Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Proclamation

It's Christmas Eve and I'm at work from 7 till 6:30. It's going to be a long day, but I have a job and that, in and of itself, is something to be thankful for. I'm getting really excited for 2011 because I have decided that this new year will be the year that I make something of myself. Sure, by this time next year I'd love to be writing full time and supporting my family solely off of that, but I know how hard it is to succeed with that. Realistically, I want robbed able to make some sort of income off of my writing within the next year, but it doesn't have to be enough to quit my day job. Come January though, I'm hitting this hard - harder than I have ever hit anything and I am determined to make progress. I know my blogs have been a bit scarce lately and they probably will be for the next several days, but know that if you read this, even vaguely routinely, you'll be invited to come along on my journey of successes and failures as I try to write myself through the new year. So, observe the flashing seatbelt sign, keep your trays in an upright position and be aware of your emergency exits it's going to be one hell of a ride.

To all of my family, friends, and readers: thank you and Merry Christmas! I hope it's the best ever!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Home Stretch

This is the home stretch for the holiday season, which is why my blog entries have fallen off. I apologize to the six of you who read for not updating as reliably as I have previously. Between working a crazy schedule, finishing our Christmas shopping, and family functions, I just haven't had the time to write like I was.

Hopefully you enjoyed my 200 words at a time noir story. I may continue you it at some point if my readers want. I really enjoyed writing those entries, and I'm sure incould come up with more, but again, the demand needs to be there. I will get back to the fast fiction challenge but it will probably be the first week of January before I really have time to spend on The Madness Spiral like I was. Don't get me wrong, this site will not go ignored, but it may just have new content a bit less reliably. For instance, it's Wednesday, in which I am normally off, and I'm at work and have been since 7 and I'm typing this on my phone. I planned on writing a new blog last night, but a sick three year old put a stop to that.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, thank you. If you're reading this, I greatly appreciate the time you've taken out of your day to let me attempt to entertain you. Thank, thank you, thank you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dark Night of the Soul, Issue 3

            Locking the door to my office, I proceeded to stumble awkwardly down the stairs. Too much scotch I guess. I opened the door leading to the concrete jungle and a blast of cold air hit me like a haymaker. I pulled the collar of my coat up and adjusted the brim of my hat then started home. The wind was fierce this evening. The chill in the air was cutting through even the thickest coats and the streets were nearly deserted. It was just me, the streetlights, the wind, and the warm feeling of the rotgut in my belly.
As I stuck my hands into my pockets for warmth, I felt the familiar presence of my worn .38 at my side. My trusty revolver had been with me through my years as a beat cop, and I still carry it everywhere with me. It’s a tired old friend that I feel lost without. I’m starting to get the feeling that, now than I’m investigating on my own, I’ll be needing that trusty .38 more than I ever did as a protector of the innocent. Protector is probably a bit of an overstatement: all the cops in this town are crooked. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dark Night of the Soul, Issue 2

          She sat across my desk and I stared into her baby blues, falling deep into their perfect lagoon. I was engaged. Entranced. I hung on her every word. I breathed when she did. Blinked when she did. My heart thumped loudly. I didn’t even hear the majority of her story, but I was nodding, and mindlessly saying that I’d do everything I could to help her out.
          She coughed a bit and I fumbled to reach that bottle of scotch in my drawer and I wiped out a glass with my handkerchief. As I poured, her eyes burned into me and I felt the blood rising to my face. I knew that I had to calm down or lose my composure entirely, but she was more intoxicating than my scotch.
          She sipped at her glass as she finished the story. She wanted me to meet her tomorrow night at the bar across the street to give me more info, and with that she was up and putting her coat on. She stopped at the door and turned towards me, stealing my breath. She smiled and said thanks.
          It was all I could do to make it back to my glass.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dark Night of the Soul, Issue 1

As promised, today’s blog is a Fast Fiction using the word mayhem and containing exactly 200 words. I hope you enjoy it!.

          She was a blonde. The kind of blonde that made you want to give up drinking. She stumbled into my office on a dreary Sunday night. She said she had some work for me: a mystery of sorts. Her husband had gone missing and she wanted him found. I was reluctant to take her offer, but she promised a hefty payday though I hoped for so much more.

          As I pulled a bottle of scotch from my drawer and poured a glass she described the scene of her estranged husband’s disappearance. Broken bottles. Shattered windows. Furniture upended. Pure mayhem. It sounded like my kind of party. I asked her why she didn’t go the cops, but she just smiled and winked and pursed her lips together in a way that made me forget my question. This woman had my full attention, but I had no way of finding out what had happened.

My investigative business had not even opened, yet here I sat with the most stunning woman my eyes had ever seen. She wandered into my office looking for help and I was going to do my damnedest. It seems my luck was finally turning around. About damned time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Charged Up

Some days you have to recharge. I get so stressed and beat down doing the day to day grind wife working and being a husband and father that it can truly become overwhelming and it can affect my mood and my energy level. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been on a downward spiral, but after a very lazy day today, I feel reenergized and ready to take on the world – which is good because my next few day off I’ll be spending preparing for the holidays.
I have literally watched television most of the day. Between that and making a quick Wal-Mart run this morning, that pretty much explains my activities. It’s nice to go a day without phone calls from work or pressing things around the house that need to be done. This day has done wonders for me.
Tomorrow will be a different story though. I have to be at work at 7, then I leave there at 1230 to be at jury duty orientation at 1. Fun times.

