Sunday, March 29, 2020

Cheer up

It's certainly easy to get depressed.  Millions of people can't work and you can't even have a drink at a bar. My dad's birthday is coming up in a few days.  I can't take him out to dinner. Hell, I can't even buy a steak and do a cookout--the local store has no meat.  But there's plenty of wine and liquor. I guess dad can just get blotto for his birthday.  I can't even join him for that as  can't drink do to my kidney problems (doctor's orders).  On the other hand the power is still on; water comes out of the tap; the trash is still getting picked up.  

Friday, March 27, 2020

wishful thinking

I live in  a neighborhood of older people.  For some reason, a rumor started that I had died from the virus. A neighbor was staring at me at the mailbox then said "I thought you were dead." That surprised me a bit. "Sorry to disappoint you," was my response.  Then other people told me I'm dead. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


I was actually able to buy food yesterday.  There remains no toilet paper anywhere.  Someone's hoarding a hell of a lot of toilet paper.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Dog Serial Killer

I've written before about the dead dogs that keep turning up on Bopp Road, which is near my house. They all appear to be healthy looking.  At first I thought they might've been hit by cars, but the fact they're always in the same place makes me think they are being killed somewhere and dumped. This is the eighth dead dog at the same exact place in the past four months.  Someone from county animal control comes along and scoops up the dead bodies and hauls them away. I think there's a dog serial killer on the loose. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Back yard roundup

One of my birch trees seems to have died. It shed its leaves last winter. Whilst the other two came back and sprouted new leaves, the third one just sits there.  I suppose n this climate, where water is scarce and its hot one should be happy with that. However, its been an exceptionally cool spring we've had fairly regular rain. So, why'd the tree die?  Maybe it was simply its time to go off to tree heaven.

On a brighter side, my two lemon trees are looking pretty good.  They've  been in the ground about three years.  For the longest time they neither seemed to grow or produced fruit. The last fruit cycle yielded enough lemons for a pitcher of lemonade and the little rascals are clearly growing now. The barrel cactus on the side of the house is looking really good and has benefited from the extra spring rain.  

Alas, the one bad thing is the weed problem seems to be getting worse.  They are everywhere and my efforts to abate them seem futile.  I've been using propane but may have to go to a chemical solution.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Where are the marauding hords?

Well, I hope people are looking out for the marauding hoards. This situation reminds me of some 20 years ago. I literally lived next to  some guy in a bunker.  It was kind of creepy, but this guy lived in an underground bunker. I don't recall actually seeing the man.  A TV camera would follow you as people moved around on the public sidewalk. I once got into a discussion about him with other neighbors. I contended when we have a fall of government and roving hoards are looking for food, people like bunker guy will be the first to die. My neighbor, who wished he had a bunker like our other neighbor, thought bunker people would carry on for society when folks like me were dead. I disagreed.

Why?  I'm gong after bunker people and other survivalists if things get that bad..  I'll light fires under their ventilation shafts to smoke them out, get heavy equipment to dig them out--whatever.  They are going first as they're stuck. I'm forming my own roving hoard.  We'll be mobile and we'll go after people like bunker guy, who are stuck in one place. Yes we will.  Now, I don't think it's quite come to that yet. But Safeway's shelves were almost completely bare yesterday. Somebody is hoarding a hell of a lot of food. Worse yet, there's no toilet paper to be had anywhere in Tucson. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Okay, now this is getting weird

Okay, when my bank [credit union, actually] said they didn't want me coming near the place and they were locking their doors I didn't care too much.  Now I've gotten an email from my doctor. Apparently, they do not want sick people to come to the doctor's office.  I gather, if I interpret their latest email correctly, they want sick people to cancel their appointments and stay home. 

That's too bad because I wanted to go to the doctor's office and steal their toilet paper.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

what next?

Now they've closed the restaurants here in Tucson.  My bank has closed its doors as well and told us to use the ATM.  What more wonderful ideas will they have?  I've got one.  Use nuclear weapons and kill everyone in cities with confirmed cases. This will eliminate the need for people to die from Corona virus and folks can get on with their lives if they're not dead.  I still don't understand why people are hording toilet paper.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Wearing the green

I have a green shirt on today.  That's what we do on St Patrick's Day.  Many years ago I was working at a hotel and the morning people arrived and the night people [me] were about to  go home. I asked one of the morning front desk agents if she'd like a shamrock [paper] as I had a few.  She declined. "But it's St. Patrick's Day," Said I.

Well, she went off on a tangent about how the Irish were all worthless and good for nothing but fighting and drinking.  I shrugged and went home.  At some point she apparently realized I have an Irish name.  Well, the  next day she seemed to be trying to be nice to me, but found me rather chilly. Heck, I just offered her a paper shamrock.

Alas, I'm actually only about 1/4 Irish.  I don't know why some people spell it O'Reilly and my family spells it Riley.  And I don't like corned beef and cabbage very much.  But I still resented what this woman said. So there.  

