RANDOM REVIEW: 2013 A.D.

2013As the final hours of the year tick away, I have to say that 2013 was a really good one for me.

After years of dealing with apartments and all that malarkey, I broke down and bought a house.  Home ownership has been pretty awesome so far: I went from one-bedroom apartments to a two-bedroom house with a garage and a huge backyard and rabbits and I can barbeque and have friends over and I love it.  Given the age of the house, home repairs and replacing things will eventually come but for now its been smooth sailing.

On the e-book front, I decided to try to sell printed copies of my work at a few conventions and events and failed spectacularly, at least from a business standpoint.  I can count my total sales on my hands.  People just don’t read much anymore, or at least not the types of folks that go to anime or furry conventions.  On the plus side, I did get to talk to lots of folks, present some panels and if nothing else, hopefully inspire some folks to ‘go it alone’ themselves.  I only published one new e-book (should have been two, but life and all that) and definitely need to up my output next year.

2013 was a fun year of conventions, camping, writing, video games, furries, cookies, home maintenance and most importantly, friends and family. I am optimistic that 2014 will be even better; my goal is to compete at least two story collections as well as the follow-up to “The Rules of Tech Support,” which is my best-seller so far.  I am also hoping to attend some new conventions, make new friends, and well, get some work done on the house.  So without any further ado:

MISSION START!

51 Things I Noticed at Oklacon 11

oklaconlogoThis year marked my second Oklacon, and I did a much better job of keeping up my usual list despite, or maybe because I kept it on old-fashioned paper!

  1. Fursuit parts are apparently very good for keeping yourself warm.
  2. This is a great con for attention whores: Just yell or talk very loudly and EVERYONE on the campsite can hear you.
  3. Anyone playing the guitar at 7AM should be shot or at least kicked in the nards.
  4. I’m thinking that its about time to retire my old Sears Hillary tent. 😦
  5. I was happy I could get a signal on my Verizon iPad in nearby Watonga, OK, but then I got to the campsite annnd its gone!
  6. Even instant cappuccino tastes great when you’ve been sleeping in 30-degree weather.
  7. I’m not sure which is bothering me more: not wearing my university ring or not having a comb in my pocket.
  8. Someday Dr. Nuka will tire of my ‘What’s up Doc?’ greeting and get all sciencey on my tail.
  9. Somehow ‘All My Exes Live In Texas’ got stuck in my head.
  10. They should probably make sure the participants are able to play volleyball out of suit first.
  11. Plastic hammer + heavy metal stakes = FAIL
  12. I was a bit overdue for a shave on Thursday but the cold is keeping me from doing so.
  13. Good idea: Putting QR codes on my dealer’s table sign. Almost Good Idea: Putting QR codes on my dealer’s table sign at a con where cell reception sucks.
  14. Maybe its just me, other folks seem to be doing just fine. Just what I need: another reason to dump Sprint.
  15. I learned today that Canada apparently has its own version of Texas called Alberta. The thought that each country in the world may have its own ‘Texas’ might explain a lot…and fills me with fear.
  16. One of the researchers was having problems with her camera and was getting frustrated, I had to quip: “This is the part where they usually call me at work.”
  17. Even though I’m not at work, my tail was still dragging at about 4PM…should have had that second cup of coffee!
  18. The collective rolling of eyes could almost be heard whenever someone insisted they were the only one in the furry fandom whose fursona was an X.
  19. Best money I’ve spent recently: $15 for a small stool for sitting in the tent; its a little snug in the forbidden zone, but otherwise worked well.
  20. Its funny how the lack of data turned my smartphone into a glorified watch…and a phone.
  21. I only posted once to social media all weekend and haven’t missed it. It feels good to be talking to people that are actually sane.
  22. The rain snuck up on us Friday night but surprisingly nothing got into the tent…there but for the grace of God go I.
  23. Unlike last year, the bathrooms were kept up and I even contributed by plunging a few times and even fixing a toilet, nice to put that homeowner skill to use.
  24. I should have been annoyed by Reville being played at 9am, but instead I found it amusing…because I was already awake.
  25. My writing panel went well, four people showed up!
  26. Hot dogs? At a furry con? Say it ain’t so!
  27. My laptop is a battery…a big, frakking, heavy battery.
  28. The zipper on my tent was misbehaving and the first thing that came to mind was ‘MY KINGDOM FOR SOME DUCT TAPE!’
  29. Things I forgot to bring: wet naps, duct tape, mayonnaise and once again, a roll of toilet paper.
  30. I could only not shave for so long, Saturday night the face fuzz was gone.
  31. I might need to switch to Mountain Dew from coffee, the Dew seemed to keep Nuka going.
  32. He graciously gave me one of his, and I gave him some of my cough drops, balance of the universe and all that.
  33. Yeah, it was great to hear my dealer-neighbors bicker back and forth like an old married couple…which they probably were.
  34. Furries apparently really hate sports, which is yet another way I stick out in that club in addition to being straight and over 30.
  35. From the ‘clever idea’ department: Previous year’s con shirts: $12 for 1 or $10 for 2
  36. Hearing the rules for ‘Predator and Prey’ made me think of ‘Calvinball.’
  37. When in Rome: I got mustard on my camera’s strap during lunch and my first instinct was to try to suck/gnaw it off.
  38. Part of me want to either stay in a tent alone or get an A-frame bunk next year…hmm.
  39. f I had known coffee cups/mugs were going to be sold at the auction I would have been there in a shot.
  40. I wonder what the organizer thought when I gave him my tax form that said “Sales: $4”
  41. A guy nearby needed help tearing down his ‘insta-tent.’ I knew there was a reason I didn’t like those things.
  42. Well, that and they cost twice as frakking much.
  43. Very thankful to have a second person in the car on the drive home, I probably would have had to stop for sleep otherwise.
  44. Saw so many Braum’s burger/ice cream/grocery joints on the drive up/back that we had to stop at one on the way home. Quite good!  Still haven’t been to Waffle House.
  45. Put over 1,100 miles on the Excelsior the whole trip and used up just over two and a half tankfuls of gas.
  46. Flying J has REALLY good coffee.  That, or drinking instant coffee at work for so long has ruined my taste buds.
  47. We encountered absolutely zero traffic problems on I-35 from Oklahoma City all the way down UNTIL we hit San Antonio and spent 25 frakking minutes going the last 5 miles home…REALLY, SAN ANTONIO?
  48. Good Idea: Empty fridge beforehand so no food goes bad during the drip. Problem: No food in fridge to eat upon return.
  49. While I only sold 2 storybooks during the weekend, it was still 2 more than I sold during Furry Fiesta. *shrug*
  50. Thank you, Sharon.
  51. I can’t wait to do it again!

