Monday, August 29, 2011 2 comments

Terrible Two

Mason will be 2 in ten days, but he was quite the little monster yesterday. To be fair, it wasn’t entirely his fault.

Mrs. Fetched’s aunt died this week, age 90, about three hours after she went into hospice. The funeral was yesterday afternoon, so I took Mason on to church. As happens rather often, he started nodding out in the car on the way home. Since we were nearly home, I took a little loop that adds ten minutes to the ride and that was enough to get him zorched. Unfortunately, that left about a half hour for him to nap before we had to get him up and go back into town.

Results were about what you’d expect from a toddler whose nap got interrupted: he kept moving at a frenetic pace, trying to keep moving so he wouldn’t go back to sleep in front of all those people. Some other kids showed up, and they opened up a side room for the kids to bounce around in — and Mason’s idea of a good time was trying to escape and getting angry when I wouldn’t let him. After a while, I got frustrated with his disrupting things and took him outside so he could cry as loud as he wanted. All in all, I felt like I was there for neither the aunt or the mourners, and told Mrs. Fetched as much. “You were there for me,” she said, which did make me feel a little better. But if I had it to do over, I’d have stayed at home with him. I did end up taking him home early; DoubleRed was at the funeral and offered to bring Mrs. Fetched home.

Once we got home, he got a little more nap in, but woke up cranky and not completely napped out. Meanwhile, DoubleRed got off on a tangent about Sesame Street, saying there was an episode that was never aired. I was thinking, “Oh boy, the whole Bert and Ernie hoo-hah again,” but it was Something Different. “The head of PBS pulled it,” she said. “They had a same-sex couple, and an interracial couple.” Okay, assuming she hasn’t swallowed yet another line of crap, I could see that they might not want to get embroiled in the same-sex marriage issue. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with the idea just yet, as lame as their justifications might be. But equating interracial marriage? The pod people have had fifty years to get used to that idea. I gave her a rather sarcastic response, and she shut up. Which is fine, because Sid the Science Kid features an interracial couple (Sid’s parents) and I haven’t heard any flack about that even on Planet Georgia. I’ve decided that sarcasm and ridicule are the only way to respond to pod people when they start spewing their anti-everything agenda — they know it’s shameful outside their little circle and rubbing their noses in the fact is the only way to open their eyes to the Real World.

Anyway. Mason cheered up considerably once I got his shoes on and took him out to the patio to splash in the play table, then he walked back to the house. I thought for a moment he wanted to go inside and watch Cars for the zillionth time, but he grabbed a stroller and said, “Ride!” So I took him for a stroll along his usual route, and he was in a much better frame of mind for his supper/bath/bedtime routine. In fact, he slept all night for the first time in quite a while.

The Boy called me this afternoon and talked for a while, then talked to Mrs. Fetched for quite a while longer. He seems to really like Manitowoc — the lake’s right there, the parks don’t have No Drinking ordinances like they do here, he’s fallen in love with disc golf, cost of living is cheaper, what’s not to like? Winter? He’s planning to get a snowboard. He’s in line for a couple jobs that involve sanitation in food-handling plants, similar to the job he had in the chicken plant before a party derailed him. Not much was said about Snippet… I don’t know how she’s dealing with the move or how she’ll handle Real Winter. For all I know, getting her away from the influences she has around here might help her mature a little. (Yes, I’m the eternal optimist.)

Friday, August 26, 2011 25 comments

#FridayFlash: On the Georgia Road 2

The first one was received well enough that I figured it wouldn’t hurt to post another.



“Gas rationing has made the Great American Road Trip a thing of the past. But even in unincorporated areas, the interstates are still open. They may get only a fraction of the traffic they did in years past, but the federal government considers them vital. In today’s segment of On the Georgia Road, our Sean McKinzie has more.”

Cut to: Sean McKinzie, exterior, freeway overpass. Below, an occasional car or motorcycle passes by. “Thanks, Marcia. It’s a little-known fact, but the interstate system was built partly as a defense project. It’s official name is the ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.’”

Cut to: infographic. INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM / Construction began in 1956 / About 47,000 miles long / Nearly 60% of the system lies in Unincorporated Areas. “Officially, the Interstate Highways are considered incorporated areas of the country. But in practice, while you might drive safely from Atlanta to Chattanooga and back, you aren’t likely to find any open gas stations along the way — and if your car breaks down, you’re on your own.”

