Friday, October 28, 2022



I will be at SpoCon this weekend at the Davenport Hotel, downtown Spokane. 

Here are my scheduled events:


1:00 PM: "Care and Feeding of a Writers Group" Matador Room

4:00 PM: "Flash Fiction: What is it?" Matador Room

7:00 PM: "That's too Political" State Room A


10:00 AM: "Navigating Your Debut Novel" Matador Room

11:00 AM: "Creatures" Matador Room

3:00 PM: I'll be doing a reading in State Room B

4:00 PM "Write What You Know" State Room B

I hope to see you there! 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Old Halloween Costumes

When I was a kid in the 1960s (yes, I'm that old), Halloween costumes you bought in the store were awful. For example, see the picture at left. What you usually got was a mask and a plastic top (that would probably go up in flames if it touched fire) that had a picture of the character and often their logo/name. The Bambi "costume" in the middle is a perfect example.

And, at the time, I thought "that's not a very good costume, it's more like an ad my parents pay for me to wear." So, I often wore homemade costumes. I don't ever remember wearing one of those abominations.

One year, my mother found a mask that was translucent and make me look like an adult male. I wore that with a tie a sportcoat to be an adult. I once made a robot costume out of a Clorox bottle and a devil costume. I don't remember any of my other costumes from when I was that young.

What kind of costumes did you wear at Halloween? What do you think of the costumes shown above? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Driving Shoes

 I used to think the notion of buying driving shoes was pretty ridiculous. I would see ads for them in car magazines. Ridiculous, that is, unless you are racing then you needed flame-resistant Nomex shoes. But for everyday driving, a good pair of running shoes would work.

Then I got the wrong shoes. For casual use, I always buy Asics Gel running shoes. They fit my feet and if I get the right size, I don't even have to try them on. They just fit. It's great.

Then I accidentally got a pair whose bottom looked like this:

(I think these are "trail running shoes.") And the way the bottom was made affected my driving.I'd go to brake and the car wouldn't slow as fast as I thought it should. I'd have to adjust my foot to get full braking power. I still don't understand why. But they definitely made driving more difficult.

So I recently replaced those shoes with shoes that look like this:

And the difference is amazing. When I brake, the car slows as much as I intend it to. 

So maybe driving shoes are not such a strange idea. But they are expensive.

Have you noticed different shoes affect your driving? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Are Public Bathrooms Public?

One time I was driving in Portland, Oregon on my way to see my grandchild. And I desperately needed to go to the bathroom. Traffic was moving slow otherwise I would have waited to get to the hotel. 

I saw a sign for a Starbucks at the next exit, so I took it. But the exit wasn't a simple one. There were multiple roads that could be accessed from that exit. And no signs for Starbucks. So I took a random road. There were no Starbucks there that I could find.

Now I don't feel bad about going into a Starbucks and only using their bathroom. I spend a lot of money at Starbucks. But I couldn't find a Starbucks. So I stopped at a McDonalds. But this was at the tail end of the pandemic (and Oregon was still pretty locked down) and only the drive through was open. Finally I found a gas station. I went inside. The bathroom was locked so I asked for the key. They gave it to me and I used the bathroom. Ahhhhhhhh.

As I was leaving (after returning the key), the manager glared at me since I didn't buy anything. Not even a bag of chips and certainly not gasoline. I feel kind of bad about that. But not too bad.

Sometimes you see signs such as "Bathrooms are for customers only." But when you need to go, you need to go. 

Conversely, on the way to Portland there's a gas station that we often stop at to use the bathroom. And I almost always buy something to drink and maybe a small bag of chips. I think the reason I do that is because we stop there often. The gas station in Portland I'll likely never be to again. I probably couldn't find it again if I tried.

What do you think? Do you think public bathrooms should be open to the public? Or is it okay to say "customers only"? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Book Review: Good Omens

I was looking for a new book to read (after re-reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein) and a friend recommended Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (the complete title is Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch).

The book is a fantasy set in the '80s (at least before cars had CD players). It is often laugh-out-loud funny at first, but then it settles into simply being amusing. As a writer, I know it's tough to maintain humor for a whole manuscript. It's set in England and some of the terminology is different than the US. For example, a telephone answering machine is called an "ansaphone." 

The story is that the forces of good and evil are about to clash for the end of the world battle (Armageddon). But first, the baby antiChrist needs to be brought to Earth. But then there's a mixup at the hospital and the antiChrist is... misplaced. And somehow an angel and a demon (who are unlikely friends) never figure it out.

I usually do my reading at Starbucks and I had at least five people come up to me and tell me this is their favorite book. It's a good book, but I don't see that it's worth being one's favorite. It's an amusing and fun read. I would recommend it easily. Maybe it was the buildup my friend gave it, but I was actually a bit let down by the whole thing. There was clever writing and clever takes on the whole end-of-the-world that the Bible predicts. For example, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypses ride motorcycles, not horses, and War is a woman.

So, yes, read this book. It's amusing. 

Have you read Good Omens? What did you think of it. Let me know in the comments below.