Remember to vote in my poll. It’s to the right. Up there. See it? Good. Pick you word and my Friday blog will be based on the most popular.

Have a great day and try to make sure you keep a full charge!


          I awoke this morning very suddenly, I’m not sure what it was, but it was rather jarring. Now, I’m sitting around awaiting the incoming Ice Armageddon (Volume 2) that’s apparently headed our way and I just can’t stop thinking about how fortunate I am.
          I was always brought up with a good family backing, but I married into a family equally as good. I’ve realized this week that, while I don’t make a lot of money, things could be way worse. A girl a see routinely told me this week how hard she truly had it and she wasn’t even complaining, she was just making conversation. I’m glad she’s got the external support she does because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t handle her circumstances. For example, with the heat fully on in her house, the ceiling, walls, and floor are so poorly insulated that it hasn’t been above 50 degrees in there all week. I can’t manage to wrap my brain around that in a way that doesn’t make me feel guilty for the things that I have. Whether through mine and my wife’s hard work or through family, we are very blessed to have the things that we and I’ve realized this week that I have been taking things for granted.
          Take a minute today while awaiting Icepocaplyse or while going to the grocery to get your bread and milk to remember that no matter how bad off life seems, someone – likely someone you know – has it worse and doesn’t ever complain.

The poll is up! Word with the most votes gets used for Friday!

Monday, December 13, 2010


          In my life I have done one thing that I really, truly regret. I started smoking. I’m not going to give away the particulars of the whens and wheres, but suffice to say,I was too young to be doing it and I knew better. It’s something that until a little over a year ago I still did on a regular basis. I quit in October of last year, but this time of year I feel the familiar urge to imbibe.
          When I quit it wasn’t a challenge for me. Like most people who quit, I had quit several times before and I would sometimes even go a couple of months without so much as a drag, but it was always hard and I was always irritable. When I quit last year, it wasn’t a challenge. There was no struggle. I woke up one morning and smoked the last Marlboro Menthol in my pack and decided I was too lazy to go to the store to replenish my supply. I stayed lazy for a day or so before I realized that if I had lasted a day or two, I could last a lot longer than that. So I did. I have the urge occasionally to light one up, especially when I come across my Sig Arms Zippo lighter dad gave me, but I’ve always stayed strong. I’ve seen what smoking can do to someone’s health and the potential ruin it can have on a family, but sometimes all I can think about is that first draw off of a freshly lit cigarette and how, if it’s been a little while, it makes you feel light headed.
          My smoking habits always seemed stress induced; the more nervous or apprehensive, the more I would smoke. On a good week I’d smoke a pack or a pack and a half in the entire week. If it was a bit more stressful there were times it was a pack a day. Lately I’ve even been getting the familiar shaking of my hands when my body is convinced I need to light up and after meals it’s all I can do to not purchase and pack and fill my lungs with that oh-so-tasty cancer. I’m weak, what can I say?
          The holidays stress me out, specifically with my job and it’s becoming harder every day to fight the urge. I will prevail though like I have every day for the last year and change but some days, today in particular, it sucks. If you’ve never smoked, I beg you, don’t ever start.

Thanks for the comments on yesterday’s blog! Keep the suggestions coming and I’ll post a poll tomorrow.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fast Fiction

          To defeat the constant struggle with writer’s block I’ve been having lately, I have done some research and I’m determined to knock this damn dirty ape off of my back.
          Yesterday, Wil Wheaton tweeted about an intro he wrote for a book called “The Fast Fiction Challenge, Part 2” by Lee Barnett. Essentially, the Fast Fiction Challenge is where a writer is given a word, and within a designated timeframe, he or she must write a short fiction story that uses that word at some point. From my understanding Lee goes for exactly 200 words for every story that he writes. The end of that sentence marked 101 for me, so as you can see, it’s not much space to get the context of a story across to readers.
          Due to a discussion with my wife this evening I have decided that I’m going to give it a try here on my blog. My Monday blog will detail what I’ll be writing for my Friday entry; basically, I’ll give a word count because I want to vary it up. On Monday’s entry I want readers to comment and give me a word to use; common or uncommon I will use it in my Friday story. In the event that I get more than one word suggested, I will set up a poll on the site (once my wife teaches me how) and readers can vote until Thursday. Then on Friday my story will appear with the word being used and having the correct word count. Easy enough right? Now this will require a little reader participation, so hopefully that won’t be too much of an issue. Anonymous comments are enabled on my blog so anyone can leave one without having to log in.
          I thing this will be fun for me and I’m really looking forward to stretching out my creative muscles on this exercise. We’ll try it for a bit and if it works, great, and if not, I’ll move on. Blogs will be up like normal through the week, the only real change is that on Friday it will be a Fast Fiction.
          I hope some of you are as stocked about this as I am. That means that I have at least one entry per week where I don’t have to stress about content. This will help my sanity a bit I think.

I’m going to start this week of traditionally. I will do a 200 fast fiction that will post on Friday that includes a reader's word. Start commenting!

