Thursday, March 21, 2019

Getting in Trouble

One of the things I hated most as a child (and into adulthood) was getting in trouble. I was always afraid someone would yell at me for being wrong. For years, this meant I wouldn't do things if I thought there was the slightest chance of getting yelled at for it. I would simply refuse. This did not go over well when I worked in the corporate world. So I worked hard to overcome that. But I still have that issue.

For instance, I would not pull up to the front door of a hotel to check in and unload luggage for fear someone would get mad at me. Now I do it anyway (but it's a struggle every time). And, guess what, no one has ever gotten mad at me.

Part of this is also my fear of screwing up. If I don't know for sure how to do something, and don't think I can figure it out, I will just shut down and not do it. My middle son does the exact same thing. I guess he got my genes.

All of this is part of why I think I might be on the Autism spectrum, admittedly not far on it. But when I look at my childhood, I think I might be further along the spectrum than I think, I'm just faking it well as an adult.

And I still hate getting in trouble. People who don't care if they get in trouble amaze me. I kind of wish I could be like them, but a lot of them are criminals and psychos.

It's also part of my over-active imagination. I can always imagine the worst case scenario.

How do you feel about getting in trouble? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Best Steak Ever

Steakhouse 55 Steak
I like steak and I'm always looking for a great one. Some of the best steaks I've had were bought from local ranchers and cooked at home. My son has this method of cooking steaks that makes them delicious. I believe he learned it from YouTube.

But the best steak is one you don't have to cook, i.e., bought in a restaurant. Ruth Chris Steakhouse (which is a chain) makes really good steaks. I haven't been to one of those forever (since my oldest son graduated the University of Washington and that was June of 2012). I keep waiting for my second son to graduate college so I can take him there.

But the best steak I've ever had was at Disneyland. Seriously. Off the Disneyland Hotel is Steakhouse 55. Like Ruth Chris, you order a steak and then you order side dishes to go with it. And it's quite expensive (Ruth Chris is cheaper, relatively). I didn't see the bill (it was a family dinner and my father paid) but I saw the prices on the menu. I was there about 11 months ago.

The steak was in every way perfect. Tender, juicy, flavorful, and cooked to perfection. The only weird thing was it was served with a bit of bone marrow inside a bone (see picture). I wasn't sure what to do with that, so I left it alone.

It felt as if the steak literally melted in your mouth, it was that tender. And it tasted so good. And the sides were delicious. They had both potato and vegetable sides. We ordered a multi-layer chocolate cake for dessert, and it was amazing.

If you're in southern California, I would suggest visiting Steakhouse 55. I also recommend reservations. And maybe a short-term loan to pay for it.

In my novel Treasure of the Black Hole, there is a scene where my character is having breakfast with the emperor of the Core Empire. And it's almost food porn. You should check it out.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Volcanoes

Mt. Rainier (left of center) from my house
Ah, the first of March. We're getting closer to spring. Spring brings warmer weather, of course, and clearer skies.

On a clear day from my house I can see three Cascade Range volcanoes. The most prominent of these is Mt. Rainier, the tallest mountain in Washington State. At 14,411 feet, it lords over much of the State. I've seen it from east of Ritzville when the conditions are perfect.

One of the best views of Rainier is from a ridge called Ryegrass between Vantage and Ellensburg on I-90.

Rainier is considered on of the most dangerous volcanoes in America. It's proximity to urban areas (Tacoma and Seattle and their suburbs), means there is great potential for destruction if it ever erupts. Unlike volcanoes in Hawaii, the threat isn't lava, it's lahars. As snow and glaciers on the mountain melt from the volcanic heat, they mix with dirt to make mud flows that head downhill. That's a lahar.

Here's a story from last fall about Rainier's (and Mt. St. Helens) eruption potential.

The other volcano I can see is Mt. Adams. Mt. Adams is more isolated and volcanologists don't think it's going to erupt soon. So it's much safer than Mr. Rainier. If you drive through the small town of Goldendale in southern Washington, you get a great view of Mt. Adams if the weather is good. And, if conditions are right, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood. You used to be able to see Mt. St. Helens from there, until it blew its top.

Finally, the third volcano I can see is just the very top of Glacier Peak. While Glacier Peak has a similar expectation of erupting as Mt. Rainier, it is very isolated so the danger is mostly from ash. Glacier Peak is so isolated you have to hike miles just to get to it.

Living in central Washington State, I don't have to worry about hurricanes or tornadoes (although we do very rarely get small ones that don't last long). But earthquakes and volcanoes, those are our disasters of choice. I should know, I was here for when Mt. St. Helens blew.




Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Tree

Douglas fir
When I moved to Vancouver, Washington in 1994 after graduating college (University of Washington, Go Dawgs!), I bought a house that had a tree in the back yard. But this wasn't just any tree. I have no idea how old it was but I bet at least 100 years. It was the tallest tree in the neighborhood. I would estimate it was about 100 feet tall (one foot per year?). I think it was a Douglas fir. (My uncertainty is memory. At the time I knew what it was. As a forestry major, I should.) It sat in one corner of our yard majestically piercing the blue sky.

