Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I made curry in the crock pot today.  It turned out great but I've got a touch of Bangalor Belly at the moment.  The curry lit a fire in my innards that I have yet to quench.  Here's what I wound up using after discovering I didn't have curry paste around 4:30 this morning.

  • package of chicken breasts
  • two cans of chickpeas
  • a can of Rotel with habanero
  • a can of chicken broth
  • a generous teaspoon of South Seas Curry Powder (a gift from Carrie months ago)
  • sliced water chestnuts
It was a little heavy on the chickpeas but damn tasty.

Gerald's vacuuming as I write this.  The little Roomba isn't as thorough as I'd like but he's a tremendous time saver.  I just have to run him every couple days to keep up with the dog hair.

Why do I always pick Johnny Cash to listen to when I'm embarking on a task I find distasteful?

Monday, August 30, 2010


About once a year, I go on a short P.G. Wodehouse binge for about a week.  This year's started yesterday with Sunset at Blandings, an incomplete fragment, the last Wodehouse book and the last of the Blandings Castle Saga.

I think it was about 2003 when I first decided to give P.G. Wodehouse a try.  I'd seen Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore all list him as one of their influences.  The first one I read was World of Jeeves, the complete collection of Jeeves and Wooster short stories.  I devoured it in two days and never looked back.

The Wodehouse books are a gateway into a fictional world of doddering nobility, monocles, top hats, and parties, the world of the idle rich of 1920's England.  You wouldn't think a rural Midwesterner like myself would take to it but I did after the first few pages.

While Jeeves and Wooster brought me to the dance, once I exhausted those novels I stumbled upon the Blandings Castle saga.  Jeeves and Wooster is essentially a two man show whereas The Blandings Castle series is more of an ensemble piece and eventually eclipsed Jeeves and Bertie in my affections.

As I write this, I've read 48 of P.G. Wodehouse's works, more than I've read from any other author, although Terry Pratchett is slowly gaining on him.  And I'm just over halfway through Wodehouse seeing as how he's written over 80 books and was working on one at his hospital bed when he died at age 93.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Picnic Report (and other happenings)

Let's see if I can ignore this headache long enough to write something meaningful.  I'm chalking it up to not eating until a few minutes ago.

Our picnic was a fun time.  We dined at the roadside park in scenic Bloomsdale, eating big sandwiches and fruit cups while drinking bottled water.  Afterwords, we went for a country drive, taking Y all the way out to 67.  It was a good time.  But why is there a tiger sanctuary on Y halfway between Bloomsdale and Lawrenceton?  Missouri doesn't seem like an appropriate place to house tigers.

I finished the last Matthew Scudder book this morning, or the last one until Lawrence Block puts out another.  I enjoyed it so much I friended Mr. Block on Facebook and sent him a message, something I don't think I've ever done.  Now I'm going to read a Wodehouse and try to forget about serial killers for a while.

Belle stashed that damn hoof under my pillow last night to keep me or Carrie from getting it.  She's an odd dog sometimes.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday PM

Picnic in 60.  I'm excited and I hope Carrie remembers to bring the picnic basket.

I unloaded a duffel bag full of books that I had no intention of ever reading again a couple hours ago.  No idea how many it actually was.  30 maybe?  A drop in the bucket.  I stopped at that number because the duffel bag was full.  I'd say I have another two bags on the "read" pile and maybe another on the 'to-read" pile.  The "to-reads" are the ones that pile up too fast.  I have no idea why I've held on to some of the books I've read for so long.  There are a lot of them that I haven't contemplated opening since I read them the first time.

A week or two ago, I reached a stopping point in the Parker series by Richard Stark.  I'm at an impasse until University of Chicago Press reprints Butcher's Moon next spring or I find a used Butcher's Moon for an affordable price, hopefully in the single digits.  I'm at pace to finish the Matthew Scudder series by Lawrence Block in the next couple days.  It's satisfying to finish but I'll have to find another detective to follow until the next Scudder comes out next year.  I'll probably go with Robert Parker's Spenser.

Not much else going on.  I'm listening to music while Gerald vacuums the living room.  I love my little robot!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Hound

Belle's a Basenji-Schipperke mix, making her one of the more aloof dogs you'll ever meet.  She views other dogs as inferior beings and isn't crazy about most people either.  With one exception...

Belle loves one of my neighbors to an embarrassing degree.  Gone is every touch of haughtiness, replaced with utter submission and lots of whining, making a spectacle of herself until she gets enough attention.  The last time I talked to my neighbor, she said she'd have a treat for Belle next time we saw her.