Oh, some idiot on the radio last month said St. Valentine drove the snakes out of Ireland. It was St. Patrick.  And I don't like mint milkshakes, either.  They're weird and unnatural. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

Okay, but?

I realize folks have been getting confusing information from the government.  I know it's scary when faced with a virus that can lead to pneumonia leprosy and rabies.  I can see hording hand sanitizer. But I just do not understand why everyone is hording toilet paper.        

Sunday, March 15, 2020


The Census forms are out. Yay!  I've worked at previous Census operations that come along every ten years.  In fact, I worked for a while last year updating maps and address lists for the Census just getting underway. But I won't be knocking on your door when you don't return your Census form. I'm no longer involved with the Census and have no plans to ever work for them again.  It's not really a very good job.  While it's important work, I did not find working there particularly enjoyable. But that's just my opinion.  I liked working there 10 years ago, but this time I felt they were mean spirited and management was unhelpful and the overall experience lacking.  So, my job there is over and I won't be working there again.

That said, if you don't want someone knocking on your door, send in your form. It only takes a few minutes and you'll be done with it.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

All we need now are the zombies

Hmm, crash of financial markets, pandemic virus..

Things could be worse.  They still have stale doughnuts at the local convenience store.  Sure they're running out of toilet paper at the stores, but you can always use some leaves--just stay clear of poison ivy.  And there's no need to get down on the food shortages; most doctors think people could stand to lose a few pounds anyway.   Before we know it, there will be some asteroid hurling toward us and we'll have all forgotten that stupid old virus.  

Thursday, March 12, 2020

name game

I decided it was time to review my email files and update the names and such. I was simply astonished at how many of the names I had are  for people I have absolutely no idea of who they are. I don't know who these people are or why they would be in my email address files.  A big purge is coming today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


How do you know if some old guy is really old? Huh?  It's not entirely about age. It's about garbage. My 93 year old father is obsessed with garbage.  I was over at his house yesterday [Monday] and he was already talking about how much room he had left in his trash can [they pick up on Wednesday]. He also wanted to know what time they pick up at my house and I have a different trash service than he has.  I think he could easily talk about garbage all day long.  I mean, whatever makes him happy. 
He has a birthday coming up. I wish I could get him a ridealong with the trash company but they don't seem to do that.  It's a shame because he's their biggest fan.

Monday, March 9, 2020

back from con

Well, had a splendid time at Wild Wild West Con. Panels went rather wll. I didn't win the short story contest, but you can't have everything.

Friday, March 6, 2020


Through the coming weekend I'll be at Wild Wild West Con out at Old Tucson.  I do not anticipate any more blog entries until the early part of next week.  

Thursday, March 5, 2020

count 'em up!

Well, we're just days away from the census.  I was thinking back to the census 10 years ago. I worked that one in Colorado.  My friend Raymond Broadbeard was on our crew.  We had to distribute census forms as most of central Colorado has no residential mail delivery--people have to use PO Boxes.  We also tried to add and remove addresses as we went along.  Raymond found some guy who introduced himself as Harry Balls (we weren't asking names, just handing out forms and confirming addresses but some folks just introduced themselves)  I never met Harry.  With a name like that I always wondered how he got through junior high school.  Raymond was going to do a book on rare names from the census and went back to talk to Harry a few months ago. It turned out he no longer lived there.  And, since the census data can't be publicly released (the actual responses. The statistical data can be released) for 70 years, Raymond gave up on the idea.

Whatever your name is, fill out the census form.  Even if you hate the government, it's still better to fill it out. That way there won't be a census worker knocking on your door.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Straight Outta Dodge City

There's a new book in town. As some of you may know, Baen has put out a three book series of Weird Western anthologies entitled Straight Outta Tombstone, Straight Outta Deadwood and Straight Outta Dodge City.  They are edited by Denver author David Boop.  I just got my copy of Dodge City.  As of this entry I have not finished it. But, the foreword certainly caught my attention since I am mentioned in it.  This is the final paragraph of that foreword.

To David B. Riley and David Lee Summers:
I owe you both so much for leading me through the world of weird westerns.  You've had patience with me as I've struggled to get the story right.  You've supported me as an author and as a person. We've laughed together and grieved together. Your faith in me is why there are three volumes of weird western tales. You are great writers, editors, mentors, and friends. 
I dedicate this anthology to you.

Wow.  Frankly, I did not expect that.  As I said the other day about the fan mail, compliments are nice. Recognition is nice.  But I have never had a book dedicated to me.  Wow.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Something really amazing

It doesn't happen often, but every now and then I get a letter or email from someone who liked one of my books.  It's really nice when people take the trouble to do that.  This last weekend I got two emails from people who wrote that they liked my books.  It's a real pickup.  I also discovered a few reviews I had not known about and they were basically positive.  So, I was feeling rather upbeat this weekend.  

Saturday, February 29, 2020

It's Leap Day, So What

It's leap day!  I note a number of places here in Tucson are having Leap Year sales that only come around once every four years.  I don't see the point of buying anything like a new bed or furniture since we're all going to die soon from that corona virus anyway. There are some unanswered questions about this epidemic that I never hear about.  For one thing, does it affect dogs?  If the people all die, will the dogs die too or slowly starve as they're all stuck in back yards and have no way out if their owners are dead.  I wonder about things like that.

