The Plan Going Forward (2018+)

I am not one to make a big thing out of the new year. It’s one more day;, an arbitrary marker. Nothing really starts and stops except the tax year. A measure of how seriously I take this: I once made a New Year’s to never make another New Year’s resolution, and I have faithfully kept that for decades.

That this weekend marks a change of direction in my life is a coincidence. From the time my life fell out from underneath me  to the point where I could realistically transition from damage control to forward progress again happened to line up with the new year.

I am emotionally reconciled that my marriage is over. Most of the financial transition that situation forced has been completed, or is on schedule to be completed. I have completed moving the giant pile of crap that I take responsibility for from one address to another.

I have a pile of old tax returns to set on fire in my new yard, and on that occasion, I will allow myself some self pity over this matter for one last evening. You are welcome to join me. I will be drinking good whisky.

Then we are done with all of that shit.

What follows now is as much for my reference as any other purpose. If you came just for writing advice, or random facts, or the antics of octopi, nothing below here will satisfy that. It’s all about me. If you stop reading here I will not take that personally.

People have a much higher chance of achieving goals if they write them down. I am putting myself publicly (even though I average like six hits per post – this is a public blog) on the spot for this.

Here’s the plan going forward.

Finish the damn books.

A chapter a week in both the Jack sequel and  the 64 sequel, and starting in spring some non-fiction project as well.

I have no shortage of ideas, and have been blessed with the ability to describe them in writing at a professional level. The trick now is to keep my ass in the chair.

It is a known dynamic of publishing that if you get three good books to market, you begin to develop a readership, and by ten books, this becomes a feedback loop swelling into a following.

They have to be good books – but I feel I am up to that. Quantity/time is my major challenge.

This can be done if 5000 words per week becomes my minimum. The default format for this blog will be documenting my progress towards that. (And other things that come to mind.)

This week I hit 4000, counting this blog. Since I’m working tonight, that’s going to stand.


Divesting myself of all this crap in a rational manner

I still find myself valuing things and stuff more than perhaps would be best-practice Buddhism. Couldn’t quite bring myself to leave it all for the dumpster. I left a lot – but that is kinda hard to tell from walking through my house now. About half of my total possessions are still in piles. That you can walk around my house testifies to my ability to stack efficiently more than my economy of inventory.

The plan, over the next few years, is to get myself down to an inventory level that is actually mobile. To get there, some things have to happen:

  • For everything I acquire, something has to go. I am replacing, not adding.
  • I have some memorabilia and collectables that are wasted on a thrift store shelf. Collectors who want these things will seek them on the internet, and I plan to put them there for them to find. That project replaces the non-fiction book until it is done.
  • I’m going to limit my books to what can fit on the bookshelves. I’ve given myself some time for this, first because I lost nearly half my bookshelf space in the move, and second to give myself some time to read these books before I get rid of them somehow. Also crucial to this plan – more bookshelves.
  • Now that I have an appropriate space, I’m going to transform this pile of tools and hardware into a workshop, and make stuff out of the accumulated materials that I couldn’t bring myself to toss in the trash. Maybe some of it will be worth something – I don’t know.  There is no downside to trying.
  • A workshop also enable more efficient home repair and renovations, which will be ongoing.  I rent this place well below market value on the assumption that I take care of upkeep and repairs.
  • I am going to eliminate my unsecured debt. I have a budget that alloows me to live within my base pay, so I can throw my extra income (Rhino and what-have-you) into debt relief until it is gone.

For the record, this is nearly identical to my plan before my life fell apart. It took me three months, but I am back to where I can pursue that again with a straight face. This point coincidentally marks the promise of new year.


Coda: The end game

If you made it this far, I can tell you how it ends. I am resolved not to die in this house surrounded by piles of stuff I can no longer manage. My grandfather has already done that gag, in the very room I write this from, and I would find a different path.

I daydream of a compound, shared with other parties, where we have combined resources into a big workshop, a big kitchen and an expansive library. I don’t have much to add to the kitchen, but I can help out with the other two. Then all I need is a bedroom, and a place to park the RV I otherwise work out of. By work out of, I mean drive somewhere nice, write through my 14 day stay limit, drive somewhere else, come back to the compound when the circle leads me there. That would be my ideal endgame.

There are, of course, a lot of moves between here and there. But now we know how I want it to end up.

Then I’ll figure out what comes next.



It’s easier to move things than to change information.

