Tag Archives: editing services

Selkirk Loop

Deb and I have decided to go up North for our anniversary this year.  Taking full advantage of having a live-in housesitter (our nephew can be tasked with this, and little enough is asked of him), we are going to get the heck out of here for a long weekend when the time comes.  We treat our anniversary as a pretty special holiday each year, truly celebrating it, looking back, sharing.  We drink champagne from Mullingar pewter goblets that were wedding gifts from my dear friend Domi, get each other special presents, and generally put effort into it.  This will be #13, which is important because before long, we will surpass the number she had with her ex-husband.

The Selkirk Loop circles from Newport, WA up through Metaline Falls to Salmo, BC, up to a ferry crossing at Balfour, BC over Kootenay Lake, then south to Creston, BC, Bonners Ferry, ID, Sandpoint, ID and back to Newport.  It goes through some very scenic terrain with great side trips and places to visit.  We are stoked:  Deb is an avid camera nut and we have good friends in the region who want to take us for the kind of scenic drive only locals know about.  Best of all, neither of us has been–I have been to Sandpoint, but only briefly, and I was on a mission. (No, not that kind of mission. I’m not LDS.)

If anyone has been up to this region, we’d love to hear your suggestions!


What not to do to heavily bearded people

This is a public service announcement from an owner of considerable facial shag (not that kind, jeez).

It is okay to stare at a heavy beard.  We are basically used to that.  Your kids will gawk up at us and even hide from us.  We’re used to that, too.

It’s not so okay to reach up and start playing with it without permission.  I have empathy for what pregnant women go through, with everyone rubbing the belly without leave.

It is okay to say you want to braid it.  However, it’s usually not very appealing when actually done.  And if you want to kill the chances of getting to braid it, don’t say ‘it would be so cuuuuuuute!’  Cuuuuuuute really isn’t the look bearded guys are going after.

It is dumb to ask ‘how long have you been growing that?’ Think about it.  Most of us eventually trim them off at the ends (may have done so for twenty years), so the question is pointless (and the first one everyone asks).  I’ve had mine thirteen years.  ‘How long does it take to get that long?’ is an intelligent question, use that one instead.

It is okay to ask if we play Santa at Christmas, especially if (like me) we look very much like a young Santa.

It is very helpful, at dining, to point out if something has gotten lodged in it.  Most of us want to keep our beards very clean.  It is, however, pretty dumb to ask ‘saving that for later?’ No, I really don’t want to slurp stale or decaying food scraps out of my beard.  I’m already embarrassed enough, like most people would be if they got marinara sauce on their white blouse’s cleavage.  If you let me know, I can go to the men’s room and straighten things out, and it was good of you.

It isn’t very polite to frankly remark, ‘I think you’d look better without the beard, I can’t stand beards on men.’  We would not generally say to you:  ‘You really need to put a lot more makeup on, your natural face looks pasty and old.’ I’m not trying to edit your face; be nice if you’d avoid offering editing guidance on mine.

It is okay to ask fairly thinking questions about it.  ‘Does it cause problems using power tools?’ Yep.  Have to be very careful.  ‘What’s the worst beard disaster you ever had?’  Got Gorilla Glue in it, had to cut a chunk out.

It is not okay to yank on it.  Surprising we have to mention this, but kids especially do it.  Please don’t let your child do this.

It’s a little intrusive to ask if it’s religious, though I don’t think it’s intrusive to ask the general question about why we grow it.  In my case it’s simple:  I dislike shaving, always did.

If you like it, it’s okay to tell us so.  If you don’t like the way we wear it, it’s not very polite to tell us what we should do to it to please you.  Not unless you’d be okay with us telling you that those jeans make your posterior look pudgy and you should get different ones.

Check out the paneling

So last night I get word from the SpoCon folks about what panels I’m on.  Good to know in advance (another month would have been better, but still, three weeks is ample time to prep).  Nervous, I admit it, but looking forward.  I’m on:

Research for Search Engines on Sat, 08/13/2011 –  10:00am.  This should be pretty comfortable for me because it’s right in the wheelhouse of what I do.

Create a Zine, Blog or Podcast! on Sat,  08/13/2011 – 1:00pm.  Well, the zine I can probably talk about, having published my own long ago.  Blog, no problem.  Podcast? I’m helpless. Irony:  I’m on a panel with the author who enjoined me to start this blog.

Steampunk Throughout History on Sat, 08/13/2011 –  2:30pm.  My inclination is that it tends to begin with Jules Verne and such, but this will take a lot of reading to get up to speed on.  At least I’ll be in costume for it.

