Random Stuff

Time for a random thoughts post.

1. Taking a pet to the vet is tough. One of my cats had to get a growth removed today, and getting her in the carrier was not easy. It’s worse because she, like many cats, is terrified of the car ride. It needs to happen periodically, but man, I hate feeling so mean to them.

2. At least I get to try a new breakfast place while I wait for her. It’s clearly run by foodies, so this has some potential. Some consolation for me.

3. I have gotten so blase about water in my basement. After all the work I’ve done it’s been reduced to fairly small puddles that look to be rising through the concrete. At least I don’t see water trails from the wall. It will be reduced more when I complete the landscaping around my house, which hopefully will happen next week. Nevertheless, after having major flooding issues back in Columbia and some here, I will call two small puddles a major win, especially in the Kansas City area.

4. Writing, I have discovered, is both a job that you have to both force to happen and allow to happen at its own pace. You have to write something every day, but switching what you write helps allow the writing to stay fresh. I say that because I’m in the midst of switching my focus on the next book to the second Edward book, which is flowing nicely, from the first Ludmilla, which is not.

5. I am excited that I have now a specific schedule each year. I work better with deadlines, which is shocking to absolutely no one who knows me. I will have a full rough draft of a novel to my editor on 1 April, 1 August, and 1 December, with a schedule of editing and then publication laid out. The next Edward novel will go to my editor on 1 August to be published in November/December. The first Ludmilla will be at the editor by 1 December to be published by March/April, and so on.

6. I was asked how many books I will have in the Shijuren series. I don’t know. I’m not writing them in trilogy form, rather I’m writing series about characters in a world. I’m not sure how many characters I’ll write about, because I have a goodly number floating in my head right now and story ideas to go with them. I’ve spent years plotting the history and there’s so much for me to explore. I can hardly wait.

7. Lilies is proceeding apace. At this point I can definitely say we’ll have a Lilies. I’m guessing it will be a wet Lilies. Not much I can do about that. However, our staff has been brilliant. I may not have done much right, but I did get good people.

8. I’m really looking forward to LibertyCon. It will be my first convention as a published author. I may be the smallest fish there, but I’m in the pond.

9. I’m also excited about the Cowboys this year. A bunch of pundits have said they’ll take a hit because DeMarco Murray is now in Philadelphia. I like Murray and his effort, but raw counting numbers suggested he was great when he was merely good. His yards after contact was good at 2.5, but not great. People have touted his pass blocking, but the stats do not back that up. I plan on writing a serious breakdown of the Cowboy RB situation, but I’ll say right now that the Eagles overpaid for Murray.

10. Few, very few, RBs are worth a second contract in the NFL. Very few are worth a 1st round pick. Murray himself was a 3rd round pick. I won’t say that anyone can play RB at the NFL level, but I will say it is the easiest position to replace.

11. Since I’m talking football, I’ll emphasize that ANY/A differential is the most important stat out there. ANY/A is Average Net Yards per Pass Attempt, and it includes sacks and interceptions as well as positive passing stats. Basically, it says how efficient you are passing the ball. The differential part is the comparison between how efficient you are on offense and how much you disrupt the other team while on defense. A stat is useful only if it can be a predictor of future results and this stat matches the results of the NFL over every era quite well, even before passing became the norm and not the exception. Passing efficiently is, and has always been, the most important thing a team can do on offense.

12. Notice the efficiency aspect of ANY/A. Yards gained do not guarantee efficiency. Touchdowns do not guarantee efficiency. The NFL ranks teams on offense and defense by yards per game. This is wrong wrong wrong with a capital WRONG! If a team gains 350 yards on 50 plays and another team gains 360 yards on 60 plays, which is better? Clearly the team that averaged 7 yards per play as opposed to the team that averaged 6.

13. Counting stats are the devil. The only counting stat that matters is wins and losses and, especially in the NFL, has no predictive value for the next year. 16 games is just too small of a sample size.

14. Off the cuff, without really looking at things, I would guess right now that the Cowboys will go 11-5 but actually have a better team. We don’t know injuries yet, of course, and that happens only if Tony Romo stays healthy, but the Cowboys have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL and younger teams tend to stay healthier.

