.  She wasn't meant for the house dog life and I hope she found a home out in the country with some sheep or goats to herd because she was really a sweet pooch.

Beauregard Duke of the House of Wheat is our latest edition to the family.  He is a full blooded Brittany Spaniel and loves to find/chase birds, and butterflies.  He's come a long way in his first year with us here, but is still struggling with the whole chewing thing.  He is probably the biggest baby of any dog I've ever met.  You can't even raise your voice at him without him yelping like you're killing him.  When he was only a few months old he jumped up and nipped my five year old on the chin and received a smack to his behind.  You would have thought I had chopped his back legs off.  We were then very proactive in teaching him to play with his mouth closed, and now he's great with the kids.  

Now I'll talk about Sir Wheat's Axl Grease.  He is easily the best of the bunch and its hard to believe what a different world this place was for him and me when we first met.  I had always wanted a purebred Golden Retriever, so, when I was 23 years old I got one, and yes I named him after Axl Rose.  They both have red hair.  I remember the day I picked him out well.  He was the only male of the litter, which I didn't actually know at the time, but when I stepped in with the puppies they all swarmed me except for Axl.  He just sat in the corner, yawned, and decided to take a nap.  The other puppies would jump on him and nip at him, but he was just relaxing and paid the world little mind, until I came over and scratched his belly.  His leg started twitching and his eyes rolled back in his head and I could have sworn he smiled at me.  I made him mine right then and there.  Anyway, I lived at 708 North Underhill across from St. Mark's school in Peoria and Axl was just a little ball of fuzz.  I only have one picture of him when he was a puppy, but rest assured, he was insanely cute.  We were a boy and his dog.  He'd ride in the front of my truck and when I'd leave the house for work he'd lay by the door and wait for me to get back.  He was never a chewer, or a biter, or a garbage eater, or a barker, or anything.  He didn't ever have any bad habits and hasn't spent a second in a kennel.  A couple of times he ate things off the counter that he wasn't supposed to, but he never really got stuck in a rut.  He always seemed to know when he did something wrong and felt REALLY badly about it.  Before there was a wife, and before there were kids, there was Axl and every night before I went to bed I'd hold his head in my hands and talk to him.  I still do it now, but not as often as I should.  He's an old guy and I honestly don't like to disturb him if he's resting, which is pretty much all of the time.    He's had kids pull on his tail, tug on his ears, poke him in the eyes, lay on top of him, and try to ride him, but not once did he voice any displeasure: no growling, no barking, no nipping, no nothing.  At twelve years of age he's already outlived his life expectancy by a couple of years, and I'm sure the puppy is pretty jealous of him.  He gets McDonald's Double Cheeseburgers, cookies, ice cream,  and bites of steak.  The puppy just gets dog food and beggin strips. Old Axl has a lame back hip, and a bad front shoulder, can't always hear you when you call his name and sometimes moans and groans in his sleep, but if you lay down next to him and rub his belly, his leg will still get going and his eyes will still roll back in his head.  He'll look at you with his big brown eyes every time, smile, and say "I love you Tim.  Do you have any steak?"  Yeah.  He talks too.  My dog is the best.  Deal with it.

Posted on February 5, 2014 .

Who is Rex Chase?

Those of you who know me will probably already know this, but I love baseball.  As a kid I dreamed of playing professionally and would badger anyone who would listen to toss me ground balls, or hit me flies, or play 500, or get a game of hot box going...   I absolutely loved to play.  As I grew older the countless hours of practice and play started paying off, and when I was accepted to Bradley University with an invitation to join the team, I was elated.  Now, I'm not going to say that I showed up at the Division I level and dominated, because that would be a lie.  It was hard.  Everyone was big.  Everyone was strong.  I couldn't throw my fastball by anybody.  Somewhere in the start of my second year at Bradley, though, I realized that for all those years, I had just been playing.  I had never really focused my intellect on what I was doing and it was going to take hard work that didn't necessarily involve play to succeed.  That revelation helped me to turn a corner, and things started to come around for me on the field.  Once again, I was by no means dominant, but the improvements were noticeable and my coaches had recognized the change.  Then, in the time frame of about 2 weeks, my entire world was put on end.

Whenever I host events or have a speaking engagement I can always see the people lock in when I get to this part of the story.  It's the story of a young man with cancer, and if you don't know me and want to hear about it, I'll be happy to oblige, but that isn't actually what I'm thinking about tonight.  I was thinking about a question I am asked with regularity.  I was wondering to myself if it's a question other authors are repeatedly asked about their main characters and whether or not they had pondered it as often as I.

Question:  Did you base Rex Chase on yourself?

Answer:  Kind of.

Generic, right?  I've thought about this question a lot, and perhaps at the very beginning the idea of Edward Rex Chase was based in my own life.  He's a lot smarter than me, and though I have a good memory, it's not exactly photographic.  Probably the closest thing Rex Chase and I had at the beginning was baseball, though he is a lot better than me at that too.  Perhaps Rex is a projection of the things I would have liked to have been or would have liked to try?  Perhaps he's a conglomerate of every hero I've ever read about or seen on the big screen?  Perhaps he's the representation in my mind of the most awesome man I can think about?  He's big, strong, fast, smart, brave, heroic, handsome, loyal, caring, but not afraid to do what it takes to get the job done.  In my mind, he's the epitome of a hero.  