Cut to: Sean in front of boundary sign. “In late 2015, a modern-day version of the highwayman began to plague the freeway system. Makeshift barricades caught unwary travelers, who lost their fuel — and sometimes their lives — to banditry. Stories have a way of growing in the telling, and recent polls show that three out of four people living inside the Georgia Quadrangle believe that venturing into Unincorporated areas is likely to be fatal.”

Cut to: Sean, exterior, military convoy. “But the military, charged with keeping the system open, has been patrolling since the spring of 2016. I-85 and I-185, the route from Atlanta to Columbus, get special attention. Captain James Galloway, of Fort Benning’s 75th Ranger Regiment, recently invited us to ride along with the patrol — On the Georgia Road.”

Cut to: Capt. Galloway, interior, office. “The biggest battle was in Congress. Representatives of Unincorporated Areas blocked our initial efforts, citing the Posse Comitatus Act, then made it very difficult to get the Act modified to specifically allow us to do our jobs. It took an Executive Order from the President to cut the red tape. After that, we began clearing the highways under strict rules of engagement. Those made life difficult at first, but by fall of 2016 we had re-opened all but the most remote sections of the system.

“At first, we would simply remove barricades by whatever means necessary. Then the bandits began using portable barricades, and we resorted to satellite surveillance to locate trouble spots until they caught on and used overpasses to conceal their activities.

“Nowadays, we use a vehicular version of the naval ‘Q-ship.’ Those were naval vessels disguised as merchant ships, intended to draw the enemy out from ambush. A decoy car takes the point position, usually with a crew of four: driver, data logger, and two armed guards. The car is specially modified with armor and gun ports, but is indistinguishable from a civilian vehicle until you’re right on top of it.

“Behind the decoy is one or more reinforcement vehicles, again indistinguishable from a civilian vehicle, carrying more troops. The banditry problem has all but disappeared since we began using this tactic.”

Cut to: Sean, exterior, roadside. Camera angle very low, showing a blimp far above. “In fact, this section of freeway is so secure, the Army now has tethered blimps to old billboard posts to do most of the watching for them. This has several advantages over satellites, including constant surveillance of the areas in question. While it is possible for a determined bandit to climb up and cut the tether, or punch holes in it from the ground with a high-powered rifle, the blimps have certain non-lethal defenses that were not explained to us for security reasons — and tampering with a blimp is certain to draw a forceful response. ‘De-tethering’ a blimp, as Captain Galloway describes it, does not disable it right away. It will attempt to hold its position and altitude as long as possible, usually long enough for a maintenance crew to arrive on-site.”

Cut to: Sean, interior, in vehicle, surrounded by soldiers. In the background, military radio traffic can be heard. “We are now in a reinforcement vehicle, on the way to Columbus. While this is officially a combat mission, the atmosphere is relaxed. Of course, that can change in an instant, depending on what the decoy vehicle sees.”

Cut to: exterior shot from moving vehicle. Several burned-out vehicles scattered on either side of an overpass, another nearly covered by weeds. “This is the site of the last action seen along I-85, over a year ago. Since then, we’re told, there have been only isolated incidents, usually after someone breaks down or runs out of gas — in other words, the same kind of thing that can happen along I-16 or I-20. Night patrols occasionally run into races, which are usually dispersed with warnings unless they run across contraband or repeat offenders.”

Cut to: Sean, exterior, Fort Benning. “We safely arrived at Fort Benning, so we’ll stay in Columbus for some amount of time before hitching a ride back to Atlanta with the next convoy. The patrols happen at random intervals, but always at least twice a week. We’ll bring you news from Columbus in separate segments until we head home. On the Georgia Road, at Fort Benning, I’m Sean McKinzie.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 2 comments

Wednesday Wibbles (Big V’s Big Blowup)

Sitting at the dining table tonight, as Mason is watching Cars for the nth time (actually, playing around in between race scenes). No new followers to welcome this week, but the blog must go on regardless, right?

This was an interesting evening… I was working at home today, and was packing it in for the day when Mrs. Fetched called. “Meet me at Big V’s in five minutes.”

“But what if I don’t want to go down there?”

“Then you don’t eat.”

Well, I applied the usual formula for Mrs. Fetched’s time estimates: multiply by two and add one, then headed down there. She was cooking sloppy joes, while Mason and Skylar were playing in the back room. I wandered on back to look in on them, and the “fun” began shortly after when they started running loose. Big V is more than half-blind these days, and tools around on a powerchair. She came down the hall to borrow my phone, since hers was dead, and ran Skylar’s foot over in the hallway. He howled for a few minutes, but didn’t even limp after he settled down. It scared him more than anything.

