Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Resolutions, 2012

This year I resolve to. . .

I don't know what.


That's how I began my post on 1/1/2009, three years ago. Of course I had a lot to resolve and I made some progress. But nothing that I put on my list had a specific end-date. I'll include all the same things this year--it doesn't mean I didn't do anything with them the last three years; it simply illustrates how important these things are to me. I could add to the list, but I like to take this once a year opportunity to remind myself of what's really important in life, to regain my perspective. I could add some professional goals, I suppose, but I won't (go back and read the previous sentence). So for 2012, I resolve to:
  1. Focus on my health, get my annual physical early in the year, lose a few pounds, exercise regularly
  2. Be a good husband, do what I can to keep the pressure (I won't go into detail here, but the "pressures" are real and many) off my wife, remind her often that I love her
  3. Be a good father, set the right example in all that I do, work to stay involved in my son's life, even as his world expands;
  4. If there's any time left, write more, sell some books;

GHG

Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Giveaway--Goodreads

The Giveaway ended 12/15 at midnight--congrats to the winners and thanks to all who entered (nearly 500 people). We shipped the books the day the winners were announced, Friday, 12/16, and hopefully they'll arrive before Christmas. Thanks again to all!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Website

I've just finished setting up a new website that provides links to book previews, my BadHouse Books eStore, Amazon, this blog, It's not too fancy, but is perfectly functional, especially given the budget and time constraints.  I'll keep working on it as I have more to add, but for now it should be sufficient to provide access to all of my work.  http://www.badhousebooks.com

Sunday, October 30, 2011

More profanity, again, really?

I understand your dilemma--you want your work to appeal to a broad market no matter who or what market seems the logical target. You don't want to exclude, insult, or offend, but that's almost impossible with some stories. I honestly believe (and this is what we teach our children) that there is usually another way to express strong emotion, surprise, anger, etc. And, I don't believe it takes anything away from the story. I've struggled with this in my two most recent works because a kid is a main character--so I used phrases like, "he spewed obscenities," or "the next words out of his mouth embarrassed him when he recalled the incident." Maybe a little far-fetched for work of a darker nature, but I think it's worth a little extra time to look for a little more imaginative way. That said, the 'f' word is perhaps the most versatile word in the English language; it can be used as a prefix, suffix, and in its various forms can be any part of speech; but, "like" and "you know" work similarly and likewise do nothing for a story.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Great Family Adventure

The first in my Dan Madison and Mike Madison adventure novels, Mike Madison, Intrepid Explorer, is now available on Amazon and Kindle.  Before critics start--this is clearly not the Great American Novel, I am not John Steinbeck, don't pretend to be.  My grammar is suspect in some spots and in spite of multiple edits, there are still typos in the published work.  Nevertheless, I think they're pretty good stories, suitable for a family--most of the ideas came to me as I struggled to entertain my son when he was 5, 6, 7 years old--and there's no profanity, no sex, and limited violence.

I am editing the next episodes and will likely publish early next year.  Mike, his dad, and an ever expanding cast of characters, take on more challenges--it's tentatively titled "Friends and Foes?"  Follow this link to the Preview site and please give me your feedback. 
https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1089774 

OR, click on the title to buy the book directly from the publisher.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Liver and Onions

Somebody asked me recently what my favorite food was--and that's really an impossible question to answer. I love to eat and have many favorites.  On the other hand, my least favorite foods are easy.  I had a terrible nightmare once when I was a boy--I dreamed I heard that tune that the ice-cream truck played as it drove down our street.  It's been a favorite tune of kids across the country for generations and still sends kids, of all ages, into a near frenzy to get out there before the truck passed.  I was a little too old to run to Mom and Dad, so I scrambled around my room scraping up change until I thought I had enough for a Popsicle and dashed out the front door.  I raced out just in time to stop the truck right in front of our house, but then . . . I screamed, my heart fell as I read the sign on the side of the truck, "Brussel Sprouts & Liver on a Stick."