Sunday Funday

          The last couple of days I have hit the wall of writer’s block with a resounding thud. I’ve written 54 blogs up to this point and it’s getting a lot harder to find something that I think may be interesting to write about. Case in point; Friday’s “blog” was terrible. I hated it for every second that I was answering the inane questions, but, honestly, I tried all day Thursday and all of Friday morning to come up with something but struck out like a rookie.
The view from my office window.
          To perhaps help remedy the situation I have spent a couple of hours cleaning my office. It still needs some work and some organization, but at this point, it’s as good as it’s going to get. I get a feeling that it will be a big help to my writing process because I can actually get to the keyboard and the mouse now without moving trash or books or just general clutter out of the way.
          As I was wrapping up my cleaning I sat down in my chair and turned around a caught my lab, Harvey, just staring out the window watching the snow fall. It’s a peaceful scene; he’s watching out the window, and I’m watching him. Some days it’s good to be me.
          Well, now I’m off to help Stacey get Grayson dressed in warm gear so she can take him to play in the snow. I’m smarter than that, and I will stay inside and hang out with Jackie. I hope everyone has a great day! Enjoy the little things!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Survey Says...

I’m having trouble coming up with a real blog today, so here’s a Christmas survey I stole from Stephanie. Thanks!

1. Favorite Holiday Memory?
It’s really hard for me to pick out a single favorite memory, but one that always comes to mind was the year that my parents got the three of us kids our Looney Toons mugs, Taz for Thew, Tweety for Sarah, and Wile E. Coyote for me. We sat around that Christmas afternoon and played games and watched Gettysburg. For some reason I think that was my favorite Christmas.

2. Favorite Holiday Song?
          I’ve always been a sucker for Silent Night, but there are so many good songs with a bunch of different versions. I’m also very fond of The Eagles version of Please Come Home for Christmas.

3. Favorite Holiday Cartoon?
          Man, I am such a nerd. Justice League – Comfort and Joy. It’s great if you’re a comic geek like me. My favorite story line is how Martian Manhunter tries to fit in and hang out with Clark in Smallville.

4. Favorite Holiday Movie? 
          The Santa Clause gets me every time. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Tim Allen – but not to the extent my brother is. He’s just plain creepy.

5. Wrapping Paper or Gift bags? 
          I prefer using wrapping paper because it makes me feel like such a cop out to use a bag. There’s no effort involved in throwing it in a bag.

6. Real tree or artificial?
          I like both, but real trees are a big mess. I know that at some point we’ll have a real tree because Stacey has never had one. Generally though, artificial is the way to go as far as I am concerned.

7. When do you put up the tree?
          We try to put our tree up typically a week or so after Thanksgiving. Never before. I think that’s tacky.

8. More importantly, when do you take down the tree?
          Judging on our history, there is no pattern. Our first Christmas together our tree stayed up until April.

9. Favorite Gift?
          This is a really hard question. I always appreciate gifts more when they come from the heart, like my Classic Waxx poster dad made me a couple of years ago.

10. Hardest person to buy for?
          Hands down it’s Stacey. Sure, my dad is tough, but I always really worry about what I get her. I don’t thing anyone else holds a candle to the mental anguish I go through dealing with her gifts.

11. Easiest person to buy for?
          I think the easiest is probably my brother because he likes the same stuff I do, so it’s akin to shopping for myself.

12. Greeting cards?
          They’re fine and all, but I generally don’t see the point. This year though, we’re sending some out.

13. Nativity Scene?
          Negative. I think they’re generally pretty tacky. Especially the ones in yards in which the paint is coming off of Mary.

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
          Absolutely, without a doubt, my mother’s breakfast casserole. I could eat it three times a day for the rest of my life and not get tired of it.

15. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
          Yes, but only because I have been reading The Night Before Christmas to Grayson.

16. Angel on top of the tree?
          Nope, we used to have a star, but it went missing, so the top of our tree currently sits bald.

17. Open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
          We open in Metropolis on Christmas Eve, and at our house and my parents on Christmas morning.

18. Best part of the holidays?
          The weather and the emphasis on being with you family.

19. Worst part of Christmas? 
          I work retail, take a guess.

20. Weirdest Christmas memory?
          Putting our tree in the bathtub. Until April. I think that pretty much takes the weird cake.

21. Colored lights or white?
          I want colored lights or none. White lights don’t have enough personality for me. Christmas is about kids, you tree should be disheveled and uneven and packed with flashing colored lights.

22. Ever been Christmas caroling?
          I’ve been once or twice but it has been a long time and nothing interesting enough happened that I would clearly remember it.

23. Ever been ice skating?
          A few times in Gatlinburg. It’s not for me. Someone of my size comes careening at you while skating on sharp blades screaming about how he doesn’t know how to stop is enough to clear the rink.

24. Candy Canes or Gingerbread?
          Candy canes. This shouldn’t even be a discussion. Now, if you had asked about sugar cookies, that might be a different story.

