Saturday, October 05, 2013

So hey, remember that guide to building a walk-in closet? It's How to Turn Your Spare Bedroom Into A Walk-In Closet, in 437 Easy Steps, Part SIX!

Part 1 is herepart 2 is right here. AND part 3 is right HERE.  Part Four, a Q&A session about this project, is here

And, part 5 is here

In case you had trouble remembering, here's where we left off: the garage door was exploding. SO...


Step 35: DUCK!

Too late, helpful guide!

The glass bent and pulled and twisted, and in the few seconds I watched that I thought "Boy, I don't think glass is supposed to do that" and part of my brain thought "get out of here" while the other part thought "lunge forward and press the button so that this impending disaster stops!" and my body worked out that impasse by standing perfectly still (hopefully at least with a manly expression on my face, but I don't think that's true) and the glass windows exploded.

LITERALLY: giant pieces of glass flew in all directions, some of which directions had me in them.

Step 36:  See if the glass hit any major arteries.

It would be helpful if you know, when performing this step, where the major arteries are, and also where your children are.  In this case, I was a bit better at the latter: the children were in the car, wondering what Dad was up to, now.

He was up to "not dying," as it turns out, something I am getting pretty good at.  I brushed my shirt off, and felt around on my face and hair and arms and such for glass, hearing bits of it tinkle to the floor as the garage door, now stopped, creaked ominously.  Two as-yet-unbroken panes of glass sat, twisty and threatening, still in the door, which was still at least 70% a door and not yet a portal to the outside.

"Are you okay, Dad?" asked Mr Bunches, from inside the car.

"Yes, stay inside there," I told him, unnecessarily, as we have child-locks on the doors and he couldn't get out no matter how much he tried.  Then again, a few moments before I would have also sworn that garage doors don't explode, so you'll have to forgive me if I didn't exactly depend on the rules as I knew them still being enforced.

Step 37: Get some help.

I texted Sweetie, still upstairs with the flu or whatever ("Whatever" = "DVR'd episodes of American Dad") and asked her to come downstairs to 'help with the boys', even though the real reason I wanted her down there was not to help with the boys, who remained in the car, but more to just... witness what had happened.  It didn't seem like this was real until someone besides me saw it.

IN ADDITION I wanted Sweetie to understand that this had happened without any real intervention from me, i.e., I did not drive the car into the door or something.  It is a sad thing when you have to, in a marriage, constantly defend yourself against the idea that you might drive a car through your garage door because you were distracted by trying to listen to your audiobook on your Kindle as you backed up, but that is the world we (I) live in, through no fault of my own, at least not one I am willing to admit to.

So I got Sweetie downstairs and we looked at the door and I told her what happened and then said that after the Bank, I guessed I would go buy a garage door, because in my mind, that is something that you can do: You can just go buy a garage door.

In my defense, you can buy a lot of things, these days, and so a garage door, being a thing, is also something you should be able to go to the store, and buy.  After all, I had been at Home Depot and places like that and they sold kits to build sheds and whole bathtub setups and light fixtures and things, so in my mind I was actually picturing just some sort of aisle of garage doors, maybe hanging on fixtures like how "Spencer Gifts" used to hang posters on those frames that you could swing, paging through glow-in-the-dark/blacklight Led Zeppelin posters and posters of cars and busty women.  

I miss "Spencer Gifts."

In my defense, 2: I also didn't assume that I was going to be the one to put the garage door in, even though as I thought about it that day I sort of assumed that could be done, like maybe you could get the garage door delivered and then just sort of... pop! it into place, like how you assemble some Lego parts.

I hadn't thought this through.

Step 38: You're still in the garage, though, dummy, so maybe do something about that?

The door, hanging there, in parts, was if anything a more formidable opponent to 'simply leaving the house' than it was pre-explosion, because pre-explosion the door wasn't all jagged and toothlike and explodey,-- you may think that because it ALREADY exploded, I need not have worried about it doing so again, but then you are a fool, because if you ask ME, the #1 time to worry about something exploding is when it has just demonstrated that it is capable of doing so.  That's science -- so I decided that I'd better get it out of the way of the car, and the only way I could really think of to do that -- because I certainly didn't want to go near it -- was to hit the automatic garage door opener.