I guess Mrs. Fetched must have said something to Big V about watching what she’s doing and waiting for me to come down the hall — next thing I know, I heard a door slam (so I thought). Voices rose, and rose again, and continued to rise, and it wasn’t long before the two of them were in a major-league shouting match. When I came out to see what was going on, Big V hoisted herself out of her powerchair, portable drill/driver in hand, and started on the door between the living room and the little hallway going to the carport. Turned out Big V didn’t slam the door, she deliberately drove her powerchair through it. She didn’t tear the door off its hinges so much as she tore the hinges out of the frame. I took over with the drill, because she couldn’t see to hit the screws, then took the door out to the carport and stood it up out of the way.

With that accomplished, Mrs. Fetched told me to get Mason, because we were leaving, and then the two of them managed to kick their shouting match up an order of magnitude once I got Mason outside. Made me glad I was in my own car, and Mason chose to go home with me — but that’s normal, he likes riding in my car for some reason despite it being noisy and lacking in A/C (red is his favorite color, though).

We got home, and realized that supper (i.e. the sloppy joe stuff) was down at Big V’s, so Mrs. Fetched went and got some. While she was there, Big V said to not help her do anything anymore. No problem. That will last just as long as it takes for her to need/want something. Like I’ve said before, Big V isn’t the most stable isotope on the periodic table.

Sunday, August 21, 2011 13 comments

The Book Cover!

I know I’m weird, but I get giddy all over again just looking at it. If you want a photographic book cover, Sara Reine is a wiz with Photoshop and does great fast work at a great price. Tell her FARf sent you.

Hey FARf, stop yapping and post the cover already!


OK, OK… here it is:


Yup, there’s my real name. Now y’all know who I am. Sondra cleaned up gooooood for the book cover, didn’t she?

The only thing is, I have no idea what I’m going to do for the Pickups and Pestilence cover just yet. Oh well, I still have a while to think about that. Gotta finish the book, first things first.

Friday, August 19, 2011 21 comments

#FridayFlash: Second Jude

All I can say about this is, it proves that I have a strange sense of humor. We might preserve a few things over the next 2000 years, but it’s likely that most things will get lost… or misinterpreted.



Submitted August 18, 3911

Time is unkind.
— An adage among data archaeologists

About two thousand years ago, the Data Explosion dwarfed the so-called “population explosion” in scope. Indeed, it is only the sheer quantity of data produced, and the numerous copies made, that has allowed us to recover anything at all about that time in history. Until recently, the process was labor-intensive, requiring trained data archaeologists to reconstruct documents by matching fragments of data scattered across paper, magnetic, and optical storage devices. The development of Quantum Media Analysis is changing the field, as QMA is able to recover data from media once thought unreadable while automating matches across any number of devices. This has allowed the Department to turn to more obscure works, which may provide glimpses into many alternate modes of thought during that time.

Some of the oldest documents extant are religious works, as their adherents continuously copied and updated them as needed. However, many works not included in the primary scriptures, such as the Bible, were lost or long misplaced. One of the latter is the epistle commonly known as “Second Jude.” References to the text begin to appear in the decades following the discovery of the “Dead Sea Scrolls,” so it is often assumed that the text was part of that discovery.

Only fragments of the text survived, usually in a “modernized” paraphrased format popular during that time. In particular, the greeting is missing. Some scholars suggest that the known text is a hymn, or less likely a popular song, based on the original text.

Authorship is commonly ascribed to St. John the Apostle, as the style is reminiscent of the soaring prose of the Gospel of John and The Revelation, although the repeated exhortations are unique to this epistle. The text recovered is brief but rich in metaphor, comparing Wisdom to a desired woman and a song to the preaching of the Word. The following text was prepared by Quantum Media Analysis, and mimics the style of canonical scripture. While the analysis is imperfect — after recovering the fragment below, the text deteriorated into nonsense syllables — QMA achieved the most complete recovery to date in about an hour. Note that the media used was unreadable by other methods, yet further improvements in QMA may allow further recovery of the text.

Footnotes were inserted by the author of this report.

[1]

O Jude, I exhort thee, turn away from all evil things, that you may improve the sorrowful song. [2] Forget her [3] not, but take her into your heart; only then will your song be pleasing.