How Home Sweet Home It Is!

homeAfter years of dealing with annoying neighbors one wall (or floor) over, lousy parking, poor management, constantly increasing rents and not being able to own a cat without a big deposit and paying ‘pet rent.’ I am finally going to take the plunge and buy a house.  I’m almost there, too:  if all goes well I’ll be a homeowner within a few weeks.

Its a big step for me and more than a little bit scary.  For better or for worse, I am setting down roots here in San Antonio.  There’s also the whole ‘what happens if I lose my job’ bit, but these days, that cloud is constantly hovering over everyone’s head, so that’s nothing new.  Instead, I choose to focus on the Good Things associated with having my own home:

It’s my house, and if you don’t like it… – On a philosophical level, an apartment is never ‘really’ yours, and it will be nice to do whatever I want without having to ask myself whether I’ll be dinged for something when I move out.  Also, there is the whole ‘investment’ angle, but I don’t care too much about that.  In my opinion, the mentality of the home one lives in being an ‘asset’ instead of a ‘home’ is partially to blame for the nutzoid homeowner’s associations I always hear about in the news.

More room! – I have always lived in one-bedroom apartments and even lived in a efficiency once when things got tight.  Unless I get a Unabomber special (i.e. an isolated shack)  I’ll be getting a 2-bedroom house at the bare minimum and it will more than likely have a garage, too.  That’s going to be a LOT of extra space that I’m not sure I know what to do with.  I might rent out the extra room and I hear garages are great places to store things.  I’m also looking forward to hosting parties again, it has been way too long since I’ve hosted a Super Bowl or New Year’s Eve gathering.

