Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chapter 5

A Tangled Web
It's been a long week.  I'm about halfway through editing and revising Chapter Five.  It's been both fun and difficult as I've had to include more information than was originally there - due to the improvements I made at the end of the story.  It seems to be working well so I'm just going to stick at it.  Even as I'm writing it I can just tell that this is only the beginning of a very long and meticulous revision process.  It's not so much that I can see inconsistencies in the structuring of the plot, but I just don't feel that it's 'gelling' together very well between chapters.

In Chapter Five I have a character who must appear to be a goody, but in actual fact he's working for the enemy.  I want to write it in such a way that the reader won't see through the disguise on the first reading, but when (if) they read it for a second time they will learn more about how deceitful this particular character is.  The problem I have when writing like this is that I always feel like I've given too much away and so constantly alter it to make things more subtle to the point that it no longer achieves its purpose.

I've adopted the mentality that as long as I'm constantly working on it, it doesn't really matter when I finish.  Once the plot inconsistencies have been rectified I think that I'll feel much better about it all.  So for now I'm going to get back to it and hopefully complete the editing of Chapter Five tonight.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Photo of a pink azalea

It looks like the weather here in Michigan is warming up for good. The mosquitos are already letting their presence be known but they are a minor nuissance in comparision to the floral beauty to be found all over town. The azaleas are huge and the honey suckle vines are already sending sweet scent through the thick warm air.

St. Mary's is even more like a picture book at this time of year than any other. It a beauty that leaves me uneasy and suspicious. Because never once for even a second am I ever unaware of exactly what stage of recovery Nola is in. Ever. It is a painful contrast that I struggle to balance within my life daily.

See, what no one wants to discuss in polite company is this - what happened to the gulf coast (and it's subsequent near abandonment) can happen ANYWHERE. As a matter of fact it will happen there again - in about four to six months. Why? Because we won't have levees much less local leaders with any sense. What we will have is lots of yet to be picked up debris that will get tossed around and thousands of vulnerable houses with blue roofs, trailers, and tents on slabs that will provide little or no protection to residents during even the lightest hurricane.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Surgical Bone Screws

X-ray showing the distal portion of a fracture...
There’s a new sheriff in town when it comes to orthopedic bone screws says a team of scientists from Germany. For quite a long time, bone screws have been made out of titanium and will often stay in your body for the rest of your life. In those situations titanium bone screws are just fine, however patients will often need to have the bone screws removed after their bodies have fully recovered. The German scientists have claimed to have made biodegradable screws that will simply melt away after a given period of time, and are completely harmless to your body.

This could pave a new way for how orthopedic bone screws and other orthopedic implants are manufactured in the future. It poses quite a challenge for manufacturers, and requires a whole new method and new machinery to manufacture them. However there’s plenty of time to plan, as the bone screws need to pass through a slew of quality and safety tests before they can be widely used around the world.

Bone screws have indeed come a long way, as prior to their invention it was incredibly difficult to fix a variety of bone fractures, and patients would never fully recover or the bone would heal incorrectly. Bone screws hold bones and everything else together and give the patient much more freedom to move around and recover as naturally and quickly as possible.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Chapter 8 and the Query Letter

Society Finches

I feel that things are going quite well.  I'm currently working on Chapter Eight - which is a massive surprise since I've barely had the inspiration to get out and get on my snowmobile since I wrecked it (note to self, get insurance).

This time last year I was getting block all the time and couldn't concentrate on my novel for long at all.  I don't know if it's just because I feel like I'm so close to the end that's spurring me on, or if the overdose of positivity is finally kicking in.  In either case I'm not going to complain.

A bit premature, I know, but I 've been working on the query letter that I'll be submitting to potential agents.  

After devouring the whole of Query Shark's blog I felt inspired to set to work on it straight away.  The way I'm looking at it, is that I'm going to have to write it at some point and it's going to take a lot of time - with the whole writing it and leaving it and rewriting it and then leaving it some more...  you get the idea - so why not start it now and keep on improving it as I'm writing my novel?  All the advice I've read says that the query letter is just as important as the story I'm telling, after all, a bad query letter will see the greatest of novels go unpublished.