O Jude, again I exhort thee: fear not! This was the purpose for which you were created: to search diligently, that you may find her. Keep her close to you, that she may wear your very skin as her own, [4] for this is how your song shall be improved. If you suffer the pain of persecution, O Jude, cease; it is not for you to carry the world upon your shoulders. For it is written, “the foolish man shall let his fire go out.”

O Jude, I exhort thee: fail not in your purpose. Your search has borne fruit; therefore, take her as your beloved wife into your heart, that you may begin to improve your song. Cast out that which is unwholesome, that you may be filled with the Spirit. [5] O Jude, do not tarry in this matter. For know you not that otherwise you stand alone? Lift your hands, raise them to Heaven. [6]

[7]


1No surviving copies include the customary greetings of an epistle.
2“Song” is used to describe the preaching of the Word through this text.
3Wisdom is depicted as a woman through this text.
4The transliteration is unclear. This idiom is not found elsewhere in scriptural writings.
5QMA chose this wording. The literal “let it out, and let it in” is an idiom not found elsewhere, but is clear in context.
6QMA chose this wording based on context. The media was nearly unreadable at this point; only the words “move” and “shoulder” are legible.
7The text repeats itself, then deteriorates into nonsense, after this point. This may have been caused by an interaction between QMA and badly deteriorated media.

Thursday, August 18, 2011 No comments

Wednesday Wibbles (on Thursday)

I know it’s not Wednesday, but my employer sent us to a Braves game yesterday. The pitching was rather uninspired, and the bats only slightly more so until the bottom of the 9th — then a late rally got the thin crowd on its feet until it fell two runs short. It was a lot of fun, and the manager decided to try a team-building game on the way home: state one true thing and one false thing about yourself, and let everyone guess which was which. I picked: “I’m trying to get a novel published, and I raced in road rallies during college.”

But before I go much farther, it’s time to welcome the new follower:
Funny thing: when I dropped into my Blogger Dashboard to get this post started, it popped up one of those notifications: “Your blog is popular, why not make some money with AdSense?” But according to my stats, pageviews dropped around 25% last month… which I attribute to not posting a Friday Flash two weeks in a row. Daily counts are now recovering, though — I knew you guys wouldn’t let me down!

We’re now calling the guest room “Mason’s room,” even if he isn’t sleeping there yet. We’ve modified the barricades to let him come down the hall and go in there. With daylight coming in the windows, he had no problem crawling under the bed and coming out around the side. He loves having the extra running-around room. Me… I can no longer stake out one place and expect to always see him from there. Sigh

With vacation behind me, I’m getting back into the writing groove a little. I have no idea where tomorrow’s Friday Flash came from, but I thought it was funny. Then again, I do have a strange sense of humor. I posted another flash on Google+ last week, and I figure I need to bring it over here. Maybe next week.

I’ve set Scrivener to give me a daily word quota — Nicola Slade, an author who sometimes hangs out at Andi’s blog, quoted another author who suggested this — of 50 words. The idea is, no matter how nutso your day gets (and most of mine can get pretty nutso), you can almost always find time to put down 50 words. Since a writer in motion tends to remain in motion, that 50 words can easily become 600 or more without even realizing it happened.

I got really excited yesterday, and not just for the Braves’ almost-comeback. Earlier in the week, Sara Reine offered on Twitter to work with people on their book covers. I was pretty impressed with the work she’d done for her own book, Six Moon Summer, and I wasn’t getting much indication that either The Boy or Brand X were interested in making a little money. I gave her my “vision” for the cover on Tuesday, and by Wednesday afternoon I had a first draft. To say the least, I was excited — too excited to offer objective feedback until later this afternoon. Once I settled down enough to suggest some changes, she turned it around in roughly an hour. I’m having second thoughts about one of the changes, but again I’ll sleep on that until tomorrow. But I hope to reveal it this weekend or maybe Monday. One of the beta readers got his feedback in as I was typing this up, so it’s two down one to go.

Mrs. Fetched took her van in to get the windshield fixed after we got home from vacation, and got it back today. I don’t know whether they fixed the other issues we reported yet… probably not. Daughter Dearest is getting her blue Civic, and has gotten comfortable with a manual shift.

And that’s things around FAR Manor.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 6 comments

Moving Furniture

With M.A.E. out of the manor, Mrs. Fetched decided it was time to bring in the bed she bought for Mason at a yard sale last year. There were many cobwebs to clean out of various corners, and I ended up vacuuming then wiping down each part with a towel, and that got it pretty clean.

