It ain’t just about writing!

Those of you wondering where I’ve been, not to worry. Just had a slight computer issue (upgraded, but lost a lot of my programs, so had to spend time finding them and downloading them, and all the other attendant BS that goes with this). It turns out Office takes 4.5 GB of bandwidth to download. There went half my monthly “anytime data” allowance. Grrr.

Anyhow, changing topics, after looking at the effects of advertising on Facebook (the recent ad didn’t work – back to the drawing board), I decided to do a bit more outreach and look at places where I could get the word about Surveyor out to as many people as possible (naturally, at as little expense as possible). This meant looking at websites that promote authors and those that promote books. I also started looking at blogs, and came across a fantastic one:  If you have time (after buying and reading Surveyor, that is, and then giving me 5 star reviews on Amazon, Kobo, GoodReads, and Barnes & Noble), take some time and browse around the site.  Lots of interesting books, and I’m looking forward to delving further into the multiverse genre.

Devin Sinha – singer/songwriter

Last night the esposa and I enjoyed an evening out at one of our favorite restaurants in the Greater Enumclaw Metropolitan Area (a take-off from the movie, Doc Hollywood), Kelly’s Mercantile. Pricey, but enjoyable. One thing we enjoy about going to the Merc is that on the weekends they bring in live music (which is not too loud, mainly because the Merc is a dining establishment, not a nightclub).

Last night we got to see singer/songwriter Devin Sinha for the third time. Once again, he didn’t let us down, and he had recently released his third CD, which we eagerly purchased (you should buy all three, too. They’re awesome!)

If you’ve never heard of Devin, take a moment to check him out. Just after I told my wife I thought Devin’s music was a mix between Bob Dylan (aka Robert A. Zimmerman, Nobel Prize winner for literature) and David Byrne of the Talking Heads, Devin kicked in with his rendition of Dylan’s It Ain’t Me, Babe. Quite ironic. As a nascent guitar player myself, I am amazed at his chording and strumming abilities. Very fun to watch.

Devin has a rather haunting sound when he sings. I can’t quite describe it (at least, according to my SO), but the boss lady says “He’s loose and free with his timing.”

Take a moment to check him out a 

He’s also on Pandora (I’ve got my Devin Sinha station dialed in), Twitter, YouTube, Spotify, and I’m sure other locations.


Another step backwards

I usually refrain from political posts on this blog, as the intent is to keep readers aware of how novel writing is progressing.  Today is not that day! Yesterday saw the US take a big backwards step when US Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo that rescinded the Cole Memo under the Obama Administration.

To set the record straight, I did not vote for Obama, Clinton (either of them), or Trump (and, yes, I did vote in every election). I also served as a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in an attempt to reverse the War on Drugs that has torn this country apart, eroded our civil rights, and left millions of minorities with felony convictions.

Let’s face it, drugs are generally not good. None of them. I include alcohol. I drink alcohol and coffee, so, yes, I’m a drug user. I don’t use marijuana, despite living in a state where it’s legal. Never have, never will. Can’t stand the smell, and don’t like hanging around stoned people. Seen enough of them.

Having said that, when I was a cop, I never saw a stoned person start a fight, beat his spouse, or do anything violent, unlike drunk people who do.

So, what does this new “Sessions Memo” do? Well, first off, it’s another attack on state’s rights (wait, didn’t Session’s state secede from the union under those same words?). It’s an attack on the majority of Americans who support legalization. It’s an attack on our sensibilities.

My attitude is pretty simple – legalize and regulate drugs like we do alcohol. Let the states decide how to do so. Perhaps some direct action is necessary to ensure that the commerce clause (which is what the USAG is using to defend his immoral actions) should be amended through a constitutional amendment to clearly state that it is designed to prevent states from enacting tariffs against other states and restricting trade between the states, and that individual actions (e.g., growing agricultural products for personal consumption, sale in the community, or sale in the state) are not covered under the commerce clause (thank you SCOTUS for such a bad decision in the 1930s).

For those that don’t recall, alcohol was prohibited ONLY through an amendment to the constitution because there was no other mechanism to prohibit something by the federal government (regulation, btw, is not prohibition). It was also repealed through the amendment process, but only after years of violence and corruption (sound familiar?). It wasn’t until the SCOTUS ruled on the commerce clause that the US was able to prohibit drugs (thank Nixon for that little multi-trillion dollar waste of resources).

People have already declared they want to use pot. State governments are reaping the rewards through sin taxes (here in Washington State it’s 37%!).

I don’t like pot, but I don’t like Session’s actions even more. Jeff Sessions – revoke your memo and resign.  You’re a dinosaur in a modern world and you need to go the way of dinosaurs.

Congress, it’s time to do your job and remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 list. Put it in the same category as alcohol (which is probably the biggest gateway drug of all, far ahead of marijuana).

Rant off.


Libraries are great places. I use my local library a lot – as a matter of fact, I just spent an hour there using their wonderful high-speed internet (as opposed to my relatively crappy satellite internet, which is better than 28K dial-up).

The King County Library System (one of the best in the world, IMNSHO) has ordered five copies of Surveyor. Interestingly enough, the little town of Culpeper, VA, also has a library (I vaguely recall visiting it when I was around 12 or 13 years old). Somehow, they managed to get a copy. Who’da thunk?

So, if you don’t want to pay to read Surveyor on your Kindle or for a paperback (preferably at A Good Book or Enumclaw’s own The Sequel), then swing by one of these two libraries.