Do What I Want – One of the crappier parts of living in apartments is you have to be careful with your noise level lest you arouse the ire of your neighbors.  While I am not a very noisy person, I do like to turn up the sound when I play video games and movies and have occasionally been ‘that guy’ that has had his stereo or surround sound system up too loud.  Conversely, I have also had to bang on a few doors and tell neighbors to tone it down.

WOW a Garage! – My parent’s house does not have a garage and so I have never had the pleasure of having one.  Based on what I have seen from friends, I understand it is a storage space.  I might go nuts and actually keep my vehicle in mine.

KITTEH! – I have wanted to have a cat for some time, but as I mentioned in the intro, certain things about apartments have kept me from getting one.  I can now acquire a cat and hug him and pet him and hold him and call him George. 🙂

Good Old Gas – My parents have a gas stove, and it is awesome.  I have not lived in a place that has had a gas stove since I moved out, and cooking food has royally sucked since.  One of my requirements for a home is that it have a gas connection so that I can once again experience the joy of heating up tortillas and hot dogs the way God intended.

House Party – When I had a bigger apartment a few years ago, I loved having friends over for games and even Super Bowl and New Year’s parties or two.  It won’t be too long before I’ll be hosting get-togethers and this time we can crank up the tunes! 😀

Buying a house is big and scary and fraught with pitfalls, but I’ll take the hits as they come and look forward to the good things that come with owning a home, like freshly-warmed tortillas!

Headlines and Butterflies

Must be a country music fan…

I don’t have a family of my own as of yet, so I spend Thanksgiving with my parents.  I drive down to my hometown, catch up with friends, bake a pie or two, eat lots of Mom’s good food, watch football and maybe do a little shopping.  I also make it a point to read the town newspaper.  I saw the article pictured at right and chuckled to myself, thinking: ‘yeah, its amateur night.’  It also made me think about the time I had applied for a job at that same newspaper years ago.

I didn’t get the gig because I didn’t have any writing samples on me at the time.  I remember being irritated about that after the fact because I have two college degrees and this wasn’t exactly The Washington Post I was applying to.  “How hard is it to write about honor rolls, City Council meetings and the occasional tractor accident?” I probably thought to myself at the time.

I got over it, life went on and I would eventually go on to write other things: short stories, video game reviews, podcasts and this blog.  I never again thought about the snub until I saw that poorly written headline.  As people are oft to do, I started to think about ‘what might have been.’  I quickly dismissed those thoughts to the back recesses of my mind, because I had better things for it to do, like get to work on the two short stories I need to have done by the end of next week.

Among other things, I subscribe to what is called the “Butterfly Effect.”  Simply put, it states that a small change can ultimately have a much larger impact at a later point in time.  “Does the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas,” and all that.  You see the theory mentioned a lot in science fiction, especially where time travel is concerned, and it is also the title of a movie that I’ve never bothered to see.

Thus, I believe that if you are truly happy in your current situation, you cannot have any regrets at all.  Even the smallest decision or event from years ago may have significantly altered your destiny.  So don’t waste your time wistfully thinking about ‘what might have been.’  If you are not happy with your situation, do something about it, even if it is a small step.  Small steps can eventually lead to something bigger and doing something is always better than doing nothing.  On the other hand:

If you are content with your life…

Be happy,

Be thankful,

but most of all, be you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Oklacon 2012 Journal #1: Off the Grid

Furries under the stars!

Oklacon is just a few days away, and I am in the process of getting things ready: making a list of equipment to bring, topping off stuff with fuel, getting warmer clothing out of storage, making sure I have plenty of batteries, and so on and so forth.  In viewing various posts here and there I had heard of something called ‘cell phone hill’ so on a hunch, I decided to check Sprint’s coverage.

Yikes.  It looks as if I’m going to be outside of Sprint’s coverage area, so I’m going to be roaming, which probably means no data.  Now, I presume that no data means no internets, and I find myself just a little bit apprehensive at the thought of really being ‘off the grid.’  As you may guess, I’m one of those people that is always checking my smartphone or laptop for e-mails or Facebook posts or tweets or comments on my blogs (like this one!) and so on and so forth.

While the thought of not having access to the tubes is a little bit scary (I think I may have a problem), on the other hand, its something else I can take a vacation from, and it’ll probably do me some good…I hope!