"Step back," I told Sweetie, who did.

(When something might explode, after all, it's a good idea to put another 8-10" between you and it.  Everyone knows that explosions first measure how far away you are, THEN explode.  So if you wait until just before the explosion and then take a half-step back, you're safe, and won't need to run away in slow motion only to be lifted up in the air, arms splayed out in front of you, while a voice over says "THIS SUMMER, ONE MAN...'")

I did not step back because I am the hero of this story, and also stupid.

I hit the button.

Nothing happened.

I hit the button again, because that is what you do in that situation.

Nothing happened.

I hit the button a third time and then, because nothing had happened yet, a fourth time, but the fourth time was intended to cancel out the previous three: by then I was pretty sure that nothing was going to happen but I didn't want a bunch of potential energy stored up in the garage door in case suddenly it decided to work again and was all confused by all the button taps and exploded some more/again.  So that fourth one was Secret Garage Door Opener Owner Code for "OK CANCEL ALL PREVIOUS COMMANDS STAND DOWN."

Step 37: Disassemble your garage door because, remember, you still have to go to the Bank/Make small talk with your neighbor.

This step will require tools.  You should definitely have some of those.

I had a pliers, and that really awesome tool I mentioned a while back which could serve as a pliers in a pinch but really is better for self-defense when a gang of toughs breaks into your home and you are Liam Neeson, and I had this large wrench that I used when I had to install a pipe under our sink because the other pipe got eaten away by water, which isn't really a thing that should happen to pipes, is it? We can put a man on the moon, but we can't protect that man's garbage disposal from water, and it's the same water that he drinks, which is really alarming if you think about it. I'm drinking water which can eat away metal. but thinking about anything, really, is alarming which is why I never think about stuff. I just do.  Yoda would've loved me.  

With Sweetie watching, I began the task of not getting killed while trying to look like a man anyway/removing the garage door, which was at that point the only way that I was going to get the car out of the garage so I could go to the bank to get money to pay the other bank so that I could save on my mortgage payment which I was obviously going to need to do now that I had to repair this garage door.

This required me to go near the door, and to even touch it, two things I definitely did not want to do. 

But, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, so I suppose that you can't tear a garage door out of its moorings without risking a few life-threatening injuries (NOT as catchy of a phrase!) and so as the man of the house I was obligated to go and start breaking off pieces of glass that jabbed, dagger-like, at me from twisted rotten pieces of exploded door, and to then begin trying to remove various bolts or nuts or screws or something from the door so that I could take each section out and lay it in the other part of the garage, out of the way of everything.

This effort was NOT helped by my neighbor across the street coming outside and seeing what all the commotion was.

My neighbor across the street is a guy we call "The Professor."  Sweetie knows his real name.  I don't remember it and don't want to because knowing people's names is the first step to being trapped in the house.

Step 39: Explain that.

Once upon a time, we lived in a duplex not far from the Danger Zone of Failing House we now occupy.  Next door to us lived a guy named "Frank," whose name haunts my existence to this very day. Frank was an affable sort (AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS) who had two kids about the age of two of OUR kids, which people assume means you have lots in common and makes them want to talk to you.  I never assume that. I know that I have nothing in common with anyone and hate talking to people, period.  It wouldn't really matter to me if you appeared in public as my doppleganger,  wearing identical clothes to me, with two little boys in tow, and a cell phone with which you are taking pictures of the carrot-mango ice cream cone you bought recently:

Only the top scoop is carrot/mango.
They found a way to make me eat vegetables!
The bottom scoop is caramel and chocolate.
All vegetables should come in creamy sweet dessert form,
followed by actual creamy sweet desserts. Such a world
would finally be worth living in.

and the harried look of a man who has to figure out how to hold on to two 7-year-olds' hands while also using his phone to take a picture of said 7-year-olds, and who is therefore mad at Steve Jobs for not developing a phone that works with thought, or at least a phone that would hang around your neck and be tongue-activated, which as I think of it is kind of gross, because who wants to walk around all day watching people lick their phones but now, as I think about it, I kind of do... so: where were we?

