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Musings

  • There’s no “I” in “TEAM”, but there are a couple in “PEDANTIC TWIT”.  Make a note of it.
  • Taking Boo to the doctor for a suspected case of strep throat exposed me to some of the latest examples of the creeping crud.  Luckily, he doesn’t have strep and is already feeling better.  I, on the other hand, feel like I got hit with a truck.
  • I finally forced myself to sit down and get the middle part of the current work in progress down on paper.  4000 words later, it’s just shy of 20,000 words.
    • I was shooting for a short story.  Oh, well.
  • I’m going to be traveling to New Jersey and New York for business next week.  I’m not dumb enough to try to figure out how to take along a firearm, so I’ve been researching knife laws.
    • Holy crap.  Basically, if I don’t want to buy a folding butter knife for the trip I’m down to Boo’s Cub Scout knife.  I’m not even sure that would be legal.
    • Do people there just use their teeth to open things or what?

Musings

  • Boo has managed to forget his lunchbox at school for five days in a row.
    • I told him that tomorrow is the last day I put his lunch in a brown paper bag.
    • The day after that, he takes his lunch in a plastic grocery bag.
    • The day after that, he takes his lunch in a diaper bag.
    • Boo thought that was funny.  Irish Woman is afraid I might be serious.  I’m trying to figure out where I put the old diaper bags.
  • It’s amazing that there are people in the world who get peeved when told by someone, who is so high in the food chain that they’re not even breathing the same air as the rest of us, that they have to do as they’re told, when they’re told.
  • The grooming standard at work has changed enough that I can grow a beard out, so I am.
    • Last time I could grow one, something something years ago, I didn’t shave for over two years.  It got long enough that I could braid it, and it had quite a lot of red and blonde in it.
    • I shaved when I interviewed for the current day job.  Since then, I’ve never gone more than a few days without shaving.
    • Now, after a month of growth, I can see that Father Time has spent the last something something years kicking my butt.
    • All of the blonde and red is now white and silver, and there are only patches of brown.  Seriously, if I didn’t still shave my neck and scowl a lot, I’d look like Santa Claus.
    • Irish Woman has suggested dying it, but I’d rather look old than look like I’d just dipped my beard in a can of shoe polish.
    • Oh well, I’d rather look ‘distinguished’ than have my usual baby face.
  • Recovery from my surgery is going well.  I’m out of the bandages and the stitches in my finger are out.  I’ve got a rather nice scar, and I’m learning to type with the new normal in my index finger.
    • I tried dry firing with a pistol and a rifle this weekend.  The ‘fixed’ finger is still functional, but I think I’ll pull the living heck out of the trigger if I use it on anything but a hair trigger.  Time to start dry firing with my middle finger.
  • Speaking of guns, I’ve had a hankering for a suppressor lately.  Unfortunately, Irish Woman has a hankering for a new house next year, and Boo has hankerings for, well, just about everything that a boy needs to grow.  You know, like three whole meals a day, clothes that fit his growing body once month, and let’s not forget that whole ‘educate him so he moves out someday’ requirement.

Audiobook Review – Monster Hunter Guardian

Sarah Hoyt and Larry Correia, two of my favorite story tellers, have come together to bring us Monster Hunter Guardian, a story centered on Julie Shackleford.

When Owen Pitt and the rest of the Monster Hunter International crew are called away to mount a month’s-long rescue mission in a monster-infested nightmare dimension, Julie Shackleford – Owen’s wife and descendant of MHI founder Bubba Shackleford – is left behind. Her task: hold down the fort and take care of her new baby son Ray. Julie’s devoted to the little guy, but the slow pace of office work and maternity leave are starting to get to her. But when a routine field call brings her face-to-face with an unspeakable evil calling itself Brother Death, she’ll get more excitement than she ever hoped for.

Julie is the Guardian of a powerful ancient artifact known as the Kamaresh Yar, and Brother Death wants it. In the wrong hands, it could destroy reality as we know it. Julie would die before giving it up.