25. Christmas quirk?
          I have a really hard time not telling people what I bought them, especially if I’m excited about it. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Spirit

          I remember as a kid this time of year having so much magic. I specifically remember caroling in the car, listening to the Alabama Christmas cassette nonstop at home, decorating the house, baking cookies with mom, and several other things I won’t bore you with. Holidays have always been something that my mother strived to make special for us, and I’m having a hard time trying to pass that same enthusiasm down to my boys. It doesn’t help that, in my current profession, Christmas is a complete pain the butt, but there are still things I could get pumped up about.
          I haven’t wholly followed the path of the Grinch yet, I’ve done a good portion of my shopping which I am thoroughly enjoying this year. It makes a difference when you’re shopping for someone and it’s not crunch time yet. This is going to be a fun year for the holidays, especially with Grayson.
          I need to suck it up and find some holiday cheer so I can show G and J, like my mother showed me, how truly special and fun this time of year can be. It’s important to me that these boys are filled with the joy and the magic of Christmas every year and I certainly don’t want my negative, retail-induced bad attitude to bring them down. I know how important the mythology and the fun of Christmas was to me as a child, and I can’t let myself rob them of those feelings. Thinking back now, I know that there is no way that mom was always as enthusiastic and jolly about the holiday season as she came off to us, but I appreciate the effort to make things special. That’s what’s expected of parents.
          I took the first step yesterday and bought a large copy of “The Night Before Christmas” and Grayson and I read it before bed last night. It was fun and made me feel good when he asked me for more Christmas books. The excitement on his face was plain to see, and I was left feeling a bit bad because that’s the only Christmas book we own, but the effort was made on my part and it resulted in the huge reward of a happy three year old. That’s what this season is all about. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


          Remember in Lethal Weapon the iconic catch phrase of Danny Glover’s character Roger Murtaugh? “I’m getting too old for this shit.” Yeah, me too.

          Yesterday I got home from work around 4 and Stacey told me that her mom had offered to keep the boys so we could go eat. In addition, she also said she could watch them all night because she didn’t keep them Monday. My eyes lit up: freedom! We haven’t had that kind of stretch of off time since we went to Kansas City for a weekend in July.
          On the way home from eating and then walking it off at the mall, we decided to stop by the liquor store; I wanted to try the new Sam Adams Winter Lager and she wanted some champagne. So we picked these up and then came home to our quite, empty house and then proceeded to watch tv and drink.

          I can hear Murtaugh now.

          In our desperate attempt to embrace every second of our freedom, we probably imbibed a tiny bit too much and today we are both paying for it. We’re not catastrophically hung over, but just enough so that we know we were drinking last night. It’s been more than four years since I have been drunk, and I don’t really miss it. It’s not terrible, but feeling like this sucks. Interestingly enough, when I would get hung over in my younger years, it was never that bad, but now that I’m older and haven’t done it so long it’s taking its toll.
          I guess it’s just nature telling me, like Murtaugh, that I’m getting too old for this...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Meaning of Life

I heard something today that’s had my brain working overtime, which sometimes is a relatively easy feat. What I heard was a quote by an author, and now I can’t find his name to attribute it to him, but I guess it doesn’t really matter because whether I have his name or not, you should realize by now that I’m just going to enlighten you on my feelings towards the subject.

“The meaning of life is education and entertainment.”

Learn and have fun. Sounds pretty good to me. You? I really like this statement a lot because it really boils down what we as humans are all about. We are constantly learning and constantly teaching and more often than not, our motivations in life are driven by the next fun thing we get to do. Pretty cool. I think this oversimplifies things a bit, but it’s still a rock solid outlook as far as I am concerned.
The one glaring omission I see is that it leaves out love. Everyone loves someone. Their family, their friends, or some even love themselves. I think love is a universal motivator and it’s the true meaning of life. It’s not about the boat ride, it’s about how much stuff gets moved by your wake. (I just made that up. I may start working on some greeting card pitches.) I think that’s true though. Good or bad, the wake you have created in your life has affected others in numerous ways and, from the way I see it now, it’s all about trying to make it a fun boogie-boarding wake and not an “oh my god he’s drowning” wake.
I’ve said it before on here and I’ll say it again today: I’ve put a lot of negative ‘wake’ into this world. Most likely more than my fair share, but I’ve learned and I’m trying to do better. I understand my mistakes and my outright screw-ups now and I have taken great pains to not follow in those same steps again. Sure, sometimes I open my mouth and say whatever’s on the tip of my tongue and that rubs certain people the wrong way, but at least now I know what I’m doing. There’s the education.
Don’t listen to me (unless you want to use my boat analogy, in which case listen to me and make sure I’m credited appropriately.) or some author telling you what the meaning of your life is. Live for you and the things that drive you. Be a better person tomorrow than you were today and I think you’ll have a pretty good handle on it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

True Creationism

It’s a hair after midnight, so technically it’s Monday. This is the 50th blog entry I’ve made here at The Madness Spiral. I’ll consider 1-50 Volume 1. I’m just starting to get my feet wet and find my voice. It’s been very difficult at times to find topics that I feel the need to talk about and, even more often, difficult to find the time to blog. I never thought that on October 10th that I would still be doing this almost daily and that there would be a handful of people who still kept up two months later. It’s very important to me and very encouraging to know that there are other living, breathing people out there who are at least a trifle bit entertained by my ramblings. I appreciate every one of you for reading.
Sunday was great. Stacey and I woke up and actually got to spend some time together and with the boys today. Then, this evening we ended up at Patti’s with my parents, my brother, and my sister, her husband and their two boys. It was a good time. It was entirely too cold to be out and about, but it was good to have all of us together and out of the house. One of my favorite things is listening to the constant commotion of my two boys and my sister’s two as they interact. It’s fun to say the least. Then Matthew came over and he and Stacey and I played some DnD until around eleven, then Matt and I watched the season finale of The Walking Dead. Fan. Tas. Tic.
It was a great day untarnished by the soul sucking retail industry. It was a day like I could have way more often if I was sitting behind a keyboard for a paycheck, creating something instead of shilling something that small Asian children spent hours on assembling. I’ve got the voices of gods flowing from my fingertips and the design of worlds in my brain. I have a desperate desire to create lately and if I’m not doing it, I feel off. Next to the sounds of my boys’ and my nephews’ laughter, feeling off because I’m not striving to create is about the best feeling in the world.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Walking Dead

          Tomorrow is the Season 1 finale of The Walking Dead. If you’re unfamiliar, you’re dead to me. Well, maybe that’s a little too harsh. Let me scale it back a bit. If you are unfamiliar with The Walking Dead I’m going to give you a crash course.