Actually, that sounds like the makings of a really cool movie plot. I better get to writing, not that anyone will still be alive to read the story. I was also going to write about  not knowing how much ketchup to buy if I'm going to die in a few weeks, but there isn't time to worry about that now.

Friday, February 28, 2020

The Wild Wild West

This time next week I plan to be attending Wild Wild West Con out at Old Tucson.  It's a Wild West Steampunk convention held out at the park every March.  This is their 9th year so it amazes me that a lot of locals have never heard of it. I've been asking people all month and most folks who live here don't seem to be aware of it.  I'm not sure why.  I knew about it when I lived in Colorado but didn't start attending until I moved here to Tucson three years ago.  Anyway, it is a lot of fun--more fun than any other con I've ever been to.  Their schedule is now out and they have a heck of a lot of stuff going on. I really look forward to this event and have found the people who attend are really a nice bunch of folks.

In my own little way I am helping those activities.  I'll be on panel discussions about Weird Westerns, Mystery in Steampunk, Magic in Steampunk and I'll also give a presentation on crackpot inventions in the 1800s.  That should keep me fairly busy.

If you make it out there stop by one of my panels and say hello.

Thursday, February 27, 2020


Came across a beef stew recipe recently.  Seriously, this was the complete recipe.


Place ingredients in a kettle and cook until done.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020


Got to go for training for poll worker duty tomorrow.  It's some special new equipment they're trying out. The Arizona primary is coming up.  I'm not sure why I'm doing this.  It's a really long day when election day rolls around.  .  

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

wonderful spring wind

Now we've got that wonderful spring wind.  There's a trash can out in front of my house. Tomorrow's trash day and a lot of folks put their cans out the night before. The problem is the can out there ain't mine. I don't know whose it is.  Maybe with luck it'll be somewhere else by morning and I won't have to deal with it.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Exchange Students

I am pleased that my story "the pupil" is in a new anthology called Exchange Students. I'd wanted to do something with my Sarah Meadows character and this opportunity came along.  Now Sarah isn't an exchange student.  She's been in a few short stories and stars in my science fiction novel Bonded Agent.  In Sarah's world Mars is an independent republic with an uneasy relationship with a very militaristic Earth.  She joins the army when Earth is at war with a reptilian race. The thing is, she's fighting on the side of the reptiles.  The new story picks up after the war. Sarah has legal problems and has hired a lawyer to help her.  This lawyer has a new pupil named Prairie Davis who comes from Earth through an exchange program to learn Martian jurisprudence.  The book releases Tuesday although it can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.  Exchange Students  edited by Sheila Hartney. Order a couple hundred copies today.

This is the book's official blurb:

Study abroad! See new places! Meet new people! In our exchange student program, you can literally study anywhere or anywhen you can imagine. We'll send you to new planets. We'll send you to new dimensions and realms of existence. We'll send you through time itself! Don't believe me? This exciting anthology contains many tales of our thrilling and educational exchange student program. You'll read tales of aliens coming to earth and humans traveling to alien worlds. You'll meet a denizen of Hell who travels to Heaven. Some students will discover their super powers on their journey. Other students will have encounters with the undead. You'll meet a law enforcement officer who travels to the realm of the fae to help solve a crime of truly interdimensional proportions. Featuring twenty-two amazing stories by Roze Albina Ches, Jaleta Clegg, Ken Goldman, Paula Hammond, Sheila Hartney, Chisto Healy, Joachim Heijndermans, Sean Jones, Tim Kane, Alden Loveshade, Tim McDaniel, J Louis Messina, Jennifer Moore, Brian Gene Olson, David B. Riley, Katherine Quevedo, Holly Schofield, Jonathan Shipley, Lesley L. Smith, Emily Martha Sorensen, Margret A. Treiber and Sherry Yuan

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Pie Thoughts

I sure wish the University of Arizona Wildcats would change their name to Pie Demons.  I doubt they will, but I'd sure like it.

How come they don't sell pie by the slice? A lot of places sell pizza by the slice.

I make a pie out of seedless grapes. I prefer the black ones but the green ones will do.  They're pretty darn good, actually.

Friday, February 21, 2020


I rarely do reviews and this is not one of them.  A new movie is opening. It's Call of the Wild.  Here's the thing: The trailers and ads look like it's all CGI, and lame CGI at that. It convinced me not to go see it.

For what it's worth, Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London.  I've heard it has never been out of print and that's pretty good for a book over 100 years old.  London was a highly skilled writer who had a certain fascination with the dogs he encountered when he went up north during the Yukon gold rush.  He turned that fascination into a number of stories. Call of the Wild is kind of his legacy book. 

As I said, the ads and trailers look awful.  And that's why I'm staying home.  


