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Today’s Earworm

Uncle Sam Ain’t Released Me Yet

 

Musings

  • Well, after several years of talking about it, numerous negotiations on what we both want and are willing to compromise on, both of us choosing hills we’re willing to die on, intense discussions about moving to North Dakota and taking up some honest living or another, stalking areas we wanted to live in, a couple of false starts, then a sprint to get to a house that we both liked before it was gobbled up, Irish Woman and I have started the process of purchasing a new home.
  • We looked at two houses yesterday.  Both were very nice.
    • Both properties were on the market for a little more than 24 hours when we took a tour.
    • One was a bungalow built in 1916.  It had been added onto, and had a lot of character and other things that made me like it.  It was on the edge of the country, with one of my favorite watering holes just down the street.
    • It also had plumbing and wiring very similar to our current house, which gave me pause.  One of my goals was to not get another fixer-upper.
    • By the time we got done looking at the bungalow, someone else had put in an offer, so deciding to not bid on it got easier.
    • The other house was a relatively new (well, newer than the house we have now) ranch on a nice lot in a neighborhood that we’ve been keeping an eye on.
    • We looked at the second house, then talked on its porch for a few minutes before asking our realtor to make an offer.
    • The market around here is so hot that a lot of properties don’t even make it to the realty sites before they’re sold.
  • With that, we began the paperwork part of this process.  As much work as this is to do electronically, I cannot imagine how it was done in the days of carbon paper.
  • Today, I have provided the following things to our bank:
    • VA certificate
    • Statements from our checking, savings, and investment accounts
    • A copy of our contract to buy the house
    • A picture of the check I wrote for the deposit
    • Our latest statement on our current mortgage
    • A genealogy going back five generations on both sides
    • Our latest horoscopes
    • Proof that we are, indeed, human.
    • Pawprint impressions from both dogs and one of the cats
    • An offer of our son’s hand in marriage to the last scion of some obscure Italian nobility. I’m told she’s quite lovely.
  • Finding someone to do the home and septic inspections was an adventure all by itself.  Apparently I’m just one of a million yokels who are buying homes these days.  I found one, count them, one inspector who could get the job done in the ten days we have per the contract.
  • Our plan is to move out of our current place, then fix, paint, clean, and polish everything so that we can put it on the market.  We’ve already gotten the plumbing fixed, and more is to come.
  • Hopefully, by the time the Kentucky Derby rolls around on Labor Day, we’ll be settled into our new house one county over and will only have one mortgage.

Review – Forget Nothing

Michelle C. Meyers and Jason Anspach teamed up to explore the life one of the more intriguing characters in the Galaxy’s Edge series.  Their work pays off big time in “Forget Nothing

She Chose the Hardest Way

The daughter of a Legion war hero, fighting was in Andien Broxin’s blood. But the battles Republic marines face on strange and alien worlds are a far cry from the vaunted, brutal, no-holds-barred conflicts fought at the edge of the galaxy by the elite legionnaires.

Until a devastating war erupts right in the Republic’s stellar backyard.

Newly stationed on a mid-core planet being harassed by terrorist revolutionaries, Andien and her fellow “hullbusters” find themselves right in the middle of a desperate fight for survival. All their training, standards, discipline—all the hard paths—have led to this. If she and her fellow marines are to come out of this alive, Andien will have to find out who she truly is…and what she can become.

We first met Andien Broxin on Kublar in Legionnaire, the first book in the series, and the character became more and more important to the series in later books.  She’s tough, talented, and dedicated to her mission.  Forget Nothing takes us back to when Andien was an officer in the Republic Marines.  This female warrior is capable, but believable. Yes, she kicks ass and leads from the front, but she’s not a cartoonish GI Jane who beats up grown men and has a pithy comment to spit out over their prostrate bodies.

Meyers and Anspach wrote this character in a way that reminds me of the best leaders I have known, regardless of their gender.  She pushes herself constantly, but the characters has limits that push back.  She’s experienced, but has things to learn as the story goes on.  She’s brave, but is written in a way that you can feel her overcoming the shock and fear of combat.

