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Tower Innards

Tower Innards

March 2010 Greensboro, NC

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A Few Things

28 in 28 was dropped about the same time [livejournal.com profile] keirf (who wrote up the list) dropped it. This was coincidental, as it was apparent that my beloved cat, Ani, wasn't doing well. My attention turned elsewhere, as it should have, and that's that.

Ani is doing pretty well, all in all. The open wound is still there on her leg, but she's getting around alright, thanks to some pain meds. The lump at her shoulder hasn't grown any and the wound isn't getting any worse. (We were told one side effect of the pain management med was that it can slow down the form of cancer she most likely has)

I still hear the clock ticking on my time with her. Each day is, quite literally, a gift to be with her.

More? Click on through to the other side... )
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CanadianGuest3

Our Demure Canadian Guest

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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I recently read Frank McCourt's Teacher Man. In it, the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Angela's Ashes recounts his years as a teacher in a vocational school, in night school and, finally, in Stuyvesant High School in New York City.

In an Amazon.com review, Shawn Carkonen summarized part of the book thusly:

"...for much of that time he considered himself a fraud. During these years he danced a delicate jig between engaging the students, satisfying often bewildered administrators and parents, and actually enjoying his job. He tried to present a consistent image of composure and self-confidence, yet he regularly felt insecure, inadequate, and unfocused."

When I read those sections I felt a type of kinship with an author that I don't remember ever experiencing before. McCourt was describing my fears of being found out to be a complete fraud by teachers/administrators/parents/students through his writing.

Further elaboration continues, should you be interested. Simply click on through to the other side... )

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Creek 1

Creek

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 29 → hopes and dreams for the next 365 days.

I suppose much of the next 365 has to do with the events of yesterday.

Click on through to the other side... )

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Sven3

I Beg Your Pardon

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 28→This year, in great detail

This year? Piece o' cake. See yesterday's entry.

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Johnson Lake View 1

Lake Johnson Reflections

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 26→Your week, in great detail

See, here's another "in great detail" that just doesn't work. Even I am not all that interested in reliving my week in great detail, especially since much of the things in the week that stand out are problems encountered at werk (which, as I've said, I don't write about).

My week thus far? In brief? (Since it is only Tuesday, after all) Click through to the other side... )

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Watch Your Step

Watch Your Step

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 18→Whatever tickles your fancy

Backtracking today. I finally looked at the Day Numberon the entry I was writing about and realized I was a day off.

Back in November, right after getting our replacement white, four-door Volvo sedan, Bonn requested (rather strenuously) that I start taking the bus from Raleighwood to Chapel Thrill. Co-werkers of mine were doing this and were able to give me all of the details I needed and I was even able to get a bus pass. Tough to turn all of that down.

So nowadays I'm getting up at 6am (the one HUGE drawback) and driving 25 minutes across town to the bus stop/parking lot. The bus takes another 30 or so minutes and drops me off on campus, about a 12 minute walk from my office. In the afternoons I now have a set time when I have to leave by to catch the bus, which certainly beats staying way late in hopes of getting "caught up" -- something which never happens.

I've been spending much of my time on the bus reading. And -- the best part -- when I get sleepy, I just close my eyes and take a quick nap.

All in all, it's not a bad way to commute.

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Branch Reflected

Open

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 23→A YouTube video

Easy. Here's Part One:



Lengthy rant follows. If interested, click on through to the other side... )

Now they don't even need to take the new president into the smoky room and show him the film of the Kennedy assassination shot from the grassy knoll any more.

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UNC Symmetry

UNC Symmetry

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 22→A website

Board Game Geek


Thanks to my country's Supreme Court making the worst decision in over a century, I'm just not feeling it tonight. Enjoy BGG and I'll be back tomorrow.

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Lake Johnson View

Lake Johnson View

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 21→A recipe

A recipe? Oh, yeah, sure. Like I don't know you're just trying to get the family Pumpkin Pie recipe out of me. Like I'm really dumb enough to fall for that innocent "oh, it's just Day 21's blog topic!" kinda stuff. Right.

Not having been born yesterday I'll have to come up with something else. How about tonight's dinner?

If you're not interested, the top part of this LJ cut was for you. If you are interested, simply click on through to the other side... )

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Blue Heron

Blue Heron

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 20→A hobbie of yours

Must be the British spelling, eh? Hobbie not Hobby? Either way, it's another word for Something You Put A Lot of Time, Effort and Money Into That You Don't Make Money At. (See yesterday's entry)

One hobby I have that I have not done enough with over the past several years is brewing beer.

I first learned to brew beer back in my Connecticut days, from my ex's boss. He showed me how to brew a very, very basic, no-frills beer that I then made myself several times before branching out into different recipes.

Brewing isn't difficult. The hardest part is keeping everything Sanitary (not Sterile) throughout the process. And the time involved. And the bottling. Other than that, piece o' cake.