          The Walking Dead is a comic book series that is written by a good ‘ol Kentucky boy named Robert Kirkman. It is centered on a group of survivors of a zombie apocalypse, primarily Rick Grimes. Rick wakes up in the hospital after he was injured in a shootout (he’s a cop) and the whole world has gone to hell. It’s pretty gripping and fantastic reading. The story follows Rick as he tries to figure out what is going on and where his family is. Contrary to most zombie movies, TWD focuses more on the people who are left and not the monsters. Of course the zombies are a large character in the book, but there will be occasions when you won’t see any for several issues at a time. Kirkman also excels at making you believe these characters and making you realize that the zombies aren’t the most threatening thing left in the world.
          AMC picked up TWD and ran a six episode season starting on Halloween and ending tomorrow night. (By the way, AMC is running the first 5 episodes consecutively before the season finale.) When episode 2 aired, the series was renewed for a second season and that news was received by the geek/dork community with huge applause. Not only that, the show has been critically acclaimed as well. AMC has a great line with TWD, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. This network is slowly but surely becoming a powerhouse.
Now, several purists are a bit upset because the content of the show doesn’t mirror the content of the book. I admit that I am the first to point out differences, but I understand that it can’t be the exact same as the comics. One, comics don’t have a budget. You can do anything you want as long as it can be drawn. The same is not true in television. Two, mixing it up a bit gives the show it’s own legs and exposes it to an audience that would never have read the book. My inner Martha Stewart keeps telling me that “it’s a good thing.” Yes, I have an inner Martha Stewart. Don’t give me that look. Stop it. My mother cooks well and loves crafts! It’s not my fault.

Happy Saturday!

The Black Death

This morning my coffee is serving a dual purpose. Obviously, it’s waking me up, but it’s also soothing my sore throat. Apparently, in the Ragsdale house we all have The Bubonic Plague. Seriously. I’ve considered loading up our used Kleenex to catapult onto our enemies. As you can most likely imagine, because of the sickness, our home life has not been a lot of fun lately. Cranky kids. Cranky parents. It’s a lose lose situation.
Largely, our current malady is destroying our sinuses, but it feels as if it’s affecting our very soul. I’ve never had this experience where four people who live in the same house and are sick try to pretend like they’re not and the keep going even though they’re slogging through a river of mucus. It’s a testament to the human condition. Or maybe it’s a testament to how dumb we are that we just can’t take a break and get better. Either way, we’re soldiers. Soldiers in a war on germs.
Sorry if today’s post is a little weirder than normal. Last night while assembling our Christmas tree I had an allergy attack. The only medication I could find to soothe my itchy, watery eyes was a single Benadryl capsule that expired in 2008. Needless to say, I’m in a bit of a fog today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wifeasaurus Rex

Yesterday I spent all day hanging out with my two best friends in the world: my brother and my wife. Stacey and I woke up and we dealt with our sickly little ones, then Matthew came over at 11:30. We spent all day hanging out and cracking jokes and playing D&D. It was one of the best days I've had in recent memory and it has everything to do with who I was with.

In the last 5 years, Stacey has proven an invaluable asset for me to keep my sanity. She's learned all about my geeky ways and not only accepted, but embraced most of them. I've seen her play Rock Band, read comics, and play D&D with me and I truly think that she understands why these things appeal to me. It's fantastic to have a partner in life who is willing to give my passions and hobbies a shot and I consider myself very lucky to have stumbled across her.

Not only is she my friend, but she's an awesome wife and mother and I'm extraordinarily proud to have her in my life. She's extremely supportive of me and my endeavors. She knows how and when to get through to me when I'm being an idiot. She's honest with me (some times to a fault) and she will tell me exactly what I need to hear. She sacrifices a lot for me and my dreams. One day I hope that I can repay her for that with a level of success due in large part to her. I am thankful every day that I have her and that she is an amazing wife to me. I can't imagine where I would be without her guiding me. 

Thank you, Stacey, for who you are and who you've helped me become. I love you very much.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


          Procrastination is something that I know plagues most of us as we go throughout our lives, and I’m the first to admit that I have been and still find myself a huge victim of it. It’s something that I have always struggled with and, I suspect, I always will.
          Today, while listening to the newest SModcast, I heard about this test called the “Marshmallow Test.” What this consisted of was putting a child in a room by themselves and giving them a marshmallow. The children, ages 3 and up, were told that could eat their marshmallow whenever they wanted to, however, if they waited until adult came back to eat it, then they could have two marshmallows. This test was actually originally conducted in the 60s and 70s and Dr. Walter Mischel, the creator of the experiment, actually followed up with these children well into adulthood.
          The “Marshmallow Test” concluded that the children who could wait the few minutes for the second marshmallow were, overall, more successful in life. Of the children who ate it quickly, a large portion ended up having difficulties in school and ended up with an average of 200 points lower on their SAT. The children who immediately ate their snack were victim of “present bias”.