Crossing Howe Sound

On Boxing Day (that’s December 26th, for those of you in North America that aren’t Canadians), the fam and I visited my wife’s cousin’s family (does this sound like a Ferris Bueller thing?) who live on a little island off the east coast of Vancouver Island in Canada. Getting there requires a one-and-a-half hour ferry ride crossing Howe Sound, which can be a good or bad thing. I wound up making part of each leg (there and back) a good thing by working on Trekker. Don’t have a word count, but the plot moved along (serious decision time for our intrepid group of Explorers).

What type of scalpel?

So, after spending a bunch of time on the road, I’m finally home for the next several months (I hope). That means I’ll finally get to spend more time writing.  I did manage to get in a couple of thousand words between Mexico and Canada this past week, but not as many as I would like. Of course, I still have competing interests (teaching, business, family, etc.), so I won’t be spending all my time writing (sorry, Clairese!).

I estimate I’m about half-way through Trekker, but there’s still a lot to do.  Nothing like developing plot twists and asking a medical doctor wife advise on field expedient surgical procedures (so, what did they do 100 years ago? What about general versus local, and not having general? What type of scalpel is best for a field emergency kit?).

Loooong drive!

Well, after three days of driving, I finally returned home with Spawn 2.  Mexico was fun, but got absolutely zero writing done (zilch, nada, none). Hope to make up for that later this week, but swamped with paying work in the meantime.  The worst part of the trip was waiting to get through US Customs.  Going through Mexican customs was an experience – just drove (along with hundreds of others) through a set of cameras in a “Nothing to Declare” lane.  Didn’t even speak with a customs official (not used to that – never had that happen ever before, well, except for that inadvertent trip into Burma when I was 17, and a quick swim across the Mekong from Laos to Thailand and back to Laos when I was 12). Weird.  The trip back was quite different though – three and a half hours moving one car length every minute or two before being greeted by an ICE agent at the US border.

Starting in Ensenada, BC (Baja California) we drove to Santa Clarita just north of LA.  The next morn, up and out the door by 7 AM and made it to Ashland, OR (over 600 miles) by about 6:30 PM. Up at 5:30 and out the door shortly after 6:30 and home by 3:15 PM. Even drove by the site where the Amtrak train flew off the bridge and onto I-5. Quite the sight.

Turns out the tequila I brought home is quite tasty 🙂

UPS driver gave me a neat idea for a plot twist – debating on whether or not to include it.  We’ll see.


So, I bought a bottle of tequila for 133 Pesos (or $133 as seen on the price tag).  Roughly $7 US.  Don’t know how good it is (I don’t drink tequila), but I figure if you’re in Mexico, you should get at least one bottle (so I did). Wonder if I’ll ever crack it open.  The label reads “100 Anos” (sorry, it doesn’t really say 100 asses, rather I can’t get the squiggly line over the n to say 100 years), Tequila Reposado.

My Spanish is getting quite the workout.  Most places people speak Spanish to me first (I guess I look like a local). Only one place asked me if I wanted to speak English – “No, your accent’s fine” they said – riiiiight.  Feeling a bit like Brad Pitt in Inglorious Bastards as he fakes an Italian accent – Ahriverderchee (said in a fake southern accent).

Whoaaa Mexico!

James Taylor I ain’t, but I am in Mexico.  Youngest adult daughter spawn just wrapped up 10 weeks of studying art in SoCal, so being the great, totally awesome dad that I am, I flew down (hence my ability to get some writing done) to help her drive home (ain’t no way in hell this dad is gonna let an 18 year old girl drive home to Enumclaw, WA, alone).

A couple of weeks prior to flying:

Me: Y’know, I’ve been all over the world, but I’ve never been to Mexico.

Spouse: What are you trying to say?

Me: Can you book me into an Air BNB in Ensenda?

Spouse: Sure

Me (later): We’re going to Mexico!

Spawn 2: Why?

Me: Just because!

So, a quick weekend trip from Oceanside to San Diego with Spawn 2, Cousin, and Cousin’s SO.  Driving through TJ in the dark with three different cell phones giving different directions was quite “interesting” followed by words such as STFU!

Now to explore the Greater Ensenada Metropolitan Area.


Just because…

One good thing about traveling is the opportunity to write.  One bad thing about traveling is the lack of opportunity to write.  I’m currently in Oceanside, CA – it’s about 7 AM (I’ve been grading final exams for the past hour) and about to head down to Ensenda, Mexico. So, what does all this have to do with writing?  On the flight from Seattle to San Diego I was able to crank out about 1200 words – not a lot for the flight length, but more than I’ve managed over the last couple of days.

Will I get any more writing done this weekend?  Not sure.  The plan is to visit Ensenada with my youngest spawn (who is finishing up 10 weeks of intensive art study at the Watts Atelier in Encinitas, CA) and cousin (who just moved to San Diego) for the weekend. Why? Just because.

Just because I’ve never been to Mexico.

Just because I’m this close to Mexico, and the opportunity presents itself.

Just because I’d like to visit a foreign speaking nation other than Canada (eh).

Just because I like to travel.

Just because I enjoy experiencing new things and cultures.

Just because I want a Negra Modelo in Mexico.

Just because.

Life is full of “just because’s” so take advantage of them when you have the opportunity.

Of course, will I be able to write?  Likely not, especially since after spending the weekend in Mexico youngest spawn and I will be driving back to Enumclaw (2200 km).   Just because.