Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Donuts of Champions

Late last week, Keith sent an email to the four of us who ran this year’s “In Like A Lion,” and another running buddy of his, too.

It was about another race.

This race:

Two miles downhill, eat a dozen Krispy Kremes, then two miles back uphill.Yes, really. Here’s an ESPN video.

Now, I’ll admit that my first reaction was No. Freaking. Way. But then I watched that video and found myself surprisingly … inspired. The “squashing the donuts” strategy seems marvelous: Heck, it basically turns the dozen into three or four big, sweet bagels, and if I had minimal food for 18 hours or so beforehand, I probably could do this…

So Keith’s email triggers a flurry of responses, since we’re all runners – and eaters – of widely varying standards and ability. Stuff like, “I wonder if we could convince the organizers to add a ‘relay’ category,” and “What if we add a time-subtraction bonus for eating more than a dozen, to even the field for the non-speedy?” and “How far past finishing time does the ‘puke-and-you’re-out’ rule extend?” (Seriously – that last one spurred way more technicality debate than you want to know. Sliding scale? How much should it offset the Bonus Donut Rule? etc.)

We’ve got most of a year to figure out those details, establish proper training programs, and, most importantly, find suitable inspiration.

“Chariots of Fire?” No.

Little Chocolate Donuts?” Yes.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, Games, geek, running, Sports, Travel | Leave a comment

(Almost) Freewheeling

My daughter and I just got back from taking her new big-kid bike for its inaugural spin.

Three miles total from home to one of her friends’ houses and back. Distance-wise, it’s not far, but we live on a relatively isolated cul-de-sac that’s not part of a bigger development, so once you’re past the end of our street, you pass mostly fields and woods and houses set back a ways. Car traffic tends to move at something beyond that “allotment crawl,” and for the most part, there are no sidewalks.

Funny to think, watching her pedal ahead of me, that this is an adult-sized bike, probably the biggest bike that Jenn & I will ever get her. I mention this to Kelsey while we’re riding, and her response is something along the lines that if that’s the case, it’s awfully cool that it’s purple.

I know I got a speedometer for my coaster bike when I turned 13, but I don’t remember when my riding limits started extending beyond the end of the street. I remember after I got my ten-speed that mom sent me to return a cookie sheet to a friend of hers, in a house we passed about a quarter of the way through today’s ride, halfway to the turnaround point.

We passed a spot where there used to be a barn that a friend and I used to sneak into, and where there was a strange open-seating six-wheeled amphibious craft of some kind. There were also bales and bales of old clothes bound up and stored, and we’d jump onto them from one of the barn’s higher levels, sunlight slanting in through the walls. The barn’s been gone a few years, the fields have closed in around it, and unless you know where it was, you can’t really tell anything’s different.

I’m thinking this summer my daughter will be up to making that ride to her friend’s house without me trailing along to give advice on listening for cars, shifting only while pedaling, and getting in low gear at the bottom of the short-but-steep hill rather than trying to switch halfway up.

There’s certainly more traffic on one stretch of the ride than there was when I was a kid – a housing development replacing a field will do that – but all those houses also mean that traffic’s a bit slower than it used to be. And we did our biking without handy cell phones and the mandatory helmets.

Our ride was sunny and chilly enough for a little windburned feeling, a bit of cold-ear ache, and that hands-thawing-out itch when we came inside.

March 30, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Time to fight

Not surprisingly, I like this fiction tweet from Thaumatrope by J.R. Blackwell.

March 29, 2009 Posted by | Fiction, geek, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | , , | Leave a comment

Thanks for the ordinary

Here is a completely unextraordinary picture of my backyard, taken about five minutes ago, probably two minutes after I got out of bed.

Welcome Sight

It’s not uncomfortably chilly outside, and the birds have that pre-dawn chatter going on.

I was glad for this.

Because I woke up this morning at about 4:45 – body clock is still adjusting – and my brain started gearing up with notes and ideas and a few moments of worry about the future. Kept me awake for about an hour, when I started thinking, “Okay, at six o’clock, I’ll just get up and get busy.”

Of course, the last time I checked the clock it was 5:40 (I think), and I was starting to doze, and then I was having those insane dreams which, for me, almost always accompany a decision to stay in bed after my mind tries to wake up. My daughter telling me she was eighteen while looking like she was four; fixing a jacuzzi parked in the street under the pitch dark of night; Russians in a restaurant; a former co-worker running a tiny washing machine under his desk.

