Friday, April 27, 2018

Number One...

...granddaughter at the White House...way to go, Tionna!

She's part of the Navy Ceremonial Guard that presents at all kinds of different official occasions.

This happened to be in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron, for whom there was a State Dinner this week.

So very proud of you, Tionna!

Getting close to wrapping up my current writing project, Last Flight.  Started as a short story, but has grown into a novella...I will not allow it to become bloated into a novel.
Of course the word counts used to determine the category of writing are somewhat arbitrary.

Saw something the other day that defined 5 different length categories:

1) flash or postcard fiction  (1000 words or less)
2) short stories (up to 7,500 words)
3) novelettes (up to 17,000 words) - apparently my Papa's Model T books fit here
4) novellas (up to 39,000 words)   -and-
5) novels (more than 39,000 words).

Who the arbiters are of such things I have no idea, though much of this no doubt gets kicked around by people who make money from it.

In my opinion, Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea is the definitive novella...
...it garnered the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Mr. H back in 1953 - and it clocked in just under 27,000 words...so that's more or less my standard.

I'm at 21,000 now and definitely winding it down...should be available on Amazon soon.

I like the concept of novellas...they're a quick hit, not a major time investment; you can easily carry the story in your head; read it in one sitting; and read it again for clarity and to pick up what you missed the first time without feeling like you're wasting another month of your life.

A good novella has some depth, some character development, a coherent plot line, an overarching theme, but you're not bombarded with minutia and excess verbiage.

You'll never convince me a 200,000 word story couldn't have been pared down to its essentials and related in a fraction of that length.

Brevity is not just the soul of wit, it's the essence of good manners.

I can hear the proponents of spending days curled up on the couch, lost in someone else's reality howling in the distance...time to stop beating that drum and beat feet to the next subject...

Something simple...I've always liked this picture...
The Woman In White, for lack of an official moniker...it hangs in our hallway, from the TV room to our bedroom...love the art deco styling and the color palette...it's just very soft and elegant...also inexpensive...wasn't a big ticket item...lovely.

Here's my next antique purchase...
That's a Blick 5 typewriter from the very late 1800's / very early 1900's...a real marvel at the time.  Note the lack of letter keys to strike the page...instead it had a "ball" that rotated when you pressed keys so the correct letter / number / symbol pressed against the page.

It's the same concept IBM used with their Selectric model introduced in the early 1960's, only Blickensderfer conceived of this 70 years before IBM did.

Plus he used what he called the "scientific keyboard", so named bc he researched the letters most commonly used in English words.  So his "home row" of "DHIAT ENSOR" were used 70% of the time.

By way of contrast, the QWERTY keyboard was designed in the 1800's to slow people down, so all those keys striking the paper wouldn't stick together bc you hit them too quickly.

Consequently someone using a Blick 5 with a scientific keyboard could achieve 70 words per minute, an unheard of speed at that time.

It was small and compact and cost $35, whereas competitors' typewriters were big heavy ungainly beasts costing $100 to $500 a pop.

If Mr. B hadn't died in 1917 who knows where his company might have gone...but without his leadership they folded within 2 years and were bought out by Remington.

The history lesson is ended...go forth now and bore your compadres with tales of typewriter feats from days of yore...

Got out on the links this morning by 8:30...
...beautiful sunny day, but cold...about 37 degrees when I started...but no one else there so it was quite enjoyable...

And I did a little better than last time...still not good, especially getting started...but got better as I went...
...even parred number 6, a short, 200 yd par 4.

Had one or two decent tee shots with my brassie, two or three decent shots with my cleek, and in general did pretty well with my mashie and niblick...
...putting was inconsistent, but overall a much better round than last week.

later, mcm fans...

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tough Week...

...to be a daffodil...or anything else seeking spring weather for that matter.

But give Mother Nature her due...
same flowers, one week later...
...she's a tough old bird...the lovely flowers are still standing.

Went to a luncheon at the Meijer Gardens this past week...
 ...and besides seeing "Aht"...
 ...some of which I did not understand...
...and some of which I did...

I enjoyed a good presentation by Forgotten Man Ministries...
..a great outreach ministry to those serving time in jail here in Michigan.  If you're looking for a cause to help support, please consider this one.  These are dedicated servants of Christ working hard to share the light of His love in a very dark place..