That was essentially the answer I had come up with, and then one day I was writing The Sentinel and realized who Edward Rex Chase really is.  In the second book, and this has always been the plan, I start addressing character flaws.  As I was writing and making sure everything matched up I found myself basing all of his flaws on my own real life interactions.  So, it seemed as if Chase was based on me, and then my boys came storming through the room.  A lot of the time they don't stay very long and remind me a bit of a two part Tasmanian Devil.  They come in, wreck some things, and then move on.  After they had moved through I continued to write and then it dawned on me.  When I describe Rex Chase physically I picture my own seven year old son in his early 20's.  When I describe the way Rex Chase is thoughtful and caring I picture the way I see my five year old son interacting with others.  I started going down the list of who Rex Chase is, and it appears now that I have based him on myself, though a lot more indirectly than I had previously thought.  He's a fictional representation of my boys and I and everything I hope they can be without having to wade through the trials and tribulations I didn't always handle correctly.  Don't get me wrong, I've learned a lot from the path I've taken, but maybe, just maybe, I'll have shouldered enough of the bad that they'll be able to skip it over when it comes time.  All of Rex Chase's weaknesses are my own, and all of his strengths are my kids, or what I wish and hope for them.  Huh, I think I might just be turning into a grownup.

It's also possible that I just made all of this up, though....  I am a fiction writer...  HAVE A HAPPY HUMP DAY EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

 

Posted on January 29, 2014 .

Sleep is overrated!!!!!!!!!!

I dream.  I'm a dreamer.  In order to clarify a little bit here, I'm not talking about pie in the sky, someday I'm going to be rich and buy my own tiger that I walk around with on a leash and feed steaks from my hand all while riding around in a solid gold stretch Hummer that's been converted to run on natural gas because I think it would be kind of awesome to have a natural gas car with tinted windows, license plate number bal2hrd.  I do think about those things, but that's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about being asleep and having dreams that are so realistic even Leonardo DiCaprio could take lessons from me.  Oh, and I REMEMBER them, at least for a little while.

I've been told I should keep a dream journal.  That sounds boring since usually I just want to go back to sleep and I almost never dream about anything useful like book writing or something.  I've been told I should try some recall techniques to remember even more.  Ummmmmm.  Why?  A lot of the time I don't like it because I wake up all amped up, or all depressed, or something, and can't get back to sleep.  I've been told I'm lucky.  I guess.  I'd rather win five-hundred million dollars though.  At least that was what I was thinking when I sat down to write this blog. Then I remembered this recurring dream that I've been having for years.  

This dream is set at the Springlake Missionary Church and I've been having it off and on for no less than 15 years.  Sometimes I won't have it for a year.  Sometimes I'll have it twice in one week.  Anyway, I'm at Springlake Missionary Church, and not the one that exists there today.  I'm talking about 1984, green velvet wallpaper walls and Big Pastor Mueller rocking a wife beater.  Have you ever seen a pastor wear a beater with brown pressed slacks and suspenders to greet his congregation?  Well, in my dream, that's the way it happens every single time.  One of the neat things about this dream is that I age in it.  It's always the current me walking into the church I grew up in.  Nobody else changes, though.  It always starts with me entering the double doors which lead up the steps near the sanctuary.  Big Pastor Mueller greets me there, and I comment on his attire.  I've actually tried very hard to remember what we say to each other, but either it changes, or I just can't focus on it.  Either way, the man works the beater like a boss because even as the most conservative of churchgoers pass him by.  Nobody else says a thing.  So, I make small talk with a few nearby people and then start talking about the Cubs with my cousin Kevin.  This isn't strange at all except that we are talking about the 1984 Cubs like they are the ones playing right now.  Maybe that's just my inner me wishing the Cubs would win 100 games every year.  Like I said, this is a dream.  So, I'm standing there talking to Kevin.  People are shuffling by to get into the sanctuary, and even as I sit here awake I can hear the church floor squeak.  Then, something exceptional happens.  My grandmother, Ruth Burks, walks in the double doors.  For those of you who don't know, she died in 1995 and was one of the kindest women the world has ever known.  I spent countless hours at her house as a youth and probably my fondest memories of her are epic games of Scrabble over a bowl of frozen strawberries.  Anyway, In my dream I am flabbergasted.  It is so real to me every single time as she slides her purse over her arm, grips the handrail with both hands, and step by step makes her way up the flight of stairs.  She is dressed in a colorful blue flower print housecoat that I must have seen her wear a thousand times, but had absolutely zero chance of being worn to church.  She moves slowly, as I always remember her doing, and when she reaches the top she smiles and says.

"Hi Timothy."

I respond the exact same way every time.

"You're dead!?!?"

I'm hoping that someday when I have this dream I come up with something a little better, but so far it has never deviated.  My grandma just smiles again and laughs, and it is SO REAL!!  It is amazing how minute details are stored in our brains because when I have this dream it is like I'm listening to an audio version of her laugh recorded at 32 bits and 192000 khz.  For those of you who don't know what that means, it's awfully clear.  Anyway, she hugs me and that is the end of the dream.  I wake up right there every time.  

I started off writing this installment thinking that I was going to do something kind of funny on how I have these exceptionally weird dreams that cause me to lose sleep, and I'd like to trade my superpower for invisibility or something.  Occasionally I will dream a bit about a book I'm writing or a song I'm working on, but most of the time it is just annoying and nothing overly fruitful comes of it.  I've woken up drenched in sweat, my heart racing hundreds of times and while I have saved babies from burning buildings, stopped shooting rampages, and ridden my Yamaha Virago 920 to the top of Mt. Everest, it always seemed that it would be better to just get more sleep.  I can probably get by without remembering the time I taught myself to flap my arms so hard I could fly anywhere I wanted to go.  Probably.  That would be a sweet power.  Anyway, for the most part I've always felt that my vivid dreaming was a curse and that I'd trade it in a heartbeat.  Sometimes, though, sometimes I get to see my grandma...Invisibility and flying will have to wait...sleep is overrated...

Posted on January 22, 2014 .