24 Things I Noticed While Moving for the Umpteenth Time

Well that's just ducky!
What every new home needs!

I turned in the keys to my old apartment today, and so I once again bid farewell to one apartment while getting settled into a new one.

  1. Whily my method of shuttling stuff back and forth with my compact car is horribly inefficient, it gets me plenty of exercise.
  2. Okay, yeah, its ridonkulous and I should just do everything at once next time.
  3. I thought “why is it pink instead of blue?” upon seeing the toilet paper and rubber duckie above and then I saw the Susan G. Komen card and pink ribbon.  Ohhhh.  Derp.
  4. Speaking of which, I always leave a roll of toilet paper in the old place. I’m not sure why, its just something I do.
  5. Sometimes I wonder if I am really this elated at being here, or am I just high from paint fumes?
  6. It only took two trips to move the crap that wouldn’t fit in my car, so yeah, I should have packed everything else up.
  7. Cable guys are much more efficient when you have the apartment folks call them.
  8. That’s a good thing, too, because once again, I’m facing the wrong way to get a satellite.  Rats.
  9. Digital thermostats are awesome.
  10. The new place’s built-in shelves can hold all of my games and movies, and it is BEAUTIFUL!
  11. I have been in such a better mood now that my commute has been cut in half.  God, how I hate traffic, and once those really tall ramps (or skyways as I like to call ’em) on 281/1604 are done, the commute should be smooth sailing.
  12. My commute should be cut about in half, which is good because holy cats, gas is getting expensive!
  13. It really says something when even the dollar store in the new neighborhood is nicer.
  14. The nearest HEB is an older one.  Somehow, this isn’t a problem.
  15. The nearest Wal-Mart got upgraded from a “Raunchy-Mart” to a Supercenter since my last visit.  Nice.
  16. The nearest Best Buy might just be a little too close, I think I need to freeze my credit card…I mean literally, as in ICE.
  17. I should have gotten rid of that old living room furniture a LONG time ago.
  18. Shopping for new furniture has been a drag so far, maybe I should just get a bunch of beanbags, or move my bed into the living room.
  19. Moving stuff while working the 9-6 shift work during the wintertime SUCKS.
  20. Really, it wasn’t until that first Saturday that I went, “Gee, this is what this place looks like during the day.”
  21. The water heater at my old place didn’t hold enough hot water to take a bath, no wonder I was so cranky there.
  22. The oven here isn’t much bigger than the one at my old place, but at least it has A LIGHT! Seriously, the last one felt like an Easy-Bake.
  23. The margin of error on that thing is pretty darn thin, though, one long paragraph or trip to the bathroom and I end up with dark brown instead of golden brown cookies.
  24. My TV looks kind of small now, maybe its time to upgrade! 🙂

In Defense of the Christmas Creeps

This was taken on September 24th 0_o

I was flipping through the radio stations as I was driving into work today to find that San Antonio station KQXT 101.9 had already started their annual Christmas music marathon.  Now, I love Christmas music, but the fact that they were doing so a week before Thanksgiving struck me as being just a hair too early.

The phenomena is known as “Christmas Creep.” While on a certain level it is getting ridiculous, there is one argument against it that I can’t get onboard with.  It goes like this: “Why does Christmas stuff have to come around so soon…what about Thanksgiving?”

What about Thanksgiving?

There really isn’t much to it.  Most folks will travel, spend a day or two with loved ones and perhaps enjoy a turkey dinner.  That’s it.  Thanksgiving is just what it says on the box: a day to give thanks and get a day off from work (or a four-day weekend if you are truly fortunate).

While Thanksgiving is special to many people, it isn’t sacred by any stretch of the imagination.  Heck, some stores have gone from opening at oh-dark-thirty the day after to opening late on Thanksgiving Day itself.

To be fair, let’s look at it from the store’s perspective: Thanksgiving does little for stores that don’t sell food, so I don’t really blame them for wanting to get an early jump on the Christmas shopping season.

So yeah, while stores opening on Thanksgiving Day sucks and getting jump on Christmas in September or even October is a bit much, I think the week before Thanksgiving is just fine for retailers to start getting the ball rolling.

Finally, I should confess that I have been tuning to that Christmas music station on occasion, so I’m probably part of the problem.  🙂