Whoever designed this bed knows little boys. It’s up off the ground, giving room for a matching dresser and cubby along one side. The door on the footboard turns the rest of the under-bed into either storage or a kid’s fortress of solitude.

Mason said, “Cheeeeeese!” as I took the picture. Where did he learn that from?
Mason watched and “helped” as I assembled everything, then put the slats, pad, and mattress on top. He was suddenly less pleased with the door, but I showed him that he could come out the back side and around and that mollified him a bit.

The cubby is a tight squeeze for a kid, even one as small as Mason, but I told him he could throw toys in there. He opened it, tossed whatever gadget he was holding at the moment, then closed it. Now if we can get him to do that consistently…

He’s still in the crib for now, and this will be the guest bed until he’s old enough to sleep in it himself.

Monday, August 15, 2011 3 comments

Clearing House

This is what the room that M.A.E. was staying in looks like at the moment:

Mrs. Fetched finally got tired of saying she was going to chuck her out and actually did it. I’ll be at work when M.A.E. comes waddling in after a long weekend of boyfriend-banging, expecting Mrs. Fetched to take her to a doctor’s appointment, but I’d love to see the look on her face when she sees this. Nothing says GTFO like removing all the furniture.

This is the state of the carpet after we applied an entire can of cleaner. She and especially Moptop were none too careful about what they spilled on a white carpet. We’ll probably end up ripping all that out and putting in a wood floor, since we have enough to do this room.

Meanwhile, The Boy got tired of saying he’s moving to Wisconsin and appears to actually be doing it. A friend of his says he’s lined up a factory job for The Boy (he works there too, juicy union wages), and The Boy says he’ll never get along here, so he packed his car last night and is cashing some checks for the trip as I type.

I’m of two minds about The Boy leaving: there are risks, but there are also risks in staying here and working a construction job. The difference is, he has a well-defined safety net here. On the other hand, it’ll be a good experience for him. If he thrives (and survives a Wisconsin winter), he will be happier than he was here. My family is across Lake Michigan, a long drive to be sure but shorter than all the way back to Planet Georgia. I ended up wishing him well, while Mrs. Fetched just hopes he’ll cough up some of what he owes us. Only one way to find out, I guess.

One thing I’m not conflicted about: the move has put a massive strain on his relationship with Snippet. She wants to stay where she already has a job, even if it’s a part-time retail job. More importantly, all her friends are here. (“All her boy-toys too,” said Mrs. Fetched.) She’s been the one putting pressure on him to stay — the exact wrong thing to do with anyone having the in-laws’ genetic code. Telling him (or Mrs. Fetched) something they don’t want to hear only makes them more determined to do what they’ve already decided. I didn’t bother to tell Snippet that, though… she doesn’t listen any better than The Boy.

Finally… we forklifted Daughter Dearest and her belongings over to the college to begin her senior(!) year on Saturday night. She’s staying with a lady from the church choir she sings in while at college, so we’re saving a ton of money on room and board while DD has a nice quiet place to study. The lady has no Internet access, but DD managed to “find” an unsecured wifi node…

So the manor has mostly emptied out for a while. It’s just Mason, Lobster (who is allowed to live here because he helps Mrs. Fetched with the chickens), and sometimes Skylar.

Friday, August 12, 2011 17 comments

#FridayFlash: On the Georgia Road

This is the “crisis of confidence” story I referred to two weeks ago. After I thought it over, I decided to go with it. See (Late) Wednesday Wibbles (the previous post) for some details and an invitation to join the writing fun.

It’s a peak-oil story, similar to FAR Future, set in a slightly different alternate universe.



“As much as we like to complain here in Atlanta about fuel rationing and long lines at the gas pump, it’s good to remember that there are people just north and west of here who don’t even have that. Some of them even still manage to commute to their jobs downtown or in the suburbs. Sean McKinzie has more, in our first segment of On the Georgia Road.”

Cut to: Sean McKinzie standing under a large road sign: CAUTION / UNINCORPORATED AREA / PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK / SERVICES MAY BE UNAVAILABLE BEYOND THIS POINT. “Thanks, Marcia. You’ve seen these signs before. You may have even passed one, for whatever reason. But people live behind them. Some of them pass these signs each day. On the Georgia Road, we’ll have a look at their lives.”