I've reassessed the amount of work that's required before the second draft is complete.  It's actually a lot less than I originally thought.  Bearing in mind that my reason for the second draft was to make the beginning fit with the end (due to my continuous 'improvements' suddenly implemented in the later chapters the structure was awful!) and as I work through the second draft the distance between the beginning and the end is closing up.  At this moment in time I don't feel that the ending needs a rewrite; as it stands this is really the only part of the novel I'm actually happy with.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Few Boat Reviews

English: Boat accessing pontoon at the Marina

Manitou Boats X-Plode

A mix between raw power and luxury, the X-Plode is a great boat for doing all sorts of activities. A great radio system equiped with Infinity Radio, plenty of room for moving about, and comfortable wrap around seating makes it a great boat for all occasions. If you're looking for other pontoon boats to do some fishing, then you may want to take a look at Manitou Pontoon Boats' other models.

Hydra-Sports 1650 Key Largo

The Hydra-Sports 1650 Key Largo is a classic flats boat design. A combination of sharp-V entry with dry-riding bow flare makes crossing large harbors and open bays comfortable. The 1650 Key Largo is designed for shallow water angling, drawing only 11 inches of water.

American Skiff 165 CC

The American Skiff 165 CC is the top seller in the American Skiff line and there is no question why. A deep self-bailing cockpit provides lots of walk-around room for fighting big fish, plus there are large casting decks on the bow and stern for the avid fly fisherman. The 165 CC also has a large livewell and four large storage compartments. As with all American Skiff products, the 165 CC is laid-up entirely by hand with 100-percent composite construction and stainless hardware, with no wood to rot.

The Workskiff 16 is built of 3/16 inch tough 5086 marine aluminum alloy. The lack of internal ribs provides enhanced interior volume. A 25 hp outboard will push it at 29 mph. The semi-vee bottom is stable, while allowing some vee to take the punch out of the chop. A tough, dependable, no-frills, industrial-grade aluminum utility skiff, Workskiffs are simple, fuel-efficient, low maintenance, trailerable, competitively priced, and carry a life-time warranty to the original owner. Practical hulls allow the users to install their own innovations. Popular options include foredecks center and side consoles, pilothouses, T-tops, and windshields. The foam-filled double bottom makes these boats practically unsinkable. Level flotation keeps engine's upper unit out of the water when boat is swamped.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ziptrek's steel cables

Ziptrek Ecotours
Is just what ZipTrek will have you doing! Located in Whistler, British Columbia in Canada, ZipTrek is a great way to see the mountains from a different angle!

Being afraid of heights, I was a little worried about going on Ziptrek, but the guides will have you at ease 100% and they explain all of the safety things you need to know, so there is no need to feel scared!

When you arrive you check in and then meet at a hut at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. It is here that you meet your guide and you get your harness on & a quick safety talk. From there you go on a small zip so you get the feel of what is it like to be in a harness. It is very similar to a rock-climbing harness but you are hanging instead of climbing.

Then you all jump in a van with helmets on, ready to ‘zip’ across the river from platform to platform! The views are amazing if you can open your eyes long enough.

Some quick facts about Ziptrek:

  • You ride a total of 5 ziplines ranging from 80ft to 1100ft.
  • The tour area lies in a valley between Whistler & Blackcomb Mountains and covers over 11 hectares (or 33 acres) of land.
  • Ziplining involves gliding along a suspended steel cable using a pulley and harness.
  • The tour takes approximately 2.5 hours and includes a shuttle to / from the base of Blackcomb Mountain.
  • The prices are a wee bit on the expensive side, but it is well worth the money!
  • CAD$98 per person = Adult (15-64 yrs)
  • CAD$78 per person = Youth (14 & under) and Senior (65 & over)
  • *please note that the prices do not include 7% Goods & Services tax (GST)

I would definitely recommend this if you have a spare morning / afternoon in Whistler but make sure you book as early as possible as it is an extremely popular activity and they do get booked out. All booking info is located on their website and if you are travelling in a group or for a conference, they are more than happy to organize a group trip just for you! It is also a great team-building activity.

