2016 A-to-Z Challenge

Happy 2016 World!  Hope everyone is getting along nicely.

So, I sat out the 2015 A-to-Z Challenge to really focus on combining my two NaNo novels into one and accomplished about 20% of that goal.

This year I have a plan.  See, my new novel is centered around agriculture and I know only a smattering of high-level ag knowledge.  As such, I have set 3 goals for the 2016 edition of the A-to-Z Challenge:

  1. Learn more about agriculture so I can include fact-based information into the story.
  2. Provide an opportunity for others to learn while I do via this blog.
  3. Become a better person for investing the time to learn something new

Off to start some frantic research, so apologies in advance for a less than stellar first two days.  Last minute decision, and Sunday looks like a research fun day.  Happy Writing friends!

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Come on Gus Go Potty! Gus Go POOOOP!

“Come on Gus Go Potty! Gus Go POOOOP!”

I have a new neighbor and while I do not know her name, I do know that her dog’s name is Gus.

“Come on Gus Go Potty! Gus Go POOOOP!”

Like any normal dog, Gus just wants to go outside and play. Winter in Iowa has clearly been hard on Gus and I certainly don’t blame him. For a few weeks every Winter, no one wants to go outside. We all just stay inside and watch House of Cards – Season 3. Can I get a hell-yeah?!?

“Come on Gus Go Potty! Gus Go POOOOP!”

Alas, poor Gus needs to go outside and figures, if I am going through all that commotion, I am just gonna enjoy it all for a while. Gus did not check with the human being in this relationship. Bad move Gus. Bad move.

“Come on Gus Go Potty! Gus Go POOOOP!”

Every time Gus makes any kind of move that is not his leg lifting or squatting on his haunches, he gets a stern ‘NO’ and swift reminder that the snow best turn yellow, and soon.

“Come on Gus Go Potty! Gus Go POOOOP!”

The lack of concern from both parties, about the Poop part of this daily scene, is troublesome. I am not sure that Gus quite knows his limit of holding in his poop. And I am extra confident that the human being knows little to nothing about impacted bowels.

“Come on Gus Go Potty! Gus Go POOOOP!”

For your health and safety Gus, please, please just poop.

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Head Into The Cold

So, just past one month in my new home in the Midwest, and I get my first head cold in over 2.5 years. That’s right. I was just minding my own business when **bam** I spend the better part of 3 days in bed alternating between DayQuil, NyQuil, Mucinex DM, water and Gatorade. Fluids in, fluids out. Keep it out of your chest by any means necessary.

I have been a good boy. I have been eating better than usual. A teaspoon of local Iowa honey each day, a good multivitamin and plenty of rest. Exercising more and trying to be a good boy. But I learned that none of that seems to be able to counter inconsiderate people.

So, to the lady sitting to my right, who sneezes 12 times a day, ever day, at 2pm. And to the lady to my left who sneezes and doesn’t cover her mouth. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me why, sometimes, it is good to just work at the local gas station or library, away from the thousands of people carrying millions of germs, who don’t cover their mouths when they sneeze, cough or wheeze.

All that aside, I am kind of glad to catch it early in the season. I am going to be living in this area for a few years at least, so making it 1.5 years means my body is doing something right. And I do believe it will build up the proper resistance to keep the nasties at bay long term.

But for now, I cough, blow my nose, and cough again. And sleep. Sleep, perchance to dream.

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Happened To Me. U2?

Happened To Me. U2?

Wow. Just….wow. The public outcry about the free U2 album provided to anyone and everyone that has an Apple device (or uses iTunes, btw) bordered on wingnut crazy! I read some of the comments on a few of the tech blogs and at one point a person was basically making the argument that by Apple forcing them to download and listen to something they didn’t want was tantamount to a violation of their privacy.

Huh? Look, for the record I am a hardcore U2 fan and loved the idea of getting an album for free. But that bias aside, I read that statement, and just had to log off the Internet and go to bed. I am just not very tolerant when it comes to sweeping statements to make a point. First, I had to do a couple of Google searches to find out how to actually get the album, so I can tell you first hand that Apple didn’t force me to download it. Second, I had to take an action to click on a song in order to listen to it, so Apple didn’t force me to listen to the album.

Look. I get that people who aren’t U2 fans could get all bent out of shape about one of their albums popping up in their inventory. And I get that they should be able to express that displeasure and get Apple to fix that, which is what happened when Apple released the fix to remove the album. That’s it folks. It isn’t a conspiracy to force you to download and listen to music you don’t want to hear. It just isn’t.

What it is is a genius marketing move by U2. They reportedly got paid $100 million dollars for an album that had zero digital media to press, instant distribution to 500 million people and free advertising as part of Apple’s big launch of the year. That’s just smart business. Sure, it could be the start of a slippery slope of mega bands giving music away for free and driving down sales of indie musicians, disrupting their ability to make money for a living. But I think we can see by the backlash on this promotion, that just won’t be happening anytime soon.