I have finished moving about 1000 feet, and can resume thinking about my life i terms of  jobs done and words written, instead of boxes and furniture moved from A to B. Thanks publicly here to all those who helped, with either kind words and thought, but especially those who helped with actual doing of deeds.


Same dork – new cave

Between what Penny took for herself, and what I left behind as either garbage or charity, I think I have shed 40% of the total inventory of the old place. Now- I still have plenty of stuff. I am uncomfortably close to being a hoarder, but I come by this genetically.

My grandparents bought the house I live in now new in 1952. When he died, and my mother inherited the place, I took custody of a big pile of his accumulated tools and hardware, hauling them a thousand feet south, often on foot.

Now I have finished hauling much of that 1000 feet north again. Some of this stuff will go back to the same place I found it. So it goes.

This place was built at the same time as my old residence, which is, seriously, on the other side of the block. The original (I believe) owner of that house was a mason by trade, so the house has seven foot stone walls around the backyard, and a couple of block wall additions.

My grandfather was an electrician, so I find mystery switches and sockets and cuircuits in every corner. What they both had in common is they did quite a bit of additions to their homes without ever pulling permits.

This was actually my first residence in Phoenix, after my mother’s first divorce forced her to move back to the Valley from Tucson. Through most of my childhood my grandmother was either unemployed or part-time, so my sister and I came here every afternoon after school.  So you think I’d know the place.

Except I have never lived here when it was my role to care which circuit breaker controls which outlets. There are still many details about this house I have yet to discover.

But I’m here now, with time to poke around. I even have the essentials unpacked and arranged in v1.1 of how the house will actually be organized. The hardest part, I have learned, was not the logistics of physically moving. That all went pretty close to plan.

Changing account information with creditors and utilities has been the true nightmare.Some of this is because my wife primarily dealt with the actual paying of the bills, and so her name always comes up first. Most of it, though, is willful incompetence.

Being the sort to name names, here are the worst, in order of incompetence:


I am the only person left on the 4 line family plan, and the only one interested at all in keeping service with this company. (I like my phone and own it outright.) I have spent nine+ hours on the phone with their robot drones from Pakistan trying to explain that  I still have no clear path to having a plan with my name on it. I did finally get the useful info that the family plan is basically paid up through the December 24. At that point, the only number my phone will call will be Sprint, where hopefully the bot on the other end can break with script (they are all “very sorry for the inconvenience” and “appreciate my patience” because that’s what their screens prompt them to say.

Or I walk my bricked phone over to Verizon, and they’ll set me up in 30 minutes. (not with the phone I have, of course, or that would have already happened).

Vantage West Credit Union

They own the note on my Soul, which is in Penny’s name, as is the title to my car. So yes, my wife really does own my Soul. This was never Penny’s intention. We think someone at the dealership skipped a line. In either case,  my name is not on my primary transport vehicle, and that’s a problem.

Vantage West won’t change the name on the loan, even though my income and credit were pulled to secure that loan. Their solution: refinance at a higher interest rate.

Cox Communications

I thought this went easy over the phone: new account at a new address (with existing cable – they didn’t even need to send someone) at a lower rate to reflect my simpler needs.

The bill I got had my wife’s name and phone number, but my e-mail, the new address, and the equipment and service details from the previous tenant.

Unlike the other two, Cox has laid out a path to solvency: show up to a retail store with a proof that I live here (My mom created a rental agreement), and this should get fixed.]

UPDATE: I left the solutions store after my second visit thinking we had this solved, and came home to find my internet turned off. A call to technical support finally solved the puzzle: once upon a time I had two modems (an old and a new). They had activated the old one. Obviously, since I can post now, this had been solved.

We shall see.

Anyway, I’m 70% moved in with the 60% of the crap that’s left of my previous life. And I might make word count next week for the first time in a month.


Anything but politics

Which, so you know, is a struggle.

We went to Palm Springs (actually Cathedral City, but they are separated by a sidewalk) for Thanksgiving, because family. We now know the chair lift that takes you near the top of 8000 foot San Jacinto mountain costs $27/head. I’d tell you more, but that stopped us right there.

If you want to visit Joshua Tree National Park, the best way in is the south entrance. On what a ranger told us was the busiest day of the year, we entered without wait or charge. The visitor center was jacked, but the entrance was unencumbered.

We saw a tarantula. Joshua Tree is actually kinda sparse on huge wonders you can see from the car. It’s a hiking/climbing destination, and I had the wrong crew for that.

