Saturday, September 29, 2012


     I had the rare honor of being selected this week to be the lucky recipient of the "I'm going to break into your car award", presented by some lamewad that the Police have yet to track down.

     Yes, my car was broken into. At least they didn't get anything, right? No, wait, not right. Oh yeah, they got about $700 in tools that I use for work. I was about ready to set a baitcar surprise of my own after finding out and perch myself up in a sniper's nest to wait, I was so angry.

     Things are working out though, and though it is a major inconvenience, life will go on. This got me to thinking though, why do people steal? I heard a statistic once, not sure if it's true or not, but it sounds right. Something to the effect that 5% of the population will never steal, given the opportunity. They are morally grounded and stealing holds no temptation. 5% will always steal given the chance. These are the kleptomaniacs of the world, but also those who just don't care what people think or how they feel. They are predators. Scary thing is this group sounds like serial killers would fit in here somewhere too, but, I digress. Finally, 90% of the population will steal, but only if they know they won't get caught or the reward is high enough.

     So what do you think? I think that sounds about right. I mean, there are people, that no matter what, won't care about others. There are those that always care about others, and are considerate of them. And then there's the rest, who probably mean to do the right thing, but for whatever reason, can find themselves blinded by the temptation from time to time.

     And can a person change from one group to the next? If so, how? Can you imagine how much better this world would be if even 1 percentage point changed from those who might steal, given the circumstances, to those who would never steal? I sometimes wonder if the fast pace of our lives, the social media, the demanding schedules, the online shopping, the mega stores, what if all of this is helping to move people to another camp. The ones that have no qualms about taking things that aren't theirs. The lack of personal communication makes it easier to justify things, because the person finds themselves removed from recognizing someone else as a person.

     Think about it. Back when we had small grocers and butcher shops and dairies and the like people were much less likely to steal. That's because they weren't just shoplifting from a faceless conglomermart. They would be stealing from the owner, who they probably knew. Stealing from their family. Suddenly that changes things. It shouldn't, because stealing is stealing, but it does.

     I was listening to a podcast recently that talked about in the military how they teach that the farther removed you can get a person away from the person they need to kill, the easier it is for them psychologically. It's the same principle at work, isn't it? That's why nations at war tend to try to dehumanize the enemy, because then they are easier to hate and want to kill.

     I don't think that this is right. I think it's sad that in a world where we can literally talk across the span of the entire globe in seconds many people feel more alone, more cut off, and more detached than in earlier time periods.

     I'm not advocating getting rid of the internet, social media, or anything like it. But are we using it correctly? Is how we live our lives going to truly lead us to happiness and deeper more meaningful relationships? After all, I'd rather die knowing that I had true friends and family and community members that I got to know and love rather than having more facebook friends, twitter followers and blog readers than I knew what to do with.

     I'm going to climb down off of my soapbox, but these were just some thoughts that I've had circling round in my head since it happened. As always, thanks for reading and have a great week!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

American Nightmare

I'm excited. Tomorrow I start a new job for the first time in 20 years, if you don't count the 2 years during which I served a mission for the LDS Church. I'm a little nervous, but excited, overall. It will be nice to get into a change of scenery and shake me out of my rut that I've been stuck in.

I've been toying with the web comic idea, and, well, it's going to be a lot of work. It's going to take a while to get it up and going, but in the meantime, I'm having fun. I haven't drawn this much since high school.

I've got another strip finished, here you go:

Like I said, still working on things, including the title, though the working title I've been throwing around is American Nightmare. The general idea is the adventures of Bricker Bracker, as he struggles to find his way through the bureaucracy that pervades our society, particularly in the business district.

Anyway, that's all I've got. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Changes, Movies, and New Web Comic

It's been a rough couple of weeks.

I had to cancel my porterwrimo, no sooner had I started than things started to go off the rails. I've been wrestling with a decision for quite a while now. Finally, I had to make a choice, and I chose to go through with it.

For the last three and a half years I have been working 60 to 80 hours a week for a family-owned restaurant. Business has been steadily declining, between the souring economy and the location(dying downtown district). The job was making decent money, but with little future. It was keeping me from being with my family. It was getting in the way of my writing. And it was standing in between me and finishing my accounting degree.

I made the decision to take a leap of faith and left. The past two weeks has been a little scary, as the job market is not what it once was. I've been applying on average to 15-20 jobs a day. I've interviewed with a few. And, maybe, maybe, as of Monday, I will be emerge from the dark tunnel and head out into the light again.

Needless to say, this has been hard. The first week I only slept with the help of sleeping pills. It wouldn't be so bad if it were just myself, but I have my family to consider. Still, I felt that it was the right thing to do. It will be better for us, even if it will be hard for a while.

The new job will allow me more time with the family, and, something that is important to me, time to exercise my creative talents. Namely, writing and drawing.

To that end, I'm now working on a new project. A web cartoon. Still working it out, gotta pick a title, flush out characters a little more and outline the story. But here's a trial strip:

So that's what I've been up to the past two weeks. Oh, and, I managed to get some TV and movies in, too. Notably Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games.