Thinking Machines in Alternate History on Sun,  08/14/2011 – 10:00am.  Hmm. Well, we can certainly start with mechanical computers…

I’d have preferred panels on the craft of writing and editing, but we get what we get.

One of the most important things will be to remember my fellow panelists’ names.  Imagine wanting to make reference to ‘what the other panelist said’ (the cards face forward) and forgetting her name.  So awkward.  Cannot let it occur.  This is a good time for a lot of listening, not too much talking, just be the quiet one who keeps his trap shut unless he has something pretty intelligent to say (and very briefly).

Rivers of Ink

This is a local event where authors get to connect with readers, sit on panels, sell books and other such activities.  I got contacted it when I was stopping by to sign the Armchair Reader:  Book of Incredible Information copies at my local Barnes & Noble.  (To me this seems a basic duty, help out your work and help your local bookseller.)  The manager asked me if I’d like to participate, and I said “sure.”

I confess to being a little nervous about it, as I am about all public events, but it’s part of the whole gig.  One resolves to just bull ahead, do one’s best, and be glad such events exist.  I’ve wanted to do more to help the community in my professional capacity, and now’s my chance, so…Leeeroyyyyy Jennnnkinnnns!

Nephew hilarity

So, this evening I’m sitting here and the following dialogue occurs:

Nephew (from a distance, calling out over the sound of music):  “Uncle, Imgnovrta Seths.”

I looked out sort of askance at him, as he is profligate with fuel.  “Okay.”

Neph:  “Eneedsda’ock.”

Me, incredulous:  “He needs the cock?”  I begin cackling.

Neph, embarrassed:  “No!  He needs to talk!

By now I am belly-busting, laughing like a maniac.  I can’t resist, especially as we have often kidded Neph about the time he spends with his friend.  “That’s okay.  We don’t have a problem with it.”

Neph, laughing a bit but ready to get the hell out of here:  “And on that note, I better get going.”

He left to the sound of absolutely insane laughter from his uncle.

My nephew has a rough life at times.

I admit that I watch Big Brother

Yeah, it’s true.  Can’t try to deny it.  But I often ask myself:  why?

BB was about the trashiest ‘reality’ TV going until Jersey Shore came along (that I do not watch, although my nephew does, much to my nausea).  So, some partial answers:  why do I watch this crap?

  1. It’s on three times a week, which means at least sometimes, it’s something my wife and I can do together.  (Lest she sue for libel, I must add she is less interested in it than I am.)
  2. It confirms all my cherished stereotypes of Hollywood, always trying to ‘change it up’, always looking gaudy and overdone, never able to leave stuff be.
  3. It does amaze me to see what people will do on camera, how they will act.
  4. If I didn’t admit to a certain schadenfreude watching people (who volunteered out of avarice to) suffer, I’d be a liar.
  5. Most seasons, there is at least one contestant I can root for.  This season it’s Shelley, the middle-aged outdoor company executive.
  6. Julie Chen’s utter irrelevancy is pure comedy.  She tells them time’s up, they disobey her, nothing happens.  They award the prize and chaos ensues, making her look silly.

I don’t kid myself, of course, that I’m seeing much that’s real.  Past season contestants are obviously coached.  We have reason to believe the producers have influenced outcomes in the past, and one can be sure they’ll do so again.  It’s not a house; it’s a sound stage.  The rules look flexible depending on ratings.  And does anyone believe the ‘America Votes’ results are above board?

Fair’s fair, though.  Whatever’s wrong with it, they have me watching it.  Ergo, they must have something going on in my eyes, or I’d ignore the whole thing.

Writers’ groups

Always been on the fence about these.  I live in an area where interest in the written word is minimal, so there aren’t that many local writers and there are fewer capable ones.  At the same time, one can possibly gain from critique.  And if there aren’t that many of us, should we not at least be acquainted? Most of the time my answer is sort of ‘meh,’ but I realize that’s kind of a cop-out.  So I gave one a try tonight, brand new one, formed and organized by a very quiet young mother.

The organizer feels we should pass our material around for review online first.  While I can see the logic in exchanging critiqueable material offline and bringing one’s impressions to the group, it seems that if we are going to just do that, we could do this on Facebook and not bother worrying about a face-to-face meetup.  It also seems like the idea is to intersperse our comments into that, print it and bring it to talk about.  They are talking about a 5000-word limit, which would be about 15 pages.  I could end up expected to print 40 pages of other people’s stuff.  I am not sure I think that’s a good idea.  I am definitely not sure I’m willing to do that at all.

