December 31, 2008

haiku wednesday - goodbye 2008 edition

This week's words are

As 2008 leaves, I wish it a hearty farewell and welcome 2009, which many of us hope will bring change. Not just spare change, though some people that used to dole it out yesterday are today asking for it (like certain banks). I hope bone is enjoying retirement and thomg is enjoying being the 3WW czar now. I think there was another change in management that was pretty significant in 2008-9, but it slips my mind right now. Maybe some African country like Kenya? Oh well. Whatever. Haiku time!

a candle's glimmer
I wish it still burned as bright
Joan, your passion shone

(I feel it's important here to note that all my haiku are unrelated. The two below do not have any connection whatsoever to the one above.)

hope's glimmer stomped out
your wish: keep them closeted!
religious passion

I peer through the blinds
glimmer of your bedroom light
a wish of passion

December 30, 2008

The Vermont Farm

Here's the view from the road past my parents' house in Vermont (the house is just out of frame to the right). What you can't see is just up to the left there's a nice sledding hill and a pond (frozen over right now). We got a few inches of fresh snow and a lot of wind last night, so all our bootprints have been wiped away. It really is beautiful here.

December 26, 2008

A Very Southwest Christmas

I have been a fan of Southwest Airlines for many years despite the fact that they originated in Texas.

On Christmas morning we left home at 8:40 a.m. for Oakland Airport. Our flight was a few minutes delayed, but no big deal. I was surprised how many people were traveling on Christmas day, and how everyone still seemed relatively jovial. Maybe because they were on their way to see loved ones, or perhaps escaping from too many loved ones.

Four of us were traveling--one purchase ticket and three frequent flier awards--and I had checked in early enough to get in the "A" boarding group. So things were good. Our transfer in Albuquerque went smoothly, though the 9 year old nearly left his backpack in the terminal because his nose was buried so deep in "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing." Our flight from Albuquerque (I love that word for some reason) to Hartford made a stop in Baltimore... something I hadn't known when I booked it, but it wouldn't have mattered.

But here's the point of my post: Although the flight attendants and gate staff were friendly and helpful and cheerful the whole day, it was this stopover in Baltimore that was special. Since we'd arrived 20 minutes early, we stayed on and had nearly half an hour before they boarded the rest of the folks. I told the boys to go look at the cockpit, thinking they'd take a quick peek and then get shooed back to our seats.

Instead, Captain Michael returned from somewhere and invited them into the cockpit. Ethan (the 12 year old) sat in the co-pilot's chair, and Sam (the 9 year old) stood behind and watched. Fifteen or so minutes later, the boys returned looking like they'd just met Santa Claus in person and had sat in his sleigh. Ethan had not only got to change an indicator light bulb that was out (any union reps in the audience please disregard that last note) but he programmed the autopilot for our flight. The captain of course oversaw every move he made, and the proof was in the actual landing at Hartford an hour or so later, but still.

And we thought it was over. But shortly after takeoff, the pilot announced the flight plan and said, "Of course, thanks to Ethan and Sam for helping us set up our flight today." Then Lynn, the lovely and talented flight attendant who worked our section of the cabin from Albuquerque to Hartford, delivered two small bags. At first they looked like paper lunch bags. But the captain had cleverly used (clean) airsick bags to make up some goodie packs for the boys. Nothing special, but each boy got a pack of peanuts, a bag of pretzels, a Southwest luggage tag, and a pack of Southwest cards.

I can not wait until Southwest opens up routes to Minneapolis and Charlotte. When they do, I won't have any reason to fly any other airline. Certainly not US Airways, who charge you a dollar on the flight for a cup of coffee. Talk about no frills.

Anyway, it turned into my best flight in many years, thanks to Lynn and captain Michael and co-pilot Dave. And it happened on Christmas day.

December 24, 2008

haiku wednesday - Christmas Eve edition

This week's words are

Happy holidays to all my friends and even everyone else. For your listening pleasure, here is a bit of Christmas Cheer in song. Sorry these are kinda weak... I'm in a hurry to get packed for our trip.

"please, God" they whisper
close eyes, bitter test of faith
field goal miracle

whisper a sled prayer
faith in snowstorm miracle
his sled sits idle

"like a miracle"
her lips whisper to my ear
"you were good, too, Faith"

December 23, 2008

Ten on Tuesday: Resolutions!

This is not an official 10 on Tuesday post but follows up last year's T10 about new year's resolutions. It comes in two parts: First, a report card on how I did against last year's resolutions. Second, a bunch of new resolutions in the greatest tradition of election year promises. Also, a question to all my friends: What are your resolutions for 2009?