Watched a fun movie from 1952, The Greatest Show On Earth, starring Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Betty Hutton, and the actual 1951 troupe of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus performers and personnel...more than 1400 of them.
What I found most interesting about the movie was all the information it gave about the actual Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus.  It's astounding to think of all the effort that was involved to move all that equipment and all those people from city to city, town to town, day after day.

And back then it still was The Greatest Show On Earth, with top notch performers bringing amazing acts to life twice a day, over and over and over again.

TV changed all that of course, bringing world class entertainment into people's living rooms...but back in the 40's and 50's, it was an amazing combination of talent and logistics that is perhaps unrivaled to this day.

No CGI magic; actual people with actual talent performing actual routines, some of them truly death defying.

Do yourself a favor and watch this movie...you'll be amazed at Cecil B Demille's extravaganza.

Today turned into a spectacularly warm and sunny spring day so of course...
...I had to get out on the links...unfortunately, everyone else in the world had the exact same idea, so the place was packed, which greatly reduced my enjoyment...well, that and my truly pathetic play.

However, while the first three holes were horrendous and the 2nd three holes were bad, the last three actually showed a few glimmers of hope.
By the time I walked off the 9th green I was feeling like this might be worth doing again...but at my usual, early morning hour to avoid all the congestion and waiting.

Ah, hope springs eternal, yes?

later, mcm fans...

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Me And Some Of The Boys...

...got together for some poker last night...that's me between Drac and Mummy...

Well maybe not...not a card player, but I've always liked that pic...

My week ended on a considerably less enjoyable note..got up at 4:30 am Thursday morning and finally lay me down to sleep at 11:30 pm Friday night, and too many of those 41 hours in between were spent riding shotgun on an IT catastrophe.  I'd hoped by this time in my career I'd be done with the emergency all nighters but guess not.
At one point I commented to a vendor I'd roused from his pleasant dreams that I wondered if there was any way I could embrace a different reality than the one I was currently experiencing, but for that he offered no solutions.

Thankfully things are back together now, though cleanup from the fallout will no doubt stretch into the next week and possibly beyond.  Big fun.

Bought a pair of rabbit ears for my 1959 GE Slimline TV the other day...
...really improved the reception...or at least enhanced the vintage TV look I adore.

So besides trying to catch up on some sleep this weekend, I'm once again engaged in the process of questioning why I live in this state...more lousy weather ahead, but at least it's not the major winter storm warning people north of here have...
Hello...it's mid-April folks...time for spring already...but a friend up north reports snowfall of 6 inches already with ice on the way...yikes...


They can have it...I guess cold, wind and rain here is acceptable compared to that...

What I'm fiending for is some of this...
Maybe next weekend...
they're calling to me...
Back to writing again...started on a short story, Last Flight...liking it so far but I'm only a third of the way into it...and even when I finish stories there are plenty of times I decide "crap!  it's all crap!" and so delete them...we'll see where this one goes.

later, mcm fans...


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Saturday, April 7, 2018

What A Relief...

...more cold and snow...I was deathly afeared, now that it's spring, we might be forced to endure some sunny and warm weather...but not to worry, this is Michigan in April...

It's been 30 years since I've piloted an aircraft...back in the day I earned my commercial pilot's license with an instrument rating, but then chose to remain in the IT world instead of pursuing a career in aviation...but lately I've been thinking about getting into ultralight flying...
Now here's a particularly useless item...an ultralight on floats...but let's face it, ultralight flying isn't about usefulness...you're typically carrying just yourself, no functional payload of any type...you're cruising along at 45 mph and if you want to live to see another day, you're doing so on a no/low wind VFR day.

So what's the point?

Fun.  Recreation.  Challenge.  Relaxation.

Kind of like golf, I guess...
...only a lot more expensive and a bit more life threatening...all the same dangers of regular flying, but at a slower pace and lower altitude.

If I did decide to try it I'd probably opt for an MX Sprint (pictured above, only without the floats)...they've been around since the 80's and have a very stable, well designed product.

Typically not a thrill seeker and don't do dangerous things just for fun...I've always figured if you want to risk your life for no good reason you can stand on the train tracks and wait for the 5:13 to Jaipur to flatten you...
whutterya, chicken??
...it's cheaper and involves virtually no preparation...

...but flying was a technical challenge and quite enjoyable...well, except for an occasional panic inducing event, like the time I had an engine out situation on an ILS final approach in a driving rain storm...