I start with packages of malted syrup that are brought to a boil with a quantity of water. Other ingredients can be added at various stages including, tradionally, different types of malt (for colour and flavour) and hops (bitterness and flavour). That boiled concoction is then added to sufficient water to make 5 US gallons. Toss in some brewer's yeast and seal it up with an air lock for a week or so, then bottle.

And then add ingredients and stages to make it as complex as you feel like handling.

Time was when I would boil the brew indoors. One spill-over in an apartment we lived in when we first moved to Raleighwood changed all that. Since then, Bonn's banned me to the outdoors to boil away. I now have a small metal stand just for boiling a large pot of water that I can set up outside. And since I need to keep a watch over the pot while it boils, it can make for a fine afternoon with a book and another homebrew in hand. (Tradition dictates you must drink a homebrew while making homebrew)

I'd like to venture into Mead this year. Hopefully the bees and Honey Gods will comply.

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Night Welding

Night Welding

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 19 → A talent of yours

Merriam Webster Online says a talent is

3 : the natural endowments of a person
4 a : a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude

I'm guessing that means, "things you can do that don't make you any money."

Let's see... I juggle. I can play a passable rhythm guitar. I cook & bake.

Oh, and I take pictures occasionally. And write.

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WTWTA

Where The Wild Things Are


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Day 17 → An art piece (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)

I'm going with a film, in part because I can talk film better than I can painting, drawing and/or sculpture and, in part, because I've wanted to write about Where the Wild Things Are for a few weeks now.

Interested? Then click on through to the other side... )...
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Raleighwood Bus Stop Sunset

Raleighwood Bus Stop Sunset

January 2010 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 16 --> A song that makes you cry (or nearly)



I remember first hearing John Denver's version of Casey on the cheap, single speaker cassette deck I had as a kid. I was surprisingly moved by a song, about people and actions that i couldn't relate to, but understood through the power of Kris Kristopherson's words and his ability to portray two lives in a simple, quiet song.

Listening to it again, after 30+ years, I still think it's a great song and a great version.

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Orange & White Sunset

Orange & White Sunset

January 2010 Outside Raleighwood, NC

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Day 15→A fanfic

Yeah... see, I don't read "fanfic". I don't follow "fanfic". I don't have anything to do with "fanfic" of any kind, really.

See, my way of looking at things is that I'd rather read the original author's vision of the characters and ideas for stories and leave it at that. As a writer, I'd much rather spend my time with my own characters and my own story ideas. I just don't get spending all of that time and creative energy with other people's characters/stories.

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Open

Open

January 2010 Outside Raleighwood, NC

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Day 14→A non-fictional book

I grew up reading fiction. Standard kidlit transformed into mysteries (many passed along by my father as soon as he finished them) and then a bit of scifi and fantasy as they were passed along by various friends. The closest I got to wandering the non-fiction stacks in the library I grew up going to was during a time when I was reading Plays.

Other than that, non-fiction was the stuff of text books, which meant school, which meant invariably dull, dry resitations of facts, dates and events. No thanks.

In recent years, thanks in part to Bonn's influence, I've been reading more non-fiction than fiction. And of those non-fiction books, the ones written by Simon Winchester stand far and above the rest as not only the most informative, but the most well-written and the best at putting an event/thing/whatever in a full context. Winchester clearly knows his history, but even more importantly, he knows how to tell a story. And that's the beauty of all of his books, they're all stories, they're told in ways that make the times, the people and the bare facts come alive.

I started with the audio version of The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary a story that starts off with a senseless murder and matches it up with the creation of the OED. I followed that up with The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 and Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883. Each book is very different from the other, but each book was told just as well and each held my attention throughout the story.

Winchester is one of the few authors I feel confident about reading whatever they've written with the full expectation of learning something new and enjoying whatever he's writing about.

(NOTE: I've listened to Winchester read the unabridged versions of each of these titles and definitely recommend the audio versions)


Oh, and I should mention that the non-highway use diesel pump is only a few miles away from the local mini auto race track. They race on Friday nights and one night I'd like to take my camera and head over there sometime.

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2 Men

Two Men

Janury 2010 Chapel Hill, NC

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[livejournal.com profile] amlaped, in our ongoing Pente games, commented today that he admired my ability to continue posting an entry per day here.

I responded that the structure of the 30 in 30 that [livejournal.com profile] nalsa posted through December, was a good framework for writing (here) in general.

I'm thinking of continuing this through February, but I need some suggestions for topics.

Think about the type of broad subjects listed thus far and leave a suggestion in the comments for what I should include in a 28 in 28 for next month. I'll collect the best, add my own, and see what I can do for next month.

Thanks!

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QWERTY

QWERTY

September 2009 Outside Raleighwood, NC

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Day 13→A fictional book

Meaning a book in the fiction genre or a book that does not exist, that is fictional in and of itself?

It must be part of my nature that I'm getting Gramatically Grumpier as I get older. Why can't people just write clearly?