I got my income tax refund in 10 days. I was impressed.  That e-file with direct deposit really speeds things up.  It's nice getting money, even if it is really yours already.  Accountants say you should actually owe a little bit.  Having a big refund is not good.  Well, my refund was not all that big, but I'm still glad to have it.  I'm sure something else on my aging car will soon break and that'll wipe out my tax refund.  That's usually how these things work out. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Please, Hollywood

Here are some movies I wish they'd make:

Mr. Ed:  The Movie
Everyone's favorite talking horse would have some new ways to torment Wilbur.

The Frito Bandito
The famed cartoon icon returns to fight injustice and fix corn chip casseroles

Chess Monsters
Giant chess pieces attack Denver

Voodoo Doughnuts
People go into Voodoo Doughnuts and their lives are magically transformed

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Sliced Bread

There's a saying "That's the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread."  Surely, sliced bread was a marvelous invention.  It allows you to reach inside a plastic bag and procure two well formed sliced of bread that you can make toast out of. You can even use it to make a sandwich.  Arguably, it's the greatest invention ever.  So then, why is sliced sourdough such yuk?  It's true. If you buy sliced sourdough at the store it's not nearly as good as the uncut variety  you get in those paper sleeves. In fact, the sliced version stores sell is barely recognizable as the same product.  I don't know why that is.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Pie in the eye

Back when they called Presidents' Day Washington's Birthday  they had specials on cherry pie. Now they don't. Young George supposedly cut down the cherry tree and then confessed under torture or something like that.  I don't think they even had cherry trees in Virginia back then. They're not native to the area.  I like cherry pie.  Now we just get mattress sales.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Hey Kindle folks

Kindle Unlimited members can get Tales From Dry Gulch for free. That's one hack of a deal for some really neat stories. Yes it is. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

What the heck does Be My Valentine mean?

What the heck does Be My Valentine even mean?  People run around with heart shaped balloons, flowers and such.  But what does Be My Valentine really entail?  I always get a kick out of the kid Valentines that come twenty to a box and kids give them to grandma and maybe even the family dog.  Again, they say Be my Valentine, but what the heck does it really mean?  Certainly giving flowers to a girlfriend or going out to dinner with one’s wife has different meaning than a kid giving one of those silly little cards to some girl in the second grade.

Back in the second grade I sat next to Angela Cartwright.  And, like most boys at that age, I kind of thought girls were sort of yucky.    But Angela turned out to be really nice.  At recess there were a group of kids who played on the monkey bars.  They wouldn’t play with me. But Angela would. She was particularly fond of hopscotch.  She would even sit with me at lunch sometimes. Those other kids sure wouldn’t.  On Valentine’s Day Angela gave me one of those kid Valentine cards.  I thought that was really nice of her. I gave her one, too.  

Then a couple days later Angela said she had to go for an operation. There was something wrong with her stomach.  Well, I’d had an appendectomy the previous summer. I didn’t miss any school because it was summer, but I figured she’d need time to recover if it was anything like my appendectomy.  So that day during recess she drove away with her mother.  I never saw Angela again.  I don’t know what became of her. She wasn’t back the next school year.  I guess her family could’ve moved and she went to some other school.  The more likely answer was the operation didn’t go so well and Angela died. Nothing was ever said about what became of Angela. I’m sure no one had the guts to tell a room full of second graders Angela died.  It was easier to say nothing and hope we forgot her.

I’ll never know what actually happened to her.  But I never forgot her. Over 50 years later I still remember her and find myself thinking about her when Valentine’s Day rolls around.  She gave me a Valentine’s card. I don’t remember the card itself, just that she gave me one.  

Oh, the kids on the monkey bars never did let me play with them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Had a good rain yesterday.  Now it'll be cold for a few days.  Our plant friends need the moisture and in Arizona you can go quite a while between rains.  Alas, each time it rains it beings out more weeds in my yard. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Phobia of the Month

Image result for ants

It's time once again for our new feature: Phobia of the month.  This month's phobia is myrmecophobia It is the inexplicable fear of ants. It is a type of specific phobia.  

Monday, February 10, 2020

Robert Conrad

I note the passing of Robert Conrad.  He had a long and respected acting career.  I thought I'd mention one of his legacies he seems most remembered for was his role on the Wild, Wild West.  It's no secret that I have a longstanding involvement with the weird western genre as both an author and publisher. So it's not surprising that I've talked to a lot of people about weird westerns--both writers and fans of the genre.  What has come up in almost all of those conversations was these folks were fans of the TV show.  Without a doubt, Conrad's Jim West character made a huge impression on a lot of people that carries forward to today. If you're too young to remember this TV show, I'm sure it's available for viewing and I highly recommend it. My point is simply that Conrad touched a lot of people with this character, as I'm sure he did with some of his other roles.  

Sunday, February 9, 2020


One thing I don't completely understand is prescriptions.  Most doctors send them electronically to the pharmacy these days.  That's so the government can spy on the doctor and see what he's prescribing.  Yet my eye doctor handles my prescription by handing me a written prescription on a prescription form.  You don't see that too often anymore.  They still keep file folders instead of electronic records, too.  That'll show the government.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

poke in the eye part 2

Well, yesterday's eye exam went well. My eye pressure was quite good and there were no changed in my vision  And that's that. I was kind of relieved because I've had so many health problems lately, at least I didn't get another one.