The other character that stood out in the story was Gunny O’Neill.  If you’ve ever known an old, crusty NCO who was a master at motivating his troops with sharp comments and wry wit, you’ll recognize him immediately.  I laughed long and hard at some of his absolutely genius dialogue.  I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve heard some, but not all, of it before, because it’s been directed at me.

Forget Nothing is well-paced, and Khristine Hvam’s narration is almost 100% spot on.  The story flows through several sequences that flesh out Andien Broxin as a person and an officer, then rushes into several excellent combat sequences.  The character is allowed to make mistakes, then struggle to overcome them.

If you’ve enjoyed the other books in Galaxy’s Edge, I think you’ll enjoy how the authors filled out this character and gave us a good understanding of her backstory and how she’s put together. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Andien.

With Apologies to Kipling

I went into a Walmart to buy a box of shells,
The manager ‘e up an’ sez, “Those we no longer sell.”
The girls be’ind the register they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun Nut, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Firearms Owner”, when the mob comes to play
The mob comes to play, my boys, the mob comes to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Firearms Owner”, when the mob comes to play.

I went into a concert as sober as could be,
They waved the guy with a bong in his pocket through, but had no time for me;
They pointed to a “NO GUNS” sign affixed upon the wall,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they give me a call!
For it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun Nuts not allowed!”;
But it’s “Can you defend my shop, friend?” when the thugs form a crowd,
The thugs form a crowd, my boys, the thugs form a crowd,
O it’s “Can you defend my shop, friend?” when the thugs form a crowd.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ folks like me who their guns they want to keep
Is cheaper than cleaning up the streets, an’ that’d be starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ honest people when they want to shoot a bit
Is five times better business than voters knowing you’re a twit.
Then it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun Nut, wait your turn!”
But it’s “Neighbor, can I borrow a gun?” when the towns begin to burn,
The towns begin to burn, my boys, the towns begin to burn,
O it’s “Neighbor, can I borrow a gun?” when the towns begin to burn.

We aren’t no Dirty Harry’s, nor we aren’t no madmen too,
But honorable folk with firearms, just citizens, like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, honorable citizens with firearms don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun nut, fall in line”,
But it’s “Please protect the unprepared, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please protect the unprepared, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ bans for magazines, an’ suppressors, an’ ammo, an’ all:
But we’ll stand a turn at guard with you if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about with empty promises, but prove it to our face
The gun is just a tool, it’s the man sets the pace.
For it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Gun Nut ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Gun Nut sees!

Review – Going Ballistic

Dorothy Grant puts out her best work so far in an action and character driven piece entitled “Going Ballistic

When her plane tries to come apart at apogee during a hijack, ballistic airline pilot Michelle Lauden handles the worst day she could imagine. After getting down without losing any passengers or crew, though, she finds her troubles have just begun!

The country she’s landed in has just declared independence from the Federation. The Feds intended her passengers to be the first casualties in the impending war – and they’re not happy she’s survived to contradict their official narrative in the news.

The local government wants to find her to give her a medal. The Feds are hunting her to give her an unmarked grave. As they both close in, Michelle’s running out of options and time. The only people able to protect her are an accident investigation team on loan from the Federation’s enemies… the same enemies who sent her hijackers in the first place.

And they have their own plans for her, and the country she’s in!

Going Ballistic weaves a strong female lead into a fast-paced, engaging plot that rarely stops to take a deep breath.  This story grabs you by the throat and keeps your attention until the last sentence.

Mrs. Grant’s ability to bring characters to life in a very small number of words makes this story move along without creating cardboard-cutouts.  Michelle is strong and capable, but also has the emotional depth to fall apart when she needs to.  Blondie, one of the male supporting characters, is there to help, but it is Michelle’s story and Grant leads us through it with a practiced hand.

Going Ballistic is great for laying in a hammock on a summer day or by the fire during a winter night.  Just make sure you have time to read it through, because you’ll be trying to guess what comes next until you can return to it.