First, Game of Thrones. Overall, good. Big issue with the nudity in the series though. I know, I know, it's HBO, but really? Aside from that, the show is really good. They shot it in various climes and terrains throughout Europe and I have to say, it was visually spectacular. The story is really good, I haven't read the books yet, but from what I hear it follows the story pretty well.

The Hunger Games. Ahem. Well, I was excited but nervous to see this one. I loved the books, but I really didn't want them to ruin this story. I wasn't disappointed. It was fantastic. In every way I was pleasantly surprised. The cast was phenomenal. The sets were fun and despite the odd fashions of Capitol, it worked, and worked well. The soundtrack was good too. All round, this one was worth it. Definitely glad I saw it.

That's it from me. I hope to be getting more into my new web comic and getting back to working on my book, too. The new job is going to be a challenge at first, but I think it will be a pleasant change at the very least and a life-altering move for the better at the best. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"And here...we...go!"

Was there ever a better movie than The Dark Knight? Probably, but I'll be damned if I can think of one right now.

Anyway, the quote from The Dark Knight in the title of this post is in reference to a new project I am embarking on. I have a new book idea. It seems that I have no shortage of ideas these days. What I lack is a) time to complete the books that come from the ideas, and b) the motivation required to re-prioritize my time to allow me to complete said books. Well, that is going to change.

I figured that if you're going to go, go big, so I decided to commit myself to my own version of nanowrimo. So, for the next thirty days, writing is king. I will finish this project, or die trying. Ok, so maybe that's a bit melodramatic, but seriously. I'm going to put aside distractions(cough, cough, video games, books, music, movies, etc...) and get this done. I'll be posting my daily word counts here, along with a short post, but other than that I only have eyes for my novel.

As for now, time-nazi-grizzly-bear is telling me to get a move on.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Spy, Time Riders, Clementine, and the Year of the Dragon!!!

Happy Chinese New Year. Now all of us who have been procrastinating getting started on our New Year's goals can start, and even though we're late, we can claim that we are just being "cultured".

No, seriously. This week has been busy for me. Work has been hectic, we're training 1,2,3,4,no, 5! Yeah, 5 new people. Replacements for people who have gotten fired, quit, disappeared into a bottle, who knows(and no, I don't mean like a genie). So good news for Obama. The government under him can claim five more new jobs. That's what the government does, by the way. They record how many people we hire in a year, but not how many end their employment in that same time period. Then they report to their superiors that there are new jobs being created.

And we wonder what's wrong with our government.

I managed to write two more chapters in my current project, Kelekot. It wasn't all that I wanted to get done, but I did manage to write a really cool scene, so I'm happy with it.

I finally got around to reading The Spy by Clive Cussler. I say finally because, like many of my books, I get them when I see them, but then they go on my reading list which is, give or take, some 50-75 books long at any given time. Trying to work to cut it down, but I'm not really making progress there.
Anyway, The Spy is the third installment in the Isaac Bell series, about a Pinkerton-style detective in the early 1900's. The first two books took place in 1906 and 1907, and traveled all over the railroads that made this country the industrial giant it became. In book three Bell departs from the railroads, and the book focuses on the dreadnought race unfolding among the nations of the world. President Roosevelt has sent the Great White Fleet around the world, but most know that it is already obsolete. Europe is gearing up for war, and new and ever more impressive designs of battleships are being developed.

But someone is killing off the great minds behind the development in America, making them look like accidents. But Bell is not convinced. He sets about an investigation that will cross the nation and bring him back again to New York, and to the street gangs that run it. Time is running out and he has got to find the person, the spy, that is behind all these murders and stop him.

Really good read. I love all of them. Cussler blends a great story with a part of American history that is so rich in heritage that it makes for a fantastic adventure.

Time Riders by Alex Scarrow, I wish I could say, was as good. When I first saw Time Riders, I was excited. It sounded so cool. But, as the feather duster in Disney's Beauty and the Beast states, "I've been burned by you before." So, I downloaded the sample chapters on my nook. And loved it. Absolutely. The beginning was so strong, I was stoked. So I downloaded the rest, and, well. I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong. This is a good book. It just wasn't the great book that I thought it was going to be. It got a little dry through the middle, some of the time travel stuff didn't make sense, and I kind of got tired of the characters that seemed a little shallow.

It's about three kids, all from different times. All of them, seconds before they are to die, are recruited to join this top-secret agency that polices time.

Just as they are recruited however, someone from the future decides to go back in time and teach Hitler the error of his ways. This in turn allows the Nazis to win and history to dramatically change. The race is on. The three of them must find the moment when time was tampered with, find the one who did the tampering, and eliminate him. Period.

There were a lot of things I did like from this book. Elements of The Time Machine, with a morlock-like civilization, a look at what might have happened if Hitler hadn't made the mistakes he did, and, of course, a character that takes on a surprising similarity to Captain America.

So, it was a good book. It's not long, and the story is cohesive and entertaining, if not amazing. I feel bad judging it like that, but it's the way I feel.