Last year's resolutions:

  1. Vote. For this I get an A-plus because I voted the right way. Unfortunately, much of California voted the wrong way.
  2. Write. For this I get a B-plus because I did write some, and composed the Unlucky 26... but I did not write three short stories like I said I would. I did, however, write two.
  3. Submit. A solid C on this one. I submitted one story to a contest (no luck) and another to a different contest (honorable mention). But that was about it.
  4. Call and write family more often. Um. Maybe a solid D. I didn't quite fail, but close.
  5. Stretch. A on this. I now stretch and warm up pretty well before soccer and workouts. Not that it's done much good.
  6. Get trained for scouting. A-plus. Not only did I get trained, but I volunteered as a uniformed leader for both Cub and Boy Scouts. Not that I have the time.
  7. Revise. Solid B. I have worked hard on Andie's Gold (nee Gold Miner's Daughter), and it's much improved. But it still needs work in the later chapters.
  8. Submit. B-minus. GMD/Andie's Gold have been sent out, but only recently and only to a handful of agents.
  9. Tell people I care about them. I think maybe B-plus on this. I've been lots better, but I'm still pretty reserved in this area.
  10. Carpe diem. I give myself an A-minus on this. Although my writing goals suffered, my day job flourished and I took on several challenges I might have let pass in the past.
Not bad. No total failures. A few good successes.

Now, a few resolutions for the upcoming year:
  1. Do something proactive with the Unlucky 26. Agents, small publishers, or self publish. Not sure yet, but something will be done.
  2. Be more proactive with Andie's Gold. (Assuming none of the outstanding queries bear fruit.) I have faith that this book should be published, and I just need to find the right combination.
  3. Continue to write. I did pretty well until work got crazy; work will continue to be insane throughout 2009, but I should be able to continue writing at least as much as this year, hopefully more.
  4. Don't skip the gym. It's so easy to say "today is too busy," but the days that I go I feel so much more energized. When I don't go, I start getting down on myself. It helps that I now have a buddy who goes to the same gym.
  5. Be realistic about my time. This fall, I had too many obligations. I need to scale back something to retain my sanity.
  6. Reprise #4 of last year: Write and call family more often. Um, yeah. That's a resolution like for every year of my life.
How about you? What resolutions do you have this year? Which ones did you break last year or fail to break?

December 18, 2008

Fully illustrated Unlucky 26

Dear friends,

I have completed a draft of a formatted, fully illustrated version of my Unlucky 26. As our dear friend Church Lady (bless hear heart) pointed out, it can use some polishing. If you are willing to (or interested in) seeing a PDF of the draft, please let me know by email at dudleypj at I'll send you a link and password.

In accordance with the majority opinion, I will not be self publishing at this time. But I do think I will create a private POD project of this and print some copies for my own enjoyment and use while I pursue real publication. (Any publishers or agents interested in seeing it, also please let me know at the above address.)

prop 8... the musical!

December 17, 2008

haiku wednesday - December 17, 2008

This week's words are

Once more, 7 of 17 syllables accounted for. But it's all good. I love a challenge.

I neglect to act
jealous of their fame, I yearn
still I hesitate

hesitate and lose
did I neglect to tell you?
jealous that I won

hesitate, jealous
you think they neglect your needs
while she has their love

December 15, 2008

penny wise and pound foolish

Things are tough all over these days. Foreclosures at record highs. Unemployment soaring. Dire projections for holiday retail with consumer confidence in the toilet. It's so bad that people are now throwing shoes at heads of state. (Where do I sign up for that? Is it like a dunk tank or something?)

So I get that companies need to cut expenses. I get that. But come on.

First, I read about the NFL laying off 150 of its 1,100 workers. First, who knew that the NFL employed 1,100 people that weren't players or coaches? Second, assume the average salary of those laid off is $100,000. That's a pretty generous assumption since it's rare that the highly paid management get laid off in these situations. But let's say that's the case. The league has revenues of $6.5 billion. 150 fewer employees at $100,000 a pop amounts to a savings of about $15 million. So the league, under pressure from the severe economic hardship around them, dumps 150 employees for the enormous savings of 0.2% of revenue. By the way, $4.5 billion of that $6.5 billion goes to player salaries. What's next? Because of the economy, will the NFL start charging for coffee in business meetings? Speaking of charging for coffee...

A few years ago, many airlines stopped serving meals on board for "free." Your $500 round trip fare no longer entitled you to having food provided, even on long trips. OK, whatever, I can see how serving hot meals may actually be a pretty big expense and a huge pain in the ass. Then many airlines even stopped handing out peanuts, ending a tradition dating back to 1904, when Orville threw a handful of peanuts at Wilbur after losing the coin flip to see who would make the first flight. Recently, many airlines have begun charging for luggage... some only charge for checked bags if you have more than one, others have begun charging for even one checked bag. Who came up with this stroke of genius is unknown. I bet it's made gate-checks amusing for the airline staff as more people try to carry on their luggage.

Today, though, I discovered that US Air has not only done all those things, but they've come up with the most ingenious cost-cutting, revenue-producing move of all: charging for drinks! I'm not talking about the $4 for beer, $5 for wine (which on US Air is now $7 each). I'm talking about what used to be "complimentary soft drinks and coffee." Now soft drinks are $2. And a cup of coffee is $1. A dollar for a cup of coffee. On the airplane. Stop the madness!