Musings

  • So, we’re at quarantine week… 10? Is it 10? Let’s just say 10 for the sake of the argument. I have no idea anymore without consulting a calendar.
    • I seriously don’t know whether it’s time to buy fireworks or a snow shovel at this point.
  • Is it a bad thing when you’re cleaning out the attic and hear baby birds chirping from the piping leading from the bathrooom fan to the outside?
  • I am proud to say that I removed the sentence “If you told me the sky was blue, I would look up” from a professional email the other day.
  • Is it a bad thing that I’m half a decade away from retiring from the day job and I’ve already picked out the date for my retirement party?
  • I was bored enough the other weekend that I took all of our dry goods out of the various shelves, cabinets, and tubs, then sorted and organized them. I was surprised that we had quite a surplus on peanut butter, applesauce, and canned beans. I was even more surprised that we were short on canned tomatoes of almost every variety.
    • A quick trip to Kroger and the restaurant supply store corrected that.
  • Irish Woman has returned to work after being off for about two months. In her time at home, she power-washed, repaired, cleaned out EVERYTHING, put in the garden, done landscaping, filled in one old goldfish pond, rebuilt another, put in a fountain, painted, trimmed, and home-schooled our sprog.
    • I’m not saying that going back to work will be less strenuous for her than not going to work, but since she first went back to her office, she seems much more relaxed.
  • My “I’m just going into the office for a couple of hours so that a technician can update the office software on my laptop” turned into “I’m going to sit here for six hours waiting for the bloody thing to reboot”
    • Since I work in a semi-secured building, I couldn’t even take in a tablet to read. And, of course, I forgot to pack a book or notebook.
    • Heck, I even forgot my coffee on the way to work this morning. I am really out of practice on this whole get-out-of-bed-and-go-to-work-in-another-zip-code thing.
  • Every single thing Boo was looking forward to doing this summer has been cancelled. At this point, I’m about to buy him a copy of the improvised munitions field manual and let him loose just so he has something to do.
    • This would be so much easier if we had the same rules for kids as we did when we were young.
    • “Bored? Here, take your BB gun and this pocket knife and go entertain yourself for a while. Don’t forget, you need to burn off all of those fireworks from last summer before we can buy more.”

Review – Rimworld: The Rift

Jim Curtis returns to his Rimworld universe and takes it in a whole new direction in The Rift:

Danny Ortega was a failure. He couldn’t tolerate the implant to be a starship captain…

But Danny Ortega has run his deep space research vessel Ghost alone for years, flaky AI and all, mapping the most unstable and unexplored regions of the Rift for the Cartographers Guild. When his latest mission lands in a mass graveyard of ships, including some ships out of legend, lost for hundreds of years, the guild isn’t happy with him.

He picks up a misfit crew out of the asteroids and the games begin!

Turns out he’ll need them not just for research and salvage, but to help him keep his ship! As word gets out that he has artifacts and is returning remains, Danny finds he’s gone from chasing a prize to becoming one himself…

Unfortunately for his enemies, Danny didn’t get his own ship by being an easy target or giving up. His odd connections and crew have plenty of surprises up their sleeves, too!

The Rift is a much more detailed, character-driven story than the other books in this series. While there is action, Curtis took his time and developed the main character, Danny, from a loner to a leader, from a lonely man to one that learns the meaning of family.

That’s not to say that the story moves slowly. This is a page turner crafted by a master storyteller. The plot rolls smoothly off the page, with believable and engaging twists and turns. I found myself losing hours to this book as I kept reading just one more page.

Unlike a lot of books in an already established series, a new reader could pick up this one and enjoy it. It resides in the same universe as Into the Green and Militia Up, but don’t inhabit the same space.

The Rift is definitely recommended for summer reading, especially if you’re in the mood for something different.