Then Ray goes missing, taken by Brother Death. The price for his safe return: the Kamaresh Yar. If Julie doesn’t hand over the artifact it means death – or worse – for baby Ray. With no other choice left to her, Julie agrees to Brother Death’s demands. But when you’re dealing with an ancient evil, the devil is in the details.

To reclaim her son, Julie Shackleford will have to fight her way through necromantic death cults, child-stealing monsters, and worse. And she’ll have to do it all before Brother Death can unleash the Kamaresh Yar.

It’s one woman against an army of monsters. But Julie Shackleford is no ordinary woman – she’s one tough mother!

I attended Sarah Hoyt’s reading of the first chapter of this book a couple of years ago at LibertyCon, and I’m very happy to see how it came together into a full length novel.  Julie is expertly painted as a young mother desperately searching for her child.  Between the writing and exceptional narration by Bailey Carr, the listener feels her anguish, anger, and determination in every word.

Guardian moves quickly, only occasionally slowing down to let you catch your breath.  Where MHI stories usually center around a team of people with a few principle heroes, Julie spends the vast majority of the story on her own, with not much more than her wits and a gun to aid her in her search.  Hoyt and Correia used this to develop her as a character, and I hope that they continue this in more MHI novels.

Ms. Carr’s narration is excellent.  Her voice and pacing keep the listener riveted as the plot moves along.  She was a perfect fit for Julie Shackleford.

Guardian is definitely a great addition to the MHI series and makes for a wonderful listen during morning commutes and long summer evenings.

Review – Gold on the Hoof

Peter Grant’s latest in his Ames Archives series, Gold on the Hoof, is the best of his fiction that I’ve read.  Go, read it now and see for yourself.

OK, that’s the short review.  Now for the details:

The Comanche and Kiowa are painting for war in the Texas Panhandle. The US Army is preparing to stop them – but it needs horses to do so. Lots of horses. Walt Ames knows where to find them, and breeding stock for his horse ranch, too. All he has to do is ride down to Mexico, buy them, and bring them back safely. That’s easier said than done.

He and his men will have to cover more than two thousand brutally hard miles, and deal with Indian raiders, Comanchero renegades, bandidos, and would-be horse thieves… not to mention a certain Irish-Mexican redheaded beauty who can make him forget everything else in the emerald glow of her eyes. Walt’s going to need every ounce of his grit and determination, plenty of firepower, and a lot of luck if he’s to convert the gold in his pockets to gold on the hoof.

Gold on the Hoof occurs a few years after Rocky Mountain Retribution.  Ames is looking to expand his business into providing horses for the Army, so he puts together a plan to acquire them in Mexico.  He and a band of good men head south to do business and end up crossing the path of several bad men.  Grant gives the business end of this story a light touch, but lays it on thick with the action and characters.  I read the entire thing in one gulp.

Grant has a special knack for getting into the heads of his characters and exploring the world through their eyes, and this is on prominent display in Gold on the Hoof.  The character of Ames is especially well fleshed out, and the new characters Grant introduces quickly become three dimensional and interesting.

The author did a good job of pacing the story, and the research to paint the people and places we encounter is top notch.  Like I said, I read it all in one stretch, so don’t be surprised if you find you can’t put Gold on the Hoof down.

Review – The Grey Man – Down South

Jim Curtis has returned to his Grey Man series with a short, well-written entry that fills us in on the earlier life of the series’ principle character in Down South.

After too much action, too much peace gets on a man’s nerves. John Cronin’s back from Vietnam and bored, when Billy Moore suggests he check out the brand new Drug Enforcement Agency. He’d expected paperwork and meetings; he got on-the-job training in South America with stakeouts gone wrong and ambushes exploding into firefights.

This isn’t Cronin’s first rodeo, and now he’s taking the fight to the cartels, from the laboratories hidden deep in the highland jungles to the enforcers in the cities and secure compounds!

Down South opens as John Cronin is getting over his post-Vietnam hangover and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life.  He can’t sit and watch the grass grow, and he can’t find a place in local law enforcement, so he looks further afield to a new organization.  Soon, he’s in the thick of the drug war, and he’s taking the war to the enemy.