Once we had a huge wind storm with 100 mph winds. And the tree stayed up. Other, smaller trees in the area came down. But our tree survived. I remember whenever the wind blew, our neighbor would look out their back window watching the tree. Because if it came down, it would likely hit their house. But it never, ever came down.

Then we sold the house in 1999 and moved to central Washington. The sad thing is, the people who bought the house took that tree down because they were afraid it was going to fall. So after 100 years or so, it was finally taken down by fear. I felt bad about that.

Do you have any memories about trees? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Onward (and Finished)

End of the Line
Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. This is the last one! If you've been counting, I haven't done a whole year because I skipped some of the prompts. I found this challenge here.

The last prompt is: "Onward." Not exactly sure what they mean. (I've always heard that as "onward and upward.")

Onward, I'm going to try to keep writing, keep selling books, keep being read by strangers. Keep trying to do freelance work and keep busy. Try to keep enjoying life. And just keep writing.

And, as always work toward my goal of being read by strangers. And, I hope, make a little money in the process.

What do you plan to do from here on out? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

RadCon

It's time once again for RadCon, the scifi/fantasy convention in Pasco, Washington. This year I have a conflict so I will only be there Saturday and Sunday. And I'm only on two panels this year for the same reason. But I plan to show up early(ish) Saturday.

It is at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco. You take the same exit as for the airport. You can see the hotel from the freeway.

My two panels are:

I Wrote a Book - Now What?

16 Feb 2019, Saturday 11:30 - 12:30, Room 3125 (Red Lion Hotel Pasco, WA)


You've done it. You've got the book. It's a tome. A masterpiece. A precious jewel you've polished and cut and edited to within an inch of it's life. But what's next? Do I send it to an agent? Directly to a house? Small press? Author collective? Indie Publishing. Our panel of authors will break down the pros, cons, and other particulars of your options, and hopefully help you along with that next step.

And:

Imposter Syndrome


16 Feb 2019, Saturday 16:30 - 17:30, Sage Room (Red Lion Hotel Pasco, WA)

We often hear about it in the fine arts, but people in any career field can experience imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can also occur in any aspect of life - not just in one's career. What is it, and why does it happen? What are strategies for countering or pushing past it? Come talk to the pros about their strategies for dealing with the traitorous voice inside that says their art isn't good enough, and how they break through to create.

And I'll be in the main Vendor Room from time to time selling books. So look for me. You might snag a free bookmark! And maybe buttons.



Thursday, February 7, 2019

Neighbors

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. This is the penultimate prompt. And it is "Neighbors."

I live in a subdivision outside the city limits. My neighbors to the north are named "White" (I know this because they have a big sign in an island in their driveway saying "The Whites"). They also have a flagpole and fly either a U.S. flag or a Seahawks "12" flag from it. I noticed this year they didn't put the "12" flag up. Maybe because the Seahawks did poorly at the beginning of the season. Toward the end they played well enough to earn a "wildcard" slot. And then lose to Dallas.

I don't know much about the Whites. They have an annoying dog who barks a lot. At least no one can sneak up on our front door because that dog barks at them. He drives an old Ford pickup that is puke beige with red markings. It is long and has dualie wheels.

My neighbors to the south are Hispanic. I don't remember their names but they are nice people. Once when there was a fire in the field behind out house that threatened the house and I was out there with a garden hose trying to hold it back, their youngest (who was then in his late 20s) ran over with another garden hose to help me fight it. The the fire department showed up and put it down in about ten seconds with the massive water flow from their truck.

The neighbors directly across the street from us I know almost nothing about. They have kids who look to be about 12 or 13 years old. Next door to them are neighbors we've known since we moved into the neighborhood in 1999. When my sons were in scouts, they were also involved in scouting (and still are). He's a retired Navy doctor and she's a retired nurse. I wrote a story about them for a local magazine.

How do you get along with your neighbors? Let me know in the comments below.


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Hope and Inspiration

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. I'm getting close to the end of it. Today's prompt is "Hope + Inspiration." Or should that be read as "Hope and Inspiration"?

Hope? I hope to sell books. I hope to write books people can't put down. I hope to inspire a few people with my writing.

Inspiration? Who knows where inspiration comes from as a writer? You have an idea (how? why?) and it turns into a novel because you have the inspiration to type it out and make it as good a novel as you can.

So I try to just keep writing. Doesn't always happen. I'll take breaks of days or even weeks. When I'm busy with freelance stuff, I won't write fiction at all because all my energy goes to the paying work.

But I try (don't always succeed) to "Just keep writing."

What do you hope for and what inspires you? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Home

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. I'm getting close to the end so then I'll have to find something else for prompts. Today's prompt is: "Home."