Musings

  • Irish Woman was furloughed from her job a few weeks ago, but she’s been keeping herself busy by undoing a lot of the landscaping and redoing it.
    • She tried to tell me that the new gas power washer could count as her Mother’s Day present.  I told her I wasn’t looking to die that soon.
    • One of the goldfish ponds in the front yard has been filled in. There were no fish in it, but several rather large and stubborn bullfrogs had to be ejected into the remaining pond.
  • I’d like to say that Boo has adjusted to this, but I’m pretty sure he’s scavenging scrap wood from the house to shore up the roof of the tunnel he’s digging through the back yard.
    • I’m tempted to warn him that the septic tank is back there.
  • The search for the new house has ground to a halt for the time being.
    • In the area we want to move into, our choices are either a $200,000 hovel that needs a few hundred thousand dollars worth of work put into it before it would be livable, or a palatial estate that costs more than the GDP of some small countries.
    • Other areas aren’t any better, and Irish Woman has made up her mind about where she wants to live.  I’d argue with her, but I’d rather be happy than right.
  • I must admit to a small amount of panic buying a couple weeks ago.
    • I purchase the coffee I like by the case from Amazon.  I get a new case automatically sent to me every couple of months.
    • Normally, that means I’m drinking from one case, with one or two cases on the storage shelves at any given time.
    • With me being home and working stupid amounts of hours, my coffee consumption has reached back into the “Working mids shift and having a newborn baby in 1992” range.  I soon found myself opening my last spare case with no coffee inbound from Amazon.  I was also out of cups for the Keurig.
    • When I went to order an extra case, my coffee was out of stock, so I ordered two cases of my second favorite and another case of assorted KCups.
    • So, I’m drinking my way through one case, have two cases of almost-as-good coffee, a case of “I need a cup of coffee, but don’t want to make an entire pot” fixings, then Amazon dropships a case of my favorite coffee on my doorstep.
    • If I can get a muzzle onto the monkey riding my back, I should have about 6 months worth of coffee.
    • Irish Woman looked at me crossways over this.  I just shrugged and pointed to her bourbon collection.
  • Boo and Irish Woman have started making a batch of homemade vanilla extract using $25 worth of vanilla beans and a bottle of good Finlandia vodka.
    • Friends tell me that making it with brandy or rum is also excellent.  We’ll try that next time.
    • Yes, they used good vodka to make vanilla extract.  Yes, I approved.  Vodka and I have the same agreement I have with tequila – Everyone leaves everyone else alone.  I use it for cooking, and it doesn’t try to get me in trouble on the Moscow Metro again.
  • We finally broke down and hired a plumber to come in and fix several small and a couple rather large problems we’ve had.
    • I know my limits.  I don’t work on things that could burn down or flood the house.
    • Even with them doing us a solid and only charging time and material, that sucking sound you hear coming out of Louisville is my wallet.
    • The plumber said that he’d do some of the easy things first, then tackle the hard things.  Little did he know that there are no easy things to fix in this house.
    • Is it a bad thing to hear the pleasant, mild-mannered man working on your plumbing stop, swear under his breath, then start hitting something with a hammer?
    • On several occasions today, he and his helper have told me that they’ve never seen anything like what we’ve got going on.  Hey, the plumbing is original from the late 1940’s and was put in before building codes reached this far outside of the city limits. You’ve got to expect a few surprises
  • I didn’t mind spending money on a 30 yard dumpster to clean out our house, garage, basement, and attic of all of the extraneous stuff we’ve accumulated over the the last 20 years.
    • I did mind, however, giving up space in the dumpster for stuff we found that the original owners had left behind.
    • It’s amazing how much stuff we have that only took a second or two to decide that it didn’t make the cut.
  • The battle with the honeysuckle continues.  I’ve resorted to the unilateral use of chemical agents against the foe.  If that doesn’t work, there’s always incendiaries.

Audiobook Review – Gods and Legionnaires

Nick Cole and Stephen Anspach return to their foundational Savage Wars trilogy with Gods and Legionnaires:

The Coalition is reeling. New Vega and its other worlds have fallen beneath the boot of the newly allied Savage marines, and the death count continues to rise at a staggering rate. One thing is clear: The war to come will be a fight for the very survival of the species. For both sides in this conflict, now is the time to become what fate, and victory, demand.