          Present bias is thinking about the present first and leaving your future self to deal with the consequences. It’s like being on a diet: you tell yourself you’re going to start on Monday, then, when Monday rolls around, you would rather eat the cupcake than scarf the salad. Instinctually, this is how people are wired. Don’t worry about the future because it’s not guaranteed; concern yourself with the here and now. Philosophically speaking, that’s fine, but what happens when you have a 20 page paper due on Friday and it’s Thursday night? Present bias kicks you in the rear then.
          We need to stop acting so instinctually and stop listening to self help “gurus” who say to not worry about the future. Of course we need to worry about the future! If not for the future, then why are we doing all of this work in the present?
          I’ll link an article on procrastination at the end of this blog today that I hope you will read. It’s extremely interesting and the guy who wrote it knows way more than I do. I’m just acting as a knowledge conduit for you. I’ll lead you to the knowledge, but I can’t make you drink. Or something. I’m off to go eat some marshmallows with Grayson.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Typical Monday

          Today had been, well….a day. In typical Monday fashion, I woke up around 8 to a screaming almost 9 month old. So we got up and we got our day started with a little boost from Folgers (me, not the baby) and started hanging out. Then my 3 year old woke up around 9. Enter Dora the Explorer. So, with my television commandeered, I headed to the computer to work on a super secret project which I was really getting into until I realized that I had to get ready for work, find clean clothes for Thing 1 and Thing 2, and get me and Thing 1 showered and fed lunch. Again, typical Monday.
          I dropped the boys off at my in-laws at noon, and then off to work where any will to do anything but work on my super secret project was missing. All I thought about all day was working on this. Sometimes, being employed sucks (most of the time if you’re me.) So after a very long, very slow day of dreary weather and few customers I am finally home. I do love being home. A little bit of drama with the wife and mother-in-law with two vaguely sick little ones, but all is, for the most part, good.
          Now I’m sitting behind my familiar black and silver Compaq keyboard and I can’t make myself work on my project that I have been so amped about all day. Work fried my brain today and now all I want to do is sit on the couch with something to eat and watch television until bedtime. It’s taking every ounce of creativity and will to sit down and write this blog for tomorrow. The sad part is, is that with Christmas rapidly approaching, I know that work is going to sap me of any desire to think.
It is hard being a working parent because all I want to do is spend time with my kids and occasionally sit behind this old CRT monitor and mash some keys. I really need to be able to make money doing this, that way I could tell the soul-sucking retail industry to kiss my…well, you know. The bright side to today is that I know what I’m working towards. I know I want to be able to be at home more and spend more time with Thing 1 and Thing 2 (and the wife too). I have a goal and I’m going to renew my efforts to try and reach that goal. I will continue to keep up with my blog 6 days a week and hopefully, my brother and I will resume our writing project soon. Plus I have a comic that I need to write more of, a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I am starting in a couple of days, and my super secret project (which I will talk about after Christmas if all goes well.) I have tons of outlets for my creativity coming up as long as the clothing industry doesn’t commence with the full frontal lobotomy. 

Monday, November 29, 2010


            A few nights ago Stace and I were corralling the boy and trying to watch some television and she ended up putting it on WE TV. Women’s Entertainment. I bet you can imagine how excited I was. I started watching because, well, if there’s a TV on and it’s not sports, I’ll probably watch it. The program was called “Downsized”. Basically it’s a family with seven children (think Brady Bunch) and they are going through a tough financial time. The husband, Todd Bruce, was a very successful contractor. In 2007 he made 1.5 million dollars. Then the economy started slipping. In 2008 he made only 500 thousand. In 2009 he says he didn’t make much at all. Laura Bruce is a teacher; I think the show said she made around $40,000 a year.
          With the decline in the economy this family is sacrificing to ‘downsize’ there lifestyle. Their house was foreclosed on and they’re living in a rental. When business started to slump, Todd started financing his company payroll on his personal credit cards hoping it was just temporary. His company went under and now he is stuck with the debt. This family has way more money going out at the end of the month than coming in.
          I feel like the show is pretty interesting, if not a bit unrealistic. At their current income (hers plus whatever he can get with his new construction company) they’re making more money than a large portion of Americans. The big crisis of the episode we watched was that the wife, Laura, was used to spending $150 a month on Starbucks coffee. What. The. Hell. Who does that? Even when making 1.5 million why would you spend that much on coffee? It seems absolutely ludicrous. So, she had to figure out how to make her own (it was one of those cold coffee frappuccino things she was obsessed with) so they could cut that much out of their budget. The 10 year old also had to drop cheerleading because it cost $145 a month. That’s more than my power bill.
          I think this family is displaying courage in opening up their lives to the cameras, but maybe they should have had their heads removed from the asses first. These people had borrowed thousand form their children. They’ve been put onto foodstamps. And yet, they have a reality TV show and their big problem is gourmet coffee.
          This is a stunning example of what’s wrong with our country. They didn’t put a middle class family on the show; they picked a family that was rich and is now middle class. Sure, it’s a great step down for them, but the show I want to see is what to do when a household is making $50,000 and their income gets cut in half. Then what? That’s the problem Americans are having. We need to be realistic. This show can help, I guess, but it’s entertainment. They’ve edited it cleverly to make more dram than (most likely) there is. WE wants ratings, so they’re going to get them. I wish this family luck, and I will probably check back in, but this show just seems the disrespect people out there who are truly struggling.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Update

          It’s Saturday again, so a bit more casual of a post for you.