Oh, right: I don't like people, even if those people might be me.  And so I didn't like our affable old neighbor, Frank, who lived next door and wanted nothing more than to have a little human contact and make my life miserable in the process.

Frank got to know me by the time-honored method of 'coming over and interrupting me while I was trying to relax."  Back in those days we used to read things called newspapers, which may still exist for people who want to pretend it is 1882, and so when I came home from work I would take the newspaper and go sit out in my backyard, in full view of other people, something that I did because it was nice and sunny outside and I wanted to read the paper for a bit after dinner and enjoy nice weather.

Frank wrecked all that because Frank would, as soon as he saw me outside, come over and talk to me.  You have to understand: Frank and I had nothing in common other than (a) we both had kids of a certain age and (b) we were both located in that particular longitude.  And so we didn't talk about anything.  We just talked, or rather, I got talked to, with Frank offering up such things as "Hey" and "Hot, huh?" and "Something something something" which is about what I heard because I was trying to be polite and noncommittal and not encourage any conversation, so most of my rejoinders were of the "Hmmm" sort, by which I intended to convey that I was reading the paper and didn't like people.

Eventually, I gave up on hoping that Frank would understand that when a person comes over to a patio table, pulls out a newspaper, opens it and begins reading it, he wants to read that paper, and that said person would, if said person wanted to engage in conversation, actually engage in conversation rather than, say, trying desperately to not answer any questions or make eye contact, and instead, I stayed inside and, eventually, moved.

Since then, I have done whatever I could to avoid having contact with my neighbors, because talking even once -- EVEN ONCE -- to a neighbor means inviting that person to invite him- or herself into your life AT ANY TIME NO MATTER WHAT, even emergencies.

Step 39: Is this still part of making a walk-in closet out of a bedroom?

Yes. This is all necessary.

Take Sally, my next-door neighbor who once raked my porch off in a show of passive-aggressive behavior that I think was intended to demonstrate to me the need to be a good neighbor and actually rake my yard, but which actually demonstrated that if I ignore my yardwork long enough, my neighbors will do it for me.

Sally lives next door to us and got to know us by intercepting us when we would take the boys for walks, and also by talking to Sweetie, who will talk to anyone because Sweetie is the exact opposite of me: she is nice and friendly and communicative and a girl, whereas I am none of those things but I do know how to do two magic tricks, kind of, that I taught myself the other night.

Step 40: FOCUS.

Ok, ok.  Sally began talking to me at the most inopportune times, like when I would go out to do yardwork, and I'd think to myself "OK, I will do maybe 30 minutes of yardwork, and then go back to actually enjoying my life instead of making it a hellish existence full of menial labor during which I will get stung by bugs," and then Sally would come over and, heedless of the fact that I had headphones on:


and would talk to me, and not just "hey, nice day, glad to see you're not lowering all our property values even worse, any chance you'll one day repair those garage doors before they explode?" No: she would tell me about her sons -- apparently she has sons, which I kind of remembered from when they would cut through our yard and walk right over the blueberry bush I had planted, killing it-- and her house or WHATEVER I AM NOT LISTENING really, until I finally gave up and stopped doing yardwork.

So: counterproductive, Sally.

Sally would stop us when we went out for walks and talk to us, she once talked to me when I was starting to go jogging, and in the worst case, Sally talked to me while an ambulance was parked at our house.

Remember when Mr F fell off the counter and nearly died? That was that night.  As the paramedics got Mr F into the ambulance with Sweetie and I loaded Mr Bunches into the car and called the older kids to tell them their brother was going to the ER with what at the time was a life-threatening injury, Sally came over and talked to me.

This was, mind you:

1.  Nine o'clock at night.
2. With an ambulance in my driveway,
3. Containing my kid.

She interrupted me on a phone call to one of the kids to ask what was going on.


I should have thrown my phone at her, or had the garage door explode her or something, but I tried to be polite because stupid society has conditioned me to answer people when they ask me questions and so I said that Mr F had gotten hurt and was going to the hospital and she kept asking me questions as Mr Bunches was starting to cry and I was trying to get in the car and leave and I think she stood on my driveway, talking to the memory of me as we pulled away.