Stopping in Quartzsite for sustenance, we visited the Hi Jolly Memorial – so you don’t have to.


My Rheem gas water heater went 14 years before the bottom rusted out, so I bought another one. If you have an old house, like mine, it is worth it to hire a plumber to replace the corroded, seized valve. But replacing the tank itself can be done by anyone of average handyman competence, and a buddy.

My dog has been laying in the same spot for a third straight day with “Old dog vertibulosis” which is basically vertigo. We have medicine for it. It’s yet to really work. We shall see. The folks at Madison Animal Hospital took us in  minutes before closing on a Sunday night as we clamored in with this 70 pound senile dog that we supposed to be near death. They were very helpful.

At Curious Continuity, ghost universes aren’t the same as time travel.

At Fantastical History, I whine about how deep POV ruined my literary vision for a fairty tale.

And at The64, I announce the novel that will actually happen.

Rejoice in a manner befitting your people.

Also this:


Now you know.


How I spent my vacation

I took some vacation to coincide with the kid’s spring break, and to get some work done on the house (still hail damaged) while the weather is good.

If you remove the ugly siding from my house, the turquoise cinderblock beneath  is even worse. BUT my backyard is now a more organized landfill with my new shed. If you build a pre-fab metal shed, you have to get it square and level, or the holes won’t line up. But after 8 hours, you really stop caring and just screw into the metal wherever you have to. It’s a shed. It keeps the rain off the lawnmower and the sun off of the plastic sawhorses. Relax.

That said, beer does not make the roof assembly go any easier.

I am studying for my ETCP rigging certification. Really. So I’ve been covering basic force calculation and remedial pythagoran theorems. to wit:

If you have a weight (some big stupid moving light) hung from a truss supported by two motors, and you want to know the weight held by a particular motor, the formula is:

F= D2/span x Wt

Where F is the force

D2 is the distance past centerline (or in this case, the point the weight hangs from)  opposite from the motor

span is the entire span between the motors

and Wt is the weight of the thing.

I won’t get into the algebra and the special cases and such, but a few things to remember:

This formula also works for bridles

Remember to include the weight for everything in the air

When figuring bridles, its helpful to know that they reduce themselves to triangles, and all sorts of remedial geometry applies.

When calculating a circumference, PIxDiamter = (2PI)radius. This isn’t a secret, I just never realized it.

For the writers:

Duotrope’s Digest lists “over 3325 current Fiction and Poetry publications” online and free and search-able.

One writer’s encounter with “gastronaughts” and blood pork.

And fat may help us live forever after all. This National Geographic article splits the difference between scientific journal articles and pop-news coverage.

(These topics all came up at our Thursday Night Writer’s Group)

Did I post this already?: Mike Brotherton’s hard SF resource page

And finally,

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why religious fundamentalism is the opposite of progress.

You Tube teaser – if you don’t have time for the full talk:

Now you know


More “Careful What You Wish For”

For the last week I’ve lived the life I always said I wanted (within limts – these are the goals I could realistically hope for) a few years ago.

It’s fun – no doubt. But its exhausting. So whileI slept that off,my wife hoarked my laptop to do her homework, capping of an already considerable delay.

I rebuilt two of the five gates to my yard. That was never really a life goal, but I’m glad I got it done.

gate-perspectiveThe photo shows the other gate for contrast.

I attended a book signing and then went home ad slapped together a marketing survey for what I hope is my next book. Good News/Bad News there: The survey contained the info they wanted to see, but, despite selling out at the book signing, I’ve only sold 94 copies from national book chains – where most copies are sold. <sigh…>

My book proposal is a similar format covering the Coconino National Forest, which includes outdoor hotspots of Sedona and Flagstaff. But if the original sn’t moving, there’d be less appettite for a sequal.

The again, they made Starship Troopers II.

I’m fairly certain I was the only author at the book signing with an actual publisher who paid me (in advance). Everyone else was self-published.

I took ten copies and walked out with none, BUT I sold seven copies to people I already knew, including my stepmother who bought four copies because she’s a compulsive gift-giver. So it goes.

Then I had the chance to design and run a moving light show for the first time in two years.


That’s from the 2009 Suns Charity Dinner. The performer is Tamia Hill (wife of Suns forward Grant Hill, but equally talented in her sphere).

By all accounts it well (despite Suns players appearing briefly as “guest vocalists”).