The sound of my  7 a.m. alarm worked its way in as a broadcast censorship beep over an Aretha Franklin f-bomb on television. (Seriously, I TOLD you this was messed up.)

I couldn’t get out of bed fast enough. Dizzily, I grabbed the camera and stepped outside to clear my head and take that snapshot of, thankfully, a perfectly ordinary morning in the backyard.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, Ohio, Travel, writing | , , , , , | Leave a comment


Things are obviously a little weird around the Booth house of late, what with my newly-acquired Flying Solo work badge, but even amidst the uncertainty and the phone calls and emails and crossed fingers upon crossed fingers, I remain unbendingly optimistic and excited about two things:

The first is that we’re going to visit Jim in Florida soon, and see Jenn’s family, too. This will be awesome.

The second is Penguicon 7.0, which I’ll be attending for the first time along with my daughter, who’s reading “Zoe’s Tale” and asked if she could go after hearing about stuff like the liquid nitrogen ice cream, the gaming, the general geekitude, and watching Wil Wheaton sing Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on A Prayer.

Kelsey’s never been to a convention (Not one that she remembers, anyway: She did spend a day at FX Orlando back in the late 1990s, but she was an infant in a stroller at the time.) and while I was thrilled at her interest, I also wasn’t sure about the appropriateness of Penguicon. I mean, she would’ve done fine at, say, a Star Wars Celebration, but I’ve heard those Dragon*Con tales, too. Anyway, after receiving a little insight from someone who’s not only been there but has a daughter of similar age, Jenn & I gave Kelsey the greenlight, and our first Dad/Daughter convention road trip is a GO.

Last fall’s Screaming Tiki scratched my convention itch a little bit, but there’s nothing like a few nights away from home in a geekcon environment, soaking it all in.

(In fact, here are – so far – a dozen reasons to go to Penguicon.)

And c’mon, when Jane McGonigal teases with the notion that she’s “plotting cool stuff,” how can I not be psyched?

I’m also hoping that the whole do-it-yourself Open Source Attitude makes for a good atmosphere to share “Collect All 21!” – I thought about trying to get an Artists Alley table, but honestly I don’t want to feel lke I’m stuck there – and in fact, there are a couple panels on self-publishing and marketing that I’m interested in.

Mostly, though, I’m looking forward to hanging out with my daughter and hoping we have a good time. I don’t think that will be a problem.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, Games, geek, linux, Ohio, Science, Travel, video games, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things That Matter

(Note: This is actually from March 22, though for some reason TypePad did not feel like exporting it, so I just cut-and-pasted, which will explain any formatting oddities. Seeing as how it was the final regular entry for that site, though, I wanted to make sure it got added over here.)

I spent much of today feeling a few degrees off-kilter.

Partly, I think, because I’m not going to work tomorrow.

That is, I’m not getting up, showering, driving 57 miles to Cleveland and going into an office. I mean, I’ve got PLENTY of work ahead of me. It’s just that there’s no boss but me here, boss, and there are phone calls to be made and emails to be sent and PDF clips to be corralled and seven million other things I’ll probably think of between 2 and 3 a.m.

It has not been an unproductive day: I’ve got my WordPress switchover under way, and I’ve backed up all the pages (I’m keeping the domain but plan to pretty much blow the site up and rebuild it). I’ve managed some email duties. Jenn and I took the dog for a walk before she went to work. (Jenn, that is.) And I’ve washed a load of towels.

But there’s still so much organizing and planning and execution ahead that I felt strangely like I hadn’t gotten anything done.

And then about 6:15, Kelsey asked me if I wanted to go outside and play catch. Honestly, I didn’t. It was a little chilly. I was a little surly. And she said she understood.

And then we put some macaroni and cheese in the oven and went outside to play catch anyway because something in my head said, “Hey, idiot: This is important.”

The sun slipped, my nose got cold, the shadows stretched across the backyard, and we threw a baseball which, every few minutes, would land in my glove with a smack hard enough to sting.

And I felt more than a little bit better.

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Collect All 21! – A Good Word from Wales

Big thanks to Rob Wainfur of Retro Finds for this incredibly nice review of Collect All 21! (Also for bringing it to my attention in the comments to a post that was clearly not much fun to have to write, thus throwing some good stuff into the mix of the chaos that’s going on right now.)