Apart from a few heart stopping moments, the views are spectacular...and it's reasonably safe if taken seriously, done regularly and done well.

Could even fly it to work if I could convince the powers that be to reserve 100' of parking lot for me...and would it kill them to put up a windsock?  Come on, work with me here.

Of course, I can hear Karen now..."you want to do what?!"

"But dear," I'll respond in the voice of sweet reason, "think of it as a way to get me out from underfoot while you do...whatever it is you do when I'm out from underfoot..."

We'll see...

MX Sprint Ultralight


Come on...you know you want to...

Went to see #1 grandson's new house today...
...he's been working on it steadily for the last few months and just moved in yesterday...
...so nothing's put away yet...but some of it is grouped together, like his music memorabilia...
...and some of it is just plunked down wherever for the moment...boy do I hate moving but at age 20 at least he's got the youth and energy for it.
...and he's got a sense of humor, too.  Congrats on your new digs Marcellus!

Last night we took a break from our usual movie fare and enjoyed the absolutely hilarious A Series Of Unfortunate Events.

Not a fan of Jim Carrey's recent foray into political commentary, but give him his due...he used to be an incredible comedic genius...
...and this movie is worth a look if for no other reason than to watch his masterful portrayal of the ludicrously evil and self-absorbed Count Olaf in all his various disguises...I do believe Captain Sham is my favorite...
He may not be my go to guy for wisdom on the body politic...but if fall on the floor funny is what tickles your fancy, Jim Carrey's your man.

later, mcm fans...


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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Oh...

...Deer...several of them, in fact.
Must be springtime...Momma Doe is in the back there.

Have I mentioned I love living here?

Found a cool website recently...FractureMe

You upload a picture and they'll overlay it onto a glass "canvas"...so you get a cool glass picture for your desk or wall.

To try it out I downloaded a public domain picture of the George Bellows painting I mentioned a couple of posts ago...of the 1923 Jack Dempsey / Luis Angel Firpo fight at the Polo Grounds in New York:
Ok, so it's not as cool as what #1 son did...he actually purchased an oil painting copy of this iconic sports moment...but it's still kinda cool, elegant in its own way.
Not as sweet as an oil painting but complements my work space nicely.  (No, not destined for my kitchen wall...that was just a place to take a photo.)

As an historic side note, Bellows' painting shows Dempsey being knocked out of the ring by a sweeping left hand from Firpo, but in reality it was Firpo's right that did the dirty deed.

If you watch the video of that fight, it was almost 14 seconds before Dempsey climbed back in the ring, so by rights Firpo should have been the champion...but Dempsey came back and knocked him out in the second round.

And it kind of lends perspective to the Dempsey vs Tunney "long count" fight that happened four yeas later...
Tunney on the canvas after a vicious combination by Dempsey
...that time it was Tunney who was down for 14 seconds and the title should have gone back to Dempsey but did not...what goes around comes around I guess...

So Michigan lost to Villanova in the national championship game...
...ended up not being close and I only watched parts of the first half.

Did motivate me to pull out the senior video I did for #3 son a way on back in the day, seventeen years ago already.

In one segment I used the "One Shining Moment" theme for the March Madness tourney that was popular back then...("the ball is up...there you are...you're running for your life...you're a shooting star...")

I should rip that DVD to an MP4 and include it here...good times.


Switching gears to something that can really impact your life for the better...if you're wondering what you should buy for me to celebrate spring time and the upcoming summer months, may I respectfully suggest one of the following:
That's a 1956 Corvette, reasonably priced at $64,000  Think of the satisfaction you'll have knowing you've provided me with a really nice ride.

Or, if you'd rather, here's a sporty "Welcome Good Weather" gift I wouldn't refuse:
A 1950's Vespa scooter with sidecar, because Karen loves riding in sidecars almost as much as she does riding on trains overnight...shouldn't set you back more than $8,000 or so.


No?  Perhaps something more aeronautical suits your fancy...above is a Hart Aero Biplane, yours to gift for around $7,000.  Of course, you may have to search a bit for one of these babies since the owner of Hart Aero was busted back in 2010 for a couple of counts of grand theft.  Still, who doesn't adore ultralight biplanes?

Paint it red and mount a BB gun in the cockpit and I could do a pretty good imitation of the Red Baron, shooting down crows and annoying unsuspecting picnickers in the parks below.

later, mcm fans...



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