The Savages – post-human monsters who believe themselves to be gods – are intent on remaking civilization in their own violent and pathological image. Yet their alliance is tenuous. Among the many tribes of the Uplifted, as they call themselves, the struggle for supremacy rages on. All know that in the end there can be only one tribe. One leader. One truth.

Meanwhile humanity’s last, desperate hope is the formation of a new kind of fighting force: The Legion. Those select few who are hardy enough – or foolish enough – to undertake the relentless, grueling, and merciless candidate training will have the chance to be transformed into mythical heroes…or die trying. They will be pushed beyond their physical and mental limits as they seek to survive an unforgiving planet, lost and derelict ghost spaceships, and, worst of all, the cold, unflinching brutality of Tyrus Rechs. At the end of this crucible, only the one percent of the one percent will earn the right to be called…

…Legionnaires.

Gods and Legionnairesis really two books in one.  The first part is told from the perspective of Crometheus, a Savage marine who was part of the conquering force at New Vega.  In the second part, Tyrus Rechs puts the first volunteers to The Legion through a crucible designed to weed out the weak and perfect the strong.

In the “Gods” part of the book, we learn more about the Savages.  Crometheus delves into his own history and how it intertwines with the Uplifted, as they call themselves.  The tale is reminiscent of Imperator, which dealt with the origins of Goth Sullus.  The authors crank it up to eleven here, though.

There is some action as the Savages continue their crusade to conquer the known galaxy, but most of the story occurs in the main character’s head.  You definitely have to pay attention to the story as it unfolds, because it wraps around itself at several points.

“Legionnaires” follows a group of recruits as they go through Tyrus Rechs’ version of boot-camp, Ranger indoctrination, and hourly gut-checks.  Characters from the battle of New Vega return, but they’re joined by new faces that join them in the grueling training put on by the galaxy’s supreme warrior.

Stephen Lang’s narration is very good.  His telling of the almost stream of consciousness “Gods” part of the book is excellent.  We already know he can narrate an action scene, so seeing him deal with the psychology and inner voices of all of the characters in Gods and Legionnaires was a treat.

This is the middle book of a trilogy, so we know where they came from and we know they’re going somewhere.  Gods and Legionnaires is a great way to spend a few days trying to map out the road between those two places.

Book Review – Gods and Monsters

Holly Chism has come out with the next volume in her Modern Gods series, Gods and Monsters:

Here there be dragons…again, damn it.

Deshayna has her sanity back, and forces older than the gods have granted her a new purpose. Chronos, his freedom restored, fights for his sanity, and with it, a purpose in helping Deshayna—now called Shay—with hers. The gods are starting to pull together more…and it’s about time.

Millennia after the last dragons to threaten human existence have been hunted down, they’ve started to reappear, hinting to the surviving gods that something more sinister appeared first: Tiamat.

Instead of a confrontation, though, the gods—major, minor, and genus loci—are drawn into a frustrating hunt for a predator that flees rather than attempting to strike.

Gods and Monsterscontinues the story of how the ancient gods live and thrive in the modern world.  The story discusses, and is sometimes from, the point of view of Poseidon, Hades, Odin, and Artemis.  A cast of other deities from other traditions rounds out the cast.

Mrs. Chism always packs her stories with human interactions, such as love, competition, and conflict, but Gods and Monsters also has quite a bit of action as the characters come together to fight against an ancient evil.

This is a quick read, but doesn’t feel like it.  An action-packed chapter that whizzes by is followed by one that slows down and shows us the more human and family side of the characters.

If you haven’t read the first few books in the Modern Gods series, you should probably take some time and read them before starting this book.  It’s well told, but builds on what came before.  Like the rest of the series, there are a couple of adult-oriented sequences in Gods and Monsters, but none of them are gratuitous or unnecessary.

Gods and Monsters is the best work I’ve read by the author, and I’m really looking forward to what comes next.

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