15. It’s amazing how unlucky the Rangers have been over the last two years. Last year, the set a record for most injuries in MLB history. Worse, those injuries included potential career-ending ones to Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, and Jurickson Profar, three cornerstone-type players. If healthy, these three would have the Rangers winning the AL West. Of course, this year started with losing one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball, Yu Darvish, on top of all that. Yeah, you take 4 of your top 5 starters away from your team and see how your rotation works.

16. Nevertheless, baseball is a weird sport. Despite all the bad luck, the unsurprising regression of Rougned Odor, and long list of injuries this year, somehow they’re holding it together at around the .500 mark. There’s a chance some injured players come back at the end of the year, and if they keep this up they could be in striking distance to eke out a division win.

17. I think that’s unlikely, though, because I really like what the Astros have done. And I think they’re on the upswing in general, if only they don’t have the awful luck the Rangers have had. I wish they were still in the NL Central where I could still root for them without a conflict. Also, I think they should go back to the cool 1970s multi-colored lined uniforms.

18. Speaking of which, the Buccaneers should definitely return to the awesome orange uniforms.

19. Why can I think of a boatload of interesting points in the car or the shower and then forget them almost immediately when I sit before a keyboard?

20. I don’t really have a 20th point right now, but I want an even number. Why do I want an even number so bad I wrote this point out?


Ah, Deflategate

I suppose as a football fan I should have an opinion.

I guess what makes me laugh at this the most is that there’s no story, and no real punishment, if Tom Brady simply says, “Yeah, I told them to make the footballs how I like them, like every QB does. I messed up and told them the wrong PSI. It’s totally my mistake. I apologize, and it won’t happen again.”


It’d be discussed about a day or two, and Tom’s seen as an upright guy who was simply participating in a time-honored tradition of trying to get any advantage on the field.

If there’s a penalty, it’s no more than $25,000.

But no, he has to clam up, hide the relevant texts, and generally act like an arrogant jerk. That’s why he’s getting 4 games and the Patriots are losing picks.

Some people have said they would not give over their cell phone for everyone to prowl through. I agree with that. However,  what Wells asked for was to have them all sit in a room, Wells to ask questions, and for Tom and his representatives to look through the texts for anything relevant. This is not a case of giving over everything on his phone.

I also saw Tom Brady’s response at the Salem St. speaking tour just after the Wells report. I think I speak for every non-Patriots fan in saying that he came across as arrogant. I suspect even a percentage of Patriots fans felt the same way.

On the heels of all sorts of other times the Patriots have skirted the rules, I’m not surprised that the NFL decided to hit them hard.


Today’s Tom Sawyer

In a few hours, I will be in the Scottrade Center getting ready to watch Rush. This will be something like 24-25 times for me. More than many, but nowhere close to a few.

This may be their last tour, and while I am saddened to hear this, I completely understand. Every single Rush concert I have seen has been tremendous. I’m not simply saying this because of my pro-Rush bias, but also because I’ve seen a goodly number of concerts now. Others may have a few songs that are better for live shows, but no one ever consistently puts out such a powerful show top to bottom.

They give us everything they got, both on the night of the show and in preparation. It’s no surprise that at their age, they just can’t give out that energy over a tour like they could when we were all much younger.

Part of the reason is that, unlike many rock stars, Geddy, Alex, and Neil have never taken themselves too seriously. They have taken their skill and their art extremely seriously, but not themselves.

They’ve also played their own music, and was glad when a bunch of us liked it. However, they’ve never made music for us, rather, they made music that they liked and which challenged their skill. That’s why there’s no one really like Rush. Oh, Dream Theater has its Rush-like moments. Triumph was seen as Rush-lite at one point. Metallica and others have acknowledged their debt to Rush. But, no one else ever captured that same independence, intelligence, and brilliance.