Today, I opened my mailbox to find a curious object.  Once I brought it out into the light, I saw that it was a hoof wrapped in cellophane.  Great, I thought. 

The hoof itself isn't the problem.  The problem is that Belle has three hiding places for her treats, none of which are convenient.
  • Between the cushions of the couch, usually accompanied by Belle pushing imaginary dirt over the object being hidden with her nose
  • In my usually open sock drawer
  • Under my pillow
And don't get me started on her outrage when you dare discover one of her disgusting treats in its hiding place.  I'm taking wagers for where I find the well-gnawed hoof around bed time.  My official guess is under my pillow.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

69 more days

National Novel Writing Month is swiftly approaching.  As I sit here typing, I can't help but reflect on the NaNoWriMo's of the past two years.  Cue the harp music and wavy screen effect...

NaNoWriMo 2008 almost didn't happen.  I was three days in before I started and I wasn't very enthusiastic.  I didn't have any ideas but I'd already told a lot of people I was doing it.  25 days later, I had written 54,000 words of A Summer at Thornhill Manner, the story of a kid with a summer job at a nursing home for wizards.  I was proud of some of it but knew I could do better if I planned ahead.

Last year, things were very different.  Gone were the doubts of the previous year.  I started planning over a month in advance.  By the time November 1 hit, I had an outline, characters, and a list of crap I could work in if I got stuck.  I hit 50,000 words by the 16th, winning early, but it took me another month to write the next 38,000 words and finish the thing. I was a lot more confident with Sailors but I still had my complaints about it.

This year, I plan on hitting 100,000 words by the 30th of November.  I've never written anything that big before, much less in a month, but I'm confident I can do it.  Since reading Jack Vance's Dying Earth and Hugh Cook's A Chronicle of an Age of Darkness in recent weeks, a story and a main character are trying to take shape.  I've begun jotting things down but a lot can happen in the next 69 days.

Meanwhile, back in the present, I'm very excited about it being cooler in the next couple days.  Carrie and I will be able to walk with me leaving a trail of back-sweat on the ground behind us.  I've noticed a few trees along the road turning already.  It would be nice if they'd drop their leaves early so I don't have to mess with them in November.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Junk Drawer Sunday

I was moving my Salvador Dali print when something went wrong and I needed to rework the wire and the hangers on the back.  Even though I didn't want anything to do with it, I had to dig into the junk drawer.

Junk drawer.  Everyone has at least one, the haven of things not of obvious use but too precious to be thrown away.  I started rummaging around, only coming up for air an hour later.  I did not find the picture hanging wire I was looking for.  I did, however, find the following items.

- miscellaneous screws
- a pin for the deck of my lawn mower
- eleven pairs of sunglasses, two of which were still useable
- two christmas gift wallets, neither used
- six pocket knives
- five tubes of chapstick, most barely used
- books of matches from assorted bars
- three small notepads
- a brand new nail clippers

I threw away about half the conents of the junk drawer.  Now I can get back to accumulating small bits and baubles.

FYI, I used some strong fishing line to temporarily secure the Dali.  I'll get some wire after I get some pictures suitable for hanging above my TV.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Saturday After Steak

Yes, we hit the Olympic Steakhouse about 6 last night.  My steak was delicious but I noticed something disturbing during the mean.  Carrie's dad was using Heinz steak sauce on his ribeye.  What's the point of buying a good steak if you're going to drown it in sauce? 

Finished reading that book I was reading specifically to review.  Here it is:
Permanent Obscurity: Or a Cautionary Tale of Two Girls and Their Misadventures with Drugs, Pornography and DeathPermanent Obscurity: Or a Cautionary Tale of Two Girls and Their Misadventures with Drugs, Pornography and Death by Richard Perez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Dolores and Serena end up down and out and owing money to damn near everyone, they conspire to make a fetish video for cash. Only things start falling apart immediately...

I gave this book a shot since Richard Perez seemed like a cool guy, especially for a Goodreads Author. Plus he said it was a sexploitation book, sexploitation being right behind blaxploitation as my favorite type of exploitation genre. I wasn't disappointed.

This book was definitely a page turner. Perez did a good job keeping Serena's true character in the dark for much of the book. There was some erotic things going on and it gave a window into fetish/femdom culture. The suspense built as more and more people wanted Dolores and Serena dead and by the end, I didn't know if our girls would survive.

