Saturday, October 28, 2006

Home Ownership

I remember how happy we were when we moved into our own house. We enjoyed the space and the little things we had to do to the house. We enjoyed the painting of the rooms, making them ours, adding shelving (although my carpentry skills were/are very rusty), and imagining the possibilitities. Sure, there were problems, but we would fix those problems 'down the road.'

Well, here we are, 'down the road,' and we're now trying to fix those problems. The problem is, they require time and more importantly, money. It always seems to come back to money, you know. I know money can't buy happiness, but it sure couldn't hurt in easing the way. We've got several major projects that need to be done that range anywhere from $500 to $6000, and we just don't have that sort of money hanging out in our accounts.

Yeah, I'm feeling a little sorry for myself. But, that's part of what this blog is for - venting and getting it out of my system so then I can actually go and solve a few things without getting bogged down in the angst.

thanks for listening.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Identity Crisis

Many people dismiss comic books as pointless drivel for children. For those of that opinion, you need to take a look at DC’s Identity Crisis. It is an incredibly deep – and quite dark – look at how secret identities might really work in a super hero world.

Spoiler warning, by the way.

The story starts with the death of one of the long-time supporting/non-meta characters – the wife of Ralph Digby, the Elongated Man. It was a heart rending set of scenes, telling first of how they met, fell in love, and then the revelation of her death. Her funeral. It’s all well written and well drawn. Excellent work.

Much of the story is told from one of my favorite character’s point of view – Green Arrow. Some amazing interactions between the original Flash, Hal Jordan Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Atom, Zatanna, Black Canary, and Green Arrow. The choices the group makes, and the affects the ripple through the story.

The idea of a secret getting discovered – like any of their secret identities, is the worst nightmare of the heroes. They can’t protect their loved ones 24-7. Not even Clark/Superman.

I have to admit, I’ve been a Marvel maniac for years because of the character development, but right now, DC is doing a better job of keeping me hooked. Marvel is not tying together their worlds right now – X-Men and Marvel Mainstream barely have any real continuity with each other right now. Heck, as X-Men got more and more popular, the less I liked them. Right now I don’t collect any X-books.

DC right now is the better story telling company.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


You know, patterns and habits are sometimes hard to create and maintain. I had been doing fairly well at updating this blog daily, but I let it slip. Then again. It's so easy to do.

I'm hoping that I can keep things going and re-focus and stick to the pattern I started, but it is so hard.

Kath and I have had a pattern of watching television in the evening. What we want to do is tape the shows and watch them the next day during supper. That way we still have the evening to actually do something.

The thing is, that is a pattern that is going to be hard to do. We've come to like the sit down and watch television evening. And after a day of work, who wants to work more at home.

oh, the joys of home ownership.

Okay, enough rambling. ciao.

Monday, October 16, 2006


What have I been writing recently. Well, let me tell you...

I have been editing The Basalt Mace - book II of my trilogy. I'm partway into chapter one, and have done some major re-writing. I think I've added at least four pages of description. That's one thing I've noticed about my writing. I was so anxious to get to the story, I left out a lot of description and character development. Which is backwards. I'm afraid that means book II and book III are actually just outlines for what is going on...arrg.

I've been writing the first draft of Book III The Stone Dees. The chapter I just finished was a chapter featuring Ka'Senne, my wife. The chapter I've just started on starts with Baron Kunce and Baron Smehren, as seen through a different character's eyes. The chapter starts with some nice banter between the two. I think you guys will like it.

I've been editing together a CoH forum - The Whitmoore Apartments. I've got the first storyarc compiled. I just have to edit it's a bit more readable, and then need to get it approved. Heheh.

I've been writing a bit as Detective Frost and Ka'Senne in the Whitmoore Apartments, as Aqualos in the Blakmoore Safehouse, and Newton's Apple and Azurus Rigason in the Two Six, but most of my writing this round has been heading towards Paragon University. My mastermind villain Erik Gregory Winslow has a serious vengeance plan going, and trying to get all the pieces in place is quite something. I'm having fun with it, though.

Friday, October 13, 2006

City of Heroes and City of Villains

Well, I've talked about one of my 'obsessions', Castle Zierath. I might as well start talking about my other major obsession.

The Massive Multi-Player On-Line Game City of Heroes and City of Villains.

I have always loved comic books and superheroes, and this is a wonderful chance for me to play superheroes again.

I have enjoyed the game immensely. I've taken characters from various role-playing games I've played over the years and turned them into heroes and villains. My main hero - Mithril Zeta, is based on an old Villains and Vigilantes character that I played for eight years, and in honor of friends who played with me, I created their characters too. Two of my college buddies - Griffin and Raven's Path, actually, who I know comment here regularly- have joined me in Paragon City as well.