I’ve grown up to Rush. When I struggled in high school, Subdivisions and Tom Sawyer helped me make it through. I listened to Countdown after the Challenger exploded. I read Coleridge and Rand and a bunch of others because of Rush. I’ve never been “normal,” and I knew they weren’t either. They helped me realize normal is a chimera, a mythical beast that can only bring bad things whether or not you track it down.

I’ll never forget hearing One Little Victory live for the first time. This was the tour that many of us, including Rush themselves, wondered if it would ever happen. Neil had lost his daughter and then his wife in a six-month period, and music just wasn’t important to him. But then Vapor Trails came out, and One Little Victory spoke directly to overcoming that loss. I am weeping as I am writing my memory of Rush pouring that emotion out to us at Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto.

I plan on seeing them again in Kansas City. Tonight may be my penultimate Rush show. Ask me in July after the KC show how I feel about that.

What I feel about tonight, though, is great excitement. Time to go watch them make the donuts.

Blogging History

As you might have noticed, I’m not a particularly consistent blogger. I’m working on that, but it is not in my nature to do things every day.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t put a goodly number of interesting things in my various blogs over the years, however. I was ecstatic to find that I could import my entire collection of LiveJournal posts into this blog. You’ll see that the entry list now stretches back to 2004 when I first dabbled.

I’m finding great enjoyment in reviewing what seemed important to me at those times, and there’s a great deal of introspection, especially during the walk in Wales after my second wife and I split. I’m getting a view into my own history, some of which seems almost as new to me as it does to you.

So, that means I should probably add what’s important to me to remember about today. I really enjoy the new Sienna. I just drove Missouri 94 from Jefferson City to the St. Louis area this morning. It’s a beautiful day, and that’s a curvy, twisty, beautiful road that generally runs between the Missouri River and the Katy Trail railbed.

One of these days I want to walk the entire Katy Trail in Missouri, and write about my experiences and the neat things around it. It’s some 250 miles, meaning it’s probably 3 weeks of walking. However, it’s generally easier than the Offa’s Dyke trail as it’s graded and graveled and relatively level. Heavenly.

I just finished a number of small projects related to Lilies XXIX. I don’t know exactly how things will go, but I’m looking forward to it and I think people will have fun.

I may not have done much right in terms of Lilies, but I sure think I did really well picking people to work on it. They’ve done great, and there will be lots of fun to be had.

As for writing, I’ve been plowing through writing about Ludmilla. This book is much tougher to right since the character is so different from myself.  I’m learning lots, and I’m stretching myself, but it’s definitely challenging.

On that note, I suppose I better go write a scene or two.

Interesting Day

Greetings all

It’s been an interesting day, mostly in a good way.

I had to buy a dryer today, not necessarily a good thing, but because the owner made a mistake I got $100 off. I actually tried to split it with him, but he refused. That’s a good way to start our relationship, Stewart Appliances in Olathe.

A second bonus came in the form of La’el Collins signing with the Cowboys. I feel bad for the kid, who apparently did nothing wrong, but because of the timing of a the murder investigation of a former girlfriend, lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $5million.

In any case, he’s supposed to be a first-round talent at either guard or right tackle. The Cowboys already had probably the best offensive line in the NFL. Now they’re even deeper. Excellent.

Well, that’s enough dawdling. Back to writing.

What A Couple of Months

Wow, it’s been a crazy couple of months for me.

I’ve spent most of the time finishing A Lake Most Deep. I’m very pleased to announce that it’s available on Amazon.com at:

Let me tell you, being able to find my name on Amazon is pretty dang cool.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of publishing the first novel is learning the processes. I’m hoping to streamline the processes for all of the future novels. I don’t know how many books there will eventually be in the world of Shijuren, but there are a bunch of stories to tell.

Speaking of which, I’ve also been working on the next novel, which centers around Ludmilla, a love magician who once was the Velikomat of Periaslavl. As the leader of a country, she has a large-scale perspective, but now, after abdicating her throne, she is now seeing life from a completely different viewpoint.

I haven’t decided on its title, but I’m hoping to release it in October.

And if that’s going to happen, I have to get back to it.

Also, I promise it won’t be over a month until the next post.