I have about talked myself into at least sending some material out and going through the motions for a second session, just to see if all is redeemed by some serious insight.  Or if my insight helps someone.  Or something else happens to make me think this is worth doing. One participant writes exclusively screenplays, in which I have less interest than even Harlequin romances.  The other two write young adult fiction, about which I know little and care rather less.  I don’t feel any camaraderie there, so there isn’t that draw.

What would make a good writers’ group? In my view, intelligent critique without soul destruction is the first step.  I personally have no problem having someone rip my work apart in intelligent fashion, but I keep hearing that a lot of people in writers’ groups think it’s like boot camp, where you have to break people down before they can be remolded–that brutality is a virtue.  I don’t think it is, and I think that’s a viewpoint of big-fish-small-pond hotshots.  I don’t like it and I don’t like them, by and large.  Fortunately, there aren’t any in this group or I’d just go somewhere else.

I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Fireworks in a parched desert

I’m in favor of fireworks, regardless of social views, all other things being equal.  I think it’s okay for kids to take a few chances with them; the alternative is to put them in a carefully protected bubble world where they never learn why it’s dumb to throw firecrackers.  I think we are harmed more as a society by obsessive efforts to prevent kids from being stupid than by the stupidity itself.

What I do not quite get is what motivates people who live in a tinder-dry area to go out into the sagebrush high desert, or vacant lots that have reverted to same, and set off fireworks there.  I get why someone would detonate them in a large parking lot, or on an island in a lake, anywhere there is no potential for damage to others.  But explosions and fire in a desert (one with just enough dry cover to go all brushfire)? Really?

How we confer rights

We are very interesting, are we not, in our sense of proportion? We will make armloads of laws to punish people for ingesting the substance or smoke of a given plant, throwing all kinds of roadblocks–an act which may be completely individual, personal and private.  We do not grant this right unfettered.

By contrast, the right to create a new life–thus handing existence to a helpless person and saying “I may do this right, I may be lousy at it, I may give you away and not do it at all, but whatever I do or don’t do, you get to deal with the consequences”–this we fetter not at all.  Anyone’s allowed.  To suggest it be restricted in any way at any time comes off as the worst sort of fascism.  Even to suggest that it be restricted, even in the case of those who have already abused the privilege with its proven idiotic exercise, reeks of Adolf.  As for trying to restrict what one does after the fact, that’s irrelevant.  Whatever we restrict after the fact, the damage is done.  The helpless person has been given life, and cold hard reality is that he or she now gets the end fallout.

How is it more necessary to interdict something so personal and private as screwing around with a plant, than to interdict the incontinent siring and production of new human beings at random?

Yeah, I was reading the latest Octomom article.  Could you tell?


Julian II, a.k.a. Julian Augustus, Emperor of Rome, better known as Julian the Apostate and my personal folk hero, was the last pagan Roman Emperor.  He also had a beard.  After enough people gave him guff for it, he wrote Misopogon (‘Beard-hater’), a diatribe against the Antiochenes.  (Short version:  he’d expected the hardcore Christians of Antioch to embrace him.  Like most of his Empire, they didn’t.  He was pissed.)

Okay, fine.  Like Julian, I am bearded.  What is interesting is that to the young, it registers me elder.  This evening I was at a going-away party for an education executive leaving to take up a higher position.  He was a Coug.  For those who do not know Washington colleges, that means Washington State University, rival of the University of Washington, my much-loved alma mater.  His daughter had seen the light and was attending UW.  She and I exchanged old times/new times stuff for a while (and I’m glad her father wanted better things for her; speaks volumes about him).

(Seriously, my host was a fine gentleman and a very bright fellow whose guests were fun, funny and intelligent.  He offered great food and drink, prominently featuring cheeses from the WSU Creamery.  A salute to him and to delicious dining, and full respect to the value of land grant educational institutions that make foodieism possible.  Any city slicker dumb enough to make fun of food production, while savoring gourmet this and artisan that, is effete and idiotic at once. )

The question arose as to Deb’s age, and the young lady guessed many years low.  In my case, she guessed three years high.  I’m not sensitive about how I look, which is a wise stance in 50ish fat, balding, salt-and-pepper old guys.  When I laughed, she said:  “The beard makes you look wise.” (Tell my nephew that; maybe he’ll pay attention to me.)

Interesting observation.  I would like to hear from readers, especially women, since the beard is a fairly defining masculine aspect.  Does a heavy, silvery beard make a man seem wise? When you see a heavy beard on a man, what does it evoke?