ChimneyMy thumbs hurt. I'm not sure why. I was probably careless with my weightlifting. I'll try to stay off of them for a couple of days and see if that helps. My hands and wrists are always right on the hairy edge of an injury. I type a lot--probably more than is healthy. It's such a hard life that I lead.

I had a small fire yesterday. Years ago, I built a fire every cold day. I stopped that when the furnace blocked up and nearly killed me. Keeping the chimney clean is harder with the metal roof. I have a million excuses. The biggest reason that I quit having fires is that I grew tired of them. Perhaps I'll start again some day. Yesterday, before I had my fire, I took a picture of the chimney to be sure that everything was clear. It wasn't perfect, but it was plenty clean enough for a fire.

I'm just four days away from completing my first month of reclusion. It seems like it just started. I've barely touched my food stores, which is odd. I suppose that I filled the refrigerator so thoroughly that I'm just now clearing it out.

I have to remember to look at something far away tomorrow. Focusing on the horizon is supposed to be good for the eyes and mental health. I'm probably missing out on that since I don't drive around (or leave the house). I have to remember to do that.  

I wish I had something interesting to say.

Sprouts

Everything is going well here. I'm deep into my final draft of "Madelyn's Nephew." I'll release it in about a week. I'm very exicited to introduce Madelyn to you. I think she's tough, smart, and funny, and I really like her. My favorite heroes aren't backed screaming into a corner by a threat--they recognize the threat early and then they prepare themselves. When they back into the corner, it's because they're luring the threat into a place where it can't get away. For me, Madelyn is that hero about twenty years after she has defeated her last monster.

"Madelyn's Nephew" is the first of three. "Madelyn's Mistake," and "Madelyn's Last Dance" will follow later this year.

My lettuce is coming along nicely. The sprouts are showing their second leaves today. I'll be transferring them out of the sprouting tray in a few days. 

I saw the trailer for "10 Cloverfield Lane" today. It's scheduled to be released March 16. I suspect it will be the first movie I see when I leave the house. I've also lined up a dentist appointment and a visit to the doctor. It's going to be a busy, confusing April. It's difficult for me to believe that for 25 days I haven't left a hundred yard radius (maybe less). It all seems so normal. 

Next winter, I may build a bunker like this

NielsenI won the lottery today! No, not the silly Powerball, or whatever everyone has been talking about. I won the Nielsen lottery! I've always wanted to have the Nielsen company contact me about my important opinions about what's good on TV. Today, they did! They sent me $5 and a survey to fill out with the promise of $5 more. They asked me how many people live here and my age. I answered everything honestly. I can only hope that they're desperately seeking the opinions of reclusive people in their late 40s who watch 1~2 hours of TV a day.

Maybe I should have lied. I hope I didn't blow my one and only chance to have my opinions finally matter.

Oh, how I'd love to be the final vote that puts a knife through the heart of every multi-camera, laugh-tracked sitcom in prime time. I would single-handedly bring back Firefly and Jericho to fill their place. 

In the box where they asked my favorite network or show, I put "The Walking Dead." If you listen hard enough, you can hear my survey answers being shredded right now. 

BarnDoorWe're getting typical weather for a nice January in Maine--50s and rain. Last year at this time, it was -24° and we have 49 inches of snow on the ground. You just can't make sense of it. How windy is it? It's so windy that the back door of my barn fell off. I went out to do my evening chores, and I saw that it was hanging by one roller and twisting in the wind. It took a solid hour of wrestling before I was able to get it back into place.

Barn emergencies are the worst. There's nothing to do but fix them right then and there. You can't leave it for tomorrow because something could happen to a horse. And I'm down to one horse out there already.

It's all fixed now. I did my chores and tied the doors shut. Typical.

HydroponicLettuceI'm starting to run low on a couple of things. I only have lettuce enough for one salad. I have no tomatoes. My hydroponic lettuce is begging to sprout, but it will still be weeks before I'm able to harvest. If I do this experiment again, I'll have to start growing lettuce in November.

Other things I'm going to run out of reasonably soon: cream, milkbones, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, and laundry detergent. (just kidding about those last five)

I'm going to try Jet.com for laundry detergent. Some of the stuff on Jet is way cheap. Other things are normal price. You have to shop around. I'm closing in on a cover for Madelyn's Nephew, which is good. I should have that out easily in a couple of weeks. I'm really enjoying the HIIT workouts on YouTube. Instead of doing the cardio in P90x, I've substituted the HIIT workouts on those days. They're much more difficult. Plus, it's good for a change.

Sales have slowed down in January. I'm hoping Madelyn brings them back. She ought to be able to--as far as I can tell, that woman is pretty tough. We had a little snow this morning even though Siri promised me last night that there was none coming. My Siri has a male voice. I might switch to the female to see if she's any better at predicting the weather. My horse (Rocky) is pretty damn bored. This is his first winter without a pasture-pal in ten years. He doesn't like it one bit.