DO NOT daisy chain DMX between Studio Colors and Mac 2000’s. You might think that because Mac’s have 3pin (and 5pin) DMX that this would work out like DMX signal is supposed to. That assumption leads to daring do on an A-frame ladder at 3am. Studio Colors do not play nice with newer DMX units. I dimly remember running into this barrier before – but I wasn’t in charge.

On a related note, I have long known from an experience so bad its comic now, that you cannot use Atomic strobes as 3pin-5pin DMX adapters.

The key to executing looks quickly with moving lights is to set useful groups and then map out all your positions first. Creating looks after that is just a few steps more (mainly gobos, and their FX) than doing it with conventionals.

Oh, and operating a Grand MA lighting console is not at all like riding  a bike.

I’m also pretty sure this was the first time in 3 years I had a competent ME helping hang my design who wasn’t myself.

I’m sitting in catering, trying to gulp down some outstanding salmon in the ten minutes I had to eat, when Suns owner Robert Sarver burst in the room, slapped me on the back (because I was closest to the door, I suspect) and exhorted us all that we should have fun doing whatever we do.

I’ve also been pushing The Game ahead (I may add a page just for that). I’m still plowing through a working revision of the rules. I have a formula for aging (and associated stat loss), rather than a table, and this pleases me. I also have an spreadsheet summarizing the damage system, which I’ve been wanting to fabricate for as long as I;ve been thinking I ought to just rebuild the damn gate.

Two good sites:

The Space Site for clear, readable extrapolations of the possibilities beyond our planet and

Technovlegy : a compendium of ideas from SF, and who came up with them first.

Now you know.



Random revelations from a fun weekend

Because we could all use a fun weekend…

The AMC bowling alley near Chris-town has Guiness on tap. A family of four can bowl and eat pizza for about $65 (not including black & tans), and watch as your children discover that real bowling is not at all like the Wii.

With current construction conditions, it is 2.5 hours door to door from the Padegimas house to the Kinsey residence in Tucson. (Half of the eight people who read this know who I’m talking about. A fourth of them live there.)

Watchmen is rated R for good reasons. Don’t bring the kids.

The Gifted and Talented Education  (GATE) program in Arizona is largely funded by federal grants, and so survives the state budget ax better than a lot of programs you might think more vital.

By the time I’m finished, the hardware for my new gate might cost as much as the lumber.

You can fit a 9′ board inside a Malibu.

The Rio Solado project, along the banks of the Salt River as it “flows” through Phoenix (though it currently has a fair bit of water) makes for a good, easy hike if you’re out of shape, and don’t want to prepare for an expedition to get your mileage in. But there is NO convenience store within walking distance of the trailheads.

My Beloved Suns are running out of time to win their bet with GM Steve Kerr and make the play-offs. They must win a LOT of games to overtake Dallas – who they play next – for the 8th spot in the West. Perhaps some mid-court defense would be in order after all…

Now you know.


Counterproductive Drunks

It wasn’t my fault. The desk lamp knocked my beer over into the basket of freshly washed laundry. The lamp, I suspect, was drunk.


Of course, so was I. Not only was I not moving laundry forward, I was actually being counter-productive, which is just gut-wrenching for a workaholic.

Still, not nearly as traumatic as taking time out of my life to watch the Suns kinda wave their hands a little bit as Celtic after Celtic dashed past them for nearly uncontested lay-ups. Did GM Steve Kerr laugh or cry? I couldn’t tell.

Memo to former NBA coach and now ABC commentator/curmudgeon Jeff Van Gundy: Basketball is supposed to be fun. This is not Hardball. Lighten up.

A few writing links:

Gary Westfahlon why so many SF predictions don’tcome true. [via Locus Online]

And Lynn Viehl, in her blog Paperback Writer, shares the 22 Immutable Laws of Publishing.

So say we all.

Campground reservations jumped 11% in January, and firearm sales jumped 28.8% (though an upcoming change in legalities may have prompted the gun sales).

“Yes, economic times are tough and it’s obvious that lots of people are facing financial hardships. But lots of folks also respond to such challenging times by realizing the things that matter most to them – family, friends and the outdoors – can be enjoyed without a big hit on the family budget,” said Gary Hovatter, deputy director for the Arizona Game and Fish Department [to the AZGF public information officer].

Here’s hoping that hiking is recession-proof.

I can replace both for the gates in my backyard for about $150 in materials, which is refreshingly affordable. Now, just getting it done…

And then drink beer.

Now you know.