          Thanksgiving was busy this year. We started off at my parent’s house for my mom’s famous breakfast casserole and that completely ruined me for our actual Thanksgiving meal at my Great Aunt’s house. We had a good time and besides the weather, it was fun.
          Then we stopped by the hospital to see Stacey’s grandfather and her family. They had a feast there which was a major relief to us. He’s doing okay, but still in ICU. Hopefully he’ll be out and in a regular room today.
          After the hospital Stace and I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Very good. We both enjoyed it and I can’t wait until part 2. My favorite part of the movie was the fricking GREEN LANTERN TRAILER at the beginning!
          That movie looks amazing and appears very true to the comic book source material. It had, of course, Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, but also had brief glimpses of Abin Sur, Sinestro, Killowog, and Tomar-Re. This movie is going to melt my face off. Watch the trailer. Twice.

Happy Saturday!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Scouting Ahead

          The Boyscouts of America is an organization that I fully support. I truly believe that everything they teach prepares young men for the world outside of their parent’s homes. Not only that, I feel like it helps us get more in touch with our roots and helps get our heads out of the suburbs.
          From Tiger Cubs to Eagle Scout I was a member. I learned a ton and made relationships with people that will last a lifetime. I’ve done merit badge weekends, community service Eagle projects, below zero campouts, and summer camps. I earned merit badges from shotgun and rifle, to orienteering and swimming and everything in between. The BSA is a strong organization and I don’t regret a second that I was a member and I plan on guiding both of my boys through their ranks as well.
          The Boyscouts taught me to Be Prepared. The taught me to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. (I didn’t even have to look that up.) These are the pillars of being a good scout and a good human being. I have never met someone that I thought was too trustworthy. You? I didn’t think so. These are traits that our young men desperately need to have so that they can grow to mold our country’s future; not to mention the various skills that you learn and come in handy. I think a lot of my jack-of-all-trades mentality is due to scouts. I know a little bit about a lot of things – a good majority I learned from being involved with this organization.
          The Boyscouts is also a place to be around positive male role models. It’s a time to be around adults and learn the respect that goes along with that. It’s a time for fathers and sons to bond while fishing or while building a lean-to shelter in the middle of the forest. Mothers definitely have their place too though. Without all of the dedicated mothers there would be drastically fewer Eagle Scouts and the boys who would make it, would most definitely not have pressed shirts and their patches sewn on. Mothers do more than that though. Throughout my experience in Cubscouts, it was predominantly the mothers who were leading and teaching.
          I had an immensely positive experience growing up in scouting and I am so very proud to have hit Eagle Scout. Less than 3% of boys who start Boyscouts (around age 10) ever make it to see Eagle Scout. It’s a big honor, and it’s one I am glad to share with some great men throughout history, great men who I went through scouts with, and even a great man that I shared a room with until I was 13.

Give Thanks

          Today is a day set aside for our country to give thanks for the things that we have. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and, truly, we have no idea how good we have it.
          We were founded because of religious persecution. We rebelled because of taxation. We tore ourselves apart because of states’ rights. We survived an economic meltdown. We helped the allies to a stunning victory. We put men on the moon. We have rallied and become stronger during our darkest times.
          Be proud of what this country is and what it has done in its short history. Be proud of our ancestors for blazing the trail to freedom, independence, and wealth. Be proud of the granite resolve of the American people. I give thanks for this country and those who have molded it and fought for it for over 200 years. We have our faults and our missteps, but we’re still the greatest country on this planet.
          I give thanks to my family. My parents and grandparents for creating a moral and ethical basis for everything I believe. Without Frances and Bernard, my father wouldn’t be who he is. Without Thomas and Pearl, my mother wouldn’t be who she is. These ingredients were thrown into a genetic cauldron and mixed; my sister, my brother, and myself being the result. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for the strong influence of my parents and theirs. Without my siblings, I would’ve grown up lonely and quiet. I wouldn’t have had anyone to play blocks with in that old trailer. I wouldn’t have had anyone to make up goofy roleplaying games with on long car rides. Sarah and Matthew deserve a great deal of gratitude from me for not only sticking by me even when I’ve been a complete ass, but keeping me grounded and centered.
          Most importantly, I give thanks for my wife. Stacey, without you I wouldn’t have my two boys that are the light of my life.  Without you I would still be floating around lost. You’ve saved me from going down a true spiral of madness and your ability to put up with me and everything that comes along with me is nothing less than astonishing. I know I’m not an easy person to be around some days, but I want you to know that I appreciate you and I thank you for everything that you have done for me and our family. I love you more than words.
          Take a minute today and really think about what you’re thankful for and, if it’s people, let them know. Take in all the turkey you can, but before you slip into that tryptophan induced nap, consider all of the things great and small that have made you who you are and be truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Too Much Time On My Hands