So why only a 3? Well, the book was a little long for what it was. If there were 75-100 less pages, it would have been an easy 4 and probably would have made a good Hard Case original. Also, there wasn't as much smut or potentially offensive material as I was lead to believe. I was expecting people getting cucumbers shoved into orifices and depravity of that nature. Warren Ellis's Crooked Little Vein had a tons more shocking material and was about half the size, as was Christa Faust's Money Shot.

Permanent Obscurity is a good read if a little too long and a little short on filth. I'd recommend it to people who enjoyed Crooked Little Vein or The Money Shot.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 20, 2010

Post-haircut, Pre-shower Itchiness

Cross haircut off my list of things to do.  I hate having to take more than one shower in a day but the itchiness sucks.

The telephoto lens I ordered came in the mail today.  So far, not overly impressed.  It seems like every time I get out of the optical zoom range and into the digital zoom, the edges of the image get all fwibbly.  Fwibbly, of course, is a technical term.  I'll be playing with it a bit more before deciding if I will return it.  Though I might not be able to since a lot of camera places don't do returns.

Friday: The Story so Far

Here's what I hoped to accomplish today:
  • Get plates renewed - Done.  Quick and painless.
  • Buy stamps: Also quick and painless.
  • Unload some used books: Postponed until tomorrow (or a later date).
  • Get groceries: Done.
  • Finish reading the first Dying Earth book: Done before 8.
  • Meet Carrie and go to the Olympic Steakhouse: Still scheduled for later.
  • Get a haircut (if I don't get one this evening)- Scheduled for 2:30
I'd say I'm right on track.  I think I'll pay bills now that I have stamps and scare up some lunch.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Three Day Weekend

Yes, I've cashed in one of my coveted PTO days and I'm taking off tomorrow.  So far, the agenda looks like this:
  • Get plates renewed
  • Buy stamps
  • Unload some used books
  • Get groceries
  • Finish reading the first Dying Earth book
  • Meet Carrie and go to the Olympic Steakhouse.
  • Get a haircut (if I don't get one this evening)

Speaking of Carrie, we devoured some fajitas last night, as well as peanut butter cookies and brownies with ice cream on them.  So healthy, we are.  I also got another picture of the fat spider that lives in front of her light.  It's my favorite of said spider so far.

Here's that Orb Weaver I was talking about from last year

Photobucket Experiment

I cleaned out my photobucket account this morning and I'm back down around 50%. Any blog-worthy photos will be posted on photobucket and shared here for your commenting pleasure.

Here's a pic of a hickory horned devil I took a few years ago.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Does reviewing someone's book on Goodreads in exchange for a free copy of the book make me a professional reviewer? Funny, I don't feel all that professional...

Last week, a writer who shall remain nameless send me a message on Goodreads asking if I'd like a free copy of his book to review, which I'm assuming means he saw me on the top 50 list of reviewers last week. I said I would because, hey, it's a free book.

Now I have the book in my hands. At first glance, it doesn't seem to be too bad. The subject matter isn't what I usually read but it looks like a quickie, even at 400 pages. Then I looked him up on Goodreads and people are saying what a douche he is and how he personally attacks anyone who submits an unfavorable review for his stuff. Should be an interesting experience once I read it and submit a review.

Morning Haze

I woke up this morning and swore I'd overslept. I staggered out of my bedroom and looked at the clock in my office. It said 3:12. I thought "That's too early to be up on a Friday morning." By the time I got back to my bed, I discovered two things:
  1. It wasn't a Friday morning
  2. Belle had somehow expanded to take up 7/8ths of my bed.

Still kicking around ideas for NaNoWriMo. Yesterday while I was walking Belle and while I was mowing, ideas began falling into place. I've been thinking about the Dark Tower a bit lately and I have the urge to dust off my Van Owen character that was inspired by it. I've also got a race of spider creatures called The Skinweavers that I want to do something with. Maybe that will be what I write in November.

So how about these kids and their e-Readers? In my day, we read things from scrolls and clay tablets and I didn't hear anyone complaining... I'm not to keen on the idea of reading from yet another electronic device but I do see one big attraction. I really hate when the blurb on the back cover blows plot twists before you even open the book. It doesn't seem like that would be a problem with most e-Readers.

Too bad it's not really Friday...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Porch Light Spider

The porch light spider didn't look as good on my computer as it did on my camera. I'm much more pleased with the one of Belle licking her nose.