Like I’ve said before, Curtis is one of the best story tellers I’ve ever encountered.  In a few short lines, he paints the scene of a steaming jungle or a dark alley, then fills it with well-rounded characters and well-paced action.

Of course, by now, we know John Cronin, but as we delve into Down South, we learn more about his family and the friends that we encounter in the rest of the series.

I’m not sure if the author meant for this to be the start of another story arc in the series, but I certainly hope so.  There’s a lot to explore, and I can’t wait for more.  Down South is definitely recommended.

Musings

  • My hand surgeon was less than enthusiastic about my suggestion that it might be easier to just take my finger off rather than fusing one of the knuckles.
    • In my defense, I had already been given my pre-surgery meds and I was as high as a kite at the time.
  • A nerve block that makes it so I not only can’t feel your entire right arm, but cannot even twitch my fingers is one of the oddest things I’ve ever experienced.
  • Irish Woman is always watching out for me.  She even took away my phone when my stoned self was looking to buy $1700 plane tickets to North Dakota.
  • You know, if Boo’s out in the front yard and I’m in the basement, and I can hear him scream when he falls out of the tree swing, you know he hurt something really bad.
  • Poor Irish Woman.  She was just getting me to the point where I was semi-functional when Boo needed to be taken for X-rays.  I’m just glad we stocked up on bourbon during our mini-vacation.
  • Boo ended up with a broken foot, a set of crutches, and a bad attitude.
  • He does, however, seem to enjoy the knee scooter the orthopedist rented to us so that he has a bit more mobility.
    • Now to convince him that it’s not a skateboard.
  • I’ve been trying to write, I really have.  But typing when you don’t have use of one of your index fingers is really, really hard.

Impossible Hope

 

Impossible-Hope-Generic

A few months ago, a friend put out the call for folks to do a good deed, and I was fortunate to donate a few thousand words to the cause:

My desire is to help my sister in any way I can. Being a man of modest means and resources, aside from being there for her and assisting whenever possible, there is little I can do alone. However, with help, I intend to do more. I was able to get in touch with a number of writers, all of whom have donated their time and effort and art for an Anthology of short stories, entitled “Impossible Hope”. Anyone who donates through here will receive a copy of the book as a thank you for their generosity. All of the money you donate will go to paying for the costs of the surgery and what it will take to get Bonnie and her husband there and back again. We ourselves will cover the costs of publishing the book, and once the book is published, all proceeds from it will go to the Ehlers-Danlos Society for the benefit of those like my sister. https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/ All those who donate through this effort will receive their copy before we officially publish the material.

I’m honored that my short story, Battle Buddy, is part of this remarkable collection of stories.  Each one shows the importance of never giving up, of always having hope, even an Impossible Hope.

Here are the stories and authors in the collection.  I really struggle to name a favorite, because they are all great, uplifting yarns.

  • Do Something – Logan Lewis
  • Battle Buddy – Tom Rogneby
  • Queen’s Gambit – David Freiberg
  • Glastonbury Abbey – Josh Griffing
  • Four Funerals and a Wedding – L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • A Random World of Delta Capricorni – John C Wright
  • Shoulders of Giants – Dave Higgins
  • Sir Ronan and the Smooth Road – Frank Luke
  • Buddy – William Joseph Roberts
  • Bullies and Soggy Soup Bones – Woelf Dietrich
  • Battle Within – Musaab Sultan
  • Take My Breath Away – Sam M. Phillips
  • Ghosts of Camlan Hill – Ben Wheeler
  • Moulin Rouge’s Last Secret – Denton Salle
  • Life on the Fringe – B. Michael Stevens
  • Blue Pearls – Benjamin Tyler Smith
  • The Other Side – Heather Hood
  • Invisible Battles – R.J. Ladon
  • With Royal Beauty Bright – Nicholas Arkison
  • The Switchman’s Lantern – James Pyles

The other authors got together to discuss their stories, and it is really interesting to hear about how things came together.

 

So, if you’ve got a few extra dollars you can spare, and you’re in need of something hopeful to read, please consider donating to Bonnie’s fund.  Enjoy!