I'm sure I woke shivering, heart pounding, in a cold sweat.  Liver still does that to me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

Years ago while I was living and working in California I was in a meeting with a dozen or so managers (reporting to me) and during a break I asked, just out of curiosity, who among the group was following the Stephen Breyer hearings.  Only one person had any idea who Breyer was.  I asked, "who knows what the senate judiciary committee does?"  No one knew.  These people weren't dummies.  They were mid-level managers for an international company, some college educated, all very bright, but not one knew that we were about to get a new Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  I told them all I knew about Breyer and the confirmation process and the conversation gradually turned to the "government," the upcoming elections, and I was stunned to learn that not a single person planned to vote.  We were in the wrong setting for me to voice my opinion too strongly, but I couldn't help delving into the reasons behind this.  One manager, for whom I had great respect, put it most succinctly, "No matter who gets elected on Tuesday, I will still have to get up at 4:30 AM on Wednesday, get my kids and husband up, dressed, fed, off to work, or daycare, get myself to work, work all day and into the night taking care of all I have to do--and then I'll do the same things all over again on Thursday.  Nothing will change for me, or people like me."  The group applauded. 

It is a sad commentary on our times but I'll bet there are more people like that manager than there are like me.  Actually, we're not that far apart.  That group, a probable majority of Americans, have so little faith in the process that they simply refuse to participate.  They don't trust politicians to "represent" them or their interests, or to act responsibly in managing the public funds, to make wise decisions to protect the welfare of the general public (as opposed to the 1%'ers).  I agree with all that, but I go through the motions anyway.  I try to select the best candidates, I vote, I write (emails) to my congressmen, governors, president, etc., but have very little faith in them--any of them.

The irony of all this is that our "elected" officials are elected by a very small group, not a majority of eligible voters.  If, IF, more people would vote, we'd have better leaders, we'd quickly vote out any that didn't perform--but how do we get people to vote?  The candidates don't comport themselves very well, none really offer details of plans--when I say details, I mean DETAILS, not "I'll create more jobs."  How will you do it?  What will your legislation say?  What tactics will you use to get opponents to vote for your legislation?  What guarantees will there be, what safeguards?  Stop spending all your time and money telling me how worthless your opponent or the incumbent is!  HELLO!?  I'M WAITING!

P.S.  All the managers in that meeting knew all the names of the characters in the OJ Simpson drama unfolding during that time.  Sad, huh?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

LSU, character

I've been an ardent LSU fan all my life.  I went to school there, but I'm not happy with recent events and I'm changing my allegiance this week.  I hope OSU beats them 40 to nothing.  Les Myles and the school administration need to learn not to give $100,000 scholarships to thugs just because they can run fast or throw a football.  I guess I'm just getting old.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Exactly how will you do that?

I've had it with politicians.  I try every election to get informed, to identify in my mind, as least, what the most important issues are and then I listen intently to find out exactly what the different candidates will do to fix things.  I listen, and wait, and listen, and wait and all I hear is this:  'The Democrats have done everything wrong, they don't care about families or businesses or our soldiers--if I get elected I will focus on the economy, focus on jobs, focus on making America great again.'  That's crap--how will you do these things?  Exactly what will you do?  What specifically will you do?  I've heard in all the subtle and not so subtle ways that Obama is a traitor, but what would you do after you get elected?  Don't keep telling me everything that Obama did wrong, tell me what you will do.

I don't believe Obama is a traitor--I believe he cares deeply about America and its people; I don't believe he caused the current economic problems.  I know that greed and a lack of oversight caused it and Obama did the best he could to fix it, in spite of  the fact that the other party stood idly by and did nothing but point figures and try to place blame, or cover their butts.  I'm still waiting to hear how Rick Perry created so many jobs in Texas--exactly what did he do?  How did he do it?  Does anything he did translate to other states or the nation as a whole?

I've lost my patience and my interest is rapidly waning.  No one is answering my questions.  This weekend I'll write to my Senators and Congressman, as I do often, and try to get some answers, but I'm not optimistic I'll hear anything of substance.