Cut to: empty retail strips, deserted housing developments, lonely roads, overgrown yards. Lights going out, huge stacks of firewood, horse-drawn wagons piled with hay. Voiceover: “The Emergency Services Preservation Act, or ESPA, defined what we now call the Georgia Quadrangle, bounded by I-75 on the west, I-20 on the north, and I-16 on the south. It includes the five-county metro Atlanta region as well as Macon, Savannah, and Augusta. Muscogee County, including Columbus and Fort Benning, is an enclave. These are areas that the federal government declared essential. The State of Georgia added Hall County to secure the Lake Lanier water supply, and extended the northern border to US-78 to include Clarke County and the University of Georgia. The rest is Unincorporated Georgia, nearly seventy percent of the state by area.”

Cut to: Sean McKinzie in front of the sign. “Roughly a third of Georgia’s population now lives in the Unincorporated areas. Some of it may have gone wild and is dangerous to outsiders, but the old bedroom communities still have commuters. For our first segment of On the Georgia Road, one of these commuters was kind enough to open his house to us for a weekend.”

Cut to: Sean McKinzie, turned in a car seat to face the camera behind him. Beyond him, the camera points up a four-lane divided highway. A few cars can be seen going each way. “It’s Friday afternoon. In metro Atlanta, people are firing up their grills, planning a night on the town, maybe a day at the park. We’re on our way to the Unincorporated segment of Dawson County, to see how our fellow Georgia citizens spend their evenings and weekends.

“Our host and driver is Rich Grey, a senior IT technician who works in Alpharetta. He moved to Dawson County in 1988… Rich, could you tell us why?”

Pan to: Rich, driving. “I wanted a garden and some shade. I couldn’t get either one in most subdivisions, and land up here was relatively cheap.”

“Is it safe to live up here now?”

“Sure. The county still has a functioning sheriff’s department, and ‘400 east to the lake is still incorporated. It’s a lot like the ‘30s: services are spotty, not completely gone. I can’t say what’s going on up in the mountains though.”

Cut to: Sean standing in front of a large Cape Cod house, beige with white trim. The front yard is a garden. “Rich tells us he works with missions and charities who provide food, candles, batteries, and other essentials to people in need. They bring items to him, and he delivers them where they’re needed.

“An hour north of Alpharetta, you might think you’ve left civilization entirely. Rich tells us that they get two hours of electricity in the evenings — this time of year, from eight to ten p.m. To conserve resources, especially heat in the winter, there are three households living under Sean’s roof: his own, his daughter’s family, and a single mother: seven people in all.”

Cut to: Rich grilling, a young woman picking produce in the front yard. “But as Rich says, there’s more than one way to do it. We found the extended family coping quite well, and even finding some comforts and enjoyment along the way. By turning their lawn into a garden area, they don’t need to mow grass — and this time of year, getting produce simply means stepping outside. People cook outdoors during the summer so their houses don’t get even hotter.”

Cut to: lights coming on inside, people moving quickly. “Suppers are often rushed, because nobody wants to be caught sitting when the power comes on. The dishwasher and clothes washer are loaded and ready to go, people get showers or baths, and most of all the indoor toilets are usable.”

Cut to: lights going out. For a moment, all that can be heard are katydids chattering. An LED light comes on to reveal Sean. “We’ve all experienced rolling blackouts, but in Unincorporated Georgia they’re constant, and take on a special quality. In the metro area, there are emergency lights and cars going by, and the sounds of the city are only dampened. Here… beyond the walls, only the sounds of nature are heard.”

Cut to: Rich in the dim light. “Nights can be lively in the fall or winter though. People have bonfires, play music, get drunk and loud. This time of year, it’s still pretty muggy at night and people either go to sleep or read.”

Cut to: Sean, exterior, creek. People playing in the creek. “On weekend mornings, after taking care of the essentials, days are spent at a nearby creek. They pack coolers with food and drinks, and stay until it starts cooling off. There’s a screen tent for when the kids need a nap, or someone just wants a little time to dry off.”

Camera pulls back to reveal Sean in swim trunks. “On the Georgia Road, I’m Sean McKinzie.” Lays down microphone, jumps in the creek.

Thursday, August 11, 2011 No comments

(Late) Wednesday Wibbles

I got no new followers this week, so I don’t have anyone to shout at. Spread the word, folks, I’d like to have 100 followers about the time I publish White Pickups so I’ll have a good excuse for a giveaway.