Step 40:  Wow.

I know, right?

Click here to go to part 7.

Mr F is OKAY!

Friday, October 04, 2013

I could've been... well, not a contender, maybe, but certainly had a few more bucks in my pocket.

If only I had thought of this!

As you probably know if you read this blog a lot, you know that I recently bought a new computer, and if you are alive, then you know that new computers are EX-PEN-SIVE.

(That's my way of drawing out that word to emphasize it. Kind of like when your mom would call you as a kid and if she used all your  names even the middle one, you knew you were in trouble and started figuring out ways to blame your brother.)

I knew that computers were expensive.  But what I didn't know is that I could've used the discount shopping 2013 site Best Online Coupons to save on money.

I've used Best Online Coupons A LOT -- I love saving money and they are great for that, a site that has discounts on pretty much everything you think you need, and all the things you actually need, too. (I've learned that those groups rarely actually overlap).

What I never thought to do until recently was to check that site first, no matter WHAT I'm shopping for.  So when I was in the market for a laptop, I could've gone to the site and coupons and deals to get me discount laptops and computer deals, as much as $500 dollars off a laptop!



I'm not sure I divided those syllables up right, but you get the point.  The point being that I don't use Best Online Coupons enough, and I already use it all the time, almost.  So I've sworn to check it out more often, and this is how I can do it: when I need something, for real, or I'm going shopping for something I 'need', I'm going to check out Best Online Coupons first and see what I can get there.  And when I've got spare time, like now, I'll go browse through the site just to see what the ever-changing deals are and how I might benefit from them.  Between the discounts, free stuff, free shipping deals, and other money saving ideas, I'll not only get all the stuff I want, but with all that money I'll be saving, I'll be SUPERRICH.  Don't worry: we'll still be friends.*


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

If the baby spiders don't get you...


My blog tour in support of Temporary Anne has hit part 8, and you can read the latest installment of the This Is How I... there! It's a
phenomenal horror story, and THERE ARE TWISTS IN IT YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE.

Writer/quilter/mother Jess uses her blog to review books she reads and to tell you about the book she's writing -- her blog is always entertaining and thoughtful.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO JESS' BLOG,and read the story!.

You already know that "Temporary Anne" has won rave reviews for its story of a woman too evil to simply go to Hell when she dies, and you can get her story for just $0.99 by clicking here, but there's also a SPECIAL OFFER today only:


The short stories here will introduce unforgettable people living remarkable lives. Cowboys wander in a timeless desert. Scientists meet in secret to plot a new way to get attention, and money, from people. A man and his would-be lover try to find lions on safari, and more. The people and places in this book spring to life fully-formed and full of anxiety and imagination. They worry about the time they have had and the time they have left. They bury their loved ones and look for new friends. They talk and laugh and hope and cry and die, while their friends and family and enemies and Gods watch them, seeing, in their faces and actions and fears, a portrait of just exactly how life looks.

Look how smart I think I am! (Why I Hate People)

SOME PEOPLE... okay, ALL people... doubt my ability to know everything including the future and what will happen to everything and everyone.

To those skeptics, I say: EAT HOT MOON ROCK LOSERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And yes, I meant to use exactly that many exclamation points.

FUNNY STORY: I almost wrote explanation point.  We need a punctuation mark to serve as an explanation point.  I will work on that as I write this.  MY MIND CAN DO TWO THINGS AT ONCE.

It can also predict things, as I started off saying, in the face of all that skepticism everybody throws at me all the time.  Specifically, it can predict when people will pay money to eat rocks.

Well nigh onto two months ago, I wrote on my now-abandoned blog about a dessert so decadent that I assume people who eat it will end up in Hell.  There'll be a link to it at the end of this post; don't worry if you didn't read it.  The important points of that piece were:

1. Rich people are stupid.
2. Rich people are gullible.
3. Rich people are horrible jerks who would rather spend thousands on a dessert because it has gold in it than actually do anything good for the world.