It occurred to me after they dilated my eyes that you could really mess up somebody if you could get your hand on the requisite eye drops.  If you sleep with someone and that person is a heavy sleeper you could dump some of those eye drops into their eyes in the morning before the alarm goes off.  "What the heck, I can't read the paper?" your wife would be saying. "Dang, it's bright out here, where's the car?" and so on.  I think of things like that.

Friday, February 7, 2020

poke in the eye

Off to the eye doctor today.  I have high eye pressure and have to have it checked twice a year.  It's not a great way to spend the morning, but my doctor is pretty good and it's important.  Had this not been caught early I could have developed full blown glaucoma, but I take eye drops to control my eye pressure and that's worked so far.  

Thursday, February 6, 2020


Ywp, tis weed abatement time again.  Yesterday I got a letter from the homeowners association. I thought it was another weed notice.  I get them as they seem to think weeds in my yard are a bad thing.  It's just nature having a little joke.  So, I tried spraying some crap on the yard. Nothing seems to work for long.  I'd been using propane but that doesn't last long.  I decided it was time for some cancer causing chemicals to keep my yard free of weeds. So far, the weeds are still out there and appear unscathed.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Exchange Students

I just got my proof copy of Exchange Students, a new anthology edited by Sheila Hartney.  I'll post again on this site when the actual release comes and by then I should be able to include a look at the cover.  

This is the sort of story collection I would tend to pass over, at first glance anyway, as I have little interest in writing about students. But the timing of this book was perfect.  .And the requirements were rather open minded and hardly just taking place at some futuristic high school--learning can take many forms. After reading the guidelines a couple of times I decided my story idea was close enough to the story guidelines I give it a go. I'd wanted to do something with my Sarah Meadows  character and was kicking around an idea I had.  "The Pupil" picks up after my novel Bonded Agent, where Sarah has returned to Mars and resumed civilian life. Unfortunately, all is not forgiven about the fact she fought on the side of the reptilian Tau in their recent war with Earth.  Sarah finds herself with legal trouble and hires barrister Hugo Green to represent her. Hugo Green has a new pupil coming to learn how to be a barrister. And that's how Sarah Meadows becomes involved with my take on an exchange student in the form of Prairie Davis, just arrived from Earth.

I anxiously await the release of this book.  I'm amazed at the variety and quality of the stories contained in Exchange Students. Folks, you'll definitely want to grab a copy of this one. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 3, 2020

That's All Folks

Well, this past weekend saw the end of my publishing business.  For the last 20 years or so I've put out  14 issues of Science Fiction Trails and before that seven issues of Trails: Intriguing Stories of the Old West.  We published various horror and weird western anthologies like Six Guns Straight From Hell and Gunslingers & Ghost Stories  and our most recent product, Tales From Dry Gulch.  We put out a couple of issues of Steampunk Trails, but that never caught on and likewise Story Emporium which also sputtered.

Some of these projects did better than others.  There were none of them I was ashamed of.  We paid artists and writers for their work.  I put up with an amazing amount of guff from some of these people, but looked past missed deadlines and plagiarized stories to the fact that most of the people I've worked  with were a true pleasure.

In particular, I'd like to thank a few folks who were true friends of our endeavors. Laura Givens not only illustrated a heck of a lot of covers, but provided her wisdom as well.  Julie Campbell worked as editor and co-editor on a number of endeavors for little pay. She never complained once when I felt we needed to change direction for business reasons. Then there are writers Sam Knight, Joel Jenkins and Henry Ram who supplied remarkable stories through thick and thin and deserve a special thank you. Plenty of others contributed over the years and I thank you all as well.

But I've seen a sharp downturn in sales which has made small press publishing quite challenging. It's getting harder to get reviews. But the most devastating problem that I cannot overcome is the nosedive in story submissions. Writers don't seem to want to bother anymore.  They line up in droves for small publishers who rarely honor their contracts and go out of business with the changing seasons. Yet Science Fiction Trails Publishing has been around for over 20 years and we've seen most of these operations come and go.  Now it's time for us to go. I can overcome a lot of challenges, but the lack of story submissions is one problem I cannot solve.

The recent effort to do a sequel for the  Dry Gulch anthology was the last straw.  Only three stories came in. They were great, but not nearly enough for a viable book.  With that I give up.  

Sunday, February 2, 2020


It's Ground Hog Day!

I've already extolled the virtue of eating sausage. I've lamented the lack of greeting cards for the holiday.  I sure wish Congress would make it a paid holiday. Now, it's the unwanted bastard stepchild of holidays ranking somewhere between Columbus Day and Arbor Day in participation.  

Some ways to increase the fun:  Get your own ground hog and let it live underneath your house. Yank it out on Ground Hog Day and see if it sees its shadow.  Get a big ground hog suit and let children sit on your knee and tell you what they want for Ground Hog Day presents.  