People say "Home is where the heart is." Which is probably true (cliches are often true). I work out of my home so I spend a great deal of time at home. But I rather like it that way. I've always been a home body. I'd rather stay home than go pretty much anywhere. I do leave home daily for Starbucks (if I don't, I go stir crazy). And I like to leave home for vacations to places I haven't been before. But sitting in my recliner reading or watching TV is probably one of my favorite activities. When I travel, one of the best parts is coming home to my chair, my bed, my shower.

So what defines "home" for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Radio Interview Today

Today at 4:00 PM EST (1:00 PM PST), I will be on Red River Radio's "What's Write for Me" radio so, being interviewed and reading from one of my novels. It's going to be fun and you're not going to want to miss it. To listen, follow this link here: Red River Radio.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Color

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "My colour is .." (that's exactly how it was in the list).

Well, first of all it's "color." I'm an American and we don't put in superfluous "u"s.

But what is my color? I like white. One of my cars is white. I may not buy another white car because every third car in the parking lot is white. Maybe blue or maybe even red.

I seem to like yellow. Another of my cars is yellow. And my house is yellow. When I bought this house, it was kind of a peach color. And I thought it would look better as yellow. So when it needed painting, we went with  yellow.

I had a yellow Schwinn 10-speed as a teenager (until I got my driver's license).

I like hot pink. With my color blindness it's about the only pink I can see. Don't ask me why I like it.
Hot Pink
I'll deny it.

So what's my color? Maybe red for my (formerly) red hair.

But I think I'll stick with yellow.

What's your color? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

All Work and No Play....

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "Work + Play." I'm not sure if that's supposed to be "work plus play" or "work and play."

I talked about rest here. But resting isn't playing.

Ever since I left the corporate world, work and play are a lot a like. I get to my hobby as work, i.e., writing. Now, sometimes writing is hard work, especially freelance writing. But I love doing it.

I guess my only pure forms of play are watching movies and driving. Although lately I haven't been driving as fast as I used to. I've sort of lost my desire to risk jail for the joy of going over 100 mph. (Of course, now that it's winter, driving fast is out of the question). I've thought about returning to the racetrack, but it is so damn expensive. Not the fees so much but you can go through tires and brakes in a couple of days. And tires on my car are very expensive. Plus I think I'd need to buy a new helmet.

But I am so thankful that I get to do what I love as my work. Just wish it paid better.

What do you do for play, and who does that relate to your work? Let me know in the comments below.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Huskies are #13

The final AP college football poll came out yesterday after the CFP playoff game (I find myself happy that Alabama lost). And the University of Washington Huskies ended the season at lucky #13. This is an improvement over last year when they ended the season at #16. But it's way down from 2016 when they ended at #4.

Washington lost their bowl game to Ohio State which ended the year at #3.

The only other Pac-12 team in the top 25 was Washington State. They were #10 after winning their bowl game. (I don't want to talk about it.)

I've said it before, but back when the Huskies sucked (like in 2008), I said I had four criteria for a good season:

1) Win at least 8 games (and they did, winning 10)
2) Beat Oregon (they didn't)
3) Beat WSU (they did)
4) Go to a good bowl and win it. (They went to the best bowl, but lost).

Well, I'm still happy with my Huskies and will be their fans no matter what.

Now we just have to wait until August 31st when college football starts again.

Monday, January 7, 2019

College Football Post-Season

The college football post-season play is almost over. There's one last game, tonight, the FBS national championship game between Alabama and Clemson. No surprise there. If you care, it's at 5:00 PM PST on ESPN.

The bowl season was almost exactly what I didn't want. Teams I wanted to win lost and teams I wanted to lose won.  I basically cared about Pac-12 teams. I wanted all of them to win except Oregon and Washington State. Here's table of what happened:

As you can see, the Pac-12 went 3-4 in post-season play. There was only one upset: Utah versus Northwestern.

The Rose Bowl (Washington and Ohio State) was fairly close and a lot of people were expecting a blow-out. The final score was 23-28. If Washington has played the entire second half the way they played the fourth quarter, they would have won.

The college football regular season starts August 30, 2019. A long wait until then.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Culture

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. I'm getting close to the end.

Today's prompt is "Culture."

I used to work with bacteria cultures such as the one pictured to the left. Good times!

Culture is an interesting thing. Corporations say they have a "corporate culture" and that's why they succeed or fail. Countries have cultures and that's why some have lots of problems and some don't. Culture isn't race based, it's usually location based. There can be micro-cultures (my term) inside a larger culture. There is an inner-city culture and a suburbs culture. There's a drug culture in the U.S. And a gun culture.

Culture often determines how you live. If you dropped me in the middle of an New Guinea tribe that's had no contact with the outside world, I would have to adopt their culture to survive. Which would be tough since I was raised and live in a totally difference culture. If you took someone from that culture and dropped them into the U.S., they would have to adapt to it or they wouldn't survive.

And interesting movie about culture clashes is The Gods Must be Crazy. Which unfortunately, isn't on Netflix disc or streaming.

What do you think about culture? Am I nuts or am I right? Let me know in  the comments below.