My four characters I'm playing the most right now (Mithril Zeta's maxed out in levels) are Ka'Senne (based on my wife), Aqualos (my main villain - a cannibal, but from a different culture where it is noble), Great Bretten (based on my nephew), and the Right Wingnut (Erik Gregory Winslow, a mastermind. his back story is a pharmaceuticals heir who is entirely self-centered.)

I have also spent a great deal of time and energy doing 'roleplaying' on the CoX forums. I get to tell stories with various other players. It has been a great deal of fun. I'm beginning to compile various stories from those and hopefully will make those available on line for those who would enjoy reading superhero stories.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Upward Bound Grant

the Upward Bound grant is out, and Phyllis is working hard at putting it together. We have less than a month to do so. It’s a little unnerving – it is each time we do it. It’s a lot of work, and four/five years of continued programming count on it. It’s scary.

To make it worse, the Department of Education is setting us all up for failure. Not only is it now an electronic submission (which means things can be reformatted at the other end, messing up the number of pages), but they have complicated it even further. The grant itself can be only 50 pages long. That’s half as long as it could be last time. So, we have to get the same information across is half the space. Now here is the kicker: the directions on how to write the grant: 102 pages long.

I’m sorry, but it seems to me that if the DIRECTIONS are that long, it’s going to be very, very difficult to get the grant into half the space.

Sorry, went off on that a bit.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Weekly Television Watching

My wife and I have 4 shows that we watch on a weekly basis.

House. Tuesday night 7:00 pm CST. Fox. Kath loves this show. She has always liked the main actor Hugh Laurie. She's liked him since she saw Jeeves and Wooster. The show is great fun - mysteries that must be figured out and still developing the various characters in interesting ways.

Bones. Wednesday night. 7:00pm CST. Fox. My prefered show. I liked David Boreanez as Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think I like him even better here. The combination and chemistry of the cast is a lot of fun. I also really enjoy the squint Hodges. Wonderful actor. I was bummed when Dr. Goodman (played by Jonathan Adams) did not return for the second season. I enjoyed his character.

Criminal Minds. Wednesday night. 8:00pm CST. Excellent show. Both of us have been a Mandy Patinkin fan (Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.) Once again, the chemistry and character development is excellent, as are the stories. We did both cheer with the first episode of season 2 when Kirsten Wangsness got her own placard up in the credits. Wise choice. Her Garcia character adds a lot to the story.

The final one we watch is CSI. The original. We did get hooked. Excellent show.

We do also watch other shows on a more hit and miss basis. The New Doctor Who on Sci Fi is a fine example of that. Good show.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Birthday to me

Happy Birthday to me.

Turned 40. Baffles the mind, doesn't it. I have to admit, I was rather mopey all day yesterday. Was in complete denial. I'm much better now. It's just another day, and I certainly don't feel 'wiser.'

There were a number of things I promised myself I was going to do by the time I turned 40.

One was to finally get my first novel off to a publisher. Done. Sent out on Friday.

Two was to update my Castle Zierath and City of Heroes webpages. Done today.

Three was to make to start selling my Castle Zierath shirts. Done today. On the updated website! Ta-Daa!

So, please go to to take a look at the updates and the t-shirts. I hope you decide to get one or fifty or so.

So, Happy birthday to me. :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006


One of my focuses of my life – my wife and some of my students will say obsessions – is my Castle Zierath world.

I’ve spent the last fifteen years lovingly creating it, modifying it, adding to it, changing it, and sharing it. The website – – shows several pieces of the world, but there’s always so much more to do. I’ve added to it, my friends have added to it, and several of my former students have created huge chunks of land in it. I have writing guidelines (which will be the next major chunk added to the website as well). Sometimes, getting these people to add their material that blends into the established world is difficult, but that’s part of the fun. (although if they won’t blend, it gets very difficult sometimes. Sigh)

I have the last ten years writing a book (actually 3 books) on the world. It really didn’t start out to be three books, but that’s where it is now. Later this week, Friday, I hope, I’ll be sending my novel out to a publisher. That in itself is very unnerving. I’ve spent a fourth of my life working on this story, and now I can send it out to have someone tell me I’ve been wasting a quarter of my life. I think that is the reason why I haven’t sent it out before. It’s that lovely fear of rejection. I’ve always had this fear. I know it’s part of why I don’t take a lot of chances. I’ve almost always gone with ‘the sure thing.’ The guaranteed thing.