Sell sausage door-to-door to get people to eat sausage for Ground Hog Day.

Go out and chuck some wood around. Woodchucks and ground hogs are the same animal.

Be sure to send your Ground Hog Day ideas to the president in Washington.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Happy Ground Hog Day!

Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day.  I've spent the last eight years trying to get people to celebrate by eating sausage. Why sausage? Sausage is made from Ground hog.  What better to eat on Ground Hog Day?  Now, some dullards think I'm advocating eating Ground Hogs, also known as Whistle Pigs and a few other aliases.  I am not. But sausage is made out of ground hog, as in pigs. What's that got to do with some marmot with a phobia about shadows? Nothing, really.  But it sounds the same. It's a phonetic kind of thing.  Ans that's why we eat sausage because they make it from Ground Hog

I once wrote to the folks who make Jimmy Dean and urged them to promote Ground Hog Day. I never got a reply. They probably thought I was some sort of kook.  The greeting card people haven't done much with Ground Hog Day, either.  Compare the selection of Ground Hog Day cards to Valentines Day and St Patrick's Day cards at your local store.  Heck, most stores don't have any. A few stores might have one card.

Alas, I feel much like Charlie Brown's friend, Linus, sitting out in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin.  I have had few converts in my quest to reform the holiday.  But, rest assured, come tomorrow, I'll  be eating sausage.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Beverage conspiracy

I don't know why restaurants insist on serving "Sweet" tea.  I had lunch yesterday at a restaurant  and the waitress brought me unsweet tea. The problem was as I consumed my drink she refilled me with sweet tea.  This would not do and I flagged her down and explained her error. She brought me out another glass of tea. It turned out to be sweet tea as well.  They look identical and little care seem to be made that the product is in the correct pitcher. I was annoyed, but flagged her down again. Finally, she brought me some more regular unsweetened ice tea.  

If they would simply have unsweetened tea and packs of sugar on the tables, this sort of thing would not keep happening.  This is actually the second time this week I've gotten sweetened tea.   I went through Micky D's drive through as I just wanted some tea. I ordered unsweet tea, picked it up and drank it when I was about a mile away.  Of course it was sweet. It always is.  I poured it out. I checked the receipt. It clearly said unsweet tea. I complained online, as if that'll do any good.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Greeting Kardz

Note to Hallmark:  There aren't very many Ground Hog Day cards available in stores.  I think we could use some more. There are rows and rows of Valentine cards, but I can't find a single Ground Hog Day card.  Someone at Safeway swore she saw one in some other store but wasn't sure which store. Come on, you guys can do better than this.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Golden Aches

There's a fast food restaurant near my house that I really hate.  The thing is, they're it. I live far away from Tucson city limits and there isn't much else out here but them.  In the three years I've lived here  I've probably gone there six or seven times--about twice a year.  I have never gotten what I ordered. It's astonishing how bad this place is.  I seem to forget after six months and make the mistake of going back.  I've got to stop doing that.  

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Bring 'em back

I sure wish the following fast food outlets would bring back some stuff:

Arby Q

Taco Bell
combination burrito
green sauce [green sauce didn't sell much because it was never on the menu as an option]

Jack in the Box
secret sauce

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Who the Hell is Melvin Cruddy ?

I used to work for the concession company that ran the Grand Teton National Park restaurants and hotels.  This was a long time ago. I drove the laundry truck and was later a laundry supervisor.  Amongst other things, they had an option if you didn't want to go to the dining room for lunch, you could get a sandwich at the employee canteen. You had to sign for your meal, since they had to account for employee meals differently than regular sales of candy bars and stuff.  For some inexplicable reason, I started signing Melvin Cruddy on the sheet.  That certainly was not my name.

As I mentioned, I drove the laundry truck. It required gas, which was purchased at the company owned convenience store. You had to sign this voucher sheet for the gas, including a code for what department it was being used by.Well, Melvin Cruddy started signing for gas as well.  The thing was, no one ever seemed to notice.  

I wasn't really defrauding anyone. The gas really was for the laundry truck. The employee meals were really being eaten by an employee. . But blind signatures on some form are rather meaningless records.  

Well, then I ended up working for a hotel in Colorado.  It was rare for me to use the company van, but one day I had to take some luggage over to another hotel and it was running on fumes. So I signed for the gas at the gas station we used as Melvin Cruddy.  I don't know why.  Then, I started signing Melvin Cruddy whenever I accepted luggage deliveries (the airlines often misplace luggage and then would send it by messenger since we were  very far from the airport).  Credit card refund form for customers--Melvin Cruddy.  Not once did anyone ever ask "Who the hell is this Melvin Cruddy?"

I'm not sure where this name came from. Benny Hill had some sketch character called Mervyn Cruddy as I recall.  But I'm not sure where Melvin came from in the bizarro world inside my head. I do know this, no one has ever questioned why Melvin Cruddy was signing stuff when we had no such employee. If I had to send FedEx, the employee name was Melvin Cruddy on the form at the hotel. 