So, taking my cue from [livejournal.com profile] nalsa I'll believe this means A Book That Does Not Exist in Our Plane of Existence.

And that can only mean The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

I wrote about Adams' H2G2 a few days back so I won't go into it all again here. Suffice it to say, as a fictional work, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy cannot be topped. Even if you tried, they'd send something back into the past and sue to into submission before you could ever try and write your competing guide.

As a Guide, it should be noted that perhaps the most helpful bit to The Book is the phrase, "Don't Panic" which is written in large, friendly letters on the cover. That sums things up rather nicely, I believe.

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Read it and Write!

Read it and Write!

January 2010 Chapel Hill, NC

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Day 12→Whatever tickles your fancy

Somewhere during the Christmas and New Years break I managed to come up with an almost complete (all save the last, wrap-it-up chapter) Draft Zero of the third (or fourth) Steampunk-ish story as well as a completed Draft One of the Intro Steampunk-ish story. Currently the Intro clocks in at only about 12 pages, the third (or fourth) at 80. I already have a list of notes to myself on things to change, things to include, things to cut.

(One disappointing cut is a reference to climbing Cambridge buildings by two of the characters during their University days. It reads as too forced and the later reference just doesn't hold up in the story. Sorry -- it was meant as a surprise, [livejournal.com profile] keirf, but it's not to be. Alas)

There's Tax Work to be done now so I'm giving all three stories a forced rest before I start going back to give them a reasoned, respectful edit. I know I need to write to engage the senses more, as well as to increase the Steampunkery of the stories.

Eventually, I'll have to get some opinions on what I've written, other than my own.

Meanwhile, I trust that [livejournal.com profile] amlaped recognizes his handwriting. I've read bits and pieces of this book over the years and now I'm reading it cover to cover on the ride in to werk. (More on that in another post) And while the photograph makes it look worse than it really is, the book has, obviously, been through a lot over the years, including a rough stint out in the barn where I'd pulled it out of a box to bring into the house but went back inside without it. Between that time and the time I went back out there and found it we'd had quite a bit of rain and humidity.

Still, with that inscription, I wouldn't trade it for the world a newer copy.

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Self Portrait

Self Portrait

September 2009 Raleighwood, NC

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Day 11→A photo of you taken recently

When I was a kid I was fat.

There's really no other word for it. Fat. There were times that it didn't bother me, times I didn't notice it. Then I'd have to go clothes shopping with my mother and we be in the "Husky" section where all of the fat kid clothes were. Or the time I was at a birthday party and the mother of another "husky" kid was talking to my mother, looking at me, and saying, "It's so good to see another boy... like my son."

In the summer months between 6th and 7th grade (the transition summer between Elementary school and Jr. High, back in the day) I shot up several inches. My weight redistributed and suddenly, without doing anything intentional, I slimmed down. By my late teens/early twenties I was even skinny.

For years before that growth spurt, the only photograph of my my mother had was one taken at the beach during a summer vacation. I was walking back up from the ocean to our umbrella and towel demarked piece of the beach and saw her pointing the camera at me. I quickly put the inflatable raft I'd been using in front of me, giving her a photograph of the blue raft, my ankles and feet.

Yesterday I wrote that I still see myself, in my mind's eye, at about 22 or so, and how it's still a shock to not see that younger face whenever I look in the mirror. It's a big part of why there are so few current photos of me that either don't have a camera covering most of my face or have me obscured by... something. (psychedelics, hair, my hand while I'm sleeping, etc)

I'm sure I'll get over it one day. Eventually.

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Tom at Bobs

Tom at Bobs

circa 1980, Washington, DC

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Day 10 → A photo of you taken over ten years ago

So, that's me back around 1980. It's the face, the physique and the physical shape I still expect to see in the mirror every day and it's becoming an ever-greater shock to me that it's definitely not what I see.

You'd think by now I would have come to accept what I am, what I have become, but there's still that part of me that just doesn't get it. I don't understand how I've come so far in such a short period of time.

Anyways, about this photograph:

In the autumn of 1980 I left Maryland to move to Madison, WI. I was, of course, following a woman who broke up with me as soon as we arrived in town. I tried desperately to get a job in a town overrun with PhDs who loved Madison so much they were willing to work in a bagel bakery instead of doing something with their PhD. After two months of rejection and a deepening depression, I moved back to Maryland.

I started working again at The Kite Site as the night manager. During the days, on a suggestion from my mother and really more on a whim than anything else, I started working in the county public schools as a substitute teacher. And, because I was broke but missed being able to afford my favorite ice cream, I got a one-night-a-week job at Bob's Famous Homemade Ice Cream in the upper-most reaches of Georgetown.

Slinging 'scream was a fun gig. For five hours on Sunday nights I'd fill ice cream cones, eat handfuls of M&Ms and down a free cup or two of coke to keep myself going. The place was bright and colorful, the staff and the customers were all very laid back and cool and, of course, the ice cream was fantastic.

I think I even still have that Kite Site T-shirt somewhere.

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