If they served 10,000 free cups of coffee a day, let's say their cost of serving it is maybe $5,000. Now, instead of losing that $5,000 a day, they're earning $10,000 a day. Heck, quadruple that and say they're making a $60,000 daily bump on their books. Over 365 days, that's $2.2 million. And the soda... For simplicity, let's assume that's $2.8 million a year, amounting to $5 million a year difference on the books. Compare to their revenues of $11.7 billion and net income in 2007 of $427 million.

Let me ask you: How much is free soda and coffee worth?

Yeah, I'll think four or five times before picking US Air for my business travel. I can't wait until Southwest reaches Minneapolis and Charlotte.

December 10, 2008

haiku wednesday - December 10, 2008

This week's words are

I love the word vague. Always have. Not sure why. Maybe because it's only an o's tail different from vogue. Which is one letter different from rogue. Which means something sort of like maverick.

shatter peace, kill truth
something vague about his war
who's the enemy?

"answer hazy"? vague.
shatter the magic eight ball!
enemy inside

coffee enemy?
oh! gross. shatter my groove, dude.
be more vague next time

December 9, 2008

It's time to take sides. You must now decide.

Facebook is apparently the great promoter of democracy. Our friend from Down Under, a bona fide Published Author, demands I come out on my blog and let you, the unwashed masses, decide.

Should I self-publish, or should I not?

Hold on, before you rush to stock up on Spaghettios and canned beans to survive the End of the World, let me give the context. I'm not thinking of self-publishing a novel. No, I hope one day to get my novels out the real way. (I am waiting for the offers to roll in, but some other smart guy has told me I need to send out queries first. Huh.)

I am, instead, considering self publishing The Unlucky Children of Marrow Moor, an Illustrated Compendium of Cautionary Tales. I am currently in the process of illustrating each story.

So, what do you think? Should I turn to the dark side and fly solo (solo as in "alone," not solo as in the Harrison Ford character), or can someone explain how the hell I sell something like this to an agent or publisher?

Lest we forget, our exalted guiding light, His Evilness, self published. Not that I pretend to approach even a pale mockery of a sham of a shadow of his greatness.

December 2, 2008

wellcome, peple with bad speling!

Inspired by OxyJen's recent mention of some celebrity's hair, and lacking anything more interesting to say, I decided it was time to revisit the ol' blog stats!

First of all, this is my 612th post, though my stats say 611 because like some newbie I overwrote one with another when trying to post anew last week. Oh, whatever. Anyway, I can't think of anything else I've done 612 times except necessary biological functions. But probably I'm just not thinking hard enough.

To search strings: My hits are way up this week thanks to a guest appearance by Hayden Christensen in the last post's title. Judging from Google Zeitgeist, he may be joined by the Georgia Senate, Santa Claus, or Sean Avery soon. One wonders why Plaxico Burress is not in the hot 100 right now. Maybe because you can't escape the frikkin' story no matter where you go.

Anyway. Why am I welcoming bad spellers today? Because they are the searchers who stumble here and happen to stick around! According to Google Analytics, I get the most first hits with any permutation of "corner kick" or "hayden christensen." But those are people just passing through when they see I don't really have any photos of Hayden Christensen's hair in pornographic situations. No, the people that stuck around for several minutes (probably because they have to sound out all the words to figure out they didn't find what they were seeking) searched for

  • movie charcters (2.5 pages per visit, and nearly 2 minutes on site average!)
  • www star wors (2 pages per visit, and over 2 minutes on site!)
  • pete dudley (oh, wait, that's spelled properly... but, like a mute pirate, it's missing an aarrh)
Other search phrases that raise one eyebrow for how the hell my site got selected, and another for why the hell someone is searching for them:
  • "i can't imagine mastering the skills"
  • 3ww (american terrorist)
  • charlie the tuna ringtone
  • corner kick foreclosed
  • favorite luke and laura moment
  • hiding a report card
  • jar full of pennies
  • list of celebrity brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners
  • poem the pully
  • son cannot join swim team because speedo
  • you suck spam
And finally, the linky love (top referring blog friends). Click on them because they are worth reading.
  • Paca over in Hawaii! A highly educated camelid.
  • Sarah who is contemplating fleeing to Canada. (Wait until spring, I say.)
  • Janey over across the pond! (Maybe we'll get to meet you on our trip in April?)
  • Robin on the east coast, coming through with clicks even during a hiatus.
  • Gene, living his own kind of insanity. (You'll be happy to know the wall is still standing.)
  • all those agents looking for reasons to reject
  • And honorable mention to Freddy's Cafe, Lissa, Tiff, WrittenWyrdd, and Chris. Merry, Blogless, Fairy Hedgehog, JimK, and J@na all get a mention, if only because I love you guys. But if you want links, you gotta put up the clicks, baby.