 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gypsy Fortune Teller

Gary Shilling, and others of his ilk, are responsible for the recession.  I submit this as an irrefutable fact.  And now, Shilling has predicted another recession next year, to be accompanied (or perhaps caused by) a 20% fall in home values.  What the news-writers miss is that by publishing Shilling's prediction they lend it credibility.  Thus investors, would-be home buyers, are afraid to purchase, which reduces demand, leads to greater increases in already over-abundant supply--and causes prices to be driven down.  In other words, it's not 'natural' market forces (supply/demand) that will drive down value, it's Shilling's prediction.  If other people with Shilling's credentials said, "I see a slow but steady recovery," people would be encouraged--they would begin to spend money on new houses.  All that has to happen to keep some control on prices then--to keep them from ballooning as they have at other times, is for banks and mortgage lenders to exercise greater care in approving loans; and, not just to buyers, but conservative in approving construction loans for speculative builders and developers.  There may be emotional demand, but practical demand will be limited to truly 'able' buyers.

Personally, I don't see Shilling as any more credible nor important than Madame Zena, the fortune teller.  He can't know what will happen next year, but he can certainly influence actions in the future.  And, it's careless and irresponsible for him to do so.  I can't imagine his motivation--who or what will he help by his dire forecast?  His rich investor friends--maybe, but at whose expense?  The poor homeowner already upside down on his mortgage trying to unload?  The growing numbers of chronically unemployed on the brink of bankruptcy and foreclosure?

I suspect the truth is that Shilling is preparing the excuses that he'll use to defend portfolio losses--portfolios that his company manages.  It works this way--he'll encourage his investors to go all cash, then when stocks, bonds, real estate, tank next year, they won't suffer great losses.  And, by frightening everyone away from real estate, he's assuring there won't be any big gains that his clients might have missed.  He'll look golden to the morons who listen to him.  He'll get credit for predicting the recession, but in truth--he'll be the cause.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mike Madison

Just an update, I've held up publication of the first Mike Madison book to work with an illustrator to bring a little life, hopefully, to the print version. My brothers have been very good critics/editors and have made some helpful, provocative suggestions concerning character development, and I'll apply those ideas to the next volume, MM2. It'll take a while to do some re-write, but it'll be worth it in the long run.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

rock & roll

It was a great weekend with my brothers. We rocked out, in our own, old guy, reserve fashion, with Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top in Bossier City. Skynyrd, by the way was fantastic, one of the best shows I've ever seen, and of course, ZZ Top was ZZ Top. Unfortunately, I came down with a terrible cold during my flight to NO and by Saturday night I had nearly lost my voice. I couldn't sing along when they pointed the microphone toward the crowds, but I could hear fine. And, what I heard was pretty good.

We drove about 17 hours total, over the long weekend, so had a lot of time to talk. We reminisced a little, got caught up on family stuff, and then we solved most of the problems of the world. It's curious that the three of us cover the political spectrum from right to left, Tim on the right, me in the middle, and Phil on the left. I can't help but wonder where brother John would have stood on the topics we discussed. I suspect he would have been somewhere to the right, maybe even farther to the right than Tim. One thing I know for sure--he would have loved the concert.

More to come on the Brother's solutions to all the world's problems.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nigeria scam, Osama, Obama, MLB

Once a week or so I review my "draft" posts for anything that might be appropriate for publishing; and, though I consider some to be very interesting I'm hesitant to post any that might come across as too extreme. I recently deleted a few that were just over the top, and I've decided to log my opinions in a more civil manner.

One is about MLB and the ongoing controversy over steroids and HGH. HGH, by the way, is NOT a banned substance, though anabolic steroids were eventually declared illegal by the League, testing didn't begin for years after they were considered problematic (asterisks were added to the record books?). For starters, I think players who partake in performance enhancers are stupid--but not necessarily cheaters. Professional athletes have for years, probably forever, looked for an edge. Remember the sticky stuff that receivers used on their hands? Or, how about a spitball, or an emery board in the back pocket, or "corked" bats? How about the square grooves that golfers tried? Not to mention protein powders, multiple vitamins, etc., etc. I have stood in a batters box as a 90+ mph fastball zoomed by--and though I was a pretty good hitter, there is no substance that would enable me to hit one. I could move up in the box, shorten my swing, and do a pretty good job against a slow curve ball, but I cannot hit a 95 mph fastball. Barry Bonds could hit them BEFORE he was alleged to have used steroids--maybe he couldn't hit 73 of them out of park, but he could hit. And, 73 doesn't tell the whole story. He set records for BOB's because no one would pitch to him. Had they been foolish enough to challenge him every time he came up to the plate, he would have hit 90--and no juice has been made that would give that ability to anyone BUT the best hitter ever.