I must say that my knees were weak & my heart was pounding but by the end of the zips I was hanging upside-down & flying through the air!!! It was an awesome experience and I can’t wait to do it again… definitely recommended. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Selling on e-bay

Deutsch: Logo von
I still sell on e-bay, although I no longer hold dreams of making a living that way. My brief experience with being a Trading Assistant had me climbing around a dusty hot warehouse looking through old books. My take from the project was around $50, and the charity that provided the books received about the same. Still, it was a lot of work for not much $$$. (I probably spent $10 in gas to get to the charity's location, and make the different trips to the post office to mail the books once they were sold).

I have also experimented with selling used clothing, mostly from my daughters. Some of their dresses and outfits seemed to nice to hand over to Goodwill, so I sold them. Often they would fetch between $15 and $25 per outfit. I still do this, but mostly at the changing of seasons. And when I get around to it...... I still have two unopened pairs of long johns that I never got around to selling last winter! With all that money I'm sure to get a nice Amazon e gift card out of it all

Today I am off to the post office to mail a book. I love reading, and even sometimes buy books on impulse that I never get around to reading. Some books are quite quick reads and, if I don't have a need to include them in my permanent collection, I can sell them. This is one such book. Typically, I can sell a $20 book for $5 plus $5 shipping and handling. Postage costs around $3, and I have the empty boxes in my basement. But perhaps more than anything, it gives me a reason to go out on a beautiful spring afternoon like today!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Typical Monday Blues

"TUESDAY" production sign

Today is the first Monday in quite some time that I do not plan to see my therapist. Not only will I not see him today, but I don't have an appointment until June. I had been feeling that I was getting less and less benefit from weekly appointments, so I am taking a break. Of course, not having an appointment today makes me wonder what I will do this afternoon for companionship. And it also makes me think of all the things I would talk to my therapist about, if I had an appointment.

1. I continue to feel distant from my wife, at almost all times. I believe that my wife feels connected to me (even though I don't think she possibly can be) and we regularly exchange lots of "I Love You's" even though I am again not sure if I feel that way. But having already once tried the "I'm not saying it unless I am sure I really really mean it" approach, with very bad results, I'll just keep saying it.

2. My wife worked Saturday. My oldest daughter and I rearranged the furniture in her room, something she has wanted to do for quite some time. Like many (most?) girls, she regularly changes her mind about what color her walls should be. And I, like most parents, stall until she changes her mind again. This time we went ahead with rearranging the furniture, even though there were several elements of the proposed floor plan that I didn't like. I kept those thoughts to myself; hey! its her room, right? So we did it, and she loves it. And she loves me for helping her do it.

3. I was tougher with my youngest, and as a result, she accomplished some homework that, in prior weekends if not being tough, she had not done. She has gotten worse and worse about completing long-term assignments, so it was necessary for her to do some work this weekend. She wasn't happy about it, but we still found time for fun, and watching Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea on DVD.

4. I found time to practice my guitar this weekend. The past several weeks I have not played my guitars, and I'm really not sure why. Hmmmm, perhaps I'll think more about that, because the reason is usually revealing.

5. I am chaperoning a field trip for my oldest daughter next Tuesday. The trip leaves early in the morning, and gets back late. When I first heard about the trip, I thought it would be great fun and I told my daughter I would love to go. And I would. But it has raised all kinds of issues since then. First there was the pain of seeing my daughter try unsuccessfully to get any other student to join in our group. Then there is the whole issue of me finding someone to take my youngest to school in the morning, and pick her up in the afternoon. Because my wife will be working at both of those times. And so I deal with my own issues of being excluded from the at-home-Mom groups to try and find one day where someone will help me. Thankfully, my daughters are both considered sweet, low-effort, well-behaved children, so it makes finding someone to help easier than if they were terrors. Still, I started making my first call this morning, and left a message. Pray for me :-)

And so that would be how it goes.

UPDATE!! WOOHOO! The Mom just called me back and said she would be delighted to have my youngest over on Tuesday! She even offered to pick her up in the morning! Wow! Not necessary, but nice for her to have offered :-)