Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Starting off the New Year!

Greetings 2013, and happy New Year to all of you.

As much as I would like to ring in the new year with some poetic narrative talking bout my life, I'm sort of tapped out right now. All of my creative energy has been focused into my writing as of late.

Speaking of which, lets start the bullet points off right and talk about my writing for a moment.

Writing: Two years ago I entered NaNoWriMo (2011) with only the faintest idea of what I was going to write; a rough-sketch story growing out of an off-the-cuff comment my wife made about writing something Ninja vs Samurai. Well, by the end of the month I had beat Nano, and was fast on my way to finished my book. When it was done, about mid January if I recall correctly, I handed it out to beta readers, and got back strong positive reviews. So, for 2012, I decided to write a sequel was appropriate, and I spent a good portion of the year putting together the outline for the next Nano. Sadly, however, November was a mess for writing, first with Izumicon at the beginning of the month, and then with my parents coming to visit, and finally with myself being hospitalized for four days with a critical infection. Needless to say, Nano didn't happen.

However, as life does, I did get some insight into things that let me reshape the book. There have definitely been lots of fits and starts, and even thought I have written over 100 pages, I have thrown all but a hand full of them out because they weren't the story I wanted to write, and my characters deserve to have their story told. But the good news is that as of the afternoon of 1/1/13, I'm 38 pages in (and still hammering away), and the story very much captures the characteristics that made the first one work so well.

Health: Yes, funny I should mention that. My health is... well, not as healthy as I would like. You see, between being overweight and a cancer survivor, I now have about 5 specialists (Doctors and otherwise) who are happy to harp on me about not only getting in better shape, but remind me that I need to stay in therapy as much as possible or else I might wide up back in the hospital. The major issues are (In no particular order):

My weight- By every chart every published in the US, I am “morbidly obese” and hectically have one foot in the grave. This besides the fact that my bloodwork is, and has always been excellent, my blood pressure is good, my overall activity level is higher than most office workers, and my blood sugar is normal. Bottom line, while I will never make the cover of a magazine, and I do have weight I would like to loose, I'm still fending off some linger comments about needing to “immediately loose weight or else my life will fall apart”... I'll tell you, it gets a little old after... oh... 10 years.

My Cancer- Yeah, well, you see beating cancer isn't the instant victory lap you might think. It came once, and at least in my case, they don't have any idea what caused it, so there is no ruling it a repeat visit. Honestly, I've more or less come to terms with the fact that I'm going to spend the rest of my life as a lab rat, and that's okay. But none the less, when a new doc asks for medical history, the conversation invariably goes “well, I had cancer...” and then I have to say “no no no, I don't smoke, I don't drink, none of my relatives have died of cancer... calm down and listen to me.” Truly through, I'm not complaining. The process is more or less part of my life now, and I'm okay with that.

The lymph nodes- yeah, short and sweet these are the human body's waste-water management system, and when you get a backup there, things don't go well. The cancer diagnosis was Lymphoma, and the scar tissue it left behind really borked (couldn't resist) things in my leg. That's what put me in the hospital over Thanksgiving, and right now, the only thing forestalling a repeat performance is regular physical therapy and a lot of really uncomfortable accessories to my wardrobe. I'll be wearing compression shorts and a compression stalking for the rest of my life, more or less, and yeah... I'm not too thrilled with it.

Anyway, moving on.

Work: Let me tell you, Dell has been good to me. When I was doing the Chemo thing, they bent over backwards to get me a schedule that would let me do chemo and not eat all of my time off. When I needed time, they gave it to me, and when I needed a break, they were there for me. Still, certain things at work are done by the numbers, literally, and one of those is what schedule you get. When I was on my 4x10/Sun-Wed routine, my numbers tanked. It not that I was a bad employee, but I just wasn't as good as everyone else in a highly competitive network. So, when I went into fall of this year, I literally had last pick of what schedule I wanted, and got a really ugly slot because of it. Its not anyone's fault, its literally numbers, there is no human judgment, there are measurements and triggers and this and that.. its a 1s and 0s system, void of compassion, but also void of corruption. So, yeah, I got stuck in an armpit assignment for the winter.

The good news, however, is that as of this past week, my being back on a M-F shift has given me the foothold I need to come back, and come back swinging. I went for 120th to 17th in the nation-wide network, number 3 in my team, and 9 at the OKC site. This act alone has silenced a few skeptics who saw my early strong performance as beginner's luck. Even some strong advocates of mine are currently making some informal apologies to me after misjudging some week numbers as possible being shortcoming on my part rather than the product of a really screwy schedule this summer.

I'm not mad at anyone, this summer was rough all round, and I knew going into it that my numbers were going to be the first causality of the process. But, I'm here to talk about it now, so I can't complain too much, right? The good news is that we're all looking forward, seeing what we have going for us, and moving on. I don't have anyone looking over my shoulder waiting for my next screw-up.

Home: Well, what can I say... I have messy floors, empty shelves, unwashed laundry and a very fool life. I'm still married after 12 years (and that is following a two year engagement and a year of dating), and we're the proud parents of a 7 year old who is scary-smart, and getting more so every day. I wish I could say more about them, but right now my lie is so hectic, and my schedule so screwy that I quite literally don't get to see them as much as I want. Sigh...