Here's the link to these pics and more since Firefox is being picky!

Tired Tuesday

Yeah, I want to go to bed early tonight. I think it was about 9:30 when I got home last night. Carrie and I ate the leftover gyro meat and Greek salad from Sunday evening on top of pita chips I made in the oven. The Greek-Style nachos, as I christened them, were darn tasty. I also got some pictures of the huge spider that lives in front of Carrie's porch light that I'll post one of these days. He's a big fat bastard. I'm hoping to get better pictures of him since the glare from the motion light interferes with my arachnographical efforts.

I'm planning on mowing once I get home from work pending a yellowjacket inspection. I don't know why I try to avoid mowing so much. It's not all that bad. I think it's the trimming that I'm really adverse to.

270 was hell this morning. Apparently some concrete didn't cure as much as they hoped it would and traffic was down to two lanes from six. It caused some snarls.

I don't think I mentioned it before but I ordered a telephoto lens the other day. Now I can get barn and wildlife pictures from the dubious comfort of my car.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


737 is not only the name of a good Mighty Mighty Bosstones song, it's also the time I dragged myself out of bed this morning. I realize 7:37 is early for most people but it's later than I've gotten up on a Saturday in quite some time. It's practically noon! So, getting up late combined with late night rain has squashed my morning plans.

It's still one hot bastard outside. I guess I'll try to stay indoors as much as possible today. Maybe get some reading done.

I wrote a bit this week. Just a few hundred words here and there. I'm getting closer to figuring out what I want to do for NaNoWriMo this year.

I think it's almost time to weed my collection of books again, both read and unread. I have too many books lying around that I have no intention of ever reading again and could use some de-cluttering. I'm also thinking about having a yard sale in the fall and getting rid of all the crap I've been saving over the years, like action figures from when I was a kid and comics. It doesn't really make sense to be hanging on to all that stuff.

It's about time to take Belle for a walk before I figure out what I'm going to do until Carrie gets off of work.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The August Inferno Continues...

Yeah, it's really hot. The heat index was 115 today. I felt drops of sweat dripping into my ears while I was walking Belle earlier. On a side note, it figures I wouldn't have my camera with me when I see a huge hairy bumblebee flying around some Queen Ann's Lace.

Despite really not being in the mood, I lifted weights earlier. I added ten pounds on Monday. I wasn't sore on Tuesday but I have a feeling tomorrow isn't going to be a picnic.

Watched Master Chef last night. Now I'm in the mood to cook something involving a poached egg in 30 minutes or less. I'm thinking Eggs in Purgatory at the moment...

It's too damn hot to do anything tonight. I think I'll just finish the book I'm reading.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Taco Pizza Countdown Marches on...

Prep is slated to begin in twenty minutes. Carrie suggested taco pizza yesterday and I've been salivating over the thought ever since.

What's been going on the last few days? Not a whole lot. It's been very hot. In fact, I'm looking forward to next week when the high is only 93 on one of the days. I nabbed more praying mantis pictures Sunday morning. I haven't done anything with them. I also noticed that it was early September last year when I got the cool orb weaver spider pictures so I'll have to sit tight for another week or so. Damn it.

I'd better get moving. I want to do dishes before Carrie comes over so she doesn't think she has to do them when she gets here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I'm tired.

We went to Jake's Steaks last night with Danni and Josh. They had a $50 gift card and needed help spending it. Fast forward to the end. I do not recommend Jake's Steaks. The food was bland and very overpriced. The Spanky's Frozen Custard we had afterwords made up for it though.

I got an email this morning saying the Hard Case Crime series would be moving to another publisher and the next two books will be delayed. Seeing the possible writing on the wall, I snapped up the nine I don't already own to take advantage of my book club discount while it still exists. Nine books for less than forty books was a good deal, in my opinion.

I told my mom I might come over again today. I haven't decided if I am yet.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

High Noon

Took the hound over to the parents' this morning for her weekly exercise. She's in the midst of a doggie dream on the spare bed as we speak.

Well, cross dragonfly and praying mantis off my list of things I need to get pictures of. I'm in the process of uploading pictures right now. I also got a picture of some kind of weird larva. No idea what the bastard is but it's pretty gross.

Carrie and I had a busy day. We went to the conservation area in Perryville and hiked around the lake... after we stopped at the Hoekele bakery and had some of the best donuts on the face of the earth. We lazed around in the afternoon and then hit the Anvil for dinner, followed by a leisurely stroll around Ste. Genevieve.