Next, this thing about Osama Bin Laden--I've seen headlines in the news like "Bin Laden unarmed when killed", "Daughter witnessed killing," and I don't care. Would it have been better if the Seals had engaged him in a "fair" fight? Like Bin Laden did the nearly 3000 people he murdered in the WTC? It's absurd to even mention that he was unarmed--he was an admitted murderer--he didn't just admit it, he reveled in it, his mission in life was to murder. He deserved to die just the way he did. I'm sorry his daughter witnessed it, sort of; but, extremists routinely strap bombs to the bodies of 12 year-olds, zealots come in all ages and genders, and in this case her Daddy put her in that position; what would the complainers have done? Asked her to leave the room? Postpone the operation? It took 10 years to find the guy--and again, he deserved to die just the way he did.

And, about the photos of the body, publish them? Don't publish them?--call me old fashioned, or call me a patriot--I trust that my Commander in Chief is telling me the truth. I know not every man that's held that job has been completely forthright, but this time I believe him.

Finally, I had six complete strangers offer me a total of 3.1 million dollars today. The daily average is about $2 million, so today was a good day. It's free money, according to the emails in my Spam folder. And, of course, that's what it is, SPAM. They're getting more imaginative, though not more sophisticated. They, the senders, still can't spell, still use awful grammar, but lately I've been getting a broader variety. Today one came from the FBI, another from the Bank of England, and a third was from Ms. Sarah, a recent widow, who doesn't want her inheritance to be absconded by the corrupt government, so she chose me from among everyone on earth to share a portion and help her safe guard the rest. I hope no one is still falling for this crap. They are all variations of the "Nigerian" scam, of course, but now come from all over. A friend recently suggested that rather than try to catch these people--they're elusive and catching them would be costly and time-consuming--let's just fry their computers. I know we have that ability, just click reply, send (with a deadly tojan embedded), and wipe out their hard drives. If we do that enough times, we'll shut 'em down, and all share a chuckle at their expense.

That's all for today--I hope I didn't offend anyone (too much).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Michael Madison

I recently completed the fifth in a series of not-so-short short stories about a kid named Michael Madison, who, along with his Dad, Dan, his Mom, Melanie, and a growing list of characters, gets involved in solving mysteries, of sorts. In the first story, with the working title of "The Legend of Ben Payne," Mike's persistence and tech skills lead to the unravelling of a hundred year old mystery involving a train robbery, a gold mining pair of brothers, and mysterious holes in the Madison's back yard. The Madison's curious dog, Wrigley, by the way, is our real dog, but Michael is not my son. Nor am I Dan Madison, although there are similarities; and there are some intentional, some inadvertent, similarities between real people and characters in the stories. I won't offer any disclaimer or apology. I've genuinely tried to be nice to everyone, and in creating the characters of Dan, Melanie, Mike, and their friends, I've endeavored to make them nice, gentle, kind, and generous--in honor of my Dad who was a true gentleman.

I will have "Ben Payne" for sale on one or another of the e-book sites sometime soon. If you stumble across my blog, take my word for it--it's a good story. The other four to follow soon are even better.

False Advertising

What's the point? My favorite airline, the one I use most because I like it, is always advertising "low, low fares," as low as $49. Well, it's almost true that the fares start at $49, but that's not what you'd pay for the one and only destination that's listed at $49. You also pay $3.70 Fed Excise tax per take-off and landing ($7.40 for a round trip), $9 PFC (Passenger Facility Charge), and $5 government mandated 9/11 security fee. So, you can't fly round trip to anywhere for $98 in spite of what the advertising says. It's at least $21 more than that--and that's if you pick the right days--the $49 starter figure is only good three or four days each week--it could go as high as $123 if you pick the wrong day, and it's a different day every week.

What if your favorite hamburger joint priced the same way? The overhead menu board says "Whopper--$0.50*" but the asterisk points you to the bottom of the page which says, "on the fifth Thursday of each month, does not include obligatory meat and cheese charge of $2 per Whopper, nor mandated FPCC (Fresh Produce & Condiment Charge) of $1, nor Parent Company imposed profit margin of $0.45 per transaction. Certain limits may apply.

Airlines aren't the worst, by the way. Have you ever really looked hard at your phone bill or electric utility bill?