The third book I read was Clementine, by Cherie Priest. Fun book, entertaining, and full of steampunky goodness.
The story follows Captain Croggon Hainey as he struggles to regain command of his dirigible that was stolen in Boneshaker, the first book in Priest's Clockwork Century Series. It's a great story of sky pirates, Pinkerton detectives, and an alternate look at the American Civil War, one in which the south manages to create a twenty-something year stalemate. Very cool.

This was a solid adventure story. The characters were strong, and I liked it more than the first book, Boneshaker. The pacing was better and the book moved. Had a lot of fun with it. Moving on to the third book, Dreadnought, this week. More to come.

Off to work now, seize the day and all that. This is the year of the dragon though, so at least that's something to look forward to.

Good hunting.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gaining Momentum

Newton's first law states that a body in motion remains in motion and a body at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Recently a third grader was asked to cite Newton's first law, she said, "Bodies in motion remain in motion, and bodies at rest stay in bed unless their mothers call them to get up."

No, seriously. It's true though. Sometimes it gets too easy to just hit the snooze button and skate through life on auto pilot. I know I've been guilty of it more than a few times in my life. Why is it so hard sometimes to see the benefits?

I've done really well this week. The first week of the new year was a bumpy start, I had a million things to get done and, well. Goals fell by the wayside. Still, I managed to salvage the tail end of last week and hammer out the prologue of the project I'm currently working on. I even got to the gym once.

I think making the decision to do what I could, even if it wasn't all that I had wanted to accomplish, made all the difference. Doing something, however small, begets enthusiasm. Ergo, momentum. Doing nothing on the other hand brings only shame and depression, which leads to more of the same, and the conundrum that goes with that.

This week I hit the ground running, using the momentum gained last week to spur me on. I've notched 3 chapters so far this week and gotten to the gym every day. The project I'm working on is starting to come together and I can't wait to see how it turns out. I'm going to really try to push on it in the next 2-3 weeks and attempt to finish it up by the end of February at the latest. Hopefully by the end of January, but that might be a little too ambitious. Still, momentum. The thing about momentum is that it gains power the longer it builds. To better illustrate this point watch the inspirational video below:

Now, that being said, look for a way today to do just a little more. Take 5 minutes if that's all you have, but put it towards something that you've been meaning to do but just never quite seem to be able to get around to. Chances are you won't miss the 5 minutes, and it could make all the difference. And remember, motion and momentum lead to more of the same. It could get to be an addicting habit that can change your life for the better.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Well it's 2012. A new year and a new start, and all that jazz. And a good year to get things done in, if the Aztec or Mayan calender or whatever is to be believed. Not that I do. I mean, yeah, one can read ominous predictions in the sudden stopping of the calendar, but hey. Think about it. Apple can't even make an iPhone that stays caught up in technology for more than a few years. They made a calendar that lasted this far. Pretty good, especially carving it in stone and all that.

Reading this year has gotten off to an awesome start. I love it when that happens. It can set the tone for the whole year. Last year in January I read Beastly, by Alex Flinn, and was blown away by how good it was. This year I chose to turn to the YA genre again and was not disappointed.

The book Unwind by Neal Shusterman is in a word, compelling. To be honest, I had heard good things about it, read some good reviews on goodreads, and was generally excited.

Until I started reading it.

Don't take that the wrong way. I loved the book. I just had no idea how hard a book it would be to read.

The story follows three teens in a dystopian look at an American future. In it, a second civil war has been fought and waged over the issue of abortion. On one side, pro-life, on the other, pro-choice, and in the middle and desperately trying to hang on and put the pieces back together, the remains of the government. The war was ended finally when a new technology was developed, one which allowed the use of every cell of an organ donor. And one that would allow the donor to live on, or so they argued, just in a different form.

Suddenly the bill of life is passed, and the war is over. Abortion is a thing of the past. No longer legal, children are born that might not otherwise be. The compromise is that between the ages of 13 and 18 parents can elect to have their children "unwound". The process does not violate the pro-life stance, as they technically continue to "live" just in another form.

As I started reading this, I was incredulous. As a parent I just couldn't imagine how people could go for something like that. But here's where the book succeeds.

It made me believe it.

Yes, even with my doubts that a society could ever do something like that, it brought it home. The book scores on another level. As it starts, following three teens that are scheduled to be unwound and go on the run to escape their ghastly fate, I thought the book was more of a social commentary. One that would ramble, telling the stories of these three in an attempt to get the reader to think about it, and that would more or less be it. And while the story was a thought provoking moral commentary, here's where it surprised me.

The story was fantastic.

Though seemingly random at first, the author brings all the strings together in ways that I didn't see coming. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's on a level with The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It is that good. So if you're looking to kick your new year's reading off with a bang and you think you can handle it, read this. You won't regret it.

I've also been getting into Celtic music on Pandora lately. Particularly the group The High Kings. They're the ones that do this awesome song in Sherlock Holmes:

Doesn't get much better than that. But I better get back to work. Working on a steampunk project, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.