World War II – Einstein’s Letter

The false peace of the Munich Agreement was tailing off in August of 1939.  Preparations for the invasion of Poland were beginning. Secret negotiations between the USSR and Nazi Germany were underway.

In the United States, Albert Einstein, a Jew who had escaped the Nazi’s, penned a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt that predicted the eventual end of the coming war:

Albert Einstein
Old Grove Road
Peconic, Long Island
August 2nd, 1939

F.D. Roosevelt
President of the United States
White House
Washington, D.C.

Sir:

Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. I believe therefore that it is my duty to bring to your attention the following facts and recommendations.

In the course of the last four months it has been made probable through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard in America–that it may be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.

This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable–though much less certain–that extremely powerful bombs of this type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove too heavy for transportation by air.

The United States has only very poor ores of uranium in moderate quantities. There is some good ore in Canada and former Czechoslovakia, while the most important source of uranium is in the Belgian Congo.

In view of this situation you may think it desirable to have some permanent contact maintained between the Administration and the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America. One possible way of achieving this might be for you to entrust the task with a person who has your confidence and who could perhaps serve in an unofficial capacity. His task might comprise the following:

a) to approach Government Departments, keep them informed of the further development, and put forward recommendations for Government action, giving particular attention to the problem of securing a supply of uranium ore for the United States.

b) to speed up the experimental work, which is at present being carried on within the limits of the budgets of University laboratories, by providing funds, if such funds be required, through his contacts with private persons who are willing to make contributions for this cause, and perhaps also by obtaining co-operation of industrial laboratories which have necessary equipment.

I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium from the Czechoslovakian mines which she has taken over. That she should have taken such early action might perhaps be understood on the ground that the son of the German Under-Secretary of State, von Weizsacker, is attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, where some of the American work on uranium is now being repeated.

Yours very truly,

SignatureAlbert Einstein

Book Review – Taghri’s Prize

Peter Grant has a new book on the streets, Taghri’s Prize.

Taghri has left the Sultan’s army to seek his fortune – and he seizes opportunity when it knocks. In the confusion of a pirate raid on a trading caravan, he kills their leader and captures their ship. The vessel is now his prize of war… but some prizes may be more trouble than they’re worth!

Nestled among the gold coins in the captain’s cabin is a stolen Temple sacrificial knife, whose Goddess is now paying close attention – too close! – to its new owner. Among the slaves he’s freed is a princess, formerly being held for ransom, who comes with political and personal intrigues all her own. Even if he survives the attention of both, there’s also a pirate lord out there, hell-bent on avenging the death of his son.

It’s going to take all of Taghri’s skill, experience and cunning to survive winning this prize!

Grant is one of my favorite storytellers, and I’m thrilled that he is stretching out into a new realm.  Taghri’s Prize deals with a setting that is unique in recent fantasy fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Grant’s world.

The story flows very well. It’s got action, romance, pirates, and a whole lot more that fans of Conan and John Carter will enjoy.  Taghri is no barbarian by any means, but a lot of the elements that I enjoyed in Cimmeria and Barsoom show up in Taghri’s Prize.

Taghri, the eponymous main character, is well fleshed out after only a few chapters, and the other characters develop over the course of the book.  I am really interested in seeing where Grant takes this ensemble in later stories.

If you enjoy a good swashbuckler, I think you’ll enjoy Taghri’s Prize.

Musings

  • I got a very nice letter from the new Mercedes dealership today urging me to bring my truck in for a trade-in.
    • Apparently they’re desperate for 7 year old plain-jane F150’s at the high-end Euromobile store.
    • Unfortunately, Mercedes doesn’t make a long-bed truck.
    • I did, however, see a crew cab, 8 foot bed, F250 today and I got very covetous.
  • Question – How many pleats can a kilt have before the balding hipster has to admit that he’s cross-dressing?
    • There has to be line separating “rugged individualist” from “flouncy”
  • When the orthopedic nurse winces at your xray, maybe you’ve let your joints go too far.
  • I’m going to be having surgery soon to fuse a knuckle in my trigger finger.  This will mean I either have to learn to shoot left handed or use my middle finger.  Since I shoot mainly to relieve stress, the middle finger isn’t a bad option.
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