And, for the record (no pun intended) the album was mediocre, and the first real disappointment from one of my favorite bands. I am not going to remove it, but I’m not going to listen too it again anytime soon.

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Blue Bayou

Blue Bayou

For as long as I can remember, my favorite color has been blue. From the blue skies above to the blue walls of most of my bedrooms. The bright shades bring happiness and joy, the softer tones comfort during times of sadness and the deep tones a sense of regal pride.

My father, and by extension me, was a big Linda Ronstadt fan. That thought just popped into my head because of the title I gave this entry, and gave me pause to reflect and smile. The magic of that color blue I suppose.

But I wonder how many people are out there missing all the different shades of blue? It still amazes me how much time people spend with their heads buried into a smart phone, never taking the time to pause, reflect and enjoy the natural beauty around them. I carry a nice phone, I use it to communicate with family and friends and play an occasional game of Words with Friends.

But when I am walking down the halls at work, walking down the sidewalk on the street, or walking through the gigantic mall behind my hotel, I watch people. I try as often as I can to make eye contact, mouth a silent hello with a smile or heaven forbid, strike up an actual conversation.

I also get to see all different shades of blue in clothing, decor and of course, the big, gorgeous sky.

I’ll never be blue. My dreams come true. On Blue Bayou.

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Apartment Hunting

Apartment hunting is not a fun task.

I have spent the last 1.5 years living the big life in a hotel, with the majority of the expense covered by a per Diem while I worked a contract job. That was the life I planned for the foreseeable future, until I messed up and actually liked the boss and team I worked with and decided to pursue the job full time and start a second career.

One month in, I am 110% certain I made the right decision and look forward to the hard work ahead of me. The opportunity to apply the knowledge I have gained over the years and being compensated at the appropriate level for that work while I learn even more is awesome. The ability to save and invest for retirement is awesome. The cost of living in a hotel is not awesome.

There are so many different apartment types within a 10 mile radius and while most I have looked at are close to what I would like for the next few years, I haven’t found that one yet. I do not want to settle but at the same time I do not want to be paying such a high rate of rent. There is a home purchase in my near future and for that I need savings.

Tomorrow I take a tour of what looks like a promising place to settle for the short term. I have said that numerous times already, and perhaps this time it will ring true. While I certainly don’t live a totally spartan lifestyle, I am also not looking for the Taj Mahal. A simple one bedroom with a lot of space, or a two bedroom to adequately separate my living and my writing are the main criteria. The other would be a top floor, ideally in a two story complex.

I am hopeful that I will find what I want and optimistic that I will find something close enough to what I want that will suffice as a new temporary home. The hotel lifestyle has been a unique experience and would not trade this experience even if the chance arose that I could go back and do it differently. There is something settling and comfortable living in a dynamic environment when you have relocated 800 miles from home.

But that was the short-term vision and I have to think long. It is a good mindset to have as you sit down to plan and write a novel. It doesn’t happen overnight and certainly won’t come to fruition without that long term focus and commitment.

Perhaps the search for an apartment is just what I needed to fuel the fire of writing.


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Routine is the key to success, in writing and in life.

I would put quotes around that statement, if I knew who deserved the credit, however, I just typed that out of my head, so it may just be me. I imagine I read that somewhere and don’t recall but regardless, it rings true in how I approach my writing and my life.

So today marked the first day in re-establishing my writing routine, in preparation for NaNoWriMo in November. Early to rise and early in to work, knowing the day would be a busy one, but also knowing my evening routine needed to be established. True to form, work was a busy day and there were a lot of issues that needed to be addressed, and they served as a reminder to me that I spend a great deal of time writing during the day. That writing is structured and focused to assure I am respectful of the time of others. In a way, real life training for writing a novel.

Home from work about a half hour earlier than normal and straight to the exercise room for 30 minutes of exercise. Physical activity needs to be part of the daily routine regardless, but especially when I know that I will be spending a good deal of time applying the BIC principle from yesterday. A quick shower and a bite to eat, then getting down to business taking care of the left over open items from the days to-do list. The exercise tonight is kicking my lazy rear from the last few weeks, so not as much done in this regard, but it should improve.

The way it is looking now, I should have about two hours a night to commit to writing, more if I hit a groove, then off to get some sleep before starting a new day. One thing I will consider is writing some in the mornings, if I am awake early enough, or have even 15-30 minutes to spare. Something to get the creative juices flowing and maybe spark some plot twists when I find time during the day.

I am getting excited for the challenge ahead and encourage anyone reading this to consider working towards the goal of participating in NaNoWriMo this year. It is definitely a daunting task, but if approached with organization and the right attitude, a doable and educational experience.

Here endeth today’s BIC exercise.

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