We watched a pretty good Austrian horror movie last night called "Goodnight Mommy." I liked it a lot. 

Today, something was scratching at the laundry room door. Finn heard it too. There was nothing there and no tracks in the snow. Good times.

I've been thinking of places I might like to go in April--exotic locations, like Target and Home Depot. Can you imagine?

JD growth v pop growthI just had a major revelation. Now, this revelation came to me right on the heels of a pretty intense workout, when I was swaying on my feet, so please take it with a grain of salt. Chances are I won't even remember writing it later. But...

(I'm making all of this up.)

The problem with politics in the US is efficiency. As US manufacturing jobs became more and more efficient, the volume of jobs decreased, pushing the sons and daughters of the lower-middle class to service industry jobs. Insurance, healthcare, and law boomed. Here's the thing with lawyers--they don't have the luxury of being wrong. Even if they're on the wrong side of an argument (especially if they are), they will twist and dodge and try to find another loophole to squirm through.

It has to be impossible to come through the door, hang up your coat, and leave that all behind.

"Did you remember to pick up eggs?" the spouse might ask.

"How could I? It's ninety degrees out," the lawyer replies.

"But I don't see what that has to do with..."

"I would have to shut the engine off when I went into the store, wouldn't I? Would a reasonable person expect the car to start again in this heat? Where would I be then, with eggs in my hand an no way home?"

"But didn't it start when you left the office?"

"Or would I leave the car running and have some hoodlum abscond with my vehicle? Again, I would have no way home?"

"But you always had a way..."

"And might a reasonable person conclude that said eggs might boil in the shell in this heat? You instructed me to purchase fresh eggs. Am I to assume that hardboiled would substitute just as well?"

The arugment from that simple question might take the rest of the evening to play out, assuming a reasonable number of rebuttal witnesses were called. The spouse might eventually take one of three approaches to coping with a lawyer in the house-- 1) abstain from argument, 2) try to engage in the sport of argument, or 3) go "full crazy." (By the way, my mother often chose the "full crazy" route, just screaming, "Well, goddammit, fine." and making meatloaf for Thanksgiving)

The children of a lawyer don't have much of a choice. They learn the techiques of dodge, twist, avoid, and deflect before they're even in high school. None of the skills imparted include reflecting or reconsidering. This is the same way a lion teaches their offspring to hunt. They teach them through play. Go ahead, ask my father where he keeps his scissors. I'll wait. 

He didn't give you a straight answer, did he? You see, a straight answer is a verifiable fact, and those are the enemies of practicing law. 

Forty-one percent of the 113th Congress were lawyers. Nearly half of our political process are people who don't have the ability to evaluate a set of facts and come up with a considered conclusion. They know their position going in. And that's what's wrong with politics. 

Oh, and lobbyists. Them too.

GrowLights

Working on my hydroponic lettuce project, I set up the grow lights on a counter in the kitchen today. It took about ten minutes before I wanted to vomit. It's unbelievable how quickly those lights made me nauseous! I'm never bothered by flickering lights, or refresh rates on monitors, so I was stunned to discover that I have no tolerance for these purple nightmare lights. Have you ever gotten sick from reading in the back seat of a moving car? It was like that. In fact, I don't even like looking at the photo of them.

I went online to see if I'm the only one with this problem. Apparently, I am. I'll have to set up this whole thing in the spare bathroom or somewhere I don't go. The basement is too cold. We get about fifteen minutes of sun this time of year, so I'll have to use the lights. Before I search for replacement lights, I'll see if these "grow" on me. Hilarious.

In other news, my trash pickup starts tomorrow morning. I've already packed my trashcans and lined them up in the driveway like kids waiting for the schoolbus. I've lived here for fourteen years and I've always hauled my trash to the dump myself. I didn't like the idea of collecting garbage in the garage for three months though. So I'm going to become one of those fancy people who pay someone to pick up their garbage. So fancy.

I'm almost done with my second draft of Madelyn's Nephew. I really like that book. I hope you'll like it too. It will be a part of a trilogy, I think. I'm also working on the first draft of the second book, which doesn't yet have a name. I will do whatever I can to finish the story in three books instead of four, because I hate all the names for a four-book series. Tetralogy, quadrilogy, and quartet are all equally bad.  

If you don't see another blog post in the coming weeks, it's because I've been hauled off by the police. I expect that all the hydroponic equipment that I've purchased has raised a flag somewhere. I expect my house to be raided at any moment.

 

 

AdorableMooseI had a vivid memory today. Back in 2004 my grandmother died. That same year, a few months later, my adorable dog Moose almost died. (Yes, I know, half of my life is spent on sick dogs.) Moose had bladder stones and he filled up with urine. He had emergency surgery to have them out. The problem turned out to be a congenital defect where he couldn't process cystine and it formed crystals in his bladder. So much fun!