Also, I said, in a rebuttal comment on that post, that

Seems derivative. EVERYTHING has gold leaf on it now. I bet Little Caesar's has a gold-leaf pizza. You, Liz and I can do better. I read today that only about 220 pounds of Martian meteorite have ever been discovered on Earth. I think we should sell barbecued ribs sprinkled with Martian Meteorite Dust, at a price of roughly $1,000,000 per rib.
And now that I've said that, I'm 100% sure that someone somewhere is serving meteorite food already.
Either someone reads my blog -- let's assume they do and further assume that they now owe me royalties, or I am smarter than I think, which is considerable but let's assume that, too, because, this:

Celest-jewel-ale, 5% abv ...we brewed a traditional German Oktoberfest beer, with one not so traditional ingredient in particular; for us, brewing a simple homage to the Harvest Moon was not enough, so we took one giant leap for Mankind and added actual Moon Dust from the Moon’s surface to this seemingly regular brew.

THAT is the actual description of a brew available from the Dogfish Head restaurant, located... somewhere. I don't know. Their site is here.

The description goes on:

 We worked with ILC Dover, a local company that creates Space Suits for NASA, to get this incredibly rare and unique ingredient. Celest-jewel is an intergalactic ale brewed with German Malts, Hops, and sprinkle of Moon Dust, and fermented with our house Doggy yeast. The flavor is full of characteristic notes of doughy malt, toasted bread, and subtle caramel, with light herbal bitterness to round out the profile. Get this one of a kind ale while you can for a truly out of this world experience! The addition of little chunks of lunar meteorites, smashed into dust, then steeped as a tea and added late in fermentation to give this rich, malty beer a subtle but complex earthiness….well maybe not earthiness. These certified moon-jewels turned into lunar dust are made up primarily of minerals and salts, which are beneficial to the yeast-induced fermentation process. 

They say that it gives it a malty feel, but I doubt that because according to scientists, who might be able to be trusted if they weren't always making up stuff like Higgs Bosons and brontosauruseseseses, space smells like... a NASCAR race.

The final frontier smells a lot like a Nascar race—a bouquet of hot metal, diesel fumes and barbecue. The source? Dying stars, mostly. The by-products of all this rampant combustion are smelly compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These molecules "seem to be all over the universe," says Louis Allamandola, the founder and director of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Lab at NASA Ames Research Center. "And they float around forever," appearing in comets, meteors and space dust. These hydrocarbons have even been shortlisted for the basis of the earliest forms of life on Earth. Not surprisingly, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can be found in coal, oil and even food.

(Source).  Whereas the moon itself smells like the Second Amendment come to life.  Omega Ingredients, a fragrance maker, was asked to re-create space smells for NASA to help prepare astronauts for space stinks, and reports

"Recently we did the smell of the moon...Astronauts compared it to spent gunpowder."
So if you are looking for the perfect drink to wash down that too-expensive golden-showered sundae CHOICE OF WORDS DELIBERATE, consider blowing some dough on a gunpowder-y brew!

Also, never doubt how smart I am.  A guy opens his door and is told that a brewpub is making Meteor Beer based on his idea and you think that of me? I AM THE ONE WHO MAKES METEOR BEER.

Yes. I'm going to keep reworking that speech.


Here's what you'll be dining on in Hell: Read the original post here.

The Best Way To Prove 'Scientists' Are Making It Up: Read the original post here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013



Day SEVEN of the release tour for my newest book, Temporary Anne, is up on Speculative Fiction author Sandra Ulbrich Almazan's blog today!  You read part six here the other day, so go see how the story went on.

Sandra is a UW-Madison (GO BADGERS!) alum with two patents to her name and, more importantly, she's the author of "The Catalyst Chronicles, about a scientist who travels to an alternate universe to sample her own grandfather's DNA, creating a clone who now must investigate his mother's death.  These books are amazingly creative, expertly written sci-fi that call to mind Larry Niven.

and, Temporary Anne is just $0.99 today, so Click this link to GET TEMPORARY ANNE!


"the After," a masterpiece about a woman whose life didn't begin until it ended in a plane crash and she woke up in an existence where everything is perfect... unless you don't happen to like perfect.

Picture Of The Day