I'm torn between taking a nap or trying to finish my book. Or doing housework but that's a distant third.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Good Morning!

Well, I checked the yellowjacket nest. There are no survivors.

In other news, cross Toad off my list of white whales. I got three toad pictures this morning. He was a cute little guy, about half an inch long.

More to come later. Carrie's on her way and I'm running very late.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I woke up this morning and immediately had two thoughts.
  1. My hand was back to normal size and no longer throbbing.
  2. It was payback time.
All day long, I plotted my vengeance, researching homebrew poisons, comparing sprays, all the while trying to figure out how to keep my distance as I dealt death to my insectile nemeses. A plan slowly came together over the course of the day.

The nest is (or was) on a slight slope. The first thing I did was mark the hole. I did this by balling up a receipt and casually tossing it. It landed less than an inch from the hole. The yellowjackets flying in and out of the hole paid it no mind.

Next, I knew I wanted some sort of poison delivery system. I was thinking I had a length of pipe in the garage that would work. I must have been thinking of some other pipe because this one was fifteen feet long. I looked around the garage a bit and found a pizza box I forgot to throw away last trash day. I unfolded the box to its full length and folded it into four so that edge on, it looked like an M. The middle of the M was to be my poison channel. Once it was in place, I set a brick at the end so my container would be easy to knock over.

The container! The part of the plan I considered the least! I was baffled for a few minutes. I had originally planned on using a butter dish I could throw away afterwords. Unfortunately, my poison channel was too narrow. The butter dish would hit the edge and slop it's contents everywhere. I took Belle for a walk to think things over. Luckily, the bastard neighbor kids litter all the time and it didn't take long to find a suitable vessel: an empty 24 oz. can of Busch Light.

I hacked the top off the can with a gaudy pocket knife of my brother's I found in my junk drawer. I grabbed my trusty broom and went into the garage to fill the can with liquid death.

*** the next paragraph is mysteriously missing. ***

Once the can was full of that gloriously noxious toxin, I steeled myself for what had to happen next. I placed the can on the brick and took a deep breath. I took a few steps back and clutched the broom so hard my knuckles turned white. A bead of sweat ran down my forehead and joined a hundred of its brothers lost in my eyebrow. A few long seconds passed.

Finally, I just said "Fuck it!" and tipped the can over with the broom and ran like the wind. Seconds later, I was safely inside my house. A few minutes passed and I called my dad to brag about my remarkable display of cunning. He was suitably impressed.

I'll go outside and confirm the kills later. I don't imagine there being many survivors.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good news and bad news

The good news is that the hives subsided by the time I went to bed. The bad news is that my left hand is cartoonishly swollen and throbbing. It will be to my great pleasure when I exact my revenge on those stinging bastards in a spray of liquid death in a few hours. What the hell time is dusk around here anyway?

In other complaining news, I've been near campfires that were cooler than it is outside right now.

I think it's about time to make dinner. Hamburger Helper shouldn't take more than one functioning hand to make.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Well that sucked!

I was feeling energetic after picking up sticks and decided to mow despite the heat. One third of the yard later and I've got two yellowjacket stings and a batch of the hives. Fucking yard work.

4:30 comes earlier every day

Yeah, it was difficult getting out of bed this morning. I didn't hear the alarm clock until it had been going off for two minutes and didn't fathom what it was for another minute or two.

My yard is getting really shaggy but I really don't want to go out in this heat to mow it. I'm going to compromise and go out and pick up sticks for a little while. At least the next mow won't be so bumpy. Besides, there are enough sticks in the yard after last week's thunder storms to make an entire tree.

Response has been favorable to my closeup pictures so far. I've decided to put together a list of closeup white whales that I will mark off as I get pictures
  • black and yellow orb weaver spider
  • scorpion
  • praying mantis
  • frog
  • lizard
  • salamander
Just about time for walk #2 for Belle. That should take care of her until I'm done picking up sticks.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


2010 is swiftly going the way of the dodo. Time flies when most days involve driving to work, working, and driving home from work.

My mom and dad got back into town yesterday and my mom hinted that I should come over this morning. I did and ate my usual bacon and eggs. I took quite a few more bee, butterfly, and crawdad pictures, as well as an assortment of spider webs before I embarked this morning. Still no sign of any orb weavers. I'm beginning to get my money's worth from this new lens. I should print some pictures out again one of these days.