Here's why I thought of it--I had to keep close watch over that dog for ten days. I got a laptop and figured how to work from home. I slept in the living room because he couldn't handle steps for fear that he would tear his sutures. For that time, I was a complete shut-in. I liked it. I remember having a vivid realization: with each day I spent in the house, the idea of leaving became more and more distressing.

At the time, I blamed it on depression. I was very close with my grandmother and her death undercut my foundation. But I'm feeling the same thing now and I couldn't be less depressed. 

Am I going stir crazy? No.

Am I nuturing my budding agoraphobia? Possibly.

Whatever. It's no big deal. I'm making really good progress on my books. I mean real progress, for everyone who keeps quoting The Shining to me. Trust me, I know the movie.

"Now, we're going to make a new rule. When you come in here and you hear me typing or whether you don't hear me typing, or whatever the fuck you hear me doing; when I'm in here, it means that I am working. That means don't come in. Now, do you think you can handle that?"

That's something interesting that just occurred to me--I've had a couple of books now that were mostly clean. Accidental Evil had six shits and zero fucks. The new book, Madelyn's Nephew doesn't have anything stronger than two bullshits. Why? I dunno. I don't have a particular reason to keep adult language out of my books. I think everyone who reads them is perfectly capable of dealing with a few casual curses. For some reason, they just didn't feel right. I'll write a particularly dirty story when I'm done with these. That will liven things up again.

It's a great feeling to crack open a draft I wrote a while ago and start to work on it again. I can see my thoughts there, hidden behind the words. I can teleport back to those feelings and recognize myself as a person independent from my current self. Sometimes the ideas there surprise me and I realize that people shrink as much as they grow. It's like pizza dough you're trying to push to the limits of the pan. Here and there it gets to thin and a hole breaks through. Those holes are in our souls, man. #TeenagePhilosophy

PonyBoyHappy New Year! 

I guess it's time to take down the decorations. Maybe tomorrow. Today I spent a lot of quality time with stories. On Ms. Roundy's advice, I've cracked open one of the books on my stack. I didn't get a ton of reading done in 2015. I was always busy doing a poor job at proofing one of my own books. But it's necessary to read other novels. Just seeing the way that other people put together a story is crucial. My favorite book of last year was probably The Martian. I loved that I could trust Andy Weir to get all the science right. Even if he didn't get everything perfect, it was all good enough to fool me.

The forward of a book used to really turn me off. I wanted to dive into the action. I really enjoy them now. I like to form an image of the author sitting down to tell me the tale. I want to get a sense of their voice as they warm up to the story. Yes, they should disappear and leave me with the impression that the story has always been there and will always be. But even if I can't see the strings, it's good to know that there's a kindhearted puppeteer behind the scenes. 

With my next book, I'm going to try to make sure that the ending has the same heart as the beginning. When the world is new, and we're just getting to know everyone, I think I paint a much warmer picture. By the ending, everything seems fatigued and flat. Perhaps I should do another edit out of order and see if that helps. I like that idea. But, I also need to make sure that I keep my pace up. Last year was good to me (especially the second half), but only when I kept a good pace of releases. As soon as I stop putting out books, everything begins to go cold. If sales decline too far, I'll have no choice but to live out of the freezer.

I won't put a forward on my next book. I'm not that kindhearted of a puppeteer. I've tried to write them before, and it felt phony. It's all I can do to put a note at the end. 

Take care, and Happy New Year.

 

CarOnRoadI had a panic moment today--dog licenses! I have to renew in January or else animal control gets really testy. I finally found the form online. The crisis was averted, or at least it will be on the first. I'm definintely not getting as much done as I thought I would. Or maybe I'm getting the wrong things done. I spent a while today cleaning up my office. I installed a towel bar in the bathroom. I finally replaced one of the outlets that has been bothering me. These little tasks don't feel like the kind of thing I should be focusing on. It feels like I'm getting ready for something that's about to happen. 

Nothing is going to happen.

My sleep was troubled last night. I dreamt only about things that had actually happened to me during the day. I watched "Bob's Burgers." I installed a water filter in the laundry room. I drank a cup of coffee. Those things happened both during the day and in my dreams. Each time I woke up, I realized that I was more and more bored by my dreams. I'm going to have to find a way to expose myself to new sights and sounds.

Speaking of which, one interesting thing happened tonight. I was walking through the house when I saw a car's brake lights come on. As I looked through the window, I saw what the car's headlights saw--someone had pulled out to the end of their driveway and stopped. The stopped car had no lights on. The car on the road came to a stop and turned on its hazard lights. My mind raced. What did they see? I thought maybe the driver of the stopped car had spilled halfway out the driver's seat and was unconscious in the snow.

The driver with the hazard lights got out with a flashlight and rounded thier car. This action was taking place just beyond the corner of my property, so I could barely see what was happening from my vantage point. As I watched, the driver investigated the stopped car. After that, they got back into their car and sat. I don't know what they're doing now. They could have called the police or an ambulance. I have no way of knowing what they found.

So now I'm waiting to see what happens. Maybe I'll dream up an interesting ending tonight. 

 

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