Rob’s been posting some really fun 1980s stuff over at Retro Finds, including some reassuring evidence that I am not the only person on the planet who remembered “Automan.

(Hey, Rob – I’ll see your Automan and raise you “Whiz Kids,” which has both Tempest AND a Commodore in the opening theme sequence!)

March 21, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, Fiction, geek, Music, Ohio, Science, Television, video games, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | 3 Comments

Got time to check out my latest short story?

Yes. Yes, you do. It’ll take like two seconds. Six if you decide to have an over-long blink in the middle, because this is a Thaumatrope short story written for the 140-character limitations of Twitter.

So, here’s the link to my first Thaumatrope publication. It’s the second of the two tweets today – and how cool is it that I’m right there with  Alethea Kontis? (Reason 42 to love Thaumatrope? Where else am I going to wind up on a contributors list like this?)

Could I have cut-and-pasted my story here? Sure I could! But if I did that, there’d be no chance of you getting sucked into the regularly clever and odd and entertaining science fiction, horror and fantasy Twitter feed that is Thaumatrope. (A heads-up – the hashtag designations either signal a Thaumatrope book, game or film review, or more likely, an entry into an ongoing serial – Alethea’s entry today, for example, continues her Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome.)

I got the thumbs-up on this a few months back and have been itching to share. That its publication comes on the first day of spring and my last official day of employment (One of those, of course, was on the calendar for a long time. The other was, um, not.) could be a very encouraging sign, if one prefers to believe in such things. Which I do.

March 20, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, Fiction, geek, Ohio, Science, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | Leave a comment

Quo vadimus

The good news is that I've been wishing for more time to work on my blog and creative writing. The bad news is that I've got it. By the freaking bucketload.

The Crain's corporate axe swung down from Detroit this week, whistling through the air over Lake Erie and landing with a thunk square in the middle of my desk in Cleveland. (Multi-headed blade that it was, it stuck itself in three colleagues' desks, too.)

It made for a surreal Wednesday afternoon in the newsroom and an evening at home spent with a legal pad and pencil within arm's reach at all times so I could jot down names, ideas and reminders as they came. I made several phone calls in which I found myself repeating assurances to and accepting encouragement from friends and family and hoping I truly believe it all myself.

I managed to go to bed before 11 p.m., but found myself wide awake from 1 to 3 a.m. today, then up again at 6:15 when my daughter got up to go to school.

And then the house was empty but for me, four cats and a dog. (And a couple hermit crabs, but they pretty much keep to themselves unless they smell us cooking spaghetti, in which case they're like tiny lions chasing prey. No, not really.)

"Well, well… Here we are." (Jobs come and go, but oh, Breakfast Club, I know you'll never leave me wanting for a suitable quote.)

So now begins a multi-level campaign to find work, hit the phone call and email circuit with a vengance, and (even more) shamelessly promote "Collect All 21!" and "Crossing Decembers." (And to start right in on the former, I've got some cool news about some updates to the project. But not yet…not…yet.)

Things could be worse. Far, far worse.

I'm blessed to have a brilliant and fully-employed wife and a healthy daughter and a complete lack of sharp wooden objects jammed into my nasal cavity. And for a writer looking for project work, I could have done worse than spending the past four years working a business beat which covered a huge swath of the advertising, marketing and PR industry across Northeast Ohio. (Friends, former sources and contacts: You are hereby notified that I'll likely be getting in touch, and you can finally talk as far off-the-record as you want.)

I've got no excuses now not to buckle down and go after that WordPress install I've been itching to try, write that list of blog entries I've got scribbled in a notebook, revamp, get more into the workings of Ubuntu and the intimidating-yet-alluring Linux Command Line, and get my office fully re-organized.

Oh, and find someone else to pay me to write. Yeah, that too.

I actually had to take a 23-minute break after that last sentence, because even though I knew what I was calling this post, suddenly I got a mental smack of reality, and I needed to fight it with a dose of the final episode of "Sports Night," which did the trick nicely, thanks.

Quo vadimus: Where are we going?

Time to find out.

March 19, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, Fiction, geek, Ohio, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | 8 Comments

A nice surprise…

…just popped up on Twitter:


March 13, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, Fiction, geek, Ohio, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | Leave a comment

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