Not much writing got done while on vacation… but hey, it was a vacation, right? I really do need to get cracking on Pickups and Pestilence though. Other things, that will take a lot of effort, are beginning to draw my attention. I just may have to start serializing the thing to get the incentive-to-finish going.

Speaking of vacation, here’s a cute anecdote: Mason was very comfortable at Dad’s place — comfortable enough that he’d go explore odd corners on his own, well out of sight of the adults. We slept downstairs, where there was also a large TV. So one morning, we were minding our own business; Mason slipped up the stairs, into the kitchen, pulled a quart of blueberries off the counter (fortunately a snap-top container), then carried them back down the stairs. He came walking up to us: “Berries?” That kid could just about live off fruit and cheese… and meatballs. He loves him some meatballs.


I mentioned having a “crisis of confidence” about the Friday Flash that I didn’t post week before last. I thought of it at first as a Vacationlanders fan-fic, but that isn’t right either. After watching both parts of the first episode, which are all that have been posted so far, I found myself objecting to some of the key points.

First off, while I could see the feds cutting off services to regions — or entire states, as was done to Maine in Vacationlanders — I don’t think that what comes after is quite so drastic as is depicted in the first episode. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD On the other hand, I have to wonder if the film crew has been set up from the get-go. If the UTM were as lawless and dangerous as it seems, I would think they’d have heard about it and gone in prepared. END SPOILERS

Even if the Feds cut off the power grid and fuel deliveries at the border, 1) any local hydro and alternative facilities would still be available; 2) state and local governments would attempt to function and preserve order as much as possible, just to justify their continued existence; 3) you couldn’t cut off chunks of the country without some kind of quid pro quo for the affected citizenry or civil suits, probably both; 4) politics would exclude wealthy citizens from the Unincorporated Areas; 5) there would almost certainly be commerce along the border, perhaps even people continuing to commute from Unincorporated Outer Suburbia into Atlanta.

Back in 2009–2010 when there was a lot of talk from the right-wing losers about secession, I concluded that Planet Georgia could secede without hurting the rest of the country much, if at all. Seriously: what do we have here that can’t be produced somewhere else? No oil reserves, the gold was mined out decades ago, and the only strategic industrial pieces we have are concentrated in specific locations. So I created this map (click to enlarge), designating the Georgia Quadrangle where there are still full services, and Unincorporated Georgia. The corners of the quadrangle are the primary cities, with Columbus as a separate enclave, and a largeish rural “heartland” to supply food.

So here’s the writing prompt: think about your own area and whether it would still be “incorporated” or not, and conflicts should be many and obvious. Post links to your stories here so I’ll see them. If you use the graphics, copy them to your own blog so they stay available. I’ll post one of the flash pieces I’ve written on this theme on Friday.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011 2 comments

Some Vacation pix

Vacation must really be over, because I’m heading back to work tomorrow. Ick. The van’s A/C mostly worked; we found a few more glitches but that’s what a shakedown cruise is for, right? We took it back to the dealer this afternoon, to let them fix a few other things we ran across.

Mason traveled very well, much better than I expected. The girlies bought a portable DVD player to keep him occupied along the way, and that may have had something to do with it. He about drove Daughter Dearest nutz with endless requests to watch Cars though.

Let’s cut to the chase. Here’s a few of the best vacation pics:

A nice warm evening, a glass of wine, a lakefront view… what more could one ask from vacation?


Here, Daughter Dearest demonstrates her most excellent bubble-blowing technique. Mason loves it.


Mason loved popping the bubbles. I loved when they sailed off the deck and over the lake.


The public access site was a short walk away, and it had a sandy almost-beach area. Mason loved to pick up gravel and sand and throw it in the water.


It’s called Duck Lake, but that doesn’t keep the swans from coming around. They hung around for a while, and we speculated that they might have wanted to come ashore where we were. Oh well.

(The people in the background are property owners on the other side of the public access site.)


Mason got rather uncooperative after the first few family shots, but this one worked pretty well. Left to right: Other Brother, me, Mason, Dad.


On the way home, Daughter Dearest phoned a college friend who lives along the way, and she suggested we all meet for lunch. We ended up at the city park in Trenton, GA, which has a pretty cool carving (nearly 20 feet high).


We arrived in mid-afternoon yesterday, with Mason sound asleep. I got the van unloaded and managed to sit down for a while as he napped.

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