I don't know what evil force made me sign Melvin to so many forms. Maybe it's just the stupidity of so many meaningless forms in the world.  Then I retired and moved to Arizona. Last weekend I went to the gun range.  Melvin signed in on the sign in sheet. At least Melvin has never signed for a credit card purchase--not yet anyway.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

You gotta be nuts

Well, supposedly, Planters Nuts are getting rid of Mr. Peanut.  I think this is horrible.  Back in my salad days I sent away for a plastic Mr. Peanut cup.  I don't know what became of it.  I'm really bummed out about this.   He's always been there for me.  He often would turn up in my yard and console me when I was feeling bad.  Now, I've got to move on without him.  I will admit the cup was a cheap plastic one.  

Monday, January 20, 2020


Last Friday I had a nail removed from my tire. It's the fifth one in the last 12 months.  I think that's an excessive amount of nails.  I cannot figure out why there are so many nails on the roads. It's not like they have roofing on our highways. Yet the nail problem persists. This one was in the sidewall of my tire and couldn't be fixed. Fortunately I had road hazard protection and got a new tire.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Now We Wait

I had a live tree for Christmas and planted it in my yard after the festivities ended.  The problem is this Arizona climate is hard on trees.  I don't know if it'll make it.  Evergreens are tough to tell if they're alive. They don't turn brown and look dead until they're really gone.  That's not so with people. If someone died in my yard it would be obvious really soon. In just a few days that body would get bloated as the bacteria in the corpse give off gasses.  Then the body would start to stink--really bad smell.  That is not true with evergreens. They just sit there and look like a live tree even when they're not. Eventually, they turn brown and then you realize they're dead, but that comes months later.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

air bags

Well I broke down and finally got my car's airbags fixed. I've been getting recall notices forever on it. It's just that the dealer is so far away from my house and I hate sitting around car dealers all day. It literally killed an entire day to get this fixed. I guess I can crash into something safely now. Hah!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Is it real or is it Mesmerex?

There's this paranormal show on telebision that I was watching the other day.  I found myself wondering how I could hoax each segment.  About 90% of the time I could figure out a way to hoax each segment within just a minute or so.  And I wasn't even trying.  Now I'm not saying most of this stuff was fake, just that it would not be difficult  to fake it.  I'm not sure why folks fake and hoax these things. Whether it's ghosts or UFOs or Bigfoot, a lot of this material is hoaxed. I don't know why people go to the trouble to fake this stuff. I really don't see what they get out of it.  But a lot of this paranormal  stuff is complete balderdash. 

That's one reason why I rarely give talks about the Great 1897 Airship.  I've spent years studying about this thing and consider it the most baffling event in American history.  Yet, if I try and talk about it people just claim it's a hoax and dismiss it outright--without any basis to denounce it or me. And so I've kind of taken a step back and do not have any talks planned about it this year, even at science fiction cons.  I'm just tired of pounding my head into walls. It's a shame as I think it's a story that needs to be told.  I've read newspaper articles from the day. The California state legislature even held hearings on it.  And I have serious problems with the very few books on the subject. But people don't want to hear it and I've got to decide how I want to proceed with this subject.  The Airship wasn't done with fishing line  or a fan out of the frame of a camera angle. It scared a lot of people, should not have existed based on the technology of the day, yet it has been completely forgotten by history because the dullard class just says "It's gotta be a hoax."  The same dullard class that watches these stupid paranormal shows.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Free Money

I mentioned the other day  I turned in my coin cup at Coinstar and got 40 bucks.  Well, I've learned something else about these coin machines in grocery stores and some chain drugstores: people don't check the slot for rejected coins. Sometimes perfectly good coins get rejected.  I've started checking them when I go to the store.  I got 17 cents at Kroger yesterday and 50 cents at CVS two days ago. Caching!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Garbage Truck

When I was a little kid I always thought the garbage truck was way cool. At first they had guys hanging on who picked up the trash and tossed it in the hold. Then, they brought around these big green cans and the new garbage truck came by with a hydraulic arm. The driver could just scoop up the garbage can and dump it from inside the cab. I thought this was the coolest thing I'd ever seen.  

I don't know why no one ever gave me a toy garbage truck to play with as a kid. I'd have been the happiest kid on earth.  Although my mother noted I seemed to have a fascination with the garbage truck, no such garbage truck toy ever appeared underneath the Christmas tree.  Mrs. Fitzgerald, my first grade teacher, used to tell us if we didn't learn in school we'd have to drive a garbage truck for a  living. I always thought that sounded okay to me, although it never actually happened. I have wondered if I'd gotten a CDL and gotten on as a garbage truck driver how things would have been. I still think garbage trucks are cool.