SCA: this part is really easy, it isn't happening. With my current schedule, I'm not able to make meetings at all, so 90% of SCA if just on hold this quarter. 

Yeah, that part just plane sucks. 

Life: yeah, my life is interesting. Just as soon as my break is over (read: tomorrow), I'm back in the therapists office at 8am. That lasts about an hour, and then I come home, call that about 9:15. I have enough time to get lunch packed for work, maybe make a hot beverage as well for my thermos, pack my bags, and then I'm off and running again. I need to be out the door by 10:30 at the latest in order to make it to the office with a safe buffer of time. I like to roll out earlier, so call it ten. Anyway... there is is, I get there, clock in and start work at noon, and then work for 9 hours (including a lunch break), and then turn around and drive home. Yeah, I don't see anywhere near as much of my son as I would like.

The bag: A while ago I wrote aboutpurchasing a backpack and more or less making it into a little bit of a everything bag for me so I had all my critical when and if I would need them. As it turned out, that paid off. When I was admitted to the hospital, I had my phone charger, clean whites, my toiletries kit and even drink packets. I wouldn't call it a game changer, but it was nice to be one step ahead of the situation. This one gets filed under the Win column.


I actually have a few irons in the fire here.

Robotech: by wife got me the first three books for my birthday two years ago, and I'm still working through them. Good reads, just I need to be in the mood to sit down.

Vortex: I downloaded an old Larry Bond war novel for my Kindle, and am enjoying it immensely. Bod writes WWIII scenarios, and does so really well, talking about the politics and the technology of whatever version of the next war he is hypothesizing. Cauldron, which I read in high school, was WWIII with France and German trying to take over Europe, and the US and Poland aligning to be the first major roadblock to their otherwise unchecked conquest. Really good read, and Vortex, which is South Africa starting a global conflict, is so far matching pace really well.

Death has a Name: this is an independent title by a friend of mine. I promised him I would read it, but its been slow going. I'm not an overt fan of the supernatural genera, so I'm always reluctant to sit down and invest time in it, but its' still clearly on my to-do list.

Destroyermen: I really need to get back to this one! The Series has a fun premise, a 1920 vintage destroyer is pulled from the opening months of WW2 and shot into an alternate world where humans didn't evolve, and technology is more or less per-victorian. There are some cliche moments, but overall, the first book was well worth the read, and I have the second book in the series sitting on my desk as I write this.


Thanks to Podiobooks.com, I have been able to download and listen to a number of really good titles in free (and legal) format.

Emperors edge: this is a really cool fantasy/steam punk action/mystery series. Kind of mash-up, but really fun, and keeps your attention. Highly recommended, all around.

The Cowery Catchers: Another fantasy series, I started this a few months ago and really enjoy the writing. The author says in the opening of each episode that if you have to ask if you will be offended, you probably will be, and by the third book, she's right. The story takes some turns and says some stuff that's hard on the ears, but I still felt the story was compelling enough to muscle through it and see what happened. Will start book 4 later on, I am catch up on a few other things right now.  

TV: oh, do I have some shows to watch now (thanks to Christmas!)

The Equalizer, season 1. If you don't know what this is, I feel sorry for you. If you do, then I don't really need to tell you how awesome a show it is, right?

Sole Eater. This is an interesting Amine about a high-school aged girl who is a student at a school run by the grim reaper where they teach kids how to find and hill daemons and witches. The whole show has some grim humor and really dark moments, but its also classic amine in that it's over the top and funny in a lot of places too. I'm not all the way through it, but I'm liking where I'm at.

Bamboo blade: Another amine, this is about a girls kendo team in Japan. Nothing really original, but the story is mostly character driver, about a bunch of totally different girls who only really have kendo in common, yet manage to bond. Fun show, we still have a few episodes to go, but I really like it.

Rideback: I'm only seen the first few episodes, but this one definitely looks like it will be fun. Another entry into the Mecha genera of Anime, this is about a former ballet dancer who uses her natural skill and balance to pilot a robotic 2-wheeled robot that can generally transition between a dirt-bike configuration and a humanoid biped. The action sells the show for me, really paying good tribute to both modern technology, and the idea that the pilot still makes the machine work.

Falling Skies season 1. Okay, I've already seen this, but I haven't shown my wife, so that's still on the to-do list. Bottom line, is this is the first to do a good treatment of the alien invasion idea (IMHO). The world is more or less overthrown in no-time, and all that's left are resistant fighters slugging it out in an unconventional warfare scenario. It would almost be a dry sell if it weren't for the fact that the hero is a college history professor turned resistance deputy leader. Between the action scenes, which are actually well done, and the social/political/what are we fighting sore, the show is really well done, and an excellent balance of all the things that make a good war story for me. Also, this show joins a growing list of productions that have taken intellectual actors and make them them intellectual characters who are also bad-asses. In this case, Noah Wyle playing Tom Mason.

Okay, I guess that's as much as I want to ramble on about. Happy new years, and I'll keep you all informed as the year goes on.  

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