          Sometimes having so many interests is a real pain. This dilemma may be quite foreign to some of you, but for me it’s a routine problem.
          For instance: right now I’ve found myself with an odd bit of down time. This never happens. I’m not spitting hyperbole at you. Literally, I never have the house to myself without some sort of something that I need to be doing. I guess that tonight the stars have aligned. The boys are spending the night with my in-laws (which they do every Monday night) and Stacey is visiting her grandfather at the hospital. Laundry is reasonably caught up and the dishwasher is loaded and ready to go.
          My conundrum is this: What do I do with this meager free time? Here’s a list of things that I want/need to do.
·        Work on writing my comic
·        Work on writing my novel
·        Practice my guitar
·        Learn to use my amp better than what I do
·        Clean my guns
·        Do research on guns
·        Surf my preparedness forums
·        Listen to podcasts
·        Clean my office
·        Catch up on my reading
·        Work on my Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Sun campaign
·        Figure out schematics to build my amp case
·        Watch one of my library of unwatched movies
·        Play some Xbox

This is just what I could ramble off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more things I could/should be doing, but here I sit. The house is empty. The lights are off and for the first time in three years I can fully hear my own thoughts. For November, it’s oddly warm so the windows are all open and it’s steadily raining.
          There are so many things that I should be doing. Sitting here on a Monday night and writing Wednesday’s blog apparently has topped the list. It’s approaching 11 now so I’m going to wrap it up and head to bed.
I have no kids to bathe and get into bed tonight. No wife to entertain. This is a very peaceful scenario for me. Just me and the dogs. Hanging out.

I might actually lose my mind.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Yesterday I got a really detailed comment on my blog about 2nd Amendment rights. It’s definitely good to see that the things I write can make some people think, and I really do enjoy knowing that there are people reading. So, what I’m going to do today is repost that comment as a blog, but add in my own take on a few things. Jennifer is very intelligent and very well informed on things, so this is by no way trying to throw her under the bus.
          Well, here we go: (Jennifer's original comment is in the smaller font with my two cents in the normal font.)

I agree - it is the right of every law-abiding citizen to arm themselves (with proper training and certification). I have no problem keeping guns in my home as long as I know gun and bullets are not within reach of anyone not old enough or smart enough to know not to touch them. I admit that I don't like handguns. I've never been around them, my dad never had one and I'd prefer not to have one in my house, let alone carry one around. But again, that's my preference. Doesn't bother me at all if you do. And I too wouldn't have any problem ending the life of someone who is trying to break into my home and get me or my family. Good riddance. HOWEVER- Can we please do a better job in this country of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals.
-That’s a tough one. Criminals by nature do not uphold the law. Any gun control statutes will be ignored by the people who are obtaining the guns to commit crimes with. If you’re going to murder someone, why would you be scared of an unlawful possession charge. Gun control only hurts the law abiding citizens.

 I believe the right to bear arms should ONLY apply to those citizens who have not committed crimes. I think if you break the law and commit certain crimes (theft, murder, rape, selling serious drugs, etc.)you should lose your right to bear arms. Period.
-Technically, those rights can be taken away. Certain felons for instance are not allowed to own any sort of firearms. Also, a background check must be run for a person to qualify to carry a concealed weapon.

And I don't know if everyone should get and carry a gun around just because they can. I know you've met some of these morons that walk the earth - I personally don't want to encourage all of them to walk around with a gun. ;)
-This is an extremely valid point but, I think that if you can carry you should. I definitely agree with making sure people who carry have at least some formal training. I also feel that there are people who may be as dumb as a rock, but still know how to handle a weapon and treat it responsibly. If you knew that 90% of the population carried a firearm, how likely would you be to commit a crime? If you were a robber and you knew that the family on the left side of the street was a gun toting household and the family on the right was not, which house would you target? Criminals are not, generally, as dumb as we think they are.

And, I think guns are something that you really should grow up around, learn to handle properly at a young age (not just starting in adulthood) to really be comfortable with and know how to handle. Maybe some people can learn later, but I got my hunting license when I was about 12 - and I'd plan to do the same if I had kids. Sounds bad to some people to be teaching a 12 year old how to handle a firearm, but that may be the best time to teach them the proper respect for them. Jennifer C.
-I very much agree with the sentiment that we should teach our children as soon as you feel they are mature enough to responsibly handle a weapon. I do not that that 12 years old is too young. I would love to take my 8 year old nephew out the .22 sometime. It’s definitely a maturity thing. Also, make it so that you family feels safe around guns. The instructor for my concealed class let his children see his guns anytime they asked to. He taught them the rules and safety measures of course but by removing that taboo factor from firearms makes children a lot less curious. If they know all they have to do is ask, why would they go after it without asking?

Up until 2006 I could count on my hands how many times I hand fired a gun. Most of my experience was in the form of a .22 rifle, but I did earn my Shotgun and my Rifle merit badges in Boyscouts. It’s absolutely something that can be learned later in life. I don’t even think that would be a disadvantage at all because as you get older you really understand mortality more in depth and you’re less likely to make a stupid mistake.

Jennifer, thank you so much for reading and for the input. I really appreciate your comments. You and I have some different views on things, but that’s what makes it interesting. Hopefully I’ve made you think about things as much as you have me.

I like this mailbag idea. I’m definitely going to try to do it more often so keep the comments coming in and you can see me discuss in more detail the subject on which you commented.

Thanks again for reading!