So, for some reason, yesterday an ad popped up on some article I was reading on the Internet.  It was trying to sell me a garbage truck toy. I don't know why.  Then I discovered it cost about $100. No thank you. But, for at least a few seconds, I thought I might finally have a garbage truck to play with. Not happening. Still. . . 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bird Brain

I've always believed owls don't hoot at night. A neighbor insists they do.  We have an owl nearby and I've only heard it hoot during the daytime.  I know they prefer to hunt at night and have the eyesight and hearing to be very good at it.  They're also nearly silent, as their wings simply don't make noise. As it would happen, this morning, just around sunrise, an owl took out one of the local doves. Except it didn't have a clean kill. The dove was yelling some sort of dove distress chirp and the owl couldn't seem to get it to die.  Finally, the owl flew away with the dove in its tendons.  I know  in the animal kingdom that's the way it works--you're predator or you're food.  Still, it's a rather unpleasant exchange to awakwn to just outside your bedroom window.

Monday, January 13, 2020


I just tried the grocery pickup service run by the local Kroger affiliate, Fry's.  I liked it, yet I have a certain guilt at the same time.  Whilst sitting in my car and someone puts my order, all bagged and ready, into the trunk of my car, I feel guilty about it. Man was meant to claw and scrape and push through the crowds to hunt for the specials. Just having them bring me my stuff, that's not quite right somehow. I'm not sure what I'll do in the future.  

I can't believe this is profitable. Stores have invested a lot of money to generate impulse buys by putting the fresh baked bread smell near the entrance and so on. They've also tried to make stores they require minimal manual labor to keep costs down.  This drive up concept seems to run directly afoul to this.

Sunday, January 12, 2020


I went around the neighborhood two nights ago.  Last summer I converted my electric yard light to a solar light by buying a solar light at Lowe's and putting it in the housing for my yard light. Now, gradually, my neighbors seem to be copying me and more and more solar yard lights are turning up. Go solar! Yay!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Magic Cup

I took my cup which is a little bigger than a standard coffee mug to the store and ran it through Coinstar yesterday. The result: $41.07.   Not bad.  That's from the change in my pockets and the occasional coin I find in parking lots.

Friday, January 10, 2020


I found two pennies today, right on the sidewalk.  If I find another 98 I'll have a whole dollar. I've mentioned before that I still pick up coins--even pennies.  Just last week I found a nickel.  Some folks would ask why?  A penny is nearly worthless.  I agree.  Yet I still pick them up and put them in my coin cup along with spare change I've gotten from purchases and other places.  When it gets full I take it down and run it through the coin machine at the grocery store. It's what I do.  Today my coin cup is now full and I'm going to go and redeem those coins for cash. I'll post how much I got tomorrow.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

You never know about stuff

My father said something odd yesterday. He said he might not be around for Christmas next year.  Well, at 92 years old people do sometimes feel mortal.  But this was odd for him.  I didn't say anything. A minute or so later he said, "Space aliens might come and take me away."  Well, this was very odd. If I said something like that it would shock no one as I'm known for bizarre nonsense, but coming from my father, well that was weird. But that's what he said.

"Have these aliens been in touch?" I asked.  "Do you have a certain day in mind?"

"No, but you never know about stuff," was his response.

Well, that is quite true  You never know about stuff. "I hope they give you time to pack," was all I had to answer to that conversation.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2020


I guess gas prices will be heading up.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020


Someone was talking to me on the phone yesterday. I have no idea what language it was or what he wanted. I'm not even sure if the caller was actually a 'he'.  It certainly was not Spanish or one of the middle Eastern tongues.  That got me wondering: What if the caller was actually speaking gibberish and it was not my lack of understanding of his language but rather the fact it wasn't any language at all. Perhaps some mental patient got a hold of the phone at the asylum when the nurse took a break? 

I listened to him for a few minutes and thought it odd there was no let up in this rambling discourse after two full minutes.  I returned fire, babbling incoherently with my own gibberish language I was making up on the spot. The caller hung up after about 30 more seconds.  What actually happened? I don't really know. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

And Gone

Most of the holiday decorations for Christmas are down in my neighborhood.  So much until next year. Coming up fast is Ground Hog Day.  I love Ground Hog Day and encourage folks to eat sausage on February 2nd because sausage is made from ground hog.  Surprisingly, the folks at Hallmark haven't really flooded the card shops with Ground Hog Day cards for people to send.  That's a shame. There aren't even any colors associated with the holiday like orange for Halloween and green and red for Xmas. So, what we have is a holiday that needs a little work.

Way back a few years ago I wrote to the folks at Jimmy Dean sausage and tried to get them behind my idea of eating sausage for Ground Hog Day because sausage is made from Ground Hog.  I never heard from them. They probably thought I was some kind of kook.  I guarantee come February 2nd I'll be eating sausage. Maybe yellow lights for Ground Hog Day.  You never see yellow lights for Xmas or Halloween.  

Friday, January 3, 2020


I used to think nothing of the cold when I lived in Colorado. Since moving to Tucson I seem to had morphed into some kind of weather sissy.  The last cold from that came through brought us down to 32 degrees.. Brrr. Turn up the heater was my response.  What a sissy I've become.  My old heavy coat from Colorado actually came out of the closet. Before, such temperatures would've brought out my lighter jacket.  Not anymore.  I've been acclimatized. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


Do people still do New Year's resolutions?  You don't seem to hear about them much these days.  I don't really want to resolve anything.