It’s time to take the chance.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006


October is probably my favorite month.

And it isn't just because it's my birthday month.

I love the weather and the colors. I live in a part of the country where we really have seasons, and autumn is my favorite. We have so many brightly colored trees right now. The trips out to my various schools are beautiful.

The weather is usually fairly cool, and for those of you who know me, that is my preferred temperature. I'm a polar bear. I like cold weather. As the weather cools off, I start being more comfortable. (I've always said, cold weather is easier to adapt to than warm. You can always put more clothes on. You start getting in trouble rapidly if you take too many off.) I sleep better in the cold weather as well.

October gets both Columbus Day and Halloween. What could be better than those?

The only bad thing about October is the color of its stone. It is this Pink color. Bleah. Who thought that 'Pink' would be a good color for the coolest month in the calendar. I have to admit, that pink stone is part of why I never got either a high school ring or a college ring. (That, and I'm cheap. Those pieces of jewelry are expensive.)

Enjoy your October, everyone.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Renaissance Man

One of the things I am slowly realizing is that I can’t do everything myself.

I am a bit of a Renaissance man. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a cartoonist. I work on computer databases. I work on websites. I am a creator of worlds. I am a mapmaker. I am a game master. I am a detective. I do computer graphics. I am an actor. I am a director. I am an editor. I am even a (barely) adequate carpenter.

‘Renaissance Man’ is also a nice way to say ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None.’ I am…passable at all these things, but I am not great at any one of them.

Something else about me is that I hate asking for help, and I hate giving up a piece of my creative work to someone else. That’s part of why my first novel has not yet made it out of my study and into a publishing company. (that will change this weekend).

I am doing a massive update of my webpages, and then I’m planning to hand my webpage update material over to one of my students, Corey. He’s actually just now beginning to create a small web design business, and I’ll be one of his first customers. (when he gets his business up and going, I’ll be posting his website/email here for others who need this sort of help)

The thing is, I enjoy doing the webpages. They are fun to work with, but I just don’t have the time or energy to do them. I need to focus on the other parts of my Castle Zierath endeavor. And become a ‘professional grade’ writer. The only way I can do that is by practicing.

Hrm. No ‘microwave’ shortcut for that. Stupid reality. *grumble grumble grumble*

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Top 5 Science Fiction Shows

Let’s face it; I am a science fiction/fantasy nut. I do enjoy my time watching good series and reading good books that feature space travel or space exploration, or swords and sorcery.

I do have “Top Five Science Fiction Shows” list. I’ll do them in reverse order.

5. Farscape: It’s a great quirky show with excellent humor and storyline. The characters change and get deep into some good development. I have to admit, I was very irritated when Sci Fi decided to yank it off the air. A good quality show.

4. Star Trek (The Original Series): Well, at least the first two seasons. The third season had some strong episodes, but, oye, it also had ‘Spock’s Brain’ and a couple other real losers. The show that really got me started into Science Fiction. Even with the limited character development over the series, it really is a classic. It did rather set the standard for the future shows.

3. Star Trek Deep Space Nine: I think it is the best of the Star Trek shows. It really expanded the various races and was a little bit ‘dark’ and probably honest than the Utopian point of humans that we saw in TOS and Next Gen. Also, the overall arc of the Cardassian Empire and the Wormhole – excellent. Of course, they really rather stole the idea of the overall story arc from…

2. Babylon 5. The first and last seasons were a bit on the weak side, but the second, third, and fourth seasons are perhaps the best multiple seasons on television. It was well written, led from story to story with twists and turns, and talk about character development! Wow. Hats of to Joe Straczynski and his writing of the series.

and the number one sci-fi show in my opinion…

1. Firefly. I went and told my sister to go and buy the DvDs without her ever seeing it. Heck, I told everyone I knew to do that. It was a brilliant piece of science fiction. Characters were great, storylines keeping you guessing, and humor…oh, my yes. It’s too bad that it only lasted 13 episodes. Basically, the network screwed with it. They made them show it out of order, they switched the night it showed, it was on, they didn’t give it a chance. I’m just glad that they were able to make a full-length movie out of the series with the same cast and crew. It was the finest science fiction I’ve seen on television.

Now, I do have to admit, I have not watched a lot of Stargate, the new Battlestar Galactica (which I’ve heard very good things about), or any of the other new Sci-Fi shows. (refusing to get engrossed in them – can’t trust the network to carry through with a good show.) I also haven’t seen enough of Lost to know if it should bump onto my list.

Just my opinions. Willing to discuss any and all of my ratings, and why some shows (such as